Toronto Walks: Evergreen Brickworks, Day of the Dead

Grief – one usually associates the emotion with isolation, private, inward. Evergreen Brickworks explored Grief in a 2 day special event on Saturday, November 4 called The Good Mourning. It coincided with the Day of the Dead on Sunday the 5th

I have experienced my share of grief through the care of my dogs – both my own and my fosters. It never gets easy. Each precious life, when it leaves, means tears and memories.

The idea for the event was to embrace grief with others in an open, public space if one chose to. To explore how public spaces can help us understand that sense of loss.

I began the tour with our own nation’s grief, a terrible loss that we all shared. Both the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the mass graves at the residential schools were displayed at the entrance.

After tying a ribbon, I head inside the building to the Poetree Forest. Notable Toronto poets have contributed words on the nature of grief. The public is invited to take a “poem leaf” tied to the tree and reflect on its contents. They can also write their own poem and tie it to the tree.

I take my scroll to the Picnic cafe. I don’t have Eve so I sit inside and open my poem. Okay, I have a latte instead of tea but the process is there. I sip and think of my furkids at the Rainbow Bridge – Casper, George, Dante, Dublin, Odin and Raisin.

Another Poetree in the Forest is located outside the cafe as I make my way to the next building. Denial and Depression must be especially difficult to deal with.

A white installation to reflect on different aspects of loss. It recognizes that grief is fundamental to the human experience yet “inadequate support exists for grief persists socially”. I approach the high chair.

A violin to represent the struggle musicians faced during COVID

There was a room setup to make meditation bead work as a path to acceptance. At this point my back pain was starting to get intense so decided to head home and snuggle Eve. I would come back the next day.

I returned on my own on Sunday for the Day of the Dead celebration. The open air building was being utilized with artisans, food trucks and a music stage. There were lots of activities planned. The open air building was pet friendly but I had planned to go into some buildings (including the Mezcal and tequila tasting) which is why I left Eve at home

Headed to the food trucks and decided on a El Cubano grilled sandwich – a ham and cheese melt with spicy mayo. It was okay but should have gone to the taco truck.

Homemade tortilla chips and salsas

I strolled around the artisans booth. Lots of jewelry and Frida Kahlos.

There was a thoughtful art installation that utilized the tunnel like structure of the brick work kiln.

Finally made my way to the Mezcal & Tequila tasting. Tequila comes from Mexico and Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition so it fits. I brought Raisin to be with me – to remember all the good times we had.

A knowledgable bartender made everyone a cocktail that had tequila and coffee. It was served in a container that we got to keep.

Next, some snacks provided by the Mad Mexican food company. I asked about the orange and what I thought was salt. Turns out it wasn’t salt. It was the grounds of the worm found in the mezcal products. But you use it along with the orange slice to cleanse the palette before trying another tasting. There was also samples of salsas with the corn chips. The worm had no taste if you were wondering.

He then did a presentation on how tequila is made. The tequila we had for tasting was from Herradura Distillery. Now, there were two types of tickets – one was $25 for 2 tequilas and 1 mezca. The other was for $50 and included 3 mezcal and 3 tequilas. By the end I was feeling light headed from the 3 samples so I’m glad I didn’t do the 6 shots.

After came a presentation by Mezcal Agua Santa – they made the mezcal. Mezcal can be made from any of the 50 species of Agave plant. But Tequila is a type of mezcal that can only be made from the blue agave plant.

You need to read the label to see if it is 100% Agave. Technically the bottle can only contain 51% to be called tequila. Water, corn syrup, etc can make up the difference. That is why a person can feel so sickly after a night of cheap tequila. 100% Agave will not leave you feeling sick.

The Mezcal Agua Santa maker explained how they put the plants in the ground above the smouldering fire and then layer sacks and dirt on top. The mixture is then put in the still, additional herbs and flavourings are put into a spice bag and put in the still.

After the presentation we were invited to ask questions. The corn chips were gone so Raisin was ready to leave. I got a bottle of the Mezcal Aqua Santa to make margaritas at home.

Raisin and I sat on a bench waiting for the bus. I was feeling the buzz of the tequila and remembering all the times my dogs and I came to this wonderful urban oasis. Grief has long since dissipated into the nurturing ground works.


    • Thank you Inge. I was going to call the post Tequila and Tears because that is what happened. As I was watching the tequila presentation I looked down at the photo of Raisin. It brought me right back to the vet’s office and the day she left me. I started crying and the people next to me noticed. I pointed to Raisin, told them she passed away in August and I missed her so much. We then toasted to the ones we love and sipped out tequila.

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