Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas Trees

Back in Nova Scotia, I was always a bit of a Christmas Grinch, not putting up a Christmas tree or turning on the outdoor lights until December 1st, but here in Toronto, they start Christmas right after Halloween, and since we are coming to Nova Scotia in the middle of December for Christmas, I relented and put up a tree and lights in the condo window in November.

Today, after suffering through a few days with a Toronto cold I went out into the Toronto cold and went for a Christmas tree walk. I few days earlier I had noticed that many of the large offices buildings, malls, and banks had decorated their lobbies with tall Christmas trees and today I went in search of some of them to photograph. 

Back in Dartmouth we have the famous “Woody the Talking Christmas Tree”, and although I have not found any talking trees, there are some pretty impressive ones around the downtown area. An eight kilometre random walk around the neighbourhood unearthed over 20 large Christmas trees and I know there are lots more to be found. 

Radio City Condo (Our Building)

Collage Square Shopping Centre

Eaton's Centre Shopping Centre

Husdon's Bay Store

Nathan Philips Square (City Hall)

Bay Adelaide Centre

Adelaide Street West Building

Scotia Plaza Building

Commerce Court West Building

Toronto Dominion Centre

Royal Bank Plaza Bay St.

TD South Tower Wellington St.

105 King St. West

200 King St West Building

DBRS Tower University Avenue

Double Tree by Hilton Hotel

Collage Park Shopping Centre

Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Go to Jail . . . Do not use GO

I am always looking for interesting things to do here in Toronto, so when we found a book entitled “111 Places in Toronto That You Must Not Miss” we bought it and started using it to find things to do. I was actually quite surprised at how many of the 111 places we had already seen. We have 26 places noted already but that still leaves plenty to go find. 

We found three places in the same area not far away so decided to go find these three to add to the list. One was the Old Don Jail which was a nice walk through the Riverdale farm and across the Aqueduct over the Don River so we decided to go and do a self guided tour of the Jail, find a really good coffee shop and a bakery known for their “Best in Toronto” butter tarts. 

The Don Jail

The Old Don Jail had been converted to the Administrative offices for a medical centre but it sounded like they allowed self guided tours of the building. However, when we got there the building was locked up tight and a notice on the door said tours were cancelled. We did get to see the building from the outside and it is an impressive structure. The front is ornately decorated, but the back still has the look of a large prison and many of the windows retain the heavy bars used to keep the “bad guys”locked away. It was nice that the building has been repurposed rather than being torn down, and according to the guide book, although most of the interior has been renovated, some of the old cells were kept intact and the exterior has been retained. Pity the poor junior clerk who discovers his office is one of the retained cells. 

The back looks more "Jail" like

Rooster's Coffee
A walk through Riverdale Park East took us past a statue of Dr. Sun Yet-Sen (I will let you google who he is) to the Rooster Coffee Shop, a nice little cafe overlooking the park which apparently serves some of the best brews in the city and excellent views of the Toronto skyline. 

From there we walked down into Chinatown East to find Andrea’s Gerard St bakery which was reputed to serve really good butter tarts. Now Regis makes really good butter tarts herself, so we had to buy a couple to test them out, and they also had some interesting empanadas. Back home, Regis even had to admit that they really were excellent butter tarts.

And as for that title . . . we did not actually go to Jail, and we did not have to take the GO train to get there. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Garden Car Update

Well it turned out that Google does not always know the answer . . . .

When we could not find the Kensington Market Garden Car, I came home and asked Google about it and I was told that a new car was going to be installed in a few days. So when my daughter was visiting and wanted to go shopping in the area, I decided to go take pictures of the “New” garden car. But the corner it is supposed to sit on was still empty, so this time we did the smart thing and went into a local shop and asked about the car.

Turns out that they remove the flower and plant filled car very year because it impedes snow removal and they do not put another one in until spring. You know . . . that makes sense, since nothing is going to grow in the soil the car is filled with until spring anyway. Take it away when winter is threatening and put a nice “new” old car there on the corner in the spring. I guess still another trip to Kensington Market will be scheduled for next spring. Perhaps that is not such a bad strategy at all; it did get me to turn one visit into three. 

So instead of pictures of the Kensington Market car, I turned my attention to the really spectacular street art in the neighbourhood. As you walk through the busy streets in the Market you see vibrant street art decorating buildings and back alleys. Here are some of the best examples.

Loitering, idling or parking is not allowed but looks like painting is

This one was actually sponsored by the city

I like how the pipes, drains and windows are incorporated into the art

This was actually inside a restaurant

This entire building was decorated in this design

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Where is the Kensington Garden Car?

One of Toronto’s nicknames is “the 6”. Apparently this name comes from the original six neighbourhoods that made up the city, but it might also come from the two original area codes used for Toronto, 416 and 647, or it is possible it is called “the 6” because Drake used the term in one of his songs. There are no longer only six neighbourhoods, there are many many different areas; Little Italy, Little Portugal, Yorkville, Cabbage Town, The garden District, two different Chinatowns, and many more. One of these neighbourhoods within walking distance of our condo is Kensington Market, and we decided to go explore this area of the city the other day. 

I had heard that there was a derelict car in Kensington that had been filled with dirt and used as a flower planter. It was called the “Kensington Garden Car”, and it sounded to me like a good photo opportunity, so I researched it and located it on Google Maps. Sounded like a good focus for a walk on a nice sunny fall day. 

This was the car that I did not see

Kensington Market runs from Spadina Ave. to Bathurst St. east/west and Collage St. to Dundas St., north/south, composing a square of about 20 city blocks. Originally this neighbourhood was an affordable area that attracted immigrants who were new to the city, but it developed into a trendy area with lots of little shops and restaurants. Kensington is interesting in that it has largely resisted the trend towards tearing down the old to build high-rises, and it still has a lot of the original buildings. Many of the immigrants who moved in, converted the street levels of their homes into businesses where the family lived over the shops and restaurants, and the commercial areas of Kensington retains this design. The building have been modified and added to but you can usually still see the original structures underneath. The result really is a very cool neighbourhood that was fun to explore. 

Lots of different styles here

But, although I had it mapped on Google and I knew the exact corner it was supposed to sit on, I could not find the Kensington Garden Car. There was no sign of it. I finally gave up and found many other interesting things to photograph. Back home I asked Google, “What happened to the Kensington Garden Car?”. Google informed me that the car had been removed this week and a new car was being installed tomorrow. I was informed that this would be the third garden car and had become such an attraction that the neighbourhood planned to continue with the tradition, I just missed it by a day. I guess it will mean another trip to Kensington Market.

Good place to sit and wait for Regis