My name is Aynsley Leonard and I work for Bellwoods Brewery over on Ossington. Join me as I take you on a day trip through one of my favourite Toronto neighbourhoods. This once unassuming pocket of town continues to thrive with each passing day. The main drag of Ossington exists between Queen St. and Dundas St. and is sustained by hard working entrepreneurs with a lot of heart. The strong community sentiment of this unique area is far reaching and continues to make waves in the city. Come explore, shop, create, eat and of course drink beer!

Hustle & Grind

It’s always nice to start the day bright-eyed and bushy tailed and the best way to hit the ground running is a quick bike ride and pit stop at these dope coffee joints. Coffee has been synonymous with the Ossington hood for a while now so let’s give it up to these spots for keeping the community caffeinated.

Hustle $$$

Next stop is a quick visit to Town Moto situated right on the Ossington strip. The fine folks at Moto have been buds of Bellwoods Brewery for a while now and also roll with the same design bros of Doublenaught. This is a one stop shop kinda spot for well-made, designed and customized items for all thing motorcycles. This local business supports creatives and wandering travellers, and hosts unique events to connect people with their love of bikes. You gotta recognize!

  • Town Moto //  Finger on the pulse of all things cool, well-curated, sick brands, great peeps! For the record my fave brand at Moto is Treadwell. Check out this online shop if you don’t want to leave your house but like looking damn fine!

Posted Up

After a bit of putzing about, it’s time for lunch. Some days it can be a struggle to brown bag it so on a day like today I stop in to visit Ruth and Ren, the hard-working duo pumping out fresh and delicious foods at their spot VegHed. There’s something for everyone no matter what your taste and dietary needs may be. I love to watch as they snip herbs and sprouts fresh from the plant to concoct my favourite salad, the Muay Thai box. With over 20 ingredients, this beautiful meal is piled high with nature’s bounty and it’s a steal at only $8. Add the fried duck egg for extra protein and throw in a couple beet brownies for dessert, cause why not? I gotta get my daily dose of beets somehow!

  • Veghed // Fresh, plant-based, family-owned, inventive, flavourful and generously health.
  • Pizzeria Libretto // Fresh, hand-made, Italian, community. Honourable mention. No greasy pies here, just beautiful, handmade Napolese style pizza and southern Italian fare. The hardworking bunch over at Libretto hold themselves to a very high standard of pizza making perfection. It’s a great spot if you’re in the mood for a sit down lunch and maybe a glass of vino or two.

A Walk in the Park

Next up let’s head to Trinity Bellwoods Park for some quality time in the great outdoors. Our beloved park is the heartbeat to all things Ossington. Enter the park with salad in hand from Dundas West or through the main gates off of Queen Street. Whatever your preferred entry point, just get in there! Trinity Bellwoods is a sprawling, grassy park with beautiful mature trees to laze under and catch some shade. There are a lot of interesting things in the park to discover! 

  • Trinity Bellwoods Park // community, gardens, sports, puppies, picnicking, exercise, music, trails, bike paths, drum circles, art, family, friends, re-connecting with nature

Artsy Fartsy

As a creative hub in the city, Ossington provides ample opportunity to get in touch with your artistic side. If you wander to the western edge of the park you will find Artscape Youngplace, a former school converted into innovative art space. With constantly evolving displays and exhibitions, there’s always something to see and experience in this downtown arts mecca.

Ossington also has some amazing street art. Stroll through the neighbourhood, saunter the side streets, and strut the alleyways and you’ll be sure to stumble upon unique examples of artistic expression every step of the way.

  • Artscape Youngplace // Creative hub, art, classes, programs, workshops, events, community building, endless exploration  

Popping In

After an unfortunate fire recently, the infamous Okey Doke tattoo shop finds its new home just shy of the Ossington strip on Dundas. Their new space, formally The Monkey’s Paw bookstore, is beautiful and houses some of the most talented artists in the city. Pop in to see the walls lined with amazing artwork, which represents all of the hard work and time these artists have spent honing their craft to provide you with the best tattoo and experience. If you’re looking to get tatted, best to book an appointment in advance.

Music connects us all and now is as good a time as any to add another record to your collection. Rotate This popped up on Ossington this past year and we are all better off knowing there is a plethora of records nearby to sift through.

  • Okey Doke Tattoo Shop // Talented artists, friendly, respected, custom, crushing the tattoo game
  • Rotate This // Chill vibes, hidden musical gems, loads of musical genres, independent, official ticket outlet

Popping Up

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for pop-ups while your moving through the neighbourhood. These buildings and event spaces are peppered throughout Ossington so you never know what you might discover if ya just pop by. So far I’ve seen everything from coffee and motorcycles, vintage clothing, designer consignment, dresses for rent and galleries to artisanal housewares and even Kanye West got in on the action this summer. 

  • Pop Ups // Unique opportunity to snag limited swag, stumble across some neat stuff

Treat Yo Self

After milling about Ossington for awhile, it’s time for a treat! The best place to satiate a sweet tooth is Bang Bang Ice Cream. They offer a variety of homemade and seasonal ice cream flavours with fun and quirky names like “Love Oolong Time” and ”The Bee’s Knees”. Don’t forget to check out the flavours made with Bellwoods beer – right now I’m dreaming of the “Bellwoods Stout Beer n’ Brown Bread” flavour. Whatever concoction you choose, this is the place to fuel the sugar rush you need to keep you going throughout the day. Have your ice cream in a cup, a cone, a cookie sandwich, or my personal favourite, the Puffle – a puffed waffle made to order and filled with the ice cream of your choosing! Expect a long line out front. It moves fast and it’s worth the wait.

  • Bang Bang // Yummy, local, hand-made, creative, vegan and gluten free options available

If your preferred form of treating yourself is of the retail variety, then Ossington has got you covered there too. Check out a few of my fave shops:

  • Victoire // Pretty things, quality women’s clothing, neat pins and jewellery, supportive of Canadian designers
  • Cry Wolf // Artsy, woodsy, local, sustainable, gifting, community, pins, prints, jewellery, screen printed apparel, cute stuff for your fur babies, hometown pride
  • VdeV // Beautifully curated items for the home, artisanal sensibilities, dreams of outfitting your home with loveliness and whimsy
  • Loversland // Ready to wear, lingerie, jewelry, swim, bath and body, attention to detail

Hunkering Down

Now seems like a good time for a beer! Beer is transformative, combining all things history, culture, art, and storytelling. I love where I work so naturally this is where I go to quench my thirst. Bellwoods Brewery is a brewery, pub and retail bottle shop housed in an old mechanics garage with a bustling garden patio in the summer and a cozy candle lit atmosphere in the cooler months. As each pint is poured, and corks and caps are popped, you can feel the love and care that goes into making these delicious and unique beers.

If you don’t know what you fancy to drink, no problem! This family owned and operated business provides their servers with invaluable beer education so we are always happy to offer suggestions and set you up with a beer you’ll enjoy. As beer consumers we often find ourselves inundated with information on what’s cool to drink right now but at Bellwoods we don’t want to divorce you from the experience of trying new things and discovering what turns your beer crank (your taste buds know what’s up!). Tell us what flavour profile or vibe your after and we can help. As an added bonus we offer yummy food to accompany your suds. The menu is mindfully written to feature seasonal, local and sustainable farm fare to complement the flavour profiles of our changing tap and bottle list. The team at Bellwoods Brewery works tirelessly to bring beer to the community in a relaxed and accessible way with a focus toward quality over quantity. As the city waits patiently for the arrival of our two newest locations remember, “be open to enjoying the incredible diversity of what beer can be”

  • Bellwoods Brewery // community, collective effort, creative freedom, family owned and operated, great music, yummy food, bottles to go, recycling, barrel-aged, special releases, sessionable pale ales, hoppy IPA’s, Porters, Stouts, bottle-conditioned, Belgian styles, Saison, Tripels, sour beers
  • Union // Farm to table, local, home-made, daily offerings, farmers, community, old school

Late Night Pizzaz  

Finally after a few sips and some tasty eats, it’s time to spread your sassy self ‘round town and check out some live music and late night spots. The following are my go to’s for late night fun:

  • The Great Hall // Live music, artistic events, gallery, red brick historic building, Victorian grandeur
  • Dakota Tavern // Folk, bluegrass, blues, kick up your heels and dance, singer songwriter, supportive to local musicians, always bustling late night
  • The Garrison // Myriad of musical genres, indie, local, upbeat, dancing, late last call
  • Get Well // Good times, late night, Brooklyn style pizza, vintage video games and pin ball, beer
  • Communist Daughter // Look for the sign that says “Nazare Snack Bar”, hole-in- the wall cosy, music lovers paradise, conversation and debates to be had over records, very chill

Needless to say it’s a vibrant and bustling community over here on Ossington. Come check it out!

Prost!

Aynsley XO

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