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Hogtown Stories is a series of portraits and short stories about Torontonians by Jeremy Korn, a photographer and urban planner. Find more photos of Lea-Ann and past stories at hogtownstories.com.

I grew up in Lambeth, Ont.. Just outside of London. It was a small place, with only one stoplight. But my family is from Toronto. They lived near Dundas and Broadview.

I used to hear stories about Riverdale. My uncle always liked to go tobogganing at Riverdale Park. One time, when he was a kid, he was run over by a bobsled. And my dad wiped out at Dundas and Broadview on his Harley. I guess I thought it must have been a dangerous place!

Since my dad was a painter, art was always important in my family. I was always interested in painting, drawing and making things. I went to art school, but got a bit disillusioned with that. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

I still wanted to do something that was creative, so I decided to study fashion design in Toronto.

When I graduated, my brother’s fiancée asked me to design her wedding gown. I’ve been a bridal designer ever since, and now I live in the neighbourhood where my family grew up, and my shop is right at Dundas and Broadview.

I remember driving by the building when it was an old coffee shop. It was a little bit run down, but had a great deal of architectural merit. There was a broken clock above the door. It always said it was seven o’clock.

Every time I drove by, I remember thinking that someone should buy the building and fix the clock. But I never actually thought it would be me.

Since then, lots of new, interesting shops have opened around here. I’m excited to see how the neighbourhood will continue to change.

Lea-Ann Belter is a bridal designer in Toronto.

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