A Date in the Oldest Brick House in the City


In my last post, after introducing you to my friend Julie’s cute baby James, I mentioned that the three of us were set to go out together the following afternoon. This post is about what we did.

I was treated to a great afternoon, that included lunch inside a building that I’ve always wanted to see the inside of — The Grange.


Built in 1817, The Grange is the oldest brick house still standing in Toronto. Situated directly to the south of the AGO, its location, right beside the art gallery, is no coincidence. Rather the AGO is where it is because of this mansion, as it was the home of Toronto’s first major gallery, after having been bequeathed for that purpose in 1902. The Art Gallery of Toronto, (as it was called then), remained inside The Grange until the larger structure was built in its backyard sometime in the early 70s.

(If you’re interested in knowing more about its history, here is their wiki page, and here’s a post in which I included several shots of the outside of it.)

Today, The Grange is connected to the AGO by a passageway, and operates as a lounge and restaurant for gallery members and their guests. There are also some administrative offices on the upper floor.

I’ve lived downtown since I was a teen, and have passed this beautiful building hundreds of times, but I’ve never had the chance to go inside. So, I was excited when Julie invited me to have lunch there on Thursday. Of course, I was excited to see baby James and Julie too!

Having been a family home for 85 years, then an art gallery for 70 years, and then an extension of a larger gallery for another 44 years, the place has inevitably seen some renovations and alterations during its 199 year lifetime, but you can certainly still see many of its original features still intact. In fact, the library, which was added to the original home in 1885, remains decorated very much like it would have originally been. Visitors can take a peek at it through some glass doors.








^ The adjacent park was being renovated – (more about that at the end of the post) ^

Here’s a watercolour of the building and park painted in 1875 …


And here’s a photograph of it in 1907, shortly after it had become The Art Gallery of Toronto …


Here’s taken a few years later in 1910, showing visitors approaching the gallery. The house was already 90 years old by then …


While the building in which it is housed, may be very old, the offerings on the menu were fresh and modern sounding (see it here). After a bit of deliberation, I went with the Mushroom Tartine, described as “balsamic glazed mushroom, soft-boiled egg, brie, market greens”. Julie chose the Grilled Artichoke & Grains, “broccolini, beluga lentil, quinoa, beet, almonds, red pepper coulis”. The meal was delicious.




Following our lunch, we re-entered the art gallery and headed to the special exhibit currently on, called The Outsiders.


^ The back of The Grange, as seen through the glass wall of the AGO ^

This was a welcomed repeat look at this show for me — I previously wrote about it in this post.

With over 300 photographs on display, there were many of them I hadn’t noticed before, but I will admit that a highlight for me was carrying James, who would rather have enjoyed the art from the vantage point of someone’s arms, than from inside his stroller. Although, he looked pretty happy in there at first …


After looking at the photographs, we quickly checked out a few other things, as we wound our way back to the entrance, because, by then, we’d already been at the gallery for four hours. It was amazing how quickly that time flew by.



^ Julie might be looking at this picture and thinking, “Hold it … I didn’t take that”. And she’d be right … while a diaper change was going on in the washroom, I exchanged picture taking with some students who wanted a photo in front of those frames, which date back to the 1600s (I think).” ^

And what a good baby James is … during the afternoon, he had a couple of naps in his stroller, lots of cuddles for me and his mom, and barely a moment of crying! He’s a real delight.

I walked home via the back way, to get a look at The Grange from the outside. As we’d noticed through the windows, the park south of it is currently undergoing a complete revitalization (which you can read all about in this article at The Star.


So it was all fenced in and I couldn’t get near enough to get a good shot, but you can still see it there.


I’ll be sure to follow up this post with a look at the park once it’s all done.

Thanks for checking out what I’ve been up to. I hope you’re having a great week!
xo loulou

Posted in AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario, Interesting Buildings, Restaurants of Toronto | Tagged | 4 Comments

A Beautiful Baby Boy and the Blanket I Made for Him


You may recall that my friend Julie was pregnant in the fall. Here’s a post with her, her husband Guy and their precious “bump” at the art gallery, and here’s one when she only had a few weeks left before welcoming their son.

Well, James is here now, and he’s wonderful. I’ve had the pleasure of spending quite a lot of one-on-one time with this wee fellow so far, as I have babysat him at our place three times since he was born. Not having had much opportunity to be with young babies very often in my life, these have certainly been memorable and treasured hours.

Such a nice experience occurred the fourth time we met, when he was merely 13 weeks old, while his mother was dropping him off. They’d just arrived and following the flurry of getting him out of his carrier and removing his cold-weather outerwear, he was sitting on his mom’s lap, while she was having a little chat with Nick. Unbeknownst to the two of them, James and I made eye contact and I was gifted with the most charming series of baby smiles ever. My heart might have melted on the spot. I know everyone thinks “their” baby is the cutest, and I am joining those ranks.

Here are some pictures I took of him when he was 11 weeks old, to back-up my opinion …




And here’s the blanket I made him. I used a piece of never-washed vintage printed flannelette that I had in my stash, combined with some brand new fabric in a solid navy blue (that I found at my fave fabric shop on Queen Street West, Affordable Textiles) and some quilt-batting that I’d gotten at Fabricland a while ago.




Everything is pure 100 percent cotton, including the thread, so it should wash up beautifully, with all the elements shrinking together. This should give it that attractive, slightly puckered look, inherent to vintage quilts.


To make it, I sandwiched the batting between the printed and plain fabrics, leaving a few inches of extra batting and the plain, around the print (which was the piece that would be determining the finished size of the blanket — I had just that one single 36″ square of that).


Then, I hand-stitched around every third motif on print, anchoring all three layers together. I could have used my sewing machine to do that, but I prefer the look of hand-stitching for this kind of thing. (Yes, this took a while to do, but it was a labour of love!)

It’s hard to see the stitching from the front, so I’ve included a couple of shot of the back …






It’s easier to leave that extra batting and backing fabric around the edges and then trim them after you’ve done your stitching, because you don’t have to worry about things shifting around a bit as you’re working.


^ trimmed edges before binding ^

To finish the blanket, I used the machine binding technique learned in this Youtube video by the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Note that in the video, she doesn’t clearly explain how to begin and finish the binding, so I referred to this tutorial for that part, specifically the “Tucked Method”.

Now, I won’t lie and say the edging turned out perfectly, because this technique is meant to be used on thinner cotton fabric, as opposed to the thick flannelette I was using. In my case, there was no way my sewing-machine was going to be able to tackle the thick corners, so I sewed towards, and from, the corners as closely as I could get, and went back and finished the corners by hand.

They look fine and you probably wouldn’t know there was an issue with them if I didn’t mention it, however, in case you try to make one of these yourself, I thought I’d mention it. Here’s a close up shot of how they turned out …


To go with the blanket, and co-incidentally matching in colours, I had these over-alls for James too. Considering the store I got them at, Eaton’s, has been closed since 1999, these are at least 17 years old, making them almost vintage. I’ve held onto these since buying them for a baby shower. Back then, it wasn’t as common for people to find out the gender of their baby, so we didn’t know if she was having a boy or a girl. I thought this outfit would suit either, but was convinced otherwise by a friend, who upon seeing them said, “I sure hope she’s having a boy”. Anyway, the baby was a girl, so I ended up getting her something else and keeping these. They were put away and I found them recently, just in time to give them to James.




In keeping with my love of vintage, I made the card with some old gift wrapping paper, using the technique demonstrated in this post. The scalloped card base is something I found at Micheal’s.



I’m excited to be going out with James and his lovely mom tomorrow. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen him and I can’t wait. I very much look forward to the adorable baby smiles that will surely be coming my way.


Thank you very much for checking out my post. I hope you’re having a great week.

Posted in Making Things DIYs | Tagged , | 7 Comments