‘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>

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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.

TORONTO’S PARKS DEPT. HAS OUTDONE ITSELF IN 2019 WITH A FIRST-RATE SPRING FLOWER SHOW

Brightly coloured blooms are everywhere in ALLAN GARDENS, both outside and inside the Conservatory. It’s been a very long, wet and cold winter which never seemed to end. Forget all that. Spring has arrived.To reach ALLAN GARDENS, take the Line 1 subway to College Street, transfer to a #506 streetcar heading east, alight at Jarvis Street – and you’re there.  The turtles, by the way, are an added attraction.

REGENT PARK SHOWS WHAT CAN BE DONE WHEN CITY, PROVINCE & A DEVELOPER WORK TOGETHER

DANIELS Development has done a super job in REGENT PARK, mixing market value & public housing, creating parkland, playgrounds, soccer fields, a running track, an ice rink, a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, theatres, a fashion design school, restaurants, community gardens, a supermarket, coffee shops, a bank, senior’s housing, a new community centre – the works.

The massive Regent Park rebuild is still going on after a decade, with at least another five years of construction ahead. What some once called “a project” is becoming a bright, new neighborhood.

<ABOVE – public vegetable and flower gardens>

<ABOVE – the next stage of development is underway at Parliament and Gerrard Street East>

<ABOVE – the buildings that go up in this section will have some of the best city views>

<ABOVE – Regent Park as it once was – is no more>

Two-thirds of the work is finished, but there’s still more to come.  To watch Regent Park evolve take the #506 streetcar to Sackville Street and Gerrard East – and walk south.

<ABOVE – Bruce Kidd running track and soccer field>