5200 SQUARE FEET OF PUBLIC ART HAS BEEN ADDED TO YONGE AND ST. CLAIR’S URBAN LANDSCAPE

You can’t miss it. TORONTO street artist birdO has brought more colour and life to Yonge and St. Clair with a 10-storey mural in his signature surrealist style. This mural is one in a series of commissions from the StreetARToronto Monumental Program and is the latest step in revitalizing the neighbourhood, spearheaded by Slate Asset Management<PHOTO by Riley Snelling>

<PHOTO ABOVE – by Riley Snelling; BELOW – by Yonge & St. Clair>  Although his art has been commissioned around the world, birdO loves working in TORONTO because it allows him to live with his pieces longer. “As an artist, I’m not here to inundate you with visual clutter – my intention is to brighten street corners and make you scratch your head. I moved to TORONTO when I was 18 years old and the first place I landed was at Yonge and St. Clair. It’s a special moment in my career to return to the area and paint the largest mural I’ve ever done,” says birdO.

LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THIS I’M SURE, BUT A PINK SUNRISE WAS SOMETHING NEW FOR ME

TORONTO has some wonderful winter sunsets, but I’ve never seen a sunrise quite like this one. Between 07:13 and 07:20 this morning my office was bathed in pink. Outside, rain and snow were in the forecast, but for those seven minutes the view inside was quite tropical. <ABOVE – the pink sky from Uptown by BENITO, Urban Toronto.ca>THEN IT FADED AWAY – another day began, and we were back to normal.

AN INGENIOUS IDEA FROM MONTREAL WHERE 365 TAXIS HAVE BEEN BRANDED WITH A “BONJOUR” LOGO

While visiting MONTREAL last week we were surprised to see two-toned city taxis with a large “bonjour” on both sides. “The taxis are our ambassadors to the city,” said AREL SALEM, chair of the Taxi Bureau. “At the very least, people can now easily spot one.” The new paint job and logo costs about $1500., and the drivers themselves are paying the bill. Visitors take notice, it’s an expensive idea, and the city should chip in. <PHOTO ABOVE – Ross Winter>

TORONTO STAR & TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY’S VINTAGE PHOTOS OF THE SANTA CLAUS PARADE

TORONTO’s Santa Claus Parade, founded by Eaton’s Department Store in 1905, is one of the largest Christmas parades in the world.  The outdoor spectacular attracts hundreds of thousands every year – in person, and on US and Canadian television.<The man himself, date unknown><Bird’s Eye view of the parade, 1962><A 50-foot dragon with flapping wings, 1985, photo-Reg Innell><Cartoon mouse, 1976, photo-Graham Bezant><The Pinnochio float, 1962, photo-Don Dutton><Santa and his reindeer, 1979, photo-Keith Beaty>

ONE OF A SERIES OF BOOKS PUBLISHED BY THE CITY – THIS TIME IT’S ALL ABOUT NORTH YORK

Recently I featured a SCARBOROUGH guide book. Since then, two more publications on self-guided touring within the inner suburbs have been produced. This one is about NORTH YORK, once a city, now a ‘division’ amalgamated with TORONTO. You can find this publication, as well as another on EAST YORK, in the book rack, ground floor, Toronto City Hall. BELOW are some excerpts from ‘Explore North York’.AGA KHAN PARK, ISMAILI CENTRE & MUSEUM – 77 Wynford Drive (page 6). This is the city’s newest cultural hub. The formal gardens across from the Museum feature reflecting pools and facilities for festivals, film screenings and other events. Learn more about the park at http://www.agakhanpark.org NOOR CULTURAL CENTRE, 123 Wynford Drive (page 8) – Once the Japanese Cultural Centre, designed by celebrated architect Raymond Moriyama, the building is now a centre for Islamic learning and culture. For more information – http://www.noorculturalcentre.ca The RAINBOW TUNNEL MURAL (page 9) is often noticed by northbound drivers on the Don Valley Parkway. The original was painted in renegade fashion over 40 years ago by Norwegian B.C. Johnson in memory of his friend Sigrid. It’s an upside down smile for Sigrid to look down on from above.TORONTO BOTANICAL GARDEN, 777 Lawrence Avenue East (page 14). Consisting of 17 award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres, the park features a range of indoor and outdoor programs for all ages. EDWARDS GARDENS is adjacent at 755 Lawrence Avenue East. For more info – http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca FOUR SEASONS by Douglas Coupland, southeast corner of Sheppard Avenue and Don Mills Road (page 24). Inspired by Laurentian pencil crayons, 48 to 60 feet high, the Vancouver artist’s creation represents the four seasons. Other cones are placed intermittently.WINFIELDS’ NORTHERN DANCER PAVILION & THE CANADIAN FILM CENTRE, 2489 Bayview Avenue (page 30). Docent tours of the Film Centre can be booked in advance by calling 416-445-1446 x312. The Winfield estate was once the home of E.P. Taylor, a businessman who formed Canadian Breweries in 1930; developed Don Mills; built the O’Keefe Centre; bred champion horses, including Northern Dancer. For more information – http://www.cfccreates.com TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE ARTS, 5040 Yonge Street (page 36) – The building is one of the city’s premiere performing arts facilities – home to the 1,856-seat Apotex theatre, the 1,025-seat George Weston Recital Hall, a studio theatre, and two art gallery spaces.LEE LIFESON ART PARK (page 37) is named after two well-known Willowdale musicians – Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of the rock band RUSH. They’ve produced gold and platinum records and have received numerous awards.GIBSON HOUSE MUSEUM, 5172 Yonge Street (page 42). The mid-19th century, red brick Georgian Revival farmhouse was once home to David Gibson – surveyor, farmer and political reformer – born in Scotland. It’s now one of ten historic sites owned and operated by the City of TORONTO.MILLER TAVERN, 3885 Yonge Street (page 49), This Georgian-style commercial building was constructed in 1857, replacing a former hotel that burned down in 1856. It survived floods, Hurricane Hazel, a gambling den, threats of demolition, and was finally purchased by the City of TORONTO, and is now a familiar landmark.BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE (page 61), offers a collection of many of Ontario’s oldest heritage buildings, some dating back to the early 1800’s. For more information on the village, and how to get there go to – http://www.blackcreek.ca

THERE ONCE WAS A MONARCH FLOUR MILL & SILO ON MAPLE LEAF QUAY – IT’S NOW DISAPPEARED

ABOVE – Monarch Flour Mill, Harbourfront and the Marine police unit. It’s one of two silo or grain elevator complexes that dominated TORONTO’s waterfront between Spadina Quay and Maple Leaf Quay.They lasted for a couple of decades, and then disappeared. Demolitions began in the 1970’s and eighties to remove what the city considered eye sores, and unfit for redevelopments that eventually took over.

<ABOVE – The York Quay Centre at Harbourfront, 1980’s to 1998. Totally different from the grown-up waterfront we see today. <Photo project – City of Toronto Archives & Sidewalk Labs>