Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another Underpass

A particularly dreary, low railway underpass is rescued by this wonderfully colourful mural that must have been painted several years ago based on the wear and tear visible on it. Parts of the mural have been corroded by various fluids seeping from the ground and from the tracks above but enough remains to lift the spirits.

Friday, July 30, 2010


This sculpture titled "Constellation" is found over the entrance way to an apartment complex in the theatre district. Created by American artist Albert Paley, this energetic piece was installed in 2002. The city of Toronto has a policy requiring large developments to include an art budget and this was probably part of that program.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hidden Studios

Sometimes when you are wandering in the laneways of Toronto you discover little oases that artists have created in the midst of industrial areas. This little spot used to have alot of studios surrounding it but they are slowly being pushed out. Sad.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Laneway Conversion

It is fun to explore the laneways and alleyways of the older central part of Toronto especially when you come upon interesting housing options hidden away. This pic shows a house that was converted from a garage several years ago. A magazine article a few years ago showed the inside and it was very well done and also includes a courtyard in behind the block walls. I'd love to have a tour.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Audley Court Apartments

In complete contrast to yesterday's post and its modern architecture, this is another apartment building in the Annex. Designed by John Hunt Stanford, it was completed in 1912 and turned into condos (just 8 of them) in 1986. These have to be the best balconies of any building in Toronto - easy to dream about sitting there with a good book and a cold drink and not leaving for days. It is right in the middle of a beautifully treed area - gorgeous!

Monday, July 26, 2010

100 Spadina Road

Yet another of the Uno Prii apartment buildings from the Annex. Somehow I remember the entrance being different before the renovations but couldn't find any old images from the front. This building was constructed in 1969 and has recently had a series of townhouses built on its surrounding property which actually relate quite well to the neighbourhood.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


This pic is taken from the same spot as yesterday's but now pointing west instead of south to the lake. It shows the rowers in the lake, the boardwalk, and a hint of people along the Martin Goodman Trail. It is close to sunset so the people are a bit difficult to see. The trail runs in the city for about 56 km from the Humber River in the west to the Rouge River in the east and is part of the 750 km Waterfront Trail which goes from Niagara to Quebec along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Race Is On

Not really a race - I think the person in the motorboat was instructing the rowers. Because Toronto is located right on the shores of Lake Ontario, water plays a big part in summer recreation here. Every evening you will find rowers and dragonboat teams going up and down the western lakeshore inside the breakwater - it looks so elegant. Outside the barrier there will always be sailboats racing about in mini regattas while on shore runners, walkers, and bicyclists travel along the Martin Goodman Trail.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Birds on a Wire

This is the last pic of the Lansdowne fence and it shows a bit of vandalism that has occurred - a few of the birds have been painted over and there is a bit of tagging. Luckily the painted surface of this great installation should enable the artists to keep ahead of the taggers and vandals. This is a wonderful piece of work!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lansdowne Fence Continued

Still heading north along the fence this section depicts a nearby pedestrian bridge. That is a real water-tower in the background this time. What makes this good public art is that everyone can understand it and react to it - no elitism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lansdowne Water Towers

Moving along the fence you can see the actual water tower in the distance behind the wooden ones. It is an interesting experience to see the silhouettes and the real buildings at the same time - makes for an interesting walk in an otherwise bleak area of Toronto which a lot of people are trying to improve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lansdowne Buses

A little way along the Lansdowne Fence you will find these great images of old TTC buses. These work so well to remind us what was there before. Love this fence.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lansdowne Fence Streetscape

This is a corner section from an artwork that was recently installed for hundreds of feet along Lansdowne Ave. It is the site of an old TTC bus and streetcar yard that was torn down in 2003. The land is apparently contaminated by some previous industrial use and will be vacant for awhile so the TTC held an art competition to beautify the chain-link fence. The winners were Scott Eunson and Marianne Lovink with their idea of plywood silhouettes based on imagery from the surroundings. The plywood is installed right onto the fencing. I'll show a few more images in the next couple of days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Day In Wychwood

I love this house so had to have it in a post. Called "Upland Cottage", it was constructed in 1906 for one of the founding artists in the community, G. A. Reid. There seems to be debate as to whether he or Eden Smith designed it although the city records show it as a Eden Smith project. Either way it is a lovely house and a good way to end the tour of Wychwood.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another Wychwood House

This is probably one of the larger homes in Wychwood Park and is another of the Eden Smith designed homes. It was constructed in 1910 for the lawyer first involved in setting up the corporation to run the park and his desire was for a Georgianized Wright prairie style. Go figure. It has been beautifully restored and is a pleasure to see especially on a hot muggy day as it sits in the shade of the many trees around it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wychwood Park Road

Just a shot to set the atmosphere of the last few days in Wychwood Park. In this pic the pond is off to the left and the houses are found along the right hand side. As you can see, it is like a piece of countryside in the middle of a city of millions so is a great place to escape for a bit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wychwood Turtles

This sign has been posted on the road by the pond in Wychwood - apparently the pond is now teeming with turtles - snapping and painted as well as supply of goldfish. Even though the water surface is covered with duckweed there were 2 turtles sitting on the log visible in the centre of the right-hand pic. The pond was formed by damming this section of Taddle Creek - which also happens to be the only section of the creek not buried under the streets of Toronto.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wychwood Park Pt 2

This is 1 of the many homes in Wychwood Park that was designed by Eden Smith. He was a very prolific architect in Toronto and is credited with introducing the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement to Canada after his arrival from England. This particular house, constructed in 1911, owes a lot to the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright's work near Chicago.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wychwood Park

Wychwood Park is a wonderful neighbourhood enclave in central Toronto of just 60 houses arranged along a road that meanders through 300 year old trees and encircles a central park, pond, and tennis courts. It is a private community that was founded as an artists compound in the late 18th century although few artists could afford it now as it is one of Toronto's most exclusive areas. Most of the homes are in the Arts and Crafts style as is this one which was built in 1911 by the architects Sproatt and Rolph. It is a great place to stroll through.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Euclid Lofts

Being a big fan of mid-century moderne and art deco, I love this loft conversion on Euclid Ave. The project was done in 2003/2004 and created 5 units from what had been some type of small church. The location is super - a short walk south to Little Portugal and the same distance north to Little Italy. Lots of great restaurants to chose from!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

This weekend the 49th annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition took place on the square in front of city hall. This pic shows just a small portion of the booths of the 400 artists who took part. After rain on Fri they have had great sunny weather and large crowds. But are they buying?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rosamund on Prince Arthur

On the next block west from yesterday's post is another apartment building from 1968. The owner of this one commissioned Frances Marie Gage to create a sculpture for the front of the building with the restriction that it couldn't be too abstract or modern. (Toronto was in the middle of a huge controversy over the installation of Henry Moore's "Archer" in front of our city hall at that time.) She created "Rosamund" who continues to gaze out from her position in front of the glamorous portico of the building. It is a nice feeling to encounter art along a mostly residential street.

Friday, July 9, 2010

20 Prince Arthur

As you walk west from Yorkville through the Annex you come across another of the wonderful buildings designed by Uno Prii. Apparently this was his favourite of the 250 apartment buildings he designed in Toronto and it easy to see why. Built in 1968, the 22 storey buttresses combined with the beautiful large gardens surrounding it make it a real landmark in the city.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Overstuffed Sofa"

It is extremely hot and humid here but there is something about a stone sofa that makes it look cool. This sculpture by Susan Schelle and Mark Gomes, titled 'Overstuffed Sofa' was installed in the courtyard of a condo in 1999 and I love it. The high-end condo is on the boundary of Yorkville and the Annex (although Yorkville is officially part of the Annex area of Toronto).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heliconian Club

This beautifully restored building stands among the galleries and boutiques of Yorkville and is home to the Heliconian Club which is a club that provides for "a meeting place for professional women in the arts and letters". The building was built in 1875 as a church and was taken over by the club in 1923. Its simple board and batten exterior with the wonderful Victorian rose window is a prime example of 'Carpenter's Gothic' where Gothic features are applied to wooden structures and which is found in many churches in Canada from that era.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bull in the City

This sculpture of a bull has been out in front of a Yorkville gallery since 2001. Titled "Royal Sweet Diamond", it is a bronze by celebrated Canadian sculptor Joe Fafard. He grew up and still works in Saskatchewan (one of our prairie provinces) and much of his work features farm animals in particular cows which have become his trademark.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Old York Lane

This pretty little lane starts across the road from yesterday's post and runs through to the next street. This part of Yorkville is filled with restaurants, galleries and especially boutiques and high-end stores like Chanel, Gucci, etc. It is the most expensive shopping area in Toronto and this together with the exclusive hotels makes it an excellent spot for celebrity watching.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yorkville Park Resting Place

This is the last in this series of Yorkville Park pics. This row of archways provides a pleasant spot to eat lunch or just catch your breath. It is situated between a small grove of crabapple trees and an area of "marshland" complete with boardwalks. The seats are always full as you can see and the shot also gives a hint of some of the boutiques and restaurants that line the streets in this part of Toronto.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yorkville Waterfall

In Yorkville Park just along from the Rock, you come across a curtain of water falling from an elegant steel structure. It probably is meant to reference Niagara Falls but the main effect is of the soothing sound of falling water as you sit in the courtyard beside it. In winter the water freezes and creates spectacular icicles and formations.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Rock Grows in Yorkville

There is another park in the heart of Yorkville, called Yorkville Park, which stands on what had been a parking lot since the 1950s. A block of Victorian houses had been torn down to build the subway and it wasn't until the 1990s that a design competition was held and this park was built. The park has a series of gardens that reflect the various environs of Canada from forest to marsh to prairie etc. At one end of the park is "The Rock" which was cut from the Canadian Shield (north of Toronto) and reassembled here after the roof of the subway was reinforced to hold its 600 ton weight. It is a great meeting place.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day Butter Tarts

Today marks the 143rd anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. There will be lots of celebrations (even Queen Elizabeth is here for it) and lots of fireworks displays tonight. There will also be lots of eating - barbeques etc but my favourite is the traditional butter tart. Made of mostly butter and brown sugar plus eggs, they usually have either raisins or nuts added. I vote for the nuts. Happy Canada Day!