GETTING INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT IN KENSINGTON: Courage My Love & My Memories of Christmas Past

No matter how cold it gets Kensington Market is always rocking the Reggae beats and juicy coloured apparel!

My maternal grandfather imported goods from Asia. I have inherited laughing Buddhas from China, beautifully carved wooden animals from the Philippines and a small mother-of-pearl table from Afghanistan or maybe it was Pakistan? That fact changes each time my great aunt tells me about its origins.

My grandfather’s office, a converted garage off the side of the house, was a place that as a child I knew magic existed. I would travel the world from the safety of his lap. The room smelled like sandalwood and his shaving soap. For a kid it was this cozy place that nurtured my desire to explore the entire world when I was all grown up.

Christmas time with grandpa was all about grab bags full of realistically writhing wooden snakes and finger puppets, tiny glass animals and strange candy.

And there is only one place I have found that totally embodies my grandfather’s spirit. As I walked off the snowy Kensington street into the warm lit space that Courage My Love ALWAYS is I missed my grandfather and those childhood Christmases with his grab bag full of surprises.

So if you are looking to stocking stuff in the most unusual of ways with weird, wonderful and low environmental impact purchases get to Courage My Love to snatch up their gift baskets, tin ornaments and upcycled goods. There are also beads and buttons, kimonos and kaftans, vintage leather goods and most likely a Panama hat somewhere in the mix!

The perfect antidote to the mall, Courage My Love is a place where magic still exists!

(Miss you Grandpa Nelson. Much love. XXO. L.)

“Kensington Market has been a market and a community in Toronto since the late 1800s. It has developed its unique character fed by waves of immigrants from all over the world and still feeds the city in various ways. The crowded streets host tourists on patios taking in the sights, food shoppers, artists, suburban sightseers, and in the 1980s the old houses on one of the market streets, Kensington Avenue, took on a new life as Jewish food and clothing businesses moved out and a mix of Portuguese food shops, Asian cafés and vintage clothing stores took over. The first vintage clothing store was Courage My Love in 1980.” read more about the history of Courage My Love…

GET SASSY: Spreading Love in All the Right Places

Heart painted on board on street.

Home is where the heart is!

“My parents have been my role models for love” Sas tells me as we walk around downtown Toronto finding nooks and crannies to drop off necklaces she has made as part of her #SpreadLove campaign.

All that love clearly rubbed off on her because when I met Sas at Manifesto Festival where she was selling her clever pieces at the Fresh Market it was clear that she radiates something beautiful.

“I love words, I love quotes, I always believe that little things can make a different why not spread happiness.” She continues, “and I wanted to get the people I love involved” so she began to enlist friends and family to come up with quotes around the subject of love. On her website each person who submitted a quote was also given a profile so that the lucky (or intentioned) finders of her gifts would be able to visit the website and have another dimension to their experience.

Hanging a necklace up at Metropolitan United Church, Toronto.

Attached to each pendant is Sas’ website address and contact information as she hopes that people who find the jewellery will give her feedback as to how it impacted them thus adding yet another layer to the narrative of the necklace.

Hanging necklace up on tree at Ryerson University's Image Arts Building, Toronto.
Hanging a necklace up in front of Image Arts Building, Ryerson University, Toronto.

After the drops at Metropolitan United Church, Ryerson University Images Arts Building, Dundas Square, AGO and Kensington Market we double backed along the same route to see if anyone noticed our booty of good vibes. Most were still dangling so maybe people are suspicious these days of something that says “take me I’m FREE!” and are looking around for the hidden camera. So here we are giving you all the FYI that Sas & MIXED BAG MAG will be doing future drops around the city so keep your eyes peeled for positivity!

Find Sas and Spread Love & Get Sassy websites on her websites & twitter @sas_spreadlove

Also, see her on recent MIXED BAG MAG post #WALK4YOUTHARTS: Stepping out in Support of Cultural Programming for Toronto’s Youth.

Necklace with tag saying Your Health is Your Biggest Wealth
Hanging another necklace up on a tree in Dundas Square, Toronto.
Putting a necklace on the Henry Moore sculpture in front of the AGO, Toronto.
Putting a necklace on the Henry Moore sculpture in front of the AGO, Toronto.
Necklace with positive saying
Hanging necklace on post in front of clothing store in Kensington Market, Toronto.
Hanging a necklace of a bicycle in Kensington Market, Toronto.
Jewellery designer, Sas Reyes, about to hang her last necklace on gate in Kensington Market, Toronto.
Sas Reyes finds a heart on the Paint Your Faith Mural by Wonder Cafe, Church Street, Toronto.