What a weird weekend. Naked cyclists, torrential rainfall, and posing with cow statues. That’s the way I roll. I think I may have gained ten pounds on beer consumption alone. Anyway, here’s a photo dump of the weekend that was.
Posts from the ‘Toronto’ Category
Sunday provided an unusually sunny break from all this rain we’ve been experiencing this summer. Granted summer hasn’t actually started, but by this time of the year we are often enjoying much warmer temperatures with plenty of vitamin D.
Though I have to admit that I really love the rain because it cleanses the air and symbolizes rebirth. And why wouldn’t anyone want to be reborn?
Saying that, it was welcome to have a bright sunny Sunday to walk to Leslieville, which as I have stated earlier is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Rather I focused on areas, buildings, signs, art, that inspire me to think, question and laugh.
After I met up with Alisha in the village for some conversation and as is typical, a trip down memory lane.
Then, when my belly was full of enough food and beer to keep me from consuming any more, I went to bed.
And enjoyed some much-needed rest.
I think it was well worth it.
Enjoy the weekend.
Toronto is an ever-growing metropolis. I grew up here, and though I have lived in London, and Buenos Aires, I can confidently say that Toronto is the best city in the world.
What makes it so special? Well first of all, Toronto is not a place you visit. To know it well, you have to live here. Each neighourhood in Toronto has its own culture, style, flavour and attitude.
That’s why I’m always disappointed when I see tourists perusing the same boring places they read in travel guides. Sure the financial district, St. Lawrence Market, Rogers Centre and CN Tower are interesting places to check out, but it’s not where you’ll find Torontonians.
When I travel, I prefer spending my time at local pubs or coffee shops, rather than museums and landmarks. I love to watch people as they make their way to work. By doing this I find that I’m establishing a deeper connection with the locals, and what life in the area must be like.
Keep in mind that Toronto is a modern city, so it’s not like visiting Rome, or Paris. Other than Casa Loma, we lack a long historical framework to keep you conventionally entertained, but we do have a vibrant, cosmopolitan city unlike anything you will ever experience. The only difficulty is that you have to seek it out, it’s not staring you right in the face demanding appreciation.
Every neighbourhood in Toronto is easily accessible by foot, so I’m going to provide a brief list of my favourite places that I believe you should be familiar with. Try and explore the city outside of the downtown core, and though the theatre and sports events are nice, so are the pubs, bars and bakeries. This is a short list; there are many places I haven’t included and in the future I will add more, so think of this as the first chapter of a long book.
1. The Junction. I’ve written about The Junction before. Though it’s not easily accessible by TTC, it’s still worth a visit. The main intersection is Dundas Street West and Keele St. and there are buses that leave from High Park and Keele subway stations every 30 minutes, or more frequently, I don’t know because I tend to walk rather than wait for the bus. The Junction used to be an autonomous city known as West Toronto until it amalgamated with the rest of the city back in 1909. Back in the early 1900s the area was a booze mecca, and behaviour got so out of hand that alcohol was prohibited until 1998! It wasn’t until 2000 that the first drink was poured. Nowadays it’s lined from end to end with pubs and eateries.
When in The Junction be sure to check out my favourite three places:
- Bunner’s. A gluten-free vegan bakery that is very popular with locals. Voted best dessert shop by Now you’ll find yourself in cupcake heaven. Be sure to check out the cinnamon rolls but I do warn you, gluten food can be very heavy on the stomach and one item is more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. My review.
- Indie Ale House. It was a long time coming, but when Indie Ale House finally opened its doors last year, it was an instant hit. You’ll be hard pressed to ever find it empty. A small independent craft brewery with an impeccable food menu, Indie Ale House aims to please. Be sure to order their sampler of custom-made beer, and then choose the one that suits your palate the best. Don’t be shy to tell the staff which beer you disliked though! It’s all good, the owners are dedicated to quality, and want to know. My review.
- The Sweet Potato. A grocery shop with local natural foods to whet your appetite and culinary desires. The Sweet Potato offers everything, from the finest in local organic produce, delicious fresh baked goods, organic dairy and scrumptious desserts, all at amazing low prices. My review.
2. Leslieville. I love this area of Toronto and wouldn’t mind moving here permanently. Leslieville gentrified rapidly between 2000 and 2010 when it was commonly referred to as an up-and-coming neighbourhood, with new restaurants, shops and cafés popping up all over the place. Though the average house sells for half a million dollars, it still has a large working-class and middle-class sensibility. A former factory town, some of the former industrial areas have seen the emergence of large film studios, including Cinevillage and Showline Studios. To the south, in the Port Lands area, the massive new Pinewood Toronto Studios have been built. Television shows such as NBC’s Hannibal are filmed right here in Toronto.
When in Leslieville be sure to check out my three favourite places:
- Wayla. Wayla is code for What Are You Looking At. Opened in 2010, it’s a queer-friendly establishment with a congenial staff. They operate 7 days a week between 5pm and 2am with themed dance parties during the weekend, like “Ginger Bear Night” and the like! This is a great place for gay people who don’t want to be confined the Church-Wellesley village. It’s a pretty low-key affair with an eclectic mix of gay and straight people looking for a place to dance the beer off.
- The Hitch Bar. This place recently opened, and is named after the late Christopher Hitchens. They have a great selection of whiskey and scotch and of course, beer on tap for people like me who love a good lager or pilsner. On weekends the owner plays movies for the patrons, usually themed, like Arnold Schwarzenegger starring vehicles, or Star Trek movie night. It’s really cozy, relaxing and friendly with a patio opening soon. My review.
- Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken. I’m not much interested in the chicken, but Paulette’s has an impressive array of fresh, homemade donuts to choose from. If you’re feeling peckish for a little treat, make sure you check this place out early in the day, because by afternoon, most of the mouth-watering selections are sold out. My review.
3. Riverdale. One of my all-time favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto, Riverdale is located just east of the downtown core. The residential tree-lined landscape within Riverdale is made up of some of the oldest Victorian and Edwardian style homes in Canada, which were constructed in the 1800s as boarding rooms for the working-class. Many of the residences have since been redeveloped into homes for young families. In recent times, as is the case in most areas of Toronto, local housing values have increased significantly. As a result, a new generation of young professionals and their families have moved to the area, furthering widespread gentrification.
Riverdale’s character is defined by its multiculturalism, with several cultural neighbourhoods along its major paths. Danforth Avenue, commonly referred to as “The Danforth”, has a high concentration of Greek restaurants while Gerrard Street East and parts of Broadview Avenue are home to a variety of Asian shops and restaurants, commonly referred to as East Chinatown.
Just west of Riverdale Park you will also find the Riverdale Farm, home to sheep, pigs, cows, horses, chickens and more. Admission is free, and the trip well worth it.
4. The Waterfront/Toronto Islands. When you think of Toronto you probably don’t envision beaches. But they do exist, and in abundance. The Toronto Islands are a beautiful place to check out, including the clothing-optional beach knowns as Hanlan’s Point. The islands comprise the largest urban car-free community in North America, though some service vehicles are permitted. Recreational bicyclists are accommodated on the ferries, and bicycles, quadracycles, and canoes can be rented on the islands too. There is no fixed road link (thank God!) from the mainland to the Toronto Islands, and therefore ferries, water taxis and other boats are required to get there.
You can catch the ferry from Queens Quay and Bay for $7 (Adult) to Centre Island, Ward Island or Hanlan’s Point. The latter is where you can find the clothing optional beach that I mentioned earlier.
On the mainland there is a vibrant waterfront, most of it is under massive development in preparation for the PanAm Games in two years time, but Sugar and HTO Beach are close to downtown, and in great demand.
5. Leslie Street Spit. The Leslie Street Spit’s transition into an urban wilderness was never part of the city’s plans. Over the years, Leslie Street Spit has come to life, and Torontonians love having wilderness right in the city.
The northern half of the spit has been designated as Tommy Thompson Park, named after the former Toronto Parks Commissioner, and eventually the entire spit will become parkland. Friends of the Spit was founded in 1977. Its original members included people as varied as birdwatchers, naturalists, and cyclists. The Friends’ goals are to keep the Leslie Street Spit open to the public, and to keep it in its naturalized state, squashing any development plans by private companies.
Over 300 bird species are located on the Leslie Street Spit. Birds that can be observed are the ring-billed gull, the black-crowned night-heron, the double-crested cormorant, the common tern, the Caspian tern, and the herring gull. Because of this, The Spit has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada which are the Canadian partners of BirdLife International. Peninsula D has also become the site of the comprehensive Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station, which operates seven days a week during spring and fall migration.
While walking towards Tommy Thompson Park it is impossible to ignore the calls of the birds resting atop tree branches or flying steadfastly overhead. It’s quite the sight, and the sounds, deafening!
Page 305. Summer is a busy time of year for me in Toronto. There are a lot of people to see and many social engagements to attend. Last week was the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, and I saw one film, G.B.F., and two documentaries, The Continental and I am Divine.
On top of that I caught up with old friends, Raquel, Christine, Alex and Alisha. In addition I attended the Rob Ford protest and the Veggie Pride Parade.
Sufficed to say I’m tired. Today is my first day of a month-long coffee detox, and I’m cutting alcohol out for two full weeks to let my internal organs heal!
But that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down. I’m still baking, and of course, I have plenty of recipes still to make from Martha Stewart’s vegetarian cookbook, meatless.
I’ve wanted to make the meal depicted on the book cover since I purchased it, but I admit that I had to trade the kale for spinach because that’s all I had in my fridge. Evidently I did have golden cherry tomatoes, ricotta cheese and plenty of garlic.
To add a little flavour I included some vegan butter to the recipe. It turned out pretty good if you ask me. The subtle flavours left a pleasant aftertaste on my palate.
Oh and welcome home Matt and Lisa! I hope Amsterdam and Paris were a dream.
One thousand people, give or take a couple hundred, congregated at Nathan Phillips Square yesterday to protest mayor Rob Ford and the crack allegations currently dogging his so-called leadership.
Ford continues to lie to Torontonians about his substance abuse, and the existence of a video that depicts his crack use. In the video he makes homophobic and racist comments.
It is widely believed that he has purchased the damaging evidence and had it destroyed, but the plot continues to thicken, with six members of his staff resigning in less than a week and murder charges laid against those who killed the man photographed with Rob Ford the night the video was said to have been filmed.
Oh my. We’re all hoping that he’ll be removed from power soon. He has clearly lost the confidence of his staff and his chronic lying demonstrates a sociopathic streak that’s becoming increasingly disturbing to the electorate.
Now that both Toronto city mayor Rob Ford and his brother, city councillor Doug Ford, are married to controversy, they’ve devised an offensive attack plan: Blame the elite liberal media. Sarah Palin taught them well.
For those of you unfamiliar of what I’m talking about, allow me to provide a summary. Bear with me.
Two weeks ago Gawker, the New York based gossip website, reported that a tape exists of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, that was allegedly filmed within the last 6 months. Shortly after the story broke Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan, two reputable award-winning journalists from The Toronto Star, the largest circulated daily in Canada, wrote an article revealing that they saw the video as well. Three times in fact. They took separate notes and then corroborated those notes with each other. In the video Rob Ford is said to make racist and homophobic comments.
After the story ran, Rob Ford kept a low profile, saying nothing, and firing his Chief of Staff who recommended that he step back and get some help for his reported substance abuse problem. Eight days later he held a “press conference”, where he denied that he smoked crack and was an addict. His main message was that The Star was out to get him. In fact his message has not changed at all since then. He then left the podium for his brother to answer reporters’ questions. Bizarre already, right? I mean, why not clear the air and answer questions himself?
The people who own the video also provided The Star reporters with a photograph of Rob Ford posing with drug dealers, one of whom was murdered two months ago.
It would take a lot to convince any rational logical human being that Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan would risk their careers for the sole purpose of taking down the mayor. Let me remind you that it was Gawker who initially broke the story, and to believe that Doolittle and Donovan are fabricating their account is absurd.
Many people have questioned why The Star didn’t purchase the video, and the answer is based on ethics, the media cannot give money to drug dealers.
However, Gawker has established a Rob Ford Crackstarter campaign in the hopes of raising $200,000 to purchase the video. There is a snag, the owner of the video has gone underground, and neither Gawker nor The Star have heard from him since last Sunday. Gawker is $8,000 towards reaching their goal, and if they can’t make the transaction with the owner, they have promised to donate the money to a Canadian addiction and/or mental health charity.
Later today it was reported that the police have spoken to a senior member of Ford’s team after they received a tip linking a recent killing to the alleged video. So the plot is thickening.
If this wasn’t enough, on Saturday, Canada’s newspaper of record, The Globe and Mail published a well researched story about the Ford family’s history of drug dealing.
Doug Ford was particularly singled out by ten anonymous sources as a well-known hashish dealer in the 1980s. Doug oafishly defended himself on national television by blaming The Globe, and of course, the elite liberal social media. So what we have here are two brothers incapable of taking responsibility for their actions.
The reason the latter story has any relevance is because during the 2010 municipal elections the Ford brothers ran on an anti-drug platform and were critical of mayoral candidate George Smitherman’s admission that he had a past drug problem. Unlike the Ford brothers, Smitherman was open and honest about his past drug use, and his recovery. But that didn’t stop the Fords from underhandedly lambasting him about it any chance they could get.
For those outside of Toronto it would be beneficial to know that Rob Ford has been an ineffective mayor and his tenure has been marred in a myriad of controversies since he was elected.
Whether it’s lying about a DUI and marijuana possession charge in Florida, or getting thrown out of a Maple Leafs hockey game for getting into drunken, expletive-laden arguments with fans (and also calling them “communists” and asking one man if he would like his wife to get raped), or giving a six-year-old girl the middle finger, or driving while reading, or repeated domestic disturbances at his house, or being asked to leave work functions because he is clearly inebriated, Rob Ford’s response to any and all of these allegations is always the same: LIE, BLAME, and when confronted with evidence, half-heartedly apologize and pretend none of it ever happened.
He is holding the city of Toronto hostage with his refusal to resign from his position. His ideas read like a parody from an episode of The Simpsons. His plans for the Waterfront included a ferris wheel, casino and monorail, all of which were predictably defeated in council.
Rob and his brother behave like wannabe dictators. Unable to take criticism, they make enemies of anyone who challenges them, bullying, intimidating and resorting to childish antics in a vain attempt to get their way. If this was any other country, I am certain they would kill their detractors, and silence the freedom of the press.
They are not good people. They speak in soundbites and slogans, and when questioned, or backed into a corner, lie their way out of it. They hold no punches, are mean-spirited and lack any skills to engage in rational discourse.
The mayor refuses to take questions from the media, even going as far as to keep vital information from The Star, and ensuring that his most despised newspaper isn’t invited to mayoral events. They host a weekly radio show that is rife with propaganda. If this were 1940s Germany, the brothers would be in their element.
They were elected on a platform that stressed government transparency, but the mayor won’t even release his weekly schedule, something that each mayor before him did willingly. Instead, journalists must obtain Ford’s schedule through the Freedom of Information Act.
I could go on and on. It is clear that the Fords are not running a dictatorship, and this is why they are antiquated and ineffective.
This is what happens when a mayor, as short-sighted as Rob Ford listens only to the advice and recommendations of his thug brother.
Eventually the video of Rob Ford smoking crack will leak, and I’m curious to see if he will take accountability for his horrible behaviour.
Will he apologize for insinuating that the media, who exists to keep politicians accountable for their actions, are liars? Will he do the honourable thing and admit that he was wrong to have lied, to have besmirched the integrity of the work of seasoned journalists? Will he apologize to Torontonians for degrading the mayorship and Toronto’s international reputation?
Yesterday during their radio show the brothers called journalists “maggots” and “scum”. They then ranted about all their magical accomplishments since taking office, citing unsourced statistics and dollar figures that they believe they have saved the city. It had to be heard to be believed, but one thing was certain from the madness: No one should behave in such a callous, knee-jerk reactive obtuse fashion, including politicians.
One thing that also irks me about the Fords is their supporters assertion that they are blue-collar workers. They are not. As a first generation Canadian I am proud of my working-class father’s ability to make a life for himself and his family from absolutely nothing. Rob and his brother were born into wealth, and are millionaires. These are not self-made men, and to say that they are is both a lie, and an insult to those who are.
No, in fact these two men are cowards. In the last five minutes it was reported that two members of the mayor’s team have just resigned from their positions.
Ego is a terrible thing. It hinders a human being from altruistic behaviour, which is what we should expect from any individual seeking a position in public service.
But this has gone too far. The mayor and his brother have set a very low bar for anyone who succeeds them. However, whoever that person may be, they will certainly be an improvement.
Toronto needs to heal. We need leaders that are committed to truth, honesty, dignity and integrity. The Ford brothers are committed to their own egos, but are so blithely unaware that the world is laughing at their buffoonery.
Maybe that’s the most tragic part about this entire debacle. The revelation that these two men are stuck with the lives that they have created for themselves, and as a result of their poor judgments, so are their children. Their wives. Their friends.
Maybe that’s why Rob Ford has a substance abuse problem. It takes a lot of self-loathing to loathe the people who try to highlight your plight in an effort to get you help.
Don’t drag the whole city of Toronto down with you Rob. Grow up. Get help. Be an adult.
From 1911 to 1940, Arthur Goss served as Toronto’s official photographer. He captured thousands of images of the health and social problems presented by urban poverty in early 20th Century Toronto. His specialty in depicting slums highlighted the dark realities that destitute immigrants faced.
As many of you know, Canada was built by immigrants and many of us, including myself, are first generation Canadians.
Goss died in 1940 at a relatively young age, but his work is still widely celebrated.
Michael Ondaatje used many of Goss’ images for his novel In the Skin of a Lion, to obtain a more thorough understanding of the working class experience. He even included Goss as a character in the novel, which I read many years ago, after The English Patient, of course. I loved the character Hana so much that I wrote my own short story with her as the main protagonist for a creative writing course in OAC. I got 100 per cent!
That’s beside the point of this post though.
Goss’ work is currently on exhibit at the Ryerson Image Centre (May 1 – June 2 and June 19 – August 25) as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photo Festival. If you’re in Toronto during this time, I suggest you take it in. I promise you that it’ll provide a more comprehensive education on Toronto’s less than rosy history.
Ryerson Image Centre
33 Gould Street
The development boom in Toronto sees no signs of stopping. Virtually unaffected by the 2008 economic collapse, Toronto is a city that continues to grow, without apologies. There are more cranes lining the skies of Toronto than any other city in the world. The motto continues to be, “grow, grow, grow!”
There’s a lot to do in this city, so there’s no excuse for being bored. You just need to know where to look and who to enjoy your time with. We have the best bars and restaurants in the country, (sorry Montreal) and the people are friendly, helpful and welcoming. Don’t listen to what small town Canada has to say.
My favourite part about Toronto is how walkable it is. I don’t have a driver’s licence, and I’ve never needed one. Where I can’t go on foot, I just don’t go! Well there’s always the TTC, but public transportation just isn’t my thing.