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The Great Toronto Peanut Walk

October 23, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (0)

Photo 5

Last week as part of our Writer in Residence Toronto walks a nice group met up at the Fairview branch for a walk around the Toronto Peanut (come along on our next walk this Saturday starting at the Bendale branch). Few cities have their own peanut, and ours is quite big, but perhaps not what you think if you're unfamilair with North York.


Photo 1

Our peanut was formed when Don Mills road was split, not unlike how University Avenue turns into Queens Park. Instead of a legislature inside there's a few schools, community centre, a church, and the Peanut Plaza. It's as modern an environment as Toronto gets, and from the era where it was thought it was best to separated uses in the city, with residential, institutional, and commercial all grouped in separate places. It all makes for a sometimes strange walk, as you can see from the picture above where we came to the very bottom of the peanut on a sliver of concerete in the middle of Don Mills Road.

Photo 1

The peanut is made for cars, but as with so many car-oriented Toronto neighbourhoods, many people traverse it on foot. Here we are rounding one of the bottom edges of the peanut. There are only 4 places to cross with traffic lights around its circumference. With such a great size, we saw lots of mid-block crossings. While not illegal to so so safely under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (it isn't, in fact, "jay walking") the speed of the cars, road-width, and curves make it difficult.



The peanut has a ring of apartment buildings around it with single family homes behind.

Photo 2(1)

At the top of the peanut is the Peanut Plaza, an indoor-outdoor commercial area very different from Fairview Mall a kilometre south of here. Instead of chain stores, the plaza has many independent retailers and services who likely could never afford the rents at Fairview. As one of the people on our walk said, "you can buy the stuff you need at the plaza". (Picture taken a few days before on a daytime trip).

Photo 2

The plaza even houses nearby Seneca College's student pub. Those sure are cheap pitchers. They've carved out a cute little patio in the parking lot.

Photo 4

Some nice mid-century design elements remain inside the plaza.

Photo 3

A large Tone Tai supermarket moved in to the old IGA space. Stripmalls and places like the Peanut Plaza tend to reflect the surrounding population more than the big regional malls do (if they do at all). Another man on our walk said he's being going to the barbershop down the hall for 30 years, still owned by a now-80-something Italian man who has a few new apprentices helping out.


Most unexpectedly we visited a community garden next to the church at the bottom of the peanut. We would not have noticed it had a woman on our walk not pointed it out, due to both darkness and a landscape that, even when walking, is seen with a fast moving eye as the space is vast, as if speeding along in a car.




Photos by Cynthia Fisher & Shawn Micalllef


There are a 1000 stories in the naked city, as the saying goes, and you should be writing some of them. Writer in Residence Shawn Micallef will be encouraging people to write about their city. Follow along here on city explorations and journeys into the library stacks. Shawn will also be posting some of the city-writing that he receives from people like you.

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