CANADA’S ‘WORLD TREASURE’ IS GREAT BEAR LAKE, ONE OF THE TEN LARGEST IN THE WORLD

greatbear1Peter Kujawinski, novelist and freelance journalist, has written a beautifully illustrated story about the Sahtuto’ine (the Bear Lake People) in this weekend’s New York Times. Sometimes it takes foreign media to make us realize what treasures we have in this country.

greatbear3greatbear4Peter writes “It’s like the Mona Lisa – a world treasure. Great Bear Lake straddles the Arctic Circle in the remote Northwest Territories. At just over 12,000 square miles, the lake is the eighth largest in the world. It is bigger than Belgium and deeper than Lake Superior, and is covered in ice and snow most of the year. The only human settlement is the town of DELINE, population 503.”

greatbear2Great Bear Lake is the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to be led by an Indigenous community. This came to be in 2016. It is the largest such site in North America. <PHOTO ABOVE by Christopher Miller for The New York TimesRead the entire article at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/travel/great-bear-lake-arctic-unesco-biosphere-canada.html?_r=0

QRC WEST IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENTS IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO

allied1allied2It’s not every day that a TORONTO developer saves two heritage structures, installs a super atrium connector and puts up a multi-storey office building with an eOne sign on top. Such is the case with QRC WEST, at the corner of Peter Street and Richmond West. It’s photogenic in the extreme.

allied4allied6         The two heritage buildings were once Weston bread & baked goods factories. Now they’ve been modernized, connected and house some of TORONTO’s most coveted office space.

allied8<PHOTOS – Peter Street as it was in the 1940’s, 50’s>

allied9<Richmond Street West as it once was>

allied10<PHOTO ABOVE – connecting the two elderly red-brick structures; HGC Engineering>  Owned and developed by Allied Properties, QRC West was designed by Sweeny, Sterling, Finlayson & Co. Architects.

THE NEW LONDON DOUBLE-DECKERS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE EVEN FOR LONDON

londonbuses2No doubt about it. They are beauties. But the new Thomas Heatherwick-designed buses cost a fortune and will now be discontinued. The first 600 vehicles purchased in 2012 by (former mayor) Boris Johnson cost £354,000 each, while the next 200 in 2014 cost £325,000 each.  London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan first suggested his plan to discontinue the buses during his own election campaign, as a cost-saving measure to help pay for a four-year freeze on fares.

#10 TORONTO STREET MAY BE SMALL, BUT IT’S BIG IN HISTORY AND INTRIGUE

10TORONTOST4Built in 1851-1853 for the Province of Canada, the Seventh Post Office was designed by TORONTO architects Frederic Cumberland and Thomas Ridout. The structure, in the Neo-classical style, resembles a Greek temple with the Royal Arms of England on top.

10TORONTOST5#10 Toronto Street served as a post office until 1873, and then housed government offices until 1937. It was sold to the Bank of Canada and later purchased and refurbished by ARGUS CORPORATION, an investment and holding company. Argus was once Canada’s most powerful conglomerate, controlling Canadian Breweries, Dominion Stores, Hollinger Mines, Crown Trust, Malting Company, Orange Crush and British Columbia Forest Products Ltd.

10TORONTOST.1From Argus Corporation the building was passed on to CONRAD BLACK’s Hollinger Inc., media holding company. It was from #10 that Mr. Black himself was taped removing boxes of documents from his office – against court orders. This partly led to Black’s imprisonment in a US jail for a few years.  INTERIOR PHOTOS – Crossley Engineering/Toronto & http://www.carillion.ca

10TORONTOST2In 2006, the building was sold to Morgan Meighen and Associates, a Canadian investment manager, for $14-million ($1800 per square foot), roughly three times the price of a typical building in downtown TORONTO.

10TORONTOST6

CANADIAN CITIES ARE BOOMING – ISN’T IT TIME SENIOR GOVERNMENTS DOLED OUT MORE CA$H?

census2The 2016 Census numbers are in and the metropolitan area of TORONTO has outpaced the national and provincial growth rates. Statistics Canada reports a 6.2% population increase over the last 5 years. The national rate is 5.0% and the provincial rate is 4.6%.The population of the actual city of TORONTO is 2,731,571 and of the census metropolitan area 5,583,064.

Y&DSQUARE5About a third of the country’s population now lives in TORONTO, Montreal and Vancouver metropolitan areas.  The 2016 Census is telling us that Canadian cities are growing rapidly, both in their downtown cores and suburban communities.  Big city mayors have requested $12.6-billion for affordable housing, and a big slice of the federal government’s $186-billion promised for infrastructure improvements.

census1

A LITTLE GREEKTOWN HOUSE HAS TORONTO’S REAL ESTATE ‘JUNKIES’ A-TWITTER

murielhouse1Built in 1912 this modest bungalow on Muriel Avenue was purchased in 1966 for $10,000. It was assessed in 2012 for $143,000, and in 2016 for $645,000. On February 2 the ‘little-house-that-could’ sold for an astonishing $1,050,000$370,000 higher than the asking price. Hold onto your hats East Yorkers! Real estate values in your neighbourhood are about to skyrocket.  Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter argues that foreign buyers have shifted their attention from Vancouver to the Greater Toronto Area and Victoria BC. “In what is already a very tight and hot market, to add net new buyers can have a very big influence on prices. With modest employment growth, there is something else going on.”

TORONTO’S NUMBER OF LIVE-MUSIC VENUES IS SHRINKING – BUT IS THERE A NEED TO PANIC?

silver2TORONTO’s live-music venues – under pressure from boomtown construction – are struggling to survive. Both Mayor John Tory and Councillor Josse Colle “share the disapointment of musicians, fans, the music community” and say they’re working to address the problem.”

ELMOCAMBOSIGN1On the good news front, the venerable El Mocambo on Spadina is reopening. Jazz and folk outpost Hugh’s Room clings to life in the west-end, waiting to be rescued by a crowdfunding campaign. If that goes well, plans are to re-open in March as a not-for-profit. A newly renovated Velvet Underground is on the way.

hughsroom1<HUGH’S ROOM, Dundas Street West>

CAMERONHOUSE

<THE CAMERON HOUSE, Queen Street West>

grossmans1rex1The 90-year-old Cameron House seems stable. Grossman’s jazz and blues joint on Spadina and the Rex Jazz Club on Queen West are both going concerns.  <PHOTOS ABOVE>  The Hoxton is gone, along with Tattoo, the Hideout, the Tennessee (a.k.a. the old Mitzi’s Sister), the Old Laurel (a.k.a. the old Rancho Relaxo), long-running DIY space Soybomb HQ, Cabal, Cherry Cola’s and, in just the past couple of weeks, the Central.

silver4silver1The long-running Silver Dollar Room, in a heritage building on Spadina Crescent, may disappear this coming May. Student housing will soon replace the 118-year-old Waverly Hotel next door.

JOHNTORY2Mayor JOHN TORY: “It’s the bad-news side of a strongly and rapidly growing city. While there are some places being lost, there are lots of other often smaller places that are a bit more out-of-the-way that are still thriving and we want to make sure that continues to be the case.”  Musician PRIYA PANDA at the Cherry Coke Bar says this should be a priority at City Hall.  In other words, get on with it.

TORONTO GETS A TASTE OF SIBERIA, AND WE’RE BACK IN THE DEEP FREEZE

SNOW5RINKS3Ice skating at Sherbourne Common, one of 50 outdoor rinks in the City of Toronto.

RINKS4<Willowvale Park at Christie Pits, 5 rinks, 1923, City of Toronto Archives>  TORONTO has the most outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks of any city in the world. There are 4 rinks in the city centre, and 46 in neighbourhoods. Twelve are double pads – one for playing hockey, the other for pleasure-skating. The rest are single pads where hockey and pleasure-skating take turns.

KENT MONKMAN’S ‘SHAME & PREJUDICE’ LIGHTS UP THE DARKER SIDE OF CANADIAN HISTORY

monkman1

monkman2Cree artist Kent Monkman: “We survived a lot of horrible things and we’re still here. We’re not relics of the past. Canadians are learning more about the darker history of this country that has been glossed over, that was never in our school curriculums.”

<ABOVE – “The Daddies”, the artist’s version of the famous portrait ‘Fathers of the Confederation’, with Monkman’s alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle front and centre. “The point is there was no thought toward Indigenous people in that meeting.”.>

monkman6“I’m calling it my ‘Canada150’ … I wanted to present a perspective that reflected on the 150 years of Indigenous experience. This is my celebration of the resilience of Indigenous people.”

monkman4<ABOVE – “The Scream” shows Indigenous children being taken away from their families by the Catholic church.>