Alleys & Animal Life

2 July 2014 — Enough parks & nature for a while; time to revisit some alleys. So I do.

This cat is not the first animal I meet — he’s just the first to stand still for a photo.

cat by Tokyo, alley off Parliament s. of Carlton

The first cats are alive-alive-oh, in an alley near my home. I’m trucking along when a man steps out a doorway & whistles. I’m immediately 8 years old again, because this is the exact note-pattern my dad whistled to call our family dog. Except this time, 2 cats come scurrying into view, their legs going ’round like pin-wheels. “Never saw a cat come to a whistle before!” I say. He grins, & holds up a huge bag of cat chow. “Food time!”

It’s a fun scene, and at least momentarily consoles me for the fact that a couple of lanes where I remember art are now very boring indeed. Great patches of white paint where murals used to be — already defaced in places with scrawled tags. Hardly an improvement.

So gumble grumble until I turn east from Catbird Lane onto Dr. O Lane, and look into a dog-leg leading to a parallel (& unidentified) alley to the north.

n. off Dr. O Lane

This is new — or, at least, new for me. I perk right up, & step into the space for a closer look. A young woman lugging groceries follows. She sees my camera and offers, “Good mural.” I agree. “Too bad about the garbage.” I also agree.

detail of mural off Dr. O Lane

So let’s all ignore the garbage and enjoy the cityscape.

It looks like no further artistic activity on Dr. O Lane, so I stay with the dog-leg. Another mural I haven’t noticed before, on the north side just before the parallel alley makes its run out to Parliament St.

detail of mural off Dr. O Lane

And then, starting along that alley … I meet Alley Cat!

Alley Cat, by Tokyo

Love it.

Out to Parliament, and a backward glance along the wall, with the edge of the cityscape mural just visible beyond it.

wall n. of Face Furniture, off Parliament St

I note the slogan — “XYZ – Build & Destroy” — and read, try to read, the tags in a neat box of artist credits.  JAH, for one — no surprise; one of his distinctive face murals is immediately east of this mural, on the side of optical shop Face Furniture. I can also make out SOTEEOH (get it?) & Tokyo, but not the others. I don’t recognize a credit for DANILO but do recognize his green “spaceship.” (Or whatever it is.)

JAH has done another face mural near-by, this one in an alley butting onto Parliament just north of Carlton.

mural by JAH, off Parliament n. of Carlton

The golds are luminescent in the afternoon sun.

So. JAH, SOOTEEOH, DANILO. They paint together, and they’re about to have a month-long exhibition together. It’s called GRIND, and what else would you call a show being hung in a coffee shop?

Opening party Saturday July 5, 6-12 p.m.; come one come all to the Jet Fuel Coffee Shop, 519 Parliament St.

Jet Fuel, 519 Parliament St.

I get a double hit of animal life up Darling Lane. There’s a cheerful mural on the fencing behind Nettleship’s Hardware Store, co-credited to Nettleship’s & Tokyo, showing farmyard scenes under the slogan, “Support Riverdale Farm.”

I’m all for that, but what makes me laugh is the pissed-off look on the rooster’s face. I totally sympathize.

Support Riverdale Farm mural behind Nettleship’s Hardware

All those pigeons. Ick.

More wandering, and eventually I start looping south again, checking out Broadcast Lane (just east of Parliament) as I go. A mix of old artwork & new.

Definitely old. Trigger-Finger Guy is memorable! (For the first time, I notice the reference to Jet Fuel in the words by his ankles.)

garages in Broadcast Lane, e. of Parliament

Farther south, something new. Doughnut Moustache Man.

in Broadcast Lane

And finally, something old. And very peaceful too, amid all the surrounding noise, both aural & visual.

in Broadcast Lane

“You are here,” yes I am,  but not for long. A few more turns, a few more alleys, and I’m almost home.

in a Cabbagetown alley

Not street art, but streetscape, and I really like it. I can’t come up with any good art or architecture arguments for this, I think it’s something to do with the spill of roof decks, tier by tier, stepping down from the top floor to ground level.

I see the man who whistled for his cats when I was starting this walk. Now he’s busy talking with his next door neighbour, but we smile & flick fingers at each other as I pass.

That’s nice. I like that.


Leave a comment


  1. Lovely as I have walked these spaces and love the chakra one…wonderful streetscapes…thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks. I hadn’t been into those alleys for about 6 months, and feel a lot has been removed with not a lot new added — what do you think? (I may not be remembering accurately.)

      • you’re there more than me…i was re-remembering past walks Penny…just brought back wonderful memories 😀

      • I was glad to see some changes, but also mindful (trying to be mindful) of the discipline of “fresh eyes”

  2. Great collection of street art again Penny….love the alley cat!

  3. nigel pleasants

     /  3 July 2014

    Last image is a wonderful streetscape.

  4. I love the cityscape mural but once again you’ve shown a wonderful side of Toronto through this street art.

  5. Thanks for another great walk!

  6. Thank you another enjoyable blog – have just returned home from holiday so read two blogs from you


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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