“With a Little Help …”

8 January 2015 – Indeed a post “with a little help from my friends,” and thank you, Beatles, for the phrase. Why the help? Because this week’s outing by the Tuesday Walking Society was … shall we say … a minor event. Not quite Called On Account of Cold, but definitely constrained. (Also by Phyllis’ still somewhat wonky knee.)

We therefore decided on an indoor walk, a mall walk, on the assumption that — precisely because we are not Mall Rats — we would find it an exotic & interesting experience. We appreciate the culture of street art, why not the culture of shopping malls?

So here we are, this brisk Tuesday morning, fresh off the suburban Scarborough Rapid Transit line (also a new experience for Downtown-Dwelling us), cutting across Albert Campbell Square. It is the courtyard for the Civic Centre (government) & the Town Centre (retail), nicely laid out for lolly-gagging — but not in winter! All we want is back inside.

But first we stop to admire this lone skater …

skating rink, Albert Campbell Square, Scarborough Town Centre

… carving clean, graceful loops in the ice rink, around & around, apparently oblivious to temperature.

I like the way the rink-side sculpture reflects near-by fir trees, also the way it soars up into the bright blue sky …

Albert Campbell Square, Scarborough

… which, in winter, is a sign of greater cold, not of warmth. Think of it as one half of Nature’s yes-but policy. Yes a cheerful sky, but colder weather; or yes mild weather, but a gloomy grey sky.

Enough weather philosophy. We push through the big mall doors & feel our bodies relax, our muscles unclench in the lovely great jets of warm air.

As we unfurl/unbutton/unzip all our winter layers, we watch this little boy, who is hiding with showy gusto from nobody we can identify.

child in Scarborough Town Centre entrance hallway

As Phyllis notes, this seems to be a case of Hide, but no Seek. (Anyway, we add tetchily to each other, he ought to be in school.)

Alas, that’s as exciting as our mall walk gets. We do try, over the next few hours, to get into mall culture & make some discoveries, but we fail. Unless you count the discovery that, for North American women at least, the must-have spring colour for 2015 will be turquoise. There it already is, spread across all price-points, brand names & types of clothing; it fills the racks of spring merchandise that already crowd the aisles, in early January.

I ask you. Hours of mall-walking, every level, and all I can report is the colour turquoise? Thank goodness for friends.

“With a Little Help” … I offer street names

Complete with a touch of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

My thanks to friend (& sometime-blogger) Kay, who sent me the links for the stories behind a whole slew of Toronto street names — not just one blogTO post, but a second one as well.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, Kay threw in an explanation — not covered by blogTO — of how St. Clair Avenue got its name.

So glad you asked.

It comes from Augustine St. Clare, a character in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Grainger family, who rented a farm near today’s intersection of Avenue Road and St. Clair, saw a stage production of the novel, and were struck by its abolitionist message. Two family members adopted the names of characters as their own middle names. Edwin added Norton; Albert added St. Clare, which he spelled St. Clair, following the mistake in the theatre program.

Then, as a joke, Edwin & Albert made street signs using their names, which they posted at Yonge and “St. Clair.” The St. Clair sign survived for a while — obviously long enough to make an impression, since the name was eventually adopted for the 3rd Concession Road.

Thank you, Kay. (Thank you, Harriet Beecher Stowe.)



Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. “…carving clean, graceful loops in the ice rink, around & around, apparently oblivious to temperature.”

    We skate in an outdoor rink, and though I always start with several layers, very quickly I end up stripping most of them off. It’s a wonderful way to generate heat..

    • You’re so right, of course you warm up when you’re skating. I didn’t grow up skating, but I did a lot of cross-country skiing, and that has the same effect: you become and stay nice & warm.

  2. What a pity your Tuesday walk was limited – hope Phyllis’s knee is on the mend. Here walking is not limited by the cold so much as the mud! One walk it was quite deep and I sank gently to the ground, hauled myself upright using walking poles and ended with a wet behind! Luckily I can walk along the shore.
    Surprised you could take photos in your Mall – we are jumped on by security bods if we do so here.

    • Glad all that happened was a wet behind! We can count ourselves lucky when the only damage is to one’s dignity.
      Funny, I didn’t stop to think about taking photos or not in the mall, I’ve never noticed that it is prohibited here — is that a security issue where you are? I do myself not take pictures that show children’s faces, but that’s my own private rule. Or if I do show a child’s face, it is with parental permission.

      • Many of the malls or shopping centres are privately owned with their own security and you are pounced on if you produce a camera. I think in general there is a great sensitivity about taking photos of children.

      • I agree with the great sensitivity about photos of children, and only take an anonymous shot from behind so the child could never be identified (as in that shopping mall case) or take it with the parent’s permission. Malls here are also privately owned; it’s possible that if a guard had seen me he might have stopped me, but I’ve taken other photos in malls & seen other people taking them as well, without (so far) any problems. Interesting though, I’ve never stopped to think about what the rules might be. There are no posted signs prohibiting photography, at any rate.

  3. Hi Penny – were you doing one of those early morning ‘Mall Walks’? http://goo.gl/KWl0SN They do sound quite interesting – in the way that walking round a museum at night would be. http://goo.gl/mvTNxL There’s always something a little magical about walking through a space designed for the public, when it’s closed to the public. It’s like walking through the original architectural design in 3D.

    • No we were there in regular hours, but I know the kind of thing you’re talking about. There are malls that do welcome walking groups before business hours; at least one of our IKEA locations does that as well, I believe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


    "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"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 88,385 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,632 other followers

%d bloggers like this: