THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO RECEIVES A $100-MILLION GIFT FOR A.I. & EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

The $100-million donation is the largest in the history of University of TORONTO and the largest gift ever to the Canadian innovation sector.

Donors Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman, co-owners of INDIGO, a Canadian bookstore chain, commented – “U of T is a global leader in artificial intelligence, biomedicine and exploring intersections of society and technology. We’re immensely proud to be part of an initiative that will spark innovation, and illuminate the importance of socially responsible technology.” <PHOTO by Ed Middleton/CBC>

The gift will accelerate creation of a 750,000-square-foot complex to anchor the university’s cluster of artificial intelligence scientists and biomedical experts, its entrepreneurship network, and Canada’s largest concentration of student and faculty-led startups.

GHISLAINE MILORD SENT US A PHOTO OF “A MOUTH OF TRUTH” – AN ANCIENT VENETIAN ‘SNITCH BOX’

A few of them still exist today. This one, photographed by Ghislaine Milord, a Newfoundlander who knows Venice top to bottom, writes “this box is at the Zattere vaporetto stop.”

Embedded in the walls of key justice, civic or church buildings across the city, the bocche di leone (Mouth of the Lion) look like ornate letterboxes. Typically carved with the open-mouthed faces of the emblematic lion of VENICE, the slots were intended for the use of ordinary citizens and subjects.

Residents in the 1300’s would have seen them springing up all over the place as every district had one. But this was not a mail service. It cost nothing to post your letter and there could only be one destination: the Council of Ten.  Upstanding residents, and not-so upstanding ones too, were encouraged to bring criminal, unsanitary, immoral or treasonous matters to the state’s attention by writing letters to the Council.  For details on the Mouth of Truth, as well as the justice system of ancient VENICE & ITALY in general, check out this great website – L’Italo Americano at – https://italoamericano.org/story/2017-11-16/venice-mouth-truth

TORONTO’S LARGEST RETROFIT IS UNION STATION & WHO KNOWS WHEN IT WILL BE FINISHED

Without a doubt, when it’s done, TORONTO’s rebuilt Union Station will be Canada’s largest transportation hub.

<Old clock image by UT Forum contributor crs1026>  Under construction for several years now, the station’s revitalization includes an expanded GO concourse, an increase in the number of exits and entrances, alleviated commuter congestion, and restoration and preservation of the station’s heritage elements.

<PHOTO ABOVE – Global News>

QUEBEC’S NEW GOVERNMENT (la CAQ) PLANS TO BAN RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS IN ITS MOVE TO SECULARIZE

QUEBEC’s new Legault government is now selling secularism – Bill 21 – to Quebec’s population. Needless to say, the plan has hit the fan.

The minister responsible, Simon Jolin-Barette <shown above with an applauding Premier Legault; photo – Jacques Boissinot / Canadian Press> said he expects groups threatening not to respect the new law of the land, will eventually conform. “I am convinced that people targeted by the bill, will respect the law.”

Bill 21 would prohibit any public worker (teachers, judges, police officers, etc.) in a position of authority, including new public school teachers, from wearing religious symbols, including hijabs. The Immigration Minister said all religious symbols — regardless of the size of the object — would be prohibited. A religious tattoo or a hairdo, such as Rastafarian dreadlocks, are not considered religious symbols, he said.

<Front page Le Journal de Quebec, March 29/2019 – ‘C’est Reparti’ – ‘Here We Go Again’>

MONTREAL Mayor Valérie Plante is concerned. Neighbouring ONTARIO has no such law.

GET POLITICIANS INVOLVED IN TORONTO’S PUBLIC TRANSIT & YOU’VE GOT A POTENTIAL DISASTER

Now what’s he doing? As part of Premier DOUG FORD’s plan to take over the TORONTO subway, provincial officials have released letters proposing big changes to four transit projects.  #1) the Scarborough subway extension would grow from one to three stops; #2) a significant portion of the Eglinton West LRT would run underground; #3) the Downtown Relief Line would be built using different technology than other parts of the subway system; and #4) the Yonge North extension should progress in parallel to the Relief Line to speed completion.City councillor GORD PERKS warns that the province’s plan would mean scrapping years’ worth of planning and severely delaying delivery of new lines.  “It’s the Ford transit season two. We got absolutely nothing built when (Ford’s late brother) Rob was the mayor because he scrapped all the existing (Transit City LRT) plans, and came up with his own impossible-to-deliver plan.”

Looking on the bright (ish) side – Downtown TORONTO is presently served by two subway lines (packed during rush hours) and ten streetcar lines, as well as local and express buses. May those remain untouched by wannabe mayor DOUG FORD.

<THE FORD GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO OVERHAUL SUBWAYS – editorial cartoon by THEO MOUDAKIS, Toronto Star, March/2019>

CANADA’S 2018 NATIONAL NEWSPAPER AWARDS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED – 63 FINALISTS IN ALL

Canadians are well served in print, despite competition from social media, television, radio and countless other outlets. It’s a rat race out there, and our papers fight hard to survive. TORONTO alone puts out four broadsheet papers six days a week, with another two on Sunday.

In the upcoming 2018 National Newspaper Awards, The Globe and Mail has been nominated for 20; Toronto Star & Montreal’s La Presse 6 each; Saltwire Network 2; Canadian Press 4, Saskatoon StarPhoenix & Waterloo Region Record 3 each; Winnipeg Free Press, St. Catharines Standard, Calgary Herald/Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun & Ottawa Citizen 2 each.

Full details at – http://www.nna-ccj.ca

TORONTO TO HONOUR TERRY FOX, ATHLETE & CANADIAN HERO, WITH WATERFRONT INSTALLATION BY 2020

Jon Sasaki + DTAH are thrilled that their design concept, “We Are Shaped By The Obstacles We Face”, has been selected for a new integrated art and landscape installation, inspired by Canadian hero TERRY FOX.

Terry’s goal was to run nearly 4,000 miles across Canada from east to west. He made it about as far as Thunder Bay, Ontario, but was overcome when his cancer returned.  TORONTO’s citizen-funded project will be dedicated to the spirit of courage, determination, and action that Terry Fox embodied.

For more information on this and other @LAPT projects go to http://www.legacyartproject.com/news/

<TERRY’s image in Canoe Landing Park, TORONTO>

MISSISSAUGA WANTS TO STOP FEEDING $85-MILLION ANNUALLY TO OTHER TOWNS & CITIES

<PHOTO ABOVE – Mississauga City Hall, adjacent to the Living Arts Centre>  If the Ontario government approves, TORONTO’s neighbour, MISSISSAUGA plans to break away from Peel Region and become a grown-up, totally independent city of 721,000 – third largest in Ontario.

Mississauga is wasting money according to Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Analysis shows we send $85-million annually to the Region of Peel to fund the growth of other cities (such as Brampton). Our money should go towards Mississauga priorities. It’s money that … should be spent in our own city.”  Makes sense to me.

<ABOVE – Mississauga City Centre, from Eglinton Avenue and Mavis Intersection.> 

ABOVE A DRUG MART @ YONGE/DUNDAS SQ. – A MICRO MUSEUM CELEBRATES 50/60’s YONGE ST.

<PHOTO ABOVE – the Yonge Street strip in the 1960’s>  First came the world’s original Hard Rock Cafe. That was replaced in 2018 by a Shopper’s Drug Mart franchise. Recognizing the musical history of this downtown neighbourhood, Shoppers did the right thing. The building’s second floor became a micro museum honouring the musicians and their nightclubs that once inhabited these blocks.

<Friar’s Tavern, c 1960s-70s; the BIA (Business Improvement Area) produced the project, and Shopper’s franchise owner ANDREW YEH underwrote it. Admission is free.>

Among those who frequented Yonge Street’s clubland in the 50s, 60s and ‘70s – Bob Dylan, Robbie Lane (now a nighttime dj on Zoomer Radio), Grant Smith, Cathy Young, Ronnie Hawkins, Ritchie Knight & The Mid-Knights, David Clayton-Thomas & The Shays, George Olliver, Jay Jackson, Jeff Cutler of Jon & Lee & The Checkmates, and Jay Douglas and Everton “Pablo” Paul of the Cougars, Oscar Peterson, Jackie Shane, as well as radio legends Duff Roman and Doug Thompson.<PHOTO ABOVE – the micro museum occupies 140 square-feet.  Exhibits will change this spring>  Other “micro museums” planned for the strip include Yonge Space, a pop-up gallery at Yonge and Gerrard streets, a tribute to Sunrise Records and a display celebrating the Colonial Tavern.>Pictured L-R: Jay Douglas (formerly of the Cougars), singer-songwriter Cathy Young, Everton “Pablo” Paul (Cougars), Bernie Letofsky (Cheapies Records), Bobby Sniderman (Sam the Record Man), Shoppers franchise owner Andrew Yeh, Grant Smith (of Grant Smith & the Power), Downtown Yonge BIA head Mark Garner, Robbie Lane (of Robbie Lane & the Disciples) and Jeff Cutler (of Jon and Lee & the Checkmates).On FACEBOOK there are lots of photos – https://www.facebook.com/FriarsMusicMuseum/<ABOVE – clubland on a weekend night, 1960’s – Ryerson Polytechnical students loved TORONTO’s ‘great white way’And there were cheap movies too.  TRIPLE BILL ANYONE?>

I REVISITED MY BUCKET LIST OF GREAT CITIES – ROTTERDAM, ANTWERP & VENICE – MARCH/2019

Bombed by the Nazis during World War II, ROTTERDAM has now become a Dutch cuisine, night life, art and architecture capital.  It’s a popular destination for tourists and cruise ships, but not in the extreme.  This, of course, might change as the word gets out.

Manhattanizing ROTTERDAM is now building the tallest skyscraper in Europe.  It’s no longer the ‘second city’, and these days it’s holding its own against rivaling AMSTERDAM.  <PHOTO ABOVE – the Erasmus Bridge> ANTWERP, Belgium, is another favorite of mine, with two brand new museums to visit – the Museum of Modern Art, and an exceptionally fine Fotomuseum<PHOTO ABOVE – Antwerp’s unique railway station, which is on several levels; BELOW – feeding time for the flamingos at Antwerp Zoo>A TORONTO surprise in ANTWERP was brought to our attention by SABINA, a tour guide we happened to meet on the street and asked for directions. She said the Peter Paul Rubens painting ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’ had returned to Antwerp, the city where it was painted. It’s on loan to Rubens House from the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The painting is reportedly worth about $200,000,000 – a gift from the Thomson family.This painting crossed oceans and mountain ranges, survived wars, been lost and found, and set an auction record. But it had never been exhibited in a European museum.When it returns to TORONTO you can be sure this masterpiece will receive more attention than usual.The ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, otherwise known as VENICE, was the third city we visited. A watery land of canals, magnificent architecture, history wherever one looked, this ancient city lives up to its reputation and then some. How amazing that it still exists.IT WAS GREAT SEEING ALL THREE OF THEM AGAIN.