Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

I caught this wonderful red sandstone carving on a house on Spadina Rd built in 1894 for a former mayor of Toronto. This devil/satyr (?) looks to me as if he knows how to have a good time as I hope all of you do too. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the New Year's eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Present Day Streetcar

I thought I should show you what our present-day streetcars look like so I ventured down to the Bathurst St station and caught this one just leaving the station. There are 11 streetcar routes in downtown Toronto and they provide most of the surface transit service in the core of the city. There are also some articulated cars that are almost twice as long as this one! As you can see in the background we finally got a bit of snow last night.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Streetcar Preview

In November the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) held an open house to show off a mock-up of our new streetcars - not sure when we will see the real ones on the street. A huge tent was erected at one of the transit yards and this model of the front half of a new train was unveiled. The real cars will be 30m long, have more & better seats, bicycle accommodation and air conditioning. What amazed me was the number of people (with cameras) who turned up for the viewing!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Royal Cinema

Located in the heart of Little Italy on College St, the Royal Cinema is located in a wonderful Art Moderne building which was constructed in 1939 and opened then as the Pylon Cinema. Threatened with closure in 2007 new operators took it over and it now shows 2nd run and indie/art films in the evening and during the day functions as a post-production studio for film and TV. I love that the original signs and building details have been maintained and restored during its upgrade! And that a middle eastern restaurant flourishes in Little Italy.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bike Stands at the ROM 9

I think I have captured them all now - this is the last of the bike stands beside the ROM and I am pretty sure that this references the dinosaur collection of the museum (which is quite wonderful). I have never seen a bike on this one possibly because there is always a food truck parked right beside it and the serving window is right behind the stand. I have heard that the same artists who did these ROM racks have done another series in the city so will have to check that out!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bike Stands at the ROM 8

Wandering past the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) I managed to catch a pic of another of the bike stands which previously had been obstructed by too many bikes. The stands are meant to reflect the collection inside the museum but for the life of me I can't figure out what this one is supposed to represent! Any ideas?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas To All

I hope all of you who celebrate it are having a Merry Christmas and those who don't are having a great day too. This tiny red skate is my favourite Christmas tree decoration so I thought I would let it shine for the day. I will try to get around to some blogs but if I miss you - Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tiger, Tiger .....!

Every winter since 2004 the Koreatown BIA (business improvement area) on Bloor St has installed this gorgeous tiger of lights to brighten up the dreary days and to act as a symbolic guardian of well-being and prosperity for the community. A nice change from the usual Christmas light displays, he is 17' x 8.5' and is made up of 22,000 LED bulbs!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tear Down The Old

This pic typifies what is happening all over Toronto - someone buys a perfectly good older home, tears it down and then builds to the maximum size that the city will allow. Even in the wealthiest areas houses that sold for $2-3million are demolished (and sometimes 2 in a row) to make way for enormous places. At least this new house I like - will have to go back in the summer to see some landscaping!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Laundromat

I finally admitted to myself that winter is coming and it was time to wash my cosy down coat which requires the use of a large-scale commercial washer and dryer and so a trip to the laundromat was in order. There is something unique about these places - all the symmetry of the machines, the slight untidiness, and most of all the interesting characters coming and going. I spent a couple of hours just observing everything around me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mary Poppins On Tour

The touring version of the Broadway production of Mary Poppins the Musical has landed in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre (which was named after Diana). A perfect play for the holidays, all the reviews I have seen have been wonderful!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snoopy And Woodstock In Town

While running a quick errand yesterday I ran into this cute display which was a nice change from the usual blow-up snowmen and Santas. I had no idea that the guys were in town for the holidays! As you can see we are going to have a green Christmas this year unless there is a huge change by Sunday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A School With Colour

As we approach the winter solstice here the days are so short and seem to be so grey that I thought I would post another bright shot from the summer, this one a pic of an Annex area private school which is a real anomaly in that it hasn't got the usual bland colour scheme found in the neighbourhood. What a way to excite the kids in the mornings!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blue Door

I love this pretty walkway and door leading up to an old factory near the Annex area that has been converted into lofts. The factory had been used for plumbing storage which is reflected in the cool door handle. I showed you the loading doors of one of the lofts here. Obviously today's pic is from late summer when we still had green plants but it so grey today that I needed to see some colour.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

#31 Mercer St

I found this wonderful Art Deco door in the downtown entertainment district which is an area of old factories and warehouses that were converted into a multitude of nightclubs and bars. Over the last few years as real estate prices soared downtown, and more people wanted to be there, condos have started to take over the district. That is the case for this building too as an application has been made to build a 49 storey mixed-use structure covering several addresses along Mercer St. The facades of the buildings are to be retained however!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ryerson Bike Mural

I discovered this wonderful bike mural in a laneway that runs through the campus of Ryerson University which is one of 3 universities in the city of Toronto. Running off Dundas St near Yonge St, the laneway had long been a prime target for graffiti so when Ryerson set up a secure, indoor bike parking area off the lane the decision was made to beautify with a suitable mural! I have been unable to discover the artist responsible but will keep searching for the info. This is just one part of this really long mural!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Patio On College St

The temperature is +13˚C (55˚F) here today when it is usually only 1˚C at this time of year. If it wasn't for the light rain coming down this patio would probably be filled with happy Torontonians cheating winter for a little while more. I took this pic at the end of October when temps were much the same never thinking that patios could still be open today. This is one of my favourite restaurants, Kalendar, which has such a lovely European vibe that you would think you were in Paris when you walk through the door! (The clock is not working!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Victoria Hospital For Sick Children

This lovely sign is located on a building on College St that opened in 1892 as the Victoria Hospital For Sick Children. Designed by architects, Darling & Curry, it was the first hospital in Canada exclusively for paediatrics and remained in use until 1951 when the renamed Hospital For Sick Children moved to University Ave. The building was used as office space and then sat empty until 1991 when it was restored and adapted for use by the Canadian Red Cross, reopening in 1993. I love the elegant old-fashioned angels! Sorry about the wires but College St has streetcars and as result has lots of overhead wiring.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Art In The Window

A local flooring company, Floorworks, gives their front window over to various artists for a couple of months at a time. This installation called "The Orphans" has just been installed by an artist group called AT.AW that has previously done a lot of street art of the paper graffiti type. With 14' tall walls this window provides a huge canvas for the orphans who are said to be a "reflection of the chaotic anonymity of urban life"!
I showed a previous window from last year here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

View From The End Of The Street

If you continue walking along the street of the last 2 days the road ends at the property and gardens of Spadina House, a historic manor beside Casa Loma that is operated as a museum by the city of Toronto. What a view with Casa Loma peaking through the trees!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ardwold Traditional

Being an equal opportunity blog I thought that I would show you one of the traditional homes from yesterday's street, Ardwold Gate. I think it is quite lovely and I especially like the eyebrow window and the icy tones of the shutters etc. Being one of the smaller houses on the street, we could probably get this one for a couple of million $$ - I would still have to win a lottery!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Modern Masterpiece

A few weeks ago before all our leaves were gone I went for a walk down a dead-end street that curls around just east of Casa Loma. Most of the homes along this very high-end street are traditional Georgian & Colonial styles but there are a few exceptions including this wonderful Brutalist beauty. There are a lot of Brutalist public buildings in Toronto but few private homes like this one that was designed by Taivo Kapsi and finished in 1968. Kapsi unfortunately died in 1967 at the age of 31 and never saw it finished. I am ready to move in if I had several million $$ and if it was for sale!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christie Pits Ladies

The pool at Christie Pits Park is built into the side of a steep hill and so there are 2 of these exposed sides to the pool foundation. On the other side from yesterday's post, murals have also been painted to help fight against graffiti and this is part of that. The lovely ladies were painted in 2009 by Alexa Hatanaka working as part of "Under The Radar" which is responsible for the murals on both sides. Research turned up the info that Hatanaka will graduate from art school next year so there will be more great work to come from her! I also rather like the black and white outline section on this wall but couldn't decipher the signature.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Something Fishy At Christie Pits Part 2

Here is another of the beautiful fish from the mural I showed 2 days ago from Christie Pits Park. It is such a lovely mural that I am sure these kids who painted it have a good future ahead as artists and designers! I love the way the bubbles float up and around the edge of the pool deck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hard Rock Cafe

It's Wednesday so it is time for a sign. The Hard Rock Cafe has to have one of the better known signs in the world since they seem to be everywhere! Ours is located at Yonge & Dundas which I think would be considered the centre of everything happening in the city - across from the Eaton Centre mall and beside Dundas Square which features many free outdoor concerts and events all year. I have always loved their red guitar!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Something Fishy At Christie Pits

I found this lovely Japanese-influenced mural painted on the side of the pool complex at Christie Pits Park, one of the larger parks in downtown Toronto. This spot had been the target of a lot of tagging and so a neighbourhood group, The Friends of Christie Pits, commissioned a group of local youths through their organization, "Under The Radar", to paint murals along the walls. It is quite an improvement! I will show you more of it later this week.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stairway Window

I spotted this small, rounded window on the side of a large Victorian house in the Annex. I am sure that its purpose is to provide a bit of light on a long staircase and can only imagine how jewel-like that glass must be from the inside when the sun shines through it! It's the kind of detail we miss in a lot of modern homes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wall Art

I found this colourful guy on a wall by the art school earlier this summer but never got around to posting it. On a dull day like we are having today I thought he would be just perfect. Signed by Horus, I have found several works on google by this artist around town so will have to keep my eyes open. I like how the inset window is in total contrast to the guy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Snake-eating Raccoon

I am going for the prize for oddest graffiti with this post. I am not sure what it represents but I found this "paper graffiti" stuck on the wall of a very private tennis club (indoor clay courts & very deco interior & no signage) in the city. It was gone within the day! Fierce & bold raccoons roam our city in huge numbers at night but I don't know if they would take on a snake!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tiny Space For A House

A couple of years ago construction of this cool modern house began on a lot the size of a single car garage which was located at the junction of a laneway and a busy street (Harbord) near the university. It resulted in this 2 storey house with a roof deck but each floor must be really tiny and there is no yard at all. I wish it would go up for sale so I could see inside!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin Eater

I spotted this squirrel nibbling on a leftover Jack O'Lantern and thought I would sneak up for a shot. I didn't need to sneak - he had no interest in me at all and continued to reach inside for more bits of pumpkin even when I was just a few feet away. Bulking up for a harsh winter? I hope not!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have been eying this cool lantern stencil with the word evolve for awhile now and thought I had better capture it before it gets painted over as most of the tags on this wall have been in the past. This is the wall and doorway to one of at least 5 trendy coffeeshop/cafes within a couple of blocks from me (not counting the Canadian icon of coffee, "Tim Horton's" which is also in the 'hood) which really indicates the evolution in the coffee market here. Even MacDonalds serves espresso now!
Taking part in Signs,Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breakfast At The Senator

Last Thursday I went for a late breakfast at the Senator which serves an all day breakfast in an interior that hasn't changed much since 1948. I previously showed the exterior of the Senator here. Breakfast was great!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Christmas Train

I am going to end my Santa Claus parade shots with this pic of the Christmas train loaded down with toys since who doesn't love a train and toys make it even better! Santa's float didn't thrill me this year so we will skip him this time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Christmas Beaver

Since it is an official symbol of Canada it seems suitable that the beaver had a float in the Santa Claus parade too. Along with a load of presents his canoe had space for several kids to squeeze in for the ride once the parade began!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gingerbread Float

A few more days of Santa Claus parade pics to come since there were so many great floats! These happy gingerbread people even had a working teeter-totter rolling pin to ride as the parade travelled along. The kids on this float sat on the little 'sugar cubes'.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"MMMMMM .........I Love Turtles"

"Turtles" are a brand of candies made of toasted pecans and soft caramel covered in chocolate and formed into a whimsical shape reminiscent of a turtle - they are delicious! This float shows 3 of the chocolate turtles pulling a sleigh, with the Turtles mascot in it, over a sea of caramel - I love it. Not sure why but it was probably my favourite of the whole parade! Maybe it was the big smiles on all the turtles (check out the enlarged pic).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Polar Bears on Parade

One of my favourite floats in the Santa Claus parade was this one featuring the friendliest-looking mother polar bear and her 2 cute cubs sliding down the ice. Love her gentle face! And her head was mechanized so that it moved from side to side.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mrs Claus Comes To Toronto

For the first time in the 107 years of the Santa Claus parade, Mrs Claus joined the festivities and had her own float which was a replica of the Claus home at #1 North Pole. You might want to click on this pic to see all the details they put into this float and to once again see the little stools for the kids to sit on.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looney Tunes At The Beach

The Looney Tunes characters have always been favourites of mine and their beach scene float in the Santa Claus parade was great with Bugs Bunny surfing along out front and Tweety & Sylvester bringing up the rear in the palm tree. All the other usual suspects, Daffy& Porky, lounged about waiting for the little kids who will sit on all the stools along the edge of the float!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lego Conquers Toronto

I think this Lego float would be fun to ride on and you can see one of the little stools, just in front of the queen, that a child will sit on (with seat belt) and wave to the crowd as the parade proceeds throughout downtown. Most, if not all, of the floats in the Santa Claus parade have groups of children who ride along on them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Santa Claus Parade 2011

The annual Santa Claus parade marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Toronto and today is the big day for the 107th edition of the parade. Thousands upon thousands of people come out to see it but the best time to shoot the floats is early in the am before the parade begins sooo there I was this morning taking pics as the volunteers did last minute prep. Mother Goose has been in the parade since 1917 and her float is the traditional leader of them all. This year there are 26 floats, 21 marching bands and hundreds of clowns in the parade which is running as I type this. More floats to come this week!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hazy Lakeshore

I took this pic in late summer down on the western lakeshore and I like how the haze has softened the condo towers of west-end Toronto. The downtown of toronto is located right down on the shores of Lake Ontario and the city moves north from there to the outer suburbs and east and west to the older suburbs. The lakeshore is definitely the place to be in summer!
I am busy this week so may not get around to everyone's blog until Sunday (tomorrow).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Staff Squirrel

A week ago I specifically went to take a picture of this gate but this cheeky squirrel was on top and refused to move until I walked away. I circled back and took some more pics but this one with him was the best!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chihuly At Night

I posted pics of the Chihuly pieces in the canopy of the Metropolitan Soho Hotel last October 2010. I finally got down there to take a pic at night when the pieces were lit from above and they are spectacular! Click on my hotel label below to see the day shots.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jenkins Art Gallery

This lovely sign and part of the original facade are all that remain of Jenkins Antiques and Art Gallery which was located in a building on Grenville constructed in 1917 and designed by one of our top architect firms, Sproat & Rolph. As often happens in Toronto, the building was sold and a 25 storey condo tower was constructed in 1989 with the condition that the sign and facade be incorporated into the new structure. Another bit of history gone!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autumn Mural

A railway overpass on Avenue Rd has had a quite large scenic mural painted on it, commissioned by the local residents. At this time of year it seems to blend into the fall colours and leaves seamlessly. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find out the artist responsible but click on the pic for a better view of the piece.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Woodlawn White

In a neighbourhood of mostly traditional brick houses, this white semi-detached modern place really catches the eye! For sale at just under $2.4 million (!!) I don't think I will be moving in but this time I have found interior shots for you here. My question after viewing these pics (especially the kitchen) is "where is all their stuff?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Uno Prii 60s Delight

In total contrast to yesterday's building, a short block south brings you to this wonderful example of 60s architecture as designed by Uno Prii whose work I have shown several times. This one was completed in 1965. Click on my Prii label below to see some more of the 250 apartment buildings he designed mostly in Toronto and especially in the Annex neighbourhood. I love his futuristic take on modernist architecture and it is so startling to see it here on Avenue Rd in the midst of all the Deco and Tudor-inspired apartments!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Balmoral Apartments

The main north-south street through this tony neighbourhood is Avenue Rd and during the 1920s and 30s a series of wonderful apartment buildings were constructed along it to just south of St Clair Ave. The developers knew that they had to build beautiful buildings in order to make apartment living appealing and the result is a collection of quite interesting ones including this one, The Balmoral, which is my favourite. Designed by architects S.B. Coon & Son, it was constructed in 1927-28 in a Tudor-inspired style with its grandest feature being the large arched entrance with pinnacles and carved shield & name. The building has been lovingly restored and maintained through the years and once again I would love to see the inside!