Monday, November 20, 2017

Ottawa empties the Rideau Canal

The locks are open and a trickle of water flows through the canal as winter comes to the Nation's capital. First they drain the river after the canal season ends in the fall, then they partially refill the canal for the famous winter skating, and refill it in spring time - usually late April or early May.

Ottawa has several city name signs downtown and a 'Canada 150' sign on Parliament Hill

Around Parliament Hill the buildings remain under construction and cranes are everywhere. A construction barrier is around the Centennial Flame and beside it is a NHL sized hockey rink being installed close to the east block. The Ministry of Canadian Heritage is adding a section for Nunavut's shield and floral emblem.

Across the Ottawa River is the Quebec city of Gatineau which, along with Ottawa, is in the National Capital Region. We found an art installation in a park in Gatineau which featured a can of Campbell Soup (tomato) with three pigeons that were fascinated by the can. Each of the components were much larger than life.
Artist Cooke-Sasseville created the contemporary artwork sculpture called L'Odyssée with more than a passing reference to Andy Warhol.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Santa Claus is coming to town

The jolly old slacker is away from the North Pole while his elves are working their asses off. And where does he go? Pulled on horse drawn sleighs waving to the children during annual Santa Claus parades like the one in Acton.

Toronto's parade is Sunday, November 19 starting at Christie Pits at 12:30pm, the parade ends in the St Lawrence Market.

Light Show in the Brockville Railway Tunnel

Canada's first railway tunnel ends at the edge of the St Lawrence River and heads north under Brockville's city hall and within the damp confines of the underground is a really cool light show. LED strips along the edges light up the 1722 foot tunnel and they are controlled to put on various displays which are great to watch. It is like watching ghosts approaching in the night, freaky cool.
The tunnel itself was originally built between 1854 and 1860 to connect the Brockville and Ottawa Railway and trains ran until 1970. No tracks remain in the tunnel, only a small section of imprints at the entrance way. A path between two concrete curbs has replaced the twin steel tracks that used to carry the locomotives down to the waterfront.
Water drips in through the cracks and calcium deposits cover sections of the bricks and open cut rock tunnel so be prepared to be dripped on. The light show has several variations. One is a band of bright red light that moves slowly down the tunnel followed by the sounds of a train engine, another is a series of different colours that move up and down the length of the tunnel and one that plays along with music. It's definitely worth the trip to watch the lights.
Brockville is located along Highway 401 west of Kingston and is known as the City of 1000 Islands.

See more photos of the tunnel after the jump.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

King Street Transit Pilot

Moving more than 65,000 public transit riders along King Street has become a priority for the City of Toronto and so on Sunday, November 12 the east-west roadway stopped allowing cars through intersections. Only streetcars are allowed to pass along King Street, all private cars have to turn off King Street at each intersection. It seems way more confusing than a system of one way streets and my brain hurts thinking about it. Many vehicles are ignoring the changes at this point so it will take some getting used to.
King Street at Bay Street
King is the third busiest ttc corridor in the City, surprisingly just behind the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth subway lines. So they have cut off two lanes of traffic, one on each side, for such things as drop off zones, accessible bus stops, public spaces and ttc stops. This pilot project runs between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toronto Fan Days 2017 ComiCon coming December 9

Your one day holiday show brings cosplay festivities to the city in time for Christmas gift giving. Fans can check out the selection of comics, costumes, toys, memorabilia and other items at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre South Building from 11am to 5pm.
Visitors can enjoy the show, make new friends, show off their cosplay and meet groups of like minded fans. And the entrance to this mini-comicon is only $10. You can see photos of the 2016 Holiday Show on my post here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Toronto's Christmas Tree

A 60 foot tree was brought into Nathan Phillips Square November 6, 2017 and hoisted aloft by Weller Tree Service. Arriving at City Hall at 8am on a large flatbed trailer the rest of the morning was taken getting the tree upright and tied into place. Decorations will now be placed around the beast of a tree ahead of the Cavalcade of Lights.
Weller Tree Service has selected and installed the tree for several decades. It has to settle for three days before the decorations can start being placed, it does not require watering and will be recycled after the holiday season ends. It takes about two weeks for a crew of four to put up the decorations and lights around the tree.
"The 51st annual Cavalcade of Lights will launch the holiday season on November 25 at 7 p.m. at Nathan Phillips Square. The event will include a DJ skating party, the lighting of Toronto's official tree, live musical main stage performances, special pop-up performances and a spectacular fireworks display."

Monday, November 06, 2017

Honda Indy Toronto 2018 Renewal tickets on sale now

Previous purchasers of two-day reserved grandstand seats can pick up tickets for the 2018 race ahead of the general public sale coming December 5, 2017. Customers can reserve the same seats or upgrade with prices ranging from $85 for Bronze to $185 for Gold two-day grandstand seating. Renewal tickets also include enrollment in the Meridian Champions Club which "offers exclusive benefits and access, including a souvenir credential with lanyard, complimentary Verizon IndyCar Series paddock passes, pre-race grid walk, discounts on official event merchandise, an opportunity to win a two-seater Indy car ride on the track, and many other experiences. Additional exclusive offers and surprise benefits will be revealed leading up to the 2018 event."
The Honda Indy Toronto is a street course racing around Exhibition Place and onto Lake Shore Boulevard which will run July 13-15, 2018. Children under 12 get in free to the Motorsports Festival throughout the weekend when entering with a ticketed adult. Also returning for 2018 is the Ontario Honda Dealers Association Fan Friday with free general admission with a voluntary donation. Children

"The Honda Indy Toronto has shown tremendous momentum over the past two years, and we expect this positive trend to continue. 2018 will be an extra special celebration as we mark our 10th year with Honda Canada as title sponsor of this summer racing tradition," said Jeff Atkinson, president of Honda Indy Toronto. "Then, Sunday afternoon's Verizon IndyCar Series race will certainly ignite additional passion from our fans. The new Indy car design, and the recent announcement of local favourites James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens becoming driving teammates has formed an awesome, all Canadian super team to root for."
Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe gives the thumbs up to fans in the grandstands

On and off course attractions include beer gardens, Thunder Alley, charity events, food trucks as well as several race series including the open wheel cars of the Verizon Indycar Series and stockcar racing from the Nascar Pintys Series.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows 2017

Special guest stars Pentatonix (pictured at top. Photo by George Pimentel, Getty Images) helped to unveil the Holiday Windows in the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday, November 2nd. Presented by Cadillac Fairview and new for 2017, the series of scenes in the windows of Hudson's facing Queen Street West have been created based on a snow globe theme. Pentatonix, the multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning musical group performed as part of the celebration with Alison Coville, President of Hudson's Bay and Tanya Kim as the host for the special night.
Fans crowd onto Queen Street West to see Pentatonix perform. Photo by George Pimentel, Getty Images
Pentatonix on stage. Photo by George Pimentel, Getty Images

The previous animatronic Christmas displays have long been a staple for many holiday memories for families shopping and enjoying the festive season in Toronto. In 2016 Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue introduced a new set of holiday scenes called the Enchanted Forest complete 34 hand-sculpted animals in a various winter settings. Mariah Carey was the special guest for 2016.

A lot of Toronto landmarks made it into this snowglobe

Hudson's Bay Shake Up Your Holidays 2017 window displays "designed to take bystanders on a whimsical journey as seen through the lens of enchanted snow globes. Each of the five animated windows boasts a unique scene, bringing viewers from the North Pole Arctic Adventures and Santa’s Magic workshop to Christmas in the City set in Toronto, with a few magical stops in-between."
This year’s snow globe theme windows feature: Santa’s Magic: A modern-day Santa looks into his globe. Arctic Adventures: Two polar bears meet for a celebratory high-five in an arctic scene, Winter Woodlands: A rabbit ventures toward a magical tree with woodland creatures, Holiday Circus: A vintage-style circus is conducted by the master of ceremonies and Christmas in the City: Starry holiday scene is set against Toronto landmarks.
Saks Fifth Avenus also puts up unique holiday window fashion displays along Yonge Street and in 2016 had a land of 1000 delights which had a lot of candy in the clothes. For 2017 they worked with Disney to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Disney's movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Costume designer Michael Southgate created five versions of Snow White's iconic dress set in an magical forest.
Presents in the antlers in the combined Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue Queen Street West entrance

Skybridge open in the Toronto Eaton Centre

Shoppers can now cross between Saks Fifth Avenue building and the Eaton Centre with the new Skybridge over Queen Street West. The original pedestrian bridge was approaching end of life and Cadillac Fairview hired Dominic Bettison of WilkinsonEyre to design the new structure.

Looking towards the Eaton Centre from Saks

The two entrances were different with the Eaton Centre side being rectangular and the Saks Fifth Avenue/Hudson Bay side being round. By rotating and breaking up the rectangle, similar to rifling in a gun barrel, they accomplished the transition between the two geometrical shapes. It also rises in the middle as it approaches the middle of Queen Street West.

Looking towards Saks

It was quite a process as the old bridge was removed in May of 2017 while the new bridge was under construction on James Street, just beside the Eaton Centre. Then Queen Street was closed for traffic over a July weekend and they hoisted the beast into place and have since been working at completing the interior and exterior of the bridge. You can see photos of the construction process on my original post here.
On November 2nd, 2017 the bridge was opened and shoppers are not only crossing the street in the bridge, they are stopping and taking photos inside the bridge because it is pretty interesting with a nice view of Queen Street. And it is ready just in time for the Christmas shopping rush.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2017

Horses and heifers were the main draw to the world's largest indoor agricultural and equestrian show in Toronto's Exhibition Place, but there was so much more to see at the fair. Taking place November 3-12 in the Enercare Centre, the Horse Palace and Ricoh Coliseum for the 95th time since the Royal began in 1922. General admission tickets are $27.50 and you could upgrade your ticket to see the Royal Horse Show for additional costs depending on the date and time.
"The Royal Horse Shows hosts more than 1,000 competitors and offers $1 million in prize money over the course of its ten-day run. International show jumping athletes make their way to Toronto from all corners of the world to compete in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto on Wednesday evening, November 8th. This year top ranked international competitors will include Olympians, Kent Farrington, and McLain Ward, ranked #1 and #3 in the world respectively. In addition to international competition, the $125,000 Canadian Show Jumping Championship returns in 2017. Top-ranked Canadian riders, including 12-time winner and defending champion Ian Millar of Perth, ON, will go head-to-head over two days on November 3rd and 4th, with the winner being crowned the Canadian Show Jumping Champion."
Ian in the practice ring on Saturday
Ian Millar in competition on Friday night. Photo from the Royal Winter Fair

Ian Millar of Perth, Ontario won the initial phase of the Canadian Show Jumping Championship on Friday with the help of his horse named Dixson. His time of 61.75 seconds was the fastest time without knocking down any jumps, on the course which was designed by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil who designed the 2016 Rio Olympic course. Fellow Canadian Ali Ramsay riding Hermelien VD Hooghoeve finished in second place. Competitors carry over their scores into Saturday's final phase which was won by Amy Miller and her mount, Heros.

"The Canadian Championship is a really big deal for us; it's what this weekend is all about," said Millar, 70, who is the defending champion with Dixson, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo D'arsouilles x Olisco). "The timing is wonderful because it's year-end, so it culminates like a true championship. Sport has to have a script to it with a start, an end, and drama. This gives you a script with the championship at the end of the season, and The Royal does a very, very good job of it. It is very prestigious to win."

Saturday, November 4 had Heifer, Hereford and Dairy Goat competitions while over the course of the Royal several different animals such as sheep, lamb, fancy birds and rabbits will be featured. You can also see butter sculpting, the K9 Equine Relay featuring the President's Choice SuperDogs, the Craft Beer and Cider Awards and emerging artists Boots and Hearts. Amber Marshall, star of the CBC series Heartland, will return to the Royal as the guest MC for the matinee Rodeo on November 12.
In the Burnbrae Farms Food and Lifestyle Stage we got a chance to see the International Invitational Chef Challenge hosted by Ted Reader.

There is plenty of paid parking in Exhibition Place although some parking spots were given over to an outdoor cow holding area. Across Lake Shore the parking for Ontario Place was full of hundreds of livestock trailers, so many that I don't think there are many horses left on the farms.

See more of the Royal after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square