Recognizing macFAB’s Legacy in the Riverside BIA

Thanks to former Riverside BIA Executive Directors Anjuli Solanki and Perry Lupyrypa for contributing this Guest Blog:

As macFAB has made its final exit to new digs on Bayview Ave, it’s important to recognize the many contributions owners Dale Sonier and Patrick Kennedy have made to the Riverside BIA community over the years – from the Riverside Bridge Lighting, to the Riverside Magazine. A flagship store in Riverside for close to 10 years, macFAB has left a lasting legacy in the area and though it’s sad to see them go, we know that their new ‘hood is lucky to have them.

In 2010, Dale and Patrick recognized the potential of Toronto’s Queen St East and moved their well-established Queen St West macFAB Fabrics retail shop to  734 Queen Street East as macFAB Sews, and a year later, they launched macFAB Home at 755 Queen St E.  Committed to being a part of the community, Dale and Patrick joined the Riverside BIA Board of Directors in 2011. In this role they advocated to beautify Riverside’s streetscape through funding from the City of Toronto pilot for tree pits in Riverside. The project was piloted on one block in 2012 and expanded by 2014 to include the entire Riverside BIA.

Although both Patrick and Dale were actively representing both of their separate macFAB businesses for the first two years on the board, Dale became the key representative for the remaining 5 years and was a key champion for changes in the area.

macFAB Home pictured when it was at 755 Queen St E (today the location is LAN Vietnamese Restaurant)


The Riverside Western Gateway Project  2012- 2015

In 2012, the BIA held a long term strategic planning session. Seeing the opportunity of the Pam Am Games in 2015,  Patrick declared that with the Pan Am Games Athlete’s Village being located in neighbouring Corktown, that “the eyes of the world” would be on the Riverside’s western gateway.  This inspired a 3-year branding and beautification plan for Riverside’s Western gateway through a high impact bridge lighting and public art way-finding initiative.  This project has become an iconic symbol of Riverside and entry point to Toronto’s East End.

Also in 2012, Dale was instrumental in extending the Riverside BIA boundaries to include the Queen St Viaduct, recognizing that it would be prudent for the BIA to officially include the bridge and ancillary properties as the BIA was embarking on the Riverside Gateway Bridge project.  As one of the area’s biggest advocates Dale knew that, while transformative, this project would be expensive. From 2012 through to 2015, Dale helped the Riverside BIA continue 12 months of planters and season streetscape decorations, while delivering almost $100,000 of streetscape cost savings by sourcing the shrubbery and decorating the planters rather than out-sourcing this work.

Over the three years it took to realize the project, both Dale and Patrick invested considerable time and energy meeting with artists, city planners, lighting and electrical specialists.  They were able to work with the project steering committee (composed of Riverside BIA members, The City, artist Eldon Garnet, and project installers) to include the installation to maintain a more dynamic colour pallet, rather than plain white.

Riverside Bridge, Toronto (Queen St Viaduct)

Riverside Gateway Bridge Lighting Project, completed in 2015


Riverside’s First Mural 2012-2013

In 2012, higher impact re-branding efforts were made to reflect the area’s name change from Queen Broadview Village BIA to Riverside District BIA (which had become official several years prior). A relic to the area’s former name Queen Broadview Village was still present and highly visible on the west side of then Jilly’s Adult Entertainment (now The Broadview Hotel).

Riverside BIA Board Chair Mitch Korman made the initial contact with the management of Jilly’s to replace the Queen Broadview Village sign with a Welcome to Riverside Muraldesigned by local artist Jessie Durham and to be painted by another local artist Melissa Luk.  At the time, Jilly’s owners agreed to the installation.

In early 2013, the BIA was awarded a city of Toronto Mural Grant for the Welcome to Riverside Mural.  Artist Melissa Luk needed space over the summer to draw and paint ten 4″ x 8″ wooden panels which would then be installed on the side of Jilly’s. Dale and macFAB generously provided an artist’s workshop for over 6 weeks, clearing away some valuable storage space to enable the BIA to realize this important branding initiative.  Dale accompanied the BIA staff to a pre-installation meeting with Jilly’s owners – only to learn there was a wrinkle in a plan. The BIA learned that the owner planned to have a 20′ x 8′ sign, with a large exotic dancer silhouette alongside the Welcome to Riverside mural.  As a result the mural was delayed until a more appropriate wall could be found to accommodate the mural’s dimensions. Dale, with his effervescent and persuasive personality, reached out to Harry Lazarous, owner of 742 Queen East, and he agreed to host the mural just one week before the grant installation deadline expired.

Welcome to Riverside Mural

‘Welcome to Riverside Mural’ at 742 Queen St E (the mural is now located on the wall of 651 Queen St E)


Riverside Office Space 2013-2017

In 2013 a developer had taken possession of the three properties immediately west of  macFAB Home. Knowing that  it could take a significant amount of time for them to develop their plans, Dale was presented with the opportunity to manage these sites and keep the streetscape active, expanding macFAB into two locations. Rather than renting the third space out, he offered it to the Riverside BIA at a far below market rate value for four years. Prior to this, the Riverside BIA maintained a small cubicle at the back of the former Hangman’s Gallery of the Artists’ Network of Riverdale (then located at 756 Queen St E, now the address is home to the Irish Design House). This new expanded office space at 765 Queen St East enabled the Riverside BIA to dramatically increase its branding impact to both members and the broader public, as well as  host student interns.

In 2014, the Artists’ Network had to leave their long time gallery space.  Dale offered up the space next door to the BIA office at 765 Queen St E.  By supporting this non-profit artist organization that hosts the annual Riverdale Art Walk (in it’s 20th year in 2018), Dale supported a critical part of the Riverside community. Both the Riverside BIA and the Artists’ Network maintained this office space as home for 4 years.


Riverside Magazine 2013- Present

When it came to the Riverside BIA, Dale always thought big.  Having spent time in the city’s West end, Dale would bring copies of the glossy King West magazine as a model for what the Riverside BIA should strive to launch. Riverside BIA Chair Mitch Korman further advocated the launch of the Riverside Magazine in 2013. In order to support the initiative, Dale committed to purchase the back cover (the most costly and valued ad space) and supported the advertising outreach – selling enough advertising to cover print costs and distribute 5000 copies.  With Dale’s continued support in 2014 the Riverside Magazine expanded distribution and  hosted the Magazine’s 2014  launch party at macFAB.  The magazine continues to expand today to 15,000 copies distribution and is an important promotional and informational tool for Riverside.

Riverside Magazine

Riverside Magazine Volume 3 (2015)



Great Spots for Self-Care in Toronto’s Riverside

From therapeutic massage at Oma Chiropractic and Wellness to a soothing mani-pedi at Barefoot Beauty, here are some of the best ways to love yourself on Queen Street East in Toronto’s Riverside whether you’re on the go, on a break, or even on a budget.

Self-care is all about taking actions that contribute to the maintenance and well-being of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

With demands from work, family, friends, and the daily grind in general, it can be far too easy to forget about taking care of the most important person in your life. YOU! With February being the Month of Love in Toronto’s Riverside, we want to share with you some of the products, services, classes, and workshops in the ‘hood that’ll help you live a more pampered version of yourself starting today:

Barefoot Beauty

643 Queen St E

Not only will you leave here with Instagram-worthy nails but you can use your mani-pedi as a time-out. Barefoot Beauty’s self-care philosophy is not only about enriching yourself physically, but also emotionally. Even the smallest acts of self-care, such as treating yourself to an extra 10 minutes of massage during your pedicure has been shown to reduce stress and its negative effects, including high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

Riverside Barefoot Beauty

Clinique de Mode

750 Queen St E

A facial may seem like a bit of an indulgence, but it’s also a huge confidence booster which can have a positive ripple effect in all areas of your life. In addition to Botox, microneedling, and laser hair removal, Clinique de Mode also offers a non-invasive yet deep cleansing hydra facial that’ll leave your skin feeling fresh and clean. You’re guaranteed to walk away with a lasting youthful glow from the inside out.


9 Davies Ave, Unit 206

A daily dose of exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It keeps you strong, burns off nervous energy, releases toxins, and provides you with a much-needed break from sitting at a computer all day. Nothing says ‘Dear me, I love you’ like breaking a sweat. Framewrk on Davies Avenue (which you can now join for a 30-day introductory offer of $45) offers a variety of classes that’ll get you moving and feeling fantastic in no time, or at the very least in time for spring.

Try ‘Essentrics’ with Owner and Instructor Josephine Cuthill (at right)

Oma Chiropractic and Wellness

1 Munro St

This hub of health and wellness is Riverside’s home depot of self-love. Choose from massage therapy, chiropractic care, reflexology, or go all out with Oma’s New You Program designed to nourish and reset those of us who may feel sore, tired, and all-around blah. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t feel that way this time of year? This program includes one-on-one coaching sessions, six chiropractic treatments, three one-hour massages, and three naturopath appointments. Oma also hosts a number of wellness workshops if you’re just getting your feet wet in the self-care department.

Chi Junky

70 McGee St

From more energy to less weight, the benefits of yoga are endless. The Chi Junky Studio & Wellness Centre in Riverside offers a variety of yoga classes seven days a week. They’re perfect for self-love newbies and a great way to get your physical, mental, and spiritual juices flowing. Most importantly, regular yoga will help you feel more relaxed, especially the Candlelight Yin + Chill class that finishes off with an essential oil massage.

The Chi Junky herself, Rachelle Wintzen


If you’re new to self-care and just realizing now the importance of you, make one of these a part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. You’ll love yourself for it.

Images courtesy of Riverside BIA members

How do you practice self-care? Do you have a favourite product, service, or class in Riverside you would like to tell us about? We’d love to hear from you!


Karen Lloyd is a writer, photographer and website designer in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood. This blog is part of the series giving you the inside scoop on Riverside, Toronto. Read other blogs in the series: Riverside PatiosPlaces to Stay in RiversideBrunch SpotsHealth & Wellness in Riverside,  Kid-Friendly Riverside, Event & Catering Spots, and Riverside Chefs

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Riverside Public Art

This walking tour highlights Riverside’s public art which weaves together stories of changes over space and time, heritage, people, nature, and ways of living. Discover what makes Riverside one of Toronto’s most unique communities.

Riverside Wayfinding Art – 2015

Queen Street Viaduct

The bright way-finding art that is just to the west of the steel truss bridge was designed and created by artist Rebecca Houston, as part of the Riverside Bridge Lighting Project completed in 2015. The red ribbons appear to swirl like a river, and mark the western entrance to the Riverside BIA (Business Improvement Area). The weather vane sign moves with the wind, shows direction, and provides wayfinding to other Toronto landmarks.

 Bridge Art – 1995 (Time and a Clock – Part 1), 2015 (Bridge Lighting)

Queen Street Viaduct

The Queen Street Viaduct has always been an important passage to Toronto’s east. The bridge became a landmark in 1995 when, as part of the ‘Time and a Clock Series’, artist Eldon Garnet, among others, added iconic art atop the bridge with the phrase ‘This River I Step In Is Not The River I Stand In’. In 2015, during the Pan Am Games, the Riverside BIA launched the Riverside Bridge Lighting Project, which illuminates the bridge and its art in vibrant colours each night.

Tkaranto Past, Tkaranto Future Mural – 2017

Queen Street East at Carroll Street

Created by Indigenous artists Odinamaad, Chief Lady Bird, and Dave Monday Oguorie, this mural tells the story about Tkaranto being a meeting place for all people: first, for Indigenous nations for travel, trade, hunting and fishing, and in present day, for people who come here from around the globe to gather on the traditional territories of those who first occupied the land. The artists portray and share many of their traditional activities and stories, while giving a voice to Indigenous peoples, and a prayer toward the next generation of youth – the enduring strong Indigenous presence here in Tkaranto.

Welcome to Riverside – 2012

651 Queen St East

Originally installed on the wall of 742 Queen E in 2012, and moved to 651 Queen E in 2017, this mural was designed by local artist Jessie Durham and painted on wooden panels by artist Melissa Luk. This was the Riverside BIA’s first mural as part of its efforts to re-introduce its modern identity and brand: after many years of branding as ‘Queen-Broadview Village’, the BIA re-branded to come back to its roots as ‘Riverside’ (the area’s namesake since the 1880s).

Echo – 2015

Carroll Street at Thompson Street

Three unique sculptures evoking the flora and fauna of the nearby Don Valley, sit in Joel Weeks Park. They are creations of First Nations artists Mary Anne Barkhouse and Michael Belmore – whose design was chosen through a national competition by the City of Toronto. These child-friendly works including the popular squirrels (worshipping a giant acorn), a beaver, and a fox – are all cast in bronze, and sit atop chunks of Ontario granite.

Riverside Sports Heritage & Legacy Mural – 2014, 2015

Munro Street at Queen Street East

The Riverside Sports Heritage & Legacy Mural was created by artist Monica Wickeler. The lower portion of the mural illustrates Riverside’s rich history in bicycling and curling associated with the Royal Canadian Curling Club, and also baseball, as Riverside was home to Toronto’s first baseball stadium, Sunlight Park. The upper portion of the mural celebrates modern day sporting and was launched during the 2015 Pan Am Games.

‘Time and a Clock’ – 1995 – Part 2

Queen Street East at Broadview Avenue

Part 2 of the ‘Time and a Clock’ series consists of phrases that describe Riverside based on the theme of ‘time’. The art is embedded in the sidewalk of the four corners of the Broadview Ave and Queen Street East intersection. The phrases written are: ‘Too soon free from time’; ‘Time is money: money is time’; ‘Better late than never’; and ‘Time=distance x velocity’.

Riverside Pollinator Mural – 2016

Queen Street East at Saulter Street

The Riverside Pollinator Mural was created by artist Nick Sweetman. Completed in 2016, the mural’s references to clocks and time continues in the theme of the ‘Time and a Clock’ series while celebrating Albert Edelstein, a founding member of the Riverside BIA, who was a local jeweller and watchmaker. The mural also highlights the many natural, hidden places in Riverside and the importance of pollinators (e.g. bees, people) in the community.

‘Time and a Clock’ – 1995 – Part 3

Queen Street East at Empire Avenue

The final piece of the ‘Time and a Clock’ series by Eldon Garnet are four pennants on poles, near the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre. Each pennant has one word and together they form a poem about time: ‘Coursing’, ‘Disappearing’, ‘Trembling’, ‘Returning’. This public art also marks the eastern boundary of the Riverside BIA.


Riverside Month of Love: Date Ideas

Looking for last minute date ideas? Toronto’s Riverside has got it all, whether you’re looking for fine Italian dining with your partner, a trip to the spa with your mom, or ping pong with friends! Check out our round up:

Barefoot Beauty

643 Queen St E ~ 416.792.4420

What better way to show your appreciation for your loved one than to treat them to an afternoon full of pampering, and why not do it together? Check out this all-natural beauty salon with relaxing hand and foot care services to soothe anyone. Indulge with a warm towel massage using their custom moisturizing butter – you won’t regret it!  A little self-care goes a long way to show your love.

Tip: visit Barefoot Beauty on #WinningWednesdays to receive 25% a mani/pedi combo.

Chi Junky Yoga and Wellness Studio

70 McGee St. ~ 416.670.4403

Connect and chill in Riverside’s intimate yoga and wellness studio. Tip: try out one of their candlelit classes to get those romantic, nighttime vibes! With calming music, restorative poses and an essential oil massage, you’ll both leave feeling zen and in charge.

The Broadview Hotel

106 Broadview Ave. ~ 416.362.8439

Spend the night away from home in Toronto’s iconic east end hotel: The Broadview Hotel. Enjoy a local getaway at this fresh yet historic boutique hotel by relaxing with the curated vinyl collection in your room or by taking a trip upstairs to the rooftop terrace or the newly opened Civic restaurant for dinner and drinks. With a 360 degree view of the Toronto skyline and Don River, your stay is guaranteed to be a night of luxury.

Tip: Reserve a room by Feb 18th and the Broadview Hotel will enhance your stay with with a 2pm late checkout, an early morning snack, an in-room mimosa-kit, and a $30 credit per person for the Café + Bar. Make sure to book the Pillow Talk Package!

Broadview Hotel Valentines Day

Bonjour Brioche

812 Queen Street E ~ 416.406.1250

A special breakfast or brunch is a great way of getting straight to the heart, with sweet and savoury treats. From fresh fruit salad and baked French toast to smoked salmon omelettes and quiches, Riverside’s Bonjour Brioche offers just enough taste of old-school Paris charm to add some flavour to your relationship.

il ponte – Cucina Italiana

625 Queen Street E ~ 416.778.0404

Nothing sets the mood more than a classic evening of fine Italian dining. Authentic in taste and casual in style , il ponte is known for its gourmet pizza and pasta, fresh seafood, and local meats. Rest-assured, restauranteur Giancarlo will find the perfect glass of wine to accompany your meal. With a love for tradition , he is sure to make your night a special one!

Tip: visit il ponte on Tuesday’s to get half price bottles of wine.

Comedy Night at I’ll Be Seeing You

747 Queen Street E ~ 416.778.9988

Share some laughs and some bar food noms any Tuesday of the month at I’ll Be Seeing You. Though it’s not your typical candlelit dinner, comedy night is a great way to let loose and lighten up the mood in the company of others. And for $6 pints – who could resist?

Smash Ping Pong Lounge

672 Queen Street E ~ 647.748.7664

Get your game on! Grab your partner (and some friends) and visit SMASH for an evening of fun-loving competition! Fuel up with their hand-held bites (pizzas, burgers, wings and more) and fully stocked bar. The relaxed vibes will make you feel right at home.

Enjoy and have fun, this month of love!

Riverside Month of Love: Gift Guide

Toronto’s Riverside neighourhood has an abundance of spots with unique gifts guaranteed to make your loved one smile (or laugh or whatever you’re going for!). Check out some of our top picks this month of love:

Quince Flowers 

660 Queen St East ~ 416.594.1414

What better way to say “I love you” than with a bouquet of flowers? Well Quince Flowers has got this and more! Check out their unique heart shaped succulents 🙂

Sugar Loaf:

729 Queen Street E ~ 647.847.6122

Need some chocolate to go with those flowers? Sugar Loaf Bakery offers unique, sweet treats that are sure to please everyone’s taste buds.  From chocolate brownies and Nutella cookies to their famous “Brookie” (a delectable brownie-cookie combination), these French and Italian inspired baked goods are an edible declaration of love. No matter what you decide on, everything at Sugar Loaf is made with love!

Mary Macleod’s Shortbread

639 Queen Street E ~ 416.461.4576

Add to your sweet treats care package with Mary Macleod’s shortbread cookies! Their chocolate crunch cookies are a delicacy no one can resist (especially when heart-shaped). P.S. Mary Macleod’s is saying farewell to Riverside on Feb 14th when you can get almost all goodies for 50% off.

Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery

732 Queen Street E ~ 416.463.7263

Get sweet and sentimental with this year’s gift with the help of Dimensions custom framing services. Have a favourite picture, painting or design that is close to both of your hearts? Bring it to Dimensions and have them create a specialized frame design that the two of you can admire for years to come. Don’t worry, nothing is off limits. Have an idea? They will work hard to present and preserve it.

Tiny Record Shop:

804 Queen Street E ~ 416.479.4363

Impress your loved one with some vinyl! Tiny Record Shop is your place to go – yes it’s tiny but also world famous, with hand-picked imports and owner’s favourites. Whether into rock ‘n roll or old soul, you’ll find something special.


768 Queen Street E ~ 1 844.472.7452 

Shop BRIKA’s love shop for high quality, beautifully crafted pieces that are hard to find anywhere else! For her, pick up a classic personalized initial ring. For him, get anything leather – a wallet, belt, flask etc. No matter the size, at BRIKA, beauty and happiness live in every small thing. Tip: if you can wait till the 15th, Brika at 768 Queen E is having their first ever warehouse sale with 70% all well-crafted pieces till the 20th!

Arts Market Riverside 

790 Queen Street E ~ 416.778.9533

Show your significant other your creative side with the help of local artists and designers. Arts Market Riverside is home to an array of home-made goods with a few vintage pieces thrown in the mix. From jewelry and paintings to ceramics and scented candles, add that extra personal touch to this year’s gift by bringing home an original statement piece. Your partner won’t know what’s coming!

P.S. Don’t forget to pick up some of Toronto’s very best Valentine’s Day cards while you’re browsing!

However you celebrate this Month of Love, take the time to appreciate all of the love around you and enjoy the local Riverside gift giving experience 🙂