The Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Festival was this past weekend, and had a table! The Cabbagetown Business Improvement Association (BIA) is quite well established and organized, and set us up with a table, even though our shop only opened up four days before the festival.* It was pretty chilly both days, but I think for days when you're planning on being outside for long stretches, a bit chilly is better than some of the recent sweltering heat days we've been having. We raided the studio shop's inventory (raided from the main shop)** and out we went. The tablecloth is from Maiwa, now several years old, having served us through countless Letter Writing Clubs and analogue afternoons, and suffered its share of ink drops. We also borrowed the main shop's tray of tester ECOs, and it was fun to see so many people trying out fountain pens for the first time. It was funny to watch the kind of people who stopped by our table: older folks who walked by and then slowed right down when they saw "fountain pens" on our sign, saying "hmmmmm...I remember those"; kids who bee-lined for the colourful erasers and rainbow pencils; stationery lovers who manage to find the one booth in the entire festival offering notebooks and Japanese airmail paper; and even a few folks who said, "hmm, Wonder Pens? Didn't you used to be in Leslieville?"
I didn't have too much time to wander the show - it's a completely different routine for us to get used to, having both the main shop and studio shop open, and this weekend, especially, while managing a table at the festival - but when I took the babies to pick up lunch, this beauty caught my eye and I couldn't pass it up. The artist is Marianne Chenard, and while we definitely have not passed the stage yet where the kids are old enough to not break (too many) things, I thought it was nice to commemorate the opening of our studio shop. If we're going to have things, they might as well be beautiful things with a story, and maybe put them up on a high shelf.
And a book sale! Alas, too crowded for me to make it in with a stroller, but there's nothing like knowing there are people willing to throng a table of discount books still in the world.
Both kids were troopers, as usual. Caleb in particular, perhaps with the starting of kindergarten, or maybe a long time in his development, continues to be more and more independent, and can generally be trusted with simple tasks, which is terrific. Now that life is on three floors, he is often sent about to get a diaper from the third floor, or the keys from the fireplace mantel on the first, or a phone charger from the kitchen. His independence sometimes needs to reigned in a little, though, and I'm still working on finding the balance. I will say though, that following a little scuffle and a parenting moment, his consequence was to tidy up the living room, and he did a better job than Jon or I would do. While the nature of our business means Caleb will never really be a true latchkey kid, he is sometimes already his own version of it - helping out in the shop with one of the staff, then into the kitchen to get his own snack, then organizing the recycling downstairs with his own child's logic. Naomi slept on my back for first morning, and then we had the luxury of a good stroller nap in the afternoon on Saturday, and a long nap upstairs above the studio shop on Sunday afternoon. I think in some ways she was more of an attraction than the stationery. Oh, the sorts of unconventional memories these kids will have.


So the studio shop survived its first week! And so did we. I'm hoping to share a few more photos of how the shop looks now that we're set up. There are still a few dusty corners and one wall waiting for some ink shelves, but the doors are open, and it's been a lot of fun to see some familiar faces again. A few people have mentioned that they're hoping to visit when they come to Toronto for Scriptus, which is wonderful! But also extremely nerve-wracking - our local regulars will come and visit often, so we'll have future chances to make up for a rough initial appearance, whereas all our out-of-town friends will leave thinking we're permanently "wabi-sabi." It never ends: this week we're working on finally cleaning up and setting up the back space, where we'll be holding our first journaling workshop later this week! It's all terribly exciting. Fresh paint, finding a spot for the bathtub, hiding our somewhat intense and chaotic looking modem/phone/router/wire situation, all those little details. If you couldn't make the 4-week journaling workshop, we've also now got a 3-hr workshop, An Introduction to Journaling, taking place on two Sunday afternoons (September 30 and October 14). It's been an incredible journey to build into our shop and Wonder Pens, but there is something thrilling thinking about all the words flowing onto pages in our new space. As I'm writing this, it's pouring rain, with gusty winds - an autumn foreboding if there ever was one. Jon is off to fight the crowds at IKEA, picking up things on a very long list, Caleb is at school, and the three remaining animals (Naomi, Chicken, Super) are all asleep on the bed in front of me. Following IKEA, he's off to do groceries solo, since I have to be around to pick up Caleb for lunch, and then again after school. I sometimes complain that there seem to be very few advantages to be the main caregiver for the two kids, but sitting here with sleeping babies, tapping away while I watch the grey outside the windows, is not half bad.***         *Technically, we've been in the neighbourhood for over a year, pleading with and cajoling inspectors and contractors, but who's counting? **We're working on it! Give us a few weeks to try and even things out - more and more is trickling into the studio shop everyday. ***Until 11:15, when I need to pack up the baby into a stroller, and head out into the rain to wait for Caleb to be released, and then bring them all home, and then slog through lunch, and then pack everyone back up, and then drop Caleb back off at school, and then return home to contemplate the disaster in the kitchen before deciding to leave it all there.

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September 10, 2018 — wonderpens


Kathy Flaxman

Kathy Flaxman said:

Hi! I am a pen and paper addict and use a fountain pen every day! Can you please give me the address of your Cabbagetown studio? I don’t know how you can respond here, but you can email me at

Thanks, cheers and good luck,


wonderpens said:

Hiya! Sorry about the delay in responding. The Cabbagetown Studio Shop is located at 290 Gerrard Street East, at Gerrard and Parliament. Hope you can make it for a visit!

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