Wine Rack’s Newest Member – Barb Michelis

Hello Riverside,

The Riverside BIA would like to introduce Barb Michelis, the new manager of The Wine Rack.

Barb has 20 years of experience in the wine industry and has been instrumental at improving different location’s quality, professionalism and reputation – she looks forward to making the Riverside Wine Rack the best it can be. Barb has worked in the Dufferin Mall Wine Rack for 15 years and Scarborough for one year, with all but one goal in mind. ‘Having a bigger store’, and that is just what she got.  When Barb accepted the management position she got relocated to right here in Riverside.

We asked Barb, “What do you want to achieve within this store?”

Here’s what she had to say: “I want to bring the sales & transactions up to what they have never been before and increase the reputation of this store. These goals will be easy to achieve considering the great and motivated staff within this store.“

We also wanted to find out: “What comments can you say about this store location in Riverside?”

“Riverside is a great area and community and I want to get more involved. Once I settle in with the store, I want to go out and network with all the local businesses here.”

Riverside, next time you walk by the Wine Rack, stop in and introduce yourself to Barb. We’re sure you won’t be sorry you did!

Barb-wine rack

















Guest Blogger: Kyla Danielis


Check out Artists’ Network Exhibit at RiversideTO BIA Office (#761 Queen St E)

The Riverside BIA is thrilled to exhibit local Artists from the Artists’ Network, featuring framing from Dimensions Custom Framing. Please pop in to the offices at 761 Queen St East to view work of 7 talented artists.  Their work and information about the Artists is outlined below.

About the Artists’ Network

Artists’ Network is a membership-based, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting visual artists in their business practice. They promote professional development, entrepreneurship and growth by organizing educational seminars, offering networking opportunities, providing business tools and developing exhibition opportunities. They work with individual artists, the community and arts organizations, as well as the private sector and all levels of government to promote the arts. And, they attract art lovers and collectors to experience members’ work.  For more information please click on this: Artist Network


About Dimensions Custom Framing

Dimensions Custom Framing adds it’s inviting convivial presence to trendy Riverside.  This fresh expansive gallery is the collaborative product of Ellen Davidson and Wendy Palmer, in business together for over 10 years.  Dimensions not only showcases works by emerging and established artists such as Donna Zekas, Janet Potter, Scott Johnston, Shawn Skier and Ileana Grimm but also homes a custom design framing empire where visions are brought to life by renown master framer Wendy Palmer.  Proud sponsors of non profits such as ACT, Art Gems and Interval House, both Ellen and Wendy create an engaging comfortable space bridging a dynamic visual mix of art in a friendly welcoming atmosphere.


Dimensions Custom Framing





Please scroll through the images and artists statements to see what is currently on exhibit in the Riverside BIA Offices.




Sewing up a strom

Sewing up a strom by JANET F POTTER

JANET F POTTER – Artist Statement: As an artist I have become totally indulged in urban environments and the surrounding nature from Newfoundland to Northern Ontario to Vancouver Island B.C. I’m extremely passionate about my art and use my tools to dream the dreams, see the visions, sketch the intricate detailed plans, and take the time to feel and view every aspect of my creation. My mediums include personal writings and drawings, partial photo transfers, silk screenings accompany with various mediums process onto Japanese Washi and Mylar Paper and Aluminum creating Paper Art and Art Book.


Downtown Toronto from The Air

Downtown Toronto from The Air by JUDY-ANN CAZEMIER




JUDY-ANN CAZEMIER – Judy-Ann’s Biography: Born, raised, and schooled on the Prairies, I received my first camera, a Kodak 174 instamatic, at age 10.  Since 1985, I have gained experience in scenic, portrait, and stock photography, and a few more cameras. One of my photos was used in an advertisement for Ontario Tourism in these well-known publications:  Time, People, National Geographic Traveler, and Reader’s Digest in 1992.  And more recently, in 2009, Ontario Tourism published one of my photos in their book:  Ontario:  Seasons of Discovery. I photographed three assignments for Seasons magazine.  Canadian Camera magazine published a design article, illustrated with sunflowers, and highlighted a portfolio submission in a second article.  I have two diplomas in photography from Humber College, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Winnipeg.


Winds from The East

Winds from The East by NANCY BENNETT

NANCY BENNETT – Nancy’s Bio and Artist Statement: As a life long artist and crafter, starting with knitting at age 7 and oil painting at age 10, I have expressed my creativity in weaving, sewing, woodworking, ceramics, quilting and soap making.  After a long hiatus, I returned to painting this past summer.

I’m inspired by the contrasts between the old and new structures in our neighbourhood and the beautiful skies.  The smokestacks, sometimes known as the Leslieville Twins, feature in many of my pieces. Their smoke (really it’s steam) indicates the force and direction of the wind. The colours change with the time of day till the blinking lights take over at night. I am a longtime fan of Tom Thomson. His portrayal of Canada was unusual at the time because he found beauty in the “ugly” wilderness. As a rural to urban transplant, it took me a while to recognize the beauty in old factories, rooftop HVAC equipment and smokestacks. Now that I see it, I have to paint it.




ALICIA TYSON – About Alicia: After spending the better part of a decade on the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda, Alicia Tyson returned to Toronto inspired by the endless motion and restless energy of the sea. A descendent of seafaring Scandinavians, Alicia explores the depths of the canvas with broad gestures, colours and layers that appear to be forever shifting, rising and falling.Whether capturing the human figure, landscapes or her primal fascination with waterborne vessels, Alicia’s abstract images flow with no defined beginning or end, reflecting the nature of human entanglements, relationships and memory. Alicia has studied with Harold Klunder, John Leonard, Otis Tamasauskas and Peter Kolisnyk and graduated in Graphic Design at Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada. A full-time Professor at Niagara Collage, she teaches within the art and design program. Alicia also continues to design and paint. After 20 years of painting, Alicia Tyson has work featured in numerous private collections throughout Bermuda, Canada, England and the United States.


Seascape with Cliff

Seascape with Cliff by GABRIELE M. CRAIG

GABRIELE M. CRAIG – Gabriele’s Biography and Artist Statement in Brief: Gabriele Craig has been an artist throughout her life. Her training and studies began in Germany and continued in Canada after moving to Ottawa in 1969. What captures Gabriele’s interest is a representation of nature and the feelings our experiences of nature evoke. Her medium is water colour, mixed media and encaustic, these allow her to explore ways of using layers of colour to convey inner dispositions and feelings in an abstract manner, this enables the viewer to experience his or her own unique emotional reaction to her paintings. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto.

New creations are works produced on Mylar, incorporating mixed media, i.e. working with oils, watercolour, inks, transfers, also including textured materials. This transparent material allows for the manipulation of images on both sides, front and back, creating double images or positive and negatives at the same time. The result has been the collection of Seascapes. Expressing herself and the world around her through drawing and painting has been a “Leitfaden” throughout her life. Her background as a cartographer and interior designer, both have influenced the style and images of her work. This found expression in the geometrically ordered, aesthetically pleasing, or ultimately organic images.


Receeding Time

Receeding Time by DONNA ZEKAS

DONNA ZEKAS – Artist Statement: My paintings are defined by colour and texture. I do not have specific images in my mind when I begin a painting. I work with numerous layers and make conscious decisions about whether to leave parts visible, obscured or covered. As I proceed with adding, subtracting, wiping away or pooling paint, I fuse the conscious and accidental.Each step is dictated by previous one and each layer is constructed with the knowledge that it will be altered… I react intuitively and rely on my instincts and impulses to both obscure and reveal what lies beneath.



Nudge by KING WONG


Las Vegas Don't Count

Las Vegas Don’t Count by KING WONG

KING WONG – Artist Statement:

My visions are reflections about human remnants of survival in a time-less and unfathomable world. Beyond is an exploration of context delving on our affinity with authentic real objects, figures and surrounding spaces. My paintings are pathways to exploring an awareness of what it means to “be”.



We hope you enjoyed the sampling of artwork from local East End Artists, if you want to see more, please visit the Riverside BIA offices at 761 Queen St E.  We appreciate your feedback, and invite you to leave  your comments.

Jare’s Place B&B and the Riverside BIA – store frontage facilitating community

The other day on the way home I noticed Riverside BIA signage in the storefront next to MAC Fab.  I had walked by half a dozen times before but on this particular afternoon my curiosity took wind and I stopped in to say hello.

Riverside BIA Storefront

Riverside BIA Storefront


  I could not have received a warmer welcome.  This should not have been a surprise to me as months prior I had a similar experience when another business owner in the Riverside community stopped by my bed and breakfast to offer us some bags from an event to give away to our guests.  In this world of hustle and bustle, it is so easy to get lost in the mix.  Jare’s Place B&B has been searching for ways to connect with other business owners and our community at hand. 

Jares place 1

Riverside’s Local B&B – Jare’s Place

In autumn 2012, we opened our doors to local entrepreneurs and business owners offering them a workshop and meeting space.  At Jare’s Place, it is our goal to make our guests feel at home whether it is in our home or in our community.  To my delight, after leaving the BIA office, I noticed atop our street sign “Riverside” and I realized that we are home. 

A sneak peak into Jare's Place

A sneak peak into Jare’s Place

Jare’s Place Bed and Breakfast looks forward to being a part of this vibrant community and offering our hand of support as we grow together.

Guest Blog by:

Jeremy Greer
Host & Owner
Jare’s Place Bed & Breakfast

Killing Toronto Small Businesses!


“Significant increases in property taxes are one of the biggest issues facing small business within the GTA “ claims John Kiru, Executive Director of Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).

John Kiru, Executive Director  - TABIA

John Kiru, Executive Director – TABIA

Riverside, Business Improvement (BIA), along historic Queen St E between the DVP bridge and just past Degrassi,  has the highest percentage increase in property values compared to all other BIAs, with an increase in assessed property values of 118% from 2008, to 2012.

Commercial Properties are assessed at the value estimated to be highest and best use of the property.  For example, if there is a parking lot right beside a brand new 4 story condominium with retail on the street level, these two properties would be subject to the same assessed property value.  Pity the property owner who has had his business running as a sole proprietorship for the past 20 years, and would like to continue  to service his loyal customers but is a neighbour to a new development.

Dale Sonier, President/Owner macFAB

Dale Sonier, President/Owner macFAB

Dale Sonier, President/Owner of macFAB Fabrics and macFAB Home is concerned that tax increases will drive out small independent businesses that help create neighbourhoods in Toronto.   Dale fears that tax increases are “Killing  Toronto’s small businesses!”   Dale has seen this happen along Queen St West, when 3 years ago, he saw rents tripling because of increase in property taxes, fueled by increases in property value assessments.   Dale was not prepared to pass these increases along to his customers, so, he moved across to the East End and is now a considerable presence on Queen St East, operating macFAB with 5 store-fronts in Riverside.


Rosemary  Litttle Jeffares, Owner/Operator Quince FlowersThe Riverside BIA is the second oldest BIA in Toronto, and Rosemary Little Jeffares (Rosie), Chair of the Riverside BIA Marketing Committee and Owner/Operator of Quince Flowers has seen the ups and downs of Riverside.  For the past several years, Rosie has been at the forefront of a “Riverside Revival”, where the Queen  &

Broadview hub has transformed from a rough area to an up and coming neighbourhood.  Through leadership from the BIA, Riverside has benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment in

Quince Flower Shop in Riverside Toronto

Quince Flower Shop in Riverside Toronto

the BIA’s infrastructure including public art installations, façade improvements to a substantial number of businesses, capital investments in lighting, tree pits, public parks and more.  Rosie exclaims “it’s ironic that a large part of this investment in Riverside has been through Government programs and grants, and, now, with increases in assessed property values the Government is shooting our Community in the foot. Riverside has worked hard to develop a safe, attractive desirable neighbourhood. Those businesses who invested in this, are now finding themselves penalized by an increase property tax assessments“

Riverside DVP & Queen St E Bridge - Public Art by Eldon Garnet

Riverside DVP & Queen St E Bridge – Public Art by Eldon Garnet

To help small business owners, Riverside BIA has encouraged all their property owners to go on to the MPAC website and file an appeal.  TABIA has offered their help, and will work with MPAC to identify a single contact for Riverside.  But, that is not enough, there are two major changes that MPAC must address if they want to support small businesses.  The first is their notion of assessing property at “highest and best use”.  Small Businesses advocate a system where a more reasonable assessment is taken when it is actually realized and that is “current use at time of sale”.

The other area of inequality in taxes is the rate which GTA Businesses pay the Business Education Tax (BET).   According to John Kiru from TABIA, businesses within the GTA pay a higher rate for the BET those businesses outside of the GTA. There is no reason for this inequity.  Why is the BET tax rate not the same everywhere?  TABIA is leading this issue for GTA Businesses, and Riverside is looking forward to their successes.

Ultimately the government will have to decide if they want to have Toronto continue to be a city of neighbourhoods, or of they are looking for development and chains to be on every street corner.



Get Hungry For Love


Boutique chocolate boxes from Ambiance Chocolat

Riverside has something for all folks this frosty Valentine’s. Whether you’re single and want a reprieve from all the couples, have a romantic date with your special someone, or if you simply desire some good eats and forget that it’s Feb 14th.

If you’re single and ready to mingle, celebrate St. Valentine’s Day the Russian way at Rasputin Vodka Bar.  Whether you’re single, curious or taken, Rasputin Vodka Bar is the perfect place to chill and meet a special someone over a drink with $6.50 vodka infused martinis and $4.00 highballs, tasty vodka pared morsels to sweeten any bite, and a live DJ to get you in the move.

Riverside lovers have a couple of delicious options.

You can dine on four-courses of heaven at Table 17 on Valentine’s Day, for a set price of $60/person. With an ever-changing seasonal menu, inspired by local ingredients and European preparation techniques, Table 17 is a great option for those who live in the neighborhood or for those from outside the Riverside area that are looking for an inspired meal in a warm, welcoming and romantic setting. What is more, you can also make reservations online, so if you just remembered now that you need to make a reservation for you and your honey, just pop online at

If you are wanting to get amorous at one of Toronto’s top date restaurants, then you need to make reservations at PicNic Wine Bar, for special Valentine’s menu at a set price of $45/person. The evening will begin with Amuse Bouche;  leading you into your first course you will have the choice of: Potato & Leek Soup, Caesar  Salad, Crevettes L’amour, or PicNic Pork & Brandy Pate. The mouth-watering second course includes a choice between: Three Cheese Tortillini with Butternut Squash sauce, Roasted Chicken & Cassoulet, Beef Wellington with Roasted Potatoes and French Beans or Lobster Thermadore. Top off this delectable meal with either a Mixed Berry Crème Caramel or a Sourdough Bread Pudding for dessert. For reservations please call 647-435-5298 or email at

If dinner is not really your thing, or you want to add an extra panache to your evening, treat yourself, or your special someone to a stunningly unique bouquet from one of Riverside’s designer florists:  Quince Flowers at 660 Queen Street East- 416-594-1414 or Lancaster Flowers at 790 Queen Street East- 416-466-6446.


Give your date or get yourself an extra treat with an absolutely stunning array of hand crafted chocolates made in-house at Ambiance Chocolat at 753 Queen Street East- 416-406-2462