Tuesday, June 25, 2024

A Graveyard for Architecture

Back in 2014 while visiting Budapest, Hungary, we visited Memento Park, where statues from the Communist era were preserved, and I wrote about it in a post called “Stalin’s Boots”  . I discovered that Toronto has a very similar park, not preserving Communist Statues, but instead preserving pieces of significant buildings that were torn down to be replaced with Toronto’s  modern skyscrapers. 

In the 1050’s, many of the old stone buildings in downtown Toronto were being torn down to be replaced with modern office towers, and although many of these building were historically significant, laws preserving some of the beautiful old architecture of Toronto was not enacted until the 1970’s, so these buildings were just being demolished. 

Fortunately, Rosa and Spencer Clark, who owned the Guild Inn on the outskirts of Toronto in Scarborough, started taking away remnants of these historic building and preserving them on the grounds of their estate. They hired an architect and a stone mason who found ways to keep some of these pieces of history scattered around the Guild estate. In most cases it is simply columns, or sculptures standing alone, but they also designed and built a Greek outdoor theatre from remnants of the demolished Bank of Toronto building. 

I found that this park was listed in my 111 places book, and although it was a ways out of the downtown, I did want to go visit, so a walk, a subway ride and a 21 stop bus trip took us to Guild Park and Gardens in Scarborough. The old Guild Inn is a beautiful building, although not open to the public and no longer operated as an inn, it provides a backdrop to the gardens and the preserved architecture. There is a large open lawn in front where some pieces stand and behind, paths wander through the gardens and trees allow you to see some of the preserved building pieces. It is a bit odd to see these stone columns, arches and gateways standing alone among trees and flowers in the garden, it is a peaceful and beautiful setting and it was interesting to see these bits and pieces of the old buildings. 

In writing this post, I did a little research, as there are no plaques and guides to what the building bits are, so Wikipedia provided information on the many building which contributed to the collection amassed by the Clarks on the estate. Over 30 old buildings have bits of their history saved in the Guild Park and Gardens. 

And one more place checked off in the 111 Places in Toronto That You Must Not Miss.

The Greek outdoor theatre

One of only pieces that had a sign

Friday, June 21, 2024

Finally Found . . . .

Do you remember that car I was looking for in the fall? Well, if you know me, I am always looking for cars, but this one was the elusive Kensington Market Garden Car, which I had read about and made two trips to the Kensington Market neighbourhood to photograph very unsuccessfully. Last year there was no car in the spot described!

Back to Kensington Market

Yesterday we were down in the area, actually Spadina Ave., where we have found a great Asian grocery store we like to frequent, and I suggested we go back into Kensington Market area and see if the car had been returned. Last fall we were assured by locals that the car was removed for the winter, but would “Probably” be returned in some form in the spring. 

Kensington Market is always an interesting neighbourhood to explore with it little old shops and eclectic eating establishments, and everything covered in street art and graffiti. So another walk through the neighbourhood was even more interesting than it was in the fall, since more shops were open and the streets and sidewalks were bustling with locals and tourists out seeing and being seen. 

AND, the car with finally parked on the street in its designated spot. Painted in bright colours from top to bottom, and filled with plants and flowers, it was everything I was led to believe. I’m not sure how the car is chosen, but it is obviously renewed frequently as looking back over the past photos of the car show different models, and This years car does not look like the one that was there last year. 

So you finally get to see pictures of the Kensington Garden Car . . . . . .

I finally found the Kensington Garden Car

Monday, June 17, 2024

Father's Day with 100,000 People

Since both of my children were far away on Father’s Day and Regis was volunteering at the food bank, I was on my own for Father’s Day this year. Now, to be fair, both children did celebrate the day early so I was not really ignored. Instead I spent part of the day with 100,000 other folk here in Toronto. 

I subscribe to a couple of websites featuring events in Toronto and I discovered that there was The Yorkville Exotic Car Show on Father’s day running for two long street blocks on Bloor St which is a short walk from the condo. This is apparently an annual event where they close the usually busy Bloor St. From Yonge St. to Avenue Rd., lay down a long red carpet and feature beautiful cars parked in groups along the street for us PetrolHeads to wander along and view all the cars most of us cannot afford. 

I walked up and actually had to cue just to get onto the street even though admission was free; there were that many people there. Apparently last year over 100,000 people were there, and judging by the crowds I had to fight to actually see the cars, there were at least that many this year. 

This was not your usual “car gathering”, this really was an Exotic car show, with rows of Ferraris, Porsches, Aston Martins, Lotus’, Maseratis and private collection of classic vehicles, along with a few private vehicles mixed among the Exotics. 

It was an interesting event, with lots of very nice cars, and amazing crowds of people. I went to take some photos of the cars and this proved VERY hard because you usually had to wait for others to move out of the way just to get close enough to a car to get a picture, and just moving along the “red carpet” was a “move with the crowd” affair. I am always amazed by the people who feel that “my dog will love this event”, or let’s take the kids out in the giant “yuppy” stroller, and I am sure that many of the people in the crowds had little interest in the cars, they were there to see and be seen. 

So you know what is coming . . . . that’s right, lots of pictures of cars, so those not interested can leave now if you want. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024


My Dartmouth Garden

I have a lovely garden back in Nova Scotia that I built around plants I got from my mother from her gardens and I do miss watching the various plants come up again every spring and bloom in their own time. My gardens were mostly made up of perennials, that dependably came up every year, and required little serious work. I liked my gardens to be mostly trouble free and although I did work on organizing and maintaining it, I did not want to have to be constantly “gardening”; I wanted to enjoy the gardens with minimal work. I am hoping that my daughter is enjoying it while I am in Toronto. 

Here in Toronto, I have discovered many lovely gardens during my walks exploring the various neighbourhoods, so I have been able to enjoy the gardens here without having to look after them. Some of the best gardens are in a neighbourhood called CabbageTown, and I have yet to see any actual cabbages growing in the gardens there, but walking down the streets of stately houses in the area, there are many really nice gardens between the houses and the street; in fact most of the houses have minimal front lawns and maximum front gardens. There is even an organized “Garden Tour” that you can take exploring some of the best CabbageTown gardens. 

Edwards Garden Park

There is one neighbourhood here called “The Garden District”, where my son lives, but it actually has very few nice gardens that I have found. The district is named for the Allen Gardens Park, which houses a beautiful domed glass conservatory full of beautiful plants that we have visited a couple of times. It features a beautiful display of Poinsettias at Christmas and has a spectacular collection of succulents in one of the greenhouses. 

Some beautiful gardens appear in unexpected places. On a walk to the downtown IKEA, we took a different route and found a street of townhouses with spectacular roses blooming out front in their gardens, and another walk from St. Lawrence Market took us past an amazing rose display bordering a busy downtown intersection. 

Now Regis has turned “gardener” here in Toronto and is faithfully maintaining a little vegetable garden on our balcony, and is constantly jealous of the size of the tomato plants grown by the retired nun living under us, but she says it must be divine intervention at work rather than gardening skill. 

Allen gardens

Rose display on Richmond St.

Edwards Garden Park

This garden needs some work

In Allen Gardens

Regis' little balcony garden

Monday, June 3, 2024


Well, I did go to see an opera . . . . . and I suggested that the ballet might be next . . . . and it almost was.

Our condo complex here in Toronto is called RadioCITY. It is an interesting place, and unique in many aspects. It is called ‘RadioCITY”, because it was built on the site of CBC’s original radio tower. Apparently part of the complex was originally a convent and the nuns in the convent made a deal with the developer so that the retired nuns were given one entire floor of the condo for the former residents of the convent. They actually live on the floor under us, and although I am not at all religious, somehow having the nuns living downstairs is comforting, and we never have to complain about noisy parties or loud music. Attached to the complex is the National Ballet School, and we often see students or instructors relaxing on a rooftop terrace outside our windows and we see students coming and going to their school. We always wondered what went on in the school and would’ve liked to go to the theatre to see a performance, but when we researched it, we were unable to find any performances we could attend. 

This historical house was incorporated
into the school

On Sunday however, the Ballet School had a Block Party and opened the school to visitors and we eagerly went to see inside the school. 

The Block Party really was a big event. There was a giant Bouncy Ride in the lane between the buildings and it was busy all day with happy laughing children. The driveway out front of the school was used for more games and an area was cleared for special dance events scheduled all day. The ballet store had sales on clothes and those special fancy ballet shoes. Inside the building four floors were open and we could wander around and get some idea of life in a ballet school. I was even able to convince the security personal to let me go up to the V.I.P. area which was out on the school rooftop balcony so I could take a picture of our condo from there. 

The school theatre, the Betty Oliphant Theatre, was open all day for on-going student practices and the public was invited in to watch these open practices. We went in and watched two practice sessions. We caught the later part of a senior student ballet class which was very high level ballet done by ten male students. Then a large group of grade nine students came out for a “contemporary” dance lesson. We were very impressed with these students. They were just beginning the class with this instructor and some of the students had learned the moves just before coming into the theatre. Watching these young dancers we were impressed with their progression. The entire group were introduced to a totally new move and we were able to watch them go from learning to actually mastering the dance moves they were taught. Unfortunately this was a “No Photo” event so I do not have any photos of the actual dancing. 

Inside the school

So now, as I look out of the condo onto the dance school, I view it differently since I now know a little of what is going on in there. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Doors Open Toronto

Once a year, Toronto hosts an event called “Doors Open Toronto”, in which buildings that might not normally be open to the public open their doors so people can go see what goes on. Also, museums and attractions that normally charge for entry make the day free. It gives the public a chance to explore sites in the city they might not normally get to see. 

RClub Toronto

The pouring rain in the morning, provided me an excuse to stay home and watch the NASCAR race that was on, without feeling guilty since Regis wanted to take in this event, but when the rain let up, we headed out to find a few events to take in. 

In looking through the hundreds of open doors offered, I wanted to visit a car club that looked really interesting, so we went there first. It was a bit of a mystery, as the website was very vague about what it cost to join while making it sound very intriguing; all very suspicious. The club featured a collection of exotic cars including Porsches, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos that apparently can be “used” by club members, a driving simulator room, a car wash station, and a work area with a lift. We took TTC and managed to find the club without a problem and it really was a pretty cool spot, but the promotional literature being handed out still did not give costs. 

A stack of cars

Although it was getting late we discovered that we could stop at the Toronto Camera Club for a tour of their building on the way home. Being interested in photography for many years I found this building especially interesting. They had their darkroom open, two photo galleries and a great collection of historic cameras. One collection of black and white phots I found especially interesting as it featured old derelict cars and street art; I could have taken the photographs. Another collection featured beautiful colour phots of some of Toronto’s many ethnic festivals, and we were surprised to see a photo of a girl in the St. Patrick’s Day parade who we saw when we watched the parade. I purchased a print by one of the club members which I really liked to hang on the condo wall. 

Toronto Camera Club

We only got to two open doors on Saturday, but on Sunday while I went to a Coffee & Cars “meet-up”, Regis spent the day exploring a few more, including St. Regis Collage and other open doors in our neighbourhood.

Oh, BTW, a Google search later revealed that the annual membership for RClub started at $9,000.00 and went to $14,000.00; I do not think I will be joining . . . . .

We Saw this girl . . .

A Very Old Camera - now we use our phones . . . .