Fairies set up shop on Danforth

Sharp-eyed visitors to businesses along the Danforth might notice some small differences in some of the shops over the next month.

Until August 30, a total of 55 businesses have had fairy doors installed inside or outside their storefronts.

Each one was created by about 40 mostly local artists, as part of the Danny’s Urban Fairies project.

Natalie Coulter seemed almost surprised by the ambitious scale of the fairies project she dreamt up months ago.

Speaking on the day of the official launch in between solving last-minute issues, she said her original idea was for only a few doors to be installed.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind. Originally it was going to be much smaller,” she said.

Coulter had approached a few businesses near her home with the idea. The reaction was encouraging, and she was soon joined by her friends, neighbours, and local Danforth volunteers Joanne Bell, Angela Matich, and Lindsay Tashlin, and the project grew in ambition and scale.

Soon the Danforth Mosaic BIA, three community associations, and three ‘friends of’ parks groups were involved.

Coulter was inspired after a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, a town that has its own impressive collection of fairy doors.

“So I invited their fairies to come visit us for the summer,” she said.

With the help of the Mosaic BIA, pamphlets explaining the project were handed out to every business on ‘The Danny,’ as the BIA has taken to calling the stretch of Danforth it covers, from Jones to Westlake. While not everyone jumped on board immediately, the idea quickly caught on.

“Some of them had a hard time understanding what we were asking, but every business had the opportunity,” said Coulter.

She explained that organizers wanted to keep the project more of a neighbourhood affair.

“We really tried to get mostly local artists,” she said.

The results and styles of art are varied, which is partly the intent, said Coulter.

“That’s the thing about fairies, is that they’re all different.”

Some are helpful and friendly, helping bakeries make cookies overnight while staff are home in bed, for example.

“And some fairies are a bit more naughty,” said Coulter – which might explain why events planned to coincide with the fairies include pub crawls and a burlesque show as well as family-friendly fare.

Other events planned include a neighbourhood water fight at Stephenson Park on Saturday, July 25 and another at Felstead Avenue Playground on Saturday, Aug. 8; a craft and movie night on Wednesday, Aug. 19; the aforementioned pub crawls on Saturday, Aug. 1 and again on Aug. 29; and giveaways at Robinson Parkette on Saturday, Aug. 22.

While that might seem like a lot of volunteer organizing work and unpaid artistic creation for a one-time event, Coulter said part of the magic is knowing that it’s only happening this summer.

But perhaps visitors from other parts of Toronto will get inspired just like Coulter was. After all, that’s kind of the point of the whole thing.

“The ultimate goal is that we hope to bring people out from other neighbourhoods,” she said.

Check the full list of participating stores and events at dannysurbanfairies.com or at facebook.com/dannysurbanfairies.

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