Sunday, February 16, 2020

Toronto Winter Stations 2020

The international design competition and exhibition is back at Woodbine and Kew Beaches in time for Family Day starting February 17 and continuing till March 30. Crews were busy Sunday completing the installations ahead of Monday's opening day. Mirage pictured at top is my favourite.

This is the sixth year of Winter Stations where the winning entries are placed along the water's edge, centered around the utilitarian lifeguard stations spread out along the long, sandy beach. It's one way of getting out to see some culture, while enjoying some outdoor times in the middle of winter. For 2020 there are 4 installations that have been accepted: Mirage by Cristina Vega and Pablo Losa Fontangordo (Madrid, Spain), The Beach's Percussion Ensemble by Centennial College (Toronto, Canada), Kaleidoscope of the Senses by Charlie Sutherland of SUHUHA (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) and Noodle Feed by iheartblob (Vienna, Austria).

For this competition designers will create temporary winter art installations which incorporate the lifeguard towers into the work. Entry is open to everyone around the world and is free to enter. The theme for this year is "Beyond the Five Senses" where our sense of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell interact with and view our environment. Descriptions for the installations are from the Winter Stations website.

"Mirage has been designed to react to the movements of the sun and the people. Depending on where the visitors are positioned, they will see either a red transparent sun setting or a light and bright rising sun laying on the horizon. As they walk closer, they will discover the thin structure that makes these two simultaneous realities possible."

The Beach's Percussion Ensemble - still under construction

The Beach's Percussion Ensemble; "This installation consists of three structures of varying sizes formed of a series of stacked wooden rectangular prisms laid out in a circular shape around a giant steel drum. Where the prisms overhang, metal bells of varying shapes and sizes will hang. Some of the structure’s prisms might also be made into steel drums. The elements of the lake’s environment will release the bells’ sound like a wind chime. Visitors can use sticks chained to the structure to play along with the sounds produced by the lake’s elements. Graffiti artists will also be invited to tag the structure."
Kaleidoscope of the Senses

"Kaleidoscope of the Senses re-purposes the existing lifeguard chair, bringing together a balanced yet dynamic composition of elements which are both a visual and experiential celebration of the senses and a metaphor of the body in space. An open bell tower structure creates clanking metal sounds in the wind, while a diagonal black chimney draws up the aromas of oils set into the beach sand at its base. A horizontal white extrusion reflects the expansive horizon, framing a view of the water and back to the city. This is all underscored by a lateral red beam, establishing a tactile bench within the structure, the only point of physical contact with the observer."
Noodle Feed

"Noodle Feed goes beyond physical senses and creates a shared augmented reality environment where people can interact in new ways and consider that the world is much more than we perceive. The colourful forms and tangible nature of the ‘noodles’ are designed to attract attention, while the rough matte texture of recycled sailcloth contrasts with the soft, springy cushioning of the objects, inviting visitors to move them into chairs, beds and shelters." Workers sew the Noodle fabric together. People walk and sit on the straw filled material which will have a tough time making it through the life of the competition without being destroyed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Toronto Motorcycle Show 2020 next weekend

Great news, it's almost time for the annual Toronto Motorcycle Show presented by NFP which is returning February 21-23 to the Enercare Centre in Exhibition Place. This is the place to see the new 2020 models during Ontario's biggest motorcycle manufacturers' event.

"This is the province’s only stop on the six-city national show tour for new model motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides, and it features the top motorcycle brands: Aprilia, BMW Motorrad, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa and Yamaha. Along with the 500+ new, vintage, racing and custom bikes on display, attendees will find the latest in riding gear, accessories and touring destinations.

Top custom bike builders will be at the all new Clutch Society feature produced by Dan Lim of The Moto Foto. Over 20 unique custom bikes will be on display along with events that will showcase the lifestyle.

Some other features of the show, produced by Power Sport Services, will be She Rides Night on Friday, February 21, with half price admission for ladies after 5pm and free parking for all after 5pm. Ladies can also enter the $2,000 "Shop the Show" prize draw. Then there is the Yamaha Riding Academy For Kids 6-12, Stunt Shows, Vintage Motorcycles, Kawasaki's "Own the Street" Motorcycle Giveaway, exhibitions by the Ontario Provincial Police Golden Helmets and also Yamaha's demonstrations.

Show hours: Friday, February 21 (noon - 9 pm); Saturday, February 22 (10 am - 8 pm); Sunday, February 23 (10 am - 5 pm). Show admission is: Adults (15+) $20; Seniors (65+) $15; Youths (6-14 years) $12; Family Pass (2 adults, 2 youths) $48; She Rides Night $10 (for women after 5:00 pm, Friday, Feb. 21). Children 5 & under are admitted free with adult paid admission.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Ontario Place Winter Light Exhibition 2020

Cold winter days are a good time to stay inside unless you are heading to the West Island of Ontario Place for the 3rd annual Winter Light Exhibition. The light installations are on from February 8 till March 29, 2020 from 4pm to 11pm everyday and admission is free.
Weekends, from Friday to Sunday, will have community bonfires, paint classes and there will be food and beverages available for purchase.

See more of the light show after the jump.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Wiarton Willie predicts early spring

The official call, after a slight mix-up on stage, is that Wiarton Willie forecasts an early spring for 2020! That's what I'm talking about. Wiarton Mayor Janice Jackson interpreted William's prediction, stated that the superstar albino groundhog couldn't see his shadow with all that snow falling all around the large crowd gathered around the stage. Then unfortunately she suggested that the result was six more weeks of winter. She was soon corrected when they pointed out that a shadow would scare the rodent back into his burrow and extend winter, if there was no shadow that meant spring would be early. So they set time back and replayed the announcement - this time, without a doubt an early spring is coming.
Getting a closer look at Willie in his special cage
Town Criers announce the results and ring their bells

Today's Groundhog Day is a rare palindrome that only occurs once this century. Read the same either forward or backwards this Sunday, February 2nd is written only with numerals is 02/02/2020.
A pipe and drum band preceded Wiarton Willie. Then Willie was carried to the stage along with the Town Criers and an OPP bodyguard
The main stage ceremony

From the visit Wiarton website; "The free festival has a winter carnival theme and will run on Saturday, February 1st from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will include family-friendly activities in Bluewater Park such as a Ferris Wheel, Midway Games and Giant Slide. Festival patrons will also be able to take a wagon ride to downtown Wiarton where they can visit local stores and restaurants. A horse-drawn wagon ride taking festival-goers from the park to downtown. On Sunday, February 2nd, people can gather in Bluewater Park and join us in Waking Up Willie at 7:00 a.m. with a spectacular fireworks display, followed by Willie’s official prediction at 8:07am."

That was the first early morning fireworks that I have ever attended and they did a great job lighting of the show along the shores of Georgian Bay in Bluewater Park. Immediately afterwards everyone assembled at the main stage outside the community centre and waited for Willie to show up. Premier Doug Ford attended his second Wiarton Willie festival and was joined by several other politicians which formed part of Willies Shadow Cabinet.
Premier Doug Ford does some meet and greets after the prediction ceremony was complete
Only a few protesters were in the crowd

See more photos of the event after the jump.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Empty Welland Canal

Somebody pulled out the plug and the water has emptied through several of the locks within the Welland Canal. Last year's season was extended until January 8, 2020 as part of a pilot program. Now that the shipping has stopped navigating the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System locks which bypass Niagara Falls it is time to do winter maintenance so that the canal is ready to go for the upcoming transit season.

It is interesting to see the canal with only a small flow remaining along the centre channel, otherwise the banks are exposed and you have to imagine what it would be like during summer with giant boats moving both ways along the canal. In some areas the empty canal seems to small to allow the bulk carrier ships to pass even when full.

City of Toronto to proclaim February as Black History Month 2020

Mobile museums and theatre productions will help celebrate Black History Month in Toronto which will be proclaimed by Mayor John Tory.

Here are some events and attractions around Toronto for Black History Month as described in the City's media release.

"Mackenzie House presents Black History Month programming everyday, February 1 to March 1, from noon to 5 p.m., in which the public can learn about important figures such as the multi-talented abolitionist and journalist Mary Ann Shadd Cary — the first female African American publisher in North America. City staff will be on hand to print souvenir copies of her paper, The Provincial Freeman, in the recreated 1850s print shop.

Torontonians can celebrate Toronto’s local Black history listening to slam poetry and Jamaican Patois-style storytellers. The Story of Us: Sharing Black Torontonian Stories will be held at Scarborough Museum every Wednesday throughout the month, noon to 4 p.m. A spoken word performance will also take place at the museum on February 22, noon to 4 p.m., that blends narrative, visuals and beats to reach audiences of different ages, backgrounds and beliefs about the realities of Toronto’s first-generation Somali youths.

Spadina Museum will offer tours every weekend from February 1 to March 1 where residents can learn about Mrs. Pipkin, the laundress, who escaped slavery in 1850s Maryland and later worked for the Austin family in Toronto.

From February 6 to 8, Toronto will host the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) mobile museum initiative, which celebrates the NHL and Black History Month. This is the second year of the museum touring cities across North America and this year’s museum has been redesigned to offer fans a new experience as they learn about the history of the game. The museum celebrates today’s stars and looks back at the trail blazers who made history. The Black History Month celebration is part of Hockey Is For Everyone, a joint NHL and NHLPA initiative that has celebrated diversity and inclusion in hockey since 1996.

The mobile museum will be in the following locations, free of charge:

February 6, 3 to 8 p.m. Harry Gairey arena parking lot, 275 Bathurst St.
February 7, 3 to 8 p.m. Malvern Community Centre, 30 Sewells Rd., east entrance parking lot
February 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunnydale Acres Rink, 50 Amoro Dr., south parking lot
More information on the museum can be found at

The theatre-in-education program at Montgomery’s Inn will feature Singing of the Birds on February 15 and 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. Through this production, the audience will learn about the joys and struggles of two young immigrants who fled the Irish famine and escaped American slavery with the help of Canada’s Underground Railroad. Finding Freedom: The Joshua Glover Story performances, which will take place February 22 and 23 from 6 to 8 p.m., portray Glover’s extraordinary story and his life at Montgomery’s Inn.

Colborne Lodge will feature a live performance called Girl Power’D on February 16 and 23 from 2 to 3 p.m. With a focus on cultural dance led by community elders, the program will include live drumming, African dancing, and Dunham style technique with the goal of teaching creativity, confidence and self-expression through an understanding of heritage to girls from five to 16 years old who identify as Black.

Gibson House is offering a spoken word and food experience on February 21 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. where participants will experience an unforgettable evening of rap, spoken word and classical music in the parlours. Visitors can enjoy a catered buffet and watch a live painting demonstration. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Residents are invited to explore African-Canadian cooking at Fort York National Historic Site on February 29 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Food samples from the African Diaspora and historic cooking demonstrations will be part of the event.

Toronto Public Library celebrates Black History with a collection of programs and special events that honour Black heritage and consider the historical significance and contemporary contributions of Black activists and artists from around the world. More event details are available at

A listing of City-related exhibitions, educational displays, community-based programming and admission fee information is available at

The City strives to create and sustain equity in government to serve and reflect all people and is implementing positive change in its workforce and communities to achieve access and realize equitable outcomes for all residents.

The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, unanimously adopted by City Council, is being implemented by the City's Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) Unit to ensure that systemic changes are made to eliminate anti-Black racism in Toronto."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wiarton Willie and Groundhog Day

Update: February 2nd see my post on the 2020 festival

I have never met Willie before, not during any of my many visits to his home in Wiarton. For all I know he lives in Florida and only jets up north to Canada on one single day, solely to make his famous prediction about the end of Winter.
I can now say that I have seen Wiarton Willie!
That day is of course the annual Groundhog Day which happens February 2nd. In 2020 this is a Sunday and there is an entire free festival and carnival to help celebrate the event. The festival originally started in 1956 and has become more popular even while cycling through a few psychic rodents, each given the name Wiarton Willie. When the groundhog first goes outside, it looks for its shadow. If there is a shadow he goes back to sleep in his burrow because it is a sign of six more weeks of winter, if there is no shadow then spring is near and the groundhog goes to the bars because it's party time.

Sunday, February 2, 2020 festival schedule:

6:30 am Pancake Breakfast-Wiarton Arena
7:00 am Prediction Morning Festivities-Wiarton Arena
7:00 am waking up Willie with fireworks in Bluewater Park
7:30 am Groundhog Jog-Peninsula Shores District School
8:00 am Mixed Curling Bonspiel-Wiarton Curling Club
8:07 am Willie's prediction
9:00 am Dan the Music Man-Wiarton Arena
9:00 am Willie Warming Station-Century 21
10:00 am Zoo to You-Wiarton Arena.
10:00 am Carnival opens in Bluewater Park
10:00 am Dockside Willie’s Warming Station-Bluewater Park
11:00 am Optimist Food Booth-Wiarton Arena
11:00 am Lions Club Hockey Tournament-Wiarton Arena
1:00 pm Willie Saloon-Wiarton Legion
2:00 pm Family Story Time-Ross Whicher Centre
3:00 pm Robbie Burns Dinner-Wiarton Meeting Place

Wiarton, Ontario is at the base of the South Bruce Peninsula, along the shores of Georgian Bay - about 3 hours northwest of Toronto. From the Town's website; The Town of South Bruce Peninsula is fortunate to have something that no one else has, an albino weather prognosticating groundhog! As the most famous groundhog in Canada and the only albino weather prognosticator in the world, Wiarton Willie's prediction of the timing of spring is a news event that captures the interests of people around the world. Each year media from around the world converge on Wiarton to hear Willie make his famous prediction. Wiarton loves their beloved groundhog so much that they have branded the town "Willie's Basecamp"! Willie loves to make new friends so add a visit to the home of Wiarton Willie to your bucket list today!"

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Coronavirus in Toronto

A second case of the virus has been confirmed in Toronto. The impact of the novel Coronavirus expands as cases around the world continue to grow. I have read that the cases are growing exponentially and are expected to peak in May or June which means a lot of people will be infected. New hand sanitizing stations are appearing in the Toronto Eaton Centre as the virus continues to gain steam around the world.

Spreading the virus between humans happens during the early phase when symptoms are not apparent 2 to 14 days after infection. While it appears to have a much lower mortality then SARS it puts a lot of people in the hospital, which can overload already atrained health resources. Research will hopefully contain the virus before mutations make the virus more deadly.

News Release January 29, 2920 - Statement from Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health.

"Yesterday, we received lab confirmation of the second of two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Toronto. We also learned that there is a presumptive positive case in British Columbia. This news is not unexpected as we have a very mobile population, with a lot of travel back and forth between Canada and China. I am reminding residents that at this time, the risk to our community remains low.

Inaccurate information continues to spread, and this is creating unnecessary stigma against members of our community. I am deeply concerned and find it disappointing that this is happening. Discrimination is not acceptable. It is not helpful and spreading misinformation does not offer anyone protection. I understand that when there are uncertainties people may worry. I want to remind people to check credible, evidence-based sources to get the facts when seeking information. We are updating our website as new facts are confirmed to keep you informed.

My team has set up a hotline to provide the public with a place to get information, ask questions about this virus and connect with a health professional. I encourage people who have questions to contact us at 416-338-7600.

One of our main roles in public health is to manage public health risks and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We do this each and every day. We all have a role in building a healthier community for our residents. One of the simplest ways we can do this is to not contribute to the spread of misinformation and to share evidence-based facts. Please go to trusted information sources to get the facts, as they are confirmed.

Our advice remains the same: if you are sick, stay home and get plenty of rest and fluids to let your body recover. Only seek medical attention if you are not getting better or your condition is not improving. If you have questions, please rely on credible sources for information, including Toronto Public Health."

The risk to our community remains low. I will let you know directly if this changes. For more information, please visit

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