This is Living Blog
East City Renaissance
- Posted by: Tim Johnson on October 15, 2012
Growing up in Peterborough’s west end, Ashburnham always seemed to me like a place apart. This area, just a short drive from downtown over the Hunter Street Bridge, was founded on the eastern shores of the Otonabee River as a whole separate village back in 1859 and was annexed by Peterborough in 1904. Often called “East City” by local residents, the area, despite the fact that it’s been a part of Peterborough for more than a century, still retains a slightly different identity, and its principal thoroughfare—Hunter Street—maintains the feel of small town main street.
That street has seen some very nice changes in the last few years, with widened sidewalks, replanted trees and other improvements adding to its charm. On a recent Saturday, I decided to go for a stroll, popping into a couple of the family-run shops along the way. At Firehouse Gourmet, I chatted with Anna Russell, who co-owns this specialty sauce and seasoning store with her husband. Moving here from the west coast, they founded this store a little more than six years ago—in part because they were tired of running to Toronto to pick up the items they needed for cooking. “At first we focused on hot sauces, but now we offer a whole range of items,” she tells me, as I sample some delicious smoky and honey mustards. “It’s a very friendly neighbourhood. We get a lot of people coming in from their walks along the Rotary Trail, just around the corner.”
Looking for a little dessert, I cross the road to Enticing Cakes, and chat with owner Sabrina Rowles. The smell of warm, baked goods hits me as soon as I pass through the door, and Rowles tells me that her bakery (which was selected this year as the city’s Favourite New Business by Examiner readers) specializes in cupcakes, with an extensive menu of the delicious little treats, and daily specials. I ask her why she chose East City. “I’ve always liked it here. There are cool, kitschy places, and it’s smaller, like a city within the city.”