The Illustrated Boro

The Illustrated Boro Project invites you to peer through ten downtown windows to see The Boro in a different way. Rediscover your favourite downtown stores, restaurants, and cafes through the eyes of five local artists. 

The goal of this project was to create beautiful images and intriguing stories about our downtown to highlight our local businesses but to also highlight our local art community. 

Be Curious

A conversation with Mark Jokinen,

written by: Brooklin Stormie

Stepping into Mark Jokinen Books, I always feel I am in another realm. Bookstack cities tower about me, and the air smells warmly of yellowed pages and time. In this habitat of tomes, I feel a sense of distilled inspiration and am rendered instantly calm. Perhaps it is my lifelong love of books that puts me at ease in their company, but more likely I think, it is the shopkeeper, with his quiet curiosity and infectious passion for story. Recently, I went to ask Mark Jokinen a series of questions, and as I left I felt as though the frost on a window was clearing before me. Not only did I leave the shop with no less than five treasured volumes, but I had also freely been given wisdom, advice, and the most precious of all, stories. Mark Jokinen originally hails from Kapuskasing, a place in Northern Ontario ‘a bit south of the polar bears’, where he spent his childhood in a family of readers. After leaving home he earned two science degrees and worked in research. When I asked him why he left that field he paused, brow knitted, and replied; ‘I changed.’ I think those two words might be the most wonderful in this entire English language. Of course, we must change, it is a beautiful thing to allow ourselves to. After this change, an indefinite sabbatical from science, and a stint spent working at a used bookstore, Mark switched gears and decided to open a shop of his own. ‘You make one big decision,’ Said Mark with contemplation, ‘and then lots of little decisions become obvious.’ This was something I hadn’t heard before, but it made an instant and profound sense. Leaping from decision to decision, selling his collection of science fiction, and trundling down the road in his good little truck, Mark made his used book paradise a reality in 1988. Originally located along Water st. on Peterborough’s historic bookseller lane, and moving to George St. later on, the shop became a staple for book enthusiasts and students. Observing the space around me, I asked Mark if this store represented him in any way, and he replied; ‘Having a shop is like a marriage, It’s a close relationship. Except the shop is a reflection of you. It shows where you work hard and where you’re lazy.’ He revealed to me that his ideal shop was bright and airy, organized and spacious. But go figure! his customers seem to like his store just the way it is, book-citadels threatening to teeter, the warmth of hours and discovery. I’ve always found this distinctly endearing. When approaching this piece I was a bit indulgent. I chose businesses that sparked my interest, and questions that I thought would inspire an image I’d enjoy making. Still, I didn’t know what to expect when I asked Mark what person or creature from medieval folklore he’d most like to be. He paused in answer, then asked if I’d like to see the most beautiful book in the shop. I’m sure he noticed my eyes light up at the question, and he quickly fetched it. Returning with something called the Book of Hours (a reproduction of an original collection). This book, used in the middle ages for private devotions, was vividly illustrated by ‘illuminators’, a class of artists (often monks) who poured thousands of hours into illustrating gilded scriptures for their patrons. Mark said he would like to be a scribe or illuminator. Someone who pours time and creativity into something. I loved this answer. For is that not a form of magic? The art of our attention? The desire to illuminate? While on the subject of magic, I brought up the idea that perhaps books themselves were magic. Mark replied certainly; “Yes, books and writing in general. There is something magical about it.” He talked a bit about memory, and how books, aided by libraries and now the internet, preserve the memory of humanity. He said; “Without understanding the past, where are we? We live in an eternal present, eternally drifting. We are at the whim of the winds of current events and conditions.” Eternally drifting, I thought, untethered. ‘Sounded like life without a good book on the go. I asked about Mark’s favourite book, which was indeed too broad a question. After a moment’s thought though, he kindly retrieved a title from memory. Not his favourite book, but an influential and beloved book from his youth; Have Space-Suit, Will Travel, by Robert Heinlein. Written in the ’50s, it’s about a 17-year-old boy who wants to go to space, but the best he can do is refurbish an old space suit. Eventually, he gets kidnapped by aliens and goes on to save the human race. I couldn’t help grinning hearing about this premise, it sounded amazing. We talked about the shop some more, Mark’s journey to open it and its years in business, which is all more eloquently explained in Mark’s memoirs, published by the Peterborough Historical Society; Another Day in Paradise; Reflections of a Peterborough Bookseller, which you can pick up at Mark’s shop, (and I would recommend you do!). But I still had one final thing I wanted to ask of Mark, advice, what would it be? If he could give it to his younger self? If he could give it to anyone? ’To quote a cruise-ship commercial,’ He said; ‘Be curious.’ In a shop that beams curiosity, this answer seemed just perfect.

Ritual Apothecary
By Samantha Chiusolo

I had the pleasure of meeting with Nadine about her wonderful store, “The Ritual Apothecary”
located at 196 Charlotte Street, Peterborough. A studio, herbal dispensary, and a botanical
beauty shop with the focus on natural products that repairs, soothes, and heals as well as
beautifies. While she is creating many of her own products in the back studio under the brand,
“Willows Bark”, all products for sale have been selected with just as much integrity and concern
for quality and sustainably.

When you visit this little shop, it feels as though there is a touch of magic present. Through all of
Nadine’s lovely plants interwoven with the products (that make it seem as though they are busy
themselves working to stock the shelves), to the dark-glassed bottles of herbs (that hold many
an ancient secret) and to the stacks of books whose pages are filled with knowledge of herbal
medicines and foraging practices that date back to centuries of tradition. To lastly, the wonderful
medicinal scents that seem to carry you to another place in time.

When I asked her how it all started, she told me it began with her journey for remedies for her
own sensitive skin and the pursuit to heal herself. She turned her passion of foraging into study,
study became knowledge and knowledge turned action. I found out through our conversation
that she was part of a DBIA 2018 initiative “Win this Space Peterborough,” an entrepreneurial
contest where up-and-coming business owners have a chance to win a downtown storefront
rent-free for a whole year. The Win This Space program was first initiated in 2016 in partnership
with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, Community Futures Peterborough,
and Shoreline Casino Peterborough. Past winners include Ritual Apothecary, Tiny Greens
(2017) and Sustain (2019). All three businesses I am glad to say are still going strong in the
heart of the downtown.

To learn more about Nadine, Willow’s Bark and Ritual Apothecary please pop in the store at 196
Charlotte Street as well as visit them online at www.ritualapothecaryptbo.ca. You can also give
them a follow on Instagram @ritual.apothecaryptbo or through Facebook at
www.facebook.com/ritual.apothecary.

“A hint of lavender, mmm I should think.”

As the lady in the back tinkers in her tinkering sink.

‘Meow’ say the cats to the wasp in window, “shhhhh” 

says the wind as the door swings open with a whistle.

“Bonjour, good day, I need your assistance, s’il vous plaît” 

It was a woman, “la dame” (en français).

La dame wore a large, brimmed hat adorned with long feathers 

cloaked in white silk, from ankle to glove, 

(had she had cooed I would have thought her a dove…). 

“Ma visage, (my face) is in need of a potion, 

only magic will remède cette position.”

“Bonjour,” says the lady in the back. 

“I have just the thing, s’il vous plaît, je retourne, tout de suite !”

She returned with a small brown bottle no wider than an eyelet 

tied with a tag with the inscription ‘Blue Violet.’

“Just a little shake before use, I declare…

to keep your skin moist from the cool winter’s air.”

The woman paid in a pinch leaving jolly and merry 

and here ends our story about our store, 

“The Ritual Apothecary.”

The Food Shop

By Kathryn Durst

Anthony and Sam of The Food Shop are more than local grocers and business owners, I consider them friends too. 

During the pandemic when I rarely went out except to do my shopping, I appreciated visiting the shop. I always left feeling nourished with good conversation, and of course delicious local fare. 

They understand the importance of supporting local farmers, and also of sharing good food with good company. 

Our society’s food systems and supply chains are seriously messed up. It’s baffling to me that basically all grocery stores sell produce grown thousands of miles away. 

It’s even more upsetting to see plastic-packaged vegetables shipped from far away when the same kind of vegetables are in season right where we live.

It’s really refreshing to know that (in addition to Farmer’s Markets) Peterborough has a grocery store that sells food grown right here in our region.

Providence

By Jason Wilkins

Mike Watt didn’t rush bringing his vision of Providence to reality. A decade in the making, Mike was meticulous in his planning and execution of building his perfect “man cave”, free of bravado but fully outfitted with clothing better described as art pieces in themselves, many collections sourced from suppliers who only deal with a select number of shops in Canada. You’ll be met with a smile at the door before your fresh cut and beard trim, then of course you’ll need some new threads to compliment the new look. Worked up a thirst? head over to the bar and grab a drink while watching the game! surrounded by brick, metal, and wood, the feel is definitely masculine but you’ll also find Providence to be a family friendly environment. After sitting down with Mike and talking about his vision, I knew the colour palette for the piece needed to match this masculine vibe, along with illustrated elements taken directly from the decor. The definition of Providence is guidance or journey – you’ll definitely enjoy this exact experience while you shop at Mike’s shop. 

The Night Kitchen 

by Samantha Chiusolo

I walk into the Night Kitchen and hear the laughter and gentle shouting from the kitchen, “behind you… order up… four in the oven!” 

I am reminded of a time when my own hands constantly smelled of dough and onions. Only the squeezing of fresh lemons would get that smell out.

The thrill of the Friday night rush, pizza-box folding contests, running out of dough balls, and having to thaw a crate under the warmth of the oven…. One of my brother’s being dared to drink a jar of pickle juice for a six-pack. This was our adolescence. While other kids had jobs at grocery and department stores, we were slinging pizzas, washing dishes, and deciphering pizza orders from (sometimes) half-cut hangry customers. 

I see this all in the eyes of Yannick and Tim, the owners of The Night Kitchen. They have lived it all. This wonderful pizza place has been running for 23 years moving between three different locations. Tim started the business after university with a friend, but it would be Yannick (his friend and pizza dough baker at the time), who would then go on to become both his partner in pizza and in life. They are now joined by ten other staff on a busy night with their two kids in the mix as well. 

Off the record, I believe one qualification to work here is to rock a pair of cool shoes. Everyone on staff seems to have a great pair of kicks, from vintage 8-hole Doc Martin’s, to converse pumps to classic adidas sambas and retro pumas. 

However, there is nothing old school about their pizzas. Tim and Yannick love to experiment and push boundaries to redefine our idea of pizza. They throw tradition to the wind and experiment with exotic flavours and ingredients. Well, perhaps they keep some traditions, the traditional “Sunday Roast” dinner comes to mind, whereby legend has it they roasted a beautiful brisket with lovely, caramelized vegetables and all and dared to adorn it atop a pie crust. The nerve. 

From someone who has eaten and made many a pizza, and come from a line of pizza-makers, I would say my standards for quality are higher than the average. Immediate red flags are any pizzeria who steams their pepperoni under a thick layer of sauce and cheese, an undercooked dough, and any pizza made in France. 

The Night Kitchen hits both on quality and taste for sure, but for me it’s also a familiarity, a memory of a time and place, only brought back to life through storytelling and the taste of a truly wonderful pizza. 

Located at 168 Hunter Street West, whether you dine in or take-out the experience of their creations should not go a miss. There is love in that dough, take it from me. 

You can also follow them online at www.nightkitchen.ca or on Instagram @thenightkitchen.

Bijoux Bar

By Kathryn Durst

When I had newly moved back to Peterborough after a long time being away, Shannon and Roland of Bijoux Bar were some of the first people to make me feel welcome here. I had been painting a mural in the Banker’s Common alley behind St. Veronus and they were very kind and supportive. I could tell that they really appreciated art being made in their neighbourhood. 

At the mural launch party they even agreed to name a cocktail after, me, in good humour (it was delicious too). Talk about feeling welcomed into the downtown community!

They are also very engaging folks to talk to, and they know a lot about good food and great beer!

On my last visit I had the Belgian Duchette de Bourgogne cherry sour beer, which was awesome. My partner had the Rodenbach Flemish red on draught. 

Couture Candy

By Jason Wilkins

Lisa Couture’s story is a super inspiring one. Lisa was working a comfortable government job, but after finding herself extremely dissatisfied with the working conditions, and her as her own mental health began to suffer, she soon realized she had to find a way out. Joy and positivity had to become her primary focus, and candy was her path forward. Starting from her home, Lisa and her family began to sell unique candy and other sweets. As the demand quickly grew Couture Candy needed a brick and mortar location, which they would find on George street. Like a bright pink beacon of positivity, Couture Candy had a home. Since opening, the candy biz has been booming, and Lisa’s infectious pursuit of spreading joy is unstoppable. “Being kind is sweet” has become the mantra. I wanted my piece to equally match the happiness and joy Lisa and her family have brought to downtown – vibrant, bold, and fun.

Black Honey Café

By Julii McMillan

Drawn in by the delicious details, Seduced by its laid back charm, a love letter to Black Honey Cafe

As a veteran Barista, I know a good café when I sit down in one, where I can tuck myself in a corner drawing for hours without a single, “Can I get you something else?” It helps when there are also interesting people to draw: A frustrated writer on a laptop, two whispering gossips, a tarot reader and her client, a group of Trent students debating over lunch options, are those two on a first date? The thing I love most about Black Honey is its espresso served rich and dark and hot, with charming nonchalance. There is no cooler than thou vibe, yet they aren’t grinning and asking to write your name on your cup either. The people behind Black Honey get it. 

Lisa Dixon, Queen bee of the Black Honey empire, seemingly never sits still, and I myself, being an illustrator/muralist working out of my suitcase, it’s a miracle we ever found a moment to chat. We settled for a phone call that sparked a high speed conversation. Points in common colliding, I felt instant affection and admiration for the powerhouse behind one of my most frequent stops in town. 

 It all began 17 years ago, in the same spot where Black Honey still stands today. Lisa was a well-travelled Barista, seasoned caterer, a graduate of the Cordon Bleu, when she decided it was time to make her dream come true. Moving her family from Ottawa to Peterborough, Lisa soon began Black Honey Cafe out of an unheated garage in the heart of the city. Over the years the business steadily grew, beyond its cold kitchen, beyond the café, beyond the weekend brunches and full-day menu. Today there now stands adjacent a booming bakery and catering service known for miles around. Through all of this expansion and change, the Café has held fast at the heart of it all.

During our conversation, Lisa and I discovered our shared affinity for the aloof air of Parisian cafés, deep dark chocolate cake and a distaste for bartending. In our university years, we both consciously chose the barista’s path, despite the pay being a fraction of a bartender’s salary. We both agreed there are things that are more important than money. Lisa elaborated, “Black Honey Cafe is not the breadwinner of our business, it’s the place where anyone can come to feel at home. That’s why we’ve always aimed to stay open after dark, for those that prefer a tea to a whisky, a shared slice of cake after a movie, a newcomer looking to find their people. We were open even later before the pandemic, and we hope to get back to that again.’ 

The website boasts, ‘Black Honey is a Peterborough business with a lot to offer’. This is an understatement. Their ‘gourmet espresso drinks, great food and delectable desserts’ are just the icing on the cake. If you know, you know. And If you don’t, I recommend you drop by and discover all the delicious details for yourself. 

The Best Time to Plant a Tree

A conversation with Sandra Young of Statement House 

By Brooklin Holbrough

When I walk into Statement House on Water street, I am overwhelmed in the best possible way, engulfed in a dense forest of hue and texture. There’s something about vintage clothing stores that feels electric, charged with energy and feeling. Statement house is a shop, yes, but it’s something else as well, a time machine, a reliquary of bygone eras, and just about the best place to find a unique piece that sings to your heart. The racks are stacked with colourful slices of century, and the shelves are peppered with treasures, accessories, and memory. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to Sandra Young, the owner of Statement House, suspecting that the singular magic I found in vintage clothing was something we shared. When I first arrived, Sandra greeted me warmly, setting up two fuzzy chairs for us to sit in while we spoke. My first question was about the road to opening the shop, was this something she’d always dreamed of? Her answer: “Always. I have loved second-hand shopping my whole life and always thought it would be fun to run my own boutique. If others were doing it and making a living, why not me? Right? To me, second-hand clothing is more than economical and good for the environment, it’s a treasure hunt!” This made total sense to me, the treasure-hunt element is part of what I’ve always found so exciting about vintage as well. It’s shopping and a riveting adventure. This got me thinking about magic, (it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about magic, mind you) was vintage clothing uniquely imbued with some sort of sorcery? Sandra thinks yes, “Wonderful textiles. Fantastic construction and details. Quality…” she mused, “but magic? I would say the stories. I love when someone brings in a piece and they share wonderful personal stories about themselves or a loved one who wore—or even made, the garment.” The magic, as I suspected, was in the stories. Brilliant. Drifting in and out of the shop, and still keeping up with a full-time gig in the corporate world, Sandra praises her team of fabulous employees for helping her keep the store running. Looking around the shop, and seeing the retro fixtures and industrial exposed pipes, I felt the love and care of a team, but I also felt an individual and eclectic style coming through. I asked Sandra if this style was her’s, did the store represent her somehow? She nodded, adding; “It does. I love nostalgia and organic materials…I love things from the past but also love modern things too. Things from history were modern at the time.” Always admiring historic buildings and spaces, this location was the perfect fit for Sandra’s dream shop. She mentioned that this history of the space helped connect her to the past, something the vintage clothes help with as well. She loves finding retro pieces made in Canada and even Peterborough, especially made by iconic designers and shops. “I love hearing stories from the past, especially ones which tie to a garment.” This is part of the joy of the shop for her, the dense interconnectivity of us all, the way eras layer over one another, the way memories are stored and sparked. At this point in our conversation, I was bursting to ask my most self-indulgent question; If you were a character in folklore or legend, what kind of being/creature/person would you want to be? Sandra replied that “being a wizard would be nice, magical powers would come in handy.” Sensible. Sometimes, I’m sure it feels like magical powers are needed to run a small business! Now, I started asking funny questions like, What is your most hated clothing item? Sandra humoured these gracefully, her answer: Crocs. This made sense, crocs had never been in my good books either. And as for her favourite item in the shop? It was a draw between a swoon-worthy 40’s black velvet opera coat and a tall white hat that looked like it was made for Audrey Hepburn’s head. It’s always fun, we agreed, to see what different folks are drawn to In a shop like this. Which brought me to my final question; advice. What piece of advice would Sandra give to her younger self? To anyone entering this world? She thought about it for a moment, and replied; ‘Jump in sooner.’ She admitted that she’d always wanted to own her own business, but the risk was daunting. Despite this, she had no regrets, things had worked out well in their own time. This made me think of an adage my dad used to say; ‘The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago, the second best time is today.’ Whenever it was planted, the tree that is statement house has flourished and blossomed, and I for one am grateful for the magic it creates.

The Businesses

Bijoux Bar

Black Honey Cafe

Bluestreak Records

Couture Candy

The Food Shop

Mark Jokinen Books

The Night Kitchen

Providence

Ritual Apothecary

Statement House

The Artists

Brooklin Holbrough

Jason Wilkins

Julii McMillan

Kathryn Durst

Samantha Chiusolo

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