@parkdalelife has donated its account and following to the Parkdale Community Food Bank
One of Toronto’s most beloved Instagram accounts has handed over its handle.
As of October 31, Parkdale Life can no longer be found at @parkdalelife. After five years, the anonymous, semi-satirical neighbourhood account donated its handle and followers to the Parkdale Community Food Bank.
You can still find the full archives of Parkdale Life at @parkdalefoodbank if you scroll back, but the account is now full dedicated to the food bank. And, on Instagram at least, Parkdale Life has retired.
View this post on Instagram
Hi! It’s time for me to say goodbye. Thank you all so much who’ve supported this little account since 2015(!) it’s been just a joy to make you all laugh and get a bit more engaged in community stuff and I hope you’ve had fun! . I’m passing this page onto the Parkdale Community Food Bank. I hope you will continue following! Since the beginning of this account and with your help we’ve raised over 5 thousand dollars for our local food bank. I truly believe in its mission to bring food to those who need it. The Parkdale Community Food Bank is 100% donation supported and serves thousands in our community. They’re gonna be taking over throughout next week. . If you want to stay in touch feel free to follow me on Twitter, be my friend on goodreads or email me (email@example.com) sign up to my substack (I promise to have a newsletter out soon) or say hi if you see me in the neighborhood. As a parting message, I’ll be putting up in highlights my top favorite posts from throughout the years and have saved in the feed some more of my faves! ❤️ Illustration: @danixlim
“I had always been involved in fundraising for the food bank, so it felt like a natural idea,” says the person behind Parkdale Life, who, as always, is choosing to remain anonymous to keep the focus on the neighbourhood rather than a specific personality.
“I’m currently on the board of the food bank as well, so I can vouch for the fact that it’s truly an amazing organization that helps a LOT of people in the community,” they continue in an email.
“The food bank is open four days a week and serves over 3,000 clients a month. These people include families, the elderly and people living in many different housing situations all over the neighbourhood. They don’t turn anyone away.
“During COVID they also started and expanded a delivery program where volunteers deliver food to seniors, immuno-compromised people and others who aren’t able to access the food bank normally.”
View this post on Instagram
Hi Parkdale community! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to move into this space! We hope you are as excited as we are to following along with our mission & work towards eliminating food insecurity in our community ? I know many of you are already following & supporting us! Thank you! Last week we posted about our empty shelves and all of you rallied together to fill them up. Our exploding warehouse is all thanks to your support! For the rest of today, I’m going to show you all around the food bank & hopefully answer any questions you guys have for us as well!! Thank you for welcoming us. ??
It’s strange to think of social media clout as something that can be donated, but it makes a lot of sense. Parkdale Life had a dedicated community of over 50,000 followers who’d follow their unvarnished and often very funny look at the neighbourhood, and the account owner is hoping they carry over to the food bank.
Parkdale Life seemed to “get” Toronto in a way that many similar accounts didn’t, celebrating the neighbourhood’s characters, like Fernando “Parkdale’s dancing guy,” without feeling patronizing or condescending or stigmatizing like poverty porn.
They went locally viral a number of times, including a recent BDSM scene on the floor of the King and Dufferin McDonald’s. The account owner says they also particularly loved the leitmotif of people feeding pigeons “full meals… [like] spaghetti, sandwiches, meatloaf.”
Parkdale Life had plenty of local influence but it never felt like an “influencer” account. In fact, influencer culture was one of its primary targets, often poking fun at online media’s endless “Toronto’s best [blank]” lists, lifestyle journalism, condo ads, tech startups like Bunz Trading Zone, long lines for souped-up brunch places and corporate co-opting of youth culture.
After having instant success with Parkdale Life t-shirts modelled on the anti-branding branding of No Frills, they were even approached by Loblaws’ marketing team, who ended up developing a ubiquitous No Frills advertising campaign shortly after. Parkdale Life didn’t take any money, but did solicit a donation from the grocery corporation to the Parkdale Food Bank.
Activism was always a part of Parkdale Life. They were vocal about food security and tenants’ rights and anti-gentrification, issues that are extremely important in that neighbourhood. The account teamed up with Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust in 2018 to oppose the attempted rebranding of Parkdale to “Vegandale” by the 5700 Inc., a vegan restaurant group that aggressively expanded on Queen West.
More than anything else, though, it was a nice little slice of online community where people could have a little fun and celebrate one of the city’s best and strangest areas.
“My primary goal was always to bring a little joy and happiness and humour to people, no ads, no sponsored content, and to make everyone feel that Parkdale is a special place, a community where people really care about each other, and I hope that’s what people remember,” they say. “I also hope that as a result of the account people feel more connected to their community, proud of their neighbours and a bit more engaged.”
Though the Instagram account’s days are over, Parkdale Life isn’t totally disappearing. You can still find them on Twitter, where their posts carry the same caustic sense of humour without as many memes. And the Parkdale Life Substack email newsletter – where they’ve written about the mismanaging of the TTC, hipster dive bar facadism and cronut burgers – will also be back soon.