What a Blast!

1 good - IMG_2387_reduced

Video and photograph by Lon Appleby

On Saturday April 18, Repair Café returned to one of our favourite locations, the Toronto Reference Library (TRL). We arrived early in the morning to set up with Dawn at TRL and it wasn’t long before Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium was transformed into a Repair Café space functioning as a repair workshop that offered a variety of repair stations as well as a cafe for people to relax with a coffee and chat with each other.

An hour before we opened, a lineup of people with items to repair had already formed. Our team of general volunteers were busy receiving the visitors and directing them to their fixers. A big shout out to our general volunteers who helped make every visitor feel welcome and kept the flow of visitors in good order! They serve as the “needles” that weave the “threads” of the Café’s fabric together. They include the “greeters” at Registration, the “guides” who put visitors into queues and bring them to their fixers, as well as the photographers and social media volunteers who capture the happy moments when the items are fixed and promote the event through social media. The general volunteers also include those who set up and look after the snack table and deliver the pizza lunch.

Over the course of four hours, our team of 30 dedicated fixers met with a constant stream of visitors who brought in a variety of household items, from laptops and lamps to jeans and necklaces. Our book fixers repaired a few books, including a 1951 atlas. You can see the video above to learn about how our Andy and Faith mended the special book. More event photos will be available on our Facebook page soon.

This April Café was a blast. You could feel the positive energy from everyone. We had an excellent turnout of visitors who came from local neighbourhoods and outside the City of Toronto. To our terrific team of fixers and general volunteers, we cannot thank them enough for their enthusiasm, generosity and professionalism!

We would like to thank the Toronto Reference Library for their continued support in providing us with an uplifting space where broken items have been given new lives and diverted from landfill. Through our collaboration, we have shown our shared commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community.

And of course we thank our sponsors, Balzac’s Coffee and Frank’s Pizza, for their longstanding support. And a special thank you to Humewood Coffee Group and the volunteers and visitors who donated the delicious snacks.

Next month will be our second anniversary! We will be back at Skills for Change on May 23 for the 22nd monthly Café. This special Café will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be followed by a BBQ celebration party with our volunteers and guests. For details, please refer to the Upcoming Events page.

We are looking for volunteers of all kinds, including general volunteers, graphic designers and fixers. We are also looking for sponsors. If you are interested, please contact us at info@repaircafeotonronto.ca.

The Repair Café Hits Another Record!

wooden blinds correct

Video and photograph by Lon Appleby

Alex on white board_correct

hands working together_reduced

Bennetts station_correct

Photograph by Heather Ramsay and Lon Appleby

On March 21, we were back at Skills for Change in the St. Clair West neighbourhood. We hit a record high number of visitors this time! The first visitor arrived with a broken blender an hour before we opened. Another followed shortly after with baked snacks made by his wife, and so it went. By the time our doors were open, the seats along the walls around the fixers were filled with people from the neighbourhood and beyond, clutching their items and chatting with each other on a warm Saturday morning.

Many thanks to our fixers and volunteers, who were busy throughout the four hours. We were glad to have a list of people signing up to volunteer. Two visitors even rolled up their sleeves to start volunteering as fixers when they saw that we needed more hands to help.

Once again, our fixers worked their magic and repaired all kinds of interesting items, including the wooden blinds showed in the video above. For more event photos, please visit our Facebook page.

We would like to thank our sponsors, Skills for Change and Frank’s Pizza House, for your generous donations. A big thanks to our wonderful bakers Humewood Coffee Group.

Don’t miss our next Repair Café on April 18. We’ll be at Toronto Reference Library. For details, please visit the Upcoming Events page.

Repair Café at HackLab – Awesome Collaboration!

Video by Lon Appleby

Our monthly Repair Café on February 21 was a Saturday that started with heavy snow. But the broken streetcars and slow traffic didn’t hamper the enthusiasm of our volunteers and visitors. Within half an hour, the HackLab was filled with people. This short video above was taken when we were half way into this four-hour event. You can get a sense of the action yourself just by watching it!

Below is a small sample of the many positive comments we received about our collaboration at the Repair Café.

“I knew it was going to be great. But this (event) was even better than I expected!” said Alex, who volunteered for the first time as a guide.

“I fixed this vacuum cleaner, which had presented a tough problem, but was solved by multiple heads and hands!” said John, our appliance fixer, who brought his brother to volunteer for this café.

“Today’s café was in a smaller space. But I needed and got a specialized electronic part for testing from the HackLab which wouldn’t be available in an ordinary location,” said Paul, an electronics fixer.

“I learned new things from talking to other fixers while working on the laptop together.” smiled Derek, a first-time volunteer, who is a computer professional.

Our dedicated team of fixers worked hard in helping our many visitors. The following photo was taken an hour after the event. Our fixers and HackLab were still working together on a motherboard!

 Collaboration at HackLab

Fixing a motherboard

We are thankful for the continued support of our wonderful volunteers. It is great to have new volunteers joining our team. We are also grateful to have our long-time volunteers who have been helping the Repair Café since our early days in 2013. They are the true enduring force behind the success of each Repair Café. Below are Robert and Judy, two of the amazing volunteers we are lucky to have.

Robert and Judy

Many thanks to our host and collaborator HackLab for the terrific space and snacks and most importantly for sharing your great creativity with our team. We would like to thank Frank’s Pizza House for your generous donation of pizzas and also Humewood Coffee Group and Rustic Cosmo Café for your wonderful baked goods.

If you missed the February Repair Café, our next one is March 21. We will be back at Skills for Change. Please refer to the Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you there!



Highest Number of Volunteers

wide shot

hand shake


Photograph by Lon Appleby

It seems that with every Repair Café, we reach another milestone. On January 17, the first Repair Café this year, we occupied the largest number of rooms at Skills for Change. Also, we had the highest number of volunteers showing up and helping out for the day.

This time, we had four rooms: one used for registration, one for appliance and household repairs, one for clothes and jewellery repairs, and the fourth one for computer and book repairs. We were so full that our photo booth had to be set up in a hallway to free up space for the repair stations!

We had 49 volunteers for this café, including 33 fixers, 3 apprentices, and other volunteers who provided general support from welcoming visitors to taking photos. We had both old and new volunteers, and more people signing up as volunteers. A big thanks to all the volunteers!  Numerous visitors came to us saying that the Repair Café was really a fantastic idea and that our volunteers were very helpful and kind. One of our visitors named Lecia brought a broken microwave oven and she told us her Repair Café experience in this one and a half minute video.

buttons 1_good

Buttons Design by Marie Minas         Photograph by Lon Appleby

We would like to thank Skills for Change for providing the wonderful space for us.
As well, we sincerely thank Bakers of Humewood Coffee Group who made the delicious snacks for everyone!

We will be back at Skills for Change in March. Don’t miss February’s café at
HackLab. It will be held on February 21, from 12 noon to 4 pm. For details, please go to Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you there!

button and card cropped

Photograph by Jung-Hee Ban

Repair Café – 1,200 Visitors Later

2014 year end team photoPhotograph by Heather Ramsay

November 22 was our last Repair Café of the year. We had one of the highest turnouts of both volunteers and visitors, and once again our terrific volunteers made it another successful event. Thank you for a great 2014!

Above is our team photo taken after the November event. More event photos have been posted on our Facebook page and you can really feel the “Repair Café energy” that people tell us they love about the events. As well, a new Video section has just been added to our website. You can meet a few of our fixers and learn about the experiences of our visitors.

When a small group of us started the first repair café in Toronto a year and a half ago, we asked ourselves: Will we be able to find enough volunteers to spend their weekend helping others fix broken items? Will people be interested in repairing? Will the initial enthusiasm die down?

Well, a year and a half later, any doubts we had are now replaced by a growing certainty that we have launched something very special and important for the city. We have achieved some significant results we can all be proud of:

  • Established a team of volunteers with 52 active members
  • Offered 17 monthly repair cafes in 5 various neighbourhoods
  • Delivered 3 repair workshops in different locations
  • Extended the life of more than 1,000 household items, diverting them from landfill
  • Taught more than 1,200 people to repair their broken items
  • Gained support from 13 community organizations and businesses
  • Offered the first “How to Start a Repair Café” workshop
  • Helped launch repair cafés in four other locations in Canada

The facts speak for themselves. There is a proven desire in our city to change the throwaway mindset. We are helping to build Toronto as a sustainable city by reducing needless waste, empowering people to learn and use repair skills, and fostering a caring community through personal actions.

We have been delighted to collaborate with many local organizations and businesses, and we thank our volunteers for their kindness, generosity and professionalism.  We are grateful to all our sponsors: Skills for Change, Toronto Public Library, Frank’s Pizza House, Noir Coffee and Tea, Toronto Tool Library, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Starbucks, Circles and Squares Bakery, Pizza Pizza, So Much Into Cup Cakes, Leah’s, Toronto Clothing Repairathon, and Danforth East Community Association.

A big thanks to other supporting organizations and individuals for their help in spreading the word! And of course we thank all the visitors who brought us their repair challenges and filled our donation box.

In this new year, the Repair Café is looking forward to reaching out to more neighbourhoods, and we are planning other events as well. To receive news on the latest events, you are welcome to join our mailing list by entering your name and email address in the form on the right of the home page. You can also become part of the repair café movement by joining our volunteer team or sponsoring our cafés. We can be reached by email at info@repaircafetoronto.ca. Our next café is on January 17 at Skills for Change. Hope to see you there.

Happy New Year!

Wherever We Go…

All about paper_small

2_father and daughter_small

3_jacket zipper


 5 wideshot_cupcakes 3_small

No matter where we go, Repair Café always connects with the community. On October 18, we went east to Cedarbrae Public Library in Scarborough. And we saw parents, we saw children, we saw elderly people, students, and people from all walks of life, who stopped by with everything from computer hard drives and radios to jackets and books. The diversity of Scarborough was well represented. Once again, the success of the event was the result of a group of great volunteers coming together who want to help others gain repair skills. Thank you, everyone – greeters, fixers, bakers, photographers, and the visitors who filled the donation box! For more event photos, please visit our Facebook page.

We would also like to thank the Cedarbrae Public Library for giving us their space and for their wonderful support for this event. A big thank you to the generosity of our sponsors: So Into Cupcakes, Pizza Pizza and Noir Coffee and Tea.

Our next Repair Café is on November 22. This will also be the last one this year. We will be back to our base at Skills for Change. For details, please refer to the Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you there!

The Repair Café Effect


The Repair Café on September 13 brought many first time and returning visitors despite the drizzling weather. The first visitor, Tony Chug, showed up an hour early. When he saw us setting up, he enthusiastically lent us his helping hand, and an hour and a half later, he left smiling with his lamp fixed and offered to volunteer when we return to Skills for Change November 22.

Tony’s response was one of the many moments that encourage us to keep growing the Repair Café in Toronto. We feel the tremendous support from the people who have experienced “the repair café effect”, and through our volunteer work in the last year or so, we are more certain than ever that our core value of “neighbours helping neighbours” is shared by many in the city. Repair Café Toronto’s main goals of preventing needless waste, sharing repair skills, and bringing our diverse community together, are being realized in more repair cafés throughout the city!

Here’s an article, for example, that recently appeared in The Varsity, the University of Toronto campus newspaper. It was written by a visitor to September’s repair café, Joseph Ianni, and explains well what we mean by the repair café effect.  Below is an excerpt from his piece.

“… as the morning carried on, I noticed how diverse the group became. Experts on items varied in age and background, and so did those coming with broken items to be mended. As I waited for an expert of my own, I watched as Sam, a young boy, helped a middle-aged man repair his old radio, while an elderly man assisted a young Russian woman with her laptop.”

Click here for the full article.

We would like to thank the generous contributions of our event sponsors Skills for Change, Frank’s Pizza House and Noir Coffee and Tea. As well, a sincere thanks to the terrific volunteers for their wonderful support. Event photos will be posted on our Facebook page.

Our next Repair Café on October 18 will be held at the Cedarbrae Branch of the Toronto Public Library in Scarborough. If you are a fixer and would like to help out, we’d love to hear from you. If you have a broken household item, you are very welcome to bring it to Cedarbrae Public Library on October 18. We will be open from 12 to 4 p.m. For details, please go to the Upcoming Events page.

Are you interested in starting a repair café in your neighbourhood? Don’t miss this free workshop “How to Start a Repair Café” on October 25. Repair Café Toronto will share our experience with you and break it down on what it involves. The workshop will be held at Skills for Change from 12:30 to 2:30 pm. Please sign up on our home page.

The Most Successful Repair Café Yet!

great wide shot_small_257

Once again we broke more records at the Repair Café in terms of number of visitors and items fixed. We were invited back by the Toronto Reference Library on August 9 and this time there were visitors waiting 20 minutes before the Café opened. One hundred and nine items were seen, 77 per cent of them were fixed completely, and 13 per cent were fixed partly with specific advice given to the visitors.

great greeting REDUCE_258

Once again, our amazing team of fixers stepped up: Aaron, Andy, Erich, Giles, Jung-Hee, Mike, Miriam, Monica, Nat, Paul  Magder, Paul Wilson, Phil, Rachael, Renae, Samuel, Sue, Teresa, Tim and Young. Not only did they get things fixed, but they did not give up no matter how difficult the challenge was. We will post some videos on the their work shortly.

Our awesome volunteers greeted and guided visitors: Bev, Judy, Mary, Robert, Alice, Fern, Jason, Robin. And we had our photographers and videographer on board, Heather, Kavita, and Lon.

Of course, our success also came from our sponsors of this August event: Toronto Reference Library, Balzac’s Coffee Roaster and Circles and Squares Bakery.

circles and squares_small_260


Repair Café Toronto is offering a Repair Café Startup Workshop on October 25 at Skills for Change (791 St Clair West, Toronto) to share our experience in organizing repair cafés. We have been receiving a lot of positive response and we hope to help other people to set up new repair cafés in their own neighbourhoods. If you are interested in starting one, please fill in the simple form to the right and we will be in touch.

The Repair Café is looking for new fixers of all kinds as we continue to grow. If you are interested in joining our fixer team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

The Repair Café is also looking for a Marketing and Communication Specialist. This is a volunteer position. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to promote this innovative sustainability movement in Toronto as well as work with a great team of like-minded people in building a caring and green community in our neighbourhoods. If you have the relevant expertise and would like to help grow the Repair Café, please contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

For the next Repair Café September 13, we will be returning to our base Skills for Change on St. Clair West. Details about this event are available on Upcoming Events page.


Come Join the Repair Café – New Volunteers are Welcome!

good 1_IMG_0576_reduced

good 2_IMG_0571_reduced

good 3_IMG_0562_reduced

good 4_IMG_0560_reduced

good 5_IMG_0549_reduced

good 6_IMG_0563_reduced

good 7_IMG_0537_reduced

On July 12, we had another successful Repair Café at Skills for Change. It was wonderful to have new volunteers joining our fixer team. Samuel, one of our new fixers, who is also our youngest fixer (15 years old!), told us that he joined the Repair Café for the learning experience and for the environment. At this café, he fixed everything from a toaster to an electric oven. Samuel is terrific, a natural fixer and leader, and we’d love to have more young fixers like him joining us, they are the next generation!

Max, our bike fixer who just recently joined us was busy with fixing bikes at the station set up in front of the building. Another new fixer, Paul, came to the Repair Cafe as a visitor at the North York Central Library in June and this time returned as a fixer specialized in household appliances and computers. He enjoyed the hands-on challenge in bringing broken objects back to life. It’s great to have Max and Paul on board sharing their knowledge and skills, and their joy in helping others!

We would like to thank all the new and returning visitors for their support and feedback. Please continue to help spread the magic of the Repair Café!

As well, many thanks to our sponsors, Skills for Change, Frank’s Pizza and Noir Coffee and Tea, for their generous support!

The Repair Café is looking for new fixers of all kinds as we continue to grow. If you are interested in joining our amazing fixer team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

The Repair Café is also looking for a Marketing and Communication Specialist. This is a volunteer position. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to promote this innovative sustainability movement in Toronto as well as work with a great team of like-minded people in building a caring and green community in our neighbourhoods. If you have the relevant expertise and would like to help grow the Repair Café, please contact us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

For the next Repair Café August 9, we will be returning to Toronto Reference Library at Bloor and Yonge. Details about this event is available on Upcoming Events page.

Repair Café continues to reach out to different neighbourhoods

# 1 NYCL entrance photo

# 2 NYCL




# 6 NYCL

On Saturday, June 14, the Repair Café visited a new neighbourhood – North York. Our team of volunteers, who travelled from different parts of Toronto and outside the city, gathered at the North York Central Library with their toolkits to help the visitors fix their household items, including computers and electronics, small appliances, clothes, jewellery and books. We also had a new 3D printing fixer joining us this month. Once again, there was a great turnout of visitors!

We would like to thank our volunteers for their enthusiastic support, and a huge thank you to our partner Toronto Reference Library – North York Branch and to Starbucks for providing coffee for the day.

We were asked by many when and where the next Repair Café would be. The times and locations of the upcoming monthly repair cafés are now listed on the right column of our home page. This year, we have been offering the Repair Café once every two months at our base, Skills for Change, in the St. Clair West neighbourhood, and in every other month a different area of the city. The neighbourhoods we have visited so far include Yonge and Bloor, Danforth East and North York, and in October, Scarborough!

Repair Café Toronto is offering a Repair Café Startup Workshop in the Fall to share our experience in organizing repair cafés. We have been receiving a lot of positive response and we hope to see new repair cafés being set up by local groups in different neighbourhoods. If you are interested in starting one, please fill in the simple form to the right and we will be in touch.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Repair Café or sponsoring the Repair Café, please Contact us or email us at info@repaircafetoronto.ca.

Don’t miss our latest photo albums of the portraits of visitors and fixers with their “Fixed” items. They are available on our Facebook page. Many thanks to our photographer Heather!