Patty Day in Little Jamaica

From left: John Tory, Jill Andrews, Giselle Wilson, Mike Colle and Nadine Spencer

When Mayor John Tory went to Little Jamaica to celebrate Patty Day in Toronto in 1985, he had to negotiate some tricky waters after some well-meaning public official tried to change the name of the classic Jamaican pastry to “Caribbean Meat Pocket.” According to Mike Colle, City Councilor for Eglinton—Lawrence, the Jamaican community would have none of it, and said that they were going to sell “Jamaican Patties.” As they say “the rest is history.” Today the patty is a million-dollar industry with bakeries selling millions of patties from coast to coast in Canada and the United States.

Tory said that this is a great way and an opportune time to celebrate the Caribbean and Jamaican specialty, considering that Patty Day falls right at the time when the City is celebrating Black History Month.

The mayor recalled the difficult times we have had of late – transit construction that seems to have gone on forever, and a pandemic that has held us captive for two years and counting.  In recognizing the excellent work done by people like councillor Michael Colle and all the levels of government, Tory added that Little Jamaica is worth preserving, and urged ongoing support for black business owners. He encouraged the community entrepreneurs to buy real estate and be landlords as well.

Councillor Cole said that Little Jamaica is coming back, thanks to organizations like the BBPA which has set up an office in the heart of the small historical Caribbean neighbourhood. “New businesses are opening up like the new Jamaican pizza place plus another Caribbean eatery. This is a clear sign that things are on the upswing and a victory for the Jamaican-Canadian community.”

“You know they tried to stop the sale of patties in 1985; they said they couldn’t sell patties [under that name since the name was already being used for the meat in the hamburger sandwich]. But the Jamaican Community stood up and said ‘no we are going to sell the Jamaican patties here in Toronto’, and that is what we are celebrating today.”