Riverside C’Mon! Afraspektion 2024 on August 11th

This August 11th, Riverside BIA and Oddside Arts are collaborating once again for the third installment of Afraspektion, a vibrant celebration in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood of the Afrodiaspora’s creativity during Emancipation Month.

It was on August 1, 2021 when Canada officially recognized Emancipation Day for the first time. Afraspektion highlights the contributions of the Afrodiaspora to the arts, food and culture, as well as honoring the legacy of African Canadians.

Part of the BIA’s Riverside C’Mon! series of community events, the free family-friendly festival will take place between 2pm and 7pm at Riverside Common Park located at 657 Queen St E in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood.

From opening ceremony to festival closing, it’s going to be a jam-packed Sunday in Riverside for Afraspektion. Expect live entertainment, exciting giveaways, hot eats and buys in the vendors marketplace, and fun free activities for everybody. Trust us, this is a party you don’t want to miss!

More details about the festival will be shared in the coming weeks so be sure to follow @riverside_bia and @oddsidearts for updates. While you’re at it, RSVP to Afraspektion 2024 here to get event details, perks, and promos straight to your inbox!

In the meantime, let’s take a trip down memory lane with photos by Jennifer Gomez from last year’s Afraspektion:

Photos by Jennifer Gomez

Event Co-Curators at Oddside Arts: 

  • Queen Kukoyi (they/them), Co-lead of Oddside Arts 
  • Nico Taylor (she/her), Co-lead of Oddside Arts 

Event Co-host at Riverside BIA:

  • Jennifer Lay (she/her), Executive Director, Riverside BIA

Afraspetion 2024 is supported by: The City of Toronto Cultural Festivals Funding Program, Oddside Arts, the Riverside BIA, Hullmark, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Co-Operators. Special thank you to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI).

Riverside C’Mon! Local Summer Market on July 21st

If you missed the first Local Summer Market a couple of weeks ago, don’t worry, you still have a chance to catch the second run on Sunday, July 21st from 10-4.

The Local Summer Market is part of Riverside C’Mon!, a series of community events hosted by the Riverside BIA and held at Riverside Common Park located at 657 Queen St E. in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood.

Are you ready to shop small and support local? Here’s a sneak peek into the line-up of vendors for part two of the Local Summer Market happening this Sunday:


Photo credit: Yofiit

Yofiit (@yofiit)

This black and woman-owned vegan company creates better-for-you plant milks loaded with protein, made with less sugar, and no gums or fillers.

Photo credit: Bee’s Baking

Bee’s Baking (@bees.baking)

The gourmet micro-bakery offers artisanal patisserie treats inspired by different cultural backgrounds and travel destinations.

Photo credit: Ivy & Lua

Ivy & Lua (@ivyandlua)

This women of colour-owned small jewelry brand offers high-quality, hypoallergenic accessories in a variety of mediums including polymer clay, resin, gemstones/pearls, as well as gold-plated and gold-filled metals.


Photo credit: Purrfectly Playful

Purrfectly Playful (@purrfectlyplayful)

This female-owned business handcrafts beautiful cat toys such as luxurious natural feathered lures, sleek birch wood, spring wire wands, and refillable catnip kickers.

Photo credit: Marubashi Preserves

Marubashi Preserves (@marubashi.shop)

Bring bold new flavours to your cooking with products by Marubashi, such as pickled vegetables, spice blends, seasonings, and sauces with a focus on Japanese/Japanese-Canadian food.

Photo credit: Second Journey Thrift

Second Journey Thrift (@secondjourneythrift)

Sales from this thrift shop supports Journey Home, a registered charity that provides free community support and services to those living with a palliative diagnosis and their loved ones.

Photo credit: DC Canada Education Publishing

DC Canada Education Publishing (@dceducation)

The innovative publisher of children’s books, games, and music from Ottawa will be selling educational books, puzzles, plush toys, and more.

Photo credit: Sparkle – Macrame and more

Sparkle – Macrame and more (@sparkle_by_batul)

This handmade macrame business makes colourful pot holders, organizers, keychains, earrings, wall hangings, bookmarks, key holders, and more.

These are just a few of the small business vendors participating in the Local Summer Market. Expect more vendors + live entertainment this Sunday at Riverside Common Park.

You can also let us know ahead if you’re coming by RSVPing here. You’ll get event details, perks, and promos straight to your inbox.

We’ve got exciting events lined up for the rest of the year so make sure to follow @riverside_bia on Instagram for updates!

What’s New in Riverside? (Meet New BIA Members!)

If you live in the area or frequently visit it, you’d know that Riverside in Toronto is home to many businesses that have stood the test of time. But change is also always in the air and we get new additions in the community on the regular. In case you haven’t been to the neighbourhood in a little while, here’s what’s new in Riverside:

Photo credit: Duke’s Refresher + Bar

Duke’s Refresher + Bar (@dukesriverside)

Address: 709 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H1

From draft beers and ciders to cocktails and wines, Duke’s has plenty to offer if you’re feeling thirsty. In terms of food, they have appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and Alice Fazooli’s pizza! Aside from the regular menu, they do a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday as well.

Photo credit: Lemon Lily

Lemon Lily (@lemonlilytea)

Address: 747 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H3

If organic teas are more your speed, you’re in luck because the award-winning tea company Lemon Lily recently opened a cafe and shop in Riverside. They serve teas, tea lattes, coffee, matcha, as well as baked goods to pair. You can also purchase the teas they use to bring home.

Photo credit: Real Greek Gyros

Real Greek Gyros (@realgreekgyros)

Address: 731 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H1

For something fast, filling, and budget-friendly, you can count on Real Greek Gyros’ wraps to tick all the boxes. On days when you feel like treating yourself, they do lamb chops, kabobs, and other delicious entrees too. This casual Greek joint is true to its name–and more!

Photo credit: Dirty Pawz Dog Wash

Coppa at Dirty Pawz Dog Wash (@dirtypawzto)

Address: 804 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H7

We bet you didn’t know that Dirty Pawz now carries Ontario-based gelato company Coppa, including dog-friendly sorbet flavors such as Blueberry Lemon and Mango Tango. Stop by for a wash and while you’re at it, get a pint for you and your furry best friend to share.

To stay updated on what’s new and happening in Riverside, make sure to follow @riverside_bia on Instagram!

Out of Plain Sight: 6 Hidden Gems in Toronto’s Riverside

Although the bustling thoroughfare of Queen St East cuts through the whole stretch of Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, the area still has those IYKYK kinds of places that one might only discover through social media or the good ol’ word of mouth.

Here are 6 not-so secret spots in the neighbourhood:

Photo credit: Christian Jay Quilo

Jimmy’s Coffee Back Patio (@jimmyscoffee)

Address: 806 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H7

The Riverside store of this beloved Toronto coffee chain may be popular among the residents, but did you know that they have a back patio? Try one of their summer offerings like the Berry Berry Iced Tea or a cold brew and enjoy it on the patio–and yes, it is pet-friendly!

Photo credit: Christian Jay Quilo

Queen Garden Cafe (@queengardencafe)

Address: 771 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H5

Perched in the middle of the Queen Garden Centre is a beautifully quaint glass greenhouse operating as a cafe. Whether you’re there to shop for plants and supplies or just looking for a brief respite from the heat, treat yourself to a beverage from the cafe and have a seat.

Photo credit: Christian Jay Quilo

Arts Market’s Basement (@artsmarket)

Address: 790 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H4

While the main floor hosts the selection of locally made products and a light scattering of vintage items, the basement is where the bulk of vintage goods are. When you enter the store, simply walk toward the cashier and the stairs to the basement should be on your right. 

Photo credit: Christian Jay Quilo

Joel Weeks Park

Address: 10 Thompson St, Toronto, ON M4M 1L9

Everyone probably knows Jimmie Simpson Park and Riverside Common, but there’s one more park in the neighbourhood, tucked at the end of Carroll St where Dark Horse is. Look for the statue of a giant acorn surrounded by squirrels–that’s how you know you’re at Joel Weeks Park.

Photo credit: Christian Jay Quilo

“Along The Riverbanks” Mural by Nick Sweetman (@nick_sweetman)

Address: 30 Baseball Pl, Toronto, ON M4M 0E8

Hidden at the south end of Riverside’s Baseball Place, this mural by Nick Sweetman depicts the rich biodiversity that lives in Ontario’s rivers, including the nearby Don River. To find it, go south through Riverside Common to the end of Baseball Place and you’ll immediately see this 2000 sq ft mural.

Photo credit: The Broadview Hotel

“The Tower” at The Broadview Hotel (@broadviewhotel)

Address: 106 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 2G1

The rooftop is a popular hangout for many guests at The Broadview Hotel, but there’s also an event space called “The Tower” on the same floor that you can rent out, albeit for smaller, more intimate gatherings. It boasts opulent details that’ll surely take your parties to new heights.

You know what to do: follow @riverside_bia on Instagram to stay updated on upcoming events and new stories like this on the blog!

The Best of Brunch: Must-try brunch spots in Toronto’s Riverside

Who doesn’t love brunch? Whether it’s a let loose moment with friends or a wholesome one with family, brunch is a great reason to head out, catch up with good company, and bond over delicious food. Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood in the East End is chock-full of options for your next brunch date.

Here are six brunch spots in Riverside you must check out:

Photo credit: White Lily Diner

White Lily Diner (@whitelilydiner)

Address: 678 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1G8

Known for their all-day brunch menu, White Lily serves a wide range of comfort food, from light bites such as toasts and sandwiches to heavier fare like meatloaf with grits and steak & eggs. There can be a bit of a wait during peak hours so make sure to join the waitlist before coming, so you don’t have to wait too long.

MENU | Brunch hours: 9am-10pm, Wednesday-Sunday (Closed on Monday and Tuesday)

Photo credit: Bonjour Brioche

Bonjour Brioche (@bonjour_brioche)

Address: 812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H7

Over the years, this East End favorite has cemented itself as a brunch institution in the city. The Croque Madame and the Bonjour Benny (available only on Saturdays and Sundays) are some of the bestsellers on the menu, but you can never go wrong with their assortment of freshly baked goods, such as quiches, croissants, tarts, and breads.

MENU | Brunch hours: 8am-2pm, Wednesday ; 8am-3pm, Thursday-Sunday (Closed on Monday and Tuesday)

Photo credit: ēst Restaurant

ēst Restaurant (@est.restaurant)

Address: 729 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H1

For a more upscale kind of brunch, ēst is the place for you. The modern European restaurant has taken beloved brunch items and given them an elevated, more refined iteration. Truffle Grilled Cheese, Short Rib Poutine, Chicken & Waffles with Prosciutto, Truffle Burrata–if any of these things whet your appetite, make that reservation stat.

MENU | Brunch hours: 10am-3pm, Saturday & Sunday

Photo credit: Duke’s Refresher + Bar

Duke’s Refresher + Bar (@dukesriverside)

Address: 709 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H1

Whether you’ve worked up an appetite or just looking to cure a hangover, head over to Duke’s Refresher + Bar, one of the new additions to the Riverside community. Brunch offerings include The Canadiana Benny and the Chilaquiles, which is their take on breakfast nachos. If you’re a sweet tooth, Duke’s French Toast will definitely hit the spot.

MENU | Brunch hours: 10:30am-2pm, Saturday & Sunday

Photo credit: Prohibition Social House

Prohibition Social House (@prohibitionsocialhouse)

Address: 696 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1G9

Although they’re most known for their bar and late night happy hour, who says you can’t start the party early? With classics like Buttermilk Pancakes and Eggs Florentine to pair with cocktails such as the Prohibition Mimosa and the Bloody Cesar/Bloody Mary on the brunch menu, one thing’s for sure: early weekend fun is not at all prohibited.

MENU | Brunch hours: 10am-3pm, Saturday & Sunday

Photo credit: Eastbound Brewing Company

Eastbound Brewing Company (@eastboundbeer)

Address: 700 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1G9

Aside from the drinks on the regular menu, they’ve also got a few additions for brunch such as the Eastbound Michelada and the seasonal Radler. For food, standouts include the Sausage & Egg Taco-tasticos and House-smoked Trout Bowl, as well as stellar vegetarian options like The Traveller Breakfast Burrito and the Crispy Eggplant Sandwich.

MENU | Brunch hours: 10am-2pm, Saturday & Sunday

For more content like this, make sure to check the Riverside BIA blog for new posts every week and follow @riverside_bia on Instagram for updates!