Colonel Samuel Smith Skating Trail, Kipling at Lakeshore Blvd.


One of TORONTO’s newest and largest waterfront parks is located in the west end.  It’s a sanctuary for wild life of all kinds, a favourite bird-watching location, and now home to an ice skating park – par excellence.  A former power plant houses change areas, skate sharpening facility and the washrooms.  <PHOTOS – James Melvin and City of Toronto Parks>

UNSUPERVISED SKATING: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm; SUPERVISED: Monday-Friday, 5-10pm; Saturday, Sunday, 9am-10pm
GETTING THERE BY CAR: exit the Queen Elizabeth Way/Gardiner at Kipling Avenue, and drive south; BY PUBLIC TRANSIT: subway to KIPLING station, and then #44 bus southbound to the park’s turnaround.


Check these websites for more information: and

Mr. (Steve) Martin takes Mr. (Lawren) Harris to LOS ANGELES

LAWRENHARRIS1<STEVE MARTIN, photographed by Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles TimesThe Art Gallery of Ontario has announced that actor-musician-comedian-banjo player-contemporary art collector, STEVE MARTIN, will co-curate a major exhibition of work by Canada’s LAWREN HARRIS for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2015.  Plans are to tour the exhibit after its California debut, to other American cities, ending up back at the AGO.

LAWRENHARRIS9<LAWREN HARRIS, photographed by M. O. Hammond, April 25, 1926>  Mr. Harris, founder of the Group of Seven, is a Canadian iconic painter.  There are large collections of his work on exhibit at the AGO in TORONTO and the McMichael Collection in KLEINBERG, Ontario.  <IMAGES BELOW – Lawren Harris paints Toronto streets in the snow, 1920-1930;  “North Shore, Lake Superior”, 1926; and “Mount Lefroy”, 1930>




Folks on Leuty & Violet Avenues raise flags, funds & food for Daily Bread Food Bank

FLAGS1  Again this year residents of Leuty and Violet Avenues in the Beach are auctioning flags to raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank.  Dozens of families are working on the project.  Running every day until Dec. 25, one house on Queen Street and two dozen on Leuty and Violet Avenues will fly a holiday flag.  Inspired by Advent calendars and ranging from abstracts to landscapes, the art flags will then be auctioned off to the highest bidder on this website –


<FLAGS ABOVE – Flag #1 by Benedict Hilliard & Michelynn Laflèche; Flag #2 by Rachel, Maddie, Lindsay, Nathan, Candice and Lori>


<ABOVE – Flag #4 by Don, Jane and Mia>

Da Mao and Er Shun get cash registers jingling at Toronto’s Zoo

PANDAS1There’s nothing like a giant panda duo to bring in the visitors.  Between May 17 and October 31, Toronto Zoo attendance went up by 32%, with 252,000 more visitors than the same time in 2012.  Retail sales are ahead by $691,000 due to the popularity of panda-oiserie.  This money goes into operations and the Zoo’s species survival programs.  The Toronto Zoo is paying $1-million annually to China’s panda conservation program.  The two bears eat roughly 450 kilograms of imported bamboo weekly, flown in at a cost of $200,000 per year.  Da Mao and Er Shun are on loan for five years, and then they’ll move on to Calgary for another five.


TORONTO’s Zoo is located in the East End of the city in the rolling hills of the Rouge Valley.  It’s easy to get there – by car, from downtown, take the 401 Eastbound to Exit 389, Meadowvale Road.  Follow the Zoo signs to 361A Old Finch Avenue.  Large parking lot.  By TTC bus, take the subway (Sheppard Line) to DON MILLS STATION.  Bus #85 leaves from here, and will drop you in front of the Zoo entrance about 45 minutes later.  Along the way, you’ll pass through suburban Don Mills and Scarborough.

When CBC’s Barbara Frum met with Nelson Mandela in his garden – February/1990

FRUM1 In February 1990 (3 days after his release from prison), NELSON MANDELA sat down for an interview with the CBC’s BARBARA FRUM in his back garden.  TONY BURMAN was the senior producer.  Nelson Mandela (1918-2013); Barbara Frum died from leukemia in 1992; Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, teaches journalism at Ryerson University.


Barbara Frum’s son, DAVID, sent this image of the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the colours of South Africa’s flag two days ago via Twitter.

Remembering Nelson Mandela: a difficult but heroic life, and a difficult death

South African president NELSON MANDELA visited Canada three times (1990, 1998 and 2001).  In the photos below Mr. Mandela addressed 40,000 young people at TORONTO’s SkyDome in 1998.  And on Saturday, November 17/2001, President Mandela and his wife Graca Machel attended a renaming ceremony for Nelson Mandela Park Public School, also in TORONTO.  Mr. Mandela is an Honourary Canadian Citizen.  In 1998 he became the first foreign leader awarded the Order of Canada, our nation’s highest honour.  <Canadian Press photos>

South African President Nelson Mandela a

“It is only now, the following morning, that South Africans are waking up to and hearing that he is no longer with us. It is the only news story of any significance this morning with prepared tributes dominating every radio and television channel across the country.Outside his home in one of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, people are gathering – joggers on their early morning runs are bringing flowers, children on their way to school with their parents are bringing cards and in some cases just a single rose. People from across the entire, very wide spectrum of South African society are there – the wealthy, the poor, the old, the very young, black, white, brown and everything in between. In so many ways, South Africa remains a deeply divided country, but today we are united in our respect and admiration for this one man, without whom, many of us may not have been here.I have no doubt that every detail of the state funeral was planned many months, or maybe even many years ago. The date has not yet been announced, but one can be sure that it is going to be a major event.  Anyway, I thought you might be interested in my spontaneous comments on what it is like in South Africa on this special morning.” – ROBIN KNOX-GRANT, Johannesburg

When it comes to ‘gingerbread’ St. Felix House, 25 Augusta Avenue, has it all!

One of TORONTO’s most beautiful ‘gingerbread’ houses, St. Felix House, can be found at 25 Augusta Avenue, south of Alexandra Park.  It was purchased by the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice in 1937, and remained a convent until 2011.  Now this building and an adjoining one provide both childcare and housing for vulnerable women – website:

<ROOFTOP PHOTO – Jay Shuster/The Grid>