Weaving Harbord

7 December 2015 – I tell you, I was a walking fool this weekend, with an as-usual solo walk on Saturday & a wonderful bonus walk on Sunday with fellow blogger Mary C. (As I Walk Toronto). Next post, that Sunday walk.

This post, all around Harbord St., with me playing N/S shuttle — between Bloor & Ulster — to its E/W axis, eastward from Ossington.

Sometimes on streets, mostly in alleys. A few of the alleys look dully functional …

e of Oss & s to Harbord

but even they reward a closer look.

e of Ossington & s from Bloor

Yes, indeed. That fish. (You saw him in the first shot, right?)

The fish is exceptional, because it is wood & a sculpture. Much more common: wildly colourful scenes painted onto walls & garage doors.

e of Ossington & s to Harbord

This one carries on around the corner of the garage, a whole bevy of prancing flamingos, with stars to keep them company.

I’m leaving this alley, just east of Ossington, and almost trip over the corner guard. Which compels me to look at it and see the art. Haida West Coast! I think. (Well, referencing that school of desgn.)

a Spudbomb, to keep corners safe

Silly me, it’s Spudbomb.

Out to a street corner, Roxton & Harbord, and proof that not all the wonders are tucked away in back alleys.

corner Roxton & Harbord

I look closer. Then very close. I see that even the background bricks bear texturing detail.

detail, Roxton & Harbord

I repeat the process when I see this mural in the alley east of Roxton.

e of Roxton n from Harbord

I lean in for the close-up. It’s only when I do that, that I can really appreciate the skill of the brush work. And the added detail of rain-streaks!

detail, e of Roxton n from Harbord

Onto another real-street-not-lane, with another reward: a “branch” of the Little Free Library movement on Shaw St.

Shaw St. Little Free Library box

I thumb the possibilities. Everybody from W.O. Mitchell to J. Fenmore Cooper, from mediaeval English verse to a child’s book of riddles, from Françoise Sagan’s Un Certain Sourire to Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes. I take the Murakami, reminding myself I can enjoy my reactions to his work without worrying whether I fully “understand” it. (Rather like my attitude now to contemporary art, as you know.)

Back to the alleys, now east of Crawford, south from Harbord. Some bright colour-blocking in one stretch …

e of Crawford s from Harbord

and a muted late-fall palette elsewhere.

e of Crawford s from Harbord

Into the wonderfully named Peperonata Lane at Harbord, facing east into Bickord Park. The park is sunken (marking the now-buried creek beneath), so these chairs provide in effect a first-balcony view of whatever is on offer below.

Peperonata Ln, facing Bickford Park

But frankly, you’ll see more if, instead, you turn around and check out the lane. One garage mural after another, including this splendid Shalak Attack cat …

Shalak Attack cat, in Pepronata Ln

tucked between murals she and husband Bruno Smoky have done together under the name Los Clandestinos.

Again, I come in close. Shalak has the most amazing intensity and range of colour. I want to study it.

detail, Shalak cat

A heart-warming sight at Harbord & Grace, and, happily, one we see more and more frequently. Retailers like Bean and Baker Malt Shop provide full access with a simple wedge, obtained from the not-for-profit StopGap Foundation.

stopgap.ca wedge -- & dog bowl!


(I almost forgot to point out the dog bowl. Another considerate act.)

Still on Harbord, farther east at Jersey Avenue, and I’m whacked upside the head by Batwoman.

Harbord & Jersey Av.

Vroom, vroom!

Now I’m finally working my way farther south, dropping down from Ulster via an alley near Palmerston. There’s a different mood in this alley, more peacefully rustic somehow, but still full of art.

nr Ulster & Palmerston

At first I think that closest image is Cycling Guy With Bike Wheel. Now I’m not so sure. But I still like it.

One last installation, in this alley …

alley nr Ulster & Palmerston

A reminder that, sometimes, time & nature provide the tone & texture that make the art.


Leave a comment


  1. Mary C

     /  7 December 2015

    Most of those garage doors are new to me, or at least new since the last time I walked! Thanks for posting!

  2. bobgeor

     /  7 December 2015

    A neat back alley walk – I’ve only seen the ones along the park.

  3. Mikku

     /  7 December 2015

    Looks like a cool area to live in! Good luck with the Murakami!

  4. WOW! Who needs a museum? Great works. Thanks!


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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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