Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Gear

One of the traditionally styled homes in the Casa Loma area has had a lot of modern features added to it - some work but other don't. This railing is one of the successful additions - the rusted industrial materials blend nicely with the brick facade and all the greenery. Love the gears!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Canon Theatre Pt 2

This shot is taken from the top of the stairs shown in yesterday's pic. It gives an idea of the 3-D aspect of the ceiling and also the different detail in this ceiling section. The gold leaf work is just spectacular - wonderful craftsmanship.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canon Theatre

This is the grand staircase up to the Canon Theatre which started life as the Pantages Theatre in 1920 as a combo movie/vaudville house. Designed by architect Thomas W Lamb, it was the largest theatre in Canada and featured beautiful interiors of marble, gold leaf, etc. It eventually became strictly a movie theatre and in the early 1970s was divided into 6 movie houses and all the interior surfaces were drywalled and or painted over. In the late 80s new owners completely restored and refreshed the interior, even having the paint meticulously removed from the original surfaces. In 1989 it reopened with The Phantom of the Opera ( which ran for more than 10 years ) and has remained a live theatre ever since. It is really gorgeous inside!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Mural

Sweet is not really my style but this pastoral mural just off Harbord St caught my eye because of its brightness but more so because it is on the side of a women's sex boutique. I love the dichotomy of the 2 things. And it is impressive that no one has tagged it - yet.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This sculpture titled "Michael" is found in the quadrangle at St Michael's College at U of Toronto. By Canadian artist Anne Allardyce, it was commissioned by St Mike's to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the college in 1978. The stainless steel is welded in a way that makes it look like it was folded into shape - it works quite well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Condo Invasion

This rather strange building is the sales or presentation centre for a condo to be constructed on Queen St in the West Queen West area which has been another big area for artist studios. There is now a lot of pressure from condos and the artists are losing the old warehouses that were there. This condo company hired British architect Will Alsop ( he designed the Ontario College of Art and Design floating addition ) to design their sales centre and has tried to trade on the bohemian flavour of this part of Queen St in their sales pitch.

Friday, September 24, 2010


This sculpture titled "Neighbours" by Canadian artist Joe Rosenthal was installed in 2001. Installed near the walkway into St Michael's College at U of Toronto, it has a really friendly, welcoming feeling to it. He has another sculpture in the same area which I will try to get a shot of before winter hits us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

School Cafe & Bakery

One of the old garages in the Toronto Carpet Factory complex has been restored, renovated and turned into a cute little cafe and bakery that is especially busy for brunches. Behind the cafe you can see some of the larger buildings from the complex and get a hint of the scale of the place. Imagine it when it was full of artists!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carpet Mural

One of the old buildings at the Toronto Carpet Factory was beyond restoration and after sitting condemned for years it was torn down making space for parking and leaving this nice wall open. Voila - this great mural of a carpet was commissioned ( haven't been able to find out the artist ) and is a nice surprise as you come up the street. The ivy now is attempting to take over the wall which makes for a ever changing view.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This wonderful little building, in what is now called Liberty Village, was my studio for 10 years but as often happens it has been gentrified. It was the pay roll office for the Toronto Carpet Factory which built the complex in the late 1800s - 4 acres (a complete city block) with several large buildings surrounding interior courtyards and laneways. A total of 310,000 sq ft of space with exposed bricks, wooden floors, and wooden beams - incredible! During the 1970s the complex became artist studios - painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, etc (it was an exciting time to be there) but now is all occupied by corporate offices, restaurants, etc and the artists are gone. Our space became an architect office, then a business office, and for the last several years a restaurant - hence the addition of a deck which is rather windswept in this early a.m. shot. An absolutely super studio and a great time!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Old & New

This church is St Basil's which is a parish church and the collegiate church for St Michael's College at U of Toronto. Designed by architect William Hay, it was founded in 1856 and is the 3rd oldest Catholic church in Toronto. The U is part of the advertising campaign for a new condominium complex to be constructed adjacent to the church. Makes a good frame.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

They're Off!

Today there was a full day of bike races in downtown Toronto - the Queen's Park Grand Prix with races for masters men, elite women and a pro-am invitational for elite men. On a gorgeous fall day they raced around Queen's Park which is a round park with our provincial legislature building at one end of it and the whole thing is right in the middle of U of Toronto. The circling road is 1.5 km and the men went 54 laps so we saw them go by many times - it was really exciting - they go so fast!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

They're Back

These striking red sculptures titled "Landing Sculpture S II & SIV" by Canadian Carl Lander, were originally installed in a reflecting pool in 1970 but the years had been hard on them and they were removed and totally restored before being reinstalled just recently. The pool was redone and has yet to be filled. They are found in an area of many high -rise rental apartment buildings (near Yonge & Davisville) whose developer, Al Green, loves sculpture and who commissioned many pieces to enhance the grounds surrounding the buildings. Not the norm for developers today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

5 Austin Terrace

When I stumbled across this house up beside Casa Loma, I felt as if I had taken a trip to Britain since it so totally unlike Toronto with its stone walls, terra cotta roof, servants outer buildings, and huge grounds. Called "Lenwill", it was finished in 1915 and was designed by and for E. J. Lennox who also designed Casa Loma, our Old City Hall, and many other buildings in town such as the King Edward Hotel. He and his family lived there for many years and the property is now owned by an order of nuns (Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate) and is used as their provincial home. It is gorgeous!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Summerhill Liquor Store

It was beautiful yesterday when I went by the Summerhill LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) Store on Yonge St. Originally built in 1916 as a railway station, it was designed by Darling and Pearson in the Beaux Art style featuring a 140 ft tower, limestone cladding, marble interiors and soaring ceilings. Traffic declined in the 1930s and it was turned into a Brewers retail and a LCBO store. The interior was covered with wooden boardings, the clocks removed from the tower, and basically no maintenance done to the exterior until 2004 when the whole structure was beautifully restored. Even the original clockworks were found and restored after 9,000 lbs of pigeon droppings were removed from inside the base of the tower. It is now the largest Liquor store in Canada and is really quite lovely inside and out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lawrence Ave Owls

This is a close-up of one of the limestone owls guarding the waterworks in yesterday's post. They are quite impressive, each on their obelisk standing guard over our water supply.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lawrence Ave Deco

This wonderful art deco building is actually part of the Lawrence Pumping Station and Reservoir in north Toronto which controls part of our water supply. It was built in 1958 of wonderful limestone and has been historically designated by the city (can't be changed or torn down) but I could find no info on the architect or anything else. I will post a close-up tomorrow of 1 of the 2 owls which are visible on the pedestals.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Button Factory Lofts

I've been wandering the laneways again - this old button factory on Clinton St (in Little Italy) has been converted into 13 lofts each with a door opening onto this friendly walkway. The lofts are all 2 or 3 storeys, have a deck or patio, and all have the warehouse feel of exposed bricks, wooden beams and wooden floors. And a great location!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Birthday Cows

I just happened to pass by this house during the week and saw this great display of birthday cows. Have seen birthday flamingoes before but never a herd of cows - super idea. I can only imagine the shock upon looking out the window in the morning and seeing them. Love it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Shift" Closeup

I thought I would include a closeup of a section of yesterday's post of "Shift" by Carl Tacon in order to give a better idea of the wonderful carving of the marble. It is really tactile and quite a shock when you touch it expecting something soft and encounter the cold marble. Super piece!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Draped Marble

This sculpture, "Shift", by Canadian artist Carl Tacon is situated a little out of the way just south of Bloor St on St Thomas St along the entrance to a condo building. Installed in 2008, it is 42 metres long and together the 20 individual sections of hand-carved marble weigh 50 tons. Another example of the City of Toronto's art requirement for new development, it is an incredible piece - worth searching it out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Philosopher's Walk

This scenic footpath, Philosopher's Walk, starts on Bloor St between the Royal Conservatory of Music ( see yesterday's post) and the Royal Ontario Museum and continues down through the U of Toronto campus. It runs along the ravine landscape created by Taddle Creek which now runs underground since being buried in the 1800s and offers a very tranquil escape from the downtown traffic especially when you can hear music coming from the Conservatory studios and from the Faculty of Music building along the path. In recent years there has been a lot of new tree planting to replace some of the older trees which are reaching the end of their life span so the walk will continue as a green oasis for many years.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Royal Conservatory of Music

The Royal Conservatory of Music is a not-for-profit organization that provides music and arts education across Canada. Started in 1886, it's head office moved to this building (which is just around the corner from yesterday's post) in 1962 and started an extensive renovation and addition in the 1990s that finished in 2009. Designed by KPMB Architects (see yesterday's post), the addition provides new performance spaces, concert hall, studios and more, all in modernist spaces which integrate beautifully with the original 1881 building. It also fits in well with its neighbour on Bloor St, the Royal Ontario Museum.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gardiner Museum of Ceramics

This wonderful modernist building is the Gardiner Museum which houses a collection of over 3,000 historical and contemporary pieces of ceramics, a good gift shop, and nice restaurant/event area. Originally built in 1984 (Keith Wagland architect), in 2006 it had a major expansion and redesign by KPMB Architects (Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg) one of the best firms in Canada. The present show being advertised is a show of porcelain from the Edo period in Japan - hence the Geisha. The Neo-classical building to the left is the Lillian Massey building - part of U of Toronto.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reclining Figure

This bronze sculpture, "Reclining Figure", by Canadian artist John Fillion is one of the best in the city and probably my favourite. Installed in front of an office tower on St Clair Ave W in 1967, it continues to be so powerful in real life that it should stop traffic. Totally love it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Toronto Police Mounted Unit

The Toronto Police force has a mounted unit of 24 beautiful horses and 35 officers which works out of the C.N.E, (Canadian National Exhibition) stables right down by the lakeshore. The unit was started in the 1800s and is quite active in crowd control, searches, and regular police work. All these cops on the horses seem to be really friendly and this guy gladly stopped and posed for me last week on a blistering hot day down in Liberty Village.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Schoolhouse Redux

This building is certainly no beauty but the story behind it is interesting. It was a deteriorating schoolhouse that was taken over many years ago by Toronto Community Housing and turned into 13 units of co-op housing for artists. They all pay market-rent for large live/work studio space and have taken over all the land on the property (except for some parking spaces) and have planted a huge community garden of fruit trees, veggies, and some flowers. I was there a few weeks ago when the produce was at its peak and the place looked like a jungle. There have been proposals over the years to build more units onto the front of the building which would take away most of the garden but so far the 'farm' is safe.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Toronto Skyline

This pic was taken from the ferry about 15 minutes after yesterday's post (hence all the heads in the bottom of the pic). The people who live on the islands have this beautiful view every night when looking to the mainland. In the other direction they look out over Lake Ontario towards Niagara Falls. Not a bad place to live!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Waiting for the Ferry

This is the view from the Toronto Islands just after sunset on a hot, muggy evening. I was waiting for the ferry from yesterday's post to return me to the mainland after a pleasant time on the islands. The large tower is the CN Tower which has a revolving restaurant up towards the top.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Toronto Islands Ferry

Just off the shore from the city core of Toronto there is a small chain of islands that form the outer boundary of the harbour. From the 1800s to the 1950s there was a community of houses, cottages, hotels and shops that occupied most of the islands. In the 1950s, the city decided to turn it all into parkland and tore down all but 250 homes all at the east end of the islands. There was a huge uproar and the Islanders fought further demolition until 1993 when the provincial government gave them all 99 year leases on their properties. The remaining community is the largest urban car-free community in N America and can only be reached by riding one of the 3 ferries that serve the islands (about a 10 minute ride). It is really quite lovely. The rest of the islands have beaches, an amusement park, marinas, and the Island Airport (and no cars). It is a great place to go on a hot day.