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

“LIVE DOWNTOWN – DIE YONGE” – EYE-OPENING HEADLINE IN RYERSON UNIVERSITY’S ‘EYEOPENER’

Home to 40,000 commuting downtown students, presently surrounded by serious construction and demolition, non-stop traffic, a scarce tree canopy, noise of every description – it’s a challenge alright living in the centre of a rapidly growing metropolis, and that’s where Ryerson students find themselves today.GABRIELLE OLANO reports on a recent study done by the Department of Chemistry and Biology “Living in the area where Ryerson is located in the Church-Yonge corridor . . . is equivalent to smoking between 624 and 1,033 cigarettes per year,” she says.<PHOTO ABOVE – campus reconstruction on Gould Street>Chemistry & Biology assistant professor Stephanie Melles: “a downtown campus has inherent higher air pollutants, and that’s the same for other universities downtown. Especially if you’re going to be living downtown. It’s something to think about”.In the same issue, another grabber of a headline (students are good at this): “Ryerson is killing us. Who knew?”

‘PLUM BLOSSOM FROM THE BITTER COLD’ – A HISTORY OF CHINESE CANADIANS IN THE GTA

<ABOVE – Nassau Street & Spadina Avenue, acrylic on linen, by Rajeev Singhal, 2011, Baldwin Collection>The Toronto Public Library collects family, business documents and ephemera about Chinese-Canadians and their lives in the Greater TORONTO Area (the GTA). The selection of photos below come from various donors, and give us a small glimpse of a diverse community, which now numbers about 550,000. The Library’s exhibit from the award-winning Chinese archive continues until October 27/2019 in the TD Gallery, Main Floor, 789 Yonge Street – http://www.tpl.ca/tdgallery<PHOTO – Minister DAVID LEE visits the CHONG Family, date unknown>
<ARLENE CHAN performs a ribbon dance at the Opera Ball, 1965; photo – Ray McFadden><The dynamic JEAN LUMB (I remember meeting her). She was successful in protecting TORONTO’s Spadina-area Chinatown from demolition by developers, 1967. Photo – Doug Griffin><Robert Wong <above> and his brother Tommy started the Central Airways Company. Through the decades, they trained over 8,000 pilots while they watched TORONTO’s changing skyline.  Above – Robert strikes a pose at Toronto Island Airport, 1946><Yoot Loy Laundry on King Street East, 1887, Baldwin Collection><Ing Lee Laundry on Main Street, ca1900, Baldwin Collection><Elizabeth Street, watercolour on paper, 1931, by W. F. G. Godfrey, 1884-1971, Baldwin Collection>

IN THIS WORLD THERE ARE SUCH BEINGS AS RONCESVALLES (SPHYNX) CATS & ALBINO SQUIRRELS

They’ve been called “the ugliest cats alive” because of their angular, elongated, mostly hairless bodies. But they’re friendly and suitable for cat lovers with hair allergies. The sphynx cat arrived in TORONTO’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood in the winter of 1966. Its mother, Elizabeth, delivered a wrinkled, hairless male kitten, later named ‘Prune’. A cat breeder turned Prune’s mutation into a new breed, which eventually became the famed Roncesvalles Cat. <PHOTOS by Holly Nellis>There’s much more to this story, and you’ll find it at – http://torontoist.com/2013/03/toronto-invents-the-sphynx-cat/GRAEME MACKAY, a cartoonist with the Hamilton Spectator, came across an albino squirrel <ABOVE> near the Capitol building in WASHINGTON DC. He had never seen anything like it, and posted the photo on his Twitter site.<PHOTO ABOVE – A Crawford Street albino, by John Phillips>
TORONTO, which is full of black squirrels, once had pure white albinos in Trinity-Bellwoods Park. You could also find them in the west end, in High Park or even on Crawford Street. Then again, you might not. If they’ve disappeared, it’s a shame.

CROFT ST., ACTUALLY A LANEWAY, HONOURS JOHN CROFT, WHO DIED IN 1904’S GREAT TORONTO FIRE

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 <photos above> 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.

CABBAGETOWN’S BROADCAST LANE, NAMED AFTER A FORMER CBC RADIO STUDIO, IS ONLY A BLOCK LONG

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.

TORONTO ISLANDS ARE STILL OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, BUT WATER LEVELS ARE RISING – AGAIN

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.