TORONTO SHORT STORIES – NOVEMBER 8-17/2016

rarebooklibrary1Much of the late LEONARD COHEN’s life’s work is in the vaults of the University of TORONTO’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The collection contains more than 100 self-portraits, countless hand written notes, letters to family and friends, fan mail, early drafts of his work, a 1960’s experimental novel ‘Beautiful Losers‘ and a 1956 poetry book ‘Let Us Compare Mythologies’.  Cohen sold some of his earliest papers to the University in the 1960’s and continued donating his archives in the years to come. <PHOTO – University of Toronto>

nbcttc3Who’d have imagined a partnership like this? The National Ballet of Canada and the TORONTO Transit Commission have teamed up to get people thinking more about public transit and our excellent ballet company. Roughly 40% of the National Ballet’s revenue comes from box office sales and subscriptions. The National Ballet’s goal is to up those numbers. The company performs at the Four Seasons Centre which has a TTC subway stop, and many of its young dancers take public transit daily.  The TTC has been partnering with organizations and events since last year’s Pan American/Parapan Am Games, the Raptors, Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and the Blue Jays.

economist1economist2This week THE ECONOMIST chirped “Liberty Moves North” about the many attributes of us!  “In this depressing company of wall-builders, door-slammers and drawbridge-raisers, CANADA stands out as a heartening exception. It happily admits more than 300,000 immigrants a year, nearly 1% of its population—a higher proportion than any other big, rich country—and has done so for two decades . . . . (Of course) it is easier to be relaxed about immigration when your only land border is protected by a wall the size of the United States.”  

A BIG NIGHT FOR THEATRE – “COME FROM AWAY” OPENS TORONTO’S REFURBISHED ROYAL ALEXANDRA

royalalex2The ROYAL ALEXANDRA, Canada’s oldest legitimate theatre & National Historic Landmark, is celebrating its total refurbishment by opening with an American/Canadian musical “COME FROM AWAY” – which is enroute to Broadway.

royalalex5royalalex7The restored theatre – 1,497 seats reduced to 1,244; 9-inches of additional legroom; brand new much wider seats installed identical to the original 1907 models; rake of the orchestra level restored to its original angle; beaux arts mouldings on the balcony fronts and ceiling cleaned and restored.

royalalex1Architect JOHN LYLE’s revolutionary design of the auditorium has been kept with cantilevered balconies allowing all audience member’s pillar-free sightlines.

royalalex4“COME FROM AWAY” has already proven itself at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC, and is now headed for Broadway with a 2-month stopover at TORONTO’s Royal Alex.

royalalex3As a ‘thank you’, the cast <PHOTO ABOVE> brought the production to Gander, Newfoundland, where the story behind the musical actually unfolded.  On September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed and commercial air traffic over American airspace was completely shut down 38 US-bound flights landed at Gander’s Airport unexpectedly, nearly doubling the town’s population.  Newfoundlanders who are, without a doubt, the most hospitable people anywhere, pitched in, fed and housed 6,000 stranded passengers. The townsfolk bonded with the travelers, and many relationships were established that have lasted to this day.

royalalex8The idea for the show was conceived by Michael Rubinoff, a TORONTO lawyer, producer and Sheridan College’s associate dean of visual and performing arts. On Broadway the show opens February 18, 2017 (previews) and officially on March 12 at the Gerald Schoenfeld TheatreTORONTO tickets – http://www.mirvish.com

GOOD NEWS ON THE HERITAGE FRONT – THE SULTAN STREET TOWNHOUSES ARE NEARLY BACK

sultan2SULTAN STREET is a tiny cul-de-sac in the Bloor/Yorkville district, an upscale neighbourhood in the heart of downtown. It’s become a prime condo development site and this row of Victorian red brick houses <PHOTO BELOW> are in the middle of it. They were taken apart and re-assembled with great care while a curvy office building went up behind. The project is almost finished and you can be sure the rents will go way up along this picturesque row.

sultan3<PHOTO ABOVE – the row as it was before the project began>

sultan1<PHOTO ABOVE – the row as it is today – Hariri Pontarini Architects>

THE NEW 58,000 SQ. FT. CASEY HOUSE WILL BE A LEADING MODEL FOR ADVANCED HIV/AIDS CARE

caseyhouse1CASEY4CASEY HOUSE was Ontario’s first hospice, founded in 1988 with a huge boost from many volunteers and journalist JUNE CALLWOOD. It’s named after her son who died in a motorcycle accident.

caseyhouse2The institution has outgrown its home on Isabella Street and will soon take possession of a brand new hospital, doubling its care capacity and with multiple services grouped under one roof.

CASEY5

According to Casey House more people in TORONTO are living with HIV than ever before.  One in 120 adults in the city is now HIV-positive.  HIV/AIDS can be very difficult and expensive to treat. The new CASEY HOUSE will remain Canada’s leading facility treating this chronic disease.

caseyhouse3

SCULPTOR MICHAEL SNOW’S ‘RED, ORANGE AND GREEN’ STANDS IN A HUNTLEY STREET PARK

michaelsnow1It’s 14 metres high and was commissioned by the City of TORONTO in the early 1990’s to be installed where Jarvis Street meets Mount Pleasant Road. Later the sculpture was moved to this little park, and among other things it features Snow’s ‘Walking Woman’ design.

QUEEN’S PARK, KNOWN LOCALLY AS ‘THE PINK PALACE’, IS ONTARIO’S LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

queenspk1queenspk2Once the site of King’s College, which was founded during the reign of George IV, and then the University Asylum for the Insane which remained there for 30 years, Queen’s Park is now home to the Ontario Legislative Assembly.  The Assembly consists of One House (107 seats), and the Lieutenant-Governor.  The Assembly itself is housed in the ‘palace’, with the various ministries scattered around and about.

queenspk3The building, officially opened in 1893, named in honour of Queen Victoria, is the centrepiece of TORONTO’s government precinct. Self-guided tours are available, and the public is invited to sit in on legislative sessions.

queenspk4queenspk10At the rear of the building is one of the city’s most beautiful parks.  On the west side – the University of Toronto’s St. George campus.

queenspk8queenspk6QUEEN’S PARK is divided into two sections. The southern half belongs to the Government of Ontario. The northern part is owned by the University of TORONTO, and was leased to the city in 1854 for 999 years.  The entire complex sits in the middle of downtown TORONTO.  Well worth a visit.

queenspk12For more information on the building, tours and Queen’s Park check the website: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/home.do

BEHIND THE BIG BLUE WALL, A MUCH-IMPROVED ST. LAWRENCE MARKET NORTH WILL SOON RISE

northmarket1northmarket2The St. Lawrence Market is one of TORONTO’s most revered institutions. The South Market <PHOTO BELOW> dates back more than a century, and remains very much intact and fully operational.

northmarket6The North Market (now demolished) was a concrete box erected in 1968. The building served many purposes – a farmer’s market, weekly antiques market, meeting place, sales centre for Christmas trees, etc., but it was an ugly one both inside and out.

northmarket3Winner of a design competition, the new North Market will be a five-storey, steel and glass structure with an atrium, making it feel like an open-air market, which it once was.

northmarket5Before the new $60-million building goes up, a team of archaeologists are digging on the site, searching for signs of the market’s — and the city’s — past.

20111119-Hornyansky-St-Lawrence-Market<IMAGE ABOVE – the old, old North Market before it was replaced by the concrete box in the 1960’s>

ELVES, SANTA CLAUS, TREES & LIGHTS ARE REPLACED BY POLITICALLY CORRECT BIRDS & ANIMALS

windows1There’s not an elf in sight. The Hudson’s Bay Queen Street windows have lost much of their charm this year.

windows2Santa’s workshop, the coloured lights, toys and reindeer have all disappeared. Replacing them in 2016 – an effort to offend no one I’d guess – we’re looking at polar bears, hibernating foxes, owls and Canada geese. The creatures are somewhat animated, the music is festive, the kids are showing up, but the ‘Enchanted Forest‘ motif is boring – I’d say.