A Note From Our Artistic Executive Director at the Start of Our 10th Season

On Saturday November 26, 2022, we opened our first production of our 10th season, The Birds, at Hart House Theatre. As my speech was somewhat improvised and a little scattered and emotional, I wanted to share a cleaner version of it now – there’s a reason I’m usually the one behind the camera/stage, and writing this out is sure to be a better way to ensure I share all I want to say.

As you likely know if you are reading this, my name is Emily Dix and I am the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre, a company I founded in October 2012 along with Matt McGrath and Tom Beattie. Both of them have since moved on, but I’m happy to say that many of the wonderful people I work with today have been with the company in some capacity or another for years, and I hope that continues to be the case. In 2015 we became a non-profit and formed our first Board of Directors: Elizabeth Stuart Morris was Chair, Leete Stetson was Vice Chair, Elizabeth Rose Morriss was Secretary and Conor Fitzgerald was Treasurer. While our Chair and Vice Chair were only with us for a season, Conor has gone on to become Bygone Chair and Elizabeth, who has worked with Bygone in various capacities since the very beginning, is still our Secretary. We have since added to our board Dr. Mark Terry as President, and Vinay Sagar as a member. This team has provided guidance and support in countless ways, and because of them we were able to become a registered charity in the summer of 2022. I would like to extend my thanks to all who have helped in the formation of this company – it isn’t as glamourous a role as some of the creatives, but it is essential, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Through the years Bygone has produced numerous one-night-only performances in addition to our mainstage shows. These include many “Finn and Friend” productions, staring the incomparable Tom Finn and his hilarious brother, Kevin Finn, as well as a series of retro game shows hosted by the one and only Bob Burnhart (aka actor and dialect coach, John Fleming). We have also produced over a dozen “Retro Radio Hour” shows that feature the talents of dozens of lovely singers and actors, both those who have been featured in mainstage shows and those who joined us for a one-off performance. These smaller performances still require a tremendous amount of talent, planning and work, and many have been mounted as fundraisers, meaning those involved have donated their time to help grow the company. To everyone who has been involved in one of these events of which there really are too many to count, thank you.

Our last major production was The Rear Window, performed at Theatre Passe Muraille back in March of 2019. It had been our biggest show to-date, and while a major financial risk, it was one that we felt we needed to take. The show was a success with great reviews and a total of 11 Broadway World Toronto nominations, four of which led to wins: Best Direction of an Equity Play – Emily Dix; Best Original Lighting Design – Wesley Babcock; Best Leading Actor – Tristan Claxton; and Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Kate McArthur. Unfortunately, what we had hoped would be a big jump forward in the growth of our company was quickly stalled in 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we had to press pause, and went for over 2 years without producing a live show.

During our production hiatus, we shifted focus to develop the other aspects of our company. We always knew we wanted to work towards charitable status, and so we put all our time and effort into building our Sustainability and Diversity & Accessibility Mandates, and our education program. With the help of Dr.Mark Terry, we partnered with the Youth Climate Report, and became the first theatre company to publicly commit to following all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. When the YCR was awarded an honourable mention at the 2020 UN SDG Action Awards, we were given the opportunity to share a video that outlined our commitments. Since then, we have further narrowed and focused our mandate into three main areas: Mend & Make Do; Vintage Aesthetics, Not Values; and Indie Unite. We reaffirmed our commitment to accessibility, and committed to providing clearer breakdowns in all casting and production calls, highlighting specific skills, abilities, potential challenges and possible solutions. We majorly expanded our commitment to diversity, and instituted quantifiable goals such as reserving 50% of auditions slots for BIPOC performers, and providing free admission to all Bygone shows and events for anyone who identifies as being of Indigenous descent. We also provide free advertising space to Indigenous-led organizations, and are seeking funding to be able to hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant as we continue to expand this mandate.

In 2021, we were awarded the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award for Best Live Theatre, and were runner-up for NOW Magazine’s Best Small Theatre – if you like the work we do, voting is currently open for the Broadway World Toronto Awards, and while we did not produce anything last season we are nominated for Best Local Theatre in both the Professional and Non-Professional categories – you can cast your vote here.

With the help of a generous donation last season from Jane Aster Roe of Aster Roe Productions, we were able to start two new initiatives; a revival of our Retro Radio Hour series, now to be in podcast form; and the expansion of our Youth Production Assistant program. As with all of our new programs and initiatives, our top priority is with providing payment and support to artists, who have been disproportionately affected during the past few years of the pandemic. With that goal in mind, our first charitable campaign was the creation of our Artist Fund, which gave 100% of funds raised directly to our artists. It is our goal to re-fill this fund with the ticket sales from each show, as well as through fundraising campaigns, so that we can work towards always providing industry standard rates to all the artists we engage. This year, we raised over $12,000 which went directly to the cast of The Birds – thank you to everyone who donated, and if you would still like to give your support, donations can be made via our Canada Helps page.

Throughout the pandemic we provided a series of free webinars on topics ranging from producing to vintage design – these will become a regular part of our programming. This season, thanks to a major donation from IG Financial, we are launching a new program: Empower Your Tomorrow: Financial and Business Literacy for the Arts – stay tuned for details. We are also thrilled to be providing a series of workshops through our venue partnerships with Hart House Theatre.

Finally, this season will include two more mainstage productions: The Yellow Wallpaper, a mix of ambulatory theatre and digital projection being presented at Campbell House Museum, March 2023; and Wayne & Shuster, Live! which will bring Canadian comedy legends Wayne & Shuster back to the stage with the support of their children, Michael and Brian Wayne and Rosie Shuster, thanks to sponsorship from Alterna Savings and a venue partnership with Hart House Theatre, May 2023.

Now that we’re all caught up on the craziness that is the last few years, it’s time to say thanks to those who have helped create what is not only our first show of our 10th season, but the first back since our COVID-19 hiatus, AND our first show as a registered charity: The Birds.

First, to the staff of Hart House Theatre. To Doug Floyd, who took a chance on a small company and let us come into a space we simply could not have afforded on our own – thank you for the encouragement and support, and for giving us a chance to show what we can do. This literally wouldn’t be happening without you. To Gillian Lewis, who is actually the HHT Education & Production Coordinator, but who seems to do basically every job there is. Thank you for helping with everything from organizing workshops to finding props and for the constantly positive attitude and excellent hugs. To Brian Campbell for his guidance and support as we get used to being back in a theatre, and a union house at that – thank you for your patience. To Lindsey Middleton for all the last-minute help when my computer decided to die THE WEEK of opening – thank you for being on-the-ball, keeping a cool head, and finishing the program I should have had done 3 weeks prior. To Parker Nowlan, for being an absolute superstar. I don’t even know where to start. Parker has done everything from set building to programming the lights and has been there to save the day numerous times through this process (starting with emergency printing at our callbacks). Thank you for all your help, and most of all, for doing it with a smile and the patience of a saint. To Brendan (oh my god how do I not know your last name??), who programmed our sound and took my rambling, very non-technical notes and requests and made it all work – thank you for also being super patient, and for making last-minute adjustments more times than I’d like to count. And to all the front of house staff, the Hart House volunteers, and the cleaning staff who’ve dealt with our cluttered backstage – it takes a huge group of talented and dedicated people to run something like Hart House Theatre, and I am thankful to all of you.

Warning – this is where I may start to get sappy.

To our cast and crew, starting with our team of production assistants. Thank you to Ainsley Munro for late-night flat painting, to Sarah Allen who shadowed Wes and helped with odd set and prop tasks that ranged from dressing to running to Rotblotts for more tape. To Kiana Josette, who is working with us in various producing capacities and who took stunning production photos and all the pictures of our opening night gala. To assistant/apprentice director Julia Edda Pape, who attended nearly every rehearsal and provided great vision and insight, as well as helping in a variety of PA roles, and who was a part of the workshopping of the script. Thank you for being consistent, reliable, hardworking and talented – you are going to go far. To our ASM/Associate Producer Jane Aster Roe, who has worked with us in some capacity since 2016 – thank you for doing everything from raising funds to selling tickets, setting props and doing coffee runs – your willingness to do whatever needs to be done has been invaluable and is very much appreciated. To my mother, Karen Henderson, who sewed the lovely dress you see on Daphne at the top of the show and to Tegan Ridge, who came in last-minute with some hair & makeup suggestions – thank you. A major part of Bygone’s image is our historically accurate aesthetic, and that couldn’t have been achieved without you.

To Wes Babcock, our set designer who eventually came on as lighting designer as well, and had to work with tight deadlines and an even tighter budget – thank you for not only doing your job wonderfully well, but for helping with all the dozens of things that were decidedly not your job, like helping with sound cues and InDesign files – I know you weren’t the production manager, but you were definitely a production manager. More importantly than that, you’ve been an amazing friend, as you always have been, and I appreciate you lending an ear not only to my worries and questions about the show, but to my complaints about life in general. I’m so happy to have known Wes for many, many years, and hope to have him in my life for many more to come – I promise every time we will pay you more than the last.

To our wonderful stage manager, Kate McArthur, who is one of the most beautiful people I know. I am so proud of you and all your work on this, jumping into a role you hadn’t filled in years, you’ve done an amazing job and shown you really can do anything. Thank you for being a constant support in every way, you’re one of my closest friends and I could not have maintained my sanity this past month without you. I look forward to spending this entire year creating things with you.

To my fantastic cast – Anna Douglas, who I have not known for long, but who I could immediately see was the perfect Daphne. Anna approaches her work with a focus and dedication that is truly admirable, and while I rarely have time to point it out in rehearsals, I see new details and nuances every time she runs a scene, and those are noticed and appreciated. Her commitment to the show and determination to make it a success has been clear since day one. Thank you, Anna, for the attention-to-detail, thoughtfulness and thoroughness in all that you do.

To Alex Clay, another one of my closest friends, and someone who I have been lucky to work with several times before. Alex read the very earliest versions of this script and has been a sounding board throughout the entire process. Thank you for the lunch-time phone calls to go over ideas, and for coming to each rehearsal focused and ready and full of incredibly lame jokes that always make me laugh. I’m so happy to see you in a role that allows you to show such range, and excited for everyone to see what a talented and capable actor you are. I’m so happy to have you in my life.

To Oliver Georgiou, who I knew was “Mitch” about 5 seconds into his audition. Oliver is wonderful onstage and off – not only is he a talented and engaging actor, he is a thoughtful and supportive team member who has done everything from running warm-ups to bringing me allergy medicine the day after I complained about a dusty theatre. Oliver’s additions to the script have been essential, and the ending is what it is thanks to him. Thank you for supporting and elevating all my ideas, and for being a great listener and a wonderful person to be around.

To Kiera Publicover, who is one of the most wonderfully laid-back actors I’ve ever had a chance to work with, thank you for being a constantly positive and calming presence – much needed in a show as intense as this. Kiera took what could have easily been a small, two-dimensional part and built it into a fully-formed, engaging and endearing character that is exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you go on to do. Thank you as well for your assistance with editing the Land Acknowledgement, and for the suggestions of Indigenous organizations to support.

To Chad Allen, who I had worked with briefly before years ago when he swooped in last minute to save the day by playing several small roles in His Girl Friday. Chad is a true pro, and has excellent taste in coffee. Thank you for always bringing focus and dedication to all you do, and for being such a positive and guiding presence in rehearsals – I look up to you, and not just because you’re a giant and an “old man”. Chad has also taken a small role and turned it into a character worthy of a spin-off. Thank you for always going above and beyond.

Last, but certainly not least, to Conor Fitzgerald, Bygone’s Chair, my fellow Producer, and my partner in every aspect of life. Thank you for creating business plans and spreadsheets, for driving ridiculously far away for obscure auction pick-ups, for keeping me supplied in Diet Coke, and for supporting me during every stage and mood and thing. It sounds so cheesy to say he is my other half, but it really is true, and I could not do any of the things I do without him.

To all who have helped Bygone become what it is today, and to all who have supported The Birds in anyway, thank you. I hope you enjoy our show and our season, and all the big things to come.

  • Emily Dix
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The Birds Are Here!

Thank you to everyone who made our opening night a success – you can see The Birds onstage at Hart House Theatre from now until December 10, 2022. Visit Hart House Theatre or Bygone Theatre for tickets and more information.

Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as her brother David Harper. Photo by Kiana Josette.
“It isn’t for me, David, it’s for you!”. Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels and Alex Clay as David Harper.
Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.
Kiera Publicover as Annie Hawthorne and Oliver Georgiou as Mitch Brenner.
Chad Allen as Hank and Anna Douglas as Daphne Daniels.

Now Accepting Audition Submissions for The Birds

Written and Directed by Emily Dix. Inspired by the Daphne DuMaurier short story and Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name.

SHOW DATES:

November 25 – December 11 (minimum of 12 performances)

FEE STRUCTURE:

All artists will be given a flat $400 honourarium and will be engaged in a profit-share. If union members are cast the show will be produced under the Equity Collective Agreement.

HOW TO APPLY:

Submit resume and headshot to auditions(at)bygonetheatre.com with the subject “The Birds – Auditions”. Those selected will be asked to submit a self-tape: callbacks will take place in-person at a date and time TBA. All cast and crew must be triple vaccinated against COVID-19 – proof of vaccination will be required along with self-tape submission.

SYNOPSIS:

THE BIRDS is a Cold-War Era thriller that examines what happens when the line between truth and paranoia becomes dangerously blurred. New York Socialite Daphne Daniels is headed to an old family cottage with her brother and husband for a weekend of R&R, but when her husband is unexpectedly delayed and their neighbours turn out to be Daphne’s old flame and his new girl, tensions run high. Things take a bizarre turn when reports of violent bird attacks start flooding the airwaves and the sudden crisis brings out everyone’s deepest fears and darkest convictions.

CHARACTERS:

Daphne: Female, 25-30
A young, recently married NYC socialite who is trying to bring some excitement to her marriage, reconnect with her brother, and stop the boredom of married life from pushing her to do something reckless as she would have in her younger days. Opinionated and outspoken at times, she finds herself following the pack if it seems like it will mean positive attention from those she admires.

​David: Male, 25-35
Daphne’s brother. Sensitive, anxious, and unsure of his sexuality, he has difficulty fitting in. Recently spent some time in the hospital after a botched suicide attempt, which his family brushes off as more of a retreat stay than necessary medical treatment. Attempting to reconnect with his sister who he has not been close to in many years. Feels like he’s on a tipping point.

​Mitch: Male, 30-35
Daphne’s old flame, the picture perfect version of mid century masculinity. His good looks and charm just barely cover his misogyny. Likes to be the hero, but prioritizes his own interests.

​Annie: Female, 20-25
Mitch’s new girlfriend, young and seemingly naive, eager to please and often submissive. The prototypical “girl next door”, she is underestimated by those who first meet her, but is more observant and clever than people give her credit for.

​Hank: Male, 35-50
A rough-and-tumble older man who lives alone in a small cottage and works as caretaker for those who use the houses as summer homes. Initially seems like a “good ole’ boy”, but the years spent living alone make him stubborn and set in his ways in a sometimes disturbing fashion. Old fashioned, well-meaning, but not to be messed with.

Diversity & Accessibility Mandates:

As per our mandates, 50% of all audition slots will be reserved for those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour). Please see our mandate in full on our website: https://www.bygonetheatre.com/diversity-accessibility

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Kid At Heart

Vintage-inspired gifts for the kid at heart.

1. A Very Fancy Grown-Up Toy:
LEGO Typewriter

Typewriter 21327 | Ideas | Buy online at the Official LEGO® Shop CA
Admittedly, this would be an expensive gift ($269.99 CAD) but I couldn’t not include it – how cool is this?

ABOUT: Designed by Steve Guinness, a lifelong LEGO gan who combined his passion for brick building with a love of vintage typewriters, this mid-century modern inspired piece is based off one used by LEGO’s founder, Ole Kirk Kristiansen.

PRICE: $$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: N/A for this particular item, but while browsing the LEGO site I found that they make braille bricks as a fun way for seeing-impaired kids (or their friends and family) to learn how to read! A great way to introduce some diverse learning styles in a way that feels like what all the “other” kids are doing, I definitely think they should get some of this in elementary classrooms.

WHAT WE LIKE: I loved playing with LEGO as a kid, and I would likely still do it today if I had some around. They have a whole series of more “adult” projects that make beautiful, displayable pieces, and I think this is one of my favourite.

2. Candies From Their Childhood:
Candy Funhouse

You’re probably not buying for someone born in 1893, but this is just one of many examples of the classic candies you can buy at Candy Funhouse.

ABOUT: “Candy Funhouse is the biggest online candy store in the world that sells candy and chocolate by the bar and by the box. We are a 1-shop-for all candy store, and we are on a mission to make sure that everybody in the world has access to every candy and chocolate bar ever made! Whether you’re looking for the historic candies of the 1800’s, or the latest and greatest chocolates that were only just released yesterday, we’ve got you covered.” Read more here.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: There are lots of great candy stores online but this is easily the best in Canada. Some places sell decade gift boxes that include popular candies from a certain era, but I suggest you get inspiration from some of those and shop here and support Canadian!

WHAT WE LIKE: I love retro candies because I think it’s really interesting to see how flavour interests have changed over the years. I also like knowing I can get some authentic looking stuff for shows, rather than painstakingly making reproduction labels myself (though I sometimes do still do that).

3. A Day At The Fair:
Scarborough Holiday Street Market

Toronto's holiday street carnival will have unlimited rides & epic  attractions

ABOUT: Located at the Scarborough Town Centre, it includes everything from unlimited rides for adults and kids, a hot cocoa bar, live entertainment – check out the website for all the details.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Check out and support some local vendors and entertainment!

WHAT WE LIKE: From the pictures it looks like a real old-timey fair, and it’s family friendly without being totally kid-oriented.

4. A Roll Down Memory Lane:
Shamrock Bowl

Vintage east end Toronto bowling alley reopens — GOODHOOD
In Toronto’s east end.

ABOUT: “Shamrock bowl is a historic 5-Pin Bowling alley that has been fully restored to the look and feel of the days of its inception (the Late 1940’s). It is the oldest and largest 5-pin bowling alley in Toronto, the city in which this popular sport and team building activity was invented! Come today to enjoy our eight bowling lanes.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a vintage piece of local history!

WHAT WE LIKE: A classic game in a space with a classic look, it’s a great group activity and you can go for a game, for dinner, for drinks – a nice flexible night (or afternoon) out.

5. A Touch Of Fun:
Floorplay Socks

Hot Wheels - White
Hot Wheels socks by Stance ($30.00)

ABOUT: “Welcome to Floorplay Socks, Canada’s sock store since 2013.

Home to the largest Stance collection in Canada, including Stance Infiknit and boxers, we also carry a wide variety of socks from brands including Socksmith, Solmate, Main and Local, Lemon, Bioworld, Fun Socks and more.

In 2013 our founder, Janet Wright, had the brilliant idea to source the best socks from Canada, the United States, and all over the world. She set out on this mission and continues to search far and wide for unique, well-made, amazing and wonderful socks. 

Floorplay Socks is all about having fun, and letting your personality shine with fashionable, unique, and comfortable socks for the whole family. Your feet will thank you for it!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: This female-run local business carries primarily products made in North America, and the socks are all high-quality, meaning they take longer to wear out and that keeps textile waste out of our landfills.

WHAT WE LIKE: If your someone has a job that requires wearing a suit, or, possibly worse, business casual, they may find their creativity a little stifled. Funky socks are a great way to show a little personality in even the strictest of offices – Conor ONLY wears bright patterned ones, and I’ve gotten him many pairs from here!

Have something you think we should add to the list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Drink Connoisseur

Vintage-inspired gifts for the drink connoisseur.

1. Classic Cocktail Recipes:
The Book Wardrobe

Cocktails of the Movies
Take a journey through Hollywood’s lifelong love affair with cocktails, celebrating the greatest characters and their iconic drinks through original illustrations and easy-to-follow recipes.

ABOUT: ” It was February 2017 in Fatima, Portugal when a Book Lover wrote about the dream of having a bookstore. To this day, The Book Wardrobe’s story continues. One summer afternoon in July 2017, something magical happened when the unsuspecting Book Lover stepped inside the 2nd floor of the Robinson-Bray heritage house: the photography studio office suddenly transformed itself into a charming bookshop. It was like entering a familiar wardrobe leading to a secret space with lots of natural light, a focal wall of centuries-old bricks, and shelves stacked with colourful spines. The Book Lover serendipitously imagined a walk-in closet of stories.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: This bookstore is in Mississauga, Ontario, and is AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) owned and operated. To find other Asian run bookstores, check out this handy list.

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve only browsed through the cocktail books listed so far, but there are SO man. Most are under $20 and they have some really cool concepts. Honourable mention to Booze Over Broadway a cocktail book for theatre lovers.

2. Modern-Vintage Glassware:
Cocktail Emporium

1890 Retro Fizz Glass
The decadent 1890 Retro Fizz Cocktail Glass exudes vintage charm. The floral swag style etched pattern accentuates premium cocktail presentation. This coupe has a flat base bowl and flared sides, perfect for cocktails or champagne and sparkling wines.

ABOUT: This female owned and operated store carries a variety of barware and accessories as well as the essential non-alcoholic necessities of any good cocktail: bitters, olives, syrups – you name it.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: They carry products from all over, including a lot of locally made ones – great way to support your local community! Plus, some of their barware is vintage, which helps keep things green!

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a beautiful selection of products and very knowledgeable staff. I’ve often gotten friends gifts from here and it’s my first stop for ingredients if I’m looking to try out a new cocktail recipe.

3. A Tiki Bar Night Out:
The Shameful Tiki

ABOUT: “The Shameful Tiki Room Toronto is an extension of the popular Vancouver location. It is located in the trendy up & coming Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. Like its counterpart there is no fanfare from the street but upon entry you escape into another world.

Similar to the Vancouver location, Shameful Toronto offers an extensive exotic drink menu accompanied by fabulous dishes from the kitchen including Crab Rangoon, a truly vintage Tiki side plate made famous by Trader Vic himself!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Just a great local bar – tip your servers and bartenders well! It’s been an especially tough year for those in service industries.

WHAT WE LIKE: They make DELICIOUS drinks. Great for if you want a Hawaiian vacation and can’t afford one – just close your eyes and sip away.

4. Vintage Bar Accessories:
Walnut Hill Vintage

Variety Cocktail Shakers Vintage Liquor Bottles image 1

ABOUT: Unique vintage and antique finds via Etsy.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Sourcing secondhand is always encouraged, and this comes from a female-run shop in Cambridge, Ontario.

WHAT WE LIKE: These glass cocktail shakers are super fun. I’ve got a similar one I inherited from my Grandpa that sits front and centre on our old bar. Gift as is, or fill the inside with a mini bottle of booze and some garnish for a (almost) ready-made cocktail!

5. Classic Looking Spirits:
LCBO

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin + FREE martini glass from LCBO

ABOUT: There are dozens of brands, new and old, that have beautiful vintage packaging, like the deco-inspired Tanqueray No. 10 shown above. Wander the aisles of the LCBO and you’re sure to find something pretty in each section.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Well, the pretty ones are usually in glass bottles! Which is better than plastic. But aside from that, not much for this one.

WHAT WE LIKE: I’m not much of a drinker, but I love the look of a stocked bar, and there are some gin brands especially whose bottles I’m more interested in than what’s inside. When the drink is finished, you can keep the bottle on display! Or, give us a shout – we can always use classic looking ones for props in our shows!

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Writer

Vintage-inspired gifts for the writer on your holiday list!

1. Beautiful Inks:
Ferris Wheel Press

ABOUT: “Located where the rat-tat-tat of the printing press meets the nostalgia of the carnival, Ferris Wheel Press is a Canadian heritage stationary company that creates extraordinary products that will be treasured for generations. Our timeless designs and thoughtful storytelling connect the world through art, writing, beauty and craftsmanship. Our mission is to help the world fall in love with writing again.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Established in Toronto, Ontario in 2010, Ferris Wheel Press continues to make their products locally, despite the recent widespread success they have found after being invited to set up a display at Harrods, perhaps the most iconic luxury department store in the world. They also have a “sponsored artists” program that consists of top artists from around the globe, who are given special access to their inks to encourage their artistic creations. As they say, “it’s important that we walk the walk when it comes to inspiring the next generation of greatness by supporting artists around the world”.

WHAT WE LIKE: Their inks are beautiful, come a range of enchanting colours, and having just bought some I can say confidently they write like a dream. I love that there is a high-quality product like this made locally!

2. High Quality Writing Paper:
Wonder Pens

<img src="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0458/9446/7737/products/L1007-2.jpg?v=1603792444&quot; alt="<center>Life – L Brand Writing Paper B5 – Ruled
Life – L Brand Writing Paper B5 – Ruled

ABOUT: “We’re a family-run shop located in Toronto, shipping across Canada and internationally. We carry fountain pens of all sorts, inks to match, pencils, stationery and notebooks and more. We have a lot of Japanese stationery supplies, including washi tape, Traveler’s Notebook and Classiky, as well as carry a range of Japanese fountain pens from Pilot, Sailor and Platinum. In this fast-paced and high-tech world, we are letter writers and journal writers, we take notes and make to-do lists by hand, and we are so thankful to have you along for the journey.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: This lovely little local shop is family owned and operated, and they carry high-quality items for a range of budgets. In addition to paper like that above, they have pens, ink, accessories – everything a writer could need.

WHAT WE LIKE: Seriously, have you ever seen a prettier pack of paper? Those of you who enjoy writing with fountain pens know that a quality paper is necessary to properly hold the ink. To not smudge, or seep through. There are several different styles and weights of paper available here, but the packaging on this one immediately caught my eye – who would’ve thought paper could make such a perfect gift?

3. Quality Office Supplies:
Squibb’s Stationary Store

ABOUT: “Since May 5th, 1927, Squibb’s has been committed to offering our customers excellent quality, service and price. We are a 100% Canadian, privately owned and operated business. Our mission daily is to keep to the original values of our founder, Arthur T. Squibb and then his son Gordon, building on what was created 90 years ago.

The original Squibb’s.

Our strengths are: product knowledge, ability to custom order and fair pricing.  We are proud to say that we are the oldest bookstore in Toronto and one of the oldest stationery stores in the GTA. 

We strongly believe that old fashioned and personal customer service is a lost art and that our clients appreciate what we can do for them.

We stock the following:

  • Books for all ages & subjects
  • Textbooks & Educational Material – our specialty!
  • All grade levels – K to 12, ESL
  • Bible & religious/spiritual books
  • Unique and fun gift items
  • Office/School/Art Supplies
  • Our own ‘Squibb’s Organic Honey’
  • and much more!

And, if we don’t have it in stock, we would be most pleased to order it in for you! This includes university and college textbooks.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a true piece of Toronto history, a small, family-run, specialty shop that consistently carries high-quality items. While they mostly stock new material, they have some old stock as well, so you can snatch-up some retro pieces for your office space.

WHAT WE LIKE: We lived in Weston for a few years and this store was just down the block. Unlike many new stores that go for a vintage “feel”, Squibb’s is clearly the real deal, in part because they are packed FULL of items. Every shelf is crammed full of all types of papers and pens and sealers and books, and while it may initially feel a little overwhelming, their staff know it like the back of their hand. You could put together a little writer’s gift basket (maybe throw in some of their honey to “sweeten” things a bit) and add a card about the history of the shop – I know that’s the kind of gift I’d love to receive!

4. An Old-School Typewriter:
Williams Design

Their stock is always changing, so give them a call or drop by to see what types they have in store.

ABOUT: “We have been collecting almost everything for years, and stockpiling cool furniture, lighting, pottery, art, and architectural salvage in our warehouse and barns.

Our little store is small, hence this website to show the scope of our inventory and to act as a resource for those on the hunt for a particular piece.  Speaking of that, if there is something that you are looking for, please let us know.  We may have it or know where to find it.

In 2015, Williams Design was named seventh of the Top 15 Salvage and Reclaimed Furniture Stores in Toronto by blogTo!

Launching soon, is our own line of handmade furniture.  We have been re-inventing, re-using and re-claiming lost pieces for years.  Now, we have decided to design our own modern pieces with the intention of using only antique lumber or fallen trees from our own forest.

We are happy to rent to film or television productions.  In the past we have rented set pieces to Orphan Black, 12 Monkeys, Rookie Blue, It, See, Heroes Reborn and many more! If there is something that you would like to rent, please contact us in advance so we can ensure that the item is available for pickup for your schedule.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Locally run shop that sells quality used-goods and salvage pieces, how sustainable is that? Some people really love the clicking of old keyboards or typewriters, and they can be a green gift as they don’t require the use of any energy (except that you generate yourself – typing on these is tiring business!)

WHAT WE LIKE: These local guys really know their stuff, and they are oh-so friendly. Go in when the owner’s there and you’ll find yourself chatting for hours, but regardless of you who see you’ll be able to get some good advice in finding whatever you’re looking for. They are one of my first stops when I need vintage school or office supplies, especially old desk chairs.

5. Classic Wax Seals:
Artisaire

If you don’t want to commit to making your own, you can buy pre-made adhesive wax seals, like these.

ABOUT: Based in Victoria, BC, this online shop carries everything you need to create those gorgeous, classic wax seals you can add on your letters or documents.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: The products are handmade in their studio in Victoria, using materials sourced from North America. Even their melting spoon is handmade!

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve been on a real wax seal kick lately, because we got talking about our company’s official seal as we are in the process of doing our charitable registration. So I’ve spent a LOT of time looking at stuff like this the past few weeks. There aren’t a lot of Canadian made wax sealing kits, so I recommend making this your first stop. If you’re buying for a letter-writer, what could be sweeter than their own seal to mark their correspondence? How very Victorian.

Have something you think should be on the list?
Let us know in the comments.


Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Gamer

1. Retro Arcade Experience:
Tilt Toronto

Funhouse pinball game.

ABOUT: Toronto’s largest retro arcade features over 50 games, a draft beer selection, lots of deep-fried food and ice cream! What more could you want? The cover is $5 and all games are set to free play, so you can go for dinner and drinks or just hit the arcade.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: A local watering hole offering some good ole’ fashioned fun, you’ll be supporting a small Toronto business.

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a huge selection of video arcade, pinball and console games, as well as some classics skee ball. You can really go and feel like a kid again, and while drinks are an option, it’s one of the few things where you can go out with friends and have some indoor fun that doesn’t require drinking. There are times when kids are allowed in, but as they serve alcohol this is mostly for grown-ups, so you don’t have to worry about a 10 year old beating you at Street Fighter.

2. 18th Century Reproduction Playing Cards:
Toronto History Museums Shop

A reproduction of a deck from c.1750.

ABOUT: “Toronto History Museums are a collection of 10 historic sites owned and operated by the City of Toronto with the mission to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance the understanding of Toronto’s diverse stories through engaging and exciting experiences.

Toronto’s many pasts, presents and futures meet at our museums. The collection of sites include: former homes of key historic figures, a British Fort, a City Hall Council Chamber, a Tavern and Inn and a Brewery and Papermill.

Toronto History Museums Shop carries a wide range of products including Indigenous crafts, artisan jewellery, books, games, local and handmade goods as well as unique items inspired by the City’s artifact collection and historic sites such as stationery, cookbooks and reproductions. Whether you’re looking for accessories, home décor, or educational items, you’ll find what you’re looking for here!”

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Every purchase you make supports the operation of the City’s historic sites as well as the local authors, artists and artisans whose products we sell.

WHAT WE LIKE: I just discovered this shop exists and I love it. In addition to reproduction items they have vintage-inspired toys and decor, apparel, and it all goes to help support our local museums. These could make a great stocking stuffer, or you could go all-out and have an old-school poker night! You’re only limited by your imagination.

3. A Day or Night at a Board Game Cafe:
Snakes & Lattes

ABOUT: There’s a few board game cafes in the city, but I’m pretty sure Snakes & Lattes is the biggest. They have a HUGE selection of games, all styles, for as few as 2 players, and you can go in and play to your hearts content. Bring your friend to play some classics or try out something new – you can purchase some of the newer ones there as well. Check out their nostalgia list for their retro games.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Aside from being a local business, I think S&L can be seen as a sustainable alternative to buying games. How many of us have a stack of board games at home that barely ever get played? Not only are they pricey, but buying more things that will one day likely end up in the dump isn’t good for anyone. Places like S&L give you the chance to not only try before you buy, but to choose not to buy at all, giving you the option to play as few or many times as you want, without having to add to the heap in your closet.

WHAT WE LIKE: I’m not a big game fan, but Conor is, so places like this are great. He can try all the new ones that have caught his eye and I can dissuade him from buying them – win/win! For people that aren’t major Grinches, it’s a great activity to do with some friends, something low-key and fun that doesn’t require drinking.

4. Retro Console Games:
Retro Game Bros

ABOUT: “This family friendly video game store is run by 2 local Bros, Evan & Matt ! Together they buy, sell, & trade everything retro to next gen! Come check out Toronto’s largest stock of retro video games, accessories, consoles, & more!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Support a local family-run business and keep things green by buying secondhand!

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a super wide-range of products and really know their stuff. Great if you’re trying to buy a gift but aren’t much of a gamer yourself – they can help you pick out the right thing.

5. Board Gamer Events:
The Guild House

ABOUT: They offer various types of strategy board games for sale and rent, as well as a selection of 3D printed accessories, and they host events like miniature painting 101!

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: I couldn’t find much on the owners of the store, but it seems like a good place for likeminded people to meet, and building community ties is important.

WHAT WE LIKE: Ok, I’ll admit, I know virtually nothing about these sort of games, but what caught my eye was the workshop/event on painting the miniatures used in tabletop role playing games: I love miniatures, so that’s something I’d go to. Take a pal to an event, or rent a game for a night at home. There’s lots of gift options and something for every budget.

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Homemaker

Vintage-inspired gifts for the homemaker on your list!

1. A Mini History Lesson:
Radical Dishtowels

ABOUT: “As a family, we’ve always been interested in the amazing stories of history’s radical thinkers and campaigners, and how much hope these stories can inspire relative to the politics of today. We didn’t have much business experience. But we realized that there must be other people with progressive values out there who wanted to give gifts that actually mean something, make you think, and give you hope. We all loved the idea that you might come across a design in someone’s kitchen, and that it would spark a conversation about an idea or philosophy. As a teacher, I imagined that children might see a design and ask, “Who was she?” Together we made the decision to start our very own Radical Tea Towel Company. We do all the designs ourselves, and get them manufactured in the UK with ethical partners.” Read the full story, here.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Made ethically in the UK, the main impact is in the message on the towel. What a fun way to strike up a conversation about something important, even controversial.

WHAT WE LIKE: This is such a unique idea. I’ve seen some cool tea towels, but never anything like this. They cost a bit more than the average tea towel, but are still inexpensive enough I could justify buying it if I had a place to have it visibly hanging in my kitchen.

2. Placemats and Doormats Inspired by Vintage Tiles:
Hidraulik

Tusset Floor Mat.

ABOUT: “The first hydraulic tiles were produced in Barcelona in the mid nineteenth century.   The creativity and durability of these attractive yet functional handmade floors caught on quickly and their use spread across Europe and beyond.”

The brand is carried by Locus Vie, a distribution company for home decor products in North America.  They focus on small European design companies that are looking to make an entrance into the North American market, and you can find local retailers via their site.

PRICE RANGE: $$-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: The site says that they are “phthalate-free and recyclable, for an eco-friendly conscience”. While made in Spain, there are many local shops, usually small ones, that carry some of these designs.

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a vintage vibe but are super practical. They make great door mats or a runner for a high-traffic hallway, they are easy to clean and can cover up ugly rental flooring. They are a bit on the pricey side for the larger ones (I saved up and watched for sales for years before I finally got one), but a set of the placemats could make a lovely gift, and they work well inside or out!

3. Textiles Based on Traditional Indigenous Designs
Indigo Arrows

Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow
This Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow is currently sold out, but it’s my favourite and I had to share.

ABOUT: “For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, including my Anishinaabe ancestors, created beautiful patterns to adorn their pottery collections and host of bone tools. Most of the surviving pieces are held by museums now, but I think the world needs more than exhibition- we need these patterns in our homes provoking thought; we need them bridging gaps; and, we need them inspiring our loved ones. The Indigo Arrows line picks up where my ancestors left off.

Destiny Seymour is an Anishinaabe interior designer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated with her master’s degree in Interior Design from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. She worked at local architecture firm in Winnipeg for over 10 years as their interior designer before starting her own design business in 2016.

Destiny started designing artisan textiles for interiors that respectfully reflects local Manitoban Indigenous peoples and their history after struggling to find materials that she could incorporate into design projects. Her company, Indigo Arrows, now offers a range of table linens, pillows, and blankets that showcase patterns from local Indigenous pottery and bone tools that date from 400 to over 3000 years old. These patterns are picking up where her ancestors left off.

Destiny formed Woven Collaborative in 2018, an Indigenous led design studio with fellow designer Mamie Griffith. Their design practice takes a critical look at the representation of Indigenous cultures within spaces. Their design mission is to respectfully reflect local Indigenous cultures & identity within architectural forms, interior spaces, furniture, and textiles. Their design process acknowledges community engagement, inclusiveness, and collaboration when creating new works.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: These beautiful linens are handmade, individually hand-printed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 100% linen using non-toxic ink. This Indigenous-run company is making something that is simultaneously modern and traditional: these designs look like something you’d find in a magazine today while many of them are actually thousands of years old. Destiny names them in her ancestral language, Anishinaabemowin, and the pieces have a little description of what the word means and its significance, so it’s a nice little learning moment as well.

WHAT WE LIKE: If I had seen these without the context I would have thought they were totally modern, but when I read the history I knew they were perfect for this post: vintage-inspired doesn’t have to mean “old looking”, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect reproduction of something either. It also made me realize that a lot of the modern “boho” things you see in chain stores have (whether intentionally or not) designs that were used historically in Indigenous art, and so why not support the maker who shares that history? Promote the use and creation of something that comes from generations of artisans rather than buy a knock-off mass produced in China? And honestly, while some fellow artists may not have the money for a $100 decorative pillow, I think we all know that given the work that goes into it, that’s a steal. A lot of these are less expensive than things you’d find at Crate & Barrel or West Elm, and you can shop guilt-free knowing you’re supporting the artist who made them, not some faceless corporation.

4. Retro Canadian Pillows:
Persnickety Designs

Each pillow features a bright, bold design on each side: it’s like 2 pillows in one!

ABOUT: Peggy McEwan is a Toronto-based artist with a background in classic animation. These pillows are what she calls “comfortable art”, and they come in a range of retro designs – Toronto landmarks, old movie stars, vintage maps – there’s something for everyone.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a local female artist!

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve been eyeing several of these for years, but found they were usually a little out of my price range. However, that was when I came across them in stores – I just realized you can buy from her site at about half of what I’d always seen them for before, and I may have to redo all my cushions! I love pop art but you don’t find a lot of it locally made, so I’m happy to add these to my already massive pillow collection.

5. True Vintage Serving-ware
Ethel 20th Century Living

This mid century piece is a great way to hint, “invite me over more!”

ABOUT: “Ethel – 20th Century Living is a vintage furniture, lighting and accessories store in the East Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto.

After helping to establish “Retro Row” in Leslieville 20 years ago, Ethel was starting to show her age. After the store changed ownersip in October 2009, it conducted business in the original location for 3 more years, and in May 2012, Ethel moved to Corktown. In the fall of 2016, we decided to close our bricks and mortar location at 327 Queen St. East, and now, two years later, we have a new home at 1781 Danforth Ave.

Owner Shauntelle LeBlanc has re-established Ethel’s brand as a store for outstanding vintage modern furniture, lighting & accessories. The store’s focus is on affordable vintage because you should enjoy your furniture, feel free to put your feet up on it and certainly not feel like you’re living in a museum (or magazine spread…unless that’s your thing, and in that case, Ethel is cool with that too).

We’re a proud Canadian indie boutique, and along with classic American & Scandinavian design, you’ll also find Canadian Mid-century pieces here. Sure, we all love Eames, Nelson & Knoll, but have you heard of Russell Spanner, Lotte Lamps or Clairtone? 

Vintage is nearly always one of a kind so our merchandise is constantly changing. You might find a complete Brady Bunch kitchen in here, or maybe a film noir detective movie set, complete with tanker desks & typewriters. Ethel has a little bit everything, from gondola sofas and teak dining sets to oddball pieces like 80s Russian propaganda posters and vintage tiki mugs.

Along with 20th century furniture, lighting and accessories, we also carry new products by RetroVerte, Umlaut Brooklyn, and more.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: A local, female-run boutique selling vintage – sustainable in many ways.

WHAT WE LIKE: There are MANY vintage shops in the city (though sadly, not as many as there once were) and I have my favourites for various things. Ethel’s is where I go for mid century. You can rely on finding a lamp, vase, serving piece etc. from the 50s-60s there, likely in whatever colour you’re looking for. She often has a selection of small retro furniture as well, like card tables and chairs.

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Music Lover

Vintage-inspired gifts for the music lover on your list!

1. Vintage Instrument:
Paul’s Boutique

IMG_9055
If your budget allows, something like this 60s MIJ Pyramid Electric is sure to be a showstopper ($399).

ABOUT: “Paul’s Boutique buys, sells, trades, rents and consigns the finest in vintage musical instruments, amps, effects and recording equipment.”

Run by Paul Babiak, he writes: “After spending seven years in San Francisco and Los Angeles playing in bands and selling vintage guitars, I came back to Toronto in 2000 to open my own shop. I try to specialize in unique and funky gear but occasionally I’ll run across some nice classics!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: We always support buying vintage and local – sustainable in many ways.

WHAT WE LIKE: I don’t know a lot about instruments, but the stuff Paul stocks looks super cool. People like Paul who specialize really know their stuff, and I feel like even those of us who don’t really know what we’re looking for could find what we want with his help.

2. Vintage Records:
She Said Boom

ABOUT: “We sell new and used vinyl records and CDs, focusing on Alternative, Electronica, Jazz, Reggae, Roots, Afrobeat and other great music. Book lovers will adore our used book selection, which specializes in Literature, Philosophy, Art, History, Political Science, Graphic Novels, Cookbooks, Kids’ books and more. Explore a new world of wonderful music, literature and culture. New arrivals every day!”

PRICE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: This is one of those Toronto staples, She Said Boom has been around forever because they stock quality stuff. Once again, buying local and buying vintage keeps our community strong and saves stuff from landfills!

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a HUGE assortment of stuff, and last time I was in there the person I talked to was very aware of their stock. They regularly get in new products so you can go weekly and browse away. For a gift, if you don’t know what they like or want to try something different, pick up a few albums based solely on the cover – they can hear some new tunes & if they don’t like them, at least they’ve got some artwork for their walls!

3. Acoustic Speaker:
ReAcoustic and Handmade Speakers Hub

Acoustic Speaker iPhone Speaker Phonograph Speaker Wireless image 1
There’s no doubt ReAcoustic makes the most beautiful versions, but their prices put them out of reach for a lot of us. Like this walnut base and early 1900s gramophone horn priced at $863.15 CAD.

ABOUT: These simple speakers work in the same was as a megaphone, amplifying the sound that goes in through the small end and comes out the large. Your phone is placed into a base so that the speaker on the bottom sends its sound through the box and through the horn. The first place I saw make these was ReAcoustic, and theirs are beautiful, but pricey. If you check on Etsy you’ll find some cheaper versions that work in the same way, but use less decorative horns.

PRICE RANGE: $$-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Reusing vintage materials, often scrap pieces of wood, and they don’t require any power – very green!

WHAT WE LIKE: They are so fun. I love the look of old gramophones but admittedly they aren’t very practical. Honestly, for years I saw the old horns come up at auction and thought, gee, I need to think of something to make with one of those, so I was pumped when I first saw these. Good for a party if you throw on someone’s playlist, and it looks a lot nicer on a shelf than most iphone docks.

4. Old School Swing or Jazz Night:
The Toronto Vintage Society

Toronto Vintage Society
THE source for vintage Toronto.

ABOUT: “A home for Toronto’s (GTA) events, photos, shops and shows that celebrate the vintage/retro lifestyle. We want to inspire you to feed this community and get out and meet others who love all things vintage/retro!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Varies depending on event.

WHAT WE LIKE: Since events are always changing I’m just linking to the best place to hear about all vintage music events in the city – the Toronto Vintage Society. They post about concerts, swing dance nights, all sorts of things that would make a lovely gift or night out. You can support local artists and meet like-minded people.

5. A Walk Through Toronto’s Music History:
Friar’s Music Museum

ABOUT: “Toronto’s celebrated music history is now on permanent display in the free Friar’s Music Museum™, with curation rotated twice a year!”

PRICE RANGE: Free! Maybe grab a drink before or after?

SOCIAL IMPACT: This museum is helping preserve a small but important part of our art history. Admission is free but I’m sure donations are welcomed!

WHAT WE LIKE: I love local history and really specialized exhibits. Toronto is often referred to in how it compares to other bigger cities, like NYC or Chicago, but we really do have a culture all our own and I think it’s important we all know that.

Have something you think should be added to our list?
Let us know in the comments.