TORONTO’S ‘RACCOON NATION’ IS THE LARGEST IN NORTH AMERICA

Thanks to its ravine and river systems, TORONTO has become the raccoon capital of North America – a hot spot for garbage can foodies.  They live well.  According to CBC’s “Nature of Things”, our raccoons are so fat that sometimes they walk by food as if to say “No thanks, I’m stuffed.”   Country raccoons live a shorter life than the average three-to-five years enjoyed by city dwellers.  Despite the stresses and strains of big city life, TORONTO’s raccoons like living with us.
<PHOTO ABOVE – Maarten Heilbron/facebook>

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NASH THE SLASH (1948-2014), and his trademark bandages, is no longer with us

nash1  JEFF PLEWMAN made quite the impression when dressed up as his alter-ego, NASH THE SLASH – a TORONTO eccentric if ever there was one.  A multi-instrumentalist, Jeff could play the electric violin, mandolin, harmonica, keyboards and the glockenspiel.  But, like many baby boomers, he decided after 40 years enough was enough. He took off the surgical tape, shut down his official website, thanked his loyal fans, and bid them adieu.

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Jeff passed away last weekend at the fairly young age of 66. Among other things he founded one of Canada’s first independent labels (Cut-Throat Records), was one of the first to use a drum machine on an album, and sued Pepsi-Cola for stealing his image. He created a complex blend of new wave, New Age and punk rock in the 1970’s. He also composed soundtracks for silent films and collaborated with painter Robert Vanderhost on a series fusing surrealistic visuals with classic music stylings. <from Susan G. Cole/NOW Magazine>  Jeff came out as a gay man in 1998.  He was indeed one-of-a-kind.

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A BIG DAY FOR ‘PLANE SPOTTERS’ AS AIR CANADA’S FIRST DREAMLINER ARRIVES

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The first of 37 Air Canada Dreamliners arrived from Seattle on Sunday. The jet landed at TORONTO’s Pearson International Airport with 100 employees and 50 contest winners on board.  By July there’ll be 3 of them in Air Canada’s fleet; 6 by year’s end; and more each year until the airline has a full complement of 37. Initially the Dreamliners will serve domestic routes and flights to London and Zurich.

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Air Canada is hoping to draw more US business travellers to fly through TORONTO and VANCOUVER on their way to Europe, Asia and South America. The airline believes there’s a market waiting to be tapped in the US Northeast and Midwest. Direct flights to smaller Chinese cities – other than Shanghai and Beijing – are real possibilities.

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<PHOTOS ABOVE – Air Canada & Canadian Press Images>

TORONTO’S ICONIC RED & WHITE STREETCARS TAKE THE LEAD ROLE IN A NEW IMAX DOCUMENTARY

The CN Tower’s Maple Leaf Cinema has commissioned a 14-minute documentary on the TORONTO streetcar. “The Red Rocket” is a fascinating look at the daily life of one of the world’s great trolley rides, and an introduction to the new vehicles which debut on Spadina Avenue in August <PHOTO ABOVE>.  The film follows the evolution of the streetcar from the wooden vehicles of the TORONTO Railway Company to the current fleet. “The Red Rocket” was made in IMAX by Stephen Low, a filmmaker who has produced features about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the wreck of the Titanic.  For a preview: http://vimeo.com/88159215

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM SALVAGES BLUE WHALE CARCASS – NOT A JOB FOR THE SQUEAMISH

BLUEWHALE4A dead blue whale was washed ashore at TROUT RIVER, Newfoundland this past week. The locals were understandably alarmed that this mammoth creature – the world’s largest mammal – could explode, become a danger to public health, or at least lie there reeking in the noonday sun. <PHOTOS ABOVE – NTV Television, Newfoundland>

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TORONTO’s Royal Ontario Museum saw a rare opportunity, and after negotiating with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, dispatched a team to the east coast. Not surprisingly MARK ENGSTROM, deputy director of collections and research, has plans for an upcoming whale exhibition at the ROM – Canada’s largest museum.  This blue whale measures 23 metres from nose to tail, and weighs about 100 tonnes. Some are even bigger – 30 metres in length and upwards of 180 tonnes. They are an endangered species, and this winter nine died off the coast of Newfoundland after encounters with icebergs.  For the onsite museum team disassembling a blue whale is dirty, nauseating work. But – somebody has to do it.  The skeleton will eventually be loaded on a truck and driven to TORONTO. <PHOTO ABOVE – Kate Allen/Toronto Star>

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TORONTO EDGES ITSELF INTO VANCOUVER’S “MILLION-DOLLAR-HOUSE-CLUB”

HOMESWEETHOME2We’re not quite there yet, but getting close.

T.O. is on the verge of becoming the second Canadian city where the average price of a detached house is $1-million. Until now VANCOUVER was the only member of the club, but TORONTO is now edging its way in. Figures from TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board) this week show detached houses in the old City of TORONTO are averaging $965,670Brookfield Real Estate’s PHIL SOPER: “The good news is if you move outside of the city proper, into the suburbs, or into the ever important condo sector there is still product available across the price gamut.”  TREB reports 4,878 detached houses were sold across the city proper last year; the average price jumped 13.2% over the same month a year ago. Semi-detached homes reached $702,332 in the city, an 18% increase over the previous year.

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