Also T.O.

30 March 2017 – Oh yes, street art is so Toronto … but the beaches & parks along Lake Ontario are also Toronto. Phyllis & I take the Tuesday Walking Society (all two of us) out to the Beaches boardwalk, and start stomping around.

After a five-week absence, I am freshly appreciative. A dull day, grey water exchanging pixels with a grey sky, your eye could fall over the horizon.

Well, no it couldn’t.

Because it bumps up against those happily garish Muskoka chairs, and that happily prancing dog, who knows his owner is about to throw the stick. Again! (And she does, and the dog shoots off in full chase, throwing up little spurts of sand with each footfall.)

This year’s Winter Stations has just ended, Phyllis tells me, who visited the art installation, now in its third year, soon after it opened in late February. More than 350 design entries this year, worldwide, with eight winners.

The pieces are already being dismantled. Which somehow makes them even more intriguing. No signboards to tell you what is supposed to be what, just you & your reactions.

I like the reflections. I like the way the luminous silver panels fold into the luminous grey day, reflecting sky and water and each other. (Later I look it up online: This is Aurora, the work of Hunber College students, and, I discover, meant to dissolve visually into its surroundings.)

We’re walking west, close to the water. It brings us to the Leuty Lifeguard Station, one of two vintage ones (the other on Cherry Beach) still in use, and the symbol of the Beach neighbourhood. This is real life, not a winning design for Winter Stations — but it is just as powerful: the tender mother, the entranced child playing with sand, the lapping waves, the grey waters flowing out to meet the grey sky at the horizon.

Phyllis pulls me over to the next Winter Stations design. Collective Memory, says the battered signboard, now propped askew in the sand: the work of Spaniard Mario Garcia and Italian Andrea Govi, it offers two walls shimmering with 6,000 clear bottles, each one inviting visitors to insert a card with the story of how they came to live in Canada.

“The day I was here,” says Phyllis,”people were writing out their comments, and then telling each other their stories as they inserted the slips into the bottles.”

Eventually, we turn back east, farther from the water now, up on the wooden boardwalk.

More wood over there in the mid-distance: the 8-metre Beacon (by Portuguese team of Joao Araujo Sousa & Joanna Correia Silva). Later online reading confirms what my eye assumes at the time — yes, it is inspired by the silhouette of a lighthouse. It was also, when active, a drop-off point for charitable donations of food and clothing.

But my eye is drawn as much by the lake as by the art, by that horizontal line ‘way out there, slicing water from sky — or, perhaps, seaming them together.

And I think again, as I do every time I am here on the Beaches boardwalk, I think about Rita Letendre’s acrylic on canvas, Aforim.

When I stare at it in the Art Gallery of Ontario, I think about this stretch of beach. When I am on the beach, I think about the painting.

You see?

Good news for all admirers of this great Quebec artist: the AGO will mount a retrospective of her work, Rita Letendre: Fire & Light, from 19 June to 17 September.

Symbol City

3 March 2017 — Just a selection of symbols from my own list-to-date, you understand. Images that snag my Toronto eyes; make me exclaim, with delight, “Ohhh, that is so Vancouver!”

Vancouver is trees.

Moss on tree trunks, in the rain …

typical tree trunk, on a residential Mount Pleasant street

palm trees, out there alive-alive-0 in mid-winter …

W. Broadway near Granville

fir trees on industrial wall murals …

detail, an Industrial Flats mural

and tree stump art.

one of two, in front of Telus World of Science, Main St.

Vancouver is people.

First Nations …

Main St., just north of Terminal Av.

Asian …

a shop nr E 15th & Fraser

and everyone.

"Human Structure," by Jonathan Borofsky, Southeast False Creek

Vancouver is pop-up community gardens, in boxes that can move on to the next site …

close to the Cambie Bridge

and clouds on mountains …

North Van, from the Industrial Flats nr Main St.

and clouds all over the sky.

top, with solar panels, of the Solar Bike Tree outside Telus World of Science

Vancouver is Cloud City …

a mural in Industrial Flats

and Rain City …

W. Broadway between Granville & Cambie

and Every Weather City.

truck in Main St. parking lot

With a scoop of ice cream!


Wet City

18 February 2017 – “Wet City.” That’s a clue. Make a guess.

Oh, never mind. The answer is: Vancouver, B.C.

I’m back in Vancouver, and, currently at least, this art gallery in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood has exactly the right name.

art gallery, Main St. nr East 6th

Moments later, in a near-by alley, I see some hot art.

alley s. of East Broadway at Quebec

Though perhaps not exactly what the gallery owners had in mind.

It’s a damp, drizzly sort of Saturday, the moisture so soft & diffuse I mostly don’t notice it & never put up the hood on my jacket. A landscape, & seascape, of gauzey grey.

But… so mild.

Cambie & West Broadway

See? Bare legs. And my jacket is half-open. (I mention all this diffidently. A pet peeve among eastern Canadians is the flood of photos this time of year from BC-coast friends, flaunting their crocuses & snowdrops & lattes out on a café patio.)

On the other hand, pooches must be pampered, even in mild weather.

down near False Creek

I this this warning unnecessary — at least, today. Surely the attraction today would be unguarded expensive umbrellas!

nr Columbia & Broadway

So far, I’ve been looping around East & West Broadway Ave. Now I head on north to the water, to False Creek. Lots of people out & about — with dogs, with kiddies, with their FitBits & serious running gear, with snazzy bicycles — drawn to the parks & the Greenwall (seawall) that define south-east False Creek.

People out on the water as well. Dragon boats skimming in all directions. From ‘way out there somewhere, I can hear a cox barking at his crew, “Just think about what you’re doing!” But that’s the cox’s job, is it not? To bark?

And here’s another dragon boat, just about to set out from Spyglass Place Dock, by the Cambie Bridge. Though that’s not why I’ve stopped. I’ve stopped to enjoy the art.

Spyglass Place Dock, False Creek

Emily Gray is the artist, and if you click, you’ll get an aerial view of this mural.

I like the details all along the edge, including this fat little bumble bee.

detail, mural at Spyglass Place Dock

I walk on east a bit along False Creek, into Hinge Park, admire yet more art. This time on wooden posts out in the water.

just off Hinge Park, looking east along False Creek

But, this time, I can’t tell you the artist. Or anything else about it. I just like it, I like it in combination with the tall towers & the spherical World of Science to the east. I’d like it with the mountains as well — if they were on offer. Which they aren’t.

Because, even though we’re having a moment of watery sunshine, the atmospheric theme du jour is, pervasively, droplets of rain.

pedestrian walkway in Hinge Park

When I reach Olympic Village, I make another stop. This one you can guess…

Of course. For a latte. (Some rituals travel so easily!) Then I walk on east & a bit south, angling to Main Street and my temporary home just beyond.

With a passing glance, on Main near East Broadway, at an editorial comment on life in Wet City.

shop window, Main nr East Broadway

Should I go back & buy it?



Public + Art, in the Rain

4 January 2017 – We’re in public, contemplating art (both intended & by-accident), and definitely also in the rain. But it’s Tuesday, isn’t it? So on with the waterproof gear, and out & about for the Tuesday Walking Society.

Rain, we find, enhances art. It makes cheerful pieces even jauntier, and reflective ones all the more poignant. It adds dimension.

Not A Forest is a good example. Just another commissioned visual on a condo hoarding, Phyllis & I think at first as we squish our way along Wellesley Street East … but yes, the mist gives it depth. It does extend Paul Kane Parkette past its own small square of grass to an imagined forest, albeit one where cranes & towers jostle the trees.

"Not A Fordest," Darren Rigo, 58 Wellesley St. East

And it pays tribute to artist Paul Kane himself (1810-1871), who once lived at this address though he is known for his wilderness scenes. Plus, photographer/artist Darren Rigo is also local. So it is all nicely site-specific.

Only steps farther along, and more art. Modest, functional, underfoot, and perfectly suited to the drizzle.

Wellesley St. East

Thank you Toronto sewer system!

The next sewer lid is also a fish. The one after is plain old cross-hatch. So enjoy ’em when you can.

Corner of Wellesley & Queen’s Park, Phyllis does a double-take, freezes, then relaxes.

“Ohhhh,” she breathes, in relief. “It’s a sculpture. I thought it was a person.”

"Jesus the Homeless," Timothy Schmaltz, Wellesley E. & Queen's Park

Sculptor Timothy Schmaltz would be pleased; so would Regis College. The work is called Jesus the Homeless, and it is meant to further the educational mission of this Roman Catholic college of University of Toronto: it invites us “to reflect on our relationship with the homeless poor, the most vulnerable of the marginalized people living in our midst.”

We cut through Queen’s Park itself — and almost immediately see plastic sheeting strung among some fir trees, making a shelter for someone with no other home. I reach for my camera, put it back into my pocket. No-one is there, yet it seems unacceptable to me, to intrude.

Across Hoskin Avenue, into Philosopher’s Walk, we follow long-buried Taddle Creek north toward Bloor Street.

And stop at the grove of trees, the boulder, the sodden roses.

tribute to victims of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, in Philosopher's Walk

The plaque catches our hearts. It notes the 14 trees,

with sorrow planted in memory and in honour of fourteen sisters slain because of their gender in Montreal on December 6, 1989. … It is not enough to look back in pain, we must create a new future.

Of course: the École Polytechnique Massacre. These roses must mark a commemoration held this past December 6. I do not count, but assume they number fourteen.

A happier moment later on, while doubling back south on Spadina from Dupont. Think for a moment: what might we expect to see? (Oh go on, give it a try.)

No matter what you imagined — performing seals? 312 circus clowns spilling out of a tiny car? a pit bull tenderly guiding a baby kitten across the road? — I guarantee you did not imagine the Bayeux Tapestry.

Oh all right, fair enough, we did not in fact see the real thing. No 70 m. by 50 cm. stretch of embroidered cloth, dating from the 1070s, hung from a hydro pole.

But we did see this.

Bayeux Tapestry image, Spadina south of Dupont

I don’t know what possessed this home-owner to hang a replica of one panel on his front porch, but aren’t you glad he did? (Or she…)

And then we stopped to admire some raindrop-spangled fir cones …

somewhere on Spadina!

and then we contemplated how very raindrop-splangled we were ourselves, by now …

and then we retired to a Bloor West café for our customary latte/Americano warm-ups.







Down, Down the Don

22 August 2016 – Who needs the Loch Ness Monster? We have our very own mutant fish, right here in the Don River.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

Oh, all right, beside the Don River.

I don’t know that he, specifically, awaits me downstream, but I do anticipate art-by-the-Don, as I drop down from the Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge to join the trail heading south to Lake Ontario.

A powerful reminder: Bridgepoint Hospital there on the east bank, with its Bill Lishman sculptures tumbling down the river-side terrace.

view south down the Don, from Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

I can’t, from here, see the sculptures with my physical eye, but my mental eye conjures them once more. (You can conjure them with this link to my December post, Artful Flows the Don.)

Some traditional graffiti art under the Gerrard St. bridge — framed & enhanced by reflections in the river itself.

under the Gerrard St bridge

Then again, who needs graffiti?

River reflections make art all by themselves.

reflections in the Don

I promise you: this image is right-side-up. That buff-colour horizontal line at the top is the far bank of the river; the greenery bottom-left is right at my feet; everything in between is converging reflections from a playful sky.

More not-amazing graffiti under bridges as I go, ho-hum, yawn.

I perk up again south of Queen Street, with this view westward through various bridge underpinnings to the edge of — I’m pretty sure — Underpass Park. Major-fine murals & graffiti in there!

view west toward Underpass Park

This means I’m approaching Don Landing, and access to the West Don Lands Park, once toxic wasteland, now wonderful. This takes me off-river — but hey, this is my walk, right? I can divert if I want to.

Up the stairs to Corktown Common, the playground at the park’s high point of land. Full of parents & kiddies — here a dad carrying off his toddler after patiently pushing her in one of those bucket swings for ages. (I know, I’ve been sitting under a tree watching.) They leave, but another little girl has already claimed a seat, and a young boy is fast approaching.

Corktown Common, West Don Lands Park

It’s all charming, but I find myself most charmed by the water-fountain arrangements. First, that they exist, because I am thirsty and appreciate free, pure water.

water founains, Corktown Common

And, second, that there is tri-level water for everyone: the Big People fountain, the Little People fountain, and the Doggie water bowl bolted into position on the ground.

Back to the Lower Don trail, and on to that mutant fish, just a little farther south.

mural south of Don Landing

I cannot find an artist’s signature. Sorry!

Then, just north of Lake Shore Blvd. East, I hit more expressway trestles & more art. Memory clicks in: I came by here in spring, when the artists were first beginning to lay on base coats.

Well! Look at it now …

expressway trestles n. of Lake Shore Blvd

The fish is the work of an artist that’s new to me. Correction: two artists, known as PA System.

Next up, girl with green hair, by MC Baldassari, someone I’m beginning to appreciate a lot.

MC Baldasaari's trestle

And then girl with black hair, by EGR — so distinctive! Once you’ve seen her work, you always know it.

EGR trestle

Right here, trails diverge east & west. I could head farther east, on to Ashbridge’s Bay, but I choose west instead, starting to loop back through woodland toward home.

One last art installation to amuse me as I go. Very urban-art. Very downtown.

in the woods...

Oh, those shopping carts. They do get around. (And so much for the vaunted “wheels-will lock” technology.)

I eventually emerge from the trails, pick up Cherry St., and cut north-west through the Distillery District.

Distillery District

Where, to my amazement and no doubt yours, I do not stop for a latte.





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.


Generating Magic

20 June 2016 – It’s a trim, 21st-c. logo, don’t you agree?


The decidedly un-trim wall around it is the perfect context. This logo proclaims the current, ephemeral use of an industrial dinosaur, the Richard L Hearn Generating Station — Canada’s first station to produce hydro power from steam, when it opened in 1961, the steam itself produced originally by coal and then by natural gas until the station closed in 1983.

The hulk has sat there in Toronto’s Port Lands ever since, disused (except by film companies, who adore it), a reminder of another era as all around it the once-industrial Port Lands are increasingly detoxified and transformed for entertainment, parkland and other purposes.

The hearn generating station, seen from north side of the Turning Basin

I take this photo Saturday, a steamy Saturday let me tell you, from the north side of the Turning Basin, as I bike around & pay a return visit to “The Hearn.”

Because, you see, the hulk is — at least temporarily — The Hearn, venue 10-26 June for Toronto’s 10th annual Luminato Festival. Until this year, the huge range of events had been staged wherever possible, all over the city. This year, it is all concentrated in The Hearn.

It’s hard to convey the surreal immensity of this ragged, enormous space. Festival factoids tell me it is three times the size of the Tate Modern, and larger than the Lincoln Centre, NYC.

They need not eat their hearts out. They are considerably more polished inside.

inside the Hearn, up through Turbine Hall

You see? The eight power generating units have been ripped out; we look up, up through the immensity of the five bays that once contained them.

up through Turbine Hall, photo by Chris Corbin

And see traces, here and there, of what used to be. Electric circuit boxes along a wall, for example …

power boxes, disused

A puzzled guard very politely asks me: Why am I taking this picture? What beauty do I see in these rusted old boxes? I say it is history speaking, telling us what majesty and power and purpose this place once had. His whole face glows with pleasure. He looks at the boxes, looks back at me, smiles again. “Yes! Thank you!”

For me, it is part of the magic — the glimpses of that first purpose, co-existing with the wildly imaginative, wildly successful, wildly joyful 2016 purpose of this Festival.

In the Festival catalogue, Luminato’s artistic director, Jorn Weisbrodt, calls it:

a new model for a cultural institution, one where everything is open, inclusive and porous. A place where visitors and audiences move freely … wandering from various exhibitions to a meal … then see a play, participate in a gigantic choir sing-along, hear a classical concert, a baroque concert, or a rock concert, and end up with an LGBTQ hip-hop club event — all in one massive space.

And indeed, one evening, I attended that choir sing-along (me and 1,500 others and Rufus Wainwright), and returned last Friday evening with friends Chris and Susan to watch Toronto’s Monkey Vault team put on a parkour demo around the building — and coach the braver members of their audience through some moves of their own.

Chris took this shot of the main floor space, as spectators began gathering for the various evening events.

in Tubine Hall, waiting for Monkey Vault; photo by Chris Corbin

Parkour, as a sport, has evolved from obstacle course training to, well, every inventive, athletic, fun way possible to play with urban spaces. And what fun these Monkey Vault guys had, paying an official, sanctioned visit to a whopping big space that they may just have — ahem — already visited a time or two on the QT! (Shush.)

Part of their fun included swarming up The Hearn’s “Grand Staircase” — decorated with neon tubing for Festival purposes.

Grand Staircase, The Hearn

This is my shot, taken on my return visit Saturday, with the neon tubing shimmering into my overwhelmed little camera, making the scene even more surreal than it really was — though only marginally so, because it is hard to out-do the total mad effect, as seen by the naked eye.

Climb that Grand Staircase, as I did, and you are on the Jackman Gallery — home to a pop-up resto called Le Pavillion (a very hot ticket indeed), a bar, and Trove. Trove is one of the art exhibits, “a view of Toronto in 50 of its art treasures,” photographed in various public & private collections and displayed all along one wall.

It includes, from the TIFF Film Reference Library, Tom Frost’s Mujahedeen arabic machine Oliver, one of many typewriters used in David Cronenberg’s 1991 film adaption of  Naked Lunch.

arabic typiewriter, in Trove

See? Arabic characters on the keys.

Far end of the Gallery, a close-up view of another exhibition: One Thousand Speculations, the 7.9-m. diameter mirror ball created by Michel de Broin for Luminato in 2013, hung again this year.

One Thousand Speculations mirror ball, shot by Chris Corbin

Chris took this photo on Friday; I look more closely at the ball (the world’s largest, they tell me) on Saturday. One thousand mirrors, spiralling their reflections endlessly throughout the vast space, weaving it together somehow, and enchanting us with the lazy, silent magic of dancing light.

Signage urges us to look about, tells us to look for a remaining coal bunker up high, some coal chutes, steam vents and oil lines still snaking their way around the steel grid. I can’t find all these things, but later learn that tour guides point them out.

Back downstairs I prowl the main space again, impressed by how well they use the space, how unafraid they are of its dimensions, how they make each pop-up section work. Another bar, for example, over by the enclosed theatre …

a bar in Turbine Hall, next to the theatre

And finally, enough, I leave. Back out into the heat & sunshine. One last look back …

entrance/exit to The Hearn


Oops. Sorry.

So I look forward instead.

Past the rows of (temporary) bike racks to the rubble & grasses & wildlowers in the wild spsce beyond. Where there is another work of art — one in the permanent collections of the AGO, no less.

It is interactive, in the best contemporary traditions, and comes with its own sound effects.

detail, Untilled

Bees. Buzzing bees.

Untilled, in field next to The Hearn

This is Untilled, by Pierre Huyghe, a concrete reclining female nude – yes, you got that part — her head encased in a bee hive, with bees adding to the honey each day. And pollinating the surrounding flora, the signage tells us, “extending the work beyond an anthropomorphic definition of art.”

Oh, I wish they hadn’t added that last precious bit of artspeak!

But I like the sculpture anyway, and I cycle back home contented.




“I Spy, With My Little Eye…”

26 May 2016 – I spy, indeed. Thank you, Birdo, for the eye.

An eye-spy!

detail, Birdo mural, Queen St. E. & Seaton

It belongs to one of his Lego-gone-mad-ish mural creatures, this one on a wall near Queen E. & Seaton.

Birdo mural, Queen E. & Seaton streets

I respond to the eye, and the invitation to look and see, really see.

Really-seeing is, I hope, a major part of every walk — certainly a major objective, whether solo or, as today, headed for a Tuesday Walking Society outing.

We’re bound for Toronto Island but I play I-spy while still city-side, even before I rendezvous with Phyllis.

I spy God & Mammon. for example — the St.James Cathedral steeple, neatly lined up against the V-nicked Scotiabank tower.

King St. E., looking west to Church ST.& beyond

Then hello Phyllis, and on down Yonge to the lakefront, and west to Bay St., and into the ferry terminal, and  over to Hanlan’s Point, the western end of the curving main island in the complex, and a good place to start.

And to resume the game of I-Spy.

I spy a tree disguised as a candelabra!

tree, Hanlan's Point

I spy two very distant bare bottoms on the Clothing Optional beach …

Clothing Optional beach, Hanlan's Point

and a glimpse of stencilled paradise …

on the beach nr Gibraltar Point

a shelf of carefully arranged found objects, tucked into a secluded tree crotch …

beach nr Gibraltar Point

one end of aged fencing, being eaten by the dunes …

part of old fencing, nr Gibraltar Point

and a foraging Mallard duck, with the most exotic back pattern I’ve ever seen.

Mallard in the waters nr Centre Island

Soon we rejoin one of the main paths, work our way through Centre Island, picking up an abandoned doggie tug-of-war toy as we go. Same thought strikes us both: Let’s donate it to the Algonquin Island take-something-leave-something kiosk.

Sure enough, right off the end of that island’s arched pedestrian bridge, we plonk the fluorescent green toy on one of the kiosk shelves, so that I can triumphantly spy …

kiosk off end of Algonquin Island bridge

the toy, now among wildly varied other offerings.

On around Algonquin.

I spy two snakes!

ceramic ornaments on an Algonquin Is. gatepost

and a crow, and other Celebration Of A Life decorations …

prerparations for an event to remember a beloved island resident

and Canada Post’s miniest-mini-van, linked up with the world’s largest tree house base (that imposing wooden structure visible above the hedge).

Canada Post mini-van, on Algonquin Island

One final I-spy, well worth the wait.

A Very Fierce Dragon, propped neatly against a tree near the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

near Ward's Island ferry dock

What could possibly top that? Nothing.

So we ride back to the city, and make our way northward to home. (I walk all the way: 14.8 km, says my pedometer.)


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.




Bansky! (and other Very Good Things)

15 May 2016 – Well! You’d think Banksy would be quite enough Very Good Thing (VGT) for any one day, but this particular day has delivered a bumper crop.

Plus one Very Silly Thing, and we’ll get to that.

First VGT: the 11 a.m. Pilates class at Central Y, my home branch — it has a devoted following, & is fast becoming my own Sunday morning ritual as well.

Second VGT: finding the scrap of paper where I’d written down the directions to the one remaining example of Banksy street art here in Toronto. I wish I’d also written down the name of my blog follower who sent me the information, but I didn’t, so all I can do is say “Thank you” and know that he’ll know who he is.

Bansky, Church St. n. of The Esplanade

The location is now public online & the art protected with plexiglas, so I feel no concern about repeating the directions here: west side of Church Street, at the corner of an alley just north of The Esplanade. Also behind chain-link fence, just high enough to have short little me on tippy-toes to get any images.

Bansky art, longer view

Third VGT: carry on by bike over to the new, not-yet-quite-open Cherry Street YMCA — where despite being not quite open, they are open enough to offer tours and a free yoga class. I’m hoping to add a volunteer stint at this Y to my existing connection with Central Y, so I am a happy girl as I chain my bike and finally enter the building.

It’s a cheerful human zoo in there, all ages & types, people on tour, people lining up for the yoga class, people taking out memberships. I follow a tour, then bimble around on my own. (“Bimble = meander about. Thank you Smacked Pentax for this glorious verb.)

The exercise room looks out across Cherry St. at old once-waterfront industrial buildings, now spiffed & repurposed, but often still bearing faded names from the past.

from Cheery St. Y across looking west

Back out again, with a grateful eye at all that sunshine currently beaming down on the Y’s exuberant façade …

front, Cherry St. YMCA

since the weather has been more than iffy, all day long.

And that is the end of my planned VGT list, but no … more happens. I cycle along Front St. East, unrecognizable now among these new buildings, complete with bouncy public art.

Front St. E., nr Tannery Rd

I’ve seen this before, forgotten about it; squeak with delight to see it again. A fourth VGT! Having just come from the Y, I see them as a happy family, in exercise mode. Sorry, I can’t tell you the artist, but at least I can tell you how to find the art: Front St. East, between Rolling Mills Rd & Tannery Rd.

close-up, with the ground level

I hope you enjoy this closer look at the green ovals & wavy blue lines, since I was practically flat on the ground to get the necessary angle for my little camera. The posture earned me fluttering sideways glances by a trio of passing teens.

And now for the Very Silly Thing. The weather. By the time I straighten up from that last shot, the blue sky is again grey, and hail — hail — is pelting down.

detail, same artwork

Suddenly the happy trio are looking horrified! I share the mood.

Honestly. A high of 6C today, half-way through May, with ploppy rain/snow this morning and now hail. How silly can things be?

But I cycle on, spirits already lifting, since I have just added two more VGTs to my list. First, a latte somewhere in the Distillery District, and then — if I don’t loiter endlessly over coffee — on to St. James Cathedral for the 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon organ recital.

The hail stops, so all is well. Coffee is good.

But as I emerge from Caffe Turbo (Case Goods Lane), more hail! Absolutely pelting down, yet again.

Death Head No. 3, Case Goods Lane, Distillery District

Death Head No. 3 (right outside the Caffe Turbo door, artist name illegible) is not amused. Neither am I.

Once again, only momentarily.

The weather is too silly to keep this up for long. By the time I reach the cathedral, the sky is sunny again.

And the organ recital is terrific.




    "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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