‘DAVID FRENCH LANE’ COMMEMORATES A MAJOR CDN. PLAYWRIGHT ON TORONTO’S WEST SIDE

DAVID FRENCH left us on December 5/2010 at the age of 71. Born in Coley’s Point, a Newfoundland outport, he went on to acting and writing for both the theatre and CBC television. Among his plays – ‘Of The Fields Lately’, 1973; ‘Salt-Water Moon’, 1984; ‘Jitters’, 1979, and ‘Leaving Home’, 1972. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001.Below – some of the fine art works lining David French Lane. No doubt he would approve.

WE SELDOM GIVE OLD CITY HALL A GLANCE, BUT UP CLOSE IT’S ONE FINE BUILDING

TORONTO’s population in the 1880’s was about 100,000, and the city fathers believed it was time to erect a public building that stood out from all the others. They hired E.J. Lennox, a local architect, to create a $200,000 court house, which soon expanded to a $1.5-million courthouse and city hall. The good fathers were shocked.Work began in 1889, and kept on going for the next 10 years. Lennox attended 520 meetings, arguing with politicians about the mounting bills. Finally in 1907 the final bill arrived, calculated on six sheets of paper. The tab – $242,870.82, with $181,255.71 still owing. That was serious cash in those days.E.J. Lennox was originally supposed to take home $68,000, but additional duties brought a hefty additional paycheck. He finally pocketed $120,000. Lennox also managed to leave his marks on the building – his engraved smiling face for one, and a string of letters spelling out E.J. Lennox Architect along all four sides of the structure.Just desserts for the penny-pinching city councillors.

TORONTO HAS PUBLISHED TWO MORE CULTURAL LOOPS GUIDES – THE LATEST: ETOBICOKE & YORK

These are fine guide books with detailed descriptions, maps and photography – and they’re all free. ‘Explore York’ details several tours on foot or on a bike you could take in this part of the inner city. Everything from public art, historic buildings, places to eat and local wildlife are contained in the slick little books. Scarborough and North York are in the series as well. For more information – http://www.toronto.ca/culturalhotspot<Reggae Lane (2015), 1529 Eglinton Avenue celebrates the musical legacy of Little Jamaica. This 1200-square-foot mural was designed by local youth, under the mentorship of artist Adrian Hales.><Squibb’s Stationers (1927), 1974 Weston Road, is TORONTO’s oldest bookstore and third oldest stationers.><Weston Public Library, 2 King Street, built in 1913, is one of 10 TORONTO libraries funded by the Carnegie Foundation, based in New York. It features ornate decoration inside and outside.><Weston Plank Road Company, 2371 Weston Road, built in 1841. Plank roads were constructed from wooden planks or split logs to make roads smoother.><The former Odd Fellows Hall, 24 Church Street, was once a Methodist Episcopal church, and the Odd Fellows turned it into a lodge. Today, the building is a private residence.>

YOU’LL TAKE MANHATTAN? NOPE – MANHATTAN WILL TAKE YOU, WITH SOME HIGH-END CONDOS

On MANHATTAN, the golden isle, epicenter of all North American cities, there’s a surplus of luxury condos that could take more than six years to sell. In 2011, the average price of a new one was $1.15-million. By 2019, the average went up to $3.77-million, and with that, sales dropped. Monthly rentals in NYC now range from $1,140 to $2,229, which is very close to the TORONTO numbers – US dollars versus CAD’S of course. Top price for a 24,000-square-foot pied-a-terre near Central Park went for all of $240-million. Nearly half of new condos in Manhattan that came to market after 2015 – 3,695 units out of 7,727 – remain unsold, according to Nancy Packes Data Services. As well, about 79,000 people live in shelters, or on the streets of New York. <photo – S.L. Green, NYC>  In TORONTO the number of homeless people is estimated to be 19,000. In the two cities, skylines have changed dramatically but – in both cases – many of these new buildings just aren’t filling up. <photo – Trust Condos, Toronto>

A UNIQUE SCULPTURE ON LESLIE ST. IS A REMINDER OF KOREA’S SUFFERING WWII ‘COMFORT WOMEN’

PYEONGWAUI SONYEOSANG, otherwise known as the Comfort Woman, is out in the snow in front of the Korean Canadian Cultural Centre, 1133 Leslie Street. This replica, created by husband-and-wife team Kim Woo-Sung and Kim Suh-Kyung, commemorates the abducted women forced to ‘comfort’ the Japanese armed forces during the Second World War. Photos by RICHARD LONGLEY, NOW Magazine, February/2020