Opened in 1993, the George Weston Recital Hall is one of the top concert venues in the world. Modeled after Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, it seats 1,000 and is noted for its outstanding acoustics. Subway stop: NORTH YORK CENTRE
TORONTO has long been a city of novelists, poets, playwrights, old bookstores, writer’s fests, poetry slams and devoted readers. One of my favourite literary corners is the Glen Road wooden footbridge – its parkette and birdhouse dedicated to MORLEY CALLAGHAN (1903-1990), our country’s ‘Chekhov’. He authored 18 novels and 100 short stories about Canadians – most of them set in the city - and often appeared on radio and television.
MORLEY CALLAGHAN moved to Rosedale’s Dale Avenue in 1951, after living in Paris and New York City, and mixing with the literati of the day. Almost daily, he and his wife (Loretto Dee) and faithful dog (Nikki) crossed the wooden bridge; then he crossed with just the dog; then alone until his death in 1990.
The Footbridge (B & W PHOTO BELOW – as it was in 1880-90) spans Rosedale Valley Drive, a branch of TORONTO’s ravine system. It links posh Rosedale with not-quite-so-posh St. Jamestown.
The large-scale photographic mural in the background is by Scott McFarland – Corner of the Courageous, Repatriation Ceremony for Sergeant Martin Goudreault, Grenville St., Toronto, Ontario, June 9th, 2010. McFarland creates a portrait of a repatriation ceremony for a fallen Canadian soldier returning home to Canada after being killed while on active duty in Afghanistan. A composite digital technique enables the artist to document a complete view of the scene.
Best known to Torontonians as the church with the noontime bells, ST. BASIL’s was built in a neighbourhood once called CLOVERHILL. The architect was a Scotsman – WILLIAM HAY. In 1856, this area was all open countryside, but today it’s filled with high-rise condos. As more buildings go up, the neighbourhood has been fighting to save a small park with mature trees at the corner of St. Joseph and Bay – and they’ve succeeded.
Former city councillor, KYLE RAE, once said that one of the pleasures of his job was filling in surface parking lots. As a result, nearly all of TORONTO’s downtown surface parking lots have buildings in them. One of the latest to become a building site abuts the Royal Alexandra Theatre, which itself nearly became a parking lot in the 1970′s. It was saved by the late ED MIRVISH.
“I.T.”, a 40 foot tall sculpture made from 10,000 pounds of steel, sits astride one of the entrances to the Distillery District. It was shipped here in 2009 after an appearance at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City, Nevada.
At Burning Man, up to a dozen people at a time were allowed inside its head, which rotated, shooting a bright spotlight from its red oscillating eye.
Michael Christian: “Having people in it I thought would take on a different feeling. So it wasn’t just meant to be a giant insect, it was meant to show that people were driving the machine, they were the brains of it. It changes the dynamic once you remove the people.”
In the Distillery District, surrounded as it is by condominiums, the eye-beam has been disconnected, and the head is off limits, but this is the “Frozen North” not Black Rock City.
BELOW – another Distillery District sculpture, “Still Dancing”, by Dennis Oppenheim, 2009.
TORONTO is seeing a lot of television and movie shoots these days. After a brief slowdown, production crews are back in business. Ontario’s 25% tax credit on all expenses is partly responsible for the ongoing success of Hollywood North. There are an estimated 25,000 workers in the film industry in TORONTO. When they’re employed this means big bucks for the hospitality industry. Hotels, car rentals and catering all reap the benefits. During peak shooting days, one movie can employ several hundred people.