“America’s Sweetheart”, MARY PICKFORD, was born on April 8, 1892 in a plain brick townhouse at 211 University Avenue. It’s now the site of the Hospital For Sick Children. The house is long gone, but Mary’s birthplace is marked by a plaque and sculpture.
NJACKO BACKO, 55, Cameroon-born, has lived in Nigeria, France, Amsterdam, Montreal – and now, TORONTO. He currently teaches through Mariposa in the Schools and performs with his band Kalimba Kalimba. He has also launched a program to rebuild a school in his home village in Africa. Website: http://www.njackobacko.com
MICHAEL COOK is a TORONTO photographer, writer and urban explorer. His website – http://www.vanishingpoint.ca – gives us an inside look at the city’s underground network of pipes, canals and drainage systems. His photographs are both rare and startling.
JEFF PLEWMAN, 65, made quite the impression when dressed up as his alter-ego, NASH THE SLASH – a TORONTO eccentric if ever there was one. A multi-instrumentalist, Jeff could play the electric violin, mandolin, harmonica, keyboards and the glockenspiel. But (like many baby boomers) he decided 40 years was enough, took off the surgical tape, shut down his official website, thanked his loyal fans, and bid them adieu.
AND he’s a fiscal conservative. Quote: “I voted for Rob Ford because I believe in fiscal responsibility and you can call him a bumbling fool, but guess what? We’re not going to have any money to support the gay Pride parade unless we get our books straight. If we don’t conserve our money, eventually, we’re all going to turn into Greece.”
Writer JODY ROSEN, and photographer ANDREW ROWAT have published a three-page story with accompanying pictures in the March/2013 issue of the New York Times ‘Style Magazine’. This kind of publicity you can’t buy – especially if you’re running a smallish bookshop several kilometres from the centre of TORONTO.
The article focuses on The Monkey’s Paw, “an oddly modern antiquarian bookshop next door to a laundromat” in the West End. “It’s a tiny shop, specializing in the arcane and the absurd, and may just be publishing’s great new hope” in the face of BigBoxMerchandising and the internet.
KANSAS CITY native, STEPHEN FOWLER, 48, says “this isn’t the store where you’ll find the book you were looking for. It’s the store where you’ll find the book you didn’t know you were looking for . . . You have these hip 26-year old downtown TORONTO kids – they’ve actually never been to a bookshop. They come here and they’re like: ‘It reminds me of a scene in Harry Potter.’”
During her visit, Ms. Rosen checked out the BIBLIO-MAT, which has been photographed countless times. It’s Mr. Fowler’s experiment in randomization. You put a $2 coin into the slot, there’s a buzzing sound, a bell rings and out pops a book. The idea being that even the cheapest book can offer pleasure.
You’ll find The Monkey’s Paw at 1229 Dundas Street West, one of several independent bookshops in our city – miraculously still doing business.
Obviously a TORONTO booster, the former dean of arts and science believes “the biggest challenges (for Toronto) are going to be in areas of infrastructure, particularly transportation.
“It’s pretty obvious that we have under-invested in all forms of transportation structure for a long time, particularly public transit. If there is anything the university could do to inform those debates, I think it would be a great service to the city region.”
TORONTO’s new City Planner, JENNIFER KEESMAAT, 42, comes with a bevy of credentials. She holds a Masters degree in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning from York University, and a BA from the University of Western Ontario; is a founding partner of the Office for Urbanism; a Registered Professional Planner; an award-winning member of the Canadian Institute of Planners; and a member of the Congress for New Urbanism.
She’s been a lead on planning projects for Regina, Winnipeg, Halifax, Lethbridge, Moncton, Mississauga and Belleville. Now she’s been appointed Chief Planner for the City of TORONTO, and has hit the ground running. And, according to columnist Marcus Gee, she’s on her way to becoming our city’s first celebrity bureaucrat.
A few quotes and notes from, and about Ms. KEESMAAT:
- She tweeted that removing the Jarvis Street bike lanes was a bad idea
- Says the city can use a cycling plan and a walking strategy
- Says we’re adapting to intensification, but need to spread the density around
- Says city planners need to address climate change and find ways to reduce TORONTO’s environmental footprint
~! Quote: “Canada is the only country in the G8 without a national transit strategy.”
~! Quote: “We have a political culture that is very challenging.”
~! Quote: “What we need to move towards is a framework where we see cycling as a legitimate form of transportation, and we are ensuring that drivers have the space they need and that cyclists have the space that they need.”
~! Quote: “I’m not big on massive investments in infrastructure that are about moving more cars.”
~! Quote: “Walking is an indicator of what we believe and what it is we value.”
~! Quote: “When you consider how much we spend on lattes every year, why are we freaking out about how much we pay in taxes? We need a reality check.”
~! Quote: “We need to start having this conversation: if you want something, you have to pay for it.”
~! Quote: “As radical as it may seem here, the trend is for major-city planners to be a big voice on urban issues.”
~! Quote: “I am not a bureaucrat. I am a kind of can-do, change-agent type of person.”
~! Quote: “Cities are emerging on a global scale as strategic places for innovation, which is a key driver of economic recovery.”
~! Quote: “The passion Canadians have for their cities is palpable. But so is the frustration, and the sense that we continue to miss the mark.”
ON TWO FAVOURITE CITIES:
~! Quote: “I absolutely loved San Francisco. I went recently and there is just so much grassroots excitement in that city right now. Copenhagen is at the very top of my wish list. The way they have made their city bikeable is just amazing. I’ve read about it, studied it, now I just have to go there.”
The owner of this little hot dog stand deserves some credit. For several years now, he’s been cleaning up after litterbugs, protecting a neighbouring tree, and doing his best to improve the urban environment.
The sign reads: “Hello, dear friend, how are you today?/You know that I am a tree/My brother and I live in the cement box that you can see/with a limited amount of earth./We work for you./We clean the air so you can breathe easily./We want to ask if you do not throw your cigarette buds in our home,/the buds will poison us./We can help you so you can get clean air/and we just want some help too.”
Retiring bank economist and television personality, SHERRY COOPER, remembers TORONTO’s financial district in the 1980′s. That’s when she moved here to join the brokerage firm Burns Fry. She was shocked. “The old boys would take clients to lap dancing places and charge it to the company. They would take limos to BUFFALO, because apparently Buffalo had better bars and strip joints, and they charged it to the firm.” – Report on Business Exit Interview, February/2013
And furthermore . . .