Riverside BIA: Reflecting on 2017, Welcoming 2018!

As I write this note, we have just completed the last of the Riverside BIA’s many annual events. It’s one of the most near and dear to me and, I know, to many of you: the Riverside Antler Breakfast. This event embodies all that is great about this wonderful, warm and hard-working community – our teamwork, our drive and our humanity – always striving for better in all we do, giving back, going above and beyond, and working together to make it happen. In 2017, these efforts have continued to make the Riverside neighbourhood a welcoming place, for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

When this hits your inbox, the Riverside BIA office team will be off recharging for some much needed R&R so we can come back refreshed for another incredible year of public programming and community improvements. I wanted to take this moment to express thanks and reflect on the past year.

First and foremost, I want to recognize and thank our Riverside BIA Board of Directors. They are all local business and/or property owners, and are dedicated volunteers who have invested so much of their time and energy into building this BIA community. Thanks to: Mitch Korman of Korman and Company, who is our long-standing Chair and son of the original BIA founder Jack Korman; Natasha Varjacic, of Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward Brokerage who is our Secretary; Ryan Nelson of Hullmark Development, who is our Treasurer; Adrienne McRuvie, of Oma Chiropractic & Wellness Centre; Athena Ellinas Towers, of The Opera House; Rosie Little Jeffares, of Quince Flowers; Dave Watson, of Eastbound Brewing Co; Ellen Davidson, of Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery, and our local Councillor Paula Fletcher.

Also a big thanks to the 2017 members of our Marketing Committee and Streetscape Committee, also all local folks who work, live and/or play in Riverside and who volunteer their time to help support the Riverside BIA’s annual planning and activities and make the magic happen.

RIVERSIDE WINEFEST launched the Riverside BIA’s annual calendar of public programming, drawing over 1,500 people to Riverside restaurants, shops, services and community spaces, and raising $1,000 for the Ralph Thornton Community Centre. Thanks to our 2017 Riverside Winefest supporters: Sugar Loaf Bakery & Cafe (food sponsor), Toronto Food Tours, and Team Sheppard RE/MAX! (pictured above: Megan Sheppard of Team Sheppard RE/MAX with Riverside BIA Chair Mitch Korman). I’m pleased to announce our 2018 event (coming up April 3rd – 7th!) will continue it’s focus on Ontario wine but add a craft beer element, thanks to partnerships with Riverside’s new breweries, Eastbound and Saulter Street!
RIVERSIDE WALKS drew crowds of people to on Saturdays from May to October. Fifteen separate walks were run, drawing more than 1,200 people, thanks to our fearless walk leaders: Ron Fletcher, Megan Sheppard, Danette Steele, Manu Kabahizi, Barry Slater, and Nishta Saxena. Special thanks to our 2017 Walks sponsor Team Sheppard RE/MAX! I’m happy to confirm Team Sheppard will be back on board for 2018, and we’ve got some great new walks planned, along with the traditional favourites 😉
LAUNCH OF THE BROADVIEW HOTEL was celebrated on July 27th by the Riverside community and Toronto. The hotel has already helped transform the landscape of the neighbourhood for the better as a popular establishment, an important landmark, and a great community partner to boot!

RIVERSIDE EATS & BEATS ‘CELEBRATES 150’ was a hit, thanks to the fabulous participation of so many Riverside BIA members; great partners like the Indigenous & Ingenious Show and Sale, our generous sponsors Downtown Automotive Group, BMO, and Hullmark, and a grant from the Government of Ontario’s 150 Celebration Program! Looking forward to another great festival, coming up Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, with some big plans in the works! 

RIVERSIDE MAGAZINE shone in 2017 thanks to a fabulous cover, highlighting the illuminated Broadview Hotel (photo credit to Giancarlo Pawelec, graphic design by geocdesign) and some great content by our editorial team. The 2018 Riverside Magazine will take it to the next level – check out the media kit and let us know if you’d like to be a part of this exciting publication!

RIVERSIDE BIA PLANTERS: The BIA’s 23 street planters looked fresh all year thanks to a new partnership with social enterprise Parkdale GreenthumbThey’ll be back in the neighbourhood making our planters beautiful in 2018! The BIA also has big plans to transform the Riverside BIA street scape through a Master Planning process in 2018 – stay tuned!

TKARONTO PAST, TKARONTO FUTURE MURAL  was launched in August on the walls of Woodgreen Community Services, thanks to a wonderful partnership with Indigenous artists (pictured above: Odinamaad, Chief Lady Bird and Dave Monday Oguorie) and support from Cultural Hotspot, City of Toronto, StreetART Toronto, Canada 150, Ontario 150, and the Riverside BIA. This mural has brought much meaning and connection to the Indigenous community and we are truly honoured to have this beautiful public art.

RIVERSIDE’S PARTNERSHIP WITH DIGITAL MAIN STREET (DMS) provided lots of benefits to Riverside businesses, with hands-on 1:1 support, access to in-class training and $2500 grants from qualifying businesses to implement digital plans (pictured above at the DMS Camp Tech – from Left: me, Ashley from White Lily Diner, Laura from LabCreative, Jen from Healthy Whey, Sinead from Irish Design House, and Avery from Camp Tech). Thanks to the positive feedback we received from Riverside BIA members, we will be investing in 2018 to bring back the DMS squad for more in-house support – stay tuned!

RIVERSIDE BIA BROUGHT NUIT BLANCHE TO TORONTO’S EAST for the first time, thanks to a partnership with Streetcar Developments, ERA Architects, the City of Toronto, and artists Rosie Little Jeffares, Nadine Bariteau, Calen Schaub, and the Wiggly Artist Collective – featuring five large-scale exhibits, thanks to the support of many local businesses and volunteers.

RIVERSIDE BIA’s 2017 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING was a great time to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and get agreement on forging ahead with an ambitious program in 2018. Special recognition was given to our 2017 Marketing Awardee: I’ll Be Seeing You Bar; and our Streetscape Awardee: The Broadview Hotel (pictured above: me, our Board Chair Mitch, Board member Rosie, and Murray, GM of The Broadview Hotel). This was the BIA’s 37th AGM and going strong!!

RIVERSIDE BIA FACADE IMPROVEMENTS completed in 2017 are making the community a brighter place, thanks to investments by Riverside BIA member businesses and the City of Toronto. For example, the BIA celebrated with long-time member, Baird MacGregor Insurance LP, which received a $12,500 grant from the City to support their over $100,000 investment in their facade renewal (pictured above is Baird MacGregor CEO Philomena Comerford at middle, with Councillor Fletcher and BIA Chair Mitch). The City will be inviting a new round of Facade Grant Applications in early 2018 – stay tuned for details!

RIVERSIDE HALLOWEEN was super popular (as always!) and big thanks to Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward, Jimmie Simpson Rec Centre and all the Riverside businesses that take part to make this an always super fun event (pictured above is David from The Arts Market in Ghostbuster gear)! Can’t wait to see all the creative costumes when the Kiddie Costume Parade is back on October 27th, 2018!

LIGHT UP RIVERSIDE & SHOP THE NEIGHBOURHOOD was a fantastic day of local shopping, eating, and promotions throughout Riverside, thanks to so many participating businesses. The day culminated in community celebrations which were truly a joy! Special thanks to our Light Up Riverside sponsors Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP and Gillis & Kennedy RE/MAX! (Pictured above, the BIA awarded the 2017 Jack Korman Memorial Award to outstanding Volunteer Giancarlo Pawelec – second from left beside our Councillor Paula Fletcher). Can’t wait for next year’s event on November 24th!
#RIVERSIDETO #WINDOWWONDERLAND CONTEST provided a lot of friendly competition this year and a great excuse to go all-out on gorgeous window displays! Instagrammers jumped on board (literally!) to take the top shot 🙂 Big thanks to everyone who took part in the fun, and congrats to the winners!
RIVERSIDE ANTLER BREAKFAST raised thousands of dollars thanks to the hard work of the Antler Breakfast partners – the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Toronto Food Tours, Rivertowne Safety 1st and the Riverside BIA – and the generosity of everyone in the community, with special thanks to our Santa level sponsor this year: Jason Friesen Mortgage. This fun community event has once again helped ensure the year-round operation of the local Rivertowne Breakfast Program in 2018!!! Final total raised to be announced in early 2018 -stay tuned!
Again, thanks to each and every one of you for your incredible support in 2017 and wishing everyone the best for a happy new year!

Announcing the Winner of #RiversideTO #WindowWonderland Contest +Thx to All Who Took Part!

This year’s #Riverside TO #WindowWonderland was a hot contest with tons of gorgeous windows on display.  The top shot goes to winner jgoss100 who received over 300 Likes for her snap of Common Sort’s unique window display at 800 Queen Street East! Real name Julie, she is “a writer and a Jewelry Designer who loves music, movies, poetry, jewelry, and fashion”. Julie says her winning shot was inspired by “my love for fashion and creativity. [Common Sort’s] window is so unique and really grabbed my attention”. Big congrats to Julie – she’s won a $100 gift certificate to Common Sort!

THANKS to all the Riverside businesses who dressed up their windows so fabulously – take a look at our blog which shows snaps of many of them – and don’t miss coming by to enjoy them – whilst doing your shops and eats – into the New Year!

THANKS also to all our fabulous Instagrammers who took a moment to snap and share their unique views as part of the contest – take a look at some of the top shots:

Extra points here for enthusiasm (!!):

Snap N’ Share in #RiversideTO #WindowWonderland Contest – on Until Dec 13th!

Once again, Riverside shops and retailers have created Window Wonderland displays for with festive imagery and getting in the holiday spirit. Residents are encouraged to snap a photo of their favorite and share it on Instagram using the #RiversideTO and #WindowWonderland hashtags.

The competition is heating up, with tons of amazing windows on display and with lots of great contestants! The Instagram photo with the most likes will win a $100 gift card to the Riverside establishment in the picture!

The contest runs until December 13th, so check out the pics below for some of the windows on display and then go enjoying seeing them for yourself while shopping and strolling the neighbourhood!

p.s.  If you can’t make it over before Dec 13th – no worries, there fab windows will be up till the new year to enjoy whilst doing your holiday shops, eats and, of course, self-care dates!



Make sure to Snap your favorite on Share it on Instagram with #RiversideTO #WindowWonderland by Dec 13th! Happy Holidays!

Riverside’s 6th Annual Antler Breakfast is Dec 15th: Help Support and Join the Fun

The 6th Annual Riverside Antler Breakfast is fast approaching on Dec 15th (7:30am-10:30am) at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre (765 Queen St E, 2nd Fl). It’s Riverside’s annual fundraiser which enables the year-round operation of the local Rivertowne Breakfast Program (details below!). It’s also a super fun community event where you can hang with your friends and neighbours, have a great breakfast, and enjoy live music and more.


  • Get tickets for yourself/ your colleagues, friends, family!
    • Get them at the Ralph Thornton Centre reception (3rd Fl) or get them at the door on Dec 15th ($20/ adult or $10/ child 12 & under)
  • Be a Reindeer Sponsor:-$250, gets you 8 tickets, recognition and charitable receipt
  • Be an Elf Sponsor: $100, gets you 2 tickets, thanks at the event and charitable receipt (HOW: same ways as Reindeer Sponsor!).
  • Donate food or auction items
  • Donate online anytime to the Rivertowne Breakfast Program
  • Spread the Word!

BIG THANKS to our sponsors to date:

  • Santa Level Sponsor: Jason Friesen Mortgage
  • Reindeer Sponsors:  Oma Chiropractic & Wellness Centre, Quince Flowers, Team Sheppard RE/MAX, MPP Peter Tabuns, BMO Queen/Saulter Branch, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Brokerage, BMO Queen/Woodbine Branch, Nell & Natasha’s Real Estate Homeward, and Leea Muir.


Proceeds support The Rivertowne Breakfast Program, providing a hot breakfast to youth, families and anyone in need every Friday, year round:

The Rivertowne Breakfast Program is championed by Rivertowne Safety 1st, a resident collective comprised of Toronto Community Housing leaders dedicated to making a positive impact in their community. The Breakfast Program runs every Friday, year-round to provide children, youth and families in the neighbourhood with a free, warm breakfast. It also brings people in the community together regardless of their age, income or background and builds a sense of community.  This program is supported by a variety of community partners. The program runs in Rivertowne on Friday mornings, 7am-11am, at 50 Matilda Street, Toronto.

Four Ways of Giving: Holiday Gifting Ideas From a Local Resident and Interior Designer in Toronto’s Riverside

Shop local in Toronto’s Riverside and save time while offering more with unique gifts. Elaine, local Riverside resident and interior designer, highlights lots of ideas under four different ways of Gifting to help you save time, money and add value to your Giving this holiday season.

Do you hear what I hear? Seasonal tunes and that fluttering panic which sets in with the countdown to gift thinking, buying, packaging, spending & sending ….and the traffic, the line ups, pre-season sales, comparison shopping, lists, wraps, bows and baubles. Should you make or buy? Get certificates or ‘things’?

It’s early December and the desired ‘peace on earth’ will once again be transformed into a ‘piece of worth’.  How much time and energy do many of us spend in convoys in and out of our own neighbourhood, when the beauty of the season is right here to enjoy locally? Plus shopping and giving LOCAL contributes to the value of what we give.

As a local Riverside resident of (the famous!) De Grassi St and an interior designer, my goal is adding value and originality to sensible solutions. For this blog, I put my thoughts together to suggest easy ways to stroll and save yourself gas money, parking lot dings, time on the Don Valley and playing ‘customer crush’, while getting beautiful local gifts at any price point right here in the Riverside neighbourhood. Just  plan with this simple strategy:

  • Easy walking shoes, your shopping list, and a bundle buggy or knapsack to keep your hands free to whip out your card (and save enough time to reward yourself in the process!)

Here’s my take on Gift Giving in four categories: if you are like me, you have people on your list who like 1) Bright & Shiny new gifts, some who like to 2) Participate in gifts, and others who appreciate 3) Creating their gifts, and folks who need nothing and get by with 4) Giving. Here we go:

#1 The New & Shiny Gifts

Wrap and be done! The gift receiver can just open the heavenly wrapping paper and bows. These gifts can be small (jewellry from Brika) or large (Hello Toyota!)  and are things  that stand on their own all boxed and bowed.

I suggest: a classy boudoir peignoir for her at Sash & Bustle or next door’s Bergstrom carries Fly London shoes or choose from their own Toronto-made clothing designs for the modern woman. For kids of all ages, find inventive toys and accessories at Little Peeps.

Sash & Bustle Bridal Boutique

Bergstrom Originals

Little Peeps


How about rustic European beauty: The Irish Design House has beautifully designed newly woven fabric made in-store, made into clothes, blankets and accessories to pair with imported delicacies.  For Anglophiles pining for candy and accessories there is a passport to England through the door of Empire by Bullet.

Empire by Bullet, owner Creig


Or, for the North American retro appeal of pre-loved, there is Common Sort which has beautifully curated time warp clothing & accessories. Next door, you’ll find beautiful small gifts at Token and memorable vinyl sound tracks at The Tiny Record Shop (or up cycle some precious items from your own collections for store credit or handy holiday cash!).  Browse the  Arts Market,  for a clever card and one of a kind jewelry and accessories (p.s. they’re a year round market with artisan offerings from local Toronto vendors, with 100% of the sales going to vendors –  voted Best Unique Gift Store in the NOW Magazine Readers’ Choice!).


Tiny Record Shop


Love wood and fine craftsmanship? Step back in time and have Elbers refinish your own heirloom chair or look for a companion bookcase or side table from the 1800s.

Elbers Antiques and Refinishing


#2 The Participation Gifts

Open and Anticipate! These are gift certificate-able in a beautiful card, to enjoy together or solo, or enjoy NOW on your own! Be good to yourself after all:

New to the area? Help you giftee (or yourself) to get acquainted with a foodie tour before you settle down to final dinner decisions with Toronto Food Tours’ Riverside/Leslieville Tour!  Did you eat somewhere delicious? While it’s still freshly in your mind, get the certificate for a meal out!

Need something to relax and enjoy? Start at the bottom with feet for a relaxing pedicure at Barefoot Beauty (or some serious support at the same location with the East Toronto Foot Care) and work your way up to soothing hands on treatment at Oma Chiropractic & Wellness, and skin care at Clinique De Mode.

Clinique De Mode


Or why not a cut (and colour?!) from Untitled by Flaunt, Hair Code, Lone & Co. For him, try the venerable Broadview Beauty Parlour where a game of chess with the famous George is part and parcel. (Quick tip: Waxon can take care of any hairy issues so you are ready for a big night out….or in.)

For a unique experience why not tickets at The Opera House.  Let’s include Streetcar Crowsnest  and Red Sandcastle Theatre  because all local theatres need support, have amazing variety (and besides they are just on the friendly Riverside/Leslieville border)!

For a special night to see the city lights from the rooftops, a certificate for drinks, dinner and people watching at The Broadview Hotel’s Rooftop Bar, will be much appreciated.

Creativity is yours for the keeping too. Dimensions artistically frames any personal item or can suggest a new fabulous piece for the holidays from their own gallery (p.s. get on their mailing list for beautifully staged art show openings at their gallery for first dibs on original art). Silhouette Tailoring designs and makes new outfits or reinvents yours to their best possible condition….hemmed in? Don’t delay for the holidays! A beautiful plant in an architecturally inspired container to enjoy all year or statement floral arrangement for the holiday’s from Quince Flowers, is a fragrant art piece you create together or leave it to the master to get it just right!

Dimensions Custom Framing Gallery

Quince Flowers


There are also creative gifts of time: certificates for interior design, painting, sewing, cleaning and fixing – and if you are not handy there are plenty of local crafts people who would love to work with you making wonderful home spaces together. Co-ordinate with yours truly at Applecart Design.

Or try going the route of…

#3 The Making Gift

Sometimes packed into a reusable basket or jar! Collect the ingredients of something to make and do:

Dry ingredients in a beautiful jar (thanks Dollarama and Riverside Market, ) with your recipe card and novelty wooden spoon and bow for a future pan of brownies or spicy nutty treat..

A box of cookies tied with a bow from Mary Macleod’s Shortbread, combined with a with fashion-inspired magazines from Starbank and slipped into a Here & Now tote.

Mary Macleod’s Shortbread

Here and Now, owner Harold


Why not stuff a sweater from Irish Design House with a wine bottle into each sleeve from our friends at LCBO or The Wine Rack.  Wouldn’t that look cozy in the passenger seat of a Toyota Camry!  Don’t open until you get home!

A little much? Try a beanie from the Art Market stuffed with a bag Dark Horse  coffee beans!

Looking for a green and healthy gift? Get prime bike, accessories and expert advice for the pro or novice alike from Switchback Cyclery (a social enterprise and 360 degree vendor!) and stay fueled with gift certificates from award-winning juice bar Pulp Kitchen.

Switchback Cyclery


And finally:

#4 The Gift for Others

We are lucky to live in Riverside, one of Canada’s most vibrant communities. Help others share, create and make fond memories all in one with a gift of your choice to of the neighbourhood’s many community organizations such as Nellie’s, The Ralph Thornton Community Organization, Fontbonne Ministeries, Woodgreen Community Housing, or the Rivertowne Breakfast Program.

YOU will be helping provide essential services in ways countless others will appreciate all year round.

However you celebrate, take time to appreciate a beautiful time of year and enjoy your local experience in Riverside. 



Elaine Bergen is a fully accredited interior designer specializing in Residential projects for individual private homes and large scale new development and retirement renovation properties. She has been a resident and a home-based business on De Grassi Street in Riverside for over 25 years and is amazed at the great changes on Queen Street East and looks forward to working with local residents and businesses on any special projects! Applecart Design wishes you Happy Holidays and a successful 2018!