AFTER A 14-YR., $128-MILLION RENO, TORONTO’S ST. MICHAEL’S CATHEDRAL IS RESPLENDENT AGAIN

The 169-year-old St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, 65 Bond Street, was designed by TORONTO architect WILLIAM THOMAS. It’s the principal church of Canada’s largest English-speaking Catholic archdiocese and now, after a complete reno, its interior is among the most spectacular in the city.

The Archdiocese, encouraged by Cardinal THOMAS COLLINS, hired TORONTO’s +VG Architects to take on the task of restoring the yellow-brick structure inside and out.

The aspect that’s captured the public’s imagination is the crypt, which opens to the public in 2018. The first Bishop of TORONTO is buried there, along with other important people. One such is John Elmsley, a convert from the Anglican church, director of the Bank of Upper Canada and  member of the Family Compact,. His father was Chief Justice of Upper Canada.

“The cathedral will link with the Royal Ontario Museum and Ontario Tourism so that visitors will know that they can see those buried here were part of the social and cultural history of Canada,” said TERENCE WHITE of the architecture firm.

All the stained-glass windows were restored to their original magnificence. The rose windows in the south and north transepts were revealed after a century.  New stained-glass windows were commissioned from TORONTO’s Vitreous Glassworks.

NEW YORK-based Ecclesiastical Art created decorations for the walls, and transformed the ceiling into a celestial sky with more than 18,000 stars.

The balcony was rebuilt and now seats 230. The old organ, installed in 1880, blocked some of the most beautiful stained-glass in North America. It’s gone, replaced by Opus 3907, a new $2-million pipe organ by Casavant Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. The pipe chests were split to preserve the view and the daylight.

Ongoing phases of the restoration, with expected completion dates in 2018, include the restoration of the Bishop’s Palace or Rectory, and completion of the new crypt chapel.

<ALL PHOTOGRAPHS by Paul Cormack/Concrete Pictures>

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ARTSCAPE BUCKS THE TREND OF KICKING ARTISTS OUT OF GENTRIFYING NEIGHBOURHOODS

TORONTO can take great pride in Artscape YoungPlace, 180 Shaw Street – a massive school building converted into a 3-storey arts complex.

Home to the Koffler Gallery, artists’ workplaces, a happening cafe, a dance company, yoga, piano and paper-making studios, and offices for the Luminato Festival, the structure contains 75,000 square feet entirely devoted to artistic expression.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Andrew Williamson>

The building was purchased in 2010 from the Toronto District School Board after it had been vacant for over a decade. Artscape’s continuing goal is to find studio space in the city centre for thousands of artists displaced by rampant development. 180 Shaw Street fit perfectly into that plan.  Following a $17-million rebuild, the century-old former Shaw Street School re-emerged as a vibrant hub for the arts and a proud member of the community.

Artspace Youngplace takes its name from the Michael Young Family Foundation, and joins other artist-friendly centres across TORONTO – the Distillery District, Regent Park, 401 Richmond, the Gladstone and Drake hotels, and the Wychwood Barns.

The building at 180 Shaw Street, between Queen and Dundas, is open to the public daily from 8am to 5pm. Website: http://www.artscapeyoungplace.ca

<PHOTO ABOVE – ‘No Walls Between Us’ by Pablo Munoz, digital artwork on the theme ‘Solidarity in Canada’, erected outside Artscape Youngplace for World Pride/2014.>

MANSIONS, NIGHTCLUBS, ANTIQUES, ART, TAVERNS, WIRES, BILLBOARDS, ROOMERS – MUST BE PARKDALE

PARKDALE is a neighbourhood that’s seen plenty of ups-and-downs, but these days things are looking up. Young professionals, new immigrants, hipsters and artists have been moving in – joining those who’ve seen much better days.

PARKDALE is one of the few places in old TORONTO where there’s any hope of finding a reasonably priced Victorian townhouse or mansion, or renting an affordable artist’s studio or loft.

PARKDALE is roughly 1 square kilometre, bounded by Roncesvalles Avenue, Dufferin Street, Queen West and King West. It began life as an independent settlement in 1850 and amalgamated with TORONTO in 1889. For the first half of the 20th century the neighbourhood was upper income residential. The construction of the nearby Gardiner Expressway ended that, when apartment buildings sprouted and the mansions were turned into boarding houses.

PARKDALE is a neighbourhood worth exploring. Queen Street West, the main drag, is lined with Victorian-era commercial buildings housing restaurants, bars, Tibetan restaurants, a couple of art galleries and antique shops.  A multitude of Victorian-era homes still survive, and you’ll find many of them on the leafy side streets.

All-in-all PARKDALE is a walk on the wild side – TORONTO-style.

SOCIALLY AWARE MILLENNIALS ARE OPENING THEIR HEARTS & HOMES TO GIVE DOGS A SECOND CHANCE

<Micke, who was rescued after he was abandoned as a puppy in the Dominican Republic>

TORONTO’s ‘NOW Magazine’ has assembled a multi-page story about rescue dogs – among them survivors of Hurricane Harvey in HOUSTON last August. Animal shelters in that city were overwhelmed, and dogs were left swimming in flooded streets and fending for themselves. There were reports of mass euthanasia.

PHOTOS BY Samuel Engelking

<Redemption Paws’ founder Nicole Simone with former Houstonians IRWIN & CHARLIE.>

To help out NICOLE SIMONE arranged for a van to go to Houston and bring back 10 dogs to TORONTO. Her GoFundMe campaign went viral and Nicole raised enough money to make four trips to Texas. Since early September, over 120 hurricane dogs have found homes here through her rescue organization, ‘Redemption Paws’.

<Kyle Swanson adopted his husky puppy, OTIS, from Team Dog Rescue. Otis’s parents were rescued from Syria during the conflict.>

<Jen Brailsford adopted her rescue dog, POND, three years ago.

Among the other dog rescue organizations in TORONTO – Save Our Scruff (SOS), one of the city’s biggest, founded in 2014 by 29-year-old LAURA BYE.  The oeganization relies heavily on Instagram and Facebook to share photos of available dogs, http://www.saveourscruff.org/

TEAM Dog Rescue founded in 2012, http://teamdogrescue.ca/

Redemption Paws – http://redemptionpaws.org/

 Read the story at https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/how-millennials-turned-owning-a-rescue-dog-into-a-social-issue/

30,000+ HISTORIC PHOTOS ARE NOW ON-LINE THANKS TO SIDEWALK LABS & CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES

This is quite an achievement. An awesome collection of historic photos of TORONTO is now at your fingertips after great efforts by the City of Toronto Archives & Google’s Sidewalk Labs.

<View of Dundas Street East looking west from Victoria Street, May 25, 1977>

   An invaluable research facility, Old Toronto describes each photo in one or two sentences, its date of creation, physical description (size, b/w or colour, etc.), archival citation (where it is in the Archive), and access conditions (i.e. whether there’s copyright or not).

<Exterior of new brick building of Orr Brothers billiard academy, 40 Richmond Street East, with Humphrey gas arc light hanging outside, ca1913>

The site was built by members of the engineering team at Sidewalk Labs. The project was led by Senior Software Engineer Dan Vanderkam (creator of OldNYC and OldSF) and Associate Product Manager Matt Breuer. Several members of the City of Toronto Archives staff provided critical guidance.

<Seaton House play, “Healing of the Blind Knight”, May 4, 1933>

<Front Street west of Simcoe Street, November 6, 1920>

<Slum interior, occupied – 161 York Street, January 20, 1911>

The easy-to-use format will pull you in, and before long Old Toronto will live once again. The address – https://oldtoronto.sidewalklabs.com/

For information on how the site was created and the tools used to construct it go to https://oldtoronto.sidewalklabs.com/about.html

THE MODEL RAILROAD CLUB OF TORONTO, 11 CURITY AVE. WAS FOUNDED IN 1938 & IT KEEPS ON GOING

The MRCT was born in Harry Ebert’s basement, and from there moved on to new premises in Union Station. When World War II ended the railways needed the space, so in January 1946 the Club moved into another basement, beneath a former munitions factory in (what is today) Liberty Village.

The Club’s final move took place in April/2013 to spacious premises at #11 Curity Avenue.

The Club is open to visitors on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 10:00 pm. You may also visit on Saturdays by prior arrangement. Call ahead at 416-536-8927 or send an e-mail (preferred) – fill out the form at the address below.

http://www.modelrailroadclub.com/about.html

THE EARLIEST-KNOWN PHOTOS OF TORONTO TAKEN FROM THE ROSSIN HOUSE HOTEL IN 1856 OR 1857

<Osgoode Hall is in the upper left corner>

The five-part panorama is from the City of Toronto Archives. Photogaphers – Armstrong, Beere and Hime. It’s possible that these pictures were intended to accompany TORONTO’s submission to the Colonial Office to promote its selection as capital of the Province of Canada. In the end, Queen Victoria chose OTTAWA to be Canada’s capital.

<The developing city from York to Bay Streets along King Street West.>