The Yorkville Rock on Cumberland Street – downtown’s popular meeting place

The Yorkville Rock was purchased for $1500, from a Gravenhurst-area farmer.  It was cut into 120 pieces, each one carefully marked for reassembly, and shipped to the Big Smoke on flatbed trucks.  The granite rock was placed on a star-shaped, concrete platform, atop the Bloor-Danforth subway tunnel, on the edge of posh Yorkville.

Winter and summer, the Rock is one of TORONTO’s favourite hangouts.  There’s an adjacent subway station, Louis Vuitton around the corner, and all the glitz of Yorkville across the street.  Subway stop – BAY

Artist AARON LEIGHTON discovers “the fantastical hidden in the familiar”.

AARON LEIGHTON grew up on the Canadian prairies, but now makes his home in TORONTO.  He has created illustrations for a variety of advertising, publishing and corporate clients – including CBC television, Teletoon, the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Time Out NY, Chatelaine and Fortune.  His book, “Spirit City Toronto”, published in 2010 by Koyama Press, is unfortunately now out of print.  But you can probably find a copy in the library.  It “combines my interests in urban landscapes, travel and mythology, the images suggest that the magical and the mundane can indeed coexist in the most unlikely of places, if only we look closely enough.”  Find out more about the artist and his work at – http: – or


My Saturday in New York City – October 27/2012 – lull before the storm.

This time last week I was in New York City shepherding two first-timers around.  They’d never been there before, so we covered a lot of territory – mostly on foot – from 50th Street to Wall Street; the Brooklyn Bridge to the High Line.  They absolutely loved it, just as I’ve loved it from my first visit as a teenager in 1959.  Last Saturday everything seemed so completely normal as we wandered around, but 24 hours later the world was turned upside down.  We were already back in Canada when New York and New Jersey faced off against Sandy’s fury.  The flooding and destruction is staggering.  The response from the population and government has been totally impressive.  If such a calamity should occur in Canada (earthquake, a tsunami, oil spill, rising tides, etc.), with the Canadian government’s penchant for cost-cutting everything that isn’t nailed down, do we have the where-with-all to respond as the US is doing?  I wonder.

<PHOTOS ABOVE from the NY Times website: South Ferry subway station/Lenny Pridatko; and Flooding of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel/Dave Jones>

Exhibition celebrates the special efffects & make-up artistry of GORDON SMITH

For over three decades now Canada’s GORDON SMITH has been creating movie magic.  He’s one of those unsung heroes who work behind the camera, designing make-up and special effects for features such as – David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”, Oliver Stone’s “JFK” and “Platoon” (as well as “Nixon”, “Born on the Fourth of July”, and “Natural Born Killers”), Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark”, and Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and “X2”, where he brought characters such as Mystique, Toad, and Wolverine to life.