Bye-Bye Summer

23 September 2014 — Saturday’s walk takes place on the last weekend of summer. It’s the very last full day, in fact, with autumn officially arriving on Sunday.

How agreeable that we should say good-bye to the season with summer-worthy weather. (After days in the low teens, I might add.) Sunshine, light breeze, thermometer hitting 22 or so — perfect for this weekend’s festivals. I decide to start my walk with the Bloor-Ossington Folk Festival in Christie Pits Park, then continue eastward on Bloor & see what happens next.

Also what happens before! I’m still a few blocks from the park when I spot this enigmatic message neatly written on a church wall at Bloor West & Ossington.

church wall, Bloor W at Ossington

I’m intrigued that the “no” is in the same hand as the rest of the sentence. Was it an after-thought? Or was its position a design decision, nothing to do with meaning at all? (Come to that, what is the meaning?)

Almost immediately, I see another, more comprehensible message. Artists who fail to make the cut for Nuit Blanche (the all-night, city-wide art extravaganza being held October 4) are invited to strut their stuff in Les Rues des Refusés. What a concept! I must visit the website & check it out.

Next up, Blue Lady:

Theatre of Human Health

She — well, this doorway — leads to The Theatre of Human Health. I don’t try the door, but later wish I had.

Finally, I’m at Christie Pits Park. Not a lot of action this early in the day — some cheerful white tents with music-related art, crafts & accessories; one performance tent, with what is probably the day’s first performance taking place; one rehearsal tent where I linger a bit, watching the guys try things out.

Bloor Ossington Folk Festival, Christie Pits Park

Then I amble on eastward along Bloor. I suppose I should be striding, or even power-walking, but today’s weather invites an amble, so that’s what I do. There’ll be time enough for scurrying when winter hits.

I’m just nicely into Korea Town (over by Euclid), when I notice this corner convenience store. And yes, the first thing I see is the name.

Six Penny mural by #kizmet32 #aphok #tiles

Next I see the artwork. Very nice. I particularly like the cats.

Walk on, walk on, and I’m at Markham St., just west of Bathurst. The block south from Bloor is lined with restaurants & arts-related shops, and today everybody is out on the street as well. It’s a big Sidewalk Sale, with free entertainment thrown in. This steel pan musician, for example.

steelpan on Markham St

I buy a slice of warm cornbread at the stall set up by Southern Comfort Restaurant, and cruise the block as I nibble.

The whole city is outdoors, it seems; we all want to take as much advantage as possible of the warm weather while it lasts. Restaurants & cafés still have their doors & windows thrown open to the street; the winter-time barrier between Inside and Outside has yet to be imposed.

Bloor West & Brunswick

Just opposite, right across Brunswick Avenue, more street-sale activity. Just one man this time, with long rows of books, his back to a neighbourhood tavern landmark, the Brunswick House (The Brunny).

sidewalk books outside The Brunswick House

No, I do not follow the sign to Poutineville. I have had poutine. Once.

Soon I’m getting into University of Toronto territory, passing its sports centre, Varsity Arena. The big signboard highlights the football team, but on the field today, all the action is soccer. And lots of it, too, male & female.

soccer practice at Varsity Arena

I overhear a (male) coach pep-talking a group of female players. “If you play tomorrow like you’re playing now…” he begins. I am dying to know the rest, but a huge truck grinds past and it is lost. Damn!

Just past the Royal Conservatory of Music, just before the Royal Ontario Museum, there stand the Alexandra Gates — guardians of the north end of Philosophers Walk. It runs between Bloor and Hoskin Av. to the south, tracing its way along the ravine that still marks where Taddle Creek ran until they buried it below ground. The Walk is much less substantial than it used to be, for buildings (Uof T, ROM, & RCM) have encroached on either side. Yet despite everything, it is still magic, still a retreat from the noise all around.

At the moment, the Bloor St. end of the Walk is marked by more than those 1901 gates. A human being has tucked up against them, engaged in an activity that predates them by … oh … a millennium or two.

making an inukshuk in the sun at Alexandra Gates (1901), ROM & Bloor St W

He is making an inukshuk. Another man has squatted to engage in discussion; I think of joining them, but decide not to. I quite like the mystery, the gratuitous delight of the scene. It is street theatre.

More street theatre the other side of Avenue Road, but in a very different mood. I see another of the city’s ghost bicycles — the white-painted bicycles that mark fatal cyclist accidents. This young man died less than a month ago: 31 August.

ghost bicycle, Bloor W near Queen's Park

And yet more street theatre just east of Yonge, with yet another change of mood. Music! Brass-combo jollity! And all for a very good cause.

outside The Bay, on Bloor E at Yonge

Of course I drop something in the trombone case. As do many others.

One last photo a few blocks farther down Bloor — and how fitting, near the end of my walk.

window display, Rogers Cable, Bloor E

I don’t know why a cable company showcases walking stick-figures, but it does, and has for years. Any time I pass, I stand and watch for a bit. I catch myself falling into the scene, scuttle-scuttle, back-and-forth.

And then I scuttle-scuttle home.

Leave a comment


  1. I work part time and commute to Toronto – and am always struck anew by its vibrancy…You capture it so perfectly in your blogs! Great photos.

    • Thank you, I always appreciate your response to my posts! There seems to have been an unusual number of fairs/celebrations this year, or I’m just noticing more — & more this weekend to come

  1. The Great Culture Count-Down | WALKING WOMAN

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

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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