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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ice Cream Factory Outlet: A New Old Danforth East Gem!

Half-way through the summer, and half-way through a heat wave, so no doubt that general enthusiasm for ice cream is wearing thin. However, we've uncovered another neighbourhood gem that is just too delicious to keep to ourselves!

Like Pioneer, we're sure many of you have driven east of Main on Danforth and noticed the "Ice Cream Factory Outlet" sign hundreds of times and for one reason or another filed it away for later. We finally decided to  make later a reality and investigate.

St. Clair Ice Cream aka Maple Leaf Dairy at 2861 Danforth is both an ice cream parlour stuck in time, and a real ice cream factory that has been in operation on the Danforth since at least 1936. Their original location (of course!) was on St. Clair.

The company makes thousands of litres of fresh ice cream in dozens of flavours. If you're tired of the regular options at neighbourhood spots, we highly recommend heading here to try one of the 30 or 40 options: Salty Caramel, Strawberry Cheesecake and Ginger among the more original.

Pioneer loves a good deal, so discovering a kids cone is only $2.50 was a treat. However, our eyes almost fell out of their sockets when we discovered just how good a deal this really is: the serving size is almost the size of small bowling ball. It seemed like there were at least three scoops dripping off Junior's rainbow sherbet cone (which became so messy we needed a bowl and a spoon!). We watched in horror as someone ordered a large, which is so much ice cream that even running a marathon wouldn't burn it off.

The bad news is that this new 'old' local gem is only open seasonally, so literally, get it while it's hot! Or you'll have to wait until next year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Magic: Urban Fairies Take Over Danforth

The first time we heard that there were going to be fairy doors showing up along the Danforth, we were a little bit skeptical. After all, we know that fairies don't really like hot weather (thanks to Junior Pioneer #1 for confirming this is true) so we wondered what on earth they were doing on our little strip of Danforth. However, we realized that the Danny's Urban Fairies are really and truly a kindred spirit to our Pioneer-ing nature. They are the new generation of fairies, not afraid of people (kind of like Tink in her most recent appearance in Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue) and curious about the world. They've picked the most family-friendly strip in Toronto to spend their summer, and a whole bunch of Danforth businesses are welcoming them to their premises.

The catch is that you have to believe in fairies to see the doors, as they only appear to those that want to see them. Kind of like this sudden surprise at Serendipity Bakery......

As a celebration of this magical summer filled with pixie dust, they have agreed to appear at various surprise events along the Danforth (with their local host & interpreter Natalie Coulter) so don't miss all the fun. It starts today (July 15) at the Danny Loves Music at East Lynn Park from 6-9 with glitter tattoos for the little ones and some tips for the adults on where exactly to find these homegrown creations. And feel free to post your own fairy discoveries to the Danny's Urban Fairies page - you never know when one will pop up. Faith, trust & a little bit of pixie dust!

These fairies at The Borough are very serious about their parliamentary duties, obviously.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Danforth East Mural: It's Done!

During the wee hours of May 19, the windows of Pioneer HQ were rattling with what sounded like dump trucks cruising up and down our usually serene street, awaking even the soundest sleeper in the house. Finally managing to catch a glimpse out the midnight window, we discovered it was a TTC bus. Enraged, we wondered why they were driving empty buses up and down a side street on the Monday of a long weekend.  Our sleepy consciousness would never have settled on the truth, that someone had just been murdered only 700m away from our door (and closed down a major bus route). It wasn't until the next morning that the reality of nocturnal Danforth descended on us. At first, we were much like everyone else, grappling with disbelief and not content with the middling answers of our politicians. Once the dust settled though, Pioneer knew we had to take action and do something symbolic and positive, to let the world know Danforth East is still a great place where people care about their 'hood.

Thanks to DECA who not only provided funding for the project but also connected Pioneer with neighbourhood volunteer Sherry Lin, a super-mom of two plus a community thinktank 'thinker' in her day job. Two heads are better than one and the idea for our 100in1day #danfortheast mural was born. 

It was quite a feat to witness, and we are so thankful to everyone who came out and helped paint a picture of what Danforth East means to them. The finished result is 25 feet of heart! 

Drumroll please......and here it is! 

The mural has finally made it to its public debut, one month to the day, on the boards next to 1801 Danforth. It took some convincing to get it there, but Daddy Pioneer really just wanted it out of the HQ's basement so he volunteered to do most of the labour to hang it. Thanks! 

Please take a stroll by and take in some of the loveliness, and if you weren't able to contribute, let us know Danforth East means to YOU in the comments below! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What's In The Oven: New Pizzeria On Danforth

Pioneer loves breaking the news about a  new business opening up, particularly when it's food related, however this new resto announcement is a bit bitter sweet. We happened to notice an open door and some construction happening at 1450 Danforth this past weekend and popped our head in to investigate. The former Marrakech Restaurant is being overhauled and already has a new facade and exterior. The inside was a construction zone, but one of the crew stopped to chat and shared that there would be a new Magic Oven Pizza opening up. A call to the company's Danforth location confirmed that this is in fact true: the current location will be closing and shifting down to our neck of the woods at the end of July.

Although we're glad a solid business is opening up on this strip, this will have an impact on our favourite local pizzeria Gerrard Pizza & Spaghetti, who are on that block and already make a long list of fresh custom pizzas the way that mama used to make them.

Hopefully there's room for everyone: the experience at both places will be completely different as people head to Gerrards to say hi to Vito and wave to their neighbours over a glass of house wine, while Magic Oven is a destination for pizza lovers from all over (either pick up or dine in).

The take-out and delivery option at Magic Oven will probably generate a lot more car traffic issues, but looking at the glass half-full made us realize this will also create more foot traffic which is what this block needs. So although there might be double-parked delivery cars jamming up Danforth on occasion, more people will be walking to pick up their pizza pie!