Baldwin Village, 1986-1987

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Between the middle 1970s and 1986 Toronto's Baldwin Street had changed considerably. Some of the older Jewish-owned stores were still in business in 1986. These included Mandel’s Creamery, Silverstein’s Bakery and Nissembaum’s shoes. The Chinese had opened new businesses, among them: Yung Sing Pastry, Wah Sing tofu factory and a fish store. Seven clothing and accessories stores were still open: Ragnarokr leather shop, 13 O’Clock, Colorbox Clothing Store, Bianco International Clothing, Letki Designs Silver Jewelry, Around Again Second Hand Records and Baldwin Natural Foods. The most notable change, and a portent of what the street was to become, was a number of new up-scale restaurants: John’s Italian Caffe, Yofi’s Café, Richshaw Chinese Restaurant, The Eating Garden, Baldwin Garden, The Guru Restaurant, OHH Kitchen MSG-free Chinese Restaurant, La Bodega and Le Petit Gaston French Restaurant.

The Baldwin Village that Jimmy Wilson had hyped so boldly in 1969, and whose architecture and use the City of Toronto had protected since 1972, had ceased to be an immigrant’s destination. Within easy walking distance of the University of Toronto, Queen’s Park and the high-rises along University Avenue, it became a place to dine in “the intimate village atmosphere that is unique to the Baldwin Village.” When the Planning Council of the City of Toronto recognized the Baldwin Street Village as a distinct neighborhood in December 1972, it not only stopped redevelopment and protected the existing buildings, it ensured that the street would become an exclusive enclave of quant buildings whose real estate value would only rise.

The street continued its slow evolution towards its latest incarnation as a high-end dining destination. In May 1987 Baldwin Street storefronts included, on the south side: #17 13 O’clock accessories, #19 La Soiree restaurant, #21 Yofi’s Café, #23 Sally’s Greens, #25 Color Box accessories, #27 John’s Italian Café, #29 Mandel’s Creamery, #31 Morningstar imported clothing, #33 Mayita Guatemalan imports, #35 Le Petit Gaston restaurant, Eating Garden, Wah Sing tofu factory, Capital House restaurant, Guru Indian Restaurant, and on the north side: Bahama Food restaurant, Basic Hair salon, Around Again second hand records, Baldwin Natural Foods, Yung Sing Pastries, #26 Letki Designs silver jewelry, La Bodega Restaurant, Baldwin Smokes and a locksmith. (insert a link to “Baldwin Street, 1986”, file 5.12)

An Internet search in 2005 found that all of the non-food businesses had moved elsewhere and the following business occupied the old storefronts of the Baldwin Village. Beginning at the intersection with McCaul Street:

  1. 160 McCaul Mangiacake Panini Shop
  2. 168 McCaul Midi Bistro Restaurant
  3. 1 Baldwin Palace Restaurant
  4. 3 Golden Chop Suey Restaurant
  5. 5 Kowloon Dim Sum Restaurant
#14 Margarita’s Fiesta Room Mexican Restaurant
  1. 17 Vegetarian Haven Restaurant
  2. 19 The Gateways of India Restaurant
  3. 20 Baldwin Natural Foods Grocery
  4. 24 Café La Gaffe
  5. 26 Dessert Sensation Café
  6. 27 John’s Italian Cafe

Intersection of Baldwin and Henry Streets

  1. 30 Bodega Restaurant
  2. 31 Non-Nichi-Wa Japanese Restaurant
  3. 35 Le Petit Gaston, then Thai Paradise Restaurant
  4. 39 Matahari Grill Restaurant
  5. 41 Eating Garden Chinese Restaurant
  6. 41 Hua Sang Seafood
  7. 45 Roi Du Couscous Restaurant
  8. 47 Wah Sing tofu factory
  9. 49 Fujiyama Restaurant

Intersection of Baldwin Alley and Baldwin Street Chinese Presbyterian Church Intersection of Baldwin and Beverly Streets

With the exception of Baldwin Natural Food grocery and John’s Italian Café, all traces of the American exile community on Baldwin Street had disappeared. Many individuals still lived in the immediate area but the majority had scattered to various parts of the city and the country and some had moved overseas or returned to the United States. The American exiles of the Vietnam Era have now become part of the vast “mosaic” that makes up the people of Canada. For many of them Canada has become “their home and native land”. They have been integrated into Canadian society and are no longer American exiles.

The story of Ragnarokr's "farm", the Frostpocket, continues at ", wind and water...", prehistory-1880

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