Love ’em or hate ’em, raccoons create buzz in calendar

A collectible 2018 calendar has drawn enthusiastic reactions from East York residents — and even from Mayor John Tory

East-end residents Ken Gruber and Berta Mascarenhas noticed the love-hate relationship between Torontonians and raccoons — and thought they could capitalize on it.

After sourcing photos online, the two former marketing executives produced  the 16-month 2018 Toronto Raccoon Calendar, creating a buzz among East York residents and even Mayor John Tory in the process.

Beaches resident Gruber and Mascarenhas, who lives at Danforth and Woodbine avenues, printed an initial run of 1,000 copies and released it for sale after Labour Day weekend. More than 20 Toronto retail outlets are carrying the calendar, including the ROM boutique, VII Gifts, Home James, Midoco and Book City.

“People ask for (the calendar) every day, if not every other day,” said Rowan DeHaan, who works at Book City in the Beaches. “I think people think that raccoons may be pesky, but they’re cute.”

Toronto’s mayor seems to agree. In November, he tweeted a photo of himself frowning while holding the calendar. “You gotta be kidding me!” he wrote. “If you like seeing images of raccoons, get yourself a copy of this 2018 Toronto Raccoons calendar. It’s for a good cause too!”

One dollar of the sale proceeds will be donated to the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

“It’s gratifying to have local support,” Gruber said.

A thread on the Danforth and Woodbine Facebook group expressed keen interest in the calendar, including questions about where to buy it.

“I have purchased one,” said Kim Avery, a member of the Facebook page. “The money goes towards the Toronto Wildlife Centre, which promotes the peaceful co-existence of people and wildlife and provides medical care to sick, injured and orphaned wild animals. They live in our habitat, as we do theirs. We are all wildlife.”

After the calendar concept dawned on the pair last spring, they hoped to include local user-generated photos, but the quality of submitted images became “tricky,” Gruber said.

About 100 calendars are still available from the Toronto Raccoon Calendar website.

Residents can email quality images of the masked creatures to them for a chance to be featured in the 2019 Toronto Raccoon Calendar.