Bad Tuesday, Good Wednesday

25 February 2015 – And that’s how it went.

Oh, all right, I’ll say a little more.

Tuesday was an ugly day from the get-go: not terribly cold, but dull & raw & damp, the kind of chill that nibbles your bones. Still, I walk on Tuesdays, don’t I? And I won’t let pissy weather deter me, will I?

So out I go, and there’s a near-immediate pay-off of sorts, just a few corners away from home. These days, old mattresses are put out with a note carefully attached, warning that the mattress is (or may be) full of bed bugs.

Not this one.

on Gerrard near Parliament

Yes, the pun is a bit lame, but the effort is endearing.

So I am cheered, it seems a good omen, and I make ambitious walking plans as the streetcar trundles me to my chosen east-end starting point.

And I start. And the horrible weather now includes a bitter wind that smacks me face-on, first as I walk south and then, with equal force, after I turn west. (How can that be?)

So there I am, hat brim pulled down to eye level and parka collar pulled up to nose level, just a horizontal sliver between the two for me to watch where I am going — and all I can see is the snow-lumpy sidewalk immediately in front of each footstep.

Just 20 minutes in, and I am as sullen as the weather. “What am I doing?” I ask myself. To which the only sensible answer is, “Catching the next streetcar home, is what.”

So I do.

But not before eyeing these construction workers for a moment, honouring them, recognizing that they do not have the luxury of stomping off home in a snit, just because the weather is pissy.


construction, Kingston Rd.

Wednesday is a whole other atmosphere. (Mattress-Man isn’t the only one addicted to weak puns.) Marginally colder, if anything, but also low humidity, relatively little wind, and brilliantly sunny. After my usual Wednesday morning volunteer stint at the Central Y, I decide not to head home. I’ll go walk-abouts instead.

So I do.

The loop takes me initially south on Yonge Street. As I approach Gould (just north of Dundas) I see they have apparently completed the newest Ryerson University building. The hoardings are down, in any event. There it is, floating above the street-level grit.

Yonge & Gould streets

Love it. Love all those Yonge St. juxtapositions of age, architecture and purpose. Pride of place to the brand new Student Learning Centre: “the library of the 21st century,” says Ryerson’s rather breathless blog. Almost immediately to the north, the Zanzibar: “dozens of nude dancers,” says its equally breathless marquee. (The “R” is burned out, if not the dancers; hence, “Zanziba.”)

I don’t go inside the Student Learning Centre, but I practically do a backflip on the sidewalk, arching vigorously to admire the SLC’s soaring angles.

SLC, 341 Yonge St.

The work of Snøhetta & Zeidler Partnership Architects, says that same Ryerson blog, and it really does look terrific.

SLC, 341 Yonge St.

More architectural/cultural juxtapositions when I zigzag west to Bay and south a bit, then dive between tall towers to enter Trinity Square.

It is home to Church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1847, now almost entirely engulfed by surrounding commerce. That sounds a lot more negative than I feel: there is something magic about the enclosed nature of this tiny space — a small, peaceful clearing in the urban forest, with a pathway through the forest leading to the church and its contemplative maze to one side.

Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Sq.

It was built with funds donated anonymously (the donor since identified), on condition that — unlike High Church practice of the day — all pews be free and unreserved. This requirement set a socially progressive tone that has endured ever since. In the 1930s, the church became known as “the home of the social gospel” and its 2015 website says the church “strives to work with others in the community to uproot the systematic injustice which entraps the weakest members of our society.”

Social justice is very much the theme of my next stop, almost immediately across the street.

Truth is, that’s not why I cross the street. I am not thinking about social justice at all. I’m drawn by the evergreen and its sharp shadow against the bright red wall behind it.

Larry Sefton Park, 500 Bay Street

But social justice is the theme, all right.

I’m in tiny Larry Sefton Park, immediately north of Toronto City Hall. It was donated to the City by the United Steelworkers of America, to honour the memory of Larry Sefton who, for 20 years, served as director of the union’s District 6. It was his goal, says the plaque, “that people have the opportunity they require to enrich the human spirit.”

I’ve always liked this park, liked the power & simplicity of its sculpture, created by Jerome Markson & installed in 1977. It is made of steel, of course: 16 I-beams, arrayed in tight formation.

I-beam sculpture, Larry Sefton Park


And then I walk an amazing amount more, three hours’ worth all told, but — perhaps even more amazing — take no more photos. I am just enjoying the day.

Good-bye, Bad Tuesday; thank you, Good Wednesday.


Leave a comment


  1. Hi Penny – thank you for that walk. You have a real gift for taking your readers by the hand and leading us through Toronto. Tell me something – do builders have to keep working outside all through the winter in Toronto? Do they work a shorter day or get paid more when it’s really, really cold? I shivered just looking at them.

    There’s a great earthy exuberance to the Zanzibar Club, isn’t there? It’s funny how older strip clubs etc have a bawdy Chaucerian energy to their exteriors. In Brighton now, all the ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ have plain, discreet doorways.

    I thought you might enjoy this bronze walking Buddha from the British Museum Not a quote, but an idea of walking from far across the world – where the builders never have to work in sub-zero temperatures!

    Best wishes

    • I can’t answer your builders question, though I see them working in all kinds of weather. There is often a heavy tarp around the key area, shielding them a bit, but it’s still cold hard work. Thanks for the walking Buddha! I’d never seen a walking image before but of course that’s accurate, for that was his ministry wasn’t it, walking.

  2. I was out and about but kept my head down, out of the wind. So thank you for looking up! Wonderful photos!

  3. I love that new building! And your photo with the older places in the foreground is great!

    • Thanks for this. The SLC is quite spectacular, especially against a blue sky, & like you I love the exuberant hustle of Yonge St., everything thrown in together & vibrating like crazy

  4. Hooray – February is nearly done and maybe this deep freeze will leave with it! I’ve never seen the Ryerson building looking so brilliantly blue as in your photos – really spectacular.


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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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