For this series of blog posts marking our 10th year, (our DECAde) we are looking back on where DECA started, how far we’ve come and where the next 10 years might take us and our neighbourhood. We are including interviews with some of DECA’s founding and earliest Board members along with other info and tidbits from DECA’s “archives”. 

That was then

Ten years ago, the stretch of Danforth from Monarch Park to Main Street was bleak. Walkability had been in decline since the introduction of the subway in 1966. Storefronts were empty, parks were sketchy and unsafe and residents were disconnected. Back then you had to leave the neighbourhood to buy things, go for coffee or enjoy a night out. We had no smartphones or social media. There was no path forward to get the neighbourhood closer to its potential.

Check out this Globe & Mail article from August 2006 about Danforth East called The rougher end of the Danforth.

In 2007, a group of neighbours started meeting around dining room tables, eventually forming DECA. Among that group were Peter Schmiedchen, Catherine Porter, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Natasha Granatstein, Alison McMurray and Mary Vallis. This is what the neighbourhood was like when they moved here.  


PS: My wife and I moved here in 2002. We had been renting at Danforth and Greenwood, and when we decided to buy, we told our Real Estate agent we didn’t want to look anywhere East of Pape. Knowing our own area, we didn’t think that the areas further east were going to be places we would want to settle down. However, after realizing that Pape was waaaay out of our price range, and looking at 60+ houses around East York and Leslieville, our agent finally talked us into showing us an area near Woodbine. We were wary, but agreed as we were weary of house hunting. She took us to a house on Keystone Avenue and we fell in love. At once, we knew that this was the neighbourhood we wanted to remain in. The downside was the lack of great restaurants and shops on our stretch of the Danforth.

MV: I moved to the neighbourhood in 2006 with my husband. The decision was based solely on the fact he wanted a house with a basement high enough to stand up in, and easy access to the subway line. At the time, we got little else. But after forging friendships with our neighbours and connecting with colleagues in the neighbourhood, we saw its potential and both dedicated what spare time we had to helping make it a great place to live.

NG: We moved here in 2004. Our real estate agent did not want us to buy on the east side of Coxwell and REFUSED to sell us anything east of Woodbine. When my oldest son was born in 2006, I spent a lot of time pushing a stroller around the neighbourhood. I got very thin because it was a LONG walk to even get to a coffee shop that I was willing to enter into with my infant son. It was so puzzling that people were spending a whack of money on houses in the neighbourhood, but there were no shops that catered to them on the Danforth. People obviously had money to spend, but there was nowhere local to spend it.

CP: My husband and I moved into our house on Keystone in September 2004. What was it like? Grungy, I’d say. It felt desolate. We had a daughter in Feb. 2006, who was very colicky. The only way to calm her down was to tie her onto our bodies and walk briskly around. So, I saw the neighbourhood at all hours. I started to look at it in ways I hadn’t before, because I was always nipping in and out. I saw the boarded up storefronts. Mostly, I noticed young girls getting picked up for tricks outside of Sobeys in the early hours of the night and I worried that no one was on the street to watch out for them.

MMM: We were renting an apartment in the Beach Triangle and put an offer in on a dirt cheap house on Cedarvale in 1994. We weren’t super keen on the neighbourhood and figured we would only stick around for a few years – 5 max! There were many derelict empty shops. The Danforth had a filthy feel to it and we had a neighbour who used to pee on our lawn.  It wasn’t till we had kids that we actually started exploring the parks in the neighbourhood and were shocked to see how many we actually have in a such a close proximity! 

AM: My husband Patrick grew up in the east end so when it was time to buy a house, a small East York bungalow fit the bill. The neighbourhood had a few gems on the Danforth like Monte’s, Biway and Royal Beef but overall it was quite desolate. There were lots of young families moving into the area and we met daily in East Lynn Park.

CP: I had worked at City Hall as a reporter, and had witnessed the power of community organizations, mostly to say no to developments. But I thought — maybe we could work together to change our neighbourhood, and bring some life into it. I asked neighbours over to my house for wine and cheese and conversation. That’s how we got started.

Fact: There was no Business Improvement Area (BIA) along our stretch of Danforth in 2007. The Danforth Mosaic BIA was formed in 2008. 

DECA memberships are only $10/household to support our community initiatives including our weekly Farmer’s Market, Diversity Scholarship, annual Arts Fair, Pumpkin Parade, Tree Lighting Festival, #DanforthEast Yard Sale, DECA Pride LGBTQ+ group and more! Sign up here.

Keep in touch with us:

Instagram & Twitter @DECAdiariesFacebook | Website

Horticulturalists providing advice for growing great flowers and vegetables. Members of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club talking about the trail and giving tips.  Our local libraries are offering some great sessions over the next few months…


Danforth / Coxwell Library

Crocheting and Knitting
A great place to share your interests whether you’re a beginner or a pro, bring your handiwork and spend some time with fellow knitters and crocheters.

May 3, June 7 – 6:30-8 p.m.

Family Book Club
Exchange experiences and thoughts on a monthly book based on the OLA’s Silver Birch Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Express Prize Nominees of 2016-2017.  For ages 8 and up.

May 20, June 17


At the Movies
Join us for a great movie.  Admission is free and you can bring your own refreshments to enjoy.  Contact the branch to find out what’s playing.

May 25, June 29 – 2-4 p.m.


Learn to Camp with Parks Canada

Parks Canada staff show you how to plan a camping trip and demonstrate related skills like setting up a tent and cooking outdoors.  For all ages.

June 3* (contact the library to register)   10 a.m. – 12 p.m.


P.A. Day Movies

Enjoy a movie on your day off!
June 9 – 2 – 3:30 pm


Walter Stewart Library


Ask an Expert: Toronto Master Gardens
Horticulturalists provide advice for growing great flowers and vegetables.  For more details, visit tpl.ca/askanexpert

May 23 – 7-8 p.m.


Family Films
G-rated movies for the whole family
May 27, June 10 – 2-4 p.m.


Writers Group
Read from and discuss works in progress.  Some groups have guest writers and speakers.  For more information, call the branch.

May 31, June 28 – 7 – 9:45 pm


Discovering Canada’s Bruce Trail
Members of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club talk about the trail and give tips on how you can plan your discovery hike.

June 7 – 7-8 p.m.


Musicking, Science and Health: A Mental Tune-Up

Musicking influences the body and mind and has been shown to produce positive results with speech and memory issues, and with more serious medical ailments such as Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.  Take a look at recent research in music and health and simple things that we can do to improve our quality of life.

June 13 – 7-8 p.m.


To stay up to date with upcoming events,  you might choose to follow the Danforth / Coxwell Library – Facebook page.

Join DECA Pride (DECA’s LGBTQ+ Group) for a free, all ages community screening courtesy of the Inside Out Film Festival and the S. Walter Stewart Library. 

You will also have a chance to learn more about DECA Pride and other DECA initiatives. 

The screening is absolutely free but for anyone who chooses to, we will be accepting donations to go to a local LGBTQ+ refugee/newcomer group.

If you would like to learn more about DECA Pride, send an email!

For more info, visit the Facebook event page.

It’s our 10th year and we’re celebrating our DECAde by asking our followers to join asmembers to  support our efforts for the next 10 years. $10/household if you live in our boundaries (Main-Lumsden/Mortimer-Monarch Park-Train tracks) and if not, feel free to make a donation of any amount. http://deca.to/membership

Happy Earth Day (one day early)!

Celebrate by pitching in at a local park. Here is a list of clean-ups in Ward 31 and see below for a fun clean-up/bonfire at Stephenson Park.

Keep reading for more on Record Store Day at Press!

Friends of Stephenson Park Cleanup – 11am-3pm

Bonfire 🔥 & marshmallows ready at about 12:30. They will have waste bags for the clean & will also tackle the Community Gardens and by the stairs at the end of Stephenson. 😊
Once you’ve cleaned and celebrated the Earth, celebrate Record Store Day! 

Save the date!

A few save the dates:

Our annual #DanforthEast Yard Sale will be June 10! Stay tuned for sign-up info.

Next public DECA Board meeting is April 20 from 7:30-9:30. The location is Sarah’s Cafe and Bar, in the back room, 1426 Danforth Ave at the corner of Monarch Park.

We’ll be hosting a meet & greet beforehand on April 20 from 7-7:30 for anyone who wants to come to do any/all of the following: say hello, chat about the neighbourhood, learn more about volunteer opportunities, sign up to be a member! Please email us to let us know you plan to come.

June 1st will be the opening of the East Lynn Park Farmers’ Market! 

A few community events

A couple of community events that you’re invited to that we’ve been asked to post. 

LEN Farewell Party (April 15)

Christal and David are moving themselves and their fab business to Hamilton and are throwing a community a good-bye party! Come to Sauce’s back patio (Sauce is at 1376 Danforth) on April 15 from 7pm on. 

RSVP to their Facebook event if you’re planning to go. 

Dentonia Park Nursey School  – Open House (April 1)

Visit 140 Dawes with your 2-4 year old from 10am-noon on April 1 for crafts, activities and snacks and to meet the teachers and other parents. If you enroll in their morning-only program you will get 50% off the registration fee. 

This program is slightly out of the DECA boundaries but they are in danger of closing due to low enrolment, so we are helping to spread the word. 

Click on their Facebook event for details. 

You can also read this Beach Metro article for more info. 

Lots happening around the neighbourhood. Be sure to follow your faves on social media to keep on top of sales and events!

Book Shop Brass @ Press (free concert!) Friday, March 24, 7pm | 2442 Danforth, across from Sobey’s

Such a great thing to have more live music in our neighbourhood. Press has said that there will be treats and refreshments for all. Kicks off at 7pm and this is a family-friendly event. 

Click here for a video sneak preview!

No really, watch the video. It’s awesome. 


DECA Pride “Last Sunday”, March 26 from 3:30-5:30pm @ Time Capsule Board Game Cafe | 2183 Danforth (east of Woodbine)

Come and have a drink, play a game, meet some LGBTQ+ neighbours and/or just hang out. Allies are also welcome.
This month we will also be looking for people to step forward to volunteer to help with future DECA Pride events/activities that *could* include: social events (time and place tbd), Pride @ the East Lynn market in June, fundraising to support LGBTQ+ refugees and [insert your great idea here!]. We need a more people to help in order to be sustainable as a group so now is your chance! 

Light snacks on DECA and Time Capsule waives the gaming fees for us. 

Click here to be added to the DECA Pride mailing list or here to join the fb page



Silly Goose Kids – Goode-Bye Winter sale! (Mar 24-26) | 2054 Danforth 

Old’s Cool – weekend sale (Mar 25-26) | 250 Westlake @ Lumsden 

30% off many of their unique & handmade goods all day on Saturday & Sunday. 

See their post here!

LEN: Democratic purveyors of fine art & beautiful things – 20% off entire store until March 31 | 698 Coxwell Ave

See their fb post here

You may have heard that LEN will be relocating to Hamilton at the end of April, so be sure to stop in and show them some love for so many years of #DanforthEast love! 


VII Design & Gifts – 20-50% off until March 31 | 1434 Danforth Ave

MARCH MADNESS Customer Appreciation event! Enjoy savings of 20% to 50% off everything in our store until March 31, 2017!  Including: Pillows, vases, giftware, jewelry, blankets and throws, felted bags, scarves, “shoe chairs” and more.

See their post here!

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