Leslieville Recap: Unveiling the OK OK Diner Mural (Queen East and Bertmount)

Urmi Desai in Leslievillle


While doing some blog housekeeping in these last days of summer, I realized that I forgot to share a great Leslieville event I attended a few weeks ago - the Ralph Thorton Centre Mural Program's grand unveiling at Queen East and Bertmount (on the east wall of OK OK Diner).


The location of the mural - the OK OK Diner - was its inspiration. The artists were particularly taken with the vintage televisions on display in the restaurant. The mural features a retro TTC streetcar and a beautiful level of detail. It's worth having lunch on the patio at OK and OK to see the screened images of Muhammad Ali boxing or Billie Holiday singing inside the television sets.


The artists who apply to the Ralph Thornton mural program are high school, college and university students. A number are enrolled in art programs at OCAD and other institutions. Some are life-long residents of Leslieville and Riverside. Many have participated in the program for years, leading and mentoring newer members.  A few alumni have gone onto to full-time careers in the arts while others tell me they benefit from learning to plan, execute and work with others to execute projects that are (literally) large in scope.

To get new murals up, the Ralph Thornton team requests the participation of landlords and business owners at potential mural sites in Riverside and Leslieville (potential sites are identified by the team of artists at the start of a project). I had a great chat with Shawn Conway, Executive Director of the Ralph Thornton Centre, who is energetic about engaging the business community of Leslieville even more fully through other initiatives. Though global shifts and storms and forces dominate our news these days, it helps to remember that many good things start at the local level. At the very least, it seems wisest to focus on the things we can control - or risk disengaging completely.

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Urmi Desai is editor of the Move Smartly blog and is responsible for Realosophy’s strategy and marketing. Realosophy researches Toronto neighbourhoods to help today's home buyers make smarter decisions. Try our innovative Neighbourhood Match tool to find the best Toronto neighbourhoods for you Email Urmi

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