TORONTO’s Belt Line Railway encircled a much smaller city when it opened to passenger traffic in 1892. Its purpose: to transport people and freight between the new suburbs – Forest Hill, Rosedale, Moore Park and Chaplin Estates – and the city’s downtown core.
Unfortunately, the suburban real estate boom ended after only two years, and some of the railways’s inclines were too steep for freight trains. Thus, the rails were torn up and shipped to France during the Great War of 1914-18.
The City of TORONTO bought the roadbed from CN Rail in 1990, and Councillor Kay Gardner became a driving force to convert the land into a 4.5 kilometre long park and hiking trail from Mount Pleasant Cemetery and the Davisville subway train yards, westward through some of the city’s poshest neighbourhoods.
It’ll be a zoo at TORONTO’s Zoo tomorrow, as Giant Pandas, ER SHUN (6 years old) and DA MAO (5 years old), go on display for the first time. <PHOTOS BELOW – DA MAO top, and ER SHUN below>
GETTING TO THE ZOO – TORONTO’s Zoo is located in the East End of the city in the rolling hills of the Rouge Valley. By car from downtown, take the 401 Eastbound to Exit 389, Meadowvale Road. Follow the Zoo signs to 361A Old Finch Avenue. Large parking lot.
By PUBLIC TRANSIT – take the subway (Sheppard Line) to DON MILLS STATION. Bus #85 leaves from here, and will drop you in front of the Zoo entrance about 45 minutes later. Along the way, you’ll pass through suburban Don Mills and Scarborough.
MAYOR ROB FORD may have picked the wrong enermy. For 3 years now, the TORONTO Star – daily readership over a million – and the mayor have been at war with each other. The Star, under the banner ‘no one is above the law’, has been relentlessly tracking the mayor and his shenanigans. As Jason McBride writes in TORONTO LIFE: “The mayor might be a gift to all local newspapers, but the Star more than any of the other dailies relishes unwrapping it.”
Today, in a front page exclusive and editorial, two Star reporters and the editor of Gawker (a US website) screened a video 3 times, purporting to show MAYOR FORD inhaling from a crack pipe and speaking incoherently.
Star editorial excerpt, May 17/2013: “The city has become sadly familiar with this mayor’s troubling pattern of behaviour, from being asked to leave a gala because he appeared impaired to being accused of inappropriate conduct at a public event by a former candidate for mayor. Add to that the mayor’s erratic work schedule and past incidents of drunkeness – all accompanied by denial and evasion.
“But the video points to activity that is much more serious and would render Ford completely unfit to serve in office. The behaviour it shows, if true, is clearly illegal. And the chain of events that led to the video becoming public involves drug dealers. There’s enough evidence here, absent a convincing explanation, for Toronto police to get involved.” http://www.thestar.com
<Corrigan’s editorial cartoon, TORONTO STAR, Saturday, May 18/2013>
If you enjoy shopping, sitting in cafes, visiting art galleries, exploring narrow laneways, admiring gingerbread architecture or just whiling away an afternoon – this is a stroller’s paradise.
Within Yorkville you’ll find – Mira Godard Gallery, the new Four Seasons Hotel, antiques along Davenport Road, Hazelton Lanes high-end shopping, the 50-year-old Coffee Mill, Cumberland Street park and the famous Yorkville Rock.
Nearby – the Annex neighbourhood, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music, Koerner Concert Hall, Bloor Street West shopping, Philosopher’s Walk, the Hyatt Rooftop bar, and the Gardiner Ceramics Museum.
Subway stop - BAY
YORKVILLE was the epi-centre of TORONTO’s youth and hippie culture back in the sixties. And the RIVERBOAT COFFEE HOUSE was the epi-centre of Yorkville. All that remains of this famous establishment is a plaque in front of a new five-star hotel. Some of the biggest names in music – Canadian and otherwise – played at the Riverboat: Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Dan Hill and Neil Young, among others.
The cafe is immoralized in ‘Ambulance Blues’ by NEIL YOUNG, shown below in 1965 performing at the RIVERBOAT. <PHOTO – Manfred Buchheit>
Back in the old folky days
The air was magic when we played.
The Riverboat was rockin’
in the rain
Midnight was the time
for the raid.
Oh, Isabela, proud Isabela,
They tore you down and
plowed you under.
You’re only real
with your make-up on
How could I see you
and stay too long?
TORONTO’s annual month-long photography extravaganza is on now in museums, galleries, subway stations, and on the street – in neighbourhoods across town. A 215 page glossy catalogue (BELOW) lists 125 venues, easily reachable by public transport, along with special events, fllms, installations and speakers.
A few of the exhibits: 1) Martin Parr’s images of ‘Food’, along King St. West at John; 2) ‘Military Shirts, Moscow’, David Hlynsky, De Luca Fine Art Gallery; 3) Arnaud Maggs at Ryerson’s Image Centre; 4) ‘Queer Photographs – Rae’, JJ Levine, Gladstone Hotel Art Bar & Gallery 44.
TORONTO’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, 189 Yonge Street at Queen, are the last “double decker” or stacked Edwardian theatres in the world. The Winter Garden is on top; the Elgin underneath. Both were designed by Thomas W. Lamb, as a flagship for Marcus Loew’s American vaudeville chain.
The 1500 seat Elgin opened first – on December 15, 1913 as Loew’s Yonge Street vaudeville theatre, with royal boxes, gilt, mirrors and plaster detailing. With the passing of vaudeville, it became a cinema – Loew’s Downtown – later rechristened the Elgin.
The Winter Garden, opening on February 16, 1914, was modeled after 19th century ‘roof garden’ theatres. Its trompe l’oeil pastoral paintings, a ceiling garden of coloured-glass lanterns, vines and beech boughs make for a memorable night at the theatre.
With the decline of vaudeville and the rise of motion pictures, the Winter Garden Theatre closed on June 16, 1928. For fifty years it became a ‘ghost’ – sitting dark and empty. The Winter Garden came to life twice during that half century – once for a midnight preview of a Vincent Price movie, and as a set for CBC television’s ‘White Oaks of Jalna’ series.
Miraculously, in 1982, both theatres were granted national historic status. A government sponsored state-of-the-art renovation brought all the magic and glory back. The Winter Garden was no longer a “ghost”.
Tours are often available.
<PHOTO – Box Office, David J./wikimedia>
TORONTO LIFE magazine, May/2013: It’s been a crazy year for the Lindsay Lohan of politics, which makes it a good moment to take stock: the highs and lows, the friends and foes, the scandals and woes of the world’s most resilient mayor – all in the May issue. Eight pages of it, fully illustrated.
(With apologies to LINDSAY LOHAN)
“We expected a bumpy ride with Ford as mayor, but we weren’t prepared for a self-sabotaging Lindsay Lohan of politics. With a new scandal every week, it’s easy to lose track. Hence – a scrapbook of two very long years in Fordlandia.”