It seemed like a good idea in the 1950’s – tear down ramshackle Victorian-era houses and replace them with low-rise apartment buildings and a few tower blocks arranged around dead-end laneways and streets. <PHOTO ABOVE – Regent Park, 1950-60’s> The substandard housing, crime and social problems disappeared for a while, but then re-appeared. By the mid-1960’s Regent Park – and similar neighbourhoods across North America – had fallen on hard times. Sixty years later the City of TORONTO, working with a private developer and the provincial and federal governments, is two-thirds of the way through a massive rebuilding project. A new Regent Park is emerging, doubling the number of units, providing superb playgrounds, an aquatic centre and other sports facilities, old street patterns re-established, market-value and public housing mixed together.
The revitalization plan has 5 phases. With Phase 3 underway, a large swath of tired, old buildings between River and Parliament Streets are coming down. The plan is to finish the entire project within the next five years.
*LOCAVORE – locally produced food, grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase.
A row of once-derelict shipping containers in front of the Scadding Court Community Centre has added colour and movement to an otherwise undistinguished Dundas Street West (at Bathurst) sidewalk. Market 707, assembled by the City of TORONTO and LGA Architectural Partners, has been a going concern for over two years.
The Market mixes food from local farmers into a variety of diverse cuisines. There’s also a bike-tuneup shop and an artist collective on the premises. Each container is modified to include roll-up doors and canopies as well as power and water infrastructure to support a number of small food vending businesses.
<SUMMERTIME PHOTOS by Bob Fundu/architecturallab.net>
Terrorism or no terrorism, the show must go on. One week after the horrifying attacks in Paris, two of Canada’s finest arts companies – 75 strong – are again performing at the Royal Opera House <PHOTO ABOVE> in the Chateau de Versailles.
The performance this time is dedicated to the victims of the Bataclan concert hall massacre, and began with the French national anthem, ‘La Marseillaise’. The work being performed is ‘Armide’, a French opera set in Syria during the crusades. “It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet. A Christian knight and a Muslim warrior princess, they fall in love when they shouldn’t,” said David Fallis, the conductor of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
“I still can’t believe that this is the piece we brought here,” said Marshall Pynkoski, co-founder and co-artistic director of Opera Atelier. “I’ve never seen our art form put to better or more profound use.”<PHOTOS ABOVE AND BELOW – Opera Atelier’s 2015 production of ‘Armide’, photographer Bruce Zinger>
Opera Atelier was founded in 1985 by co-artistic director MARSHALL PYNKOSKI and his dancer/choreographer wife, JEANETTE LAJEUNESSE ZINGG. Their plan was to perform Baroque operas in their “original theatrical modes.” The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra was founded in 1979.
Both companies have performed several times over the last few years at the Royal Opera House in Versailles. Their home-base is TORONTO.
Dundas Street West between Bathurst and Trinity-Bellwoods Park is becoming another go-to neighbourhood in our city’s core. Wandering around the ‘Village’ I came across smart clothing stores, several dining and drinking establishments, a gallery, quirky architecture, a pie shop, and hip locals doing what hip locals do on Saturday afternoons. <INTERIOR PHOTO – Jesse Milns/blogTO>
TORONTO is a city made up of many neighbourhoods and ‘villages’. The long-established ones (Rosedale, Riverdale, Cabbagetown, Yorkville, Chinatown, Roncesvalles, Kensington, etc.) are being joined by new ones (The Junction, Liberty Village, West Queen West, Danforth East, the new Regent Park, etc.). Each has, or is developing, its own character and somehow this makes our vast agglomeration much more manageable.
The 505 streetcar takes you to Bathurst and Dundas. From there, walk west.
<SPOT A ‘HIPSTER’ – Toronto Star graphic>
TORONTO appears to be tickled pink with JOHN TORY. A new Forum Opinion Poll released on November 25 gives the Mayor an approval rating of 77% – the highest it’s been since he was elected in 2014. Forum considers the results accurate within 3%, 19 times out of 20.
Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU certainly had the approval of several hundred shrieking female (and some male) fans in Manila after his closing press conference at the APEC Summit. “He’s so handsome,” said one young fan. “He’s like Superman.” <PHOTO – Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press>
President Obama must be thinking “those were the days.” The President has invited Mr. Trudeau to the White House in January. <PHOTO – Susan Walsh/Associated Press>
If steel girders and coloured lights can bring one close to tears, the Eiffel Tower hit the mark last night with its red, white and blue colour display.
Gustave Eiffel, no doubt, would be elated that his creation could lift the spirits of today’s Parisians and those worldwide who love Paris – myself included – 126 years after the monument first appeared on the Champ de Mars.