Contributed by J. Wright. You likely recognize Cabbagetown Carpentry signs from the lawns of many beautiful Cabbagetown homes. Johnny Pearl, carpenter, musician and contractor, has renovated and restored hundreds of our Victorian era houses over the years.
21 years ago Johnny moved to Cabbagetown from a cabin on Moira Lake where the winters where cold and long and the bullfrogs always trumpet in the spring. No stranger to the music festival circuit with musical partner & old friend, Barry McMullen who convinced him to move to Toronto to pursue music. Johnny had won Artist of the Year from Chum FM/CKPT Radio and the New Talent Demo Award from FACTOR and performed in just about every town in Ontario, South Carolina to Nashville and even toured Ireland. The Winnipeg Blues Revue wrote “Johnny Pearl has concentrated on his music with vim and vigor and the end product is solid and delicious”.
“When I first moved to Cabbagetown, I found it was pretty difficult to make a living performing live music mainly because I didn’t have a record deal and because I was an original artist crafting my own songs,” Johnny said. “I often played at Albert’s Hall and The El Mocambo, had a regular house gig at the Squeeze Club and, strangely enough, even had a matinee house gig at the Bloor Street Theatre. I had the great pleasure to record and perform with renowned engineer/producer Ken Greer (Tom Cochrane, Tragically Hip), Jackie Richardson (Cookin at The Cookery) and many others over the years. Music has always been paramount to me and, like home renovation/restoration work, a passion.”
A year after moving to Cabbagetown, Johnny was living in a basement of a house on Sumach St and the mice and he agreed it was time to find more lucrative employment. He had spent 6 years honing his carpentry skills with master carpenter, Al Franke, on the Bridal Path, then building bridges and renovating homes.
“I was good at promoting myself for my live shows,” says Johnny, “so I knew I needed a name for my new renovation company and decided on The Cabbagetown Carpenter. I starting putting up posters and before long the phone was ringing. I worked with many Cabbagetown home owners renovating their homes which helped pay the bigger bills like recording and a new miceless apartment. As we grew bigger I changed the name to Cabbagetown Carpentry and have rarely been without a project or two on the go ever since. Some of which are featured on my website at cabbagetowncarpentry.ca. I often say we work with people, not for them”.
These days he’s happily married to longtime Cabbagetown resident, JoAnne Landry and have two lovely daughters and a very special grandson. He’s released 3 CDs and 3 videos which you can find at johnnypearlmusic.com and is now working on a forth recording.
Cabbagetown Carpentry was recently featured on the front page in the Toronto Star’s Home and Condo section at www.thestar.com/life/homes/2016/06/18/cabbagetown-heritage-home-gets-new-sparkle.html. You may also recognize construction band members, Xavier MacNeil and Neil Craighead, and the many other great tradespeople they have on board. Johnny’s the guy with the big friendly smile who you often hear saying, “Just got back from Prince Edward County and, you know, there’s no place like Cabbagetown!”