Since 2017, flooding of TORONTO’s archipelago of 15 islands has been of great concern to the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). In the future, there could be new beaches and bridges, with raised barriers (or berms), elevation of low-lying roads, increased shore protection structures, and re-routed surface drainage to already installed sump pumps.PHOTOS taken by BRYAN BLENKIN on July 25/2019.
<The cluster of structures behind city hall are the T. Eaton Company’s factory buildings where goods for Eaton department stores were manufactured. On the left you can see early parking lots that replaced demolished buildings. Photo by William James, City of Toronto Archives>
Following a complete renovation of its 1300 rooms, spectacular ballroom, lobby and concert hall, the Royal York takes its place again as one of TORONTO’s leading hotels. Since opening on June 11th, 1929 as the largest hotel in the British Empire, the Fairmont Royal York has welcomed multiple heads of state, top musicians, movie stars, sport celebrants – and still does.<PHOTO ABOVE – the Concert Hall, by Muhammad/Flickr><PHOTO ABOVE – the Ballroom><The Lobby and its famous clock><POSTER – The Royal York, largest hotel in the British Empire, 1929> For more information on the Royal York, its history and transformation – http://www.thefairmontroyalyork.com
You had to be brave in those days, when a small army of souls set off for TORONTO’s first Gay Picnic, nearly 47 years ago on Sunday, August 1/1971. It was held at HANLAN’S POINT on Toronto Islands, site of today’s clothing optional beach.The first Gay Pride Week in TORONTO took place in 1972. There was a small march along Church Street downtown, followed by the second annual Gay Picnic on WARD’S ISLAND, August 20/1972.ARCHIVAL IMAGES – CLGA, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 2nd largest in the world, 34 Isabella Street, 416-777-2755, http://www.clga.caTORONTO STAR – June 23/2019 – big crowds, clear skies, and a day beaming with joy. The Pride Parade brought the city together to celebrate.How far we’ve come – Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Mayor John Tory & Premier Kathleen Wynne lead the parade in 2016.TORONTO’s Mayor John Tory and city councillors, 2015 – that was the year when it poured rain. Everyone got soaked.<TORONTO’s ‘World Pride’, June/2014> <The Flag – July 2011>
A large part of TORONTO burned down 115 years ago, in April, 1904. Dynamiters were hired to blow up the shells of the destroyed buildings.JOHN CROFT of Parliament Street, 38, father of three, was one of them. On May 4th, 1904, his team set 33 dynamite blasts. The last 3, under a wall at W. J. Gage and Company, failed to go off. Mr. Croft ran up to investigate and, as fate would have it, was killed by an explosion.A double-sided mural honours both JOHN CROFT, and the events of April 19, 1904. Unfortunately the mural has been destroyed by taggers <photo below>. It’s a total mess now, but the culture of Croft Street lives on. There’s been a lot of painting done lately. May the aerosol spritzers respect the art.<The John Croft mural as it looks today> CROFT STREET is a laneway of colourful murals, an ode to both Monty the Cat (deceased) and TORONTO’s black squirrels, a feminist bookstore, multiple garages and a variety of architectural styles. It runs for two blocks, from Harbord to College Street, east of Bathurst. Streetcar #506 takes you there.
MOSES ZNAIMER, owner of CFZM (AM740) : “People today are not aging the way they did 20, 40, 60 years ago. We’re not aging the way our parents did and we’re certainly not aging the way our grandparents did.” With this in mind, he has created a radio station unlike any other in Greater TORONTO.AM740 has a huge footprint – from Southern Ontario deep into the United States. It occupies both AM & FM frequencies. For those who long for the ‘good old days’ of big bands, comedy and drama, starlight serenades, Peggy Lee, Anne Murray, Eddie Fisher, the Supremes, Elvis, Bing Crosby, etc. – CFZM is where it’s at.
Over several years I’ve watched Ryerson University assemble an assortment of buildings in TORONTO’s core, along Gerrard, Gould, Yonge, Church and Victoria streets. It’s a campus built mostly in an incremental manner, adapting nearby buildings one after another as the student population grew and grew.STORM CUNNINGHAM, author, publisher, advisor and a Ryerson lecturer in 2010, is often called the guru of the trillion-dollar global renewal trend. He has this to say about RYERSON – “It’s a campus that has profoundly revitalized a run-down section of TORONTO’s downtown, and they’ve done it without the destructive blank-slate approach so common amongst planners.”ABOVE – for instance, the Ontario Pharmacy Building on Gerrard Street East has now become Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Innovation. “That’s unique, especially when one considers how many universities (mostly here in the United States) purposely allowed—even encouraged—surrounding neighbourhoods to go into decline, so they could scoop up cheap real estate to expand their campus.” – Storm Cunningham<ABOVE – a photo taken by Storm Cunningham in 2010, shows a derelict building making way for a student technology centre on Yonge Street.>Cunningham began writing ‘The Restoration Economy’ in 1996 when brownfields redevelopment, regenerative agriculture & restoration ecology emerged. It’s available on AMAZON.<GOULD STREET rendering – a permanent pedestrian-only zone is now being built from O’Keefe Lane to Bond Street. It’s always been the centre of Ryerson’s campus. WAY TO GO, RYERSON!>
This is a neighbourhood chock-a-block with Victoriana and a network of back street alleyways. Broadcast Lane, parallel to Parliament Street, features a strip of Post-Modern housing, in amongst graffiti, murals, backsides of restaurants – and, if you look carefully, a doll’s house.Broadcast Lane is a photogenic shortcut between Winchester and Carlton Streets. There are many other lanes to explore in Cabbagetown, and every one has a name.
AND FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T READ UPSIDE-DOWN . . .“THE RULE OF LAW IS A REFLECTION OF US ALL” – photos BRYAN BLENKIN
Thanks to the Parks Department & the TORONTO Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) the city’s favourite holiday retreat remains open, but Hanlan’s Point, Olympic Island and Snake Island are inaccessible. “We’re definitely more prepared this time,” says Warren Hoselton, island park supervisor. “The TRCA supplies us with modelling to show the lowest spots. We know which areas are going to be affected.”For the record – the DOUG FORD’s P.C. government has cut flood-management funding by 50%. The Ministry of Natural Resources is faced with a difficult task.