Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Aga Khan

The Aga Khan Museum & Park
Continuing through the “111 Places in Toronto that you Must Not Miss”, we decided to head out to visit the Aga Khan Museum located in Don Mills, a Toronto suburb. It involved a subway ride of 7 stops and then a 20 stop bus ride for almost and hour, but sounded like an interesting place. The book actually suggested a visit to the park surrounding the museum, but we figured we might as well make it a day and visit the museum as well which also featured an excellent restaurant for lunch. 

I really did not know what to expect from the Museum; I had heard of Aga Khan,

Eager Visitors

but did not know much about him. After visiting the museum, I came home and did some research to find out more. The Aga Khan is the traditional head of the Ismaili islamic religious people. The Ismaili are an esoteric non-conformist branch of islam that is actually more like Hinduism. Although the Aga Khan was born in Switzerland and actually lives and works from Portugal, his followers are located in countries all over the world. He is one of the richest “Royals” in the world, with his wealth coming from donations from his 15 million followers worldwide. Although he does enjoy the life of a wealthy aristocrat, he is well known for using his wealth for many worthwhile projects around the world. The Aga Khan Museum is one of his projects.

Entry to the 'Night in the Garden of Love"

The museum itself is amazing. It is situated in a large park and the building is modern, beautiful and an example of a “Money is no object” building project. As you walk in you are presented with a wide open spectacular structure. It contains the actual museum, an auditorium, a teaching area, a gift shop wth gifts I could never afford, a restaurant and various areas for temporary exhibitions. The museum itself is actually a small part of the complex. Nothing is crowded here; there are open spaces everywhere, including a huge open courtyard in the middle open to the sky. 

The Actual museum contains artifacts collected from around the world about the Ismaili religion and culture, and wandering through, I really did feel I was getting a better understanding of their history and culture. The collection contains many beautiful, intricate wood, ceramics and metal pieces from all over the globe as well as various ornate copies of the Qur’an and other Ismaili literature. Another room contained a beautiful collection of ceramics, and the Temporary exhibition featured a multi-sensory presentation by two artists entitled “A night in the Garden of Love”

We spent most of the day exploring the museum, with a break for lunch in the restaurant which is decorated with 200 year old panels donated from an Islamic mansion. I left feeling I knew a lot more about the Ismaili religion and culture; Regis felt the same, but she was also a bit dizzy from the virtual reality part of the “Night in the garden of Love”.

Below are some photos from the museum. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Photos and BS

The Image Centre 
Number 84 of the 111 Places in Toronto That You Must Not Miss is the Ryerson Image Centre, and as I work my way through the book this was one attraction I wanted to do. It is only about 10 minutes away from the condo, and I have always been interested in Photography. It did take me four and a half months to actually get there though. 

The Image Centre is an art gallery displaying photographs. It is home to the “Black Star Collection” of photojournalism photography which consists of almost 300,000 photographs used in magazines such as Time and LIFE, but it also features photographs from students and other photographers. 

Apparently, like Mr Alexander Wood, who you read about in a previous post, Mr. Ryerson has also been disgraced due to involvement in the Residential Schools, so Ryerson University has been renamed “Toronto Metropolitan University”, and the

Ryerson Image Centre is now called just “The Image Centre”. 

I finally decided to go visit and looked the location up on Google Maps, only to discover that it was now closed as they were organizing and setting up their 2024 Winter season, so I set the opening evening into my calendar and on a cold January night we went to their Grand Opening for appetizers and drinks as well as finally getting to see some of their photographs. 

The grand opening was actually a pretty swanky event, with a cash bar and servers circulating with delicious appetizers all evening. The clientele was a mix of local dignitaries, ordinary folk like us and lots of arty people out to see and be seen. 

We made the mistake of buying a couple of glasses of wine (To support the Image Centre of course), but discovered that drinks were not allowed in the various galleries displaying the photographs. This meant we had to set our wine on tables outside the galleries but being very protective of my drink, I did not want to leave it unattended, so we went into the galleries one at a time while the other waited with our drinks. Fortunately this provided an opportunity, for one of my favourite activities, people watching. 

It was very interesting to stand and watch and listen to the people attending the event, and both of us found the amount of BS that was being thrown around completely entertaining. The local dignitaries were all “Glad-handing” in their suits

and moving through the crowd finding other “important” people to chat up. The “arty crowd” in their unique and inspired attire were making sure that everyone knew that they were part of “The Scene” . . . . “Oh, yea, I was there in 2006 when that photo was taken!”, “I worked with them back in 2004”, etc, etc etc
. . . .

I really enjoyed the Grand Opening, and found some of the photo exhibitions really interesting, but I think I will go back and visit when it is just the photos without the BS.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

High Rise Scavenger Hunt

Our view from the condo at night

Our condo here in Toronto is on the 9th floor, so we have a nice view out over the city, and Regis likes the fact that she can check the colour of the CN tower every night. There are a few trees to be seen, but the view is mostly of other high rises around our building. I know that some of our country cousins and friends might think that other high rise buildings are no real view at all, but I quite enjoy this view. When our son bought this condo one of the features of the building was that although it is not down on the waterfront, there was a distant view of lake Ontario between two buildings. That slight water view has since disappeared with a new building which has completely blocked the lake from our view, but I have enjoyed watching the new building grow higher and higher; I think they added five floors while we were enjoying Christmas in Nova Scotia. 
No Lake in Sight

It is interesting to look out at the buildings around us and speculate on what is going on in them. There is one apartment/condo that has two bright lights that come on every day at 6:00 AM sharp and go out at 11:00 PM. They must be on a timer, as they never vary, so we have taken to calling it the “Grow Opp”. Then there is the apartment where the lights never go out; the lights are on 24 hours a day and I have never noticed anyone moving around even though the blinds are never down. One apartment the we can see from our bedroom had a multicoloured light that cycled through the colours constantly all night long; who could live in this multicoloured world all the time? 

The "grow opp" 

On the 9th floor, we can see all these buildings around us but not the streets that are situated on, so the other day we set out on a scavenger hunt to actually find the building we were watching all the time. There is a building right next to us that is part of the same complex we live in and a tall modern tower that we walk by when ever we go out, but there were also four building a few blocks away that we wanted to go find. 

So on a cold Toronto day when we did not have any big city attractions to go find,

The CN Tower

a nice walk around the neighbourhood to locate the buildings we look out on every day was a pleasant activity. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

A Guest in my own House

Back In NS for Christmas

When we undertook this adventure in Toronto we rented our house in Dartmouth to our daughter Alisha & her husband Derek. She was moving back to Nova Scotia and needed a place to live while she settled back into an East Coast lifestyle and we needed someone to look after our house while we tried out big-city-condo-life in Toronto, so this was a win/win arrangement for all of us. We spent the month of August sharing the house as we packed up to move and she unpacked so, as we emptied drawers, she filled them with her “stuff”. As we progressed through this we made it very clear to her that we wanted her to treat the house as her’s and she was welcome to make changes as she saw fit to make the house their own. As we settled into the rented condo in Toronto, we were comfortable that our house in Dartmouth was in good hands, although I did compose a handy document with suggestions of how to deal with procedures I had developed over the 30 plus years we lived in the house. 

Now, over the years since the children moved out and left us in a house too big for just Regis and I, we decided that Christmas would be alternated between “home” for Christmas in Dartmouth and Christmas with the children in their cities. This worked well and we spent many pleasant holidays in the children’s apartments and houses in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. This year however was scheduled for a Dartmouth Christmas, so Ryan & Ben and Regis & I were flying “home” to spend Christmas with Alisha and Derek in our old house in Dartmouth. When planning this trip, we made it very clear to Alisha that we did not expect her to give us back our bedroom and our nice adjustable king sized bed, we expected to be “guests” and would live in the guest suite downstairs. 

The sleeping arrangements were just fine, but it really was a bit odd to be a guest

Apparently it is now "Bob's Chair

in your own house. Alisha and Derek really have made themselves at home in the house and we had to adapt to their lifestyle. Bob the cat had claimed my favourite chair by the wood stove, and Mochi the dog has taken over the loveseat we left behind. We were there for three weeks and I still looked for the corkscrew in the drawer in the kitchen island every time a new bottle had to be opened. I know I left my big stock pot there, but I never found it; it must be down in the storage room somewhere among the boxes of our stuff and boxes of their stuff so soup stock had to be made in Alisha’s pot. They did not adjust to all of my suggested procedures, and Derek has his own way of lighting and feeding the wood stove that works just fine,  and they haven’t had enough snow to realize that my suggestion of always scraping the driveway clean prevents it getting icy really does work . . . .

Working together 

So, although it was odd being a guest in my own house, it all worked out fine and we spent an enjoyable three week Holiday visit back in Nova Scotia with Alisha and Derek, and Ryan and Ben joined us for a few days over Christmas.