Boxcar Social

A safe distance from the brightness

This is another coffice space review. Listen to the audio version (complete with background noise recorded on location) on Patreon – for free!

Welcome to Boxcar Social in Harbourfront Centre, with a beautiful view of a pond, a fountain, and, beyond those, the harbour. You’ll want to sit right at the window. But don’t.

The view is great, yes. But it’s so bright outside and so dark inside. If you’re working on a laptop, this is going to cause you headaches. Literal ones. Plant yourself at one of the tables inside. They have lower picnic-styled ones with benches and they have higher counters with chairs with backs.

They also have a bar, if you don’t mind facing away from the scenery.

This isn’t really a coffee joint. It’s full-on eating establishment, but they have the requisite panoply of coffees, and you can come in and get one and seat yourself and work. You can make it Boxcar Antisocial if you want.

You can’t make it Boxcar Silent, though. It’s popular, it’s busy, and it’s connected by a hallway door to the rest of Harbourfront Centre, which, during the daytime, has children, plus adults who shout at the children. But I can concentrate here because there’s such a steady wash of noise that almost nothing stands out above the rest. And I can look up through the window (which, again, I’m not seated right at, but it’s maybe 10 metres away) and I can see the water, with boats passing by. That’s calming, right? You can look across at Toronto Island and picture yourself there, far from the madding crowds. (Well, far from thesemadding crowds. They have their own madding crowds over there. But there are trees and nature stuff. Not this coffee, though.)

And I mean, if that’s not calming, there’s a counter behind me with 21 drafts on tap, all Ontario microbrews, all $7 for 13 ounces each.

Beats the heck out of some grotty snack bar

If it’s several years since you’ve been to Harbourfront Centre, you may remember this space as being occupied by a fairly crappy snack bar. That was then. This is now. Formica has been replaced by wood that looks like it’s been lumberjacked off trees by hand. Grotty soda fountains have been replaced by espresso apparatus. Screaming kids have been replaced by… well, there are still screaming kids, but they’re outside and in the hall now, except for when a customer brings one in, probably in a stroller (there are four stroller-borne sproggets in here at the moment). The music here is the kind of calming soft techno-pop I like to put on the car stereo when I’m forced to drive long distances. It seems effective.

Everything in this building is fully accessible to everyone regardless of mobility. Even the patio outside. I mean, that’s no guarantee you’ll get a seat if it’s busy, but if you don’t it won’t be because of your personal mobility.

And after an afternoon of spinning straw into gold, making silk purses out of sow’s ears, and carving gnarly logs into goddesses, you can swap your iced coffee (very good iced coffee!) for a beer (a very good one!). And after you’ve finished that, you can stroll out to the water’s edge and think about what – or who – you would like to throw in.

No diving allowed!

Such lovely water, and so close

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