Academy Award-winning actor, WALTER HUSTON, slept here: 328 Wellesley Street East

WALTERHUSTON1   WALTERHUSTON2WALTER HUSTON, Toronto-born, began his academic career at WINCHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOL on Winchester Street east of Parliament.  After attending the Shaw School of Acting, he made his Broadway debut in 1924.  When talking pictures began, Huston set off for HOLLYWOOD, playing both leading man and character roles in countless films.  Among them – ‘The Virginian’, ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ and D.W. Griffith’s ‘Abraham Lincoln’  WALTER HUSTON won both the Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in ‘Sierra Madre’.  All of his grandchildren became actors, as well as his great-grandson.  He was the father of actor and director,  JOHN HUSTON, whose daughter is actor ANGELICA HUSTON.  Plaque locations: Winchester Public School and 328 Wellesley Street East in CABBAGETOWN.

PATRICK CUMMINS’ CAMERA RECORDS OUR STREETS, HOUSES, GARAGES & STOREFRONTS

“Full Frontal T.O.” from Coach House Press is a straight forward chronicle of TORONTO streetscapes by archivist PATRICK CUMMINS. Winner of the 2013 Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence, the book shows us how our city looks, lives and changes over time, block by block, facade by facade. Among other bookshops it’s now available at the Art Gallery of Ontario for about $25.  “Full Frontal T.O.” features over 400 photos of TORONTO’s messy urbanism, with accompanying text by urban explorer SHAWN MCALLEF.  Check out the super “Full Frontal T.O.” blogsite – http://www.fullfrontalto.wordpress.com  PATRICK CUMMINS: “The lives that are lived in these buildings change and mold them to their shape. We try to control this, but these things are just happening.”

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140 BOULTON AVE. (NOW DEMOLISHED) PHOTOGRAPHED AS IT AGED, BY PATRICK CUMMINS

BOULTON1SHAWN MICALLEF, “Full Frontal T.O.”: “The building at 140 Boulton Avenue is a perfectly Torontonian kind of building. It’s the TORONTO we know intimately because we walk by this house, and its analogues, all over the city, every day, but rarely pay them any attention; they really aren’t very pretty.  There 140 Boulton sits, squat, ramshackle and dishevelled – like somebody who’s been sleeping in the same clothes for days – on the corner by busy Dundas Street.  Few pay it any mind: it’s just one of the thousands of nondescript buildings that make up the wallpaper of our city. Across the street is the Boulton Parkette. It’s also the kind of parkette we like to keep here in TORONTO: its dishevelledness matches number 140, with bits of trash blowing around, a rusting iron fence, a worn-out lawn and some uneven interlocking brick.  We don’t do the Tuileries in TORONTO; Paris can have that kind of finicky formal park space our city seems to say, but we don’t have time for such frivolity.”PATRICK CUMMINS has photographed aspects of Toronto’s built environment since 1978. He has worked as an archivist with the City of Toronto since 1986, specializing in photographic, cartographic and architectural records. He has had work featured in several acclaimed photo exhibitions.

THE ‘TINY TOWN’ HOUSES OF CRAVEN ROAD. NOT JUST A STREET – IT’S A NEIGHBOURHOOD.

CRAVENROAD1         Off the beaten track in the east end of TORONTO, Craven Road is in a little world all its own. Running from Queen Street East to Danforth Avenue the street, once called Eerie Terrace, was carved from the wide backyards of neighbouring homes. After a dispute over property boundaries, the city bought the land, laid the asphalt, and built the longest municipally maintained wooden fence in town. Some of the locals use the fence as an art gallery.

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Facing the fence are several blocks of tiny, detached houses – many built by the homeowners themselves.

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“As Toronto continues to be surrounded by more and more condo buildings, it is fun being reminded that somewhere near these gigantic high-rise buildings lives a world of little spaces. Craven Road and the Tiny House Society have managed to prove that a few hundred square feet is more than enough space to live comfortably — even among rooms full of history.”Spacing Magazine  . . . . . CRAVEN ROAD is reachable by the Queen Street East and Dundas East streetcar lines. The subway stop is COXWELL.

TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION WINS A SECOND AWARD FOR VICTORIA PARK STATION

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The 2014 Ontario Association of Architects Design Excellence award goes to the TTC for the transformation of Victoria Park subway station. The Association believes the project successfully incorporates architecture, art, environmental and urban design – and in addition, classical music.

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The Victoria Park Bus Terminal, also run by the TTC, was once a cavernous, concrete bunker. Now it has a much friendlier face. Thanks to a complete reno, 25,000 daily commuters are bathed in natural light from multiple windows, as they connect to the subway and buses.  The Federation of Canadian Municipalities was sufficiently impressed to hand the TTC a Sustainable Communities Award in 2013.

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WHERE TO EAT IN TORONTO (PART 1) – $$ – $$$$$ – FROM BUDGET TO BREAK-THE-BANK

RESTAURANTS2 <PHOTO – MOMOFUKU – Moe Doiron / The Globe and Mail>

With over 7000 restaurants in TORONTO the dining-out choice is unlimited.  These are some of my favourites – no promises, but they were good to excellent at the time.  Nearly all are located in the city centre, and accessible by public transport.  Reservations are recommended.

– BYMARK, 66 Wellington Street, in the Toronto-Dominion Centre, 416-777-1144, TTC subway: KING, ST. ANDREW or UNION $$$$$, http://www.bymark.mcewangroup.ca
– CHEF’S HOUSE, George Brown College restaurant, 215 King Street East, 416-415-2260, TTC eastbound streetcar: KING $$$$, http://www.thechefshouse.com
– BISTRO AGO, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, TTC subway: ST. PATRICK $$$, http://www.ago.net/frank
– GRANO, 2035 Yonge Street, south of Eglinton subway station, excellent Italian, 26th year, ,$$$$, http://www.grano.ca
– HOPGOODS FOODLINER, contemporary East Coast comfort, 325 Roncesvalles Avenue, 416-533-2723, TTC westbound streetcars: KING, DUNDAS, COLLEGE $$$$, http://hopgoodsfoodliner.com
– LAI WAH HEEN at the Metropolitan Hotel, 108 Chestnut Street, TTC subway: ST. [PATRICK & walk east or DUNDAS & walk west $$$$, http://www.laiwahheen.com
– L’UNITA, 134 Avenue Road at Davenport, 416-964-8686, TTC subway: MUSEUM & walk north $$$, http://www.lunita.ca
– MILDRED PIERCE TEMPLE KITCHEN, 85 Hanna Avenue, suite 104, Liberty Village, 416-588-5695, TTC westbound streetcar: KING $$$$, http://www.templekitchen.com
– OYSTER BOY, mollusks for the masses, 872 Queen Street West, 416-534-3432, $$$, http://www.oysterboy.ca
– SCARAMOUCHE – 1 Benvenuto at Avenue Road, 416-961-8011, $$$$$, http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com
– THE SENATOR, 249 Victoria Street, Yonge-Dundas Square area, 416-364-7517, opposite rear entrance to Ed Mirvish Theatre, TTC subway: DUNDAS $$$, http://www.thesenator.com
– 360 at the CN TOWER, 301 Front St. West at John St., 416-868-6937, TTC subway: -UNION & walk west $$$, http://www.cntower.ca/en-CA/360-Restaurant/Overview.html

Inexpensive, but very good:
– QUEEN MOTHER CAFE, 206 Queen Street West, $$, http://www.queenmothercafe.ca
– JULES BISTROT, 147 Spadina Avenue $$, http://www.julesbistrocafe.com
– GOLDEN TURTLE, Vietnamese restaurant, in the West Queen West arts district, rapid service, good food, cold beer, 125 Ossington Avenue $$,

With young children:
OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY, 54 The Esplanade $, http://www.oldspaghettifactory.net

Restaurant strips and villages:
– CHINATOWN WEST – Dundas Street West at Spadina Avenue
– CHINATOWN EAST – Broadview Avenue at Gerrard Street East
– SOUTH ASIAN – Little India, Gerrard Street East at Coxwell Avenue
– GREEK – Danforth, from Broadview to Coxwell Avenue
– GAY and LESBIAN – Church Street, from Bloor to Alexander Street
– ITALIAN – Little Italy, College Street from Bathurst Street to Gladstone
– TRENDY – Ossington Avenue, between Dundas Street West and Queen
– PRE-THEATRE – King Street West, from John to Spadina Avenue
– PRE-THEATRE – Front Street, from Yonge to Jarvis
– PRE-THEATRE – Queen Street West, from University to Spadina Avenue
– BALDWIN STREET – a couple of blocks north of the Art Gallery of Ontario
– ELM STREET – between Yonge Street and Bay

and countless others . . . Bon appetit!

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<PHOTO – DRAKEONEFIFTY, 150 York Street, Financial District>

Where to Eat in TORONTO (PART 2) – a Top25 list from NOW’s restaurant critics, April/2014

NOWRESTAURANTS2 NOW Weekly does an annual survey of the hottest TORONTO restaurants. Below is this spring’s TOP 25 list assembled by the magazine’s restaurant critics, along with their ratings (** to *****). All are located in or near the city centre, and accessible by public transport. Reservations are recommended for most.

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#1 – BAR ISABEL, 797 College Street, 416-532-2222, http://www.barisabel.com *****
#2 – AGAVE Y AGUACATE, 25 Baldwin Street, 647-748-6448, http://www.agave-y-aguacate.com *****
#3 – CHANTECLER, 1320 Queen Street West at Brock Street, 416-628-3586, http://www.restaurantchantecler.ca *****
#4 – MOMOFUKU DAISHO, 190 University Avenue at Adelaide West, 647-253-8000, htp://www.momofuku.com/toronto/daisho *****
#5 – BARRIO COREANO, 642 Bloor Street West at Manning Avenue, 416-901-5188, http://www.playacabana.ca/locations/5/barrio-coreano ****#6 – RICHMOND STATION, 1 Richmond Street West, 647-748-1444, http://www.richmondstation.ca *****
#7 – ELECTRIC MUD, 5 Brock Street at Queen Street West, 416-516-8286, http://www.electricmudbbq.com *****
#8 – BAR BUCA, 75 Portland Street at King Street West, 416-599-2822, http://www.barbuca.com ****
#9 – BANH MI BOYS, 399 Yonge Street at Gerrard OR 392 Queen Street West at Spadina, 416-363-0588, http://www.banhmiboys.com *****
#10 – PATRIA, 480 King Street West at Brant, 416-367-0505, http://www.patriatoronto.com ****

#11 – SNACK BAR, 181 Bathurst Street at Queen West, 416-364-9320, http://www.416snackbar.com ****
#12 – BENT, 777 Dundas Street West at Markham, 647-352-0092, http://www.bentrestaurant.com *****
#13 – PUKKA, 778 St. Clair West at Arlington, 416-342-1906, http://www.pukka.ca ****
#14 – KINGYO, 518 Winchester Street at Parliament, 647-748-2121, http://www.kingyotoronto.ca ****
#15 – KINTON RAMEN, 51 Baldwin Street at Beverley, 647-748-8900, OR 668 Bloor Street West at Manning, 416-551-8177, http://www.kintonramen.com *****

#16 – GRAND ELECTRIC, 1330 Queen Street West at Elm Grove, 416-627-3459, http://www.grandelectricbar.com *****
#17 – DRAKE ONE FIFTY, 150 York Street at Adelaide West, financial district, 416-363-6150, http://www.drakeonefifty.com ***
#18 – SEVEN LIVES, 69 Kensington Avenue at Baldwin, 416-803-1086, http://www.sevenlives.ca **
#19 – VALDEZ, 606 King Street West at Portland, 416-363-8388, http://www.valdezrestaurant.com ***
#20 – BIG CROW, 176 Dupont at St. George Street, 647-748-3287, http://www.roseandsonsbigcrow.com ****

#21 – DISTRICT OVEN, 842 College Street at Ossington Avenue, 416-901-7717, http://www.districtoven.com ****
#22 – SKIN + BONES, 980 Queen Street East at Carlaw, 416-524-5209, http://www.skinandbonesto.com ****
#23 – HUDSON KITCHEN, 600 Dundas Street West at Palmerston, 416-644-8839, http://www.hudsonkitchen.com ***
#24 – URSA, 924 Queen Street West at Shaw, 416-536-8963, http://www.ursarestaurant.com *****
#25 – HOME OF THE BRAVE, 589 King Street West at Portland, 416-366-2736, http://www.thehotb.com ***

NIKOLAI FEDAK, 23, IS NEW YORK CITY’S SIDEWALK SUPERINTENDENT #1

NIKOLAIFEDAKHe’s a young man who loves development. Working from his TriBeCa apartment, steps from New York City’s Skyscraper Museum, NIKOLAI FEDAK monitors the progress of new buildings sprouting up in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Long Island City and Queens. On his pro-development website – http://www.newyorkyimby.com – he charts the city region’s expanding high rise forest. <Yimby is an acronym for Yes In My Back Yard>  Mr. Fedak’s days are centred around maintaining and expanding his website, taking photographs, attending Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings and meetings with developers and architects. He checks in daily with the Buildings Department and combs the internet for renderings. His satellite office is the street.  NIKOLAI FEDAK: “I started playing SimCity when I was 6, and by 9 I was a master. It definitely helped jump-start my fascination with architecture, since I’ve literally been building cities on computers since I was a child. There’s a lot of hatred of development out there. But generally it comes from selfish people who don’t want to lose their views.”

IN PERSPECTIVE: SOME FACTS ‘N’ FIGURES ON BUYING A HOME IN GREATER TORONTO

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MUNICIPAL TAXES IN 2013 ON A $400,000 HOUSE OR CONDO IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA (GTA)
City of TORONTO – $2,983*
Markham – $3,465
Oakville – $3,644
Mississauga – $3,707
Halton Hills – $3,741
Newmarket – $4,204
Brampton – $4,625
Waterloo – $4,840
Pickering – $5,297
Hamilton – $5,640

*In TORONTO, the municipal land transfer tax on purchases of all property is 0.5% on the first $55,000, 1% on the amount between $55,000 and $400,000, and 2% on the amount over $400,000. First-time homebuyers pay no city land transfer tax on the first $400,000 of the purchase price – (TREB) Toronto Real Estate BoardAVERAGE AMOUNT SPENT ON A FIRST HOME IN CANADA’S LARGEST CITIES
VANCOUVER – $506,500
TORONTO – $408,300
CALGARY – $363,400
MONTREAL – $237,900
QUEBEC CITY – $222,300

TWO OF MANY ST. CLAIR AVENUE CHURCHES – ONE GIGANTIC, THE OTHER NOT SO BIG

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They’re within a few blocks of each other in Hillcrest Village. The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Resurrection is an elegant little structure on a hillock, just off St. Clair Avenue West at Winona Drive.

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St. Clare’s Catholic Church, a City of Toronto Heritage Property, is an architectural gem at 1118 St. Clair Avenue West. Designed by Arthur W. Holmes in the Romanesque style, with an abundance of stained glass windows, St. Clare’s is painted in gold and vibrant colours. Above the altar – a commissioned painting of the Crucifixion.

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