MANSPREADING1 As 2014 draws to a close, a new word has entered the lexicon. “Manspreading”, as the New York Times puts it is “the lay-it-all-out sitting style that more than a few men see as their inalienable underground right.” In other words, if they’re on the subway they’ll spread their legs as wide as they please, occupying as many seats as they please, whenever they please.

MANSPREADING3       MANSPREADING5Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and London are trying to do something about it with subway advertising. TORONTO, which has its share of manspreaders, is more tentative in its approach. While she’s aware of the spreading scourge, TORONTO Transit Commission spokeswoman MILLY BERNAL wants us all to be nice. “Transit is a public space. We’re all sharing it. Just be kind.”

MANSPREADING2New Yorkers take a much more direct approach. KELLEY RAE O’DONNELL, who lives in Brooklyn, says it drives her crazy. “I find myself glaring at them, because it just seems so inconsiderate in this really crowded city.”  Reporter EMMA G. FITZIMMONS in the New York Times: “The targets (of a new subway ad campaign) are those men who spread their legs wide, into a sort of V-shaped slouch, effectively occupying two, sometimes even three, seats. Whether they’ll heed the new ads is another question.”



OLDENBURG1A pig has its day in this greeting card sent by Stockholm-born, American sculptor CLAES OLDENBURG to curator and collector SAMUEL WAGSTAFF. Mr. Wagstaff was an early promoter of photography, Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art and Earthworks.  <“To Samuel Wagstaff” (c. 1965), Photomechanical reproduction of a drawing, © Claes Oldenburg>

OLDENBURG2<PHOTO of Claes Oldenburg by Raimond Spekking/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons CLAES OLDENBURG is best known for public art installations featuring large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects.  TORONTO’s Art Gallery of Ontario has Mr. Oldenburg’s FLOOR BURGER in its collection.  You couldn’t get more everyday than this.

OLDENBURG5FLOOR BURGER (originally called ‘Giant Hamburger’) was purchased for $2,000 from the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1967.  Needless to say, it was very controversial at the time.

OLDENBURG3 The sculpture has spawned lookalikes, including the Hamburger Bed shown below – http://www.mooshkatoo.blogspot.ca



MUSICGALLERY5 MUSICGALLERY4 WHO – Founded by Peter Anson and Al Mattes of the free-improvising group CCMC
WHEN – Opened in 1976

MUSICGALLERY2     WHAT – It’s a centre for promoting and presenting innovation and experimentation in all forms of music.

MUSICGALLERY3WHERE – Since 2001, the Music Gallery’s home has been St-George-the-Martyr Church, 197 John Street, at the southern end of Grange Park.  WHY – For 38 years, the publicly assisted Gallery has promoted the development and performance of art music from all genres – and for encouraging their cross-pollination.


<The legendary NIHILIST SPASM BAND performing at the Music Gallery, photo by Jesse Locke>

LISTENING TO ‘Handel’s Messiah at Massey Hall’ by William Kurelek

KURULEKWILLIAM KURELEK had this to say about the painting: “The performance of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at Massey Hall does grip me.  Apart from the Hallelujah Chorus, there are several other high points in the Messiah which particularly elevate man’s spirit.  One of these, the bass aria ‘the trumpet shall sound’, makes me feel good all over.  I guess this is not only because it speaks of the Resurrection, which I personally look forward to, but also the cultural richness of the past.”


2014 began with a horrendous ice storm and power outages everywhere but, as the year went on, things got much better around here.  Canada’s largest city has a lot to celebrate.  Here’s my list of 75 – mostly good, some not so good – reasons to say ‘well done, TORONTO!’

1. Ryerson University’s photographic preservation program expands to include movies
2. Saks Fifth Avenue’s Canadian flagship store will open downtown at Queen and Yonge
3. TORONTO voted #4 out of 140 cities on The Economist’s ‘World’s Most Liveable Cities/2014’ list

4. City sets new records in international and Canadian tourism
5. A giant Nordstrom store is moving into downtown’s Eaton Centre, replacing Sears
6. Basketball fans discover the Raptors
7. Royal Ontario Museum announces 4 major projects to mark its centennial

8. A ‘Sardine Award’ for overcrowded public transit goes to Ontario’s Minister of Transport
9. A high-speed, ‘open access’ network is announced for the Waterfront neighbourhood
10. Cisco makes TORONTO 1 of 4 new global ‘internet of everything’ innovation centres
11. Xtra!, Toronto’s LGBTQ bi-weekly newspaper celebrates its 30th year in business
12. The Don Jail Annex is demolished
13. Eastern section of Metrolinx Crosstown underground LRT begins construction
14. Seattle’s ‘Walk Score’ says TORONTO has one of North America’s finest public transit systems
15. Then-mayor Rob Ford is roasted on ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ show
16. New York Times finds TORONTO an easy city to love – Travel Section, March 2

17. Principal Dancer Evan McKie leaves Stuttgart Ballet for the National Ballet of Canada
18. Nine city projects take Ontario Association of Architects ‘Excellence in Design Awards’
19. Frances Loring & Florence Wyle sculpture studio goes on the market for $4.8-million
20. Our red and white streetcars take a lead role in new IMAX documentary

21. Frank Gehry and David Mirvish get a go-ahead for 2 towers on King Street West
22. Princess of Wales Theatre & Frank Stella murals are saved from the wrecking ball
23. Cawthra Square Park is totally renovated in time for World Pride/2014
24. Streetcar Developments buys the Victorian-era New Broadview Hotel and will preserve it
25. A row of Victorian houses on Glen Road are rescued from oblivion
26. Nash The Slash, multi-instrumentalist & TORONTO eccentric, dies at 66
27. First Air Canada Dreamliner arrives at Pearson International Airport
28. Royal Ontario Museum salvages a Blue Whale carcass in Newfoundland
29. $15-million makeover is announced for downtown’s Grange Park

30. WorldPride/2014 is a smashing international success
31. Casa Loma hosts the largest same-sex wedding in North America – June 26
32. The Toronto Star donates a million vintage photographs to the Toronto Public Library
33. Ontario elects Kathleen Wynne, its first woman & openly gay premier, with a majority gov’t
34. Sotheby’s London auctions Peter Doig’s Don Valley rainbow culvert painting for $15-million
35. $2-million is the new $1-million now in TORONTO’s housing market

36. ‘Nyctophilia’ light sculpture sparkles in a dark corner of post-industrial Weston Road
37. University of Chicago publishes a new book on TORONTO as a movie-making centre
38. TORONTO’s Opera Atelier pays its 3rd visit to Versailles, as well as Salzburg & Milan
39. Countdown Clock for the Pan-Am Games is unveiled at city hall
40. Centre Island Park’s labyrinth is recreated thanks to a $200,000 gift
41. Regent Park state-of-the-art playground opens
42. Royal Canadian Mint celebrates Casa Loma’s stained glass dome
43. Sam The Record Man’s iconic neon sign is coming back to Yonge and Dundas
44. Bay Street Financial District expands to booming South Core below Front Street

45. TORONTO Symphony Orchestra tours Amsterdam, Helsinki, Vienna, Wiesbaden & Reykjavik
46. Two new air-conditioned streetcars go into service on Spadina Avenue; 205 of them are on order
47. 7,000 new condo units are approved by city council
48. 180 acre Corktown Common Park boasts a living marsh, playgrounds, bike paths & athletic field
49. A Vancouver developer gives big bucks for art and Berczy Park renewal
50. TORONTO ties San Francisco and Los Angeles on Forbes’ “most influential cities’ list
51. TORONTO is named ‘Intelligent Community of the Year/2014’

52. New York Times bids farewell to Mayor Rob Ford in a column by Canadian Bruce McCall
53. The Aga Khan’s Museum opens at 77 Wynford Drive
54. Phase 3 of Regent Park development begins
55. The El Mocambo, legendary nightclub, announces its closure
56. Vogue Magazine selects TORONTO’s West Queen West as ‘second coolest neighbourhood in the world’
57. After 35 years, TORONTO-based National Ballet of Canada returns to New York’s Lincoln Center
58. Moviegoers flock to TORONTO’s International Film Festival; over 350 films screened


59. The Royal York Hotel gets a $100-million top-to-bottom renovation
60. Lonely Planet puts TORONTO on its 2015 ‘Top 10 Must-See Cities’ list
61. Art Gallery of Ontario collaborates with London’s Dulwich Gallery on Emily Carr exhibition

62. Some TORONTO art galleries expand into bigger spaces in post-industrial neighbourhood
63. Delta opens a 46 storey, 4-star hotel in the South Core Financial District
64. Spacing Magazine opens a shop celebrating TORONTO & other Canadian cities
65. TORONTO drops to second place behind New York City in skyscraper construction

66. John Tory is sworn in as Mayor of TORONTO on December 2
67. John Tory declares war on our traffic nightmare
68. John Tory scores a 74% approval rating after less than a month in office
69. Toronto-Dominion Bank donates $1.3-million to city’s Bike Share Program
70. TORONTO designer Andrew Jones wins New York City’s Battery Park chair competition
71. Tip Top Tailor’s sign is re-installed above Lakeshore Boulevard lofts
72. Tickets for the Pan-American Parapan Games go on sale
73. Mayor Tory and Premier Wynne head Toronto Life’s list of ’50 Most Influential People’
74. Owner of Rosedale’s Integral House, James Stewart, dies on December 3
75. Average price of a detached house in the City of TORONTO reaches $951,792


OFFICELEASING4While many other parts of the world were recovering from the financial crisis, TORONTO has been rocketing ahead building more office space. The vacancy rate has remained low. This city is seeing twice the office development activity of Midtown Manhattan and more than Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston combined.  Companies continue to move from older office towers into state-of-the-art new buildings, about half of them in the booming South Core. Vacancy rates (presently below an average of 5%) could climb to 7.3% in 2015, and peak at 10.2% in 2017. According to commercial brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield that’s still considered a balanced, healthy market.

OFFICELEASING1By the end of 2017, some 9.1 million square feet of new office space will be added in downtown TORONTO. Much of the demand has been driven by information, communications and technology companies. East and west of the core demand also remains high.



RINGO3 Born at TORONTO’s Riverdale Farm 22 years ago, “ROOSTER” passed away on Friday, December 12, 2014 of a sudden illness. The staff was devastated because this noble horse was a favourite with them, and with thousands of visitors from all across the city.

RINGO1After several weeks of searching and test riding, “RINGO” has arrived to take Rooster’s place. Born and raised in the country, the newcomer is getting used to city noises – fire engines, ambulances, helicopters, traffic, barking dogs and all that.

RINGO2RIVERDALE FARM is located in Riverdale Park West, Sumach Street at Carlton in Cabbagetown.


EGLINTON9 Yonge and Eglinton has always been a great place to live, but now it’s becoming a destination neighbourhood.

EGLINTON3With construction cranes everywhere, an abundance of new restaurants and bars, nightlife, one-of-a-kind shops, rapidly rising real estate prices, tree-lined side streets and plenty of parks – the area is booming.  Even the hipsters are moving in.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Minto’s Quantum North & South>

EGLINTON2EGLINTON7EGLINTON6Once the Crosstown Eglinton/Scarborough LRT is finished (connecting east and west with the north/south subway), Yonge and Eg will become one of TORONTO’s main transit hubs.  <PHOTOS ABOVE – 1) new condo construction at Yonge & Eglinton; 2) rebuilding Yonge/Eglinton Centre;  3) Yonge Street north of Eglinton;  4) The Madison on Eglinton Avenue; 5) an Eglinton/Scarborough Crosstown train>

EGLINTON4<PHOTO BELOW – Yonge and Eglinton intersection in 1960, City of Toronto Archives>



CALGARY1TORONTO’s been carrying the load for decades, but we’re no longer alone. In a national survey TORONTO has a new partner in the “most resented” sweepstakes. Welcome to the club, CALGARY! Gilliam Steward (former CEO of the Calgary Herald), in a Toronto Star opinion piece, writes “Is Calgary the new TORONTO? A city that Canadians love to hate because it’s so powerful? According to a recent poll that could be so.”  The Leger/Calgary Herald poll, conducted online across Canada, with a representative sample of 1,525 Canadians, was weighted by age, gender, region, children in the household and education.  VANCOUVER and OTTAWA topped the ranking; MONTREAL, HALIFAX and CALGARY were in the middle. But when Albertans were taken out of the equation, CALGARY sank to the same spot as TORONTO, in lower sixth place. OMG already!  GILLIAN STEWARD: “TORONTO once had that sort of reputation . . . a serious, hard working city that was the place to be if you wanted to hit the heights of your chosen career. But TORONTO’s power also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially westerners who felt colonized by TORONTO’s decision makers.  “But the tables have turned and now it’s the ‘rich oilmen’ in CALGARY who are making important decisions and ruffling feathers across the country.”<ABOVE – Calgary from the International Space Station, with snow on the ground.>