Monday, April 23, 2018

Toronto Cherry Blossom Watch 2018

With only weeks to go before the Sakura cherry trees in High Park begin to sprout experts are debating whether the buds will go to leaves or to blossom - hopefully the majority of buds will flower. The beautiful weather brought many families out to the park, but they are a fraction of the people that will invade the area when the blossoms are in peak bloom which will be sometime in early to mid-May.
The High Park Trackless Train is already winding its way along the paths throughout the park. Until April 30 the train only runs on the weekend. Between May 1 and Labour Day the trains run daily from 10:30am in the morning. After Labour Day until October 31st the trains switch back to weekend operations. Cost is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and children.
Hopefully the blast of cold weather in April won't stop the buds from blossoming into the beautiful cherry blossoms.
There are plenty of places around Toronto where you can find fruit trees so keep an eye open for the coming blossoms. You can find them in Exhibition Place, on the Toronto Islands, at U of T, along University Avenue and by old City Hall.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2018 coming in June

With the recent warm Spring weather (just kidding) it is time to start looking forward to the upcoming Saturday, June 9, 2018 WNBR - it should be just enough time to plan your riding wardrobe choices; It's as bare as you dare so it could be all or nothing. All body types and people, naked or not and even on roller-blades, all are encouraged to take part in the ride.
The world wide clothing-free protest against oil dependence and pro-cycling, pro-body acceptance came to Toronto in 2004 and since then has been an annual staple of freedom loving, eco-bicyclists. Creative costumes, masks and body paint are popular choices for the event and their will be an artist ready to apply paint before the ride starts for a fee, or come with your own paint.
Organizer Gene Dare continues his leadership of the Toronto World Naked Bike Ride and does an excellent job of promotion as the ride becomes more popular every year - he is even looking for a horse for the 2018 ride! Gene is very noticeable with his giant red hat, glasses and Canadian Flag flying from his bike. He says the flag will be modified so that it will be less ass, more grass.
The ride begins in Coronation Park which is located just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place on Lake Shore Boulevard West. Limited parking is available on site (and another event might be closing off the parking on that day) so you can find parking in Exhibition Place, at Ontario Place or near the Island Airport. Bikers meet at the Victory Peace Monument and Canadian flagpole located right beside the waters of Lake Ontario. The stepped, circular area, bookmarked by metal sculptures that suggest you are standing in a ship, is the perfect place to gather round and socialize and prepare for the ride. Gene is usually on site early, say by 9am, and the body painter arriving by 10am, so drop by anytime in the morning with the ride hitting the streets around 1pm. You can bring some snacks, beverages for staying hydrated and definitely bring some suntan lotion. Many people bring towels to cover the bike seats, especially important if you are bringing a community bike share bicycle.
The riders are generally men with more and more women joining WNBR every year, including a dedicated group of ladies from Oasis Aqualounge which is a Toronto sexual adventure playground for adults. Gathering in a large group around the memorial, it doesn't take long before most people remove their clothes and people start to gather to take in the nakedness and to take pictures of, or with the participants because you really don't see this kind of thing every day.
After assembling for a group picture, riders leave the park en masse and the group heads north on city streets getting tons of positive responses on the way. People honk from their cars, pedestrians along the way stop on the curbs, take photos, laugh and wave at the cyclists as streetcars and tour buses riders really enjoy the spectacle or occasionally cover someones eyes. Generally several people see the naked bike ride and then in the spirit of the day, remove their clothes and join in the ride. The actual route changes slightly each year depending on conflicting events at certain locations or construction restricting the path but it generally follows the map above. Some of the trip highlights include the UofT campus, Kensington Market, Queen's Park, Allan Gardens Park, Church St Village, Ryerson University, City Hall and the Ferry Terminal at Harbourfront. At the park at the terminal the riders divide up with some people going to the Toronto Islands nude beach at Hanlans Beach, some returning to Coronation Park and some putting on their clothes and leaving the group. We stop at a few of the places for group photo opportunities such as at Queens Park
In earlier years the police have provided escort duties but for the last several years they just show up at the park to confirm what is going on and then let everyone alone. WNBR riders provide their own traffic control to keep the group together and safe. Always be careful when biking because sometimes people do fall from their bikes, usually because of railway tracks, and with less clothes the fall could be a little more painful.

Here are my posts from some of the other Toronto WNBR events over the years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Doors Open Ontario 2018

Everyone can be a VIP gaining access to places, many not normally open to the public, free of charge in 35 towns and cities from April 21 to October 13, 2018. Toronto Doors Open happens May 26-27 and is part of the Ontario Heritage Trust event taking place across the province. Doors Open is in the top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario and receives funding from Celebrate Ontario program and Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

You can visit historic sites, natural spaces, cultural sites and architectural treasures across Ontario. Since starting in 2002 over 7.3 million people have visited the sites available as part of the program. Toronto Doors Open only has 14 sites listed at this time and I don't see the unused TTC subway station listed at this point - one place I haven't seen yet. The full list of Toronto locations will be available in early May. While entrance to the facility is usually free, the cost for parking will probably apply so check out the website to avoid surprises.

"Doors Open Ontario 2018 will feature more than 800 sites, such as historic homes, fire stations, hiking trails, courthouses, schoolhouses, gardens, places of worship and countless others. Many sites are also offering special tours, lectures, exhibits and performances, to better explore the stories inside. n 2018, the Ontario Heritage Trust is exploring the theme of 100 years of women's rights and suffrage, looking back to the end of the First World War – a time that saw great change for women in our society. Throughout the year, the Trust will be sharing stories about Ontario's trailblazing women and the enduring fight for equality. Doors Open Ontario will provide an opportunity to visit interesting sites that relate to this chapter in our history."

See the Doors Open Ontario 2018 alphabetical list of events and dates after the jump.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling

The 2018 Players' Championship is on at the Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Players from around the world, including Olympic Champions, are going head to head at one of the last competitions of the season. Both sexes are taking part in the April 12 to 15 games and the Saturday semifinals have both groups
taking to the ice at the same time.
Some Pinty's curling stones
Actual Gardens chairs hanging at the Loblaws

We took time to watch the ladies quarterfinals which began at 3:30pm. Many of the seats which were sold were empty due to the unfortunate return of winter in springtime. Freezing rain and ice pellets made the roads hazardous. Even the tailgate party for the Raptors was cancelled due to the extreme weather alerts.

Canada's Jennifer Jones continues with 26 consecutive victories since the Scotties. Her team is the leading Canadian and World Champion and beat Japan's team Satsuki Fujisawa in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "Team Jones has captured two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championships this season, winning the Masters and Boost National, and already clinched the $75,000 Bonus Cup. Jones is also the defending Players’ champion winning the women’s title for a record sixth time at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre a year ago."

Players' Championship Schedule
Thursday, April 12
Round Robin Draw 7 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 8 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 9 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 13
Round Robin Draw 11 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 12 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 13 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 14
Men’s Quarterfinals 11:30 a.m.
Women’s Quarterfinals 3:30 p.m.
Men’s & Women’s Semifinals 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 15
Men’s Final 12:30 p.m.
Women’s Final 5:00 p.m.

See more photos after the jump.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Toronto Earth Day 2018

Nathan Phillips Square will host the Gen-Earth Day celebrations from 1-5pm while Downsview Park will have the Earth Day Festival from 11am-4pm on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Earth Day was started in 1990 to bring people closer to nature and to foster stewardship and conservation. But we also like to party so consume less and play more!

The square at City Hall will be a free event with concerts, eco-experts, eco-friendly companies and family friendly activities. "Gen-Earth is a FREE (but registration is preferred), not-for-profit event to educate and inspire our youth, our communities, and our policy makers to take action for the protection of our ecosystems, the environment, and our Earth!" I love their motto "Leave the Earth better than we found it".

Up north in Downsview Park the annual free Earth Day tradition has educational activities along with tree planting, bird of prey demonstrations, arts and crafts, a campfire sing-along and much more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Toronto Peta Protest

Several women went topless for Peta at Toronto's busiest intersection as they protested the commercial seal pup hunt. The ladies gathered quietly beside the Eaton Centre at lunch on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and at first I thought they were a flash mob that would wander into the scramble intersection like so many other groups have done for promotions.
After a few minutes they removed their tops showing off pasties and slogans written on their bodies while holding up posters which said 'END COMMERCIAL SEAL SLAUGHTER' and 'SEAL SLAUGHTER BLEEDS TAXES'. Pedestrians stopped to take in the sight and grab some photos as the group set off several smoke flares. They were at the intersection long enough to almost freeze in the early springtime weather.

Peta claims that the Canadian government subsidizes the seal pup hunt to the tune of $7 million a year.

Other Peta Toronto protests include the following events: Wear your own skin, Go Vegan and when the lettuce ladies met with Mayor Rob Ford.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Toronto Blog

I recently changed the Toronto Grand Prix Tourist blog to a secure site through Google and Blogger. Now the green https shows up in the URL address. So far nothing has crashed so it seems to have worked without any major issues - woot woot.

2018 has been a great year so far and the best part is still to come!

BREATH at Brookfield Place Toronto

Studio F Minus has created a flock of birds flying in the Allen Lambert Galleria. The birds look like they are made with some colourful pajama material and are hooked up to flap their wings.

The 50 birds were commissioned by Brookfield in celebration of Earth Day and will remain flying from April 9-27, 2018.

This installation is a derivative of Air Pressure which is another avian art concept which used blue birds. Studio F Minus hung those in several office towers in the downtown core:

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square