11 October 2018 – T-Time, not as in fine china & scones.

T-Time, as in YYZ; as in 43.6532°N  79.3832° W.

T-Time, as in … Toronto.

Here I am.

With luck, there will be wonderful autumn colour. With certainty, there are wonderful friends, and that is quite enough already.

A first walk-about, with assorted friends, and there’s the city, amusing me as I go.

In front of a construction site at Bathurst & Bloor, for example …

with my tummy already warm with a Green Beanery latte, so this is a bonus.

Later, down in the financial district, I look up at this play of black-on-white.

The black is one edge of one building in the cluster of buildings that make up the Toronto-Dominion Centre, designed by Mies van der Rohe in the 1960s.

I’m not there for those knife edges, however, not even for how they play out in geometric shadows on the ground, at precisely 2:13 p.m. on a sunny October afternoon.

I’m there for what I know lies through that arch, over by those luminous trees. Something I have loved (and visited) in every season of the year. Something I want to visit again.

The PastureJoe Fafard‘s wonderful pasture of seven life-size bronze cows, at peace and at home in the courtyard of the TD Centre.

Later yet again, Phyllis (yes! co-founder of the Tuesday Walking Society!) and I are taking a pedestrian overpass across the Yonge Street subway line, between Eglinton & Davisville.

I’ve had cows, now I get racoons. A distinctly less classy setting than a Mies van der Rohe architectural design, but perhaps better suited to the animal in question. Or, at least, showing him in one of his typical urban habitats.

Down an alley.

There’s the guy in the garbage pail, claiming the pizza box …

and the guy navigating a ladder …

and it’s all so Toronto I am giggling my silly head off.

Please, raise your glass to T-Time.


After the Tease. (And off-topic)

31 August 2016 – I promise: my very next post will follow through on The Tease (previous post). But meanwhile, there was a Tuesday, wasn’t there? So the Tuesday Walking Society was out & about, wasn’t it?

Phyllis & I cover a little more than 11 km., weaving our way through mid-town, with urban din — road repair, water main work, ambulances & fire trucks, leaf blowers, excavations — pounding our ears. I catch a headline in a local paper, claiming the city is so noisy that songbirds can no loner easily locate each other by sound. I sympathize.

But there are escapist moments. In the gardens & grounds of the Spadina Museum, for example.


Wouldn’t you think you were in Tuscany, perhaps, not downtown Toronto?

Some noise here too, but enjoyable noise — day camp kiddies being led in competing teams on a puzzle/treasure hunt through the gardens. The staff & volunteers guide them to the chosen area …

day camp, Spadina House

and remind them to write down each animal they see, but not to tell the other, competing teams.

Sssshhh! Keep it secret!

one of the animal discoveries

Needless to say, delighted kiddies shout their discoveries at full force, dance little gigs of joy.

Off we go, PHyllis & I, down the Baldwin Steps next to Casa Loma …

Casa Loma, from top of Baldwin Steps

and near the foot of the steps are rewarded with this very colourful truck, covered with street art.

Well, half-covered. Only this side is painted.

truck below Casa Loma

But it does include, I swear, a salute to the Sydney Opera House.

the Sydney Opera House??

Right? Am I not right?

Into the Yorkville neighbourhood next, where, amid the classy art galleries, we meet a couple of horses.

Right there on Hazelton Avenue.

On this side, ladies & gentlemen, in front of Miriam Shiell Fine Arts, a Mountie cuddling his horse …

Hazelton Av., in front of Miriam Shiell

and across the way, in front of Heffel Fine Arts, artist Emily Carr leaning against her horse (courtesy of sculptor Joe Fafard).

Emily Carr sculpture, artist Joe Fafard, Hazelton Av.

Heat & humidity as we go, what else this summer in Toronto, but we walk the shady side of Tranby Av., with its calm & cool-looking doorways.

doorway on Tranby Av.

More shady tranquility in Town Hall Square, a park slivered into Yorkville Av. just west of Yonge Street.

Town Hall Square

And yet more tranquility — after the earlier cacophony, we are so grateful — in the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge.

It is an extraordinarily beautiful building, the work of Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama, later revitalized by his subsequent firm, Moriyama & Teshima.

Toronto Reference Library

We’re here to tour the Art of Cartography exhibit, in the library’s TD Gallery.

Phyllis & I both play with the high-tech, interactive map jigsaw puzzle on the way in, but after that we focus on the old stuff. I am particularly amused by a 1600s map of Iceland …


which, even then, knew all about Hekla.

And what she does.

detail, Islandia map, shwoing Hekla

Namely, erupt.


Blocks of granite, explained

In my early-August post about High Park (The Poetry Walk. Almost), I admired one of the park’s sculptures …

a sculpture in High Park

and bemoaned its lack of artist credit. Maureen Scott Harris has been kind enough to send me a comment of explanation. It makes poignant reading:

I’m sorry you missed our poetry walk, but thanks for the glimpses of the other things going on that day. Regarding the anonymous granite sculpture you wondered about, it dates from a sculpture competition in 1967. The chunks of granite were delivered but the sculptor who was to carve them had a nervous breakdown and the piece was never made. Here’s a link to information about the competition and the sculptures: http://www.highparknature.org/wiki/wiki.php?n=Explore.SculptureHill.

Thank you, Maureen.



Art & Faces & the Art of Faces — in Montreal

4 August 2015 — Starting in Toronto’s Union Station.

Where a father cuddles his son as he doodles some music on the “Play Me I’m Yours” piano in the station concourse.

playing a public piano in Union Station, Toronto

It’s a great way to pass the time, while waiting for the train to Montreal — or anywhere else — this holiday Saturday morning. Another way to pass the time: peruse the wall display of works by photographer Edward Burtynsky, one image visible behind the piano.

Clickety-clack, soon enough I’m in Montreal. Main reason: the Centennial celebrations of the incorporation of Dorval Island, my long-ago summertime home. Bonus reason: soak up some art!

Faces seem to dominate.

There is the dragon face …

detail, dragon in Hobbit House display, Windsor Park, Dorval

of the great winged creature guarding the Hobbit House in Windsor Park, Dorval.

Hobbit House, Windsor Park

And that’s just for starters.

I spend Sunday morning downtown, primarily at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal and its cultured environs.

There’s an anguished Scandinavian face in a film currently on view (sorry, didn’t get the title) …

from film playing in the MBAM


and an Early Classic (200-600 AD) stone mask from the Mexican Central Highlands, guarding the entrance to one of the permanent collections …

Mexican Central Highlands stone mask

and, just around the corner in a different pavilion, Karel Appel’s 1962 Portrait of Sir Herbert Read.

Portrait of Sir Herbert Read, Karl Appel

A bit more wandering, a very refreshing light lunch in the café, and then outside to the Sculpture Garden.

Where I see more faces.

A very small dog face, for example …

Labyrinth, MBAM Sculpture Garden

attached to the dog patiently awaiting the next treat from his owner.

She is doling out the goodies very strategically indeed, timing them to ensure that he follows her footsteps as she navigates Labyrinth, the Nip Paysage installation currently guiding visitors across the Sculpture Garden walkway.

See the little girl, to the left and ahead of the dog? She, too, is weaving her way through the maze.

Then there’s Claudia.

Joe Fafard's cow sculpture, Claudia

No, no, not one of the children. The cow!

Joe Fafard’s lovely bronze cow, wearing three kiddies on her back and the patient look on her face that we associate with cows. (Fafard is Saskatchewan-born. He knows his cows.)

I leave Claudia resting in the grass on the west side of the Sculpture Garden, and cross to the east side, where I contemplate Paulina, taped to a post. I learn some quite intriguing details about Paulina — but nothing at all about her face. Sorry.

appeal on a fence post

Good luck, Jack.

Time to say good-bye to the Musée and to Rue Sherbrooke as well. I angle down to de Maisonneuve, heading for a Metro (subway) station and my return trip to the suburb of Dorval.

I catch one last face over by McGill University.

Um, make that 15 faces. Or more.

The Illuminated Crowd, Raymond Mason

It’s The Illuminated Crowd, says the plaque, a 1985 sculpture by English artist Raymond Mason.

I don’t linger. I have my own date with a crowd, a very special crowd — everybody else attending the Dorval Island celebrations — and that’s what brought me to town. So I’m off to the island.

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






Pavement & Parks

12 July 2014 — A Double-P outing for the Tuesday Walking Society this week, and we had an objective for each “P.” Phyllis wanted a downtown pavement loop that would take us past Lee  Valley Tools, since she knew they carried nifty crank radios; I proposed a sub-agenda of noticing slivers of park enroute — all those mini-parkettes that slide among our downtown towers, creating huge pleasure in tiny spaces.

What we didn’t know was that a third “P” would be added. For paint. As in, street artists. As in… Birdo, and this technicolour beastie of his discovered on our return route along Queen St. West.

detail, Birdo street art, Queen St. West

But more of that in my next post. This one is all about the first half of our walk — the Double-P.

We immediately head south to King St. East, & start walking west. It will take us right past the downtown Toronto outlet for Lee Valley Tools (near Bathurst St.), and it’s a good walk in its own right — a main artery with lots of pavement, but also mini-parks & greenery all along the way.

First hit: a sidewalk herb garden near Jarvis in front of — and for — the  Japanese restaurant Hiro. Talk about fresh, local produce!

Hiro restaurant herb garden, King East

More sidewalk offerings, this time wonders of a nearby antiques/décor shop. I’m struck by the old Lake Muskoka sign in the pail, rustic & vintage as all-get-out — but also priced for modern urban deep pockets. We admire, and keep walking.

collectibles basket, King East nr Jarvis

No. Let me be precise. We do not immediately walk on, because I spy our first mini-parkette right across the street. In a way, you have to know it’s there to know it’s there: it is very narrow & the streetcar stop screens the entrance.

parkette, n. side of King East nr Jarvis

But I do know it’s there, so we defy traffic, weave-dodge our way to the north side of King, and peer in. It’s a charmer.

interior, parkette King East nr Jarvis

I’m always amazed, and heartened, to see how much good can be achieved in so little space.

Phyllis points to a plaque halfway up the old building immediately west of the parkette. “Toronto Patriot” it says. I have to look this up later, to discover that it was an early newspaper here in Upper Canada, relocated from Kingston to York (as Toronto then was) in 1832 by entrepreneur Thomas Dalton & his wife Sophia. The paper was “staunchly pro-British and strongly conservative,” says one account, and Dalton expressed his views with fiery zeal.

Not surprising, perhaps, that he died of apoplexy in 1840. More surprising, perhaps, that widow Sophia promptly began running the paper herself. While also raising their eight children.

More mini-parkland between Jarvis & Church streets: Market Lane Park, running N/S between King & Front. Here, too, the entrance is almost obscured — though not by a modern transit shelter. This time by a old horse-trough fountain, now in a minimalist, very contemporary surround.

Market Lane Park, King St. E.

I like the mix of elements. Victorian fountain, modern context, rack of Toronto Bike Share bicycles, guy-with-cell-phone.

Walk in a bit, and it’s all leafy and lovely.

Market Lane Park, King St. E.

Mind you, it’s typically rowdier on summer Sunday mornings. Then it becomes spill-over for the weekly antiques market next door.

And yet another tiny park, on the same stretch of King East.

This is the Toronto Sculpture Garden, with its cascading wall of water against a neighbouring building, and its 20-foot stack of “1st generation” (cf. the plaque) Honda Civics, created by Canadian artist Jed Lind.

Toronto Sculpture Garden, 115 King E.

Quite appropriate, all those car bodies. Before it became the Toronto Sculpture Garden, this 80′ x 100′ space was a parking lot.

We cross Yonge St.; King East turns into  King West; & soon we’re stopping for another delight, just east of Bay St.

Artistically, I find it worthy of inclusion in  a sculpture garden somewhere, except it’s a whole huge bank building, so you have to admire it in its own setting. Once headquarters for the Bank of Commerce, now Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, this art-deco structure was completed in 1931 and is glorious under any name.

I particularly like the pillars. There are the usual floral insignia, goddess faces & animals. My favourite is this guy.

1931 Bank of Commerce HQ, 25 King St. West

I thought he was a modest little squirrel. Now, looking at that tail, I’m inclined to think beaver. A pseudo-heraldic beaver? (Street art in limestone? Which raises some sort of philosophic question. Do sufficiently elegant materials transform street art into Art?)

More art, we want more art, and we know where to find it. Practically next door, because we are now in the heart of the city’s traditional finance district, where the big banks fight it out for architectural prestige (along with market share).

Where architectural prestige is concerned, Toronto-Dominion gets some serious bragging rights. The TD Centre complex (just west of Bay) was designed by Mies van der Rohe.

We don’t spend any time peering up at those sleek black towers (though they are very fine indeed). We’re here for cows! And we know we’ll find them, tucked among the towers.

The Pasture, 7 bronze cows, Joe Fafard

“The Pasture” — complete with 7 bronze cows, by Canadian artist Joe Fafard. I’ve photographed them before, finding them especially amusing (& striking) when winter snow & ice highlight their curves. But yes, they are also a lot of fun lazing around in the summer sun. Today, a lot of humans are lazing around as well.

We wait for a green light at King West & University and, as always, I admire yet again the mirrored tower on the N/W corner. Its angles throw wonderful reflections any time of day, in pretty well any weather.

N/W corner, King West & University Av.

More reflections just a bit farther west at Simcoe Street, this time in a pond not a mirror. We’re peering down at the Roy Thomson Hall patio, all arranged for its summer-long series of free Thursday late-afternoon concerts.

Roy Thomson Hall, King West & Simcoe

An Australian band called Wagon launches a new album at its concert on July 10; next up, July 17, Sun K and Grey Lands. The Roy Thomson website describes Sun K as grassroots folk-rock-blues, while Grey Lands are more into pop-rock & psych-folk.

I think I’ve just used up a year’s quota of hyphens.

Walk on, walk on, and there’s Mountain Equipment Co-op on the north side of King near Spadina. I’m always a sucker for MEC, so I super-casually ask Phyllis: “Um, want to dive into MEC for a bit? Check out the clearance racks?” And yes, she’s all for it. “Good idea,  I’m looking for a small backpack…”


She not only buys a backpack, we suddenly realize that of course MEC will also carry crank radios, so why not comparison shop? And we do, and there one is, and she likes it, and she buys it.

So we don’t need Lee Valley Tools after all, but it’s so special we go in anyway. We buy nothing, but we stroke  beautifully designed, beautifully crafted woodworking and gardening tools on our way through — many of them Lee Valley’s own product lines. Founder Leonard Lee (1978, one Ottawa store) received the Order of Canada for what this family-owned business has since achieved, and he deserves it. Son Robin, now president, carries on in the same spirit.

Then on a whim we decide to head north on Portland St., and see what might become an interesting route back east.

That’s when the third “P” kicks in. P-for-paint.

Street art, alley art, graffiti, old & new.

I’ll show it to you next post. (P-for-post…)






    "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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