FROM THE WINTER PALACE TO GERRARD ST. E., A GRAND DUCHESS’S ‘RICHES TO RAGS’ TALE

Grand Duchess OLGA ALEXANDROVNA was born into the richest monarchy in the world, residing in a 200-room mansion with 70 servants. As the younger sister of Tsar Nicholas II, she was driven out of Russia when her brother abdicated and was executed.She fled to Denmark, then to Canada, dying in poverty in TORONTO in 1960 at the age of 78.This is where the Grand Duchess ended up – living in a tumbledown apartment over a beauty parlour in TORONTO’s east end. The building still stands at 710 Gerrard Street East.)From LOOKOOM – “In Canada, the Grand Duchess and her husband lived mainly in Mississauga (Camilla Rd), modestly but not in poverty. Through her mother she was a member of the reigning royal family of Denmark. It was only after the death of her husband in 1958 that she became ill and moved to an acquaintance’s home in Toronto where she died.”

WHERE WOULD YOU FIND COLLAGES LIKE THESE? THE PICCADILLY LINE ON LONDON’S TUBE OF COURSE

Several London Underground stations were being renovated and for Toronto photographer, ROSS WINTER, there are few better places to find abstract images.These accidental paste-up collages were on the walls of Leicester Square station, waiting for Ross and his camera to come along.

‘TORONTO THE GOOD’ HAS OPENED A 2ND MODULAR HOUSING BUILDING FOR THE HOMELESS

There are now two modular supportive buildings within Toronto’s Phase One for the homeless. The latest has opened at 321 Dovercourt Road, preceded by the first at 11 Macey Avenue. These 44 new studio apartments will be part of the 2020-21 winter service plan, to ensure safe places for people facing winter’s cold.Mayor JOHN TORY – “Modular Housing has proven to be a quick and efficient way to increase the supply of affordable housing in our city. These sites provide vulnerable residents with a safe, stable, and welcoming place to call home, and access vital supports and services. Building affordable housing in Toronto has been a top priority for me, but I know this cannot be done on our own,”Canada’s federal government provided funding for the project, and the Province of Ontario got the homes built as quickly as possible.The new structure is three-storeys high and includes a common room, dining room, program space, administrative offices, and a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents. Each apartment comes with a built-in kitchen, microwave and fridge. They’re furnished with a twin bed, a lounge chair, a dining table and chairs, and a dresser.  <PHOTOS – City of Toronto>

THE CREST WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF TORONTO’S THEATRICAL HISTORY

Opened in 1927 as the BELSIZE, it became The CREST in 1953, and in 1971 the REGENT.The CREST Theatre Company was founded in 1953, and a year later opened its first eleven-play season. This was the beginning of indigenous, commercial theatre in TORONTO. Up until then there had been mostly touring productions from the West End and the US.Many of TORONTO’s (and Canada’s) best-known actors and actresses performed at The Crest. These included Kate Reid, Richard Monette, Jackie Burroughs, Frances Hyland, Eric House and Martha Henry. Most went on to Stratford, the Shaw, television and movie careers.Among the directors – Douglas Campbell, Barry Morse, Mavor Moore, Leon Major, John Hirsch, Herbert Whittaker and Allan Lund.The CREST closed its doors on April 30, 1966 after mounting 140 productions. This was the beginning of commercially viable home-grown theatre in TORONTO. Soon after, the Crest became the Regent, and began showing movies.  Recently it functioned as a sound mixing studio by day, and a cinema at night.

HOW GREAT IT IS WHEN A MAJOR OUTDOOR EVENT MAKES PLANS FOR THIS WINTER

We’ve had so many cancellations, it’s wonderful to know that the seventh annual Winter Stations project will actually happen. The winning designs have been revealed alongside new partnerships with The Distillery District and the Beach BIA. Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, the exhibit’s timetable will be released. This year, four designs were selected by the jury, from a record-breaking amount of 400+ submissions from around the world. Winning installations responded to the theme of “Refuge” – a theme that reflects the ongoing pandemic and its meaning – a shelter, place of comfort, security, and a sanctuary.

The 2021 Winter Station winners are: <ARc de Blob by Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum, Austria/United Kingdom . . . ARc de Blob is a colourful landmark in the Woodbine Beach landscape: a point of orientation, interaction and refuge.><From Small Beginnings by Jack Leather and Charlie Leather, United Kingdom. Only upon entering the seating and standing areas of the installation the brighter interior is revealed; symbolic of the opportunities that rise from challenging periods, such as the year gone by.><The Epitonium by M. Yengiabad – Shahed M. Yengiabad, Elaheh M. Yengiabad, Alemeh M. Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha, Iran. Nature is the source of inspiration for architects, artists, investors and scientists. Nature is our origin and destination – not only the external environments such as clouds, trees, sea, mountains and animals, but also buildings, components and building materials.><Embrace by Colin Laplante, Grace Im, Ziyu Li, Brayden Popke, Nicole Ruiz, Reem Yunis, Bachelor of Craft and Design Program, Sheridan College.  This year, we all need a hug. Embrace represents that universal desire, providing a refuge from the real and imagined winds that buffet our beings.><THROBBER by Heidundgriess – Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid, Germany. The walk-in installation consists of 10 small shelters, trapezoidal rooms, they form the colour spectrum of a rainbow. The colours are reduced to grey inside the installation. From an aerial view, the shelters form the shape of a “throbber”. Anyone who has used computer programs or digital devices (often know of this icon. They force you to wait, because there is a superior action.>

KIDS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA HAVE BEEN DRAWING PICTURES OF HOPE DURING COVID-19

TORONTO’s response, according to The Star, was “overwhelming and inspirational.” The art work is part of a children’s contest called ‘A Big Picture’, which will reward the top three contestants and donate money to a charity of their choice, to help people in dire need during the pandemic. The top prize winner would be posted on a billboard at 1140 Yonge Street.<Above – ‘Stay Safe, Wash Your Hands’ by Marco B., age 4. “Spread love, not germs.”><‘The Rainbow Sunset’ by Emma K., age 7><‘We’re Always Connected By Our Hearts’ by Marlow R., age 8>