GARDINER EXPRESSWAY CONSTRUCTION ON THE LEFT, LAKESHORE BLVD., 1960-64

<PHOTO – City of Toronto Archives; Lakeshore Boulevard looking east>

A PART OF TORONTO’S THEATRICAL HISTORY IS ON THE MARKET FOR $9-MILLION

A unique feature of TORONTO neighbourhoods are its cinemas.  One of them, The REGENT on Mount Pleasant Road, is facing an uncertain future.

Opened in 1927 as the BELSIZE, it became The CREST in 1953, and in 1971 the REGENT.

The CREST Theatre Company was founded in 1953, and a year later opened its first eleven-play season. This was the beginning of indigenous, commercial theatre in TORONTO. Up until then there had been mostly touring productions from the West End and the US.  Many of TORONTO’s (and Canada’s) best-known actors and actresses performed at The Crest. These included Kate Reid, Richard Monette, Jackie Burroughs, Frances Hyland, Eric House and Martha Henry. Most went on to Stratford, the Shaw, television and movie careers.

Among the directors – Douglas Campbell, Barry Morse, Mavor Moore, Leon Major, John Hirsch, Herbert Whittaker and Allan Lund.  The CREST closed its doors on April 30, 1966 after mounting 140 productions. This was the beginning of commercially viable home-grown theatre in TORONTO.  Soon after, the Crest became the Regent, and began showing movies.  Recently it functioned as a sound mixing studio by day, and a cinema at night. The building is now up-for-sale, and hopes are to raise the funds to keep it as a theatre.  TORONTO neighbourhoods have managed this before.  The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue is a good example.  An extensive archive on the historical Crest Theatre and its company can be found at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street.

THIS AND THAT, FROM HERE AND THERE, AT HOME AND ELSEWHERE

On TORONTO’s waterfront, this group of rotating fan sculptures has been installed. It’s the work of Vancouver artist THENA TAK, and the public is welcome to wander through the assemblage. ‘Winter Fanfare‘ is part of the Waterfront Ice Breakers Festival, on until February 25.

The Spire of DUBLIN is a large, stainless steel, elongated cone, which can be seen from almost everywhere in the Irish capital. The Spire doesn’t seem to honour anyone or anything. It’s just there.

Cavalia Odysseo & the Canadian National Institute for the Blind gave a number of blind kids the thrill of their young lives this past summer. They were surrounded by horses under the big top in MISSISSAUGA, Ontario. “For them the sense of smell, feeling the hair and brushing them adds to their memory bank,” said Ruth Millard of the CNIB. <PHOTO – Toronto Sun>

When fire gutted the artsy Sag Harbor Cinema (everything but the sign) on LONG ISLAND, the populace, butcher, baker and candle-stick maker conjured up $8-million to restore the theatre so the town “wouldn’t become just another restaurant capital.”

It’s nearly impossible for first-time home buyers to get a foothold in EDINBURGH. The Scottish capital is a very popular tourism destination with its multitude of arts festivals. The city finds itself overrun with AirBnB’s, squeezing the locals out of the housing market. Average rental for a 2-bedroom flat stands at $1610 CAD per month. A one-bedroom $1200 CAD.

“MY WINNIPEG” or “WINNIPEG, MON AMOUR” is an exceptional movie about the prairie metropolis. Frigid in winter and a mosquito haven in summer, the city is home to, among other things, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, North America’s largest Icelandic community, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and film director/producer GUY MADDIN. Maddin’s salute to his home town combines reality and fantasy in documentary style, and you’re never sure which is which. I’ve seen “My Winnipeg” several times.

PHOTO ABOVE – ‘This Is Winnipeg’ – https://thisiswinnipeg.wordpress.com

THE NEW YORK TIMES ‘BUSINESS DAY’ ON WHY TORONTO MADE THE ‘PLAYOFFS’ FOR AMAZON’S HQ2

The New York Times correspondent in Canada – IAN AUSTEN – wrote “regardless of the outcome, the announcement that the city remains a contender, shows how much progress TORONTO and the surrounding region, have made in establishing themselves as a major technology centre.”

TORONTO has two important virtues, in addition to becoming a technology hub. One is Canada’s immigration policy. Mayor JOHN TORY said when he was in New York recently, he found American executives were very interested in Canada’s unlimited visa program for certain skilled workers. Visas are granted at lightning speed, compared with the complicated American system.

TORONTO’s second asset is its publicly funded university and college system. The University of Waterloo has long been recognized as a top technology school; the University of TORONTO is a major centre for research in Artificial Intelligence. The province of Ontario has increased funding for AI programs by $30-million CAD.

TORONTO’s bid proposes several potential sites for HQ2, among them the largely abandoned Docklands <ABOVE> that will include a forthcoming Google-related technology redevelopment. “We don’t know what they’re expecting from us,” said the mayor. “There has been no playbook or playoff schedule supplied to the 20 finalists.”

TORONTO (+GTA) IS THE ONLY CANADIAN CITY ON AMAZON’S TOP 20 (out of 238) SHORT LIST FOR HQ2

We’re up against stiff competition for a second AMAZON headquarters (HQ2). On the short list – Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Boston, New York City, Newark, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Montgomery County, Raleigh, Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Miami and TORONTO.

“Today (January 18/2018) we are announcing the communities that will proceed to the next step in the HQ2 process. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity.” – AMAZON

AMAZON expects to invest over $5-billion in construction and grow HQ2 by as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. It will be fully equal to SEATTLE’S HQ1. As well, tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in investments in the surrounding community would no doubt follow.  In the second and final round, AMAZON representatives will communicate directly with finalist cities.  It will be their opportunity to be even more outspoken on why they should be chosen.  The winner will be selected before year’s end.

MAYOR JOHN TORY – “We’ve made the playoffs. There’s lots more work to do to win the Amazon HQ2 bid . . . We are excited to have this opportunity to be able to tell TORONTO’s unique story.”