MY LIST OF A FEW WHO MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN TORONTO & CANADA THIS YEAR

THELIST1 1. The idea people, designers and installers behind the 3-D TORONTO SIGN
2. Mayor JOHN TORY who is succesfully turning “a good city into a great one”
3. MARYAM MONSEF, former Afghan refugee, now Canada’s youngest and first Muslim federal cabinet minister

DOING100 4,5,6 – DRAKE, THE WEEKND & JUSTIN BIEBER, Canada’s top of the pops music phenomena
7. – CBC television journalist ROSEMARY BARTON, who expects honest answers to straightforward questions and gets them

BLUEJAYS1 8. – The TORONTO BLUE JAYS, who lifted spirits city-wide & nearly made the World SeriesLIONCUBS1

9. – The TORONTO ZOO for delivering 2 giant panda cubs, 4 white lion cubs, and working 24/7 to save the life of Juno, a tiny polar bear

REFUGEES210. – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship JOHN MCCALLUM, his staff & volunteers for working around the clock to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February

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11.  And of course Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU (shown here meeting The Queen), who is rapidly changing Canadian negativism into positivism both at home and internationally.  “Happy New Year everyone – onward and upward!”

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LOOKING BACK AT 2015 – IT WAS AN ALL ‘ROUND STELLAR YEAR FOR TORONTO

demolition1January/2015 – Mayor John Tory launches a war on gridlock – 962 cars/trucks towed, 5,806 ticketed; warming huts appear on TORONTO beaches; the last two of Peter Dickinson’s Regent Park apartment towers are demolished (PHOTO ABOVE)

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February/2015 – Massey Music Hall gets $135-million for a makeover; TORONTO’s ‘underground’ makes itself heard on a new radio station; Hamlet the Wombat celebrates 33rd birthday at Toronto Zoo; University of Toronto students have old-fashioned fun in the snow; (PHOTO ABOVE)

oscarflores1March/2015 – Daniel’s ‘City of Arts’ project is unveiled for the Eastern Waterfront; Casey House begins work on a 50,000 sq. ft. HIV/AIDS health care facility; TORONTO becomes Canada’s trading hub for Chinese currency – a big win; photographer Cameron McLellan takes E.T. on a downtown tour; Mayor John Tory visits Austin, Texas – plans to fire-up TORONTO’s music scene ASAP; work begins resurrecting Glen Road’s old Victorian houses; TORONTO joins the ‘$1-million for a house club’; U.K.‘s Norman Foster and Partners to build Canada’s tallest condo at Yonge and Bloor; anonymous donors give Ryerson University an invaluable Berenice Abbott archive; urban explorer and rooftopper Oscar Flores photographs TORONTO at night (PHOTO ABOVE)

alastair2April/2015 – GO Transit opens a new 62,000-square-foot York Street Concourse at Union Station; Premier Kathleen Wynne opens Pearson Airport to Union Station Express service; Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough is now Canada’s largest single investment in amateur sports; ‘Dennis’ and ‘Lea’, two 400-tonne tunnel borers surface on the Crosstown LRT project along Eglinton Avenue – hot chocolate served by Metrolinx; formidable “Fort Book” (The Robarts Library) to add a 1,200 seat 4-storey light glass reading room; Inn on the Park tower is demolished; Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre stands out on Yonge Street; adventurer Alastair Humphreys says 2015 is the year to explore your own city or neighbourhood (PHOTO ABOVE)

SAKURA2May/2015 – city will be left with the Pan Am Path and multiple legacy projects once the Pan Am Parapan Am Games end; Christie’s International Real Estate ranks TORONTO the ‘world’s hottest luxury housing market’; High Park welcomes spring with its annual sakura (cherry blossom) festival – over 2,000 trees (PHOTO ABOVE)

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June/2015 – to great acclaim Waterfront Toronto opens its rebuilt Queens Quay West with separated biking paths, parks and gardens; despite non-stop downpours Mayor John Tory and City Council march in the country’s largest Pride Parade; Toronto District School Board opens a museum to show off its vast archive; the new Ismaili Centre opens next to the Aga Khan Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art announces it’s tripling its size and moving into the 10-storey Tower Automotive Building on Sterling Road; the Queen Street Viaduct lighting project is finished in time for the Pan Am Games; TORONTO’s retired streetcar #1074 is still working on San Francisco’s ‘F‘ line; an undulating piece of steel appears on Sumach Street at Eastern Avenue (PHOTO ABOVE)

opening3July/2015 – Derek Revington’s ‘Luminous Veil’ is inaugurated on the Prince Edward Viaduct; Bill Bishop Island Airport is joined to the mainland by a tunnel; TORONTO joins six major cities across the world with a new YouTube production space; TORONTO has a mile (1.6 km) of culture along Bloor Street West; street artists and muralists liven up Corktown’s Underpass Park; a chandelier refitted with uranium glass beads and ultra-violet bulbs stars in the AGO’s ‘Camera Atomica’ show; six of our most beautiful Victorian houses will be ‘wedded’ to a glass tower on Sultan Street; giant acorn sculpture a hit in Joel Weeks Park; the Pan Am Games open and the CN Tower knocks itself out (PHOTO ABOVE)

jillys1August/2015 – TORONTO fails to make The Independent’s list of ‘The World’s Grumpiest Cities” – #1 is Moscow; Metropolis Magazine ranks TORONTO the ‘most liveable city in the world’; it’s been an extraordinarily busy summer for TORONTO’s free Ambassador Tour Program; Sunday’s Antiques and Flea Market moves into a block-long tent to make way for a brand new North St. Lawrence Market; plans are announced to restore the former Loblaws head office warehouse building on Lakeshore West; the city’s laneways are beginning to get the attention they deserve; ‘Aura’ at College Park tops off with LED light icicles; a former strip club on Broadview at Queen East is gutted and turned into a boutique hotel, thanks to Streetcar Developments (PHOTO ABOVE)

tiff42September/2015 – A critical mass of high-design retailers puts down roots in King Street East Design District; Chicago reporter finds TORONTO’s Latin cuisine ‘delicioso’; the Fashion District takes off with a vast collection of heritage buildings and warehouses; Mayor John Tory decides the city will not to make a bid for the 2024 Olympics; the Bay Street Corridor is becoming an exciting new high-rise neighbourhood; 473,000 attend the Toronto International Film Festival to see hundreds of movies (PHOTO ABOVE)

PANDABIRTH4October/2015 – Justin Trudeau’s Liberals shellack Stephen Harper and his Conservatives with a 184 seat majority win; WestJet presents ‘Frozen’, its newest custom-painted aircraft at Pearson Airport; thanks to actor Steve Martin, Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris gets a show in Los Angeles; Charles Street East is now a happening place for apartment dwellers; a tuxedo squirrel is discovered in The Annex; TORONTO’s ‘Nightmare on Queen Street West’, aka Rob Ford, returns in book form with the release of ‘Rob Ford; Uncontrollable’; Vancouver developer (Concert) finances the rebuilding of Berczy Park on Wellington Street; two giant panda cubs are born at Toronto Zoo (PHOTO ABOVE)

youngplace2November/2015 – Giant panda cubs at Toronto Zoo are thriving; Regent Park is born again after a decade of razing and rebuilding; Opera Atelier and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra perform again at the Royal Opera House, Chateau de Versailles; a new hipster village pops up along Dundas Street West; approval ratings for Mayor John Tory reach an unprecedented 77%; cash-in-hand plans are announced for an animated park underneath the Gardiner Expressway; Greater TORONTO now has seven members in the newly elected federal cabinet; four white lion cubs born in September are healthy and active at Toronto Zoo; Artscape YoungPlace bucks the trend of kicking artists out of gentrifying neighbourhoods (PHOTO ABOVE)

mountainglacier1December/2015 – Grange Park will be undergoing an $11-million renovation this winter; the dowdy corner of Dundas and University Avenue gets a facelift with the arrival of #488; with the mild weather our black squirrels are fattening up; a young Red Tail Hawk visits City Hall; Syrian refugees arrive at TORONTO’s Pearson Airport; ‘The Six’ (aka TORONTO) gets its own Nike Air Max 1’s thanks to Drake; a Lawren Harris painting ‘Mountain and Glacier’ sells for a record $4.6-million in a Heffel auction (PHOTO ABOVE)

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AM740 RADIO’S GEORGE JONESCU SHARES HIS VAST RECORD COLLECTION ON “BIG BAND SUNDAY NIGHT”

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At our house AM-740’s ‘Big Band Sunday Night’ with GEORGE JONESCU is a must. I’ve been listening to the show forever it seems, and vouch it’s even better than the BBC’s Sunday night show of sounds from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

George, who has been on the air for 65 years now, is a veteran of radio stations in Montreal, Sault Ste. Marie, Barrie and TORONTO.

bigband1“Big Band Sunday Night” is on the air from 7-11pm EST on 50,000 watt, clear-channel AM740 or 96.7 in downtown TORONTO. With its powerful signal, the station reaches well into the northeastern US and a large swath of Ontario. It’s also available on cable and on the internet Sunday nights – http://tunein.com/radio/Big-Band-Sunday-Night-p129995/

ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO TOOK THE BATHROOM; LONDON’S TATE MODERN GOT THE STAIRS

do-ho-sun1 Working with polyester and stainless steel, South Korean sculptor DO HU SUH recreated the bathroom in his Chelsea, NYC apartment.  “My work starts from reflection on space, especially personal space,” he says.  This installation is in the contemporary collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West.

do-ho-sun3The Tate Modern in LONDON has exhibited another Do Hu Suh creation – a staircase, also inspired by his Chelsea NYC apartment building.

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HIS NAME IS EVERYWHERE ACROSS CANADA AND INCREASINGLY IN THE U.S. WHO WAS TIM HORTON?

TIMHORTON1 MILES GILBERT “TIM” HORTON (1930-74) was born in Cochrane, Ontario and played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the TORONTO Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.

At 4 a.m. on February 21, 1974 Horton, who was speeding to BUFFALO from TORONTO on the Queen Elizabeth Way, lost control of his sportscar, hit a concrete culvert, was thrown out of the car, and arrived dead at a local hospital, At the time of his death there were about 50 restaurants open or in development.

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Today there are around 3600 Tim Hortons coffee houses in this country with 500 more on the way, and 900 in the United States – over 80 in Buffalo alone – with another 300 upcoming. There’s at least one outlet in almost every Canadian village, town and city, as well as in numerous freeway rest stops. A 2011 study found that the average Canuck spends about $150 annually at Tim’s.

TIMHORTON3The first restaurant to bear Tim Horton’s name opened in NORTH BAY, Ontario, It sold hamburgers instead of doughnuts.

TIMHORTON2Mr. Horton’s first doughnut shop opened in HAMILTON, Ontario in 1964. A plaque marks its former location, and not surprisingly there’s a new Tim’s on-site.

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YET ANOTHER OF TORONTO’S OLDEST DOWNTOWN PARKS IS IN LINE FOR AN $11-MILLION RENEWAL

GRANGEPARK4 Work is well underway at BERCZY PARK on Wellington Street East.  Now after eight years of behind-the-scenes planning, the revitalization of historic GRANGE PARK is about to happen.

GRANGEPARK2 GRANGEPARK10This is one of TORONTO’s oldest gathering places – originally the garden of an estate owned by D’Arcy Boulton Jr. The house, built in 1817 is one of the oldest surviving buildings in our city and is now accessible through the Art Gallery of Ontario. <PHOTOS of The Grange – 2015 and 1880>

GRANGEPARK1GRANGEPARK5GRANGEPARK7Among the plans – older trees will be saved; 60 additional trees planted; an art-themed play area and splash pad built; there’ll be sculpture-like climbing structures; new paving; fountains; a gathering and performance space in front of The Grange – in other words, wherever possible the entire park will become ‘animation central’.

GRANGEPARK11The famous bronze sculpture ‘Large Two Forms’ by Henry Moore, will be moved from the corner of Dundas Street West and McCaul into the centre of the park. “Pretty damn cool!” said Councillor Joe Cressy.

GRANGEPARK8In the vicinity – Ontario College of Art and Design University, Art Gallery of Ontario, University Settlement House swimming pool and daycare centre, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, the red & yellow brick Chinese Baptist Church, several art galleries, the Music Gallery, Baldwin Street eateries, and Chinatown West.