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The bottom of the heart of central Toronto is guarded on either side by two Norse gods so important each has a workday named after him: Odin and Thor. On the east side, on King by River Street, is Odin, the god who gave us hump day (Wednesday is Odin’s day, by way of another version of his name, Wotan). On the west side, on Bathurst at Niagara – two blocks south of King – is Thor, the god who gave us Thursday.
Each god is represented by an eponymous coffice space. Continue reading
Isn’t it pretty? …Pretty busy
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Dineen is an easy walk from where I live. It’s right at the corner of Temperance and Yonge, occupying a site that used to have an optical dispenser whereat I bought several pairs of spectacles. I think right now I’m sitting almost exactly where I first saw the frames of the pair I’m wearing right now. (I have newer glasses, but I use the older, weaker ones for close-up work.)
I seldom work in Dineen. Continue reading
A nice comfy work space
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Let’s say you’re in Cochrane, Alberta, and you want a coffice space with a bit more of a “western” feel. And by “western” I mean stereotypical Alberta heritage. A building made of rough-hewn logs. A crackling fireplace in the cold months. A door that creaks and bangs as it swings to let the weather in. But also all the rest of that ski-lodge feeling: a high A-frame ceiling with a loft second storey – seating as many people upstairs as down. Farther from the fire, but hot air rises, you know. Continue reading
The view from here
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I’m sitting in Cochrane, a fast-growing town stuffed in a valley notch tied to the northwest of Calgary by a fifteen-minute stretch of highway with exactly the kind of scenery all of Alberta’s tourist guides include: wide sweeping farmland vistas with the ripped edge of the Rocky Mountains to the west. My view from this coffice space is those same mountains, seen across a strip-mall parking lot and over some rooftops. Continue reading
Here’s the old side
You can listen to this with ambient sound to give you more feel for it. Just go to Patreon (the coffice space audio tracks are always free for everyone!).
The Balzac’s on Market Street is the closest coffice space to where I live, but I don’t work here all that often. It used to be a narrow, dark, and often crowded place, which didn’t appeal to me so much. Now they’ve expanded into the might brighter space next door that used to be a juice bar or something. You can still sit in the old side in chthonic relative dimness at one of the eight marble cookie tables along the padded yellow wall bench, the three towards the window, the four stools at the marble counter right behind the espresso machine, or – weather permitting – the patio on Market Street (which is pretty nice), but you can also go to the new annex and occupy one of four marble cookie tables or a stool at one of two marble high-top counters that supposedly seat eight but really more like four each. And when you’re in the new part it’s bright.
Here’s the new side
I won’t say it’s any quieter in one part than the other. Obviously all the coffee noises are in the old side, but the two are connected by an open archway so it passes through. The music also plays only in the old side. But conversation tends to drown it out anyway. And when it’s busy with people talking with each other – as it can be mid-morning – there’s a bubbling swimming pool of noise, let me tell you.
Balzac’s is a chain, and I’ve already talked about their location at Ryerson. Each location has some of the character of its neighbourhood. This one is across from St. Lawrence Market. Market Street is the most charming little street in a neighbourhood that’s overall pretty charming, and I’m not just saying that because I live here. What the locations don’t differ in is their coffee – always good, no matter what you get – and their food items. I seldom get food at a coffice space, but I have difficulty resisting the peanut butter squares at Balzac’s.
Just look at it.
Another thing the locations have in common is that you don’t have to navigate steps to get into them or to their washrooms. And the washrooms are modern and clean. No stairways to hell or basement safaris.
I remember overhearing some nitwits talking about one of the Balzac’s locations – “Yeah, it’s named after a city in Alberta.” Just to clear this up: Balzac is not a city, not a town, more like a crossroads just north of Calgary. And it’s named after Honoré de Balzac, as is the coffee chain. Why name a coffee chain after a famous French author? Because he was a seriouscoffee drinker. Like a twenty-cup-a-day dude. No idea how he held his pen steady enough. I don’t think I’d even be able to type. Itt widuhok beeh liikjjke thsispaosbs.
This is definitely in Toronto
Listen to the audio version of this coffice space review – really, it’s not quite the same without hearing it – at Patreon.com.
I could be in any one of so many different parts of Toronto. The continuous passing of streetcars out front cuts the possibilities down some. But leaving that out, you could lift up this coffice space and drop it just about anywhere on the west side of the older part of Toronto – or many places on the east side, too – and it would make sense. (As it happens, it’s on the north side of College just east of Bathurst.) Continue reading
Where to go…
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On a cold and damp day last winter, having had to run an errand far west in Toronto and needing to end my afternoon at Exhibition Place, I found myself at King and Dufferin looking for an interim coffice space, preferably one that wasn’t a local metastasis of an international chain.
On the south side a block east of Dufferin, I saw a door that said “Louie.” Above it was a sign reading “This is a COFFEE SHOP.” Continue reading