A BRITISH LIBRARIAN PLANTED THE SEEDS FOR TORONTO’S PRE-1910 CHILDREN’S BOOK COLLECTIONS

The OSBORNE COLLECTION OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS (BEFORE 1910) began with a visit from British librarian EDGAR OSBORNE. He was greatly impressed by the range and quality of children’s services within the TPL (Toronto Public Library) system.  OSBORNE donated his personal collection of some 2,000 rare books in 1949. The numbers have grown to over 80,000 rare and notable modern children’s books. Now there are several collections within the collection.

AFTER A 30-YEAR SEARCH, MASSEY HALL’S BACH & BEETHOVEN WINDOWS HAVE BEEN FOUND

<PHOTO – @The York Pioneers>. Massey Hall’s Bach and Beethoven have been found in the basement of Roy Thomson Hall. The two stained glass windows were there all along, both in need of restoration by architectural historians from GBCA Architects.

On opening night, June 14, 1894, about 100 stained glass windows were in place around TORONTO’s brand new concert hall. Twelve composer portraits were the most expensive, painted by hand in lead, enamel, glass and silver. They were all lined up on the main floor – the ‘12 apostles of music’.  The 100 windows comprised the largest collection of commercial art glass in Canada, not in a church.

Handel, Haydn, Beethoven and Bach were removed in the early 20th century to make room for emergency exits. Then Beethoven and Bach went AWOL in 1991. They turned up this year after an extensive search.

In July/2018 the Hall will close for two years after a week of concerts by GORDON LIGHTFOOT. The interior will be refurbished; stained glass windows re-installed; there’ll be a new building at the rear; expanded loading docks, two new performance spaces and a small museum.  The lower level bar, which features the photographic history of the building, will no doubt remain intact.

<RENDERING – the new Massey Hall, as it will look in September/2020>

TORONTO & SAN FRANCISCO ARE TOUGH NUTS TO CRACK WHEN IT COMES TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

<QUOTE – Christine Mountsteven/TORONTO>. Two downtowners, about 2500 miles (4,000 kilometres) apart, set out to find living space they could afford. Both succeeded – one of them 24-years ago, and the other in 2018. Each is thrilled to be living in the centre of it all.

Now 83, CHRISTINE MOUNTSTEVEN, former teacher and member of a co-op, landed a two-bedroom suite not far from the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1994. Her modest rent allows for a high quality of llfe thanks to pensions and subsidized housing. Discovering something like this today would be like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. <PHOTO – Vince Talotta, Toronto Star>

An Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario has just been released. It’s a partnership between the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association & the Co-operative Housing Federation and makes these recommendations: the creation of 69,000 new affordable rental homes over 10 years; 30,000 units for those with addictions & mental health issues; financial support of $10,000 for each of the existing 260,000 social housing units over 10 years; and rent supplements or income support for 311,000 households.

PHOTO ABOVE by Kevin Van Paassen/Globe and Mail – TORONTO’s Regent Park (shown in 2005) is an example of what can be done. Total redevelopment has been happening there for about 10 years – mixing market-value with affordable social housing, and building a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, a high-tech playground, a running track, ice rink, theatre centre, soccer fields, a new community centre, outdoor art, a supermarket, bank, coffee shops and parkland.  The Regent Park Project has brought forth a new downtown community. Funded by the city, province and federal governments, redevelopment there continues.

ADRIAN CARATOWSA’s struggle to find his way through the labyrinth of SAN FRANCISCO’s 2018 lottery system – after years of trying, has come out a winner. He now has an apartment he loves, near the Financial District, in the thick of it, and says “To be able to look down on this chaos and not hear anything, and then to open the window . . . I love the sound. This is so downtown.”

Before managing to get his apartment, Mr. Caratowsa, 31. admitted he would walk the streets of the Financial District yearning to live there, “seeing people in suits, going to work, they’d have their coffee in hand – to me it was like being a little girl who wants to be a princess and she wears her mom’s high heels . . . “That was me in the Financial District.”

What’s it like searching for affordable housing & entering the SAN FRANCISCO housing lottery? Find out by reading the New York Times’ in-depth article These 95 Apartments Promised Affordable Rent in SAN FRANCISCO. Then 6,580 People Applied.’ – and you’ll find out.

<PHOTO – “Affordable Housing Now!” demonstration in Parkdale, TORONTO; blogTO>

ICONIC ONE SPADINA CRESCENT, 143-YEARS-OLD, NOW HOUSES U. OF T.’S ASPIRING ARCHITECTS

<PHOTO ABOVE – One Spadina when it was KNOX COLLEGE from1875-1915>

Thanks to the University of TORONTO and the foresight of John H. Daniels, the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design has a sparkling new home. The old neo-Gothic building with its spires, peaks and turrets has been thoroughly renovated and connects to a new, award-winning northern wing.

<PHOTO One Spadina under construction, Jasonzed/urbantoronto.ca>

Designed by architect James Avon Smith, a specialist in religious buildings, the structure housed the Presbyterians’ Knox College from 1875 to 1915. During World War I it reopened as the Spadina Military Hospital for wounded soldiers. Amelia Earhart was among the nurses.

<PHOTO ABOVE – the view from One Spadina, by Ross Winter, architect/photographer>. When the war ended, the building was converted into provincial government offices. Then came the first calls for straightening Spadina Avenue and a proposal for a circular arena complex. Next occupant in 1943 – Connaught Laboratories, producing penicillin and training scientists and lab technicians.  Escaping demolition for the never-completed Spadina Expressway, One Spadina’s tenants included the university’s fine arts and sociology departments, a student newspaper, an eye bank, a low-level radioactive waste storage facility, and the campus parking office.

<PHOTO ABOVE – the new northern wing, now part of One Spadina The building received an Architectural Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in New York (AIANY)>

<PHOTO – © John Horner, courtesy American Institute of Architects (AIA)>

One Spadina’s Eye Bank got the attention of Matt E., a former student “I’d heard rumours about the eye bank in there and it always gave me the creeps, mainly because I just imagined some dark little room with shelves covered in disembodied eyeballs.”  The old building was also the site of one unsolved murder, and an accidental Hallowe’en death when a young woman fell off the roof.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Ross Winter, architect/photographer>

WHEN SPIFFY CUMBERLAND STREET IN YORKVILLE LOOKED SOMETHING LIKE THIS – 1934

<CUMBERLAND STREET, YORKVILLE, 1934, City of Toronto Archives/Sidewalk Labs>

30,000+ historic photos are now on-line thanks to Sidewalk Labs & the City of TORONTO Archives. An invaluable research facility, the OLD TORONTO website is very easy to use. You’ll find it at https://oldtoronto.sidewalklabs.com/

TORONTO HAS LOST AN ‘ARCHITECTURAL FRIEND’ WITH THE DEATH OF WILL ALSOP ON MAY 12

70-year-old WILL ALSOP, the bad boy of British architecture, is best-known in TORONTO for “the flying tabletop” – that’s the Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU). It changed for the better McCaul Street, the surrounding neighbourhood and the city itself. <PHOTO ABOVE – REX Features>

As critic CHRISTOPHER HUME said “It also raised TORONTO’s international profile and managed to make a cold city seem cool.”

Completed under the name of Alsop’s last studio – All Design – two new TORONTO subway stations – PIONEER VILLAGE and FINCH WEST. Both have cantilevered roofs and polished exposed concrete interior walls, with bright colours throughout.

“If I were a politician,” he said in an interview, “I would make a law in every city that everything from the ground to 10 metres and higher should float and not touch the ground … The ground should be given to people and gardens, not buildings.”  WILL ALSOP’S OBITUARY in The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/may/13/will-alsop-obituary

FOR YEARS NOW, PHOTOGRAPHER CHARLIE ENGMAN HAS BEEN TAKING PICTURES OF HIS MOM

KATHLEEN McCAIN ENGMAN, Charlie’s mom, is on the cover of the CONTACT catalogue, on billboards at Dupont and Davenport, and on the walls of TORONTO’s Scrap Metal Gallery. Her son is presenting the wide-ranging breadth of his longtime project – taking photos of his mother, clothed and unclothed.

Chicago-born Charlie – now based in Brooklyn – is a sought-after fashion photographer. Once an official shoot is over, his mother might show up and try on the same clothing worn by a much younger model. The results can be startling.

Through her son’s lens, we’re presented with a middle-aged mid-American woman, with her experimental expressions, appearing as an alien who has touched down and landed in our yard. Mother, is that you? Ms. Engman sells the unsettling, and she’s good at it. – from a writeup by Rui Mateus Amarat

MART CROWLEY, AUTHOR OF ‘BOYS IN THE BAND’, BELIEVES GAY SANCTUARIES ARE VANISHING

Referring to his apartment building in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. CROWLEY, who is now 82, says: “It’s all yuppies and kids in strollers and all of that – and a few old codgers. Gay culture is so diffuse now, where it was once so cloistered and clandestine. It was like our own world – the world was inside out.”

Is that world disappearing – and with it, ‘Gay Identity’? Read an excellent column by FRANK BRUNI in the Sunday New York Times, ‘The Extinction of Gay Identity’, at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/28/opinion/the-extinction-of-gay-identity.html

<In the midst of condo towers & construction – TORONTO’s Church/Wellesley (gay) Village; photo by Steveve/urbantoronto.ca>

TORONTO’s gay sanctuary, the Church/Wellesley Village, appears to be flourishing.  The codgers, kids, strollers, yuppies and millennials are all present, but so are gay bars, gay-friendly restaurants, Glad Day Books, the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, a couple of art galleries, a flower shop, barber shops, the 519 Community Centre, the National Ballet School, Barbara Hall Park, the AIDS Memorial, a subway station and a plethora of high-rise apartment towers – all within a few blocks.

<Glad Day – oldest LGBTQ bookshop/bar/cafe in the world>

<Barbara Hall Park>

<CLGA – Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, 2nd largest in the world>

<The 519 Community Centre>. LGBTQ people now live, work and play in many parts of TORONTO, but The Village remains home-from-home for many.  The sanctuary is still there.

<Church Street during Pride Weekend, 2015>