A WEEK OF TORONTO SHORT STORIES – AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 1/2016

POORHOUSE2POORHOUSE1It’s harder to afford a home in TORONTO than at any point in the last 25 years, according to a Royal Bank of Canada study released this week.  A lack of supply and overwhelming demand is driving the surge.” – Toronto Metro

ARTTREASURE1Art Nouveau stylized maple leaves created by GUSTAV HAHN in 1893 have been uncovered in the ceiling of the Ontario legislative assembly in TORONTO. Hidden from view for more than a century, the four-panel mural was protected by layers of horse hair, canvas and white paint. The orange and green maple leaves look as fresh as if Hahn had painted them last week. <PHOTO – Toronto Star/Metro>

 The German-born Hahn, who died in 1962 at the age of 96, was an important early TORONTO muralist whose work can be found in many churches and public buildings, including Old City Hall and Spadina House.

AUCKLAND1AUCKLAND, New Zealand <PHOTO ABOVE> has overtaken TORONTO to become the world’s top destination for luxury housing, according to a survey by Christie’s International Real Estate.

ZEBRA2REY, an endangered Grevy’s Zebra is another new baby born at the TORONTO Zoo this summer. Wasting no time, the little one was on its feet 10 minutes after arriving, and is now developing a “strong and confident” personality.

PROPELLER1PROPELLER, 30 Abell Street, 20 years old and artist-run, is open again after a month of renovation.  Abell Street is a block west of The Theatre Centre/south of the Drake Hotel.

BBC1 NewYorkTimesLogoThe New York Times & the BBC Announce Plans To Expand To Canada.
The BBC will open a news bureau in TORONTO and launch a Canadian edition of its news website.  The New York Times is recruiting journalists in both Australia and Canada, and laying the groundwork for local newsrooms.

SUBWAYTRAINPRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU has announced $1.49-billion in transit funding for Ontario. For larger cities like TORONTO that means $500-million to upgrade vehicles, more timely subway track repairs and improving station accessibility.

HARPER1Former Prime Minister STEPHEN HARPER has given up his seat in Parliament and resigned from public life.  During his second term – a marjority government – he’ll be remembered for disregarding the financial needs of Ontario, the undignified treatment of our premier, under-funding infrastructure, public transit, social housing, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, towns and cities, shutting down Parliament twice, reluctantly accepting the possibility of global warming, and generally acting like ‘the king of Canada’.

THE ECONOMIST RANKS TORONTO #4 OUT OF 140 ‘MOST LIVEABLE CITIES IN THE WORLD’

Canada , Toronto CN Tower

The data arm of The Economist has again put TORONTO on its list of the world’s most liveable cities. Our under-whelming infrastructure has put us just behind Vancouver (#3), but ahead of Calgary (#5). The report gave us perfect scores for stability, health care and education. Culture and the environment came in at 97.2 and TORONTO’s infrastructure an unfortunate 89.3.

ECONOMIST3ECONOMIST2

  CROSSTOWN4Some good news on TORONTO’s infrastructure front. Tunnel boring on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line has been finished. 26,178 pre-cast concrete segments have been installed and a 10-kilometre (6.5 mile) east-west tunnel has been bored. The total length of the line will be double that. 3 stations are under construction with another 22 to go.

CROSSTOWN1When completed the Crosstown will connect Weston Road to Kennedy Station along Eglinton Avenue. On the line – 3 subway interchanges, links to GO suburban transit, and 54 bus routes. The Crosstown represents TORONTO’s largest transit project in a generation. Travel is predicted to be 60% faster than on the existing bus service.

KODAK2Building Number 9 <PHOTO ABOVE> was once the recreation centre for thousands of employees at TORONTO’s Kodak factory, which closed in 2005. The historic structure, built in 1939 and weighing 3,000-tonnes, has been moved 60 metres to allow METROLINX to construct a Crosstown terminus station.

Building 9 on the old Kodak lands is moved Thursday so that construction can begin on the foundation of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT's Mount Dennis station. Aug. 25, 2016

Once a new foundation has been poured, the structure will trundle back and be incorporated into the Mount Dennis station.

“THE COUNTY” IS EVERYTHING THEY SAID IT WOULD BE, AND IT’S RIGHT UNDER TORONTO’S NOSE

COUNTY9      About 2 hours down Highway 401 from TORONTO (around the corner by Canadian standards), you enter a world unto itself.

COUNTY3For the skeptics among us PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY seemed too good to be true. But after visiting for a couple of days I was totally won over by the rusticity of the countryside, the architecture in its towns and villages, wineries, beaches and views of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte, restaurants, antique stores, art galleries and the locals themselves.  <PHOTOS ABOVE & BELOW – Oeno Gallery & Sculpture Garden adjacent to Huff Estates Winery, tours, lunch, patio>

COUNTY4COUNTY8<PHOTO ABOVE – Quaker Meeting House, 1885, WELLINGTON; last one left in The County, now a museum with a cannery exhibition and the history of the Quaker community>

COUNTY5<PHOTO ABOVE – Domaine Darius, 200 year old garden and unique winery run by a couple>

COUNTY6<The County’s Wine Trail features over 20 different wineries>

COUNTY10<Homemade County ice cream and winery tours in BLOOMFIELD>

COUNTY11<The sand dunes at SANDBANKS PROVINCIAL PARK on Lake Ontario>

PICTON, THE COUNTY’S LARGEST TOWN (POP. 4,000) DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BIG TO BE BEAUTIFUL

PICTON8PICTON is The County’s largest unincorporated community. The town, originally named HALLOWELL, was settled in the 1780’s by Loyalists from America’s Thirteen Colonies.

PICTON1It was in PICTON that Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, managed a law office for his uncle. Pay your respects to Sir John on Main Street in front of The Armoury.

PICTON7<Set for ‘HMS Pinafore’, Regent Theatre, PICTON>

PICTON6PICTON’s historic REGENT THEATRE is the arts centre for The County. This rare example of an intact Edwardian opera house presents a mixture of music, first-run movies and live theatre. It boasts one of the largest stages in Eastern Ontario and a 62-foot fly tower. Designed by TORONTO architects Warrington & Page, the Regent opened its doors in 1922.

PICTON3PICTON’s CRYSTAL PALACE is a replica of London’s original. Built in 1887 this smaller version in yellow and green is the only one of its kind left in North America. Over six years from 1990-96 this historic and architecturally significant building was carefully restored.  <INTERIOR PHOTO by Ross Winter>

FLOWER10PICTON’S restaurants – there are several. One of the finest in Ontario is located just down Highway #49 from the Crystal Palace. The BLUMEN GARDEN INN is outstanding and reservations are recommended at 613-476-0841.

TOWNS ON THE PERIPHERY OF “THE COUNTY” – PORT HOPE, COBOURG, TRENTON & BELLEVILLE

TOWNS5There’s much to see and do on your way to Prince Edward County.  By following Highway #2 you’ll pass through several historic towns and villages – each offering lots of gingerbread architecture, galleries, museums – as well as better-than-average cafes and restaurants.          TOWNS6TOWNS4PORT HOPE – the Capitol Theatre, 20 Queen Street, is one of Canada’s last remaining “atmospheric” theatres. The interior gives the illusion of sitting in a medieval courtyard under twinkling stars and moving clouds. Restored to its original splendour.

DRIVE-IN9

PORT HOPE Drive-In Theatre, founded in 1947, is one of the oldest continuously operated drive-ins in Canada. 2141 Theatre Road, between Port Hope and Cobourg.

PORT HOPE is also home to the Canadian Fire Fighters Museum, 95 Mill Street South.

TOWNS7COBOURG – the largest town and county seat of Northumberland, founded by United Empire Loyalists in 1798. Standing in the heart of downtown and visible from just about everywhere, is Victoria Hall designed by architect Kivas Tully. Inside you’ll find the fine Art Gallery of Northumberland, the Cobourg Concert Hall and a courtroom now used as the Council chamber.

TOWNS8COBOURG is also home to Dressler House, 212 King Street West. At one time MARIE DRESSLER was the highest paid movie star, even earning more than GRETA GARBO. In 1930 she won an Oscar for Best Actress, and was the first film star to appear on the cover of TIME, August 7, 1933.

TOWNS14TOWNS12COBOURG boasts one of the largest collections of vintage architectural artifacts, hardware, antique lighting and building materials. It’s all for sale. LEGACY is open Thursday to Sunday at 540 Division Street.

TOWNS10COBOURG restaurants – there are many. My favourites were The Butter Milk Cafe for breakfast and lunch & 92King for dinner and sitting on the patio while watching the world go by.

TOWNS16TRENTON is quite large (population 20,000) and is the starting point for the Trent-Severn Waterway. It was an important film production centre around 1917 when a studio was built and a number of movies were made here. It’s home to the RCAF Trenton Air Force base, and Highway #2 passes right by it.

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BELLEVILLE is the largest city in the region (population 50,000). It’s located at the mouth of the Moira River on the Bay of Quinte.

What fascinated me about Belleville was Front Street, which is being totally rebuilt this year. For aficionados of construction, unobstructed storefronts, and Victorian commercial architecture, this could be a worthwhile stop. Front Street is all about local business – no chain stores here.

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A NEW 18-LETTER WORD HAS ENTERED TORONTO’S LEXICON – “C-O-N-D-O-M-I-N-I-U-M-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N”

RISEANDSPRAWL1A 128-page book – ‘Rise And Fall: The Condominiumization of TORONTO’ – by Dutch art historian Hans Ibelings and TORONTO architecture and design firm PARTISANS is now available on Amazon.

RISEANDSPRAWL2This is the story of the rise and fall of the condo tower in Canada’s largest city. The new buildings, their size, mass, volume and height and the speed by which they’re being built, is totally remarkable. The only thing not remarkable is their architecture. The result – buildings so similar that Hans Ibelings compares them to Soviet-era housing blocks.

RISEANDSPRAWL3PARTISANS website – http://www.partisanprojects.com