TORONTO’s francophone neighbour, MONTREAL, delivers a ‘Canadien’ winter

MONTREAL5<Corner of Peel and Sainte-Catherine, 1948, Montreal, Adrien Hébert>  As winter approaches, thoughts turn to MONTREAL, that snowy metropolis 350 miles (560 kilometres) northeast of TORONTO.  In Canada, that’s practically next door.  It’s a go-to wintertime destination for Torontonians, searching for a change of scene without crossing an international border.  The two cities are roughly the same size, and each offers an abundance of art, music, dining and architectural experiences, nightlife and theatre.  There’s efficient rail, bus and airline service between them.TORONTOSTREET-HARRIS<Toronto Street, Winter Morning/Lawren Harris, 1920>

St. Andrew’s Market was one of several in TORONTO’s youth

<St. Andrew’s Market and St. Andrew’s Hall, 1921>  St. Andrew’s Market, corner of Maud and Richmond Streets, was one of several marketplaces downtown.  The St. Lawrence (1803), St. Patrick’s (1850) and St. Andrew’s (1837) were three of the largest.  Only the St. Lawrence survives.  The original St. Andrew’s opened in 1837, and was rebuilt twice.   The final version was demolished on January 5, 1932.  It’s now the site of a waterworks building and  TORONTO’s first supervised children’s playground (which opened in 1909).  <PHOTOS – City of Toronto Archives>


The Bovine Sex Club, in business since January/1991 – you can’t miss it

Bovine Sex Club, 542 Queen Street West>   For those of us who don’t get out much . . . this facade at 542 Queen Street West has always been a mystery.  What exactly lies within?  Turns out, it’s the Bovine Sex Club, an internationally-renowned bar on the Queen Street West strip. The Bovine (or BSC) has found itself at the forefront of our city’s goth, punk, alternative and rockabilly music scenes.  A haven for independent musicians and artists since day one, the Bovine is also known for being one of the first establishments to serve Jägermeister on tap.

Transforming the Toronto Transit Commission – one “quick win” at a time

From ANDY BYFORD, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission: “We are focused on what I call “quick wins” to show that we are serious about delivering better service.  Quick wins are improvements that can and should be made right now, often for little or no cost.  The introduction of end-of-line litter picking, whereby in-service trains are cleared of garbage each return trip rather than only at night, has proved a hit with customers who have noticed a difference in the cleanliness of vehicles.Trackside walls have been cleaned, washrooms refurbished and we are looking at ways to deliver cleaner streetcars and buses while they are on the road.  Transit Control has stepped up the quantity and quality of information during disruptions, and we are speeding up installation of information screens at key locations to keep customers better informed.  Next up is the introduction of debit and credit facilities at all Collector Booths across the subway by early next year so that Metropasses can be purchased more conveniently.”

Let’s give ANDY some credit: the subway system looks cleaner, brighter and in better shape than it has in years.  He and his team are on the right track.

Studio 212 closes. North America’s last outpost for radio drama goes ‘dark’.

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.  But they have.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is shutting down beautiful Studio 212 in TORONTO’s Broadcasting Centre.  The heyday for Canadian radio drama was from the 1930’s to 60’s, largely under the direction of ANDREW ALLAN, Supervisor of Radio Drama.  He’s especially well remembered for the Sunday night “CBC Stage” series, often done live.

<Andrew Allan in the radio control room/CBC Still Photo Collection>  Studio 212 takes us back to another era of radio, with its sections of concrete, tile and marble floors; a small kitchen with cups and plates to replicate at-home sounds, a “dead room” with no echoes, noisemakers, sirens and megaphones.
<CBC radio drama production, unidentified actors, City of Toronto Archives, ca1945-55>  Over the years, CBC has produced countless dramas, comedy shows, the classics, cops and robbers, love stories, war stories, science fiction, etc.  The final series from Studio 212, which has been running for several years now and is available on CD’s from the CBC Shop – “Afghanada” – focuses on Canada’s War in Afghanistan.Artifacts from Studio 212 will no doubt join others in the CBC Museum, ground floor of the Broadcast Centre, 250 Front Street West.  The main console will be reinstalled in the Glenn Gould concert studio, also in the Broadcast Centre.