Presenting: Christina Zeidler: Hotelier, Social Entrepreneur, Artist and Urban Visionary

The second floor of the hotel offers multi-use spaces that provide a unique backdrop for receptions, exhibitions and conferences. A beautiful Victorian balcony adds to the uniqueness of this location. Ten rooms are available as meeting spaces with reasonable rental rates and nine of these rooms are available as affordable short-term studio work spaces for artists.

The main floor of the Gladstone houses the Melody Bar which features a late 1940s Deco design and provides nightly entertainment including live music, open mic nights and karaoke. The Gladstone Hotel is also one of the venues for the Toronto Jazz Festival, one of the many music and arts events that are being held at this historic hotel. The Ballroom Café on the west side of the building is a great spot to enjoy coffee or a light lunch sitting at a table in front of the tall picture windows where you can see the world pass by on Queen Street. Weekends also feature a tasty brunch menu. The Ballroom itself is the Gladstone’s largest event space and can be rented for special events. One of the most unique architectural features at the Gladstone Hotel is the hand-operated elevator, one of the last such devices operating in Toronto, which adds a crowning touch to the historic feel of this unique property.

But Christina hasn’t always been involved in the hotel management business. She is actually an artist and film-maker by profession. Christina gave me a DVD with samples of some of her short films and Christina’s off-beat creativity comes to light quickly in the flickering, gritty, often hand-coloured images of her short films. Her film clips reveal a playful, irreverent yet sensitive personality that is underscored by some of her soulful narration in these pieces. A eulogy about her dog Mica reveals a touching sense of vulnerability and affection. As an artist, Christina believes in a hands-on philosophy of “do it yourself” and her love of the arts manifests itself in the heavy focus on artistic offerings at the Gladstone.

Scene in front of the Parkdale Recreation Centre: “A Living Room for 1000s”

The surrounding Parkdale neighbourhood is a key ingredient in the success of the Gladstone Hotel. Traditionally one of Toronto’s poorer neighbourhoods, it has historically faced a variety of problems including drug dealing and prostitution. Today Parkdale is a neighbourhood in transition that is undergoing gentrification and an increasing influx of artists and creative entrepreneurs. At the same time some of the historic problems are still being dealt with. At the Gladstone Hotel this environment is not whitewashed, hidden or swept under the rug. Christina says “Let’s bring in the people. The Gladstone is authentic, we are not trying to be someplace else”.

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