What to do in Old East Village #LdnOnt #DIGOEV

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When you think of London, Ontario you will often think of Western University, Fanshawe College and 3M. As one of the oldest cities Ontario, it is also home to many eclectic neighbourhoods. If you are looking for unique activities for kids, you will fill plenty to do here. If you are looking for adult fun you may want to consider stopping by one of the neighbourhoods close to the downtown core. Here’s what you’ll want to know about what to do in Old East Village in London, Ontario.

Disclosure DIGOEV @DownshiftingPRO 2020

Originally, the OEV was the village of London East but in 1885 it was amalgamated into the City of London. The area’s main focus is Dundas Street with merchants, community services, arts & culture venues all located in this tightly knit community. It is where Banting House is located, as well as the well-know Palace Theater Arts Common and Aeolian Hall. These are the arts and culture anchors with events and concerts held throughout the year. (Please note: due to COVID social distancing regulations both venues are currently closed). This should not stop you from taking the time to shop, eat out or have a light libation while you visit London.

What to do in Old East Village

I’m happy to say, although there has been extensive construction going on throughout the summer the OEV remains open for business. In order to bring visitors to the area, Old East Village (and the downtown core) developed a program to encourage Londoners to visit the many shops, restaurants and services in the area. Known as Construction Dollars, you can purchase these vouchers in $5, $10 or $20 denominations to be used to purchase products or services. They have a 1:1 dollar value and are accepted at participating businesses. Although not all businesses in OEV take them, many do.

What are construction dollars DIGOEV @DownshiftingPRO
What are construction dollars?

I’ve partner up with #DIGOEV to highlight the Construction Dollars program and to introduce you to a few great merchants, restaurants and service providers.

Below is a list of all of the vendors that are participating in the Construction Dollars promotion. You can find all the participating ‘construction dollars’ merchants here which you can print out. I carry one in my purse just to keep track!


Insider Tip: There are many participating merchants holding ‘Construction dollars’ giveaways, contests and promotions. Most have details on their individual Facebook page. If you click on the images in this post, you will be linked to each merchant’s FB page.

Artisan Bakery

Artisan Bakery in Old East Village and Western Fair Market DIGOEV @DownshiftingPRO

I love walking into the Artisan Bakery because it reminds me of an old European bakery. A few bistro tables by the window, the smell of fresh baked goods and strong coffee are all part of the experience when you visit.

They make bread in small batches with no additives or preservatives. They use local ingredients (Arva flour and Patrick’s Beans) and create loaves of bread ready for curbside pick up. Not only do they have a storefront on Dundas Street, they also have a stall at the Western Fair Market. The store is opened Fridays 10 am- 4 pm and on market days – Saturdays from 10-3 and Wednesdays . 4:30-8:30 pm. Alas, this will be one of the last Wednesday Market Day at Western Fair. No fear, you can order breads, croissants, meat pies, quiche, coffee cakes and much more on-line for curbside pickup. Don’t forget, they too accept construction dollars.

Back to the Fuchsia + The Sentimentalist

When you ask yourself what to do in Old East Village, window shopping always comes to mind. I love vintage clothing, thrifting and finding a hidden treasure. In light of ‘what’s old is new again’, I subscribe to the sustainable ideal of putting less into landfill and giving an item new life. This is what Back to the Fuchsia and The Sentimentalist are all about – vintage finds.

I have dropped by at least three or four times in the last couple of months, poking around searching for treasures. I was pleased to see that Fuchsia also participates in the pop-up night markets taking place in the downtown core around Dundas Place. The construction upgrades on Dundas Street now provides the opportunity to close the street off to car traffic for accessible pedestrian only events.

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There is no question this location is an instagram-worthy stop (be sure to check out my Insta stories). Located on the eastern section of Dundas Street in Old East Village, Fuchsia a few steps from 10eighteen Coffee Bar, Tony’s Famous Italian Restaurant and McHardy’s Vacuum. These are long time residents of OEV and not to be overlooked.

Freeborn + Company

Freeborn and company London Ontario DIGOEV @DownshiftingPRO

It’s time for a little shopping and one of the best kept secret in women’s boutiques is Freeborn + Company. It is actually two businesses in one location with a small (but mighty) retail space in the front and a large kitchen and design showroom in the back. They also have a great on-line store.

Freeborn Company DIGOEV London Ontario @DownshiftingPRO

We went shopping and loved the clothes. They were both casual/trendy but elegant. The palette is neutral beige, black, grey and denims. We fell in love with the accessories (including jewellery, sunglasses, hair accessories, shoes and boots).

There is also a smattering of home decor products from scented candles, throw rugs, bowls and serving dishes. It’s all very soulful and the atmosphere was relaxing and inviting. The girls were able to try on some pieces while I may have bought another pair of shoes!

London Clay Art Centre

Home of the London Potters Guild, there is much to see and do at the London Clay Art Centre. You can sign up for a series of pottery classes for both adult and adults with children. The centre also sells a variety of pieces which have been produced by local artist. The space is large and is a great place to go window shopping as the building is one of the beautiful traditional facades.

Be sure and check their website for further details about classes, exhibitions and to make an appointment to visit the store.

So Inviting

So Inviting was sooooo delicious! It’s a tiny dumpling shop with a devoted following. We were pleasantly surprised when the owner asked us if this was our first visit. Since it was, she offered us a sampling of the different dumplings and pot-stickers available that day. All fresh and ready to eat she offered us not one or two but three each!

There were a few unique things about this shop that we really loved: (1) in order to create less waste, you can bring your own container to take your yummy choices home; (2) if you don’t want hot fresh dumplings, you can take frozen ones home; (3) the pricing was all very reasonable and the choices were great; and lastly (4) the owner was adorable, friendly and oh, so inviting! This shop is a winner!

To say the least, we loved this little dumpling shop across the street from Western Fair Market. Located steps away from The Hungary Butcher, The Lab, the trendy Illbury+ Goose and down the street from The Artisan Bakery.

The Hungary Butcher

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In this location for seven years, The Hungary Butcher is right across the street from The Western Fair Market. You will also find them in the Market on Saturdays (year-round) and Wednesdays (during the summer).

They offer specialty meats and goodies from Hungary and beyond. With many varieties of sausages with flavours from around the world, your choice is abundant. To see what you can choose from, it’s best to check The Hungary Butcher Facebook page to see which ones are available.

Western Fair Market

Western Fair Market DIGOEV @DownshiftingPRO
Western Fair Market is located at 630 Dundas Street and King
Operating since 1887 it has 100+ vendors

You cannot actually mention the Old East Village area without a nod to the Western Fair Market. On Saturdays you can visit the many stalls offering fresh (and local) produce, baked goods as well as books, curiosities and home decor. On Wednesday evenings you can attend ‘Park it in the Market’ with other OEV merchants and food trucks offering delicious treats from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

The Market is home to 100+ permanent vendors. The first floor is home to a wide range of produce, baked goods, handcrafted cheeses, prepared foods and more! While the second floor features the best and most unique craftspeople, artists and artisans, together with an eclectic roster of distinctive and locally handcrafted products, fine jewellery, collectibles and one-of-a-kind services.

Western Fair Market

I wanted to mention three business which are participating in the Construction Dollars promotion which reside in the market:

Bread and Roses Books – is an independent used book store. With two locations (storefront is at 870 Dundas Street), they offer contemporary and vintage cookbooks, gardening and crafting books and paper ephemera products.

Fire Roasted Coffee – Home of handcrafted artisan coffee. They have one of Canada’s largest selections of fairtrade whole bean coffee from all around the world, roasting over 35 types of coffee, including 20 single origins, as well as several decaf and specialty blends.

Momo’s at the Market – Momos (pronounced mo-mos) are meat or vegetable filled dumplings originally from Nepal and Tibet. Completely hand made starting with local flour based casings and are filled with chicken, pork or veggie mix. They are serve them with Yam’s tomato, coriander and garlic sauce. They provide catering and take-out options.

From barber shops to vintage stores, cozy cafes to hip bars and restaurants Old East Village has a lot to offer.  Find out What to do in the OEV in #LdnOnt #DIGOEV

Unique Food Attitudes

Although, this small bistro is opened for limited hours during the week, it is well worth a stop or ordering take-out. We opted to have a lunch at home and ordered a soup and sandwich combo. The sandwich was HUGE and we were happy to share it. The roasted red pepper and cauliflower soup was so yummy and also was a sizeable portion. My husband opted for meat perogies and loved them.

Goulash Forest City Cook Book from Unique Food Attitudes owner DIGOEV
Goulash recipe in The Forest City Cookbook

The owner, Barbara Czyz, has been at this location for the last 7 years and has a variety of hot entrees and sandwiches to choose from. I LOVE that she and her chef were featured in the Forest City Cookbook. With three entries in this gigantic tome, she stands should to shoulder with some of London Ontario’s most famous culinary experts. You may want to try her mother’s recipe for Goulash at Unique Food Attitudes before you tackle it in your own kitchen. Just to make sure you get it just right!


Union Ten Distilling

OKAY, so this OEV distillery was THE BOMB! We decided to have pizza and cocktails with the kids (they’re 19, 21 and 24 – so hardly children). We made our way to the back patio, parked the car in the public parking lot (conveniently located right there) and sat at a large picnic table.

For the laid back beach vibe they set the tone with sand on the ground, picnic tables, intimate groupings of Muskoka chairs and even a faux campfire. It was the perfect setting for an early fall outing. To be clear, we were safely social distance from the few other patrons enjoying a light libation in this covered outdoor patio. We had to access Union Ten from the back lot as the front of the house is closed. It is easy enough to access off of Lyle Street.

We came for an early dinner so there was not too much of a crowd but everyone was wearing a mask even though we were outside (I truly appreciated that!). There is also limited indoor seating space apart.

We ordered a few pizzas (which were pretty huge) and are made in their super quick pizza oven (from entering to exit, its all of 90 seconds). We also had a few cocktails featuring their limited edition summer gin series with gin infusions of strawberries, raspberry star anise, grapefruit, watermelon + lime and even black cherry. Like I said, they were THE BOMB!

Union Ten Distilling, owned by the same people that manage Bellemere Winery on Gainsborough Rd. in northwest London, will surprise you. It has a hip, causal esthetic with unique decor (including an old red truck). The industrial look lends itself to great acoustics and host bands, comedy and trivia nights (while adhering to social distancing protocols). They provide hand sanitizer pretty easily because they produced it in-house. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic they switch production from beverages to hand sanitizer to help with the much needed demand in the city. FYI, you can still purchase bottles in their store.

You can also purchase cocktail accessories (think copper moscow mule mugs), branded t-shirts and their very own distilled gin, Apple Jack and vodka beverages. Keep an eye out on Facebook for contests and the launch of their Angry Goose Vodka this fall. There is much to take in and no question about it, we will be back.

I hope you have a better idea of what great businesses are to be found in Old East Village. I hope to bring you a few more posts on the other merchants and services in the OEV. Have a look around, it may surprise you how amazing this close knit community is. I’ll be keeping an eye out for further developments in London’s Dundas Street corridor!

Disclosure: #DIGOEV and @DownshiftingPRO

Stay in the know with Old East Village by following their hashtag #DIGOEV on all their social channels:

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

12 thoughts on “What to do in Old East Village #LdnOnt #DIGOEV”

    • Krista, I’ve been here before but they are making some great improvements. It has a wonderful character about it. Be sure and stop off at Union One Distillery if you are here. It’s so awesome. The pizza was so good!

  1. Those Construction Dollars are a cool idea to get people to explore new businesses! I hope they work because London looks like fun. I’m in the US, but hopefully I can make it here post-pandemic.

    • Once it’s safe to travel, I hope you’ll be able to make it to Canada! I know I miss my occasional trips to the US. But, travel will happen once it’s safe to travel

    • Alanna, at some time we will be able to travel again but for now, we need to keep safe at home. I write because I love writing and appreciate my readers from around the world! Thanks for dropping by.

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