Brown Trout & a Whole Bunch of Frogs

11 September 2018 – First, the frogs. We aren’t looking for brown trout at all.

Come to that, we aren’t even specifically looking for frogs, but we welcome them — the whole dancing tug-of-war of them — with a whoop of delight.

A whoop & a sigh or two of relief. Because we are searching out Burnaby’s eco-sculptures, and, despite an astoundingly confusing map, we’ve just made our first sighting. So who cares if it’s raining?

Burnaby, an adjacent municipality to Vancouver, launched this community eco-sculpture project in 2005, and has been developing it ever since. Each summer, to the delight of residents and tourists like us, the City’s parks, event floats and public spaces show off the current crop of birds/bees/eagles/whales/pollinators/frogs/cranes/owls/etc-&-so-forth.

Summer drought and heat took their toll, but recent rain and some judicious replanting have given the works a new — if necessarily brief — lease on life.

The details are just terrific.

On down the way a bit, and look! a trio called the Pollinator Series. Complete with a caterpillar …

a lady bug …

and a spider. (Not shown. Use your imagination.)

Some confused driving around while we try to sort out where to go next. My Vancouver-born friends consult maps, sat-nav and smart-phone apps up there in the front seats; I sit behind and keep my newbie mouth shut. No back-seat driving from this girl!

We whiz past a grouping of owls. They’re on a triangle of lawn surrounded by busy streets; no possible place to park and enjoy them; we circle around; there must be a way — and, yes, there is. If you don’t mind pretending you’re in that school parking lot because you’re about to visit the school.

Two adult owls, three baby owls, and absolutely worth that bit of vehicular trickery across the street.

Each baby owl has his own, very Canadian, underpinnings. This guy: snowshoes. His siblings: snow boots, and a toboggan respectively.

These sculptures are magnificently detailed on all sides. Check out mama’s back!

And while you’re there, check that red umbrella in the background, being held over someone in a yellow jacket. We can see they’re City maintenance workers, fiddling around with an open sewer grate. We’re curious.

Us, smiling: “Hi, what’re you doing?” Yellow Jacket, also smiling as he spools more wire into the sewer: “Fishing for brown trout.” Ho-ho-ho all around. Us: “Oh come on, what’re you really doing?” YJ: “Okay. We’re checking a repair we made.” Us: “Did it work?” YJ: “Yup.” Us: “Well, you’ve earned your trout.” More ho-ho-ho all around.

More sat-nav (etc) consultations and off we go, headed for Deer Lake Park. Miss Bossy-Boots on the sat-nav tells us to go here, and go there, and we do, and end up parked on a residential street, hoping Miss B-B got it right. Well, it’s right enough, and after a few human directions from passers-by we embark on the Deer Lake Trail.

But not before reading the Wildlife warning.

Isn’t that fun? Not enough you have to watch out for bears and coyotes and cougars — even the black squirrel is on the loose and dangerous. (What? He’ll chatter you to death?)

The Trail is lovely. And we don’t meet a single black squirrel. Or bear. Or cougar.

This brings us to Deer Lake and, over to one side, the Century Gardens and the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. Where we again ask eco-sculpture directions. Fortunately, these Gardens are being given some early-fall TLC, and the crew help us out.

Good, thank you, got it: a couple of whales just down the road. But we are happily diverted en route. First by the three 14-ft ceramic poles in the Gardens, labelled Past, Present and Future.

They are the result of the Burnaby Community Clay Sculpture Project, which used Shadbolt Centre facilities and resources to engage professionals artists with students, seniors groups and other community members to create the three poles, each rich with imagery for its own theme.

The future, I discover …

will include Cloning.

Another diversion: we go into the Centre, expecting to indulge idle curiosity nothing more — and come out having pounced on the up-coming concert by Martha Wainwright. I’m more the era of her mum, Kate McGarrigle (as in Kate & Anna McGarrigle), but yes, my interest does extend to Martha and her brother Rufus. We buy tickets.

So that’s a big bonus to the day, and we don’t much mind that the eco-sculpture whales, when we finally get to them, are … underwhelming.

Back down Deer Lake Trail, enjoying the feather tucked into a post as we go …

and into the car, for the trip back to Vancouver.

“Look!” we cry, as we zip along the highway, and see Burnaby banners dancing on light standards …

“There’s the owl!” Now it means something to us. We feel good.

And the sun even comes out.

 

 

 

 

Time Well Killed

11 May 2018 – Yes! You can kill time and still hold up your head in polite society.

(Credit, by the way, to Comedy Central, whose old tag line “Time Well Wasted” I have just appropriated.)

Select your location, open your eyes, and enjoy yourself.

Exhibit No. 1

I am in George Wainborn Park, smack by the walking/cycling paths along the north shore of False Creek. I’ve never noticed this park before, and it is not my destination: it is simply a meeting point. “By the fountain,” said my friend, as we planned our outing.

I am a few moments early. I kill time.

Admiring the fountain, of course.

Admiring all that “geometry at work & play,” as I like to think of it — vertical waterfall on the left; horizontal black fencing left to right; stone triangle on the right; great arch of the Granville St. Bridge overhead.

I watch a father carefully hold his toddler high enough to peer into the triangle. The child gurgles with delight, flexes his tiny starfish fingers in-out-in-out toward the spray.

I wait ’til they’re gone, then go and do the same. (Peer, that is, but perhaps even gurgle.)

Then my friend arrives, and we leave.

Exhibit No. 2

Next day, same need (same opportunity) to pace myself between appointments, and kill some time.

A quick visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery and then, because it’s a lovely day and I am in no hurry, I plonk down on the VAG steps terracing down into Robson Square.

Many others are on the steps as well, including one permanent resident.

Meet Bird of Spring, one of at least three authorized bronze replicas of a 14 cm. original by the Inuk artist Abraham Etungat, of Cape Dorset.

Bird and I watch the action below, in the Robson Square skating rink.

In season, well … it’s a skating rink, isn’t it? And off season, well … it’s whatever people want to make of it.

At the moment, it’s a studio for choreographed routines. Foreground, two young martial arts practitioners, with batons; background, a trio of dancin’ fools.

I stroll down around the rink, zero in on the dancin’ fools.

They are just a-shimmying their little hearts out.

Bird of Spring and I now bracket the rink, on the watch from opposite ends. The baton couple are still hard at it, in that sweet-spot combination of athletic precision and sheer flowing beauty.

Overhead, an audience of pigeons.

On I walk.

Still with some time to kill, but I have another destination in mind.

Exhibit No. 3

Another destination, with another overhead audience, if we may refer to inanimate objects in such terms.

It’s a tower of the Woodward’s Development on West Hastings —  the multi-use redeveloment of the old Woodward’s department store site.

The tower rises over, is visible through, the Atrium, which is a welcoming pass-through space open to all. Last summer I sat here & listened to a series of Hard Rubber Orchestra rehearsals; today I listen to the piano.

The  bright-blue piano chained to a bicycle, always there & available to anyone who wants to play it.

This intent young man is playing Chopin. He is very good, and we applaud when he ends a selection. He doesn’t look up, but, eyes still on keyboard, he does give one quick nod of the head.

He is playing again as I leave.

Nicely in time to meet my friend at our Purebread Bakery rendezvous.

 

 

 

Eagles in Winter

15 December 2017 – We are on the Squamish River, between Vancouver & Whistler, in Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park. We’re here for wintering eagles, not for salmon.

The salmon deserve their sculpture, and our respect. Without the prolific chum (Onc orhynchuus keta) run each year, and the resulting salmon carcasses, Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) would not congregate here each winter.

But the chum do run, and the carcasses do accumulate. This riparian area therefore offers the eagles one of North America’s best wintertime habitats — and offers humans one of North America’s most significant locations for viewing them, December-March.

Frances and Sally, Vancouverites both, know the area, know what it offers, and I am only too happy to benefit from their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Even the naked eye spots Bald eagles in all directions — in trees, swooping over the water, on sand & gravel bars in the river.

We read the information boards, including the four points of Eagle Viewing Ethics.

We stand there, amazed by the river tumbling to the Pacific Ocean between mountain ranges, by the mountains, by the habitat and, of course, by the eagles.

Sally has the better camera, one capable of seeing more than naked eyes — or phone cameras — can possible capture.

An eagle swoops in over the bar. Click!

He has lots of company. Click!

Later we follow the riverside path, mindful of Eagle Viewing Ethics, carefully staying on the path, trespassing neither on the sand bars to our left nor on Squamish Nation property to our right.

Eagles perch freely in these trees, apparently unfussed by the parade of human gawkers. Close enough, now, for any kind of camera.

Here a speckled juvenile (or so someone tells me) and an adult …

and there a majestic adult all on his own, glorying in his white head, visual counterpoint to Sally’s red toque.

After the park, on to some feeding of our own.

Frances, with insider knowledge, guides us to Fergie’s Café, a local gem tucked away on the neighbouring Cheakamus River. A “locally sourced, innovative menu,” I later read somewhere, and it’s true — everything from red meat to vegan, made right there, by a serious (but not solemn) chef.

Oh, yum.

Afterwards, we lollygag for a bit on the banks of the Cheakamus.

More eagles.

Yes, those two dots on that tree branch = eagles. My camera, so you have to take my word for it.

But that’s not really why I’m using this photo. I’m using it because it’s just so back-country Canadian: rushing river, rock, coniferous & deciduous trees, sturdy little workhorse bridge, mountains.

I’ve stood in the equivalent of this spot so many times, in so many places, across the country & across the decades.

It still takes my breath away, stings my eyes.

We finally drive out, ready to head back to the city — but make one last stop just outside Squamish itself, down bouncy rutted roads to another viewpoint, right on the river.

Mid-afternoon sun warms the rock, glints off Diamond Head’s snowcap in the background.

And then we go join Hwy 99, and drive home.

 

 

False Creek, True Fun

28 September 2016 – Remember the first image in my previous post? Louise & I are hanging over the railing of the Cambie Street bridge, about to cross north to downtown Vancouver, but pausing to watch dragon boats flash through the waters of False Creek below.

Now I am “below.” Where it is a whole other world than the one of pelting cars overhead. Here, immediately right here, is the John McBride Community Garden, complete with its very own … well, I’m not sure what! Not a bird house; perhaps for either bees or butterflies, as the art work suggests?

bee house,JohnMcBridge Community Garden, Wylie & W1st Av.

One gentleman is working away in the larger part of the garden stretching on to the east. He is fully occupied; I do not intrude.

view of John McBride Community Garden eastward along False Creek

On I go eastward, following the road closest to the water. I have done no research, this is a whim, I am simply determined to follow False Creek as much & as long as I can.

So here I am on West 1st Ave, with sleek new condos typically rising on the south side of the street, facing parking lots and occasional disused industrial facilities by the water’s edge to the north.

at W1st Av & Cook

Hoof, hoof, hoof-hoof-hoof — and then a happy surprise: Hinge Park.

I walk in, enchanted as we always are by unexpected delights, pause by one pond to eye what looks like a very playful submarine sculpture ahead.

on Hinge Island, W2nd Av & Columbia

I follow a path to get closer, and discover that, playful or not, this sculpture also earns its keep. It serves as a covered bridge over the stream.

And those portholes frame great views.

inside the 'covered bridge'!

A couple of fellow walkers give me a tip: back up along this path — yes, this one right here — and go see the beaver lodge. When the city rescued a formerly buried stream and created this park from old industrial grounds, assorted wildlife moved in. Including beavers. Whom the parks people didn’t want, and whose lodge the parks people promptly destroyed.

So the beavers built it again. And the parks people said, “Oh, all right.”

beaver lodge #2, Hinge Park

Another tip from the same fellow walkers: visit Habitat Island, just ahead. It’s part of Hinge Park, and accessible across the gravel. (At least at low tide, I’m not sure about high.) Off I go, here’s the gravel — and a view of the city to the east.

gravel walkway to Habitat Island

More tales of wildlife doing what it wants to do, not what the parks people plan: once Habitat Park was created, a heron arrived. And a hump-back whale. (Several people told me the whale story, so I believe it. I trust he got out again.)

Planned wildlife here, or so officialdom hopes. Then again, Purple Martins can be annoyingly picky.

Purple Matin tower, Habitat Island

No problem about wildlife acceptance here! Crows love this dead tree. One loves it enough to bully another back into the air, and away.

ravens being ravens...

Complete contrast to the raucous crows: someone meditating on a rock.

meditation on Habitat Island

By now I’m enjoying wonderful mixed-use trails along False Creek and into a succession of parks. Next up, the Millennium Olympic Village Park, legacy of 2010, when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics.

Two huge bird sculptures in the park, always a total draw for small children.

in Millennium Olympic Village Park

Also a handsome columnar sculpture, the Olympic Truce Installation, created by Corrine Hunt, who incorporated the artwork of the 2010 medals into her design.

in Millennium Olympic Village Park

In a while I reach Main Street, end of the trails and parks. Right across the street, a big warehouse district. It is  gritty as all get out, but also on my walking agenda, because a number of its buildings feature in the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Aha! I haven’t told you about the VMF, have I? Well, my stay near Main St. coincides very nicely with the  Festival — whose murals are almost all near Main Street as well.

So the next portion of this walk is devoted to that warehouse area — which will be part of my next post, devoted to murals.

Which in turn explains why that foray is not part of today’s narrative. Instead, we’ll jump over all that, and pick up again at East 6th & Main. I’m now homeward bound, striding along, but I’m diverted by white letters on a black wall, in the shade of a large tree. I draw close.

neatly stencilled on the wall, E6th St. & Main

I pause. I enjoy the shade. Then I walk on south, back to the East 12th latitude and my Airbnb home.

 

 

Wind & Water

7 July 2016 – There is a breeze as the Tuesday Walking Society sets out, but it’s nothing — nothing! — compared to the wind-power I discover after our walk is officially over.

Phyllis & I are focused on water, not wind: it is hot & sticky, and we agree the only thing to do is head for Lake Ontario. Not to swim, but even the sight & sound of water should cool us down. (Shouldn’t it?)

The first big splash comes at the east end of David Crombie Park — not yet lake-front, but a very fine fountain to cheer us on our way.

fountain at east end of David Crombie Park, on The Esplanade

The next splash is much smaller. On the other hand, it is multiple. I catch the Sugar Beach splash pad just as the jets are revving up again.

splash pad revving up, Sugar Beach

Some children stayed in it through the dead period, waiting patiently for the next eruption. Not that little boy on the left! See how he is streaking back in, as soon as he hears the first whoosh?

A moment’s near-excitement in the Harbourfront stretch of the Toronto Harbour. A Zodiac? A diver in the water? We join other passers-by clustered by the boat. Nobody quite thinks it will be sunken treasure (or a corpse …), but we hope for, well, something interesting.

off Harbourfront, in Toronto Harbour

Alas, the agreeable young woman overseeing the dive — her cap shading her eyes & identifying this as an H.M.C.S. York operation — tells us they’re just retrieving a bit of superstructure that had fallen off one of the vessels moored near-by. Oh, darn.

Phyllis & I watch a small flotilla of ducks paddle by: mamma in the lead, babies churning industriously along in her wake. We look past the ducks, & start to laugh. The human equivalent:

sailboat class in Toronto Harbour

Wouldn’t you be impressed if I identified the class of sailboat for you? I’d be even more impressed … but, alas, it’s not going to happen.

Now look at that speck in the sky, upper right. Yes, a descending airplane, which I also cannot identify, but at least I know where it’s going: it’s on final approach to Billy Bishop Airport, on the west end of Toronto Island.

Just past Simcoe Street, Phyllis & I find a lake-front café for our traditional mid-walk pause. Most un-traditionally, I do not order a latte. I am seduced by a strawberry-banana smoothie (plain, natural yogurt plus frozen fruit, period). Oh, yum. I may switch allegiance for the rest of the summer.

Right from the café window, more water. This time lapping its way under the Simcoe Wave Deck.

Simcoe Wave Deck, Queens Quay W. nr Simcoe

It’s one of three wave decks along this stretch of waterfront, each on the land edge of a public dock, and each a tribute to the waves and contours of the Great Lakes. This one has the most dramatic curves: some up to 2.8 metres above the lake.

We head inland, make our way east along King St., Phyllis peels off at Yonge to catch a subway north, I continue east on King, and at Church St. offer myself one last sight, sound & smell of water: the cascading water-wall in the Toronto Sculpture Gardens.

Toronto Sculpture Gardens, King E. & Church

No sculpture at the moment, but on hot summer days, we are all perfectly happy with the tiny park’s greenery, peacefulness & water.

I cross the street. The Anglican Cathedral of St. James is immediately opposite, and — I suddenly remember — they have regular Tuesday organ recitals. The sign is out, the church doors are open; I go in.

The recital has just begun. I sit in the calm, cool church nave, and let music — instead of water — wash over me.

a few of the 5,101 pipes of the organ of St.  James Cathedral

Wind-power, yes?

Later, I read about this organ online: a Montreal-built, 1888 English Romantic organ, subsequently maintained & expanded by the legendary Casavant Frères of St-Hyacinthe, Québec for most of the 20th c., with a solid-state console installed in 1979.

If that means wind-power is no longer involved, please do not tell me. I like to think of wind, surging through those 5,101 pipes, setting our eardrums a-flutter, and being converted to the most glorious sound, deep inside our brains.

 

Salute to Spring

18 May 2016 – The temperature begins to rise, and we get all excited. Body language changes, our use of public space changes. Even when the temp is still only mid-teens — because we’ve waited so long & we are so over-eager & anyway we are rough-tough Canadians (aren’t we?), so we act like it’s really, really warm.

Office workers, & for all I know tourists as well, bask in noon-day sun on tiered benches in Nathan Phillips Square, facing the Peace Garden.

noontime sun-bathing in Nathan Phillips Square

Even a bronze lion — paired with a lamb in Eldon Garnet‘s sculpture, “Equality Before the Law” — lifts his snout to the sun in drowsy contentment, right next door in the McMurtry Gardens of Justice.

detail, Eldon Garnet sculpture "Equality Before the Law"

A man down on Richmond West bends to his smartphone — sockless!

among office towers, Richmond St. West

A woman stares peacefully into space, enjoying every moment of her lunch hour.

office worker, Richmond St. West

Up in C0urthouse Square, just south of the old Adelaide Street courthouse, the tender new leaves of espaliered shrubs shimmer in the afternoon light.

shrubs, Courthouse Sq., 10 Court St.

The Square’s water fountains are turned on again for the season, gush happily into their troughs.

1 of 2 water fountains, Courthouse Square

A young man stretches (I swear) every muscle group in turn, then begins kicking his soccer ball all about the Square. Just for the sheer delight of it. Because he is young, & nimble, & full of springtime energy.

in Courthouse Square

Across the street, next to St. James Cathedral, a young woman eyes her smartphone …

N/W of St. James Cathedral, King West & Church St.

while east of the church, in St. James Park, another woman patiently eyes her dog, who is busy sniffing up every odour he can catch on the newly-green grass …

in St. James Park

and a couple only have eyes for each other.

in St. James Park

Ahhhh … spring!

Comment Catch-Up

  • Remember I showed you a blue-figure sculpture in my previous post? Now, thanks to Mary C (visit her blog As I Walk Toronto), I can tell you the artists: David Borins & Jennifer Marman.
  • Remember my post, Danger at the Cliff Edge, in which I lamented being unable to walk Gate’s Gully due to repair work, but more than compensated for that frustration with a walk first in Sylvan Park, then through Guildwood Park and down to the lakeshore? Popo posted a great comment, giving the link for a wintertime walk that virtually mirrored my own. Go see for yourself.

 

 

 

Danger at the Cliff Edge

11 May 2016 – Never mind “Into the Woods” and “Into the City,” my friends — that’s for sissies. If you want a little excitement in your life, just go dance with the cliff edges.

warning near Sylvan Park, Scarborough Bluffs

Never mind the cliff edge. By now, the Tuesday Walking Society itself is tempted to collapse, from sheer frustration.

First, we take ourselves all the way east into Scarborough (for downtown girls, a thrilling adventure in itself); then we struggle to find parking anywhere near the launch point for the Doris McCarthy Trail down through Gate’s Gully, since everything on the closest residential street has been commandeered by a film shoot; then we discover our ultimate parking success is irrelevant since the Trail is temporarily closed, due to a washout; then we drive on, hoping to find another launch point for this assault on the Waterfront Trail and the Scarborough Bluffs, in whatever combination may offer itself …

You get the picture.

But we persevere, and we succeed, and soon we are parked on another tucked-away Scarborough residential street above the Bluffs. Where to our joy we discover a sign pointing to Sylvan Park.

And another sign warning us about those cliff edges.

warning sign, near Sylvan Park

The “I [hemp] TO” is a sticker, some marijuana-lover’s addition to the warning. You may disregard it, though perhaps loving Toronto in that particular way could add a new variable to your cliff-edge experience.

We don’t add that variable to our experience. We are sufficiently taken with the challenges of finding our way via streets & connecting pathways to the park.

Where, indeed, we are at cliff’s edge! Albeit behind a fence.

view east from Sylvan Park

Photos never show you the drama of the vertical drop. Please note the teeny-tiny size of those human beings ‘way below, and be suitably impressed.

Not a large park, but secluded, very pretty, and quite rightly equipped with benches from which you can admire the views eastward & westward along Lake Ontario.

view east from Sylvan Park

Phyllis points across the fencing toward the west side of the park. We note the concrete slab where a bench used to sit — but has prudently been withdrawn, from a collapsing edge.

abandoned bench slab, facing west

Not that teenage boys care about collapsing edges. (Though one does seem to care, if only slightly, about the click of my camera.)

Right, fine, that’s Sylvan Park. Now what?

A pleasant dog-walking man gives us instructions on how to get ourselves over to Guildwood Park and, with some bushwhacking luck, find a switchback path down to those beckoning trails ‘way below at water’s edge.

His directions are good, we navigate farther east, park again & start walking across Guildwood Park on its upper level.

Spring is jumping up all around us. With baby-bronze leaves just starting to unfurl …

new leaves, Guildwood Park

and pretty yellow, if anonymous (to us) wildflowers …

wildflowers, Guildwood Park

and wetland bits, especially welcome this dry spring.

standing water, Guildwood Park

And — of course! — more dire warnings about collapsing cliff edges.

Guildwood Park warning sign

We are becoming connoisseurs of these warning signs. We agree this one wins the award for Most Dramatic Imagery.

We find & scuffle on down the switchback trail, knees bent, leaning slightly back on our heels, and arrive still upright at the lake.

Where we look up at those much-touted cliff edges, now towering over us.

Scarborough Bluffs, from base of Guildwood Park

And agree, that yessir, they obviously can suddenly collapse. Those pretty turf edges are curling out into empty space, aren’t’ they?

We follow the gravel path on toward the east …

path east, below Guildwood Park

and spy one sole inuksuk.

How odd that he is the only one, given all the breakwater rubble lying around.

inuksuk, below Guildwood Park

He isn’t really that wonderful, either, but I find I am very protective of him. He is doing his best.

Phyllis admires a spider web, whose “best” — given its fly-count — is clearly very good indeed.

spider web, below Guildwood Park

The flies undoubtedly admire it rather less.

We begin chattering a bit about when to turn back. Will there be some logical point at which to about-face?

And then it presents itself: the end of the trail.

trail's eastern end, below Guildwood Park

Back we go. And climb back up the cliff. And do not fall over the edge.

And reward ourselves with fine coffee, back in town.

Out of Jail

10 March 2016 – And that’s just how we feel, this Tuesday morning, in the unseasonable, spring-like warmth. Out of winter’s jail!

Remember the fox in Joel Weeks Park (previous post), with snow tucked behind his ear? Just days later now, and his beaver colleague basks in the sun.

beaver sculpture, Joel Weeks Park

We bask too, Phyllis & I, both in summer-weight peaked caps and  bare-handed. We have no very precise plan, apart from wandering our way east of the Don River up toward Danforth.

The “toward” takes us to Gerrard St. East, and the still-surprising view of a recently restored, now-resplendent and repurposed Renaissance Revival heritage building.

former Don Jail, from Gerrard E.

Yes. The former Don Jail. It, too, is now “out of jail.”

It was a model of the latest thinking in penal reform when it opened in 1864 — natural light, fresh air, healthy work by day & an individual cell to sleep in by night. It was a dirty, overcrowded disgrace when it finally closed in 1977.

Now it is the administration building for Bridgepoint Hospital right next door, an historically appropriate use since penal & health-care facilities have long shared this site. An Isolation Hospital was built here in 1893, renamed Riverdale Hospital in 1904, the “half-round” hospital went up in 1964, renamed as Bridgepoint Hospital in 2002 and finally replaced with today’s Bridgepoint Active Healthcare facility in 2013.

And there sat the Don Jail, deterioriating in reverse lockstep with the health-care improvements next door. Now, finally, the buildings are in synch, and functionally linked as well.

The public is encouraged to tour the former jail. We march in through the imposing main door with its Father Time gargoyle.

Father  Time gargoyle, main door

Somehow we miss the stack of self-guiding leaflets, and have to depend on our own curiosity.

It takes us first into the central rotunda, to stare upwards at the iron catwalks that ring the rotunda and connect with the building’s two wings. We blink against the daylight pouring in from above — restored daylight, part of the original progressive design, but blocked in later, meaner years.

partial view of rotunda, from main level facing north

The ironwork is original, including the scrollwork dragons that support the wooden catwalk floors.

"dragons" support the catwalks...

Up to level 2, where we can see how cunningly long lines of cells have been joined up to become office space. Many original iron-bar doorways are now blocked, with handsome new wooden doors here and there, to mark the new, more generous footprint.

level 2, east wing

Signs, still, of the former padlocks at each of those one-time doors.

once padlocked

Down, down to the lower level, where some original cells (and heating ducts) have been preserved — though with a spanking fresh black & white paint-job, surely not a feature of the 1970s jail.

original group of cells, lower level

Even so, and even knowing the cells were originally meant to be for one inmate only, and only at night — even so, the size of the cell is a shock.

a cell -- full width!

We leave by the north door, into what is now pleasant park landscaping that leads on up to Riverdale Park. Well, it’s not entirely pleasant. Canada’s last executions took place in this jail in 1962, and these paving stones outline the one-time cemetery. (All bodies were exhumed and now lie in St. James Cemetery.)

site of cemetery

Up into Riverdale Park next, where a man ignores plentiful benches to perch on a tree stump instead, peacefully reading his book in the sun.

in Riverdale Park East

Much later — after a wander along Danforth and blissful coffees & treats at Leonidas — we double back through the Bridgepoint grounds. This time we are between the hospital itself and the Don River.

Where we see yet more out-of-jail joy in light, colour and movement.

e.g. of Bill Lishman's sculptures at Bridgepoint

Right.

It’s a return visit to Bill Lishman‘s exuberant sculptures, dancing their way down the slope.

 

 

Mood Misty, Mood Indigo

10 January 2016 – A Saturday walk to and from Yorkville, with gallery-hopping in between. The gallery-hopping is great fun, a group activity with volunteer colleagues from the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).

The to-and-from is also fun, albeit a solo engagement with real-life tonalities and a much more limited colour palette.

Going up: the muted shades, not just of winter, but also of mist. No “bright blue sky” today! Instead …

lane nr Sherbourne & Dundas

This alley is near home, & one of my favourites. I love the rippling warmth of the old brick on that corner building; I love the care & pride of the residents. Never a scrap of litter; minimal but thoughtful landscaping (the conifer, the rocks, the red barrel that, in summer, bursts with geraniums). Always, too, the signs of active lives — a shining motorcycle just out of frame, and someone’s canoe, tidily racked half-way up a building while it awaits summer.

Later I cut through Wellesley-Magill Park. More near-monochrome, but look at all the texture.

Wellesley-Magill Park, looking west

Veined shrub leaves, in their winter-ochre; crunchy gravel up & down the scale of grey; dark shiny rocks; Ed Pien’s Forest Walk fence with its ribbons of colour toward the rear; pale, strong-lined condos beyond that.

And on, and on some more to Yorkville, to my friends and our visits and chatter — both in the galleries and over tea, coffee & treats later on.

It’s not late when I start back home, about 5 p.m., but we are still caught in short winter days, and the light is already yielding to dusk.

By the time I reach Bloor & Yonge, dusk owns the sky.

One Bloor East condo tower, from the west

I put away my camera, and hike on home.

Summer, Tra-la

4 July 2015 – No gentle morphing from one season to another, around here. Mother Nature flips the switch, and pouf! there you are in a whole new environment.

And so with summer. Warmth is only part of it. There’s an energy, a dance, a dynamic, that says … here we are! Finally.

The city puts on her summer face. We blink at what is added, and also at what is finsished, done, dismantled & trundled away.

More bright Muskoka chairs inviting us to loll in our parks, some red but green ones too. Or perhaps all the green ones  — like these in Berczy Park — are specific additions in honour of the upcoming Pan Am / Parapan Am Games.

new chairs in Berczy Park

Berczy Park, by the way, is up for a stunning transformation. Check it out here.

Other additions to our summer face, also green but definitely not plastic.

Veggies crops in the Moss Park Community Kitchen Garden, for example …

Moss Park Community Kitchen Garden, Sherbourne n. of Queen

and vines smothering path archways in St. James Park.

N/E entrance to St. James Park

Next, as Phyllis & I make our Tuesday way down to Union Station, the joy of what is finally gone, as well as what is now revealed.

Gone the barricades & hoardings & screens that covered the station and filled the street for so long we had forgotten what it was to walk with calm breath and a long view.

Gone!

Now the restored façade of the station itself, a broad new pedestrian plaza in front and, pride of place, the painstakingly restored Victorian clock.

unveiled Union Station Plaza, with its restored clock

Right, still a bit of burnishing going on, that’s fine, we can live with that. And, right, not a clock to rank with some of the medieval glories to be seen in European city squares. But it is ours, it speaks of our history, and it restores dimension to our sense of place.

And, says Phyllis, who walked all around …

Union Station Plaza clock

the four faces show almost exactly the same time!

A few days later I’m on Yonge Street near-ish to Shuter, shaking my head free of the buzz of a a summer foray into the retail levels of the Eaton Centre. (Yikes.)

My vision clears, and look!

painted traffic signal box, Yonge nr Shuter

The first urban pigeons I’ve ever seen that I like.

Another sign of summer, one of this year’s crop of painted traffic signal boxes. Thank you StreetARToronto, thanks for your Out of the Box program; thank you artists. Thank you especially this one, whose signature I read as T4K Bui, but that can’t be right because I can’t find him/her in the artist lists. Thank you anyway.

Some of the artists camouflage the boxes’ contours; others, like this one, make them a feature.

detail of the box

One last image. Very summer 2015, not possible until this year.

May was the official opening of the glorious Islamic gardens between the new (fall 2014) Aga Khan Museum & Ismaili Centre. My earlier visits were all in winter, the gardens shrouded in snow. I could only imagine the summer impact of the 5 reflecting pools in their context of soft gravel, with calm rows of conifers and serviceberry trees.

Earlier today, I went up to Don Mills, to see for myself.

one of 5 reflecting pools, Aga Khan Museum gardens

Consider that your tease, a glimpse of my next post.

  • 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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