Sunday, April 11, 2021

Toronto Caribbean Carnival First Lap 2021

The virtual preview of Carnival happens tonite with First Lap, starting Sunday, April 11 at 7pm with an all access pass to the extravaganza hopefully coming back to the streets of Toronto once again in 2021. First Lap: Keeping the Carnival Alive will be hosted by Itah Sadu, Earle La Pierre, SKF and Kenny Phillip. The photos on this post are from previous launches held in Toronto.

From the Carnival's website, "The show promises to give viewers an all access pass to the many elements of Toronto Caribbean Carnival, featuring dynamite costume display, enchanting steelpan, music and the showcasing of calypso and reggae music. The event is intended to provide an early taste and wet the appetite of carnival goers, on the heels of the Trinidad Carnival virtual events, on the amazing festival that happens in the summer on the streets of Toronto and in various venues across the GTA. The event features performances by Macomere FIFI, David Rudder, Connector, Pan Artistes from Various pansides and Dance Caribe. We’ll also feature costumes by Louis Saldenah Mas K Club, Carnival Nationz, Tribal Carnival, Toronto Revellers, Venom Mas and Epic Carnival.

Taking the Caledon Rail Trail

It was a beautiful Spring Saturday and lockdown means getting some exercise in the great outdoors. We decided to get the ebikes ready and checked out the 40km Caledon Trailway from Terra Cotta to Tottenham. The first ride of the season was a painful journey, one my butt won't forget for a few days.

Cheltenham Brickworks

For many of the rail trails in Ontario, the biggest obstacle is finding parking so that you can begin the journey. Luckily we found a spot on Winston Churchill Boulevard in Caledon and began our journey to the north west on the limestone screening surfaced, multi-use trail. The former CN rail line is part of the Trans Canada Trail system.

The trail takes you through beautiful scenic settings, including tunnels through cedar trees lining the edges of the trail, along the Cheltenham Brickworks site, over the big, blue pedestrian bridge crossing Highway 10 and under the bridge at Highway 9 connecting into the New Tecumseth rail trail that continues to the South Simcoe Railway heritage site in Tottenham.

South Simcoe Railway

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Toronto Cherry Blossoms 2021

Peak bloom is just weeks away in Toronto! I just walked by a tree that had no leaves but was already blossoming, I think it might have been a magnolia tree, they always seem to bloom early. With Spring comes rain and the return of beautiful cherry blossoms in and around Toronto. Until they bloom, here are some photos from previous flowering fruit trees.

UPDATE April 14, 2021: City confirms virtual High Park Cherry Blossom Festival. The Toronto News Release follows.
"High Park cherry blossoms go virtual again with #BloomAtHome, park remains open for local use

With the warm spring weather and bud development on the City of Toronto’s cherry blossom trees, the City is making arrangements for Torontonians to experience the bloom of the High Park cherry blossom trees from home again this year. In keeping with the provincial Stay-at-Home order, currently in effect across Toronto and to protect our healthcare system, the City is working to prevent crowding and gathering in High Park by offering a virtual view of the blooms while maintaining local pedestrian and cyclist access to the park for essential fresh air and exercise. To ensure people have ample space to practise physical distancing, the park will be closed to vehicle traffic.

In a typical year, tens of thousands of people visit High Park to view the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees. The blossoms typically last between four to 10 days, depending on weather. The peak bloom period usually occurs from late April to early May. Following the warm weather this spring, blossoms are expected to bloom in mid- to late April.

Given the current wave of COVID-19 in Toronto, amplified by variants of concern, access to areas of High Park with cherry blossom trees will not be permitted during their pre- and peak-bloom period because maintaining proper physical distancing in these areas will not be possible. There are three areas in High Park which feature cherry blossom trees – Cherry Hill, near the sports fields and at the Jamie Bell Playground. The public can expect these areas of the park to be enclosed with fencing to prevent in-person viewing of the trees and all park gates and entrances to be closed to vehicle traffic. Local visitors are encouraged to walk or bike to the park. The closure dates are weather-dependent and will be announced when the bloom period is determined.

To encourage residents to stay home and stay safe, the City will provide a 24-hour 4K ‘BloomCam’ of the blossoming trees in High Park at allowing residents to experience the #BloomAtHome. Rogers and the Toronto Public Library Bookmobile will again power the internet connectivity required to bring the virtual experience into viewers’ homes.

City enforcement officials and the Toronto Police Service will be onsite to prevent vehicle access to the park and ensure people stay away from the fenced off areas of the park. People are required to maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from people they do not reside with. Masks are encouraged outdoors in situations where physical distancing is difficult and are mandatory while using washroom facilities and while waiting in line.

City enforcement officials and Toronto Police Services may patrol other smaller sites of cherry blossoms in Toronto. There are more than 1,500 parks in Toronto, and in order to avoid crowding, residents are encouraged to visit their local parks rather than travelling to destination parks such as High Park. People who choose to visit their local parks for exercise should only access the park with members of the same household. If a park or amenity, such as a playground, is crowded, people should visit another park or return another time.

In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada presented 2,000 trees to the people of Toronto on behalf of the people of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto having accepted many relocated Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Many of those trees were planted in High Park on the hillside overlooking Grenadier Pond."

University Avenue blossoms, also at top

Late April and early May is the usual time for peak blossoms and with the recent Ontario Lockdown I am sure that the High Park Blossom Festival will be virtual once again this year. Sakura Blossom Watch which tracks the status of the cherry trees says that the buds are developing ahead of schedule - they anticipate that peak bloom will be the last week of April 2021 (25th to 30th).

Blossoms at Ryerson University

In addition to High Park you can find the blossoms all around Toronto including the Exhibition Place or the CNE, University of Toronto, in the centre median of University Avenue, Old City Hall, Centennial Park, Queen's Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Osgoode Hall and even on the Toronto Islands. Around the GTA you can find a nice strand of cherry trees in Brampton's Joyce Archdekin Park (Main Street South) and Burlington's Spencer Smith Park (along the waterfront). If you like to travel you can see orchards with row upon row of flowering trees in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area.

I will update this post when the blossoms of 2021 are ready for their time to shine.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville

You can see the boardwalk and the lake as you drive north on Highway 10 in Orangeville and as we pass we often said we would have to go to the park. So finally we decided to make the trip just to go to the park which we found out is the Island Lake Conservation Area run by Credit Valley Conservation.

Map of Island Lake

There is limited parking in the conservation area and we weren't sure where they were ahead of time but we knew there was an entrance off of Highway 10 at 4th Avenue. Signs say don't park at the home hardware so we decided to go to the Winners mall, do a bit of shopping and then headed into the park and started walking the 8km Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail which circles the reservoir.

The trail passes through several types of forest

There was no entrance booth at the 4th Avenue pedestrian access however you can prepay online or go through the Hurontario Street road entrance where there is a fee collector gatehouse. Adults admission is $5.75 and in the park you can find limited parking, bathrooms, amphitheater and other activities like a boat rental and boat launch. Some of the features may not be available due to covid restrictions or time of year.

See more of the park after the jump.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2021 coming in June

Covid rolls on and so will the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) as the two-wheeled protest against car culture returns to Toronto on June 12, 2021. One of Toronto's favourite events has a multitude of nude people on bicycles or rollerblade through the downtown core, past some of the city's iconic sightseeing attractions, all the while crowds of people are split between cheering on the riders or taking photos and videos of the unusual sight. Here are some pictures from previous Toronto WNBR rides.

Stopping at the reflecting pond in Nathan Phillips Square

The annual World Naked Bike Ride has been a global tradition since 2004 with a "bare as you dare" dress code that has taken place in a few cities across Canada - including Guelph, London and Winnipeg. The following cities were committed to the ride in 2020; Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. For 2021 both Toronto and Montreal are a confirmed go. Montreal has both a day and a night ride.

The crowd begins to gather at Coronation Park

Last year's WNBR Toronto 2020 was initially postponed as the impact of the Coronavirus continued to expand. However, just a few weeks from the original date the ride was scheduled to take place on June 20. The ride was a little smaller than previous years due to the whole coronavirus and the postponement, however with Toronto's 2021 commitment and the return to the traditional second Saturday in June should bring more people back to the ride.

Gene Dare, co-organizer of the Toronto ride, made some changes to the preparations to allow from more social distancing including asking the riders to wear masks. In addition to the protest against car culture and the resulting pollution and greenhouse gases the other reasons for the ride is to celebrate a cleaner and safer world in a body-positive manner.

Making their way down Bay Street into the financial district
Gene Dare in the red hat with the big Canadian flag

So on Saturday, June 12, 2021 riders, fans and photographers will gather at Coronation Park from 10am to prep for the race, put on some body paint, pose for photos and apply some liberal amounts of sunscreen on all the exposed skin. Then around 1pm the ride will take to the streets of Toronto shouting things like "less gas, more ass"! After seeing the WNBR roll past, some bystanders take off their clothes and join the ride for the first time.

Coronation Park is at 711 Lake Shore Boulevard West, just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place and the start point is the veteran's memorial in the centre of the park. Overall the ride takes about 2-3 hours and includes stops at Queen's Park, Allan Gardens and City Hall for photo opportunities. Other famous landmarks and areas that the ride passes by include Trinity Bellwood Park, Kensington Market, University of Toronto, Yorkville, Church St, Ryerson University, the Eaton Centre and Union Station. Bicyclists can join or leave the ride anytime they want, however many stop at the Jack Layton Memorial Ferry Docks. Some travel on the ferry to the clothing optional beach at Hanlan's Point and some return back to Coronation Park.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Watching kites flying high over a beach in Toronto

Warm weekend weather brings out the sun worshipers to the beautiful stretches of sandy beaches in Toronto. On the most recent weekend on Woodbine Beach the volleyball players were out in force, some even in bikinis, while a parade of kites high in the sky caught a lot of interest from those walking or relaxing on the beach.

Some of the same kiters participate in the annual Windfest celebrations where you can see some amazing kites in all sizes and shapes including whales, squids, fish, hello kitty and many more.

See more beach fun after the break.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Luminosity in the Beaches

It's like a mini-Nuit Blanche in the Beach as the Leslieville area comes alive at night with Luminosity 2021. Eight illuminating art exhibits are along 3km of Queen Street East from Neville Park Boulevard to Coxwell Avenue from March 13 till April 11, 2021. The installations will be on until midnight.

The easterly end is at the streetcar loop at Nursewood Road while the west end is at Kingston Road. The artists and the installations are; Kristyn Watterworth and Edward Platero - "88 Keys of Light", Jungle Ling - "Chee-Win", Collective Memory - "Headlights", Opus Art Projects - "Light Tree", Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky - "Sugar Mountain", Chris Foster - "Beacon Silo", Bryan Faubert - "Out From Under the Shadows" and Thelia Sanders Shelton - "Share the Love"

See more of Luminosity 2021 after the jump.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Joe's Photos - blast from the past continue

Fresh Joe and I used to cover a lot of territory around Ontario and especially around the City of Toronto. Some of our favourite things to photograph were racing, airshows, the Toronto Roller Derby and atmosphere.

You can see the atmosphere after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square