The Silver Dollar Room & the Hotel Waverly, still standing after all these years

The Hotel Waverly opened in 1900, making it an elder among downtown TORONTO hotels in continuous operation.  Adjacent to the Scott Mission and the Silver Dollar Room, the Waverly provides low rent accomodation in Spadina Avenue’s Chinatown.  There’s evidence that James Earl Ray stayed at the Waverly while hiding out in TORONTO after shooting Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was also the longtime home of poet Milton Acorn, several of whose works depicts life in the neighbourhood.  In popular culture the hotel was the opening scene of the Elmore Leonard novel Killshot and was also featured in the film version.

<Hotel Waverly, 484 Spadina Avenue, photo – SimonP/wikipedia>

The Silver Dollar Room at 486 Spadina, began as the Waverly’s cocktail lounge 50 years ago, and is now one of TORONTO’s top blues, punk, soul, bluegrass, indie, garage, folk venues.  The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Downchild Blues Band and Blind Boys of Alabama are just three of the multitude of performers who’ve graced the Silver Dollar stage.

Bluegrass guitarist, Chris Coole: “I know it sounds cliché, but the Silver Dollar has got a lot of history.  I love to play in an old bar that has a lot of atmosphere in it, that hasn’t been built in the last five years.  At the Silver Dollar, the feeling is really there.”

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Toronto Transit’s CEO, ANDY BYFORD, talks common sense

ANDY BYFORD, a graduate of London’s Underground, and now CEO of the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) wants to prioritize the building of a Downtown Subway Relief Line (DRL).  From Pape to Union Station, with 5 stops along the way, it might look something like this:

Our subway system is overloaded, and ANDY BYFORD believes the time has come to stop talking and start doing.  “We’re just holding back the tide, we really do need to start thinking about relief for (the Yonge Line), to provide additional capacity to get people from the suburbs downtown,” he told CBC radio.  “The way to do that is to get people off the Bloor-Danforth line earlier, so that they don’t interchange onto the Yonge line.”

And before suburbia starts kvetching about building another downtown subway at their expense, BYFORD adds: “At the end of the day, this isn’t a private shuttle for people living around Queen and King (in the core).  This is a line to get people from the suburbs, primarily, into the prime traffic objective — in other words, where people want to go — which is the commercial and financial centre of downtown Toronto. 

“Let’s get that debate going.  Obviously funding is an issue, but let’s at least start the talking.”

TORONTO buildings kill millions of birds annually – Fatal Light Awareness

Unbelievable, but unfortunately true.  TORONTO sits in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway, one of four ancient North American bird migration routes.  Every spring and fall, day and night, hundreds of thousands of birds overfly the city, to and from the southland.  More or less unobstructed until they reach the Greater Toronto Area, these tiny spirits are suddenly confronted by hundreds of reflective glassed buildings – some 70-80 storeys high, and oftentimes illuminated.  Anywhere from 1-9 million birds annually plummet to their deaths from these structures.

<The four North American bird flyways.  TORONTO is in the Atlantic Flyway>

FLAP (or the Fatal Light Awareness Program) is a TORONTO-based organization.  It’s been valiantly fighting to save the birds, and appears to be having some success.  Through research, education, rescue, rehabilitation, and now the courts, FLAP is challenging developers to be much more environmentally friendly.

<NY Times article, “Toronto Looks to Save Casualties of Urban Skies”, October 28/2012>

Ian Austen, in a lengthy article in the Sunday New York Times: “There is no precise ranking of the world’s most deadly cities for migratory birds, but TORONTO is considered a top contender for the title . . . (Professor Daniel Klem Jr., an ornothologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown Pa.) was quick to say that the city also leads North America when it comes to addressing the problem.”

FLAP volunteer “early birders” arise before dawn every day, and head down to the Financial District or elsewhere in the GTA, carrying butterfly nets and paper bags.  They rescue injured birds before commuters arrive in the area for the start of another business day.  The dead are wrapped in paper, and taken to FLAP headquarters, provided by a sympathetic city councillor.  The injured are treated, and later released on the shores of Lake Ontario.  FLAP has documented more than 164 species that have collided with GTA buildings over the last 15 years.

<An injured Ovenbird being treated.  It will eventually be released.>

To find out more about TORONTO’s Fatal Light Awareness Program (or FLAP), call 416-366-3527 or check their website http://www.flap.org/volunteer.php.  Volunteers and contributions are always welcome.

<PHOTOS – J. P. Moczulski>

‘PhilmFotos’ – re-imagined on location movie photos by Christopher Moloney

CHRISTOPHER MOLONEY <@moloknee>, has revisited movie locations in TORONTO and NEW YORK, superimposed images from feature films, and created some original art.  You can see his work and learn more about Christopher at http://www.philmfotos.tumblr.com.

PHOTOS BELOW – 1) Victoria Street, “Last Night”, 1998; 2) Silver Dollar Saloon, Spadina Avenue, “Adventures in Babysitting”, 1987; 3) Cabbagetown gingerbread, “Scott Pilgrim vs The World”, 2010; 4) Yonge Street, “The Incredible Hulk”. 2008.

PHILMFOTOS1PHILMFOTOS2PHILMFOTOS3PHILMFOTOS4