All things hip and wonderful and so completely cool one doesn’t even the utter the word cool  … This is my favorite street in Toronto.  QUEEN STREET WEST.

I didn’t need Vogue Magazine to tell me  that.   Queen West is a two minute walk from the place I call home in Toronto.  Vogue September 2014 issue listed the ten coolest streets in the world and Queen West was Number Two.


My day in Toronto frequently begins at Clafouti’s on Queen West. A little worn, a bit shabby and totally delightful Clafouti’s is so totally unassuming, so beautifully French one looks for a copy of L’Express to read with your morning croissant.



The Spice Trader and The Olive Pit – oh the wonders of this perfumed exotic shop.  When I first discovered this purveyor of organic spices and oils it was a tiny shop.   Like Topsy it grew and I filled my spice cupboard with their small square green tins and fine extra-virgin olive oil.



I never walk Queen West without popping into Châtelet .  Another tiny shop filled with irresistible objects that speak of France.  The small Eiffel tower in the outside display called my name.  Now it shares a place of honour in my French butler’s pantry.



Then there’s one of my favorite corners.  It has three shops.   The first store – Artists’ Material  – long and narrow and crammed with paints, papers, artist brushes.   Everything you need to create  your own work of art.  Mokuba is in the centre and it is the centre of my sewing universe.  Mokuba with a preposterous amount of magnificent ribbons in every colour, texture, width and pattern.  On the corner a place I call “the magpie store”  brimming over with a collection of items you didn’t know exist and absolutely must have.



The very finest oysters in Toronto.    Oyster Boy –  a two minute walk from home.  Can life get any better than to have these briny bivalves a hop, skip and a jump down the street.



My fav pizza restaurant – Terroni on Queen West.  I love the aroma of baking pizza.  The  buzz of conversations that fill the room.   You linger over a glass of wine and simply people watch the evening away.

This is just a little bit of my Queen West.  I have walked every block and investigated practically every shop, art gallery and restaurant.

Queen West ..  a street that is more than a little outrageous.  Totally cool.  Enormously hip

Queen West … a street with so much presence and absolutely no pretension.







  1. WOW….I knew it was cool cause you said so and then you sent us there to visit Clafouti and we got to sample some the the exquisite that is West Queen West. The charm, the architecture, the people. How marvelous that we met and you guided us to this experience. Thank you, dearest Virginia, for this gift. How grand it must have been to wander about this magical place!

    • I read this blog out loud to Lar… ( he loves it when I read to him) and he became all nostalgic for our family in Toronto and Queen West. I believe in rather typical Canadian style everyone will just ignore the press about Queen West and pretend they don’t care. But I know secretly they will think YES! This sometimes grubby and a little run-down neighborhood is cool ,.. but it’s our shabby cool. Xx OO L & V

      • It is so wonderfully cool. Now I wish we had stopped at so many other places. Next time………..perhaps there shall be a next time. Tell Lar we must return, if for nothing else……….to see the white squirrels in the park! (and the croissants, pizza, oysters….etc.)

  2. How can I disagree? I’m loving living here!
    You’ve mentioned a lot of fab places, and I felt as though I was walking along the street wit you.
    Wonderful! _Resa xo

    • You so right … what’s not too love about a street with such much individuality – so many interesting shops and cafes. We are going to be in TO last week in October. Lots of Halloween parties of unique nature being celebrated in the Trinity Bellwood area. Hopefully we can meet for coffee. XX V.

    • I love that you think I’m cool. As one gets older there is some concern that we will loose our cool – God forbid. Now I am not one to wear a red hat with purple feathers, but my son saw me wearing a short white denim skirt, black T-shirt and espadrilles and said I looked cool. A remark that thrilled me tiny pieces Jo Nell.

    • The interesting thing about this particular area of Queen West is because of its proximity to mental health care facilities it was considered the sorry end of Queen Street West. Rents were low consequently artists and designers moved in and made this street what it is today. Many of the buildings are still very shabby but that is what gives this street cache.

    • There is a look to the brick buildings in Toronto … it’s mostly the colour and type of brick. But when you see a street of them it is easily identified as…. Toronto.

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