Thursday, May 31, 2012

Healing Lodge at 30 College St

Of the places I toured during last weekend's Doors Open Toronto the most impressive one for me was the Native Child and Family Services Of Toronto building on College St. They purchased the 4 storey office building in 2007 and did a wonderful redesign and renovation of the whole structure to suit their needs and culture. I am starting on the green roof which is planted with traditional Anishnaabe medicines such as cedar and sage as well as other appropriate plantings. The most spectacular part of the roof is this corten steel Healing Lodge  that is influenced by the traditional Anishnaabe Sweat Lodge but is modern and urban while at the same time giving people in the city a chance to have ceremony and healing! I'll show you a couple of more shots including the interior of the lodge over the next few days. I had shown you the sign at the building entrance here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tip Top Tailors Ghost Sign

I found this ghost sign downtown on Richmond St West  and if you look closely you can see that there are actually 2 ghost signs - the predominant smaller one is the older one and you can see the faint outlines of a taller sign that had been painted over it. I found a pic of the building taken in 1916 when the building was 5 stories  tall showing the small sign occupying the whole side. The building is now 6 stories high so the tall, more faded one was painted after and didn't last as well! Anyway, Tip Top Tailors has been a major menswear retailer in Canada since its first store opened in 1909 and they occupied this building until 1929 when a move was made to a wonderful Art Deco building on Lakeshore Blvd.
Taking part in Signs,Signs. Click here for more signs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Space-age Office Building

Early to pick someone up from the airport a few weeks ago, I wandered about the surrounding industrial area for a bit and came across this wonderful example of space-age architecture. Probably constructed in the 60s or 70s, its location by the airport is perfect! I have been unable to find any info on the architects but will keep trying. I love it!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Islington Mural

This may be my favourite of the murals that I saw in the tour of the Islington Murals of a few weeks ago. Titled "Honouring Islington's Volunteer Fire Brigade" and painted by John Kuna (he did most of the murals) in 2007, this one shows some of the activities the firemen performed for the community when not fighting fires. In winter they would dam the Mimico Creek (which I showed last week) and create a skating rink complete with a snack bar to feed the happy skaters. You can see the Mongomery's Inn in the background. I love the rich colours in this one and since it is supposed to be +33˚C here today it's nice to see some snow!
Taking part in Monday Murals. Click here to see more murals.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spadina House Green Room

I showed you a pic of the exterior of Spadina House here back in April and this weekend was Doors Open Toronto which is a weekend when over 100 buildings in the city are open to wander through, many of which are not usually open to the public. Spadina House is a museum open all the time but this seemed a good time to check out the interior which has been totally & lovingly restored to its 1920s-30s state. This is one of the rooms from the original structure built in 1818 and I thought you could all use a break from my modern laneway houses! The last surviving member of the Austin family left all the furnishings when the house was handed over to the city in 1978. Beautiful isn't it?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lakeshore Neighbour

Didn't want to ruffle these feathers either!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lakeshore Bird

Don't like to ruffle feathers which sometimes happens inadvertently.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Art Deco On Spadina Ave

This is the entrance to the Balfour Building which was designed by architect Benjamin Brown in 1930 for a local clothing company. At that time this part of lower Spadina was known as the "garment district" and was lined with factories producing clothes. Today most of these factories have been turned into design offices and gallery spaces with a few still being used as artist studios but the rents have climbed. This area is now called the "Fashion District" for the many fashion retailers that occupy the ground floors of the buildings. The Balfour building has been historically designated because of its stylish Art Deco design so will remain intact!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bloor Cinema Saved

The Bloor Cinema which is in a building that had been a movie theatre since 1913 was in danger of being demolished by developers in 2010 until being saved and then subsequently sold to the Blue Ice Group which has just finished a total renovation and renewal of this grand place. There are 710 new roomy seats, a larger screen, up-to-date digital equipment and more. The cinema is the new home of the Hot Docs festival each spring and will be a year-round home for documentary films. The new sign just went up a couple of weeks ago!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. Click here for more signs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park

There are not many parks or sculptures honouring women but the tiniest park in the Annex area is named for Gwendolyn MacEwen, an award-winning Canadian poet & novelist who lived her short adult life in the Annex. Born in 1941, she died in 1987 and the park was renamed in her honour in 1994 but it was little more than a traffic circle with a couple of benches until 2010 when after persistent pressure from locals a major makeover was done which expanded, landscaped, and beautified the park. This bronze bust by John Reynolds had been unveiled in 2006 and supervised the whole makeover! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Mimico Creek In Fall"

This is another of the murals I saw during the Jane's Walk tour of the Islington Mosaic of murals along Dundas St a couple of weeks ago. It was painted by John Kuna in 2008 and shows Mimico Creek in the 1920s as it ran under Dundas and alongside Montgomery's Inn which I posted last week. It was a popular location for fishing and also for artists especially in the fall when the leaves were changing.
Taking part in Monday Murals. Click here to see more murals.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Decisions At The Garden Centre

This holiday weekend (Victoria Day) in Ontario marks the traditional beginning of the planting season here and the garden centres have their busiest 3 days and are packed with people. I took this pic early this morning before the hordes arrived but already there were many debates going on as to which plants and which colours would be in the garden this year. One heated discussion was between having all white plants or having all bright red - I didn't hear who won but I would go for the colour although all white sounds quite elegant! What's your choice?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Garden Fireworks

One of my favourite times in the spring garden is when the Alium finally pop open like little fireworks going off. I caught these ones this morning in my mother's garden. Priceless!

Friday, May 18, 2012

299 Queen St West

One of the most outstanding buildings along Queen St West is this neo-Gothic beauty with a wonderfully detailed terra cotta facade that has been restored to its original state.  Constructed in 1913 as the headquarters of the Methodist church of Canada, it went on to serve as the home of Ryerson Press until being turned into a broadcast centre in 1987 and was the home of City TV, Fashion TV, Much Music, and more. It remains a media centre to this day. This shot is from the corner of Richmond & John St.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

69 Albany Ave

This lovely Edwardian house in the Annex is famous for being the home of Jane Jacobs from 1971 until her death in 2006 and is typical of the area with its well treed and green lot. You can see yesterday's plaque in the front garden. In the 1960s this whole area was slated to be torn apart by the Spadina Expressway which would have run right through the Annex. It was a time of huge protest against the roadway which Jacobs joined after arriving from the U.S. in 1968 and finally in 1971 the expressway was stopped and a beautiful part of the city was saved!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jane's Walk

Jane Jacobs was a renowned urbanist who championed a community-based approach to city building. Jane moved to Toronto in 1968 after living many years in Greenwich Village and lived in the Annex house behind this sign from 1971 until her death in 2006. In 2007 a group of her friends started Jane's Walk to celebrate her ideas and legacy by getting people out exploring their neighbourhoods and meeting their neighbours. That first year in Toronto there were 27 tours and by this year there were tours in 85 cities in 19 countries around the world! The mural I showed on Monday was viewed during one of the walks.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Montgomery's Inn

The tour of the Islington Village murals (I showed one yesterday) began at Montgomery's Inn which is now a community museum for that area of the city but which was built in the 1830s by Irish immigrants and served as an inn until the 1850s. From that time it served as many things including even a church for awhile until being saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970s and turned into a community museum showing the history of the area and the inn and operating a tea room on weekends. I'm so glad this wonderful stone building was saved!

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Manse Committee"

Last week I took part in one of 150 walks that were conducted in Toronto as part of Jane's Walk after renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs. The tour I did viewed the 23 historical murals that have been painted on Dundas St in what had once been the Village of Islington but is now part of the city.
Painted in 2010 by artist John Kuna  this mural shows a cut-way into what might have been the manse of the Islington Wesleyan Methodist Church during an inspection of the home's interior  by the manse committee in 1888. The picture gives us an idea of the furnishings and construction methods of the time.
Taking part in Monday Murals.  Click here to see more murals from around the world. 

If anyone out there knows why my pic is in the middle of my post instead of at the top please help!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunny Day

It's that time of year and that kind of day to bring the convertibles out for the season. I thought that this bright 2007 Corvette suited the day perfectly!
I hope your day is bright and nice and Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful mothers!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Classic In The Laneway

I stumbled upon this piece yesterday in an Annex laneway/alley and totally love it! Somehow the graffiti moving onto the figure really adds to it rather than taking away from it. Urban art at its best for me!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Queen's Park Detail

This is a detail shot of some of the carvings to be found on the Queen's Park building which I showed you yesterday. The craftsmanship is fabulous and I also like how you can see the variations in the pink sandstone used to construct the building. There are quirky carvings like this all over the whole structure!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Queen's Park Rear Doors

This is the rear entrance to the Ontario Legislature building known here as "Queen's Park" because it is located in Queen's Park. I showed you the front of the building in a winter shot a year ago as seen here but I like this close-up of the back showing some of the incredible carvings that decorate the building which was completed in 1893. This young guy and his buddy were practicing bike tricks on the stairs and seemed oblivious to my camera!
Enlarge to see the details better.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


When I first saw this bright patterning that had just been painted on the side of this building on Bloor St I didn't realize that it was a sign spelling out Froyo which is part of the trademark of Yogurty's, a chain of fat-free & low-fat frozen yogurt stores. The Canadian company started in 1987 but this store just opened. I really like the spot of colour it brings to the street!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Give Me Light!

I had recently read an article about a 1930s house in the city that had been extensively renovated and modernized and on Saturday it turned up in the real estate pages of the newspaper announcing an open house and sale price of $1.1 million so of course I turned up for the open house. From the outside the house looked the same as ever although the windows were new, but the inside was totally redone and very modern. I took this shot on the upstairs landing looking down the hall and through the master bedroom. I really love these lights with their long cords strung about on wires but I couldn't help thinking about the electricity meter clicking away as the light shone!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tom & Jerry Off Queen St West

Tom & Jerry cartoons were among my favourites while growing up so I was pleased to discover this mural of the 2 of them along the famous graffiti alley off Queen St West. The mural was painted by the artist known as Smug on the back of a cheese store which seems quite appropriate for this one!
Taking part in Monday Murals. For more murals click here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Neat Little House

I happened upon this small hidden house in the winter and recently went back to check it out again with some greenery. It was an old building in the city centre just off Queen St West that had extensive damage from neglect when the owners of the building to the left bought it and decided to renovate and reuse it as a live/work space for rental purposes. Every effort was made to be green including having a wildflower meadow roof, super efficient windows, etc. The resulting house won the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for residential design in 2005.  I love it and will head back in the summer when all the leaves and flowers are out - I bet it will be hardly visible!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bleeding Hearts

One of the loveliest spring flowers has to be the Bleeding Heart. These shade-loving perennials are popping open all over the city this week. I caught this plant at the top of the stairs leading to Casa Loma and Spadina House with part of the wall surrounding Spadina House visible in the background. 
Enlarge to see the little flowers better.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Can You Hear It, Too?"

Just visible in the upper right of yesterday's pic of the Artscape building on Queen St West is this structure/sculpture, titled "Can You Hear it, Too?". By artist Mitchell Fenton, it was installed in 1995 and is constructed of sheet metal and steel and stands 12' tall. The interior lights up and glows at night but I really don't think that many people notice it up there day or night or if they do they probably think it is some type of siren. I can't say that I'm thrilled by this one but the pigeons seem to like it! Any opinions?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Artscape West Queen West

This building on West Queen West was the first legal artist live/work space in Toronto after being converted from a former warehouse by Artscape in 1995. Artscape is a "not-for-profit organization that makes space for creativity and transforms communities" by transforming underutilized buildings across Toronto into multi-tenant space for artists. These spaces include live/work spaces, as well as spaces for galleries, theatres and other not-for-profit groups. I will show you some of the other sites in the future and also this one again in the summer when the garden is in bloom.
Tomorrow I will have a close-up of the structure in the upper right of the pic.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Diversity In The City

This wonderful sign marks the entrance to the "Native Child & Family Services Of Toronto" building on College St. This agency provides multi-faceted social & culture based services for aboriginal children and families and is housed in a fabulous building which I plan on touring during Doors Open Toronto at the end of the month. I showed you the rear entrance here. I love the graphics of this sign and of course the colours! You can also see, off to the right, part of one of the banners that run along the front of the building, each with appropriate symbols.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Graduate House O

I was waiting to turn left when I took this shot early in April showing part of Graduate House, a residence for graduate students at U of Toronto, constructed in 2000. Designed by architect Thom Mayne of the California firm Morphosis , the building has been controversial since even before its groundbreaking with much of the surrounding residential neighbourhood firmly against the design. It was the cantilevered sign with the hanging O that caused most of the negative reactions although many dislike the darkness of the structure. The O is the last letter in a ceramic-frit sign on the glass which spells out University of Toronto but to my mind the rest of the sign is too pale and all you notice is the O. I'm amazed no one has remedied this and it drives me crazy every time I go by!
Enlarge to see it better.