The Theatre Museum and Herbert Whittaker Collection will soon have a home.

The unique Canadian Westinghouse Building, built in 1927, will be part of a new condo development on King Street West at John.   TORONTO’s Theatre Museum, wandering in the wilderness for decades, has been assured a large space in the project.  The core of the collection was donated by HERBERT WHITTAKER (1910-2006), Montreal-born designer, director, Member of the Order of Canada, and Drama Critic Emeritus for the Globe and Mail.  After retiring from his column in 1975, Mr. Whittaker continued writing for the Globe from London and New York.  He also sent dispatches from Russia, Greece, France, China and Australia.

Highrise living for TORONTO’s birds, by John Looser

<John Looser’s assistant and high-rise bird mansions/photo-Caters/2011>  JOHN LOOSER:  “I have always loved birds and when I retired early I just felt the need to carry on doing something.  So I came up with this idea for these bird mansions.  There are birds living in them right now.”

Lawren Harris’s 1930-era deco house, FOREST HILL – OAA Award winner

PHOTO – Tom Arban Photography, http://www.oaa.on.ca  . . . . . The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) presents awards annually to outstanding architectural projects throughout the province.  Drew Mandel Architects’ restoration of LAWREN HARRIS’s deco home is among this year’s winners.  Mr. Harris was a member of the Group of Seven, and much of his work is displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Collection in Kleinberg, and the National Gallery of Canada.

“REASON OVER PASSION” BY TORONTO ARTIST JOYCE WIELAND (1930-1998)

FROM A FRIEND – “Not sure about the sub-rating “Passion”, but let’s hope “REASON” prevails over bigotry and politically devious agendas.” In 1982, Ms. Wieland received The Order of Canada and in 1987, she was chosen for a Toronto Arts Foundation’s Visual Arts Award. She was also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Urbanist, JANE JACOBS, lived in Toronto for 38 years

JANE JACOBS (1916-2006), urbanist, writer, activist and grassroots organizer, lived for 38 years in the Annex neighbourhood of TORONTO.  Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania Jane spent more than half of her life in Manhattan, but moved to Canada with her family in 1968.  She became a Canadian citizen in 1974, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996.  Among her many achievements: saving a swath of New York City from Robert Moses’ crosstown Lower Manhattan Expressway; writing “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, her best-known work; fighting to cancel TORONTO’s inner city Spadina Expressway and its parasitic entrails; influencing the development of TORONTO’s St. Lawrence Neighbourhood; opposing the amalgamation of old TORONTO with its inner suburbs; and making herself available for media interviews, conferences, speaking engagements, this, that and the other

To honour JANE JACOBS, Toronto and many other cities worldwide, annually organize insider neighbourhood tours every spring.  Thousands take part, and all are welcome.  For the newsletter check the website: http://www.janeswalk.net  Upon her death in 2006, her family’s statement said: “What is important is not that she died, but that she lived, and that her life’s work has greatly influenced the way we think.  Please remember her by reading her books and implementing her ideas.”

<PHOTO – Jane Jacobs, Chairman of the Commission to Save the West Village, NYC, 1961>

St. Clair’s streetcar transitway is neither a “boondoggle” or “disaster”.

It seems that Mayor Rob Ford and spokesbrother, Councillor Doug, have a hate-on for the St. Clair streetcar transitway.  Mayor Ford to City Council: “People hate the St. Clair.  They hate these streetcars.  They don’t want these damned streetcars blocking up our city.  You look at it, it’s a complete disaster.  It went over budget. Go out there and drive. People know, it’s a nightmare.”  Not true!  Having ridden the system twice in the last couple of days, and driven it several times, I’d say the transitway works extremely well – from skyscraper-rich Yonge Street to less dense neighbourhoods further west.  City Councillor Joe Mihevc to the TTC Commission:  “Often when the political spinning starts, the first casualty is the truth.  We need to find a way to get beyond the anecdotes.”The streetcars and platforms are clean and graffiti-free; each has a bench; most have colourful graphics and plantings; some have capsule histories of the neighbourhood; streetcars arrive every 5-7 minutes; U-turns are permitted; there’s on-street parking in commercial areas; motorists seem to obey traffic signs and lights; no honking, etc.  What’s not to like?There appears to be far less traffic – both pedestrian and automobile – on St. Clair Avenue than you’ll find on most downtown streets.  Danforth Avenue for instance, is jammed with pedestrians and cars, even with a subway underneath.  Take a ride on the 512, and see for yourself.  Maybe the Mayor could focus his attention elsewhere – just a thought.