Diversity fuels great spots for decor and dining.
Mid-morning, mid-week, mid- September should be a relatively quiet time for a suburban mall in Markham. Still, a steady flow of traffic snakes in and out of the shopping centre that sits at the corner of Highway 7 and Cochrane Drive.
The image is an apt metaphor for the region’s growth. Markham has been expanding both in terms of population and diversity, having jumped more than 15 per cent between 2006 and 2011, according to Statistics Canada. Over 70 per cent of residents are part of a visible minority, and 58 per cent are immigrants.
It’s fitting that one of the area’s most popular decor stores, the Quebec-based chain Mobilia, is the product of another wave of entrepreneurial immigrants to Canada that followed WWII.
Hans, father of current president Johannes Kau, came to Canada from Germany in 1959. A futile quest for modern furniture for his young family’s Montreal apartment and a well-timed trip to a furniture fair in Stockholm convinced Kau to open his own store.
Now celebrating its 50th year, Mobilia has eight locations across Ontario and Quebec that offer a wide range of transitional and contemporary design, art and accessories. While there are interesting imported lines, such as the made-in-Italy “Convertibles” collection of beds that do double duty for sleep, sitting and storage, Mobilia also shines a well-deserved spotlight on Canadian talent, with the likes of Harricana’s line of ottomans trimmed with recycled fur and handsome lighting from Lambert et Fils.
Most recently, the retailer teamed up with designer Janette Ewen, who worked on a collection inspired by the Roaring Twenties that launched in stores in November 2016. Collaborating with associates at Mobilia and Parker Barrow, the Toronto/L.A. design studio she co-owns with artist and designer, Jef Hancock, Ewen created designs for new textiles, furniture and lighting. The line will include both new pieces and reimagined textiles and colours.
There should be no shortage of local homeowners looking for the kind of chic, timeless pieces that define the collection, as real estate development is booming in the area. One of the most talked-about projects is the ambitious 243-acre “Downtown Markham” development at Warden Avenue and Highway 7 that will combine high-density housing, retail, commercial and other mixed-use structures.
Developed by The Remington Group, and designed by Quadrangle Architects, it will be ready for occupancy in 2018.
If you want to combine a shopping trip with a visit to a restaurant, there are lots of local eateries that reflect the area’s diverse population.
For fans of Indian cooking, there’s Host (670 Highway 7 East), which cooks up fragrant Tandoori dishes and other specialities.
Carnivores will want to try Touro Steakhouse (125 York Boulevard), which offers an impressive buffet-style appetizer bar and a Brazilian-style “tour de carne,” or table-side meat service. If you go, take a look at the delicious decor: it was conceived by R&D regular Glen Peloso.
Both spots are within a five minute drive from Mobilia, or just a few minutes longer on York Region’s state-of-the-art transit system, the centrepiece of which are its super-comfortable, Wi-Fi enabled VIVA buses.