London Fringe Festival 2015 – Show Recommendations

For the first time in its 16 year history, London Fringe Festival is coming to the Old East Village and is already off to a fantastic start! There wasn’t an empty seat in the house at the Palace Theatre for the Performer Showcase last night as the artists took to the stage to promote their shows in three minutes or less. If the reactions of the house say anything, this is going to be a FANTASTIC Fringe!

Whether you are a first time festival goer or a seasoned pro, you will find this year’s Fringe promises something for everyone. From explicit comedy to family friendly fun, Fringe is spread across seven venues including three in the Old East Village: The Main Stage and Procunier Hall at the Palace Theatre, and the newly acquired space called “The Bank” at 762 Dundas Street.

Based on tonight’s showcase and performances I’ve been lucky to review in the past, I’d like to give you a few early recommendations on shows I feel you might not want to miss. I will be posting reviews with Theatre In London over the opening weekend, so check back for more recommendations later!

Family Friendly Fringe

AbraKIDAbra – The Bank
– Peter Mennie presents a comedy magic show that is fun for all ages. You can’t go wrong at $8 per ticket!
Only 3 shows: June 6, 7 and 13th.

Caws & Effect – McManus Studio
– Described as large scale shadow theatre from a bird’s eye view. The three minutes we saw at the preview were highly intriguing!
June 3, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 13th. – $12

Holka Polka – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– From the Palace Theatre’s very own LYTE program comes this delightful tale about a good little witch. It’s always a great show when it’s put on by Theatre LYTE.
June 4, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 13th – $10.

James & Jamesy in the Dark – McManus Studio
– Okay, based on past performances I find they aren’t quite my cup of tea but the kids (and the crowd!) go wild for them. Highly silly humour that drives the kids wild! $12 per ticket.
June 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11th.

Dance Adventures – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– I love dance, so this one was a given for me to add. This is an energetic and entertaining group of young dancers from London that you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $10 and they perform June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13th.

Adult Fringe

Some of these aren’t strictly adult, but most would be suitable for older children/teens. Check the Fringe program for more details on content that may be questionable in each show.

God is a Scottish Drag Queen II – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– I was fortunate to review the first installment of this at last year’s Fringe festival. Not only did I bust a gut, I bust a move with God! Be careful raising your hand at a comedy show….
June 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. – $12

Die Roten Punkte: Best Band in the World – Palace Theatre Main Stage
– They had me busting a gut in just 3 minutes. I can’t wait to see what they do with an hour!
June 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 – $12

Grade 8 – The Bank
– Raw and heartfelt stories told through spoken word and monologues. I highly enjoyed the preview and can’t wait to review this one for you. Stay tuned!
June 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. – $10

Underneath the Lintel – Spriet Family Theatre
– I reviewed this show in 2012 and loved it. Can’t wait to see it again this week! Don’t tell Patrick O’Brien, but I think I’ve got a strange little crush on his character. You’re going to love this one. (You’re welcome!)
June 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13. $12.

Lest We Regret – The Arts Project
– I’m choosing this one for several reasons. 1) The subject is compelling. 2) The preview was fantastic. 3) I’ve worked with Tim Bourgard and Tim Condon and I adore them. and 4) The woman in the show walks her dog past my home. Keepin’ it OEV!
June 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13. – $12.

Northern Daughter – McManus Studio
– Keeping it with OEV, you must, must, must see our very own Donna Creighton’s presentation of Northern Daughter. Compelling, funny and absolutely gritty, you will run the gambit of emotions with this one I think. Enjoy!
June 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13. – $12

I could go on, I’m sure, but there is a start for you. Come back and let me know what shows you check out and what you think of them.

Don’t forget about the Old East Village Street Festival and Sidewalk Sales on June 6th between Dundas and Rectory Streets, and the Dundas Street Festival on June 13th followed by Nuit Blanche! Happy Fringing, everybody!


Everything Old is New Again – The Root Cellar Organic Café

The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive markets out there. Several elements are needed in order for a restaurant to be successful: an enticing menu, outstanding customer service and a welcoming dining atmosphere. Since its inception in July of 2012 as a 19 seat cafe, the Root Cellar Organic Café has certainly offered all of this and more, but recently they unveiled a stunning expansion of their space that has made the dining atmosphere that much more welcoming and in a word: incredible.

Recycled, upcycled and innovatively designed are apt descriptors of the elements you will see when you walk into the new space at 623 Dundas Street East. Everywhere you look you will notice something old that has become new again. From bike frames welded to a counter at the front window to bicycle rims acting as a hanging cup rack. From rebar that has been welded into gorgeous and unique light fixtures on the ceiling, to sheet metal that has been bent and fused into a stunning line of flowers, or a handrail that now holds menu boards. The décor is intriguing and beautiful to say the least.

Root Cellar 007 Root Cellar 038Root Cellar 046





Many of the upcycled items were uncovered in the renovation process while others, such as the handrail that now holds the menus and an old yellow counter section, have been recycled from buildings at the Western Fairgrounds that were recently demolished. This space is a feast for your eyes and soul, and it’s easy to feel quite satisfied before you even set eyes on the menu which has an offering for every appetite and every diet. From vegan entrees to water buffalo burgers, local and organic are the two most important words to keep in mind as you peruse the delectable bill of fare.

Root Cellar 031

With a focus on “from-scratch” seasonal menus, in house artisan baked goods made from local and organic grains, supporting small local farmers is important to the Root Cellar. The concept for the restaurant grew out of a desire to create a relationship between local organic producers and food consumers. To this effect, they began to source local and organically produced items in an attempt to create as small a food chain as possible. All items on their menu are organic (with very few exceptions), and 80% of the food they use on their menu is local. To achieve this they frequent farmers who use season extension techniques such as hoop houses, allowing certain vegetables to be grown during the winter months.

Root Cellar 078

But the food, décor and incredibly welcoming staff aren’t the only enticements for customers at the Root Cellar. Their walls house a six week rotating art display featuring local London artists. The current display is a collage of local miscellany featuring 30 different artists. The Root Cellar doesn’t collect a commission on anything sold putting all the profits into the pockets of the artists. I was told a story about one of the artists whose actions reflect the values of the Root Cellar, and I would say of the Old East Village as well. Upon selling one of his pieces of art and knowing they weren’t taking a commission, the artist asked who he could make a donation to on behalf of the restaurant. They chose the Unity Project located just up the road from the Root Cellar.

Root Cellar 059Community focused. Local. Sustainable. Responsible. These are words I would easily use to describe the Root Cellar, and the neighbourhood in which it opens its doors to every day: The Old East Village. They are such a good fit for each other that at times I find it hard to believe the Root Cellar only opened its doors two years ago. It has become such a staple of the OEV that it feels like it has been part of the streetscape forever. And if the renovations and future plans for the restaurant are any indication, they don’t plan on leaving any time soon either. With an extended menu that now includes dinner and longer hours from Thursday to Saturday, a new chef, Dani Murphy, who is described as “amazing” by General Manager Ellie Cook, the Root Cellar has said “We are here to stay!”

Root Cellar 053And if that wasn’t enough, there are even more exciting developments in the works for the Root Cellar Organic Café. Soon their old, tiny kitchen will become London’s first co-operatively owned nanobrewery: a very small brewery operation that is defined by a brew system less than 4 US beer barrels. It will be the first worker owned brewery of its kind in Canada and will offer the beer on tap in the Root Cellar, and perhaps in a growler size that you will be able to take home later in the game.

Oh, and about that sign! Whenever I mention the amazing Root Cellar to friends and neighbours they comment on the sign that hangs above the old entry. “When are they going to get a new sign??” everyone questions, so I asked Ellie – who was the sign’s creator, in case you didn’t know.

“SOON!” she assures me, though she says it with slight hesitation. Asrootcellar the sign is being done by the same folks at Reclaimed Innovations who did the new space makeover, it might take them a little time to recover from the hard work they put into the Root Cellar space before the sign is completed. For now, look for the modest yellow hand painted sign that still adorns the front of the building. You can’t miss it and I promise you, the food will still taste just as good.

Drop in to see the folks at the Root Cellar today, and tell your friends about it tomorrow. This is truly a business to get behind in London, Ontario. With breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and a mandate for local, sustainable and responsible partnerships, you can’t go wrong with the Root Cellar Organic Café.

Bon appétit!

Coffee Talk: Asmara Caffee

There is a rising coffee culture in London, Ontario, with roasteries and cafes popping up all around the city. So much so that a local news outlet recently did a story on the upsurge. However, the story neglected to mention the coffee shops around the Old East Village, and one in particular that I’ve discovered is absolutely worthy of  mention: The Asmara Caffee at 809 Dundas Street East.

Situated in the Towne Square building right next to Geri Fashions, the Asmara Caffee is one of London’s best kept secrets, and I think it’s well past time to let this cat out of the bag. Taking over where the Panafrique Cafe left off, the Asmara has held this space since August of 2012.

Click on the menu to enlarge it.
Click on the menu to see it larger.

Featuring free WiFi, all day breakfast, gluten free food options, fresh baked pastries and a full lunch and dinner menu, the Asmara Caffee has much to offer behind its doors.


But the pièce de résistance at the Asmara  is their deliciously bold,  in-house roasted fresh, free-trade organic coffee. Some might feel that  “a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee”, but to coffee lovers that is completely untrue. A cup of coffee may be just that for some, but a good cup of coffee is an experience. And if you are a true coffee lover, the Asmara roast is a cup you must try.

Misgna came to Canada from his home of Eritrea, a country on the Horn of Africa, 25 years ago. He studied civil engineering at Fanshawe College, has worked for London Health Sciences and is a great supporter of the community. The latter is very likely due to the sense of community that comes out of the culture of Eritrea, and more importantly the culture that exists around coffee.

Over second and third cups flow matters of high finance, high state, common gossip and low comedy. [Coffee] is a social binder, a warmer of tongues, a soberer of minds, a stimulant of wit, a foiler of sleep if you want it so. From roadside mugs to the classic demi-tasse, it is the perfect democrat. ~Author Unknown

Asmara – the cafe’s namesake – is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, bordered by Sudan to the west, Ethiopia to the south, and Djibouti to the east.  It is home to approximately 650,000 people and sits over 2,300 feet above sea level. Typically known as an Italian built colonial city, the history of Asmara reaches back to dates between 800 and 400 BC.

And as any coffee lover knows, BC really stands for “before coffee”.

Coffee plays an important role in the culture of Eritrea, with coffee ceremonies being held regularly to bring friends, relatives and neighbours together in friendship and conversation. Coffee in Eritrea is a staple of every day life and is one of the most recognizable parts of their culture.

It begins by roasting the green coffee beans. Once the beans are roasted, each participant in the ceremony has the opportunity to sample the aromatic smoke with a waft of their hand. The beans are then ground and put into a ceremonial pot to be brewed. This pot called a “jabena” is usually made of pottery with a spherical base, long neck and pouring spout. It is then poured into small cups for each guest by the host, and great care is taken to  make sure that the coffee grounds don’t make it into the brew.

As each cup is taken, another cup is filled and each guest must have 3 cups in the duration of the ceremony. Each cup has a name – the first cup is called awel, the second kale’l and the third, bereka which means “to be blessed”. A guest cannot leave after the first cup and must stay for all three to complete the ceremony. This allows time for the sharing of stories, information and general conversation. The coffee is usually accompanied by a snack of some sort, often a sweet Himbasha bread (a slice of which Misgna fed to me on our recent visit and I can only describe with one word – YUM!)

Misgna talked to me about holding a coffee ceremony at the Asmara Caffee in the future. Perhaps on a Saturday when his coffee is roasting and passersby and guests can smell the beautiful aromatics of the beans being readied to drink. I told him I think he has a fabulous idea, and would love to see the community help me in encouraging him to treat us to this special cultural ceremony.

Asmara-page-001But first, stop in the Asmara and give the coffee a try. Take a seat by the “hut” Misgna has created in the front window and think about the story of the coffee ceremony I have told to you. Take some time to enjoy the bold taste of the coffee, the sweet ambiance and flavour of the cafe, and the genuine warmth of the host, Misgna.

And be sure to return to the cafe with your friends and family to enjoy it again. Because understanding tradition and culture within our community is important, and supporting local matters.


The Importance of Culture

What is culture, and why is it important?

“Culture is the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterizes a society or a group. It includes creative expressions, community practices and material or built forms.” – from Our Creative Diversity: The UN World Commisssion on Culture and Development Report

Culture pertains to the characteristics and activities of a collective group of people or community and is defined and represented through the music, art, language, religion, cuisine, customs and traditions of a region. There are numerous cultures and cultural activities around the world that shape a society. In North America culture is constantly evolving, being influenced by those who have emigrated from other countries.

Culture is an extensive system of behaviour and understanding that defines the way of life for a community, and the cultural values of the community give it an identity all its own. Through the culture of its people a community also gains a unique character and a personality. Culture is shared by the members of a group or society and is passed from the older generations to newer ones. It needs to be translated into symbols in order to be effectively communicated from generation to generation. Examples of the symbols traditionally used are art, language and religion.

Culture is a connection that unites the members of a group or society. The shared bond brings the people of the community together and the customs and traditions that the people follow. The festivals they celebrate, the kind of clothing they wear, the food they eat, and most importantly, the cultural values they adhere to, are binding.

The true significance of culture lies in the fact that it links individuals and their value systems. The natural environment of a region greatly affects the lifestyle of the people of that region, thereby contributing to the shaping of their culture. The diversity in the cultures around the world is also a result of the mindsets of people inhabiting the various regions of the world. This diversity holds value to the people to frame the messages that sell products, services and ideas and reinterpret dominant trends to put a positive spin on what we do, and help to explain why we do it.

It is important to clarify the relationship between culture and the development of community in order to find valuable and practical ways to benefit all of society. People from different cultures exist side-by-side around the world, and sharing our cultural differences serves to enhance experiences in our communities and give us a sense of connectedness. The advantages to sharing and participating in our cultural traditions are immeasurable and can only give us a deeper understanding of the communities we live in.

Artist Spotlight: Kevin Greene and the Awesome Sauce

Art rock, folk rock, Canadiana pop or Hoser rock, Kevin Greene and the Awesome Sauce don’t have a preference as to how you describe their particular style of music. They just want you to enjoy listening to it as much as they enjoy playing it for you. Formed in November of 2012, the band went through a couple of member changes in its early inception, but largely remains the same as when it was formed a year and a half ago. While their sound could be compared to bands like Wilco and the Rheostatics, it is an intrinsic fusion of styles that they own every time they step on stage to perform.

The band found their beginnings as lead singer and guitarist, Kevin Greene, was preparing to perform a solo show in Buffalo, New York. Kevin had taken a hiatus from playing while his kids were very young but realized that they were getting to an age where he could show them that chasing a dream is hard work, but well worth it. He resumed writing and concluded that he wanted more than just him and his guitar to portray the songs he penned.

It was then that he enlisted his old friend and fellow guitarist, Paul Aitken, who had just returned to London after being away for several years. Paul accompanied Kevin at the St. Regis Tavern for a warm up gig before the show in Buffalo. On the heels of this success, they contacted drummer friend, Jeffrey Floyd, to sit in with them and the success continued. They were playing, people were turning out to the shows, and they were immensely enjoying rehearsing and performing.

The first change in members took place when scheduling conflicts happened (as they can easily do in the music business) and the band was forced to part ways with friend and drummer Jeffrey Floyd. They asked Scotty King to substitute on the drums for Mr. Floyd, and from this point on he became their regular drummer. Around the same time they added musician, Mark Schram; guitarist for another sensational local band, Kevin’s Bacon Train. Mark had seen Kevin Greene and the Awesome Sauce play previously and told them he really enjoyed their sound. He suggested that they could use a bassist – and that he just happened to play – and after an informal audition, everything just clicked. With the new additions to the band gig bookings really picked up and they became incredibly busy rehearsing and playing monthly, sometimes weekly. Kevin had a bucket list of shows he wanted to play, and happily the list was being checked off.

The band is currently in the studio recording what they hope to be the first of many albums. When you go to a show, you will hear them play mostly original material though they throw in the odd “unrecognizable” (to many) cover tune now and then. And while the members all have day jobs, of course they wouldn’t mind for music to be their primary income earner. For now though, Kevin says they are content to enjoy whatever success big or small that comes their way.

Kevin Greene – vocals, guitar, Paul Aitken – guitar, Scottie King – drums, vocals, Mark Schram – bass, vocals.

Self described “Hoser Rock” fronted by lead singer, guitarist and Old East Village resident, Kevin Greene.

Here there and everywhere.

Stay tuned to their Facebook page for upcoming gigs.


The St Regis - Kevin Greene 007 The St Regis - Kevin Greene 012  St Reeg 014 St Reeg 031

St Reeg 024

St Reeg 097 St Reeg 233 St Reeg 227

St Reeg 117

St Reeg 241  

Artist Feature: Phylis U’Ren, PUR Design

Translated literally, the French term paper maché means “chewed paper”.  Despite the French moniker, paper maché wasn’t even made in France until the 17th century. In fact paper maché originated in China, the birthplace of paper itself.

When most people think of paper maché they recall early art classes in grades K-8; taking long strips of newspaper, dipping it into a cold, pasty mix of water and flour and spreading it over a balloon or some other object to give it shape.  Once it was dry it transformed from a balloon covered in newspaper to a face, animal or some sort of fabulous inanimate object. The possibilities were endless as to what the papery creations could become with a little paint and decoration. I’ve never really outgrown my love for the gooey goodness of paper maché paste and enjoy the art with my children to this day.

Old East Village resident, Phylis U’Ren; a self-taught sculptor in refined paper maché and mixed media; says has never outgrown playing with the medium herself. Using a thinned white glue and tissue paper over plasticine molds to create her magnificent creations, Phylis has been sculpting for more than 40 years. Previously a computer graphics and planning technician as well as an instructor at Fanshawe College, art was an outlet and therapy for Phylis as she raised a son as a sole parent.

jays“Through the refinement of the paper maché process” Phylis writes, “I have developed two different creative products: mobiles and shakers. The mobiles are constructed of three dimensional elements which are hollow and very lightweight, responding to the slightest air current. The addition of loose weights adds heft and musicality to my work in the form of percussion instruments. The loose weights also create multiple balance positions for larger sculptures.”

mobileHer love for children can be seen in the playful and whimsical nature of the art pieces she creates. They are also very child friendly and can be dropped without fear of breaking. Babies and parents alike love her mobiles which are sturdy and not too juvenile making them more of a keepsake that can stay with the child forever.

If you would like to learn more about Phylis and her beautiful works of art, click on the following links to check out her Facebook page and Etsy shop. Make sure you check out the album called “Keira’s K” on her Facebook page to see a pictorial about the creative process that goes into her paper maché designs.

And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not set up a time to visit her and browse the gorgeous selection of unique creations including hearts, love notes and heart shaped ladies torsos that are ready to be given to that special person in your life. Nothing comes from the heart more than a gift of art.






Support local, buy local!

Thanks to Phylis for being our first featured artist on the OEV Hub blog. You can also find Phylis this coming June 14th at the “For the Love of Art” street festival in downtown London.

Musical Chairs at the St. Regis Tavern

Musical Chairs at the St. Regis Tavern, Saturdays 9-12 pm
Musical Chairs at the St. Regis Tavern, Saturdays 9-12 pm

Musical Chairs: A game set to music in which players repeatedly shuffle among coveted chairs, hoping to choose the right seat when the music stops; there always being one chair too few for the number of players. Usually played by children at parties, a grown up version exists every Saturday night on Dundas Street at the St. Regis Tavern when a rotating schedule of live musicians take the stage from 9pm until midnight.

The brain child of local musician, Corinne Marshall, Musical Chairs found its beginnings two years ago when Corinne moved to the Old East Village. Music venues had been disappearing over the preceding years and Corinne listened to the laments of fellow musicians who had been performing in London for decades and were mourning the loss of sites to perform at. She understood the challenges that existed in trying to create a music scene, and saw a venue that she felt was ripe and ready for something different. Thus, Saturday nights at the St. Regis and the Musical Chairs event was born.

The Hub asked Corinne how the overall concept and name “Musical Chairs” came about for the Saturday night showcase at the bar affectionately known to locals as ‘The Reeg’.

“I wanted the music series to have a visual identity, and I have a great collection of retro and historic clip art…” she said. “When I saw the image of the flying chairs, I immediately thought, “Hey – Musical Chairs!” because I knew that having a healthy rotation of acts with lots of variety was exactly what I wanted.”

And just like the birthday party version of your childhood days, there are prizes: Pie.

“Men may come and men may go…..but Pie goes on forever.” ~ George Augustus Sala, 1882

The Sweet Draw is another regular feature of the Musical Chairs experience which came to be by sweet serendipity. And oh, how sweet it is! It has long been my opinion that one’s troubles can be released over a serving of pie, and I can’t recall one person I have met who has been unhappy in the presence of the delectable dessert. The smile on the faces of the Sweet Draw winners at the end of the night would suggest I am right. Music and pie: an incredibly sweet pairing for a perfect Saturday night.

The St. Regis Tavern is the second longest-operating hotel/tavern in London, Ontario, though the exact date the Reeg in its current form was built remains a mystery. However, the site has housed and operated as a hotel and tavern since 1883 and under the St. Regis banner since 1931. It is a verifiable neighbourhood cornerstone of the Old East Village and has long been a gathering place for the blue collar workers of the OEV. It isn’t too often that a stranger will enter The Reeg and not make a friend or two before leaving. Indeed, it has one of the more friendly atmospheres of all the bars in London, and no person is ever made to feel unwelcome. An interesting fact: This tight ship is owned and run solely by women, perhaps lending to its warm and welcoming atmosphere.

As is the case right across the Old East Village, Musical Chairs at the St. Regis has acted as an incubator for acts to grow organically and lends itself to the discovery of new bands and musicians. While not all of the performers who take the stage are strictly local, many are homegrown and are rooted in the Village. Others may have had their beginnings and moved on to other pastures, but many return again and again to their roots to play a Saturday night Musical Chairs gig at The Reeg. Be sure to check this blog regularly for listings and reviews of upcoming acts and make a plan to visit the St. Regis on a Saturday night for your own Musical Chairs experience. You can also find more information on Facebook by clicking on this link.

Come and choose your seat at Musical Chairs and bring your appetite for great music and delicious pie. You will leave feeling quite satisfied with one, the other – or both! See you at The Reeg!

What Is The Purpose of the OEV Hub?

The primary purpose of the OEV Hub is to raise awareness about – and bring visitors to – the vibrant and rapidly growing cultural district located in the heart of the Old East Village (OEV) in London, Ontario. The OEV is home to a large number of artists, performers, multicultural dining, the Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisans Market, unique shopping experiences, services and several arts and culture venues. It is quickly becoming London’s art and cultural centre, and a place people want to visit and return to. The Hub is the place to find out what is happening throughout the Village, making it easier for visitors to plan a visit to our cultural district.

The OEV Hub is about destination building while building community at the same time. It is about collective ownership of the cultural assets that are present in the Old East Village, and using those assets to mutual benefit by aggressively enhancing and promoting them. It is about collaboration, commitment, community and creative co-existence. We seek to gain memberships from local businesses, restaurants, venues and retailers, find potential partnerships within the city and find backing to sustain the infrastructure and ability of the Hub to exist and promote businesses and activities. We are planting the seeds from which we hope flowers will bloom, both figuratively and literally. With the addition of gardening and beautification projects in the corridor, we are continuing to enhance the atmosphere and general feeling of comfort in the OEV.

The quality of experience depends on the deep cultural roots that exist in this community, examining those roots, building upon them and nurturing their growth. This neighbourhood is authentic, unique and growing expeditiously and organically. Cultural capital is not something that we are, but rather something we own. The Old East Village is an area that is destined and determined to grow, despite the odds, and is willing to open itself up to a wider audience while doing so.

The Dundas corridor is home to many unique shops, boasts three arts venues: The Aeolian Hall, The Palace Theatre and the East Village Arts Co-Op, is home to the London Potter’s Guild as well as a multitude of multicultural dining experiences. Visitors will find that a majority of the entertainment in the Village is not imported and in many cases is homegrown. The Village and its artists take risks and find ways to adapt in a difficult climate.

With cultural ownership in the Village comes a sense of belonging. When we take inventory of what the OEV has to offer along the lines of cultural assets, it is evident we are culture rich. Just take a look at the venues, restaurants, shops and services and you will see incredible diversity spanning a relatively small area. It is the wish of the OEV Hub to package and promote these diverse, unique assets widely and effectively, and introduce the Old East Village to the world from a fresh perspective. Once the visitors come, we wish to entice them to stay past normal business hours. In the evening, the arts district comes alive with concerts, plays and local entertainers.

The Old East Village is the place you want to be. The Hub is the place to learn just how much. From comic books to antiques; Mexican food to Vietnamese; music to live theatre; shopping and services – the Old East Village has an experience for everyone. We look forward to having you join us, and return again and again. Use The Hub to plan your day, and plan to stay.

From the Gardeners: Native vs Non-Native Plants

Native Plants vs Non-Native Plants, What’s the Deal?

There has been a recent trend to choose native varieties of plants – especially flowers to use in the garden vs. exotic imports with showy blooms. But is there room for both native and non-native? What would our landscapes look like if we went out today and ripped out all of the ‘non-natives’? How do we even classify native plants if the first European settlers brought seeds for grain and medicine (mixed with weed seeds) with them on their travels? What if a plant is classified as ‘native to Canada’? There are several different ecosystems and micro-climates throughout this vast country, how useful is that label? If you are new to the topic and think what’s the big idea? Then let me explain…


– One (of several) definition of a native plant is: a species that occurs naturally in a particular geographic area

-Native varieties are great because they support the ecosystems flora and fauna – the birds and the bees.

– They have adapted to the regions climate, geography and average rain fall amounts. They can be labelled as low maintenance because of those factors.

But the most import factor for a plant to thrive is to provide it the right site conditions; including the right amount of sunlight, temperature and water requirements. Just because the Trillium is native to Ontario doesn’t mean it will be healthy in a suburban flower bed. Trilliums are found in densely shaded forest conditions, with deep humus layers that are covered in fallen leaves providing a very moist and rich environment. If the trillium is planted in full sun, in a barren flower bed, probably having no leaf layer, chances are it will not thrive and be ‘a low maintenance native plant’.

Importing plants from foreign countries does pose some great ecological risks. Like the Emerald Ash Borer; a native pest to China and Eastern Asia is believed to have killed over a million trees since its discovery here in Eastern North America in 2002. ( This is just one incident of an exotic pest wreaking havoc on native species. In 2013 CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) issued a threat to trees from the Asian Long-Horned Beetle in the Greater Toronto and Mississauga regions.

If everyone went out tomorrow and removed all plants not classified as native the insects and animals that have adapted to them would suffer.

And how good are those native plants that are purchased at the big box stores anyway? Most of them have been treated with neonicotinoids – a synthetic chemical insecticide – that is causing colony collapse in bees. The same bees that are responsible for 85% of the world’s flowering plant reproduction.

So what can we plant? With so many factors it can be overwhelming.

-Purchase plants from your trusted neighbourhood plant sale.

-Swap plants with your neighbouring garden guru.

-You could even save seeds and start your own. The library has a ton of resources on just that.

– Ask your favourite Garden Center if they use seed treatments or insecticides. Here is one that doesn’t.

– Check out the Mantis Arts and Eco Festival for some expert advice.

-Attend a ‘Bee the Change’ workshop this summer; hosted by Food Not Lawns London On

– find out more about native plants at Evergreen and the Carolinian Canada Coalition


Written by: Carina Moyer

From the Gardeners: Build a Pallet Garden

How to Create a Pallet Garden

Vertical gardening is great if you don’t have a lot of space for a garden. A pallet garden is a great and inexpensive way to have a vertical garden on your balcony if you live in an apartment, or even leaned up against a fence or wall in the yard. We created a pallet garden for the Aeolian Hall last week. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a pallet garden of your own.

You will need:

  • A pallet
  • Staple gun and staples (we used an electric upholstery stapler)
  • Landscape fabric
  • Burlap
  • Soil
  • Seedlings (or seeds)

Step one: Find a pallet. The great thing about pallets is that they are everywhere! Ask around at local businesses and see if they are looking to get rid of any. Some businesses have too many to get rid of while some keep them, so be sure to ask first. There is also the option of buying a pallet, but finding one for free is excellent to keep the costs low and to recycle.

Step two: Collect your materials. You’ll also need a growing medium, staples, an industrial staple gun, and something to cover the pallet. We used burlap in the front where the plants do, and landscape fabric in the back. That way, there is drainage available and it allows the plants and soil to breathe. We recommend using an electric upholstery stapler over an industrial staple gun if possible. It saves time and is easier on your hands.

Step three: Get stapling! Lay the pallet down so that the front of the pallet (where your plants will go) is resting on the ground. Or, rest it up against the wall like we did. Staple your burlap to pallet so that when you’re facing the front of it, you won’t see any spaces.


Once you have done the front, turn it over and staple the landscaping fabric to the back. Be sure to decide which end will be the top, and do not seal it up.


Step four: Fill the pallet with soil! The hard part is over. Take your soil and dump it through the top of the pallet. Lay the pallet down and even out the soil. Be sure to keep the top unsealed, though. We recommend that you fill the pallet and plant it close to where you would like to keep the pallet, as it gets heavy. Otherwise, we hope you have a few helping hands available.


Step five: Plant! We used herbs for this garden at the Aeolian Hall, but you can even try container variety tomatoes on the top, strawberries, or even ornamentals if that’s what you desire. Once all are planted, add more soil if needed, and seal up the top of the pallet with a staple gun.


Step six: Lift the pallet up so it’s upright, or leave it flat if you’d like. Either way, enough your new garden!


From the Gardeners: Beauty in the OEV!

It’s no doubt that there are some wonderful things growing right now in the Old East Village. From bike riding groups, to new businesses, and even flowers! While walking around the OEV, we get to appreciate some vibrant colours that this neighbourhood has to offer, like this clematis at the Aeolian Hall:


The Aeolian Hall has a beautiful garden and it is such a treat to maintain. Here is a pretty Shasta daisy after a nice rainfall:


And this plant at the Dundas/English bus stop. We found out that it’s a very toxic weed called Bittersweet Nightshade,  though we still think it looks neat to have a little colour along the fence. But please know that it is indeed toxic!


Keep an eye out for more flourishing in the Old East Village, and we’ll be sure to post some of our favourites here as well. Stay tuned for our blog on how to create a pallet garden! We hope you are all enjoying the time you get to spend in your gardens and get a chance to appreciate the beauty in the neighbourhood.

Hot Summer Nights & Cool, Classic Movies

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

The Palace Theatre is inviting you to kick back, relax and beat the heat with them this summer. Step into their climate controlled theatre and enjoy a series of cool movies throughout the month of July.

Click on each highlighted film name below for a link to iMDb film information and reviews.

Friday JULY 4: Metropolis 8PM $10 – includes free popcorn

Friday JULY 11: Summer Wars (Anime) 8pm – $8

Tuesday JULY 22: Y tu Mama Tambien/Vanishing Point 1 for $5/2 for $8

Wednesday JULY 23: Now and Then/Thelma & Louise 1 for $5/2 for $8

RESCHEDULED! Friday JULY 25: Weird Science/ Pretty in Pink 7pm – 1 for $5/ 2 for $8

RESCHEDULED! Thursday JULY 24: The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth -1 for $5/2 for $8

Tuesday JULY 29: To Wong Foo/The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert 1 for $5/2 for $8

Did you know?

Air conditioning was born in a Brooklyn, New York publishing company in 1902 by Willis Carrier, a mechanical engineer. Just over 10 years later, the world renowned “Carrier Engineering Corporation” was founded to manufacture and sell this technological marvel that had an almost revolutionary impact on the Americas.

When cinemas began noticing a downward trend in ticket sales during the summer months, Carrier encouraged the use of his air conditioning to cool the theatre and draw in patrons looking to beat the heat. The first to try this cool solution was Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1925, in their flagship Rivoli Theatre. It was a huge success and within 5 years, Carrier’s cooling systems were installed in over 300 theatres across the United States.

Yup! That movie theatre is cold for a reason.

In its early history, air conditioning was an unaffordable luxury that many could not enjoy. When movie theatres began catering to people with a cooled and comfortable environment, the summer movie season was turned on its heels. People were looking to escape the heat in an affordable manner thereby creating a whole new market and sending ticket sales skyrocketing.  The history of movie sales increasing in the summer can ultimately be attributed to air conditioning, as can the advent of what we have come to know as the “summer blockbuster”.

For Information About All Things Happening in the Old East Village