TORONTO SHORT STORIES – JULY 8-25/2017

JEFF ROCK, a scientist, has been appointed the next senior pastor at TORONTO’s Metropolitan Community Church. He will succeed Rev. Dr. BRENT HAWKES who is retiring after 38 years with MCC.  Pastor Rock: “I look at myself as a 33-year-old young gay man in ministry and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without people like Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes. I think that there are deep conversations that need to happen in TORONTO about class, and about housing costs and poverty.”

The CN Tower, TORONTO’s #1 tourist attraction, now has a new mascot. It’s a miniature version of the tower itself – only with arms.

Over the past two years TORONTO-based Cyberworks Robotics & the University of Toronto have developed a cost-efficient technology that will allow power wheelchairs to drive themselves. The concept was originally intended for users with upper-body-disabilities such as hand tremors, ALS, and spinal cord injuries. These new wheelchairs could dramatically enhance quality of life, and make it much easier to accomplish everyday things.  Cyberworks is currently in the process of getting necessary approvals to allow wheelchair users to test the technology, and eventually making it useable outdoors.

A 6-foot TORONTO sign, made from washed-up driftwood has appeared on the water in Humber Bay Park, the work of artists Thelia Sanders-Shelton and Julie Ryan.  Making the sign was a challenge. The duo spent five days on their project, up to seven hours at a time, collecting driftwood and lugging rocks. Julie Ryan said they put a heart at the end of the sculpture to celebrate TORONTO as “a city of love. It’s a place of goodness and kindness.”

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‘OLGA’, THE SIKORSKY SKYCRANE PLACES 39-SECTION ANTENNA ATOP INCOMPLETE CN TOWER, 1975

From the CTV News collection in the City of TORONTO Archives – the Evergreen Sikorsky Skycrane puts on the last piece of the 39-section broadcast antenna atop the incomplete CN Tower – April 2/1975.  The helicopter’s official model number was N6962R – known locally as ‘Olga’.

“GRADUALLY SOME PATTERNS BECAME VISIBLE & THEN THERE WAS COLOUR!” – RAN IDE, TVONTARIO CEO

The quote is from (1st) CEO Thomas Ranald (Ran) Ide, in his bedroom on September 27, 1970 waiting for his ‘baby’ to appear on a television screen. The ‘baby’ was Canada’s first educational television channel (ETVO) that Mr. Ide had paintakingly guided to that Sunday afternoon 47 years ago.

Television critic PATRICK SCOTT wrote “The result starting at 2pm, and running flawlessly for three-and-a-quarter hours was a triumphant Day One for the great experiment expected to revolutionize both television and education in Ontario!”

And revolutionize it, TVOntario (originally ETVO) did and continues to do.  Looking back nearly a half-century there’s so much TVO visual and print material available a short summary is impossible. But here are a few highlights from this great, non-commerical cultural institution, TORONTO-based, funded by the provincial government and donations from business and the public. It’s still lookin’ pretty fine.

<‘The Polka Dot Door’, based on the BBC series ‘Play School’ ran for several decades.  Polkaroo (the tall one above) became the network’s mascot.>

<Comedian MARTIN SHORT starred on ‘Behind The Fridge’, a half-hour Friday night show with a weird title.>

<Canada’s former Secretary of State JUDY LAMARSH had her own hour-long live talk show, Sunday Nights>

<‘Today’s Special’ above and ‘Telefrancais’ below, a series starring a pineapple.   There were puppets eveywhere.  From the very beginning TVOntario specialized in quality children’s television and continues to do so.  Countless numbers of these shows were sold at home and abroad.>

<‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ and ‘Magic Shadows’, hosted by the inimitable ELWY YOST, were ratings winners for decades.  Mr. Yost – who loved everything about Hollywood – became a top TVO personality.  Annually he filmed interviews in Los Angeles, and TVO donated these priceless conversations to the Motion Picture Academy of  Arts and Sciences.>

<Rainer Schwartz of “Night Music”, on-air every weeknight, played the latest music dj style and interviewed those who created it.  You might say Rainer was running his own music channel.>

TVO programming has been sold to most Canadian provinces, a number of American states and several European countries. The broadcaster has accumulated a goodly stash of awards.  Today, children’s programming remains #1, but there’s a generous helping of documentaries, feature films, public affairs, technology (and a whole department) focused on education and all that entails.  No commercial breaks either.For information on TVOntario, its history and today’s programming, go to their website – http://www.tvo.orgTVOntario’s province-wide coverage – ONTARIO occupies an area of 415,000 square miles (or 1 million square kilometres), population 12 million.  By comparison, TEXAS (area 269,000 square miles or 696,000 square kilometres), population 27 million. To drive from east to west in the province takes the better part of two days.The late T. RAN IDE, TVOntario’s first CEO, published this book in 1995 about the network’s earliest days.  ‘The Transparent Blackboard” contains several rare photographs and provides all you’d want to know about this Ontario television success story.  It’s available on Amazon.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO’S SOLDIER’S TOWER, 1924, IS DEDICATED TO 1,185 WHO DIED IN TWO WORLD WARS

The Soldier’s Tower on the St. George Campus commemorates those who lost their lives while fighting in WWI and WW2. It’s Canada’s second tallest war memorial after the Peace Tower in Ottawa.  Designed by Hart House architects Henry Sproatt and Ernest Rolph, the Tower is built of grey ashlar stone amd trimmed with limestone.

The Memorial Room sits directly above the archway and is open to the public. It contains artifacts focused on the U of T’s wartime service, and the names of those who lost their lives.

The Memorial Room stained-glass window is based on John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. It was dedicated in 1995. Eight additional windows honour the wartime services of the Canadian Forces.

Built by the British firm Gillett and Johnston, the tower clock’s original 23 bells were replaced in 1976 by the current 51-bell carillon. The 51 bells span four octaves and range in weight from 23 pounds to 4 tons.  <PHOTO – clock face mechanism>

The bells are played using an organ-like console.

Bridging the gap between University College and the Soldiers’ Tower is the Memorial Screen, displaying the names of the 627 who died in the First World War. Students walking under the tower through the Memorial Archway pass by the engraved names of the 557 university members who lost their lives in World War II.

BERCZY PARK’S DOG FOUNTAIN IS A SMASH HIT; A CAT & MOUSE-THEMED PROMENADE IS COMING SOON

<PHOTO – Claude Cormier by Christopher Katsarov/Globe and MailLandscape architect CLAUDE CORMIER, creator of TORONTO’s dog fountain in Berczy Park, is now working on a feline-themed promenade in the Draper St. neighbourhood downtown. The path will feature 15 to 20 statuettes of cats as well as some mice hidden in the underbrush. There’ll be one dog “just to be fair” as there is one cat at Berczy.

The promenade between Wellington St. W. and King St. will include two rows of black locust trees and a water feature. Montrealer Claude Cormier also designed TORONTO’s Sugar Beach and HtO Park – both on the waterfront.

1 SPADINA CRESCENT TO BE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO’S LANDSCAPE/ARCHITECTURE/DESIGN BUILDING

<One Spadina Crescent as it was two years ago>

One Spadina Crescent, with its Gothic towers and long history, is getting yet another lease on life after a career as Knox College, World War I barracks, a penicillin factory, an eye bank, a veterans hospital, a library, pathology lab and several departments within the University of TorontoAMELIA EARHART worked here as a nurse’s aide until she contracted influenza, and there’s been at least one murder within the building. It was nearly demolished in the 1960’s to make way for the Spadina Expressway.

Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design is now rehabilitating the historic structure and adding a modern extension on the back.  The extension will contain lecture rooms, research facilities, a green roof testing lab, design studios, a fabrication lab and the Global Cities Institute.