(Mayor) Rob Ford voodoo dolls: you don’t get much for $20 these days

COUNCILLOR ADAM VAUGHAN (Toronto Star, October 22/2011):  “I almost feel sorry for him, but he won’t listen.  It’s very hard to tell someone who thinks he knows everything that he doesn’t know anything.  He doesn’t have the creativity or the tolerance to govern.  It’s not going to happen.  He’s in over his head.  I’m not being uncharitable – he is what he is.  Rob Ford is a demolition expert; he’s a blunt force.  The issue is, how can we contain the damage.”

The old Don Jail (1862-65), revitalized, rebuilt, renovated (2011-12)

TORONTO’s notorious old Don Jail, is undergoing a massive makeover.  Thanks to Bridgepoint Health and Diamond & Schmitt Architects, this Victorian-era structure will soon be the centrepiece of a new medical campus.  A 10 storey, 472 bed hospital is rising adjacent to the old jailhouse, which will eventually house the Bridgepoint Research Centre.  Inside – the jail’s rotunda is being restored; a tiled-over glass floor and the skylight are both being uncovered.  Plans are to bring all walkways, gargoyles and railings back to their original lustre.  INTERIOR PHOTOS BELOW – Kaori Furue http://www.torontoist.com



Toronto’s House of Industry is reborn & Queen Victoria would be highly amused.

Walking past 110 Edward Street on a sunny day, it’s hard to imagine this yellow brick building as a Dickensian “poor house”.  It was.  And in the mid-1800’s the surrounding neighbourhood looked like a remnant of a London slum.  In 1848 the Toronto House of Industry opened its doors to the unemployed, the homeless, orphans and abandoned children, immigrants – anyone who was down and out.  Food, fuel and a bed were provided in return for hard work.  (PHOTOS BELOW – Elizabeth and Elm Streets; the Dickensian neighbourhood; breaking rocks in return for food & shelter – City of Toronto Archives)


The YWCA has transformed this block of downtown Toronto into a 300-unit affordable housing complex.  Primarily for women and women-led families, one building houses Aboriginal singles, couples and families.  Another, 150 affordable units and 100 supportive homes geared to income.  The original building is now headquarters for the YWCA with an auditorium, meeting rooms and a boutique.


‘Edward Hopper, Untitled’ – from The New Yorker, September 12, 2011

Solitude and big city loneliness are portrayed in this work – ‘Solitary Figure in a Theatre’ (1902) – by American painter Edward Hopper.  It’s in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.  Linda Pastan’s poem ‘Edward Hopper, Untitled’ appeared in the September 12 issue of The New Yorker.

“An empty theatre: seats
shrouded in white
like rows of headstones;
the curtain about to rise
(or has it fallen?)
on a scene
of transcendental

And the audience?
A solitary figure sheathed
in black, a woman
in a hat perhaps
(more abstract
shape than woman)
sitting alone
in the cavernous dark.

This is quintessential Hopper—
cliche of loneliness
transformed by brushstroke
into something part paint,
part desperation.
‘Oil on board,’ the label says,
as if even a tree
had to be sacrificed.”

—Linda Pastan, The New Yorker, 09/12/2011

Newcombe Pianos, Ecology Action Centre, Halifax and Toronto

Wandering around the clapboard back streets of HALIFAX, I came across the Ecology Action Centre at the picturesque corner of Fern Lane and May Street.  On the exterior wall, a sculptural mounting of the innards of a Newcombe Piano.The Newcombe Piano Company was established in 1878 by one Octavius Newcombe (PHOTO ABOVE).  The company distributed quality instruments all across Canada from its TORONTO manufacturing headquarters.  Queen Victoria acquired a Newcombe for Windsor Castle, and the company was awarded numerous medals and diplomas – at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886; Chicago’s World Fair in 1893; and the Paris Exposition of 1900.The Ecology Action Centre, estabished in 1971, has 1000 members, 400 volunteers and 7 active teams and committees.  It’s devoted to preserving and improving the built and natural ecologies of Nova Scotia, and for seven years running has been voted “the number one activist organization” by readers of The Coast magazine.