Long Branch has been noticed…

Blog TO has identified LongBranch & New Toronto as among the top 5 neighbourhoods on the rise in 2015. They have noticed what local residents have been seeing for some time. Developers have targeted our area in a significant way – they see gold in them-thar-hills.

It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, increased density in the form of condos along the Lakeshore thoroughfare (such as the one across from the beer store) is bound to help revitalize a long retail strip which could use a boost. At the same time, there is a lot of development pressure on the South Long Branch neighbourhoods that unchecked will be detrimental to the character of our community.

Consider that within site of our home on lower 27th Street, at least 3 properties have been snapped up by developers. One has already had a severance approved by the Ontario Municipal Board. The owner plans to build two tall, deep and narrow homes where previously there was a single modest bungalow. In spite of the fact that this developer plans to chop down several trees on the property, and erect a pair of buildings that are each 2 stories over a garage, his team managed to convince an OMB adjudicator that this development is in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.

On the other hand, earlier this month and further up the street, the OMB rejected a proposal to sever a lot and put up a similar development. One thing we are seeing is neighbourhood residents who are increasingly organized and willing to take the time and the trouble to get involved and fight to retain the unique character of this community.

The Committee of Adjustment/Ontario Municipal Board process seems inadequate in a community undergoing significant and rapid change. Some change is inevitable, and thoughtful development can be positive. The question is how to manage it in a way that is good for the community and good for the City. How can we bring some positive planning into the equation?

New Toronto

IMG_0985New Toronto is the middle of the three former South Etobicoke lakefront communities in Toronto. The co-op housing complex on the far side of the street is on the lands once occupied by a huge Goodyear tire plant. Mimico is to the East and Long Branch is to the west.

Thursday evening in The LB

This evening we sallied forth across the invisible border between Long Branch (or The LB as our neighbour Kate calls it) and New Toronto to a new joint called Ember. We used to go there when it was Long Grain Pan Asian food, but that’s ancient South Etobicoke history and Ember is the new kid in town.

The attraction tonight was live music – our friend and neighbour Chris Plock was playing along with a guitar player. Chris sings and plays all the saxes and clarinet and flute. Steve on guitar also sings, and these guys sound great together. It was especially fun because some other neighbours, Kate and Leon and Jolene and Phil came too. (by the way I realized tonight that I haven’t exactly told my neighbours I’ve had this 27th Street blog going since we moved here several years ago….surprise!)

For us it had to be a short evening, both because we get up at 5:30 weekday mornings so we generally can’t stay up too late, but as well, Tuffy P still needs lots of rest – regular readers will know that a little over a month ago, she became a liver donor, donating the right lobe of her liver to help give someone who needed one to live a fighting chance. It may have been a short night out but it was a fun one.


I’ve likely confused some readers by talking about South Etobicoke and Long Branch and New Toronto – and I didn’t even bring up Mimico. Maybe I should try to explain.

A number of years ago, Toronto was amalgamated. The area in which I live was once the Borough of Etobicoke, quite a big area on the west side of the city from the lake to Steeles Avenue on the north. Toronto proper is to the east and Mississauga is to the west. Etobicoke itself, along the lake, had three distinct “villages”, once upon a time. These were:

  • Mimico on the east – from Fleeceline Rd and Louisa St to the east to Dwight Ave to the west and north to maybe Evans Ave (?).
  • New Toronto in the middle, from Dwight to 23rd St on the west
  • And Long Branch, from 23rd St west to Etobicoke Creek in Marie Curtis Park.

At some point in the 60s, the three villages were amalgamated into Etobicoke and in 1998 Etobicoke was amalgamated into Toronto. In spite of the efforts of politicians to chunk everything together (with a promise of big savings which somehow didn’t materialize, but that’s another story), residents around here still identify as part of Etobicoke and as part of one of the three villages. We might say we live in South Etobicoke or we might say we live in Long Branch, or if we’re talking with someone who has no idea about those places, we might even say we live in Toronto.

Our neighbourhoods are unique because they border Lake Ontario on the south and they are isolated from the rest of the city by both the rail tracks and the QEW/Gardiner expressway. One of these days, I’ll devote some space to some of the history around these parts.

Tonight, Kate was saying we should do a blog called The LB (for Long Branch) all about life in The LB. That’s when I mentioned that I run the 27th Street blog. I suppose I should have spread the word about it ages ago, but I guess I figured people would find this place if they’re interested. I know there are a few lurkers out there who live in the area. I post regularly as you know, but I don’t put much effort (translate: any) into promoting this blog. Of course there’s room for more than one blog on 27th Street – or maybe I can convince Kate to make some posts on this blog! Perhaps I’ll simply send her an invitation to post here.  Stay tuned.




Lakeshore Santa Parade

Each year there is a Santa Parade along the Lakeshore in Toronto, through the communities known as Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch. The parade took place this morning and it was a perfect day for it.DSC01733

Near the start of the parade Canada Post volunteers collected letters to Santa from kids along the route. Canada Post elves have been volunteering to help Santa Claus with his mail for over 30 years. Since Canada Post has been counting, Santa has written back to over 20 million children in close to 30 languages including Braille.

Longrain Pan Asian

We had dinner tonight at a neighbourhood Thai restaurant called Longrain Pan Asian. It was our first time there. Really good food and attentive service at reasonable prices. What more can you ask for?

A Portuguese Cheese Tasting

A local Portuguese restaurant called Taste Portuguese Cuisine had a Portuguese cheese tasting event today as part of the Lakeshore area’s Culture Days. We sampled a selection of cheeses and learned a little about them, and enjoyed a glass of wine and some pleasant conversation.


A long-eared owl was photographed in Sam Smith Park the other day. Check it out at Friends of Sam Smith Park. For those not from these parts, we have two major parks near Long Branch where I live. As you go east, Colonel Sam Smith Park (also the home of Humber College) marks the end of Long Branch and the beginning of New Toronto, at least for those of us who insist on maintaining that old school identity. To the west, Marie Curtis Park marks the end of Long Branch and the beginning of Mississauga (or Lake View if we’re going to stick to the old school names)

Sam Smith Park is a great place. Sometimes when we go walking through the park, or along the lake, we can hardly believe we’re fortunate enough to live a short walk from there.


There’s a barge over at the Yacht Club at Sam Smith Park. I wondered what that was all about but Friends of Sam Smith Park provided the answer:

We heard via the grapevine that the old dock ramp is being replaced by a new ramp as it is obsolete. Also the club is installing 5 new extensions to the existing docks presumably to accommodate more boats. The barge is a drilling barge. They need to install anchors to the harbour bed to hold chains which attach to the dock.

A stabbing in Long Branch…

A stabbing occurred this evening in our community. I’m not sure what time, but I drove out to the No Frills to pick up some bread at about 7:30 and saw no police activity so it must have happened sometime between then and now (typing this at 10:45). According to 680 radio news a man in his 30’s has been taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a confrontation between two men resulted in a stabbing.

This stabbing happened around Lakeshore and 26th Street. We live south of Lakeshore on 27th Street. The way the streets work around here, 23rd, 25th and 27th are all on the south side, and 26th runs north from Lakeshore. Don’t get carried away with this logic though, because 28th runs south of Lakeshore.

We live in what is mostly a great neighbourhood but there is for sure some criminal activity along the Lakeshore strip through Long Branch, New Toronto and Mimico, especially at night. I don’t have any more information about the stabbing tonight, and I guess violence can happen anywhere. It seems extra shocking though when it happens a short walk from home.


Persistent Business

This summer, I decided I would start getting haircuts at a barber in my neighbourhood. It happens that there is one on Lakeshore, a short walk from 27th Street – between Baba Ali’s excellent falafel place and our vet’s, the Long Branch Animal Clinic. Like the hardware store nearby, the barber shop has been a fixture in this area as long as most people can remember.

It’s called Danny’s and it’s run by a guy named Danny. At one time, I suppose the other chairs in the place were worked by other barbers. Now, it looks like it’s just Danny, and he has the chair closest to the window. While he was cutting my hair, I asked Danny how long he had been cutting hair on the Lakeshore. He told me he had been there a long time, a very long time, and then said he started there in 1960, which happens to be the same year in which I was born.

This fellow has been cutting hair in that storefront for my entire life. I thought about how many hair cuts he’s done. Let’s say, just for fun, that he averages 10 cuts each day. I don’t know if that’s a realistic estimate or not. The first time I was in there, he was busy – there were three people in front of me. But then, I can imagine it might get slow during the week. Let’s just say 10 cuts each day. That’s 50 cuts each week, working a five day week, and 200 cuts each month. Let’s assume he takes a month of holidays each year. It that’s the case, he does about 2200 cuts each year, and over a period of 50 years, that looks like 110,000 hair cuts. That’s a lot of hair cuts.

I asked if the neighbourhood had changed a lot over the years. He said that it had, and in his opinion, it has changed for the worse. He said we don’t have the kind of industry we used to have that provided jobs for people who lived around here – like Goodyear and the paint factory. Now, he told me, there are still lots of people living in the neighbourhood, but most of them work outside the community. And, they shop in malls, where they can do all their shopping in one place. This has made it tough on businesses in the area. What he said has a ring of truth. Both Tuffy P and I, for instance, work outside the neighbourhood. We do patronize a number of the local businesses, but for many things we shop outside the area, even though neither of us go to malls very often.

We can see that it’s tough for a small business to make it along the Lakeshore through Long Branch, New Toronto and Mimico yet there are still quite a few businesses that seem to be thriving. That includes some new businesses. The population base in the community seems to be growing on the basis of some new condos being built. Hopefully, that will provide a bigger customer base for local businesses.

Talking with Danny today reminded me to try to support local businesses whenever I can.