My neighbour is a wise and respectful woman and has a fantastic sense of humour. During the interview, when offered tea and asked about sugar, she quickly replied, “I don’t need any sugar ‘cause I’m sweet enough.” Her name is Brenda Joslin, and she is the star of this article, as she is of her life.
Originally born in Plessisville, Quebec, Joslin moved to Toronto when she was four- years-old and has been living on the same street since her arrival almost fifty years ago. She attended William Burgess Elementary School and is happy to see the tradition continue with her three kids and her little grandson.
Brenda says that while growing up here, this area was almost only Greek and the restaurants especially paid homage to the culture. However, now she sees that the area has positively changed with many other nationalities, such as Albanians, Serbians, and Filipinos moving into the space. She also notices how the food has changed as the Danforth area now also features many Japanese, Chinese, and Caribbean restaurants, “that’s all kind of food now, right?” Joslin goes on to explain that, “there’s still Greek some way around, but not as many as it was. Serano Café, for example, is Greek. It sounds Italian, but it’s owned by Greek people. If you go to McDonalds on Pape Avenue, it’s all the Greek men and all the Greek women. So, it’s still very much a Greek area, but it’s changing.”
When asked if she had picked up any Greek habits, she admits that the food has her hooked, Greek salad being her current favourite, “I love feta cheese.” Joslin has also developed many relationships with people from the Greek community and, like her mother’s friendly nature; she extends the warmth as well.
Living in Greektown for so long had Joslin considering a move away from the area, but because of her mother, she stayed. However, after her beloved mother passed away, she considered leaving the area once more. She ultimately decided that leaving wasn’t an option though, “I like living here. It has my shopping in here. I know everybody. I have everything in this area.” By 9:00 am, after dropping off the kids at school, she and four other women get together at McDonalds to have their “girl time” and drink tea. The neighbourhood and its people are a gift for Joslin and is home to her not only for her daily routine but also for her connections.
The strong connections between all residents of the Danforth area became even more apparent with the recent shooting in the area, which, although tragic, seems to have brought the community closer together. Joslin has a positive message to spread about the topic: “I don’t think it has impacted the area. I think people are not scared. People thought the stores would be closed up; that people would move away. But we said, ‘we’re not going to back down. This is our Greektown.’” Joslin stands as just one member of a huge community, always ready to lend and band together. Her kindness and respect will always be needed in communities like the Danforth area, and everywhere else in the world.