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Friday, February 28, 2014

The top 10 Oscar parties in Toronto for 2014

Toronto oscar partiesSunday March 2nd is Oscar night and as has become tradition a select number of bars, cinemas and other venues throw down the proverbial red carpet to celebrate (and try to make up for what is usually a slower night of the week) the year in cinema. This year there are a variety of options, both east and west of the DVP, so without further ado, here are our top picks for Toronto Oscar parties in 2014.

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Watching the Academy Awards on the big screen at the Bloor has become a tradition. As usual, the event is free but there will also be plenty of distractions including trivia and prizes. And don't forget, the Bloor is licensed. Doors open at 6:30pm.

Innis Town Hall

The student-friendly Innis Town Hall will likely feature a predominately UofT crowd who can make this a true dinner and movie-type experience since there'll be free popcorn. Like the Bloor, admission is free and there will be prizes. Doors open at 6:30pm.

Fox Cinema

Over in the Beaches, the 100 year old Fox Cinema will be livening up their Oscar soiree with some bingo. The event is free but donations at the door with proceeds going to the AIDS Committee of Toronto are encouraged.

Revue Cinema

Not to be left out of the indie cinema Oscar screening circuit, the Revue on Roncesvalles wants attendees to dress to impress. They'll even have a photographer in the lobby taking snaps. Games and prizes are also on the agenda. Free admission.

O'Grady's on Church

The popular Church St. pub is back with its annual Oscar party. This year expect trivia, pool and a karaoke party after the show. No cover but call for reservations.


Dundas West won't be left out of the Oscar buzz thanks to Bambi's invitation for all to come by and talk sh*t about actors while they hand each other golden trophies. Snacks, cocktail specials and $25 bottles of bubbly are all part of the programme. No cover.

Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel (not to be confused with the One Fifty spinoff) will be hosting their annual Oscar party again this year complete with free popcorn and guest host extraordinaire Richard Crouse. Also, prizes, trivia and a special bubbly menu. No cover.

Ronnie's Local

Since the Oscars is pretty much synonymous with Kensington Market it's only logical that Ronnie's Local get in on the action. Formal dress is encouraged (choose to take that seriously or not at your peril). No cover.

Hunters Landing

Those living in and around CityPlace might want to make a beeline for what Hunters Landing is promising as a star studded evening you won't forget. Like most places on this list, there will be contests and prizes. And they promise to even turn on the sound on their TVs. No cover.

Rize Studios

Want a pre-party before your Academy Awards? Then Rize Studios in Liberty Village is the place to be at 4:30 pm for what should be a pretty entertaining poetry slam proceeding an Oscar screening party that will include snacks, prizes and more. No word yet on whether someone will come up with a rhyme that goes with McConaughey. $10 entry free.

Want more Oscar parties? There are more going down across the city including ones at Big Picture Cinema on Gerrard East, Wayla Bar in Leslieville and The Local Gest in Cabbagetown. Of course, you could always just stay home, order Chinese food and drink cheap wine.

What did we miss? Add more Oscar parties to the comments below.

by Staff via blogTO

Isaiah Rashad and Tre Mission touch up Tattoo

Tre Mission TorontoOn Thursday night Queen Street West's newly rebranded TATTOO (they've ditched the "Rock Parlour" in their name and are making an effort to book more urban acts) was host to rapper Isaiah Rashad, the next in line from TDE's camp.

After Kendrick Lamar's takeover and the incredible album sale projections for Schoolboy Q's newest release, he has some serious shadows to walk through. Opening up the night was DJ Freeza Chin and rapper Tre Mission, who recently signed a multi album deal with UK-based label Big Dada and who we featured at the start of the year as one of Toronto's Top 5 Up and Coming Hip Hop Acts of this year.

Tre Mission TorontoUnlike most hip hop shows, this started reasonably on time, with Tre Mission touching the stage just shortly after 11. Tre's rapidfire UK-grime style flow was on point throughout his performance. His breath control is second to none and he annunciates flawlessly, never skipping a syllable. He peppered the crowd with tracks off his project Malmaison, released last summer, which is still available for free download on his website and the rumour mill suggests it has already accumulated a smooth 40,000 downloads since then.

Tre Mission TorontoTre's career so far really is a fascinating case study of a Toronto rapper who was embraced with open arms by a market overseas. Last night might have proved otherwise though, as the audience was clearly feeling his energy from start to finish. From head-banging heavy hitters like "Brunch" and "High Fashion" to sneak peaks of new tracks like "On Road," which he restarted three times because of it's hype, Tre proved to be the perfect choice as support for the night.

A massive shoutout has to go to DJ Freeza Chin who warmed up the anxious crowd with a medley of ratchet rap and trap music before Tre's set, held him down during his performance, and played some incredible modern blends until Isaiah Rashad's camp hit the stage.

Isaiah Rashad TorontoI'm not sure if Isaiah Rashad's DJ was plucked off the street moments before the show, but he seemed like more of playlist hypeman than a DJ. This nonchalant vibe actually aligned well with Isaiah Rashad's playful aura, though - maybe it was an intentional move to make the crowd free and easy.

Isaiah Rashad TorontoAfter a 15 minute medley of tracks from the TDE camp, Isaiah Rashad scurried on stage to an uproar of cheers. He seemed really happy to be there, and from the very beginning it was clear that he was very eager to connect with his audience on a personal and physical level. Before performing a single song he embraced the front row with a daps, hi fives and hugs. With that out of the way, he jumped into the festivities.

Isaiah Rashad TorontoIsaiah Rashad might not have the most extensive discography, but what he does have is a healthy balance of upbeat smashes and more mellow conscious tracks. Even during the latter, he maintained positivity and energy, even by openly admitting that the people needed to stay with him as some tracks were slow and that he's "too hype for that."

These type of tracks, like "Ronnie Drake" and "RIP Kevin Miller," still went over very well with the crispy production resonating nicely through the room. Rashad would often false-start these slower songs, bringing them back around to effectively have onlookers join in the second time around.

Isaiah Rashad TorontoAll in all, the set lasted over an hour and the venue was probably at its hypest when the beat for "Soliloquoy" dropped in, making things get rowdy. By the end of the show, there's no doubt that the connection with him was real, with the crowd showing their love by throwing three fingers into the air throughout the night. With Isaiah as their recent signee, it looks like Schoolboy Q was right when he said "Y'all acting like TDE don't run LA, Coast ain't been this hard since Pac, Death Row and Dr. Dre."


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Photos by Matthew Forsythe

by Markit via blogTO

How Canada Dry Ginger Ale was invented in Toronto

toronto canada dryJohn James McLaughlin was 25 when he founded his soft drink empire. Born near Enniskillen, Ont., one of two business-minded sons of carriage maker Robert McLaughlin, "Jack" studied at the Ontario College of Pharmacy in Toronto and moved to Brooklyn to complete his qualifications.

While he studied, the moustachioed and kind-eyed McLaughlin worked the controls of a gleaming marble soda fountain in a New York City drug store, mixing fruit-flavoured syrups with carbonated water and ice for crowds of thirsty customers. Drinks with names like Humdinger, American Gentleman, Happy Hooligan, Gunther's Excelsior, Pugilists' Panacea, and the Japanese Thirst Killer were wildly popular.

The real money was in pop, not dispensaries, he thought.

toronto j j mclaughlinMcLaughlin brought the soda concept home to Toronto and began distributing sparkling soda water and still mineral water from a store near Old City Hall in the early 1890s. His effervescent drinks came in seltzer bottles that could be endlessly re-filled and re-charged with carbon dioxide. A pull on the metal trigger released a burst of fizzing water that tasted like salted club soda.

The business did well, despite competition from at least twelve other rival soda companies, and moved to a larger premises on Berti Street near Queen and Church where it employed its first staff: "two men and a driver." It was here McLaughlin began mixing flavoured fruit syrups with sparkling water to make pop: "sarsaparilla, lemon sour, cream soda, ginger beer, cola," according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

toronto canada dryMcLaughlin also marketed a bottle washing machine that automatically scrubbed, sterilized, and dried used soda bottles ready for re-filling. It sold well, according to newspaper reports, and was used in Manchester, England and other European locations.

Meanwhile, his brother, "Colonel" Samuel McLaughlin, was busily growing their father's business into what would eventually become General Motors of Canada.

The business expanded to another factory on Sherbourne Street, just south of Shuter, in 1893, combining the drinks and equipment manufacturing concerns under one roof. In 1895, McLaughlin employed 80 people and the company was known "from the Pacific to the Atlantic," according to a business supplement published by The Star.

Soon after the building opened, a boiler exploded in the basement after closing one evening, collapsing the brick facade into the street and wrecking the production line. The force was so powerful it smashed windows and scattered furniture in nearby homes, including the Moss Park mansion across the street.

The Globe and Mail reported that a packed streetcar and a passer-by narrowly avoided the cascade of bricks. All told, the blast caused about $10,000 worth of damage, none of which was covered by insurance. It's not entirely clear how McLaughlin was able to rebuild the factory but the accident didn't seem to present much of a setback.

toronto canada dryBy 1905, a team of fruit handlers, surrounded by crates of oranges, lemons, cherries, berries, peaches, and plums stacked floor-to-ceiling, peeled, pitted, and performed "the multiple operations by which fruits are induced to part with their flavours" in the repaired building's basement.

On the main floor, the bottling department used McLaughlin's own machine to scald and scrub glass bottles ready for filling. A massive 1,600-gallon carbonated water machine - the largest of its kind in North America, built specially for the firm in London, England - mixed its sparkling liquid with the fruit syrups brought up from the floor below.

There was also space for offices, a soda fountain showroom, laboratory, machine shop, and stables for the horses that hauled the delivery wagons. The company's ice cream machines and marble soda fountains were installed at the Hudson's Bay Company in Edmonton, the Robert Simpson Company in Toronto, and the Orpheum Store in Montreal.

A large part of McLauglin's business was dedicated to building custom soda fountains and fitting out cafeterias. Two catalogues stored in the Toronto Public Library show multiple elaborate and ornate designs, featuring onyx, marble, slate, bronze, nickel silver, and mahogany.

toronto canada drySome of J. J. McLaughlin's most popular drinks from around the turn of the century included Santoris pure sparkling water, Hygeia distilled table water from a spring in Arnprior, Ont., Hop-Tone "bitter-sweet tonic," and Tona-Cola, a coke drink that unashamedly borrowed from Coca-Cola. The Tona-Cola logo even used the same distinctive cursive script first used by the international drinks giant in 1885.

The drink was nicknamed "Ton O' Coal," a play on the way the name was pronounced, and like other sodas, it was sold through druggists, grocers, and fountains at 5-cents a glass.

toronto canada dryMany of the most popular soft drinks of the age were marketed as health tonics, claiming to cure everything from gland problems to nervousness and fatigue. Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper, both of which emerged around the same time as McLaughlin's company, made similar health claims.

Ironically, despite his company's health promises, McLaughlin was frequently unwell. He spent time in Florida - he was in the US when the factory explosion occurred - in the hope the heat and bright sunshine would cure his malaise.

toronto tona-colaThe company had long produced the dark and spicy "McLaughlin's Belfast Style Ginger Ale" - similar to an old-style ginger beer - but the product was refined in 1904 and renamed "Canada Dry" Pale Ginger Ale. "It has a snap and a tingle; a smart spry taste," early ads claimed. It was known as "the champagne of ginger ales" for its light taste and was marketed with a beaver icon and a map of Canada.

So popular was Canada Dry that McLaughlin opened plants in Edmonton and Winnipeg to help with national distribution. The trade name was registered to the company in 1907 and there were several offers to buy the rights to the drink, all of them rejected.

The sweet drink was even appointed to the Royal Household of the Governor General of Canada, at which point the beaver was removed from the logo in favour of a crown and the map of Canada was place inside a shield, as it is today.

toronto canada dryWith Canada Dry continuing its explosive rise, McLaughlin died suddenly of a heart attack in 1914. The company stayed in the family, expanding to New York City in 1920, until it was sold in 1923 to P. D. Saylor and Associates, who renamed it Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc.

Today, Canada Dry is no longer associated with Toronto, or Canada. The brand is owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. out of Plano, Texas, a faceless corporation that also produces 7 Up, A&W Root Beer, Clamato, Yoo-hoo, and countless others.

I wonder what Jack would have made of that.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Toronto Public Library, Toronto Star

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

New Mimico pizza joint is definitely a Leafs fan

pizza mimicoPizza places run amok in this fair city, but don't let that stop you from checking out this new place with original pizzas, locally sourced ingredients, an all Ontario bar menu, and a creative array of dishes including one named after Leaf player Dave Bolland.

Read my review of 850 Degrees in the restaurants section.

by Libby Roach via blogTO


Here's what to do this weekend in Toronto:

Here's what to do this weekend in Toronto:

This Weekend: Things to Do in Toronto

February 28 to March 2: things to do in Toronto this weekend including Lady Antebellum, Grilled Cheese Fest and Sexapalooza.

by torontodotcom via torontodotcom's Facebook Wall

MSW Information Session

Begins: 24 April 2014 at 12:00 PM Ends: 24 April 2014 at 12:00 PM Where: 246 Bloor Street West Organized by: Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

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Free Toronto Networking Events

Weekend events in Toronto: February 28 - March 2 2014

Weekend events TorontoWeekend events in Toronto is our guide to events happening this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here's what's happening in Toronto this Feb 28 - March 2, 2014.

The Boylympics

Boylesque T.O. just didn't think the real Olympics were campy enough, so they're showing their athletic side tonight at Lee's Palace with Mens Interpretive Figure Skating, Bobsledding, Competitive Doping, a torch lighting ceremony (naturally) and more. All the games, non of the troubling socioeconomic and political issues. Which Pussy Riot member will you dress up as? There are actually like twenty, you know. Friday, February 28, 9pm, Lee's Palace (529 Bloor St W) $22/$28.


Good Music - new record store opening

A new record shop will open on Queen West tomorrow, meaning another spot for the city's already spoiled vinyl collectors to get their grip on. Lincoln Stewart, manager of Vortex Records, is opening Good Music at 256A Queen West inside Black Market, taking over where Penguin Music used to be (and downstairs from the old Pages Books spot - RIP). Read more about the new shop here. Saturday, March 1, 11:30am - 6pm, Good Music (256A Queen Street West - inside Black Market Vintage).

The C'mons CD release

We listed The C'mons as a break out band from 2013, and their lead-singer Steph Bosch made the top 10 queer Toronto musicians list for having her talented paws in a whole bunch of exciting upcoming projects. This show is for the release of the band's first LP. Local bands Hue, Morakoza, and beau will also be on hand, and rumour has it that some of the musicians will be getting tattooed at the show. Which sounds totally sanitary. Friday, February 28, Tattoo Rock Parlour, 9pm, $10.

Silent Shout: Digits, Ken Park, Mekele, Farragoes

Toronto artist Digits just dropped his new mixtape Shake Your Body Down . I'm going for it: shake your digits down at this release show. Slam dunk. Encore Studios (76 Geary Ave), Friday, February 28th, 9pm.

See also

For more music listings, check out our This Week in Music post.


Anser's Crowded Kingdom

ANSER's portraits, which you've likely seen around Toronto unless you're a major shoegazer, are unmistakable. Known as the "Mysterious Date," the faces show off an ability to fuse "high art" portrait techniques with street-graffiti bombing tactics. This is the artists' first major exhibit in over six years. Read our interview with ANSER here. Until March 9, Hashtag Gallery (801 Dundas St W).

Simulators II - artist talk

This group show at Angell explores digital-imaging in fine art, and Saturday afternoon you can catch Napoleon Brousseau, Philippe Blanchard, Mitchell Chan, Aamna Muzaffar, and Rafael Ochoa (above) giving a talk on their work and processes. The exhibit runs until March 22. Saturday, March 1, 2-3pm, Angell Gallery (12 Ossington Avenue).

See also:

For more art listings, check out our Top 10 Must-See Art Shows This Winter post.


Amulets: Knaves Kitchen at Videofag

It's too cold outside to huddle in a makeshift theatre watching movies - unless there's soup involved. Then you're gold. Head to Videofag tonight for Guillermo del Toro's debut feature CRONOS and animation by Sarah D'angelo, plus the main event: Black Bean Soup in homemade Sour Bread Bowls for ten bucks each (veggie options available), Chipotle Brownies for four bucks, and Vanilla Atole traditional Mexican hot drinks. Buy a beer if you're not feeling the hot drinkables - Videofag only needs to sell 6,720 to make rent. Friday, February 28, Videofag (187 Augusta Avenue), 7pm.

See also:

For more food events, check out our Toronto Food Events post.


Human Rights Watch 2014

This year's Human Rights Watch festival is, once again, dedicated to bringing Toronto cinephiles a collection of important films that aren't always easy to watch. Leading the bunch is Cambodian documentary filmmaker Rithy Panh' extremely ambitious film about the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge, The Missing Picture (Monday, March 3 at 6:30PM), illustrated via handmade clay figurines and dioramas. The effect is of watching a something that almost looks like a children's film, except for the soul-crushing content that delivers the opposite. Prepare for cognitive dissonance. Until February 27 - March 6, TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St W).

Son of God

Easter is still a little less than two months away, but what better way to dive into your Lent fasts than to catch up, once again, with the story that led up to that fateful resurrection. Unlike Mel Gibson's sadistic take on Christ's final days, Son of God is the Jesus film the whole family can enjoy. Apparently one of the most anticipated films in cinema history (church groups have already pre-ordered over half a million tickets), you might want to place your own advanced order if you intend to see this opening weekend. Check showtimes here.

See also:


Bitches Love Triangles

Shake it like it's 2009 and your mom has a crush on Pictureplane and/or that one guy from SALEM. Because in some reality, that's still the present. Nah I'm kidding, this party is going to be great and you should put on some black lipstick and grab a vampy cutie pie to dance with. SINS is on decks with Kill Your Rapist - does she have the best DJ name in the city? Yes. Nocturne (550 Queen Street West), Friday February 28th, 10pm, $5 (free if you're a bat).


UK deep house DJ/producer Jimpster is the son of jazz musician parents, and he brings much of that sense of musicality to both his DJ sets and productions as well as the music he releases on his label Freerange. This event is at an undisclosed secret location for extra old school warehouse authenticity, so make sure you get on the mailing list if you want to attend. Saturday, March 1st, venue TBA, 10pm, $20.

See also

For more dance parties, check out our top dance parties in Toronto March 2014 post.



There's nothing that quite compares to the comically dark open line of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." Not figurative, without hyperbole or irony, Gregor is full insect. Kafka's wildly imaginative and influential literature has been adapted for the stage by British playwright and director David Farr and actor/director Gisli Örn Gardarsson. Time is running out on this one, so get on it! Until March 9, Royal Alex Theatre, various showtimes, $25-$99.

For more events on stage, check out our The top theatre productions in Toronto February 2014 post.



BeerProv is a Toronto / New York thing that combines two of humankind's most beloved pursuits: sitting down and wearing semi-casual clothing. Wait, I meant drinking beer and laughing. Beerprov has been called "one of Canada's most uniquely hilarious live comedy shows" and if you want to go formal or full casual, I'm all for it. Friday, February 28, Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 10:30pm, $15.


Bespoke Trunk Show

This Saturday, Leatherfoot will be hosting a trunk show of a different kind. Their previous events have featured renowned shoemakers, giving guests the opportunity to order luxury footwear custom-built for their feet. But until Saturday they're bringing in Canadian master tailor Michel Karkar of Michel's Bespoke - and a lovely array of high-end fabrics - to create a suit made just for you. To book an appointment, call 416-967-3668 or email Now until Saturday, March 1, Leatherfoot, (24 Bellair St).

For more fashion listings, check out our This Week in Fashion post.


Queering Black History Month

You can take part in the last day of Black History Month with activist and academic speakers Mia McKenzie of, janaya khan, Monica Forrester, and Christopher Smith at the Ryerson's Students' Union Centre for Queering Black History Month, which will examine experiences and achievements of queer and trans African, Black and Caribbean people. Friday, February 28, 5:30pm-8:30pm, Ryerson's Students' Union (Centre 55 Gould St.) Rm 115.


28th Annual Toronto International Bicycle Show

Brave winter bikers or more tepidly enthusiastic summer cyclers will want to ogle the goods this weekend at the Toronto International Bicycle Show. 150+ exhibitors will be on hand. Look for e-bikes (love 'em or hate 'em), a test ride zone, frame building, and more. There will be free bike parking! Just like... everywhere else? No bike valets, too bad. Better Living Centre in Exhibition Place (200 Princes' Blvd), Friday February 28 - Sunday, March 2, various times, $13 (or passes available).

Have an event you'd like to plug? Submit your own listing to the blogTO Toronto events calendar or contact us directly.

Lead photo via the Toronto Burlesque Festival

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO