Living Wehl in the City - Danforth Style

This article was written for Wehl.com, The Social Community For Wellness. It was featured as part of their series My Wehl in the City where they explore what it means to live (and travel) wehl in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods. They believe we can support each other by sharing tips and inspiration from our experiences. Together, we can to inspire wehlness, make an impact, and show each other how we find wehlness in our neighbourhoods!


You can find the Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end; it’s also referred to as Greektown, or more recently, The Danny. The bustling area is full of restaurants, shops, the odd bit of green space and is the host of the annual Taste of the Danforth summer festival. 

My idea of living wehl in the city is all about 3 things: 

  • Grounding Nature

  • Nourishing, Clean Food

  • Relaxing Therapeutic Bodywork

Nature

If you’re in the Danforth area, either visiting or living, you have to take a trip down Pottery Road and visit the Evergreen Brickworks (you can also catch the shuttle from Broadview TTC station). The Brickworks is the perfect spot for nature in the city! 

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Back in the early 1900’s it operated as an actual brick making facility and those bricks were actually used to build several of Toronto’s key landmarks, including Massey Hall and Casa Loma. The facility closed in 1984 and a few years later was expropriated by the City of Toronto and Toronto Region Conservation Authority. In the mid-90’s over 6 millions dollars was raised to convert it from a quarry to a park and natural area. (Watch a video about the history of Brickworks here.)

Thank goodness they had the foresight to create such a haven in the city.  The area is now home to lots of birds and critters and is a wonderful place to go for a walk any time of year. I love going here on a cold winter’s day because you get the place to yourself. Brickworks hosts a summertime farmers’ market every Saturday, which is always packed full of artisans, farmers, people shopping for their weekly groceries - and dogs! They also have a Sunday Artisan Market, kids outdoor play area, Evergreen Garden Market, Cafe Belong and they host a wide-variety of events, including TEDx and the annual Seed Swap. I bought my two most favourite pottery mugs that I drink out of every day at the Garden Market. There are lots of trails that take you around the large ponds and it connects with the city’s Beltline Trail.

I feel so much better after a walk at Brickworks, this is definitely my most favourite place for living wehl in the city. 

Food

When I first moved to the city over 10 years ago, our real estate agent took us for a drive down Danforth Avenue. He pointed out the Carrot Common, an outdoor courtyard with stores where you can find health food, crystals, gourmet coffee, organic juice, books, unique jewelry and clothing. On the second level they also offer professional services, such as psychotherapy, acupuncture, and network chiropractics.

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I had no idea at the time this place would become part of my weekly routine. My favourite place in the Common, the place I visit at least once a week, is The Big Carrot. It’s a worker-owned natural food market that supports local, organic and sustainable food systems since the early 90’s. For me, it’s the grocery store that feels like home. The staff is really friendly, they always take time to talk to you, help you bag your groceries and there’s one staff member in particular that will always wow you with some unique math equation using your receipt. The place is full of unique characters.

When is the last time you slowed down and had a conversation with the cashier, made eye contact? Big Carrot is about building community and you really feel that when you’re there. The staff always go above and beyond to help you find the right product for your needs. Across the courtyard is the Holistic Dispensary which stocks a wide variety of natural health products, with knowledgeable holistic nutritionists and naturopaths on staff. All the produce at the Carrot is organic, they have a bulk section and sell body care products. It’s my go-to place for everything wehlness. 

Therapeutic Bodywork

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Over the past 10 years, massage therapy has been at the top of my list for prioritizing my personal wehlness. I know some see if as a perk or ‘nice to have’ option, something that might happen once a year on a special occasion. For me, it’s a must for living wehl; it supports my physical, emotional and mental health. After trying a number of spots in the city for massage, I am so thankful that I found Origin Wellness in the Danforth and Woodbine area. When you step inside, off the busy street, it’s like entering a little oasis. Calm, clean and quiet. You’re always greeted by a friendly face. I love the products they use in their washroom - no perfume stinky soaps, everything is natural and smells wonderful. The offer both massage therapy and naturopathic medicine services to support your health and wehl-being. My most favourite massage therapist is Karen. For me, her massages are like a spiritual experience, it’s unlike any massage I’ve had before. I always leave floating on a cloud of bliss and relaxation. They also allow you to book online which makes is so easy to schedule when you need it. Before or after an appointment, if I want to pick up a healthy snack, I’ll pop into Moberly Natural Foods right across the street. Please take care of yourself and make an appointment, you’ll be so happy you did. 

All of these places mean community to me. Community and connection are what support me in living a most wehl-lived life. Do you have other favourite spots in the Danforth area? I’d love to hear about it - please share, hello@amyhogan.ca .

- Amy xo 

Amy Hogan