Joel was born and raised in downtown Toronto before moving to Vancouver for university. He worked 8 years with youth and people with special needs meanwhile staying involved in his passion for the arts on the side. Working hobby jobs in photography, and artist promotion for his site CanadianTalentFarm.Com, led him to discover the site VancouverIsAwesome.Com where he became the hip-hop & electronic music editor and founder of The Bassment Series. After a year of writing for VIA Joel decided he wanted to head back to his hometown but wanted to continue what he was doing on a grander scale. So became the planning for TorontoIsAwesome.Com. Ten months later we launched on June 15th, 2012 with Joel Levy as Owner and Managing Editor.
Aaron is a native of Auckland, New Zealand who moved to Toronto because it’s AWESOME. Most evenings he can be found in various venues/dives across the city doing stand-up comedy. He studied philosophy and biological anthropology at the University of Auckland, two subjects he still spends a lot of time reading on.
While not a dog himself, Chris O’Keefe—or “man’s best friend’s best friend” as he is sometimes referred to—is a lover of all animals, great and small (and of course some medium ones, too).
After a lifetime of dog ownership (back in the days when such a thing was still legal) Chris entered the fast-paced and exciting industry of canine retail management at the tender age of 27, taking helm of the High Park location of the luxury Canadian dog boutique store, Bark & Fitz.
Now in 2012, Chris is actively attempting to open his own dogstuffs Mecca named Fetch: Your Dog Store, which is surely to be a Toronto retailer that’s both an educational and social hub for the local canine community.
When not skulking the streets and parks of Toronto in search of steezy pups to photograph, Chris likes to DJ, read, draw, paint and sleep, but not in that order.
Favourite Food: Hot dogs
Favourite Artist: Snoop Dogg
Favourite Song: ‘Atomic Dog’ by George Clinton
Favourite TV Personality: Santa’s Little Helper (The Simpsons)
And don’t forget to follow your Dogtown boy’s alter-egos on the rest of the information superhighway here: @forwunsicks | @FetchOnBloor
Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog.
Dragos is a recent English graduate of the University of Toronto, and a current Journalism student at George Brown. After moving to Toronto when he was 10 years old, he spent his teenage years consuming not only unusually large doses of sour watermelons, but of Pop Culture and Sports as well. Years later, he is taking his love of Toronto sports, mixing it with such skills as being able to quote several parts of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet”, and turning pro.
Freddie is singer/songwriter for The Autumn Portrait and an avid music fan. Currently living in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy, this Vancouver import can usually be found along College St. at one of the many amazing cafes, restaurants, or record shops the area has to offer. Along with being a musician and a writer, Freddie has a degree in Marketing as well as records, produces and manages other artists. He is also a booking manager at a local music venue here in Toronto. Discovering new music is one Freddie’s favourite things and he is actively involved in the music community. Feel free to contact Freddie at:
Twitter: @TIA_SceneHeard | email@example.com
Matt Vernhout is a Digital Marketing Professional and Author working for Canada’s largest publishing company where he leads a team dedicated to privacy and marketing best practices. Matt calls on over a decade of experience when writing at EmailKarma.net where he shares industy information, tactics and trends that range from Marketing via Social Media, Email and Marketing related leglislation. In his spare time Matt writes about video gaming and entertainment industries at Feed Your Console.
Author Bio Coming Soon.
Ruby Fay Wray was born and raised in Toronto and clearly appreciates the breadth of Toronto’s awesomeness. Creative in all her pursuits, her passions include acting, music and writing. As a lifelong vegetarian she strives to relay her ecological message by being a conscious consumer and environmental activist. Fashion and style have always been important to the upcoming actress who describes her style as classic. She currently attends Ryerson University, where she majors in English.
Aptly described as a “compact fireball” (La Scena Musicale), violinist Sharon Lee gave her concerto debut at the age of ten with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra. Sharon was invited to join the studio of the late Lorand Fenyves at sixteen, and was honoured to perform as his last pupil at his memorial concert. Having caged herself in a practice room for most of undergrad, Sharon earned opportunities to perform in Carnegie Hall, and as a soloist with the Banff Festival Chamber Orchestra, Korean-Canadian Orchestra, among others. Sharon briefly dipped her toe into the professional orchestral world as Principal Second Violin of the Thunder Bay Symphony, but, finding Thunder Bay too cold to sustain human life, took the first flight back to Toronto at the end of her contract.
Sharon’s biggest love, however, was the string quartet medium- she devoted her late teens and early twenties to the creation and development of several string quartets. Her dedication to chamber music earned her the Ontario Arts Council’s Orford String Quartet Scholarship, University of Toronto’s Felix Galimir Chamber Music Award, and the CBC’s Galaxie Rising Star award. The last of these quartets Sharon helped develope was the Cecilia Quartet, with whom she earned a wide variety of quotes ranging from “A strong fencing partner” (Montreal Gazette) to “that violinist- she has to start listening to her sound! The violin is going to be in two halves if she continues to hack it like that” (Marco van Pagee, Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Nowadays, she most certainly enjoys hacking it like that with her Yamaha sponsored electric rock string quartet ‘deVah,’ with whom she has broken two bows mid-practice (www.devahquartet.com).
Sharon is also the Violin Program Facilitator for Axis Music, a program providing tuition-free music lessons to children in Toronto Community Housing, as well as violinist of the new music ensemble Toy Piano Composers Ensemble. Sharon had her first essay published when she was seventeen, and is excited to be writing for torontoisawesome.com.
Shauna Trainor is a native Torontonian and passionate about community development, social responsibility and positive change. She has love for travel, learning, food and fun. Toronto is awesome for Shauna because of its growing diversity of people, places and events. Follow her @ShaunaTrainor or @ReDefiningTO to learn more about the great things going on in Toronto and beyond in the areas of social responsibility, positive change and innovation. If you know any great people, projects, programs or places you think we should showcase, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberley studied journalism in her hometown of Calgary before moving to Toronto and discovering its AWESOMENESS! She’ll probably never move back (but don’t tell her parents). She’s had articles published in an array of magazines out west (Metro, BeatRoute, New Home Living and Condo Living to name a few) and with topics ranging from music to fashion to home decorating. As a long time yoga lover and group fitness instructor, Kimberley is a bit of a health nut. Join her as she explores Toronto’s awesome health and wellness communities.
Timothy Ellis is a professional writer, raver, and rabble-rouser. He’s an American transplant who moved to Toronto for love and music, and found both in great quantities. You can find him at music events all over the world, but no matter where he may be, his heart is always in Toronto.
Chantelle is a freelance writer who dabbles rather heavily videography and video editing. She is happiest when immersed in a book or film on a full stomach and when discovering new neighbourhoods in Toronto. She also loves starting off her day with a bucket of coffee and a great conversation. Chantelle hopes her love affair with this (awesome) city never ceases.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a full-time event planner and part-time food blogger in Toronto, also writing for Fat Girl Food Squad, Little Red Umbrella and Pink Mafia. She enjoys random adventure, has a huge case of wanderlust, drinks Jameson whiskey like water, worships drag queens, listens to all hip hop everything, and has an affinity for all things nerd. You can follow her (boring) adventures through Instagram and Twitter: @amapod
Marie van Zeyl
Marie began writing for Toronto Is Awesome to share her love for the arts community in Toronto. Marie is an admirer of the geniuses Gustav Klimt, Olaf Breuning, and Robert Montgomery and enjoys travelling the world to discover new artists. Marie has an unquenchable appetite for learning about anything art related, holding an Art History degree from the University of Toronto. Follow Marie on Twitter @MarievanZeyl or contact her at email@example.com.