Colourful artworks between streetcars and the sidewalk have won this year’s $5,000 NXT City Prize.
Streetcar safety murals are the brainchild of Lucas Declavasio and Andrew Patterson of the TORONTO-based agency WYSP CREATIVE. Chief Planner JENNIFER KEESMAAT is looking for a non-profit organization to make the idea happen. “It’s a powerful, impactful idea that can be implemented inexpensively,” she said. “(The murals) will beautify TORONTO and make it safer too.”
NXT City connects Toronto’s young leaders with city builders, and its annual prize gives a platform to people with fresh ideas about the city’s public spaces. Passing a stopped streetcar comes with a $110 fine and three demerit points.
Opened in 1890 THE GREAT HALL at Queen West and Dovercourt was in danger of shutting down forever. What a loss this would have been for the West End and TORONTO’s music scene.
Over the past two years and with $4-million in the bank, the red-brick Victorian has been restored to its former glory. An elevator now makes the building more accessible, layers of plywood and tile were pulled up to reveal the original wooden floors, windows – some dating back to 1890 – were repainted and rebuilt, and a modern cooling system has been installed.
The building began life as the first West End YMCA; then was taken over by the Royal Templars of Temperance; then the headquarters of the Polish National Union where a newspaper was published and Polish refugees from World War II were taken in; distance runner Tom Longboat trained here before winning the Boston Marathon in 1907; psychics gathered; politicians debated; the Theatre Centre, YYZ Gallery, Toronto School of Art all made their homes here, and today it’s become a popular arts centre and performance venue.
The raised wooden running track that dates back to the West End YMCA is now a balcony for the “completely revamped” lower level. <PHOTO ABOVE – Fred Lum, Globe and Mail; restoration – Bernard Watts Architects>
Top dollar for a Canadian work of art was reached in TORONTO when “Mounted Forms” by Lawren Harris sold for $11.21-million CAD. This includes an 18% buyer’s premium which goes to Heffel Fine Arts. The 90-year-old painting surpassed its expected sale price of between $3-million and $5-million.
“Come From Away” opened at the refurbished Royal Alexandra Theatre and became an instant smash hit. The Canadian/American musical has already played in La Jolla, Seattle and Washington DC. It’s on its way to Broadway, and will be in TORONTO for the next two months.
From the City of TORONTO Archives – a 1950’s photo of the Telegram Building at Bay and Melinda Street.
End of the Volleyball Season in the Beaches neighbourhood – photo by Bryan Blenkin
<‘WATERTABLE’ by Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak beneath the Gardiner Expressway>
Opened in 1851, the massive Provincial Lunatic Asylum stood watch over – what is now the West Queen West Arts District. At the time, 1001 Queen West was the largest non-military building in the country.
A wall was commissioned to keep the inhabitants in, and the curious out. Eventually the entire 50-acre site was surrounded by high walls, many of which were constructed by the patients themselves. Unpaid labour was central to the operation of Ontario asylums in the 19th and 20th century. It was considered good therapy and saved the government money.
A couple of sections remain – the south wall, built in 1860; and the east wall in 1888-89. They’re both City of Toronto Heritage sites. It’s not exactly a tourist attraction, but these walls played a significant part in TORONTO’s history and the treatment of mental health in Canada.
On the outside St. Anne’s Anglican Church, 270 Gladstone Avenue, is rather grim, but inside it’s another story.
In 1923, the painter, J.E.H. MacDonald, assembled a group of Canadian artists (unfashionable in church circles at the time), including Fred Varley, Frank Carmichael, other members of the famous Group of Seven, and sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. Together they created more than a dozen large paintings, decorative medallions and reliefs of the four evangelists. Combined with the building’s vaulted roof and central dome in the Byzantine Greek Cross style, and stained glass from the original church on Dufferin Street, St. Anne’s became a sight to behold. As it is to this day.
The 154-year-old building is Canada’s only Byzantine Revival Anglican church. It’s patterned after ISTANBUL’s Hagia Sophia, and in 1998 was designated a National Historic Site.
St. Anne’s has regular Sunday services, or you can arrange individual or group tours through the church office.
Just north of Arthur Goss Lane, at 20 Metcalfe Street, is the former townhouse of TORONTO’s first city photographer. For 37 years, Mr. Goss, a Cabbagetowner for most of his life, spent his time photographing day-to-day life in our city. The accumulated trove now resides in the City Archives, and some of it can be seen online.
<PHOTOS ABOVE – 1) Constructing the Prince Edward Viaduct, July 18, 1917 2) Slum housing in the Ward, site of the City Hall skating rink, 1913; 3) new bubble drinking fountains, April 13, 1917; 4) inside the Civic Abbatoir, 1914; 5) a tuberculosis patient in a hospital tent, 1912.>
<PHOTO ABOVE – Arthur Goss’s most famous photograph – the Group of Seven artists + Barker Fairley meeting at the Arts and Letters Club on Elm Street, 1920 (left to right – Varley, Jackson, Harris, Fairley, Johnston, Lismer and MacDonald>