Vertical Lakes

30 June 2016 – Chloe & I are not thinking about lakes, vertical or horizontal, as we scamper down the steps of St. Anne’s Church. We’re thinking about art: the heritage art within the church we have just toured, and the street art we now plan to discover for ourselves.

More specifically, alley art, all around the Queen W./Dovercourt/Ossington area a bit south of the church.

The plan is to head immediately south of Queen, but, oh, we get distracted. You know how that is?

So we are deep in Alley-land, but still somewhere north of Queen, when we meet the lion.

alley n. of Queen W

He is not the best art of the day, but he has a ton of character, & I am charmed. Lots more to see down this alley, including woollen bobbles on utility poles, and some particularly fine detailing to frame one side of this door.

alley n. of Queen W

Then Goggle Guy catches my attention, complete with shoulder birds …

alley n. of Queen W

and a neat little “bow tie.”

detail, alley n of Queen W

Soon we are dropping south toward an alley I want to show Chloe: the one running west of Ossington between Humbert and Queen. “We’ll walk around this corner,” I say as we weave our way, “then we’ll hit Humbert and carry on south, and see what’s been happening since I last visited  …”

And I stop talking, gob-smacked.

No, eye-smacked.

alley n. of Humbert

Our first vertical lake.

We have bounced ourselves into a hot spot for new murals, all being created as part of the June 20-25 festival, A Love Letter to the Great Lakes. It has brought together 21 artists, from various parts of the world, in the first-ever “fresh water edition of PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans.”

Lima-born, Toronto-based Peru Dyer Jalea (Peru 143) is one of them. He’s putting final touches to his mural, but chats a bit as he works and flashes a quick V-sign pose.

Peru 143 with his new mural

We walk on down to Humbert Ave., look back, goggle at the fabulous combination of works: as if the still-wet Peru 143 mural isn’t enough, here’s a bursting-bright Birdo to admire as well.

alley just n. of Humbert, w. of Ossington

Until this moment, I’d never heard of Peru, or seen his signature. Chloe & I finally hit the target alley-west-of-Ossington, and right there, just south of Humbert, what do we see?

The Peru signature. Of course.

alley w of Ossington, between Humbert & Queen W

It’s not what we see first. First we see the distinctive Uber 5000 canaries; then we see signatures; then we realize that, oh yes, the right-hand end of this mural is very very Peru.

And we don’t make any more of the combination than that, and anyway, we are almost immediately distracted by an equally distinctive hit of Pascal Paquette.

Paquette, same alley

Paquette, in turn, is blown straight out of mind by this stunning new, huge, black & white mural almost at the Queen St. end of the alley.

Definitely new and, I soon realize, part of the Great Lakes project: “RIP Don Valley River” is worked into the swirls.

same alley, near Queen W

So is the signature “en masse.”

Later I look it up, and discover the interconnections. En Masse is a Montreal-based, “multi-artist collaborative drawing project,” dedicated to the creation of a collective vision, greater than anything one person could achieve. It is multi-city as well as multi-artist, and I recognize some major Toronto names in the list: Birdo, Elicser, EGR and MC Baldassari, for example. Peru 143 is there as well, perhaps right from his own days in Montreal.  (Uber 5000 is not on the list, but given the group’s philosophy, his work with Peru 143 makes perfect sense.)

A young guy emerges from the final building in the alley, the one butting right onto Queen. I look up, see another gigantic B&W mural. “That’s new, too,” I say. (Duhhh.) “Yup” — and he talks about how many of these project murals are in the area.

same alley, at Queen W

We wander on, more alleys, some fences.

I’m not sure this bit of alley-fence art is part of the project: artist Zachary George isn’t on the Love Letter list of participating artists, but his work sure is on theme.

alley nr Queen & Ossington

Yes! That great big fish is properly horrified by all those zebra mussels, scourge of the Great Lakes.

Back out to Ossington itself, just north of Queen.

Ossington n. of Queen

Where a giant loon now rides his own vertical waves.

And we soon ride transit back to our respective homes.


Leave a comment


  1. Mary C

     /  30 June 2016

    FABULOUS! Thanks for posting!

  2. wow, some great art. thanks!

  3. Lots of great street art on your walk! I like how that one bow tie requires a key!

  4. Wow! What a fun day out and some brilliant street art. I think the ‘vertical lakes’ is my favourite – it would have stopped me in my tracks too.

  5. As always full of interest and fun, Didn’t know that the Lakes had a problem with the mussels.
    It seems to me that Graphitii Artists have got it right – apart from materials they do not have to pay to exhibit their are which is the lot of so man artists.

    Nice to catch up!



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

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