Heart & Sole

28 January 2015 – Yes, a pun, have I no shame? “Sole” not “soul,” as in footwear. As for “heart” — which inspired the title — the early part of the walk is positively dripping with hearts. Even though it’s not yet February, let alone Valentine’s Day.

For example …

sculpture, Gristmill Lane at Parliament Street

I decide to build my Saturday walk off the tail-end of some downtown errands, so here I am, post-errands, at the edge of Gristmill Lane.

The name would be cute enough to make your teeth ache, except it has justification. I’m also on the edge of what is now the entertainment/shopping complex known as the Distillery District. It began life in 1832 as the Gooderham & Worts distillery, which enjoyed long worldwide success & left a legacy of fine Victorian industrial architecture, now repurposed. The names of the various lanes relate directly to that industrial history.

I walk east on Gristmill Lane, look back, and of course see teenagers eagerly photographing each other within the heart’s embrace.

view to heart sculptre, from Triinity St. end

More hearts to come.

Walking Society Phyllis tipped me off to a display of locks down one of the lanes. It is the same idea as all those locks on bridges, with their keys thrown in the river to symbolize eternal love, but this time in some sort of wall display.

I stick my head into Tank House Lane — and there it is.

Tank House Lane locks display

Peripheral vision tells me someone is politely waiting for me to drop my camera before crossing my path. I thank her, then become interested in her as she locates a pair of locks, and photographs them.

“They’re ours,” she says. “My boyfriend & I engraved this one with our initials, and this one with the initials of a friend who has passed away. I come every now & then, just to see them … make sure they’re still okay …” She smiles, gives a little shrug. I ask if I can take her photo with them.

“Sure,” she says.

young woman with her locks

Her story makes me like the wall display, feel that it’s real, not just some marketing promo for the complex.

I’ve already decided I’m going to walk on south to the Port Lands. My route takes me out the south end of the Distillery District back to Parliament Street, through parking lots for a car-detailing shop & an equipment rental outlet.

I’m entering graffiti-land, in other words; no more hearts.


parking lot behind Parliament St., just south o the Distillery  District

It’s the love-bot! (I think I made that up, but I may be subliminally remembering a name already in use. The image is one that we do see around town, though usually as 3D cement-block mini-sculptures, not as wall art.)

Right next to it, another image I recognize — the unmistakable ANSER face.

ANSER face, behind lower Parliament St. building just south of Distillery District

I sometimes wonder if he does this with one continuous stroke. I’ve tried to follow the line a few times, work it out — but I’ve always failed, & then I decide it doesn’t matter anyway.

Such an arresting image, partly for the sure-handed graphics but mostly, I think, for those eyes.

detail, ANSER face

I’m amused this time by the winter vines, blown like careless wisps of hair across the face.

Down Parliament to the bike trail, across to Cherry Street, and on down into the Port Lands.

Oh, the Port Lands. Once it was Toronto’s heavy-industry (and often dirty industry) 400-Ha waterfront work horse. It is still a work horse, but now under regeneration & development, its mandate to become an area of commercial/residential/light-industrial/recreational use “in urban form.”

I’ve walked here before, exploring the mix of grime & nature; today I am more focused on nature, specifically Cherry Beach and Clarke Beach Park right down on the lake front.

But first I stop at a Cherry St. institution. T&T Supermarket is an Asian grocery store whose size & range & quality draw customers of all ethnicities, from all over town.

I pause in the parking lot, for a very Port Lands scene indeed: a wintering lake boat, framed by cranes, chain link fence and the downtown silhouette.

from T&T parking lot, 222 Cherry St.

Inside T&T, well … there is everything, as always, and I marvel, as always. Today, I can also marvel at exuberant piles of merchandise gearing up for Chinese New Year.

T&T, ready for Chinese New Year

On down Cherry Street to its southern tip. I am finally at the lake, where I turn west rather than east, following ice & snow & rocks along beach front that I’ve never explored before.

I look back east; it reveals the other side of the 1930s Cherry Life Station, slightly younger sibling to the Leuty Life Station and also still in seasonal use. (In the distance, the Inner Harbour and Leslie Spit.)

Cherry Life Station, in Clarke Beach Park

This south-western curve of the Port Lands may be new to me, but not to the walkers and dog-walkers I meet along the way. We smile, chat a moment, agree it’s a beautiful day — and it is, especially with no wind.

I poke along at water’s edge, watch the mini-floes drifting by. I remember being awed by the real, full-size thing on Arctic walks (Grise Fiord in particular), but I am here and I am now, and I enjoy this just as much.

lake front, in Clarke Beach Park

The day moves on, the sun drops even lower in the sky, the wind picks up. My cue to leave.

So I do. Northbound this time on Cherry St., ignoring the blandishments of a café halfway up, because I have an even better one in mind.

Balzac’s! It means a detour back into the Distillery District on the way home …

Balzac's, Distillery District

… and it’s worth it.



Leave a comment


  1. Do I detect a bit of a valentines day theme? Like your description of the vines as wisps of hair across the face.

    • I wasn’t looking for hearts, if anything trying to avoid too-early commercial exploitation of Feb 14. But there the hearts were …

  2. Hi Penny – thanks for that post. A real odyssey of hearts. I felt as if I was walking with you.

    Is Anser still making the faces? I hadn’t heard of him/her and was interested to read this interview http://torontoist.com/2009/02/tall_poppy_interview_anser/ The faces themselves are like hearts with beautiful eyes, aren’t they?

    The installation with the padlocks on it will be fun for future archaeologists to decipher. I wonder what gods they’ll imagine to go with it.

    All best wishes

  3. jacquijay

     /  31 January 2015

    What a wonderful love-filled walk you had. And how many great memories you must have stored away in your memory banks (real ones, not computer ones!).


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: