Freeze-Thaw by the Lake (1)

17 February 2016 – It is magical, absolutely magical. Phyllis & I — full complement, The Tuesday Walking Society — we are boots-deep in the snow slowly building its presence all along Toronto’s east-end beaches. More snow drifts gently down from the slate-grey sky, blurring sky & shore & lake beyond.

All that gentle blur …

with punctuation.

Winter Stations long view

We slap mittened hands together in delight. It is even better than we’d hoped!

We are here on the beaches of Toronto’s Beaches (or, The Beach) community, to visit the second annual Winter Stations exhibition — a collection of art installations created “to celebrate Toronto’s winter waterfront landscape.” Winners were selected through a single-stage international competition, open to “artists, designers, architects, landscape architects … and all those who defy labels.”

The exhibition — theme, Freeze-Thaw — opened 15 February and runs until 20 March.  Competition specs required each design to use one of the lakefront lifeguard stations as its armature.

“Station” is perhaps an unduly grand word for the structure.

a standard lifeguard station

There. Do something amazing with that!

And, by golly, they did.

We stop first at “Flow.”

"Flow," in Winter Stations 2016

I thought of explaining each work, then — atypically for me — decided instead to show you the signage. They say it better than I ever could.

"Flow" description

We double around the front of the installation, take in its curves, enjoy the sense of those crystalline structures. Yes, I relate to this. This is snowflake.

front curve, "Flow"

Now, tromp-tromp, to that big black ball. It is just as amazing up close.

"In the belly of a bear," Winter Stations 2016

It will take us, we discover, “In the belly of a bear.”

"Bear" signage

Phyllis climbs up first, legs & boots disappearing from view.

Into the belly!

I climb up to join her. Warmth, fur — a cozy sanctuary as promised.

high in the fur-lined belly

But no view through the window, which was also promised — it is covered with snow.

(Later, doubling back, we peer inside again. A young woman is right at the top, legs dangling, announcing cheerfully to all who’ll listen that she plans to move in. Her dogs whimper anxiously below. They are not in favour of this idea, given that it would involve climbing ladders.)

Next up, a curved wooden shape. Wind in our faces as we approach, snowflakes drumming on our cheeks, the shape ahead promises sanctuary, shelter, protection.

"The Steam Canoem" Winter Stations 2016 It is, we learn, “The Steam Canoe.”

"The Steam Canoe" signage

And yes, it does offer all that.

open front, "The Steam Canoe"

One more visit at this western end of the beachfront — more functional than any of the other installations, but just as much a work of art. It is The Beach Community Fire Place, designed and given to the City by the great Canadian architect, Douglas Cardinal.

The Fire Place, by Douglas Cardinal

Wood is stacked nearby, along with a small kit of starter kindling. Signage asks visitors to respect the fire pit, to use it wisely, care for it, and report any damage.

We turn back east, planning to visit those installations as well.

Next post, I’ll take you there with us.


Leave a comment


  1. DJ

     /  17 February 2016

    We are performing snow dances out here in Fernie, hoping for big drifts. Envy: pleading guilty.

  2. Wow, that’s snow pretty! Here in Alberta,
    even the snow is struggling to keep from melting 🙂 ♥ ❤

    • Yes, all my Alberta (& interior BC) friends are wailing about the lack of snow! We have also had very little — this is a novelty.

      • Yup… the mild temps are nice, but all this hovering near 0ºC is a real ice-maker on the roads. Glad you could get out there to enjoy the snow show! 🙂 ♥ ❤

  3. Winter ❤️ yes it’s mild and melting here so enjoy the snowy days…lovely captures with snow!

  4. It would almost be worth leaving the warmth of sunny California to see this!

  5. How fun and unique!

  6. Interesting sculptures 🙂

  7. Missed this one Penny. What a great idea

    • I’m only sorry I missed last year, it’s first year, but grateful I caught up with it this time. It did seem especially magical, blurred by falling snow

  1. Lights! Action! & Camera! | WALKING WOMAN

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

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