Monday, May 22, 2017

Toronto Islands are sinking man and I don't wanna swim

Forget global warming, this is municipal warming. I can't find evidence of Toronto's glacier field, it must have melted and the waters have risen and flooded into the Islands. Enough water covers the island park that the City has stopped most ferry services and now only runs to Ward's Island on a Spring Schedule. Over 20,000 sandbags are in place along low lying areas to help keep the water out and pumps are working to remove the water that make it past the bags.

Wildlife, like this Goose family, are having a field day

From the Ferry schedule website "The City continues to work closely with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Environment Canada to monitor Lake Ontario water levels which, even without further rainfall, are expected to rise for several more weeks. Once Lake Ontario reaches its peak level, experts anticipate that it will take weeks for water levels to return to normal. In order to ensure the safety of the public and the security of our facilities, Toronto Island Park will remain closed to the general public, regular ferry service will remain suspended, and all permits have been cancelled until June 30. Staff will continue to monitor conditions closely. We will continue to keep you updated and apprised of any changes to operations."

Toronto Islands were started by the sand carried by the currents from the Scarborough Bluffs, now the sand is thinking of finding a new home, probably around Humber Bay. They say that Centreville will be closed until June 30 at the earliest and the rest of the Islands will be closed until it is completely safe.
Here is the City of Toronto's news release: Toronto Island Park remains closed as water levels continue to rise

Water levels in Lake Ontario continue to rise and experts advise this situation is not expected to see any improvement for several weeks. As the long weekend approaches, the City of Toronto reminds residents and visitors that Toronto Island Park remains closed. There is no ferry service for members of the general public and they are advised to refrain from visiting Toronto Island Park until further notice, due to significant flooding.

The City of Toronto's Office of Emergency Management continues to monitor and assess the situation closely. City crews are focused on ensuring public safety, protecting assets and employing flood mitigation measures where it is helpful to do so. Staff continue to evaluate the situation on an ongoing basis.

Updates on the City's response to flooding at Toronto Island Park are as follows:

Road access/school
Due to rising water levels throughout Toronto Island Park, parts of the main road are underwater and the road is closed. As a result, the Toronto District School Board is relocating students from the Toronto Island Public School to Nelson Mandela Public School for the remainder of the school year, as per their usual processes.

All permits at Toronto Island Park up to and including June 30 are cancelled due to flooding. City staff are working with permit holders to provide any available options for rescheduling or relocation of their events.

Ferry service
Ferry access to Toronto Island Park is restricted to residents and authorized personnel only. More information is available at

Toronto Island beaches
Hanlan's Point, Gibraltar Point and Centre Island beaches are under water and closed until further notice. Residents are advised that beaches on the mainland will open for the season, with lifeguards in place, on June 1. Residents should visit for daily updates on beach water quality.

Centreville will remain closed. Staff will monitor the situation and will work with the operator to open once water levels have receded to safe levels. Updates are available at

Billy Bishop Airport
Billy Bishop Airport is operating as usual with no disruption to service, however passengers are always encouraged to check flight status before heading to the airport to ensure their flight is on schedule. Up-to-date information can be found at

Toronto has experienced high levels of rainfall this spring and as a result, Lake Ontario and watershed levels throughout the city continue to rise. The City continues to work closely with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to monitor Lake Ontario water levels.

At the current levels, experts advise it will take several weeks for water levels to return to normal. The City's Office of Emergency Management will make decisions about access to Toronto Island Park and park operations according to conditions. Cleanup and restoration efforts will begin once the lake levels subside.

See more of the flooding after the jump.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Racing at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Victoria Day SpeedFest 2017 finished with Sunday's slate of seven races including the NASCAR Pinty's Series Can-AM 200 Season Opener. Canada's premier national (Alberta to Nova Scotia) stockcar race series started in the afternoon of May 21 under light precipitation and ended with a a rainy victory by the day's fastest qualifier Kevin Lacroix in the #74 Bumper to Bumper, Total, Gates Dodge car. Coming in second was Andrew Ranger of the #27 car and Gary Klutt of the #59 car rounding out the top 3.

On the podium (l-r): Andrew Ranger, Kevin Lacroix and Gary Klutt
The champagne spray fest in Victory Circle

Moist track conditions probably contributed to the five caution flags that started in the 2nd lap and
overall included 17 of the total 55 laps run. NASCAR hometrack race recap noted that  "Kevin Lacroix finally figured out Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last fall, and the off-season did nothing to slow him down. Nor did the rain that arrived in force in the final laps of Sunday's Can-Am 200. The Saint-Eustache, Quebec, driver scored his second win in a row at the fame 2.459-mile road course. He won the E3 Spark Plug Pole Award Saturday, and then drove by Andrew Ranger on the final lap of Sunday's race for his fifth career win. A Lap 49 caution forced the race into overtime, with Lacroix and Ranger swapping the lead multiple times over the final turns before Lacroix pulled away for the win by 1.916 seconds." Driver DJ Kennington who competed in the famous 2017 Daytona 500 as the first Canadian in 29 years, took part in a 19 car pileup in Daytona and now returns to the Canadian Pinty's Series and finished in 17th place on Sunday's race.
Alex Tagliani's #18 car ended up on a flatbed trailer, slightly worse for wear and placed 18th.

Rounding out the race card was three Canadian Series; the Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC), the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokahama and the Nissan Micra Cup Series along with all classes of the Pirelli World Challenge Series.

Castrol Presents the Victoria Day SpeedFest took place May 19-21 at the Bowmanville track, formerly known as Mosport and located approximately an hour east of Toronto. Practice and qualifications covered most of the schedule on Thursday and Friday until the first races began on Saturday.

Pushing up the dirt as the tires dip into the outside edge of the track

Written and photographed by Ann and James Hamilton. Come back as I add more photos from the races. See more photos after the jump.

Spring Sessions of Toronto's Festival of Beer

The May Two Four holiday with thirst quenching beer and cider, live bands, food trucks, games and good friends make an event that embraces the coming summer as fans 19+ partied it up at Old Fort York's Garrison Common. Opening on Saturday, May 20 and continuing on Sunday, May 21, 2017 the Spring BeerFest is the Toronto's Festival of Beer early warm-up, I mean you can't just jump into the summer TFOB without a little practice!

Selling tokens
102.1 the edge

This is the weekend traditionally favoured for opening the cottage and during the weekend you got those same cottage vibes at the festival with Adirondack chairs, fire pits and the live acoustic music of Elliott BROOD on Saturday and the TREWS on Sunday, presented by 102.1 the Edge. Entrance tickets come with a commemorative festival beer sampling mug, five tokens, free games and concerts. Additional tokens were on sale 20 for $20 and most full samples were only two tokens.
Mayor John Tory (left)

Toronto Mayor John Tory officially opened the festival with a toast of cold draft beer. There were over 18 brewers on site offering delicious craft brews while the games included soccer darts, bocce, Janga and archery. Organizers suggested that you dress for the weather - sometimes Mother Nature brings cool weather and spring showers. Remember that if you leave the festival, you cannot return without buying another ticket.

Even though Kevin says you never come early for a party I wanted to be the first in line for some of the golden brews and try some games, sans lineups. The vibes were excellent from the start, music played and as people streamed into the park and the party started to ramp up until the bands took to the stage and people danced and sang around the stage.
Save the date July 28-30, 2017 for the upcoming Toronto Festival of Beer presented by the Beer Store which continues at Bandshell Park in Exhibition Place. TFOB will entice visitors with over 300 brands, outstanding music and tons of summer fun. Method Man and Redman will headline Friday's concert, Sloan headlines Saturdays musical lineup and Canadian musicians Alan Doyle, The Beautiful Gypsies, David James, Eric Ethridge and Dani Strong will perform Sunday. "We are very excited to welcome Alan Doyle & The Beautiful Gypsies along with David James, Eric Ethridge and Dani Strong to TFOB," said Les Murray, President of Toronto's Festival of Beer, "The mix of folk and country music paired with an incredible selection of brews is the perfect way to celebrate the summer and close out Toronto's Festival of Beer!"

In order to showcase Canada's beer and culinary excellence a 100,000 square foot pavilion will be constructed to showcase various regions of Canada during Canada's 150th birthday.

Come back as I add more pictures of the festival.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

It's a Daisy Flashmob in Toronto

It seemed like a normal day at the city's busiest pedestrian scramble intersection at Yonge and Dundas with a small group of ladies giving out samples of perfume. Dressed in blue jeans, black shirts and all carrying see through umbrellas, the ladies in twos and threes were situated at all four corners of the intersection and the perfume sample they were giving out was Daisy by Marc Jacobs.
Then suddenly all the vehicles stopped and the all way pedestrian signals came on and the population of umbrellas and ladies grew significantly as they performed a coordinated dance routine. A sort of singing in the rain, without the rain. And as quickly as it started, the lights changed and the ladies poured out of the intersection.

See more of the flashmob after the jump.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Victoria Day #Speedfest 2017

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park comes alive during the annual holiday weekend with several race series taking to the road course. This major racing event, Castrol Presents the Victoria Day Speedfest, started Thursday, May 18 and continues until Sunday, May 21. Motorsport Park really captures the spirit of this venue as they have placed the tracks and their facilities in the middle of a beautiful park-like forest setting. Beside the main Grand Prix Circuit race track there is also Driver Development Track and a Karting Track.
Thursday and Friday is time for the cars to get setup for optimal running on the ten-turn course. Practice and test sessions follow with the start of qualifications on Friday afternoon. I left my ear plugs in the car today but I didn't really need them because these cars, while very fast, don't scream like the engines in a NASCAR or IndyCar. Once those cars roar to life and the drivers start to play with the throttles you really need to be wearing ear protection.
Pirelli World Challenge, Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Nissan Micro Cup and the Canadian Touring Car Championship all were pushing their cars in anticipation of Saturday and Sundays races and there have already been a number of crashes.
A flatbed truck carries away the wreckage

The grounds of the park are a mix of rolling topography with campsites lining the track and forest trails running to cover the campsites and track access points. There is a hospitality area overlooking pit lane and lots of activities and the paddocks in the infield. You don't have to camp to enjoy the racing but it seems like a lot of people bring their families or just meetup with old friends and watch the races together and there were plenty of barbecues cooking up some dinners that smelled pretty good. It seems like a world away from Toronto, which is just about 1.5 hours east of the city, located in the Municipality of Clarington.
Looking into the infield
Pit lane and the Event Centre

Trails around the track area let you find some great viewing spots without being stuck to a specific spot in the park. On the weekends they will bring out their fleet of golf carts to ferry people around the site on the various routes including the one that dips down and backup the big hill that leads to turn 5, that alone is worth the price of admission.
The excitement starts to build as we head into the weekend and test rides turn into battles over qualifying positions. Vendors and exhibitors are in on Friday setting up their stands and getting ready for the heavy weekend traffic as fans pour into the park after the work week. Saturday night will also have fireworks lighting up the park.

See more of the Speedfest after the jump.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Canstruction Toronto 2017

Working with cans of food, teams put together temporary works of art to improve the lives of those in need in cities around the world. Toronto's efforts for the 18th annual CanstructionTO can be found downtown at the Toronto Dominion Centre tower at Bay and Wellington Streets and are in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank. In 2016 over 68,000 pounds of food were used in the competition and donated to Toronto's busiest food bank.
This isn't just for making something interesting out of cans, this is a competition that pits the best in the business for top dog in such categories as Most Cans, Best Original Design, Structural Ingenuity, Best Use of Labels and Best Meal. I didn't notice the prizes listed but they must be in the millions of dollars for such a prestigious design competition?
"Canstruction® is a non-profit competition that decreases hunger and fights poverty in Toronto and cities around the world. Each year, teams of designers, architects and engineers – students and professionals – donate their time to build massive, incredible structures from cans of food, with donations going to the Daily Bread Food Bank, Toronto’s largest community food bank. In this city alone, more than 800,000 client visits happen each year, approximately 32 per cent of them children, use food-relief programs. With one can of food as a catalyst for change, One Can® to represent the building block of change, Canstruction proves that small acts of kindness improve the lives of people in need. Since 1992, Canstruction has contributed more than 17.5 million pounds of food to food programs around the world, demonstrating that we can win the fight against hunger."
May 15 was the build night, today is the judging and awards gala and the 'decanstruction' is scheduled for May 20, 2017. The Society for Design Administration, the Consulting Engineers of Ontario and the Design Exchange have organized Toronto's Canstruction. Take a walk by and check out the designs, they are worth seeing and they won't be in place for very long.

See more cans after the jump.

Ontario's Best Festivals and Events for 2017

Here is someone's list for the top five events to see this year - Ever After Music Festival, Toronto's Festival of Beer, Canal Days in Port Colborne and the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. “From music lovers, to cultural history buffs, foodies, and beer and wine enthusiasts, there is certainly something for everyone this season,” says Gabriel Mattacchione, President of Beyond Oz Productions. “That’s the great thing about Ontario – you don’t have to go away or travel far and wide if you’re looking for a great time or something to do this summer.” Here are Gabriel's picks.

'Ever After Music Festival — June 2nd–4th, Kitchener: Because what’s a summer without best friends, outdoor music concerts, and camping?! This one is for all you music lovers and experience chasers! For one full, extraordinary weekend of electronic dance music, visit one of the area’s most prominent electronic music festival experiences, taking over Bingemans’ 30 acre campgrounds. With an impressive lineup including performances by Bassnectar, Excision, Zeds Dead, and a juicy hip-hop injection in the form of French Montana, the Ever After Music Festival will be a mecca of stunning visuals and extraordinary sounds. Photo at top, provided.
Toronto Festival of Beer, photo by James Hamilton

Toronto’s Festival of Beer — July 28th–30th, Toronto: At Bandshell Park inside Exhibition Place, beer fans from across the country will gather to celebrate their favourite golden beverage. This year, the festival will be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday by showcasing various breweries from across Canada, and offering food curated from some of Canada’s amazing Top Chefs that showcase the culture from our various provinces.
Canal Days West Street - photo credit JTLewis

Canal Days— August 4th–7th, Port Colborne: For those looking for a little taste of history and culture, the Tall Ships gather in Port Colborne each August holiday weekend, for a jam-packed, four-day celebration. This annual marine heritage festival will include vendors, buskers, food merchants, and many attractions including a fully supervised children's area featuring live entertainment, a carnival midway, and a live bird of prey and reptile exhibit. Tall Ships moored along the canal wall will be open for exploration, and special cruises are available on these historic ships, including a day-long journey from Lake Ontario, through the canal locks.
Canadian National Exhibition— August 18th – September 4th, Toronto: The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is Canada’s largest annual community event – and a fantastic family event as well! The CNE offers a wide variety of entertainment and events including Bandshell concerts, celebrity chef demonstrations, an aerial acrobatics and ice skating show, a working farm, parades, a three-day Air Show, Midway rides and games, wacky fair food, international food and tons of shopping! Be sure to come out and experience one of Toronto’s major annual highlights. Photo above, provided.

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival— September 8th-24th, St. Catharines: What a better place for oenophiles to visit this summer than the Niagara Region? The Niagara Grape & Wine Festival is a celebration of Niagara and the bounty of harvest. The Montebello Park food and wine experience truly showcases all that the region has to offer, as the park comes alive for two weekends in September. Experience regional cuisine presented by top local chefs and sip and savour VQA wines, while enjoying Canadian talent on the Centre stage.'

Victoria Day SpeedFest 2017 this weekend

Race fans, get your tickets, your tent or RV and get ready to hit the road for the May Two Four holiday weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Castrol presents the Victoria Day SpeedFest from May 19-21 with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, the only Canadian stop in the Pirelli World Challenge, the Canadian Touring Car Championship, the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokahama and the Nissan Micra Cup all putting the pedal to the metal on the 10 turn, 3.957 km road course twisting through gorgeous scenery and alongside pit lane. You can pick up weekend or single day tickets for the event.
Photo at top and above by Joe Hamilton

NASCAR Pinty's Series takes to the CTMP track in Bowmanville, Ontario for the first race of their season with the Can-Am 200, the first of 13 races for the stockcars in 2017, during the first of this year's Motorsport Park's major events. Keep an eye out for other park major events at the track like the Superbike Double Header Weekend in August and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Chevrolet Silverado 250 in September.
Johnny Bower, former Maple Leaf's hockey star, will be the Grand Marshall for the SpeedFest Weekend and a Saturday night fireworks show will help to celebrate the holiday during the long weekend event.
"The weekend's main attraction is the on-track competition, but there are plenty of other things for you to see and do as well. Be sure to visit the team paddock areas, located on the circuit infield at the north end near the start/finish straight. All the team transporters, cars, crews and drivers are based there, and access to the paddock is included with your event ticket purchase. The park’s camping facilities can accommodate everything from tents and pop-up trailers to RV's. With the wide variety of locations available throughout the grounds, there is bound to be one to suit just about every taste – from a trackside spot, to open fields, to well-treed backwoods locations."

Competing Series links:

NASCAR Pinty’s Series
Pirelli World Challenge
Canadian Touring Car Championship
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama
Nissan Micra Cup
See the Castrol Presents The Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend Schedule May 19-21, 2017 - subject to change, after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square