THE GOODS | #003–FW15
Name: Carlos Fernandes (@theduarte)
Occupation: Co-owner of Churchill Bar
Carlos Fernandes was born and raised in Toronto. That position has allowed him a certain privilege, from which he has seen neighbourhoods evolve and patrons come and go from his various roles within the bar industry. At the end of his tenure as manager of The Beaconsfield, Carlos went on to co-pilot what was to be a series of pop-up shops entitled Solid Citizen. When that was cut short he moved into building a business with friends as co-owner and manager of the Dundas West staple, Churchill. “I’m good at getting people to the bar,” a common denominator at both Beaconsfield and Churchill, Carlos has a track record of generating undeniable appeal amongst the young creative crowd of the West end. Although the nature of bar-goers have stayed the same throughout the years, “People still want free shit, people still want to feel special,” the city has changed drastically from the Toronto that Carlos grew up in.
We stood at the base of Draper, a street with a poignant heritage all its own (and multiple websites devoted to documenting and preserving it), overlooking Lakeshore as the condos of City Place et. al. loomed overhead. “That’s not really Toronto,” he said with a nod in the condos’ direction and he’s right, to an extent. Geographically and socially high-rise condo buildings are worlds away from the Toronto that Carlos lives in but they are, nevertheless, a very real part of the ecosystem of the city. In perhaps a subconscious resistance to the inevitable gentrification happening around him Carlos started photographing "The Regulars", as a personal project that soon became very public. Just as it sounds, "The Regulars" profiled 282 regulars to Churchill in a pair of portraits taken before and after throwing back a potent tequila, tabasco and oil of oregano shot. And for the most part, the “after” portraits are just as rough as you would expect. After being whittled down to just under 200, the portraits are now set to be printed and displayed for a book and gallery show, respectively, in the near future.
“I don’t even know anyone who lives there,” Carlos scoffed while observing the skyline of high-rises populating Spadina and Fort York. Then he reconsidered, “Actually, you know what, I probably do,” and most of us would as well. The ebb and flow of residents both new and old in an urban area is just the nature of the beast, and an unavoidable social phenomenon. The never-ending battle of old against new, community versus corporate wages on. And, ironically, the small pockets of tight-knit community, not unlike Carlos’ motley crew of regulars, are woven closer out of self-preservation and in a sigh-inducing Catch-22 they, too, are a product of the circumstance and would not exist without it.
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