Even though the cold weather has finally arrived, we still have a lot of cultural events to enjoy. Most are places to meet new friends. But don’t forget the outdoors. The following events range from free to almost-free.
Black History. Plaque Unveiling: African Methodist Episcopal Church. December 3. 1-2pm. 23 Soho Street. While this is a free event (donations encouraged), registration is required: “Established in Toronto in the 1830s, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was a vital centre of Black spiritual and community life. This historical plaque recognizes the critical role the AME Church played in the Underground Railroad abolitionist movement and other social justice causes during its long history. Speakers at the event include Mayor John Tory, and Nikki Clarke (Ontario Black History Society).” http://heritagetoronto.org/event/ame-church-plaque-dec3/.
British Canada. Frost Fair. Saturday, December 3. 10am-5pm. $9. Fort York, 100 Garrison Road. Shopping, military demonstrations, children’s drill workshops, dress-up, games and crafts. Sample 18th and 19th century recipes. www.toronto.ca/fortyork.
Buddhist. Winter Sangha Gathering. December 3. 3-6pm. “…service, seasonal vegetarian meals, music and friendship. Please bring your favourite winter dish, fruit, beverage or sweets. In memory of Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016), we would like to watch his 2008 Live in London during our gathering.” Zen Buddhist Temple, 86 Vaughan Road. http://zenbuddhisttemple.org/locations/toronto/index.html.
Canada. Victorian Christmas Festival. December 3-4, 10-11, and 17-18. 10am–4pm each day. $17 per car. Bronte Creek Provincial Park, 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville, https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/brontecreek/events.
“Park entry covers wagon rides, visit to farmhouse decorated in Victorian Christmas style, nature centre, trails, parking, and Christmas activities. Visits with Santa cost an additional $15 per family. 905-827-6911.
Canada. Outdoor Ice Rinks. All city-run rinks should be operating by December 3. Ice skating is a Toronto tradition and the use of our outdoor rinks is free. (Skate rentals can cost about $5-$10. Some have lessons for a fee.). Let’s hope our traditional cold weather co-operates so we can be assured of the future of Canada’s traditional role in world hockey. Outdoor rinks are where much of this tradition starts. A list of outdoor rinks is at: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=fe20dada600f0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD.
You can add the lovely lake shore Harbourfront Natrel Rink to this list. http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/natrelrink/. It has special DJ Skate Nights: http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/djskatenights/2016/events/index.cfm?id=8864&festival_id=252
Christian. 8th Annual City Carol Sing. December 3. 2pm. Free. A collection will be taken for the Churches-on-the-Hill Food Bank. Choirs, brass, organ, readings. Special guests Alexis Gordon, Kenneth Welsh, Kevin Frankish and The True North Brass. Featuring: The Bach Children’s Chorus, That Choir, The Hedgerow Singers and Yorkminster Park Baptist Church Choir. The event will be recorded for broadcast on City TV during the Christmas season. Check your local listings. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge Street. Contact: 416-922-1167. http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/page/38/advent-and-christmas-services-and-events/
Christian. Organ Recitals. December 4, 4pm; Tuesday, December 6, 1pm; Sunday, December 11, at 4pm; Tuesday, December 13 at 1pm; Sunday, December 18 at 4pm; Tuesday, December 20 at 1pm. Free. Donations welcome. St. James Cathedral, 65 Church Street. http://www.stjamescathedral.on.ca/ConcertsbrRecitals/OrganRecitals/tabid/609/Default.aspx.
First Nations. Sunday Indigenous Market. December 4, 11 and 18. Native Canadian Centre, 16 Spadina Road. 11am-4pm. “Our biggest craft sale of the year … Food, 50/50 draws and lots more!”. http://ncct.on.ca/indigenous-marketplace/
Jewish. Free Channukah Event. December 4.10am-12pm. Kamin Education Centre, 300 Atkinson Avenue, Thornhill. For this and other Jewish events this month, see: https://jewishtoronto.com/calendar/free-channukah-event-1479407316
Toronto. Christmas Flower Shows. Openings. December 4-January 8 at Allan Gardens Conservatory. December 11-January 8 at Centennial Park. Toronto.ca/Conservatories. http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=d789dada600f0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD. Relax and smell the flowers.
Ukraine. Opening. Ancient Contemporary Forms of Ukrainian Traditions. Works by Dave Melnychuk. December 2. 7pm. 416-912-3766. Exhibition continues through February 19, 2017. St. Vladimir Institute, 620 Spadina Avenue. Beautiful poster.
Notes from Ruth: We grieve that Beit Zatoun on Markham Street can no longer be the venue of multicultural events. In the last seven years, it has hosted gatherings focused on the likes of Amnesty International’s work with political prisoners in Iran, the grievances of domestic Filipina workers in Canada, and the difficulties of life in Palestine. Beit Zatoun’s convenient location at Bathurst and Bloor has been a blessing. We hope it finds another home soon so we can continue to learn about the world at affordable prices.
Note: Seasonal shopping continues. Christmas markets are all over the city. I was at the Distillery District on November 23 on a week day evening and it was already full of people hanging out, eating, shopping, boozing, and having a good time. The atmosphere was European. (Free but with a fee on weekends.) Private homes and buildings are being decorated with cedar boughs, reindeers, and lights. It’s a lovely time for exploring neighbourhoods after dark. Please let us know about other interesting events. Email preferably with a poster: email@example.com.