Symbol City (T.O. Version)

11 April 2017 – I’ve given you one Symbol City already — an array of Vancouver images that, to my delighted visitor’s eye, stood for the Vancouver I was beginning to discover.

Now I’ll offer the Toronto version. A delighted, fresh eye here as well, partly because I am recently back from a 5-week absence — but much more because, in just a few weeks’ time, I shall move from Toronto to Vancouver.

So I am acutely aware of sights that are symbols of my own personal Toronto.

Here are a few.

Riverdale Park, straddling the Don River, with its 1840s Francy Barn attracting hordes of visitors this mild spring day …

William Lishman’s exuberant sculptures, cascading down the river-side face of Bridgepoint Health Care …

a random example of railway underpass street art, this bit on Logan south of Gerrard …

a silly sign!

Jimmy Chiale’s great, pulsing wall mural on Queen St. East, adding energy to the city all around it — from parked cars to streetcar stop, pedestrians, hydro poles trailing wires, vines about to bud on the brick wall …

a whole mural celebrating the city’s distinctive red streetcars …

and a real streetcar, pulled up next to yet another wall mural, this one by Elicser and proclaiming one of the city’s east-end neighbourhoods …

and of course a café!

An attraction in itself, but, really, also just one component of an entire downtown streetscape: patio, traffic sign, bicycle, parked car & all.

I go in, assuming I’ll order a latte. Don’t I always?

Except, this time, no I don’t. I am beguiled instead by an organic hot dog (I always eat a hot-dog in spring, it’s a ritual), smothered in mashed avocado & salsa. Soon my face follows suit, smothered in the generous dressings, ear to ear and nose to chin. The man next to me, knocking back his tortillas, observes the state of my face with some awe. “I’ll try that next time,” he decides.

I loop back west toward home, angle through a scruffy laneway just off Parliament & Queen.

I am here to pay homage to …

Golden Girl!

and to …

Famous Dog!

I don’t know why he is famous — but, come to think of it, he is famous with me.

I’m just happy both murals are still with us, they’ve been around for years & years, and they are part of my Toronto, yes they are.

Here’s lookin’ at you, dawg…

Small Pleasures

20 September 2015 — The first pleasure isn’t so small: it’s the day itself — a big, bright, fresh come-play-with-me September morning. So I do. Even though it’s not one of my “official” Walking Days.

I am rewarded with the sight of more pleasures along the way. Small things, all of them, but proof that small can be big.

Tai chi under a shady tree in Riverdale Park East, for example …

morning tai chi, in Riverdale Park East

or imbibing liquids of choice, in a pleasant location.

Can be humans, savouring coffee on the Rooster café patio …

Rooster patio, on Boadview

or sparrows, beak-deep in bubbling water in a midtown garden fountain.

a mid-town front yard

And then — speaking of water, as we are — a fish out of.

alley w. of Parliament, s. of Carleton

Or so it says!

 

My Sally-day in Vancouver

16 April 2014 — When I posted “From Lake to Pond to Pavement,” I was nowhere near Toronto. I was 3,350 km to the west, in Vancouver — more specifically, in Sally & Owen’s home on the slopes of Mount Seymour, quite close to Deep Cove. I’m in B.C. for a family wedding, and so glad to spend time with dear friends as well, including these two.

I arrived Wednesday; Thursday is my Sally-day, full of Vancouver-style contrasts.

First up, a prowl through the community of Strathcona, just east of downtown Vancouver’s Chinatown. “You’ll like Strathcona,” promised Sal before we set off — and I do, right from our first moment on E. Georgia Street.

row houses, E. Georgia St., Strathcona

Why does this make me think of St. John’s, Newfoundland? Also a seaport, but ‘way back east on the Atlantic, some 7,314 km from Vancouver, and with a totally different history. Maybe it’s the bright colours? Whatever, I love it, and the walk starts — you’ll pardon the dreadful pun —  on a good footing. (Groan.)

Lots of signs tacked to hydro poles — some hand-made Go Slow signs, like this one…

Strathcona local signage

… and others advertising wonderful things. A Perogy Lunch & Yard Sale, for example, which would be totally tempting except it’s being held on Saturday, when I’ll be at the wedding. (So the perogy-fest promptly loses all appeal.)

We pass this tree stump with its living roof, advertising the Pollinator Corridor Project.

bee habitat in host garden, Strathcona

It’s so nifty. By placing habitat in host gardens, the Project aims to provide shelter & forage for the pollinators (Mason bees), add to local green space, and connect people with each other, their community, & nature.

Part of my joy is the jump on spring I gain just by being in Vancouver. It turns out that Toronto has a warm (mid-teens) & sunny few days as well, but back there nothing has yet sprouted, whereas here I am surrounded by green grass, blooming spring flowers & great bursts of flowering shrubs. Magnolias and more, here at E Georgia & Princess.

Strathcona homes, E. Georgia & Pincess

We’re at E. Georgia & Jackson when Sally squeaks with delight. “There it is!” she cries, pointing to a café with Finch’s Market painted on its big front window. Turns out she works near the original Finch’s, on West Pender downtown; here is the relatively new (& new for her) branch operation just on the border between Strathcona & Chinatown.

Finch’s Market, 501 E. Georgia

Of course we go in, have lunch. Pear/blue brie/roasted walnut sandwiches, exotic as all get-out, love it. I top this with a ginger-fresh lemonade drink that’s the real thing, the ginger just slightly sears the throat on the way down. (And that’s all the food review you get from me.) We eye some of the market produce, but don’t succumb, and just as well because we head next even closer to Chinatown…

bike in Strathcona, nr Gore Av

… where I stop to admire this bit of bike art, and then hustle to catch up with Sally. She has spotted a little shop advertising home-made pies.

We wheel right in through that door, and emerge carefully balancing a strawberry-rhubarb pie, so fresh from the oven we are cautioned to keep the top of the box a bit ajar while it continues to cool. We promise.

Next, we head for the one planned event of the day. It takes us into the heart of downtown, where all those roads twirl their way into the northern end of the Granville Street Bridge, near Pacific St. We’re here to visit a glossy, flossy, pull-out-all-the-stops architectural/urban development exhibit called Gesantkunstwerk.

Signage explains all that German means, more or less, “world through total design.” The exhibit shows what is planned for this bit of the waterfront: a 50-storey residential tower by Danish “starchitect” Bjarke Ingels and a surrounding complex of mixed-use low-rise, all of this driven by the development company, Westbank.

We work our way through the photos, maquettes, videos and wall boards. There’s a lot worth taking in; people are reading, watching and snapping photos of the displays like mad. Sal & I end up taking… not selfies, let’s call them “you-ies.” Each other. Here is Sally photographing me as I photograph her, through the glowing maquette of what is yet to come.

Sally, in the Gesantkunstwerk exhibit

Right outside, we look at a remnant of what used to be.

on lower Howe, next to Gesantkunstwerk

Along one flank, some graffiti; beyond that, the bridge. This will be some amazing transformation, a whole lot of new housing stock plus shops & services for all those new residents..

view from lower Howe toward Granville St. Bridge

And now for something completely different (says Monty Python). But no, not totally.

The theme is still redevelopment, housing & ancillary services …

wildlife tree, Lynn Canyon Park

It’s a Wildlife Tree, just like the sign says; a wonderful BC strategy I first admired on Vancouver Island last year. Don’t cut down all the old, dead trees — repurpose them! Leave them there to serve as shelter and, at least where woodpeckers are concerned, vertical snack bars.

We’ve left downtown by now, as you might have guessed; we’re back in North Vancouver in Lynn Canyon Park — 617 acres of park around Lynn Creek, with trails, ecology centre, café and yes! a suspension bridge over the creek. Less well-known & smaller than its west-end Capilano cousin, but great fun to cross. And free.

Bouncy, bouncy.

 

Lynn Canyon suspension bridge

The creek tumbles down a waterfall to one side of the bridge …

Lynn Creek, by the bridge

… while on the other side,  we walk the usual ridiculously gloriously stunning west-coast forest-scape, with Nurse Logs and all …

a Lynn Canyon trail

… as we make our way to 30-Foot Pool.

We watch in fascination as two young men start stripping down at Pool’s edge. Really? And the plan is…?

The plan is to get down to their skivvies, then with whoops and yelps run very quickly into the Pool and dive beneath the surface. Which they do.

the shock of 30 Foot Pool

And then scamper right out again, still yelping but now with a certain anguished overtone from the shock of the cold water.

Honestly, even rocks have more sense than that. This inukshuk, for example, stays put.

inukshuk on edge of 30 Foot Pool

But Sally & I don’t. We head back along the trail, across the bridge (bounce, bounce), and home.

To a warm dinner, and strawberry-rhubarb pie.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "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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