Beaches International Jazz Festival’s ‘Sounds of Leslieville & Riverside’

The Beaches International Jazz Festival has been a sought-after summer tradition for the past 32 years. The festival has brought life, music, culture and drawn crowds into Toronto’s east end communities.

Traditionally held in The Beach area of Toronto, in 2017, the festival partnered with the Riverside and Leslieville BIAs to expand along Queen Street East. The ‘Sounds of Leslieville & Riverside’ kicked off the popular festival in 2017 and 2018 in Jimmie Simpson Park.

Based on early success, the ‘Sounds of’ was expanded in 2019 into a free multi-block party in Riverside and Leslieville with the hub at Jimmie Simpson Park. Local businesses got involved by hosting live music, sidewalk sales and food specials along the street.

In 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic , the Beaches Jazz Festival is powering through as Canada’s only virtual jazz festival, including ‘The Sounds of Leslieville & Riverside’ on July 23rd! Check out some local memories from years past and learn more about the festival below:

‘Sounds of Leslieville and Riverside’ in Jimmie Simpson Park- 2018

Riverside Burgers taking part in the festivities, 2018

‘Sounds of Leslieville and Riverside’ Block Party at Riverside’s Saulter St beside the Queen Garden Centre- 2019

When the Beaches International Jazz Festival first began in 1989, local jazz artists would perform at Kew Gardens. The festival has grown to be one of Canada’s largest free jazz festivals attracting thousands of fans and promoting talented Canadian jazz artists.

This year, the virtual festival is collecting donations for the Michael Garron Hospital, in support of front-line workers.  From July 17-26th. You can stream the live performances, workshops, and interviews from the comfort of your own home. Featuring over 300 artists such as  JP Saxe, Aiza, Commmand Sisters,  Sean Jonesand Tyler Shaw.

The overall festival will kick off with a night of festival favourites on July 17th, followed by segments ‘Groovin’ in the Living Room’ on the 18th and a Latin Carnival on the 19th. The festivities continue the following week with ‘Sounds of Leslieville and Riverside’ live on July 23rd, a virtual ‘Street Fest’ on the 24th and finishing off with a host of artists performing in the weekend series from July 25th-26th.

The festival will look a little different this year, but the spirit of the event will remain the same. The annual event will continue bringing communities together- virtually. You can stream the event for free on their website, Facebook Live or YouTube Channel.

Take a look at this year’s program and find out how you can participate in this year’s Beaches Jazz Festival! Beaches Jazz Festival Program 2020

Riverside BIA is proud to be part of this incredible musical event and looks forward to the shows!

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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.



What’s in a Name? The Story of The Broadview Hotel in Toronto’s Riverside Neighbourhood

The Broadview Hotel today is a modern boutique hotel located in the heart of Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood at Queen Street East and Broadview. The iconic heritage building has a long and colourful story dating back to the 1800s. 

“Broadview Hotel” 1945: showing the store entrances

Serial entrepreneur, Archibald Dingman recognized Riverside as a great real estate opportunity/investment and purchased the property in the 1880s. The Broadview Hotel, in its original form, was constructed in 1891 when Riverside was a bustling industrial neighbourhood. The building was once the tallest east of the Don River and was an instant landmark. Then called “Dingman’s Hall”, it was used to host many social clubs, and political and community events. In 1907, the building was sold to Thomas J. Edwards who transformed it into the New Broadview House Hotel, renting rooms for $1.50 a night.  The establishment was known as the “Lincoln Hotel” for a time in the 1930s before reverting to its original name in the 40s.

In the 1970s to the 2010s, the building was a rooming house with main floor entertainment clubs, including Kicker’s (photo below from the Toronto Archives) and the more infamous Jilly’s.

In 2014, Streetcar Developments Inc. and Dream Unlimited purchased the building and transformed it from the ground up and from the top to the bottom.

The several years long revitalization of the building was eagerly watched by the community.  In 2016, when the extensive heritage restoration on the exterior of the building were complete, the “New Broadview Hotel” was now “The Broadview Hotel”, the old sign preserved on The Rooftop patio. Complete with a facelift but still retaining the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture and art of the original structure.  

Jennifer Lay, the Riverside BIA’s Executive Director recalls: “The Riverside BIA and community was on hand the evening of October 5, 2016 when the impressive exterior lighting of the building was unveiled. It was the night of the BIA’s 36th Annual General Meeting and the meeting agenda was wrapped up in good time so all could rush out to experience the once-in-a-lifetime occasion.”

The community at the unveiling of the new exterior lighting on The Broadview Hotel (October 5, 2016)

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#BroadviewHotel lights up in #historical moment for #RiversideTO @broadviewhotel

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The opening of the establishment itself followed nearly 10 months later and it was well worth the wait to enter the carefully curated boutique hotel in July 2017,  featuring a rooftop bar with a stunning 360 degree view of the Toronto skyline.

Ribbon cutting for The Broadview Hotel on July 27, 2017 with Streetcar Developments President Les Mallins, Mayor John Tory, Councillor Paula Fletcher and other VIPs

Nods to the building’s history can be found throughout the interior. A hidden gem is the series of murals by local design studio Supermilk on the walls of the building’s seven-storey stairwell. From an homage to its original foundation of a Romanesque red brick building which saw the building of streetcar tracks into Toronto’s east, the 125-year sports history of cycling, baseball and more in Riverside, to the New Broadview House Hotel and the remnants of Jilly’s. Climbing down the stairwell gives you a one-of-a-kind tour back in the building’s and Riverside neighbourhood’s history.

The Broadview Hotel – Murals in the Stairwell

Homage to Sunlight Park – Toronto’s first Baseball Grounds, opened in 1886, was situated just south of Queen Street East at the time the Broadview Hotel was built.

In the span of four years, The Broadview Hotel has become one of the most sought-after destinations in Toronto. On top of its incredible design and features, The Broadview has developed unique local partnerships which further root it in Riverside and Toronto’s larger east end community. Just to name a few of the local collaborations: curated vinyl record collections from Riverside’s own Tiny Record Shop in hotel rooms, luxury toiletries from Riverdale-based Graydon Skincare as part of accommodations, and greenery in dining spaces curated by local shop Quince Flowers

The Lincoln Terrace at The Broadview Hotel

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel started a virtual “Cook with Us” series with host and executive chef Richard Singh. In June, their Rooftop Bar on the 7th floor and 2nd floor “Garden and Grill” on the Lincoln Terrace re-opened with health & safety measures in place. Need a break from your home office? The Broadview Hotel offers packages perfect for a staycation! You can find more information about the packages on their website.

This architectural showstopper has held many names, and the innate beauty of the structure and rich history rooted in Riverside no doubt has countless more stories to tell. 

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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.




Alquimia Mural

In 2019, the Riverside BIA proudly welcomed the ‘Alquimia’ mural as a vibrant addition to the neighbourhood’s public art pieces. Painted by Jacquie Comrie, the mural brings life to the walls of Riverside.

‘Alquimia’ (Spanish for ‘alchemy’) is a mural in a semi-abstract style. Paying homage to the Riverside neighbourhood, the mural is an interpretation of the quote “This river I step in is not the river I stand in” that speaks of the inevitable nature of all things: Alchemy and change. “Everything moves. Everything transforms into something else. It is a connection to the past while celebrating its future, progress and growth of the community,” said artist Jacquie Comrie.

Through the use of vibrant colour palettes, the aim is to inject light and energy, hoping to make everyone feel welcome and uplifted, while transforming the corner into a space of mental elevation for everyone.

On the celebration of the launch, the public came together to view the mural take part in the planting of a Pollinator Garden in Joel Weeks Park.

About the Mural Artist

Jacquie Comrie is a multidisciplinary Toronto-based artist and mental health advocate.

Whether as murals on buildings, large scale structures, or canvases, her body of work is a dynamic exploration of colour as a universal language of human emotion. With mental health issues on the rise across the globe, her goal is to continue creating inclusive, colourful spaces of mental reset to ultimately help improve the lives of all individuals, one wall at a time.

She recently worked on the ‘A Streetcar named Toronto’ project and the Black Lives Matter painting at Kensington Market. To learn more about Jacquie, visit her website

Thank You to the Businesses Involved! 

A special thanks to Pizza Nova who provided the wall space and continuous support throughout the ideation process. Thank you to Anjuli Solanki who through her leadership during the Riverside Public Art Walk engaged the community in the Alquimia mural’s design. Thank you to Riverside BIA’s Streetscape Committee for all of the hard work and time volunteered in the planning process for the mural. And thank you to the City of Toronto for helping fund the project.

While strolling through Riverside check out the mural, feel uplifted and take some selfies, enjoy some photos and don’t forget to tag us #RiversideTO.

The Alquimia mural is one of the stops on our Riverside Public Art Self-Guided Walk, check out some of the other pieces a part of the tour! Check out the video of the mural launch:

2019 Riverside Mural Alquimia

2019 Riverside Mural Alquimia


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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.




It’s About Time: “Time: and A Clock” Public Art in Riverside

The Queen Street Viaduct, or ‘Riverside Bridge’ has become Riverside’s most iconic landmark thanks to the public art project by the Riverside BIA in partnership with the City of Toronto, renowned local artists and others.

The passage was originally built in 1803 as a wooden bridge. In 1911, the bridge was updated to the structure you still see today. The steel truss century old bridge now known for its unique appearance and modern nighttime illumination got its artistic facelift in 1996. Artist Eldon Garnet with the help of others, created the “Time: and a Clock” multi-piece art series for Riverside. The first piece in the series, which sits proudly atop the bridge, took inspiration from Greek Philosopher Heraclitus.

“This river I step in is not the river I stand in”

The locally famous phrase on the bridge art is referring Heraclitus’ notion that one cannot step into the same river twice as new water continues flow on those who step into a river. Like water, time continues to flow. It is constantly in motion, never standing still. The commissioned artwork fuelled the Riverside community which in turn sparked the neighbourhood’s revitalization. The art installation helped bring the business-community together with renewed purpose and identity as home to one of Toronto’s most well-known landmarks.

On June 5th of 2015, the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project, a 3-year capital improvement project was completed to illuminate the bridge, including the iconic art, each night. The colourful Riverside wayfinding art on the posts you see on each side of the bridge was also added at that time.  The bridge was illuminated just in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. It was a way to put Riverside on the map as the world would be on Riverside’s doorstep.

The “Time and a Clock” art series has three parts, all building on the theme of the flowing of time. All situated in the neighbourhood’s nerve centers. You can find the art pieces on the Riverside Bridge (Queen St Viaduct), in the four corners of the Queen and Broadview intersection, and beside Jimmy Simpson Park. Artist Eldon Garnet explains that you can’t experience the artwork in one moment; it is a process over a period of time to visit each site to get the whole picture of the installation.

Art Piece Site #1 – On the eastern entrance of Riverside, on the Queen Street Bridge. “THIS RIVER I STEP IN IS NOT THE RIVER I STAND IN”.

Caption: photo taken at the unveiling of the lights of the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project in June 2015

Art piece #2 – At the intersection of Broadview and Queen Street: four expressions dealing with time; embedded in the sidewalk at four corners: “TOO SOON FREE FROM TIME”, “TIME IS MONEY: MONEY IS TIME”, “BETTER LATE THAN NEVER” and “TIME=DISTANCE X VELOCITY”

 Art piece #3 – Beside Jimmy Simpson Park are four stainless steel pennants, four declarations of time, a lyrical poem, one word per pole: COURSING, DISAPPEARING, TREMBLING, RETURNING.

The “Time and a clock” art series spear headed future Riverside public art projects and has solidified the importance of art in the community. The art pieces are also part of the Riverside public art self-guided walking tour, check out the other stops on the tour virtually!

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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.



Change is a Brewin’ in Riverside

Riverside is proud to have two independent breweries in the neighbourhood – Eastbound Brewing Co. and Saulter Street Brewery – and Toronto’s first cidery- Brickworks Ciderhouse. While all are relatively new in Riverside – all having opened within the last few years – each has a rich and locally-rooted story to tell and have cemented their place in Riverside as local favourites.

Eastbound Brewing Co.

The space at 700 Queen Street East has seen many changes over the years – as a former furniture store space, and long, long ago a former theatre called the Teck Theatre, to name just a couple – and most recently transformed into a brewpub. serving up freshly brewed beer, elevated pub food and good times. Founded by names experienced in the food and beverage industry – owners Dave Watson, David Lee, Adam Stiles, and Peter Moscone, along with head Chef Tara Lee came together to launch in 2017 the Eastbound Brewing Company.

Eastbound Brewing Co. aims to be a completely transparent operation, from the open kitchen to the bar stool lined brewing operation in the beautiful 3200 square foot storefront. Their menu features unique beer-complimenting dishes like their famous Beer Can Chicken. As husband and wife, Brewer & Chef team, Dave and Tara Lee are all about thoughtful flavour ideas that start from scratch. They encourage you to get curious about what’s on your table and see how great food and beer can pair so well together.

During COVID-19, their operations pivoted to their Eastbound Online Store with a variety of takeout and delivery options for beer and food, and a growing retail shop in store with grocery and prepped meal offerings made from scratch in their kitchen.

Eastbound is always connected to the pulse of the community and very involved. Owner Dave Watson has been active on the Riverside BIA Board and Marketing Committee since before Eastbound opened up.

“We looked at several neighbourhoods when searching for a space to open our doors, and Riverside was a clear winner. We wanted somewhere we could grow our roots as a young business – somewhere with diversity, character, community, and also somewhere we could live. My wife and I used to live in the west end of the city, but ended up moving just a few blocks away from Eastbound and haven’t looked back. We love it here and love being a part of our community,” said Dave.

Caption: CafeTO program launched with Mayor Tory and Councillor Fletcher at Eastbound Brewing Co on July 1, 2020

Saulter Street Brewery

Riverside is home to a hidden gem at the end of Saulter Street. This brewery named after the very street it lies on, was founded by John Sterling and brewer Peter Kufeldt in 2017. Saulter Street Brewery offers small batch experimental beers only available in their onsite taproom (and during COVID-19 for takeout and delivery). A Czech-style Pilsner is their flagship brew called the Riverside Copper Pilsner.

John was first drawn to the ‘small town in the big city’ vibe of Riverside- an escape from the city, a place where time slows down. He always aimed to build a sense of community in the space and inspire people to live in the moment. The logo for the brewery features a clock, a motif featured in many local art pieces including the Time and A Clock piece by Eldon Garnet. The taproom is meant to feel relaxed and homey with tables made out of barrels, repurposed wood, and exposed equipment adding to the local charm.

Since closing their taproom to the public due to COVID-19, the Saulter Street Bottle Shop has been popular for online orders and pickup.

Brickworks Ciderhouse

Riverside’s Brickworks Ciderhouse is the perfect example of turning your dreams and passions into a reality as the ultimate form of success. The owners Adam Gerrits and Chris Noll went to Western University in London, Ontario to pursue their post-secondary education. It was there where they began brewing their own wine, beer, and cider for their friends. They had dreams of pursuing brewing ciders as their full-time gig but ended up going on to develop successful careers in other industries. Later, the emerging craft beer and cider industry reeled Adam and Chris into the business and to follow their dreams.

Brickworks Ciderhouse opened up in Riverside in 2018 and their dreams became reality. They were Toronto’s first cidery since 1920s prohibition and located in a bright and airy two-story space at the iconic corner of Queen and Broadview, kitty corner to the then newly revitalized and reopened Broadview Hotel. Taking inspiration from the city, Toronto is deeply embedded in their creations.  Each cider has a story behind their inception. One of their ciders, Batch: 1904, as written on Taps Magazine is reflective of some Toronto history, “a catastrophic fire that consumed the downtown core in 1904. The cider industry was winding down at that time as well, so the brew celebrates the subsequent rebirth of the city and the rebirth of the cider industry, The company’s trademark name “Brickworks” harkens back to rebuilding the city with bricks made from the crimson red clay in the Don Valley.” They also still offer their original ‘Queen Street 501’ cider which is a favourite.

After closing their taps and dining/events spaces to the public due to COVID-19, they pivoted to include a special menu of cider and food offerings available for pick up through their takeout window.

With Toronto now in Stage 2 of opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out new offerings from these amazing local establishments such asCafeTO on-street patio spaces!

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The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.