Filmmaker, GUILLERMO DEL TORO, really likes us.  The “Pan’s Labyrinth” director has a long history with this city, producing several films here over several years. – including “Mimic”, “Blade It”, “Mama”, and now “Pacific Rim”“I love TORONTO, I love it with a passion.  I love the cinematheque, I love the bookstores, I love the restaurants, I love the people, and above everything else I love the crews.  They’re the best in the world.”  Mr. Del Toro spent a year in Pinewood Studios on the Lakeshore making “Pacific Rim” in one massive 250,000 square-foot studio and two smaller ones.  TORONTO streets stood in for HONG KONG and TOKYO.


LEGISLATURE1Once upon a time the site of today’s Ontario’s Legislative Assembly building, QUEEN’S PARK, was home to King’s College, which was founded during the reign of George IV.  After the College relocated, its old building was converted into the University Asylum for the Insane, which remained there for 30 years.

QUEENSPARK3QUEENSPARK5In 1888-89, the Asylum was demolished, and that’s when the Legislative Assembly building came into being.  Officially opened in 1893, Queen’s Park was named in honour of Queen Victoria.  The ‘pink palace’, as it’s known locally, is surrounded by greenery, and at the rear is one of the city’s most beautiful parks.  Off to the side – the University of Toronto’s St. George campus.

FREE TOURS: year ‘round on weekdays from 9am to 4:30pm until Victoria Day.  During the summer, free self-conducted tours (with audioguide) are offered, from 9am to 4:30pm, seven days a week.  For more information, check the website:


The THEATORIUM, opened in 1906 at 183 Yonge Street (just north of Queen Street), was TORONTO’s first permanent movie theatre. Its name was changed to the RED MILL in 1911.  The 1911 photos below are in such excellent shape, they look as if they were taken yesterday.  <PHOTO – City of Toronto Archives>


They’re found in more than 30 countries, and we have them too.  Little Free Libraries are decorative wooden boxes about the size of a large birdcage mounted on poles, filled with books free for borrowing, open 24/7.  The idea germinated in WISCONSIN 4 years ago, and TORONTO’s first Free Library appeared in the Beach neighbourhood in 2011, thanks to 80-year-old Bill Wrigley. <PHOTOS – above>

There’s a website, complete with plans for building a Little Library of your own –


ALEXCOLVILLE1 MOUNT ALLISON UNIVERSITY alumni remember ‘a great artist and a great Allisonian’, ALEX COLVILLE (’42).  Mr. Colville, an iconic Canadian painter, taught in Mount A’s Fine Arts Department from 1946-1963.  He left teaching to devote himself to painting and print-making full-time from a studio in his home on York Street in SACKVILLE, New Brunswick.

ALEXCOLVILLE2Mr. Colville died on 16 July 2013 at his home in WOLFVILLE, Nova Scotia at the age of 92.  His wife, Rhoda, died on 29 December 2012. They’re survived by four children, all of whom are subjects in his paintings.

ALEXCOLVILLE3<PHOTO ABOVE – COLVILLE HOUSE near the Mount Allison campus, Sackville, New Brunswick, by D. Gordon E. Robertson>

TORONTO’s Peter Andrew Lusztyk photographs the intricate beauty of freeway junctions

PETER ANDREW LUSZTYK – rents Cessnas to fly over and take spectacular pictures of freeway interchanges.  “It’s not until you look at them from the air that you see there is this engineered, moving system that’s really creative and quite beautiful,” says Peter, who lives and works in TORONTO.  <PHOTOS BELOW1) Toronto;  2) Montreal>

The most intricate exchanges aren’t usually found in the largest cities.  NEW YORK CITY comes up short; the ramps aren’t long enough.  The best ones appear to be in TEXAS, his next project,  Peter says that state is full of great freeway designs, and between HOUSTON, DALLAS and SAN ANTONIO his hands will be full for days.  “TEXAS has the greatest concentration of these interchanges that I’ve found (on Google),” he says.  <PHOTOS BELOW – 3) Detroit;  4) Albany;  5) Phoenix  6) Chicago>

NOW A SONG ABOUT MAYOR ROB FORD, the “cost cowboy & rollback viceroy”

Premiered at Ford Fest in suburban SCARBOROUGH last Friday night – “Mayor Ford – The World Will Remember” was given a rousing reception from the FORD NATION.  Justin Bieber, eat your heart out.  MAYORFORD-SONG3“Mayor Ford (The World Will Remember)”
(c) 2013 Jenny James, Brian Mann, Paul Chalmers, Sonia Watkins
Mayor Ford the tax payer’s lord
Toronto’s own, our votes he won
He’s big and grand
On wasting people’s money he takes a standHe’s the money crusader
The excess cost eliminator
A big heart that always cares
A man who’s fair and keeps things square
Mayor Ford, cost cowboy and rollback viceroy
Toronto’s defender, economic mender
Blatant attacks won’t make him collapse
Cause Mayor Ford will bounce right back
Mayor Ford, the world will rememberVERSE 3,4
We’ve seen tax and spend heroes before
Their fancy speeches, oh what a bore
They had their thrills and now we’re forced to pay their bills
That’s why we’re soreAll the crazy accusations
Won’t break apart the Ford Nation
He’s the man who perseveres
His political mandate will adhere
Mayor Ford, cost cowboy and rollback viceroy
Toronto’s defender, economic mender
Blatant attacks won’t make him collapse
Cause Mayor Ford will bounce right back.

Amid Toronto’s runaway construction, vintage art deco survives

<PHOTOS ABOVE1) Art Deco clock, RC Harris Water Treatment Plant by Loozrboy/wikimedia; 2) Chandeliers, Canada Permanent Building, Bay Street; 3) Garden Court Apartments, Bayview Avenue; 4) Doors, 357 Bay Street, Jake/39>

CARLU10<PHOTO ABOVE – Round Room, the Carlu, College Park, & BELOW – Old Stock Exchange doors>

In PORTLAND, Oregon, 6 cargo tricycles are delivering the goods

ORTLAND, Oregon loves bikes.  Now, a small fleet of electric-assisted three-wheelers (trikes) are delivering coffee beans, beer, baked goods, bike parts, office supplies, hot tubs, etc. in 60-cubic-foot cargo boxes, each with a capacity of 600 pounds.

B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery was founded in 2009 by entrepreneur FRANKLIN JONES.  His company makes up to 150 deliveries a day, using a fleet of six trikes.  Mr. Jones predicts this year’s revenue will reach $400,000 – some of which comes from advertising.

The Mazzoleni, a Royal Conservatory concert hall, opened in 1901

TORONTO is a city rich in concert halls.  We have 5 downtown (Massey Hall, Koerner Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, the Glenn Gould Studio and the Mazzoleni) and 1 in North York (the Weston).  Of them all, the MAZZOLENI is the least well-known, overshadowed by its glamourous sister, the KOERNER.

MAZZOLENI1The MAZZOLENI, with 237 seats, is named after Dr. Ettore Mazzoleni, principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music from 1945-68, and director of the Conservatory Orchestra.  It opened in 1901 as the Castle Memorial Hall, with a chapel and stained glass windows on the ground floor, and a library on the lower level.  By the 1960s, the University of Toronto, which used the space as a lecture hall, bricked up the windows and removed a rear balcony.  Beginning in 1996, the Hall and the entire Conservatory were restored.

MAZZOLENI4GLENN GOULD – arguably the Conservatory’s most outstanding pupil – studied theory, organ, and piano, graduating at the age of 12 in 1946 with an ARCT diploma of the highest honours.