Monday, May 20, 2019

Toronto Collision tech conference 2019

Opening night at #CollisionConf reached capacity at 5pm and the large crowd waits for the first remarks and PM Justin Trudeau to take to the main stage. At 5pm Collision brought 15 rising businesses to the forefront of the night as they discussed their products in a series of rapid pitches in front of thousands at the Enercare Centre. The pitches are interesting and provide a window into people trying to solve current tech concerns or to fill a new niche. Over 25,000 people, 47.5% of them female, from 125 countries will be at the conference which features over 700 speakers and 15 content tracks.
Shahrzad Rafati's fireside chat with Justin Trudeau 
In just a little time the official opening will be provided by Paddy Cosgrave of Collision, followed at 6:30pm by the Prime Minister. It's standing room only as centre stage is surrounded by attendees to North America's fastest growing tech events. Justin came business casual with some great messages about the benefits of Canada. Our immigration policies and growing status as a tech hub is drawing professionals as well as businesses back to Canada.

The Toronto region is the largest technology hub in Canada and ranks fourth in North America. Providing more the 300,000 jobs in 24,000 companies. From the City of Toronto In 2016, the growth of the Toronto region technology sector outpaced that of New York City and San Francisco combined. Based on that growth rate, Toronto is expected to have more technology jobs than Silicon Valley in the near future."
Houseplant founders Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen on stage with Karan Wadhera
Seth Rogen, actor and is here to talk about his recreational cannabis company Houseplant and his cinematic experiences with movies like Pineapple Express, 40 Year Old Virgin and more. Seth gave a big shout out to Prime Minister Trudeau for his legalization of marijuana. He talks about the need for trust and education and hopes to have their product available in Ontario soon. Seth is not confident of the American market yet but is trying to change the climate in the US to support legalization.
City of Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed attendees, was happy to note the high representation of women in tech and helped Collision CEO Paddy Cosgrave countdown to the opening which released fireworks and a waterfall of sparklers falling from the ceiling. Toronto will be the home of Collision for three years, including 2019, as the conference leaves the United States for the first time. "Toronto’s technology and innovation sector is growing at a phenomenal rate. Collision will have a huge economic impact on our city and will help us build on that success." - Toronto Mayor John Tory

More from the City of Toronto; "Collision brings together the people and companies that are redefining the global technology industry. More than 25,000 attendees, including 3,750 CEOs and 750 journalists, from 120 countries are anticipated to attend. The conference is part of a series of technology conferences that include Web Summit in Europe and RISE in Hong Kong. The event includes 14 standalone conferences that focus on industry tracks including marketing, design, coding, robotics, SaaS, big data and more, curated roundtables and workshops, and networking events."

Some highlights of the opening night speakers

The conference is on from Monday, May 20 to Thursday, May 23. Dynamic speakers, startups, leading tech companies, summits and a large expo floor open early on Tuesday as the main conference continues at Exhibition Place. And don't forget about the nightly summits: "Every night during Collision, our attendees will take over a new neighbourhood in Toronto. From street parties to more intimate networking events, Night Summit has something for everyone. We'll see you there."

Conference Hours:
Monday, May 20 Pre-registration & opening night 10am – 8.30pm
Tuesday, May 21 Day 1 9am – 5.30pm
Wednesday, May 22 Day 2 9am – 5.30pm
Thursday, May 23 Day 3 9am – 5.30pm

May 21 will include talks about one of my favourite tech subjects - self driving cars from Dmitri Dolgov, CTO of Waymo; "In the two years since Waymo introduced a fleet of fully autonomous cars to Phoenix, it has run ten million miles of testing and launched its commercial service, Waymo One. But what will it take to bring self-driving cars to millions of people around the world?
Speakers". Also up at centre stage will be David Eun with What's NEXT: Bringing AI to life.

Some other hot button topics that you can learn about are Blockchain ("Blockchain is the new cyber dark art. Complex and mystifying to most, does it really solve any of our technology problems? Is it secure? Scalable? Or is it all just hype?") and Hyperloop ("With zero emissions and the ability to travel at more than 1000 km/h, will the hyperloop be a feasible alternative to the relatively expensive, slow, and environmentally harmful means of travel we have today?").

Pitches start tomorrow with Colli'sion's statup competition showcasing early stage companies joining together for a live, onstage pitching battle. On Thursday, celebrity Damon Wayans Jr. from TV shows like New Girl and Happy Endings, and now co-founder of Special Guest App will appear in a Q&A at 3:30pm.

There is a lot to learn and a lot to take in so prioritize your trip and use the Collision App to help your scheduling.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

CONTACT and Artfest in the Distillery District 2019

Victoria Day weekend brings the Spring Artfest and an exhibition the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival into the historic Distillery District. Artfest happens during the two long weekends during the glorious Toronto summer and the first annual 2019 event is on May 18-20. From Artfest "The show focuses on fine art and craft with a splash of gourmet food. A curated selection of 80 artists from across Ontario, Quebec and beyond will be exhibiting their art and craft throughout the Historic Distillery District. You will discover paintings, photography, sculpture, pottery, glass art, jewellery, designer clothing and more." Open from 11am to 6pm daily over the holiday weekend with free admission.
A wedding proposal in the Distillery District
Good Stuff Bad Stuff photo

The CONTACT photo exhibition by Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart "Good Stuff Bad Stuff" continues until May 31st. From CONTACT's website "What makes a home a home? Good Stuff Bad Stuff is a series of bizarre self-portraits that connect concepts of home and identity. The artist’s own grungy apartment and various public spaces serve as the backdrop to the photo series. Using physical experiences and found objects, the photographs in this exhibition explore the relationship between ourselves and the personal objects we buy, inherit, and throw away."

The spider is all wrapped up

You can walk the brick lanes, listen to live music, wander the stalls and check out the art and sculptures that are on display throughout the historic, Victorian-era industrial neighbourhood.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Long weekend events in Toronto 2019

The May two-four weekend is happening now and there are a number of fun things going on, so take advantage of the cloudy and cool spring days - what, where is the warm weather. From the City of Toronto here are some activities and closures during the Victoria Day holidays:

"The City will offer a wide variety of activities and attractions for residents on Monday, May 20, including the annual Victoria Day fireworks display at Ashbridges Bay Park. Many family attractions will be open. City-operated recreation centres, however, will be closed and recreation programs will not operate on Monday.

Fireworks at Ashbridges Bay
The City will present Victoria Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay Park starting at 10 p.m. on Monday, May 20. The show will feature about 2,000 individual fireworks, with a spectacular finale. Ashbridges Bay Park is located on Lake Shore Boulevard East at the foot of Coxwell Avenue and is readily accessible by public transit. Attendees are encouraged to use public transit and leave personal vehicles at home. Information about TTC schedules and routes is available at

City bylaws prohibit the public from setting off or selling fireworks in any City of Toronto park. Enforcement officers will be onsite to help ensure a safe and enjoyable event at Ashbridges Bay Park.

Golf at municipal courses
Toronto's five municipal golf courses are located on beautiful parklands and offer early-bird rates. These affordable, high-quality and TTC-accessible courses are open daily, including Victoria Day. More information about City-run golf courses is available at

Tennis courts
All public tennis courts will have nets up and will be available for use throughout the Victoria Day weekend. Public sites are free and available to the public. Tennis players are asked to share the courts by limiting their play time to half-hour intervals if others are waiting to use the courts. More information about public tennis courts is available at

Riverdale Farm
Riverdale Farm is representative of a 19th-century Ontario farm and is home to heritage breeds such as Shorthorn cows, Tamworth pigs and Cotswold sheep. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. More information is available at and or by calling 311.

High Park's animal display
Victoria Day is a great time to see the High Park Animal Display's spring babies. This attraction is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. More information is available at

Toronto Island Park
The City has switched to its summer ferry schedule, offering trips to the islands every 15 minutes. Toronto Island Park is a great place for a scenic picnic, hike or bike ride, and features the interactive Franklin Children's Garden. Many attractions offered by independent operators are also onsite, including Centreville Theme Park and Far Enough Farm. Ferry tickets can be purchased in advance at Information about the amusement park and farm are available at

Splash pads
Splash pads will begin to operate across the city on Saturday, May 18, with a few exceptions at sites that are undergoing maintenance or are located on outdoor pool decks. Splash pads operate daily from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and are activated with push-button features. Caregivers are reminded to supervise their children at these are unsupervised water-play areas. Information about splash-pad locations is available at or by calling 311.

Flowers are in full bloom at Centennial Park Conservatory (151 Elmcrest Rd.) and Allan Gardens Conservatory (19 Horticultural Ave.). Both conservatories are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. Information is available by calling Centennial Park Conservatory at 416-394-8543 and Allan Gardens Conservatory at 416-392-7288, or by visiting

Toronto History Museums
Two of the City's 10 Toronto History Museums – Fort York and Spadina Museum – will be open on Monday, May 20.

At Fort York on Monday, visitors can join a guided tour, take part in a soldier's drill or watch historic cooking demonstrations in one of the oldest kitchens in Toronto. Visitors can also stop by the Fort York Visitor Centre and explore immersive and interactive exhibits on the history of Toronto and the fort. Tours take place every hour on the hour, drill classes at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., with ongoing historic cooking demonstrations.

Spadina Museum will offer regular tours of the 1920s mansion on Monday. Visitors can see through the eyes of the Austin family that made it their home. The Austins were a prominent family whose struggles and triumphs were closely tied to those of Toronto at the start of the 20th century.
The remaining eight historic museums will be closed on Monday, but all of the historic sites will be open over the Victoria Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday). The exception is the Market Gallery, which will be closed on Sunday. Admission fees and activities vary by location. More information is available at

Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is offering peak-season hours during the May long weekend, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the last admission/entry at 6 p.m. Visitor highlights include the opening of the summer exhibit Washed Ashore – Art To Save The Sea, an event called the Little Tikes World’s Biggest Play Date (on Saturday, May 18), daily zoo-keeper talks and the Discovery Zone. More information is available at

City of Toronto Archives
The City of Toronto Archives, located at 255 Spadina Rd., will be closed on Monday, May 20. More information is available at

Toronto Public Library
All Toronto Public Library branches will be closed on Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20. Branches will be open regular hours on Saturday, May 18. You can download and stream ebooks, magazines, movies and music any time via

Other municipal facilities and services
City of Toronto emergency and 24-hour services will operate throughout the long weekend. City administrative offices and service counters, City-operated child care centres and Children's Services district offices will be closed on Monday, May 20 (as well as Saturday and Sunday as usual).

Toronto Road Closures

Toronto Raptors tailgate and viewing party
Bremner Boulevard from Lake Shore Boulevard West to the east side of the parking garage at 25 York St. will be closed on Friday, May 17 and Sunday, May 19 (from 7 a.m. to midnight both dates) for Toronto Raptors road and home playoff games. A map of these closures is available at

Ribfest at Yonge-Dundas Square
The south curb lane on Dundas Square between Yonge Street and O'Keefe Lane as well as the west curb lane on Victoria Street between Dundas Square and about 250 feet south of the intersection will be closed from today (Thursday) until Sunday, May 19 at midnight. A map of this closure is available at

Bathurst Street festival
Bathurst Street between Wilson Avenue and York Downs Drive will be closed on Monday, May 20 between 4 a.m. and midnight for a street festival and walk. A map of this closure is available at"

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New Generation Photography Award 2019

Three winning photographers were hosted at the Gladstone Hotel as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Lens based artists Luther Konadu, Ethan Murphy and Zinnia Naqvi were the winners of the New Generation Photography Award during the May 16 celebration. CONTACT runs from April 1 to June 30, 2019.
The prestigious award helps to support the careers of the under 30 artists and is in partnership with the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada.
The winners: Zinnia, Luther and Ethan
"The winners will each receive: A cash prize of $10,000. The opportunity to be featured in two group exhibitions. Toronto: The Gladstone Hotel (2nd Floor Main Gallery) from May 1 - June 9, 2019
Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada (Canadian Photography Institute PhotoLab) from September 27, 2019 - March 22, 2020. Award recipients will also be included in educational programming and present artist talks in September at the National Gallery of Canada."
Abandoned Room by Ethan Murphy
There were a number of gallery spaces in the Gladstone Hotel

The CONTACT Photography Festival features Canadian and International photographers, presented in a number of galleries, museums and other locations - like the large scale pictures in Brookfield 
Place. "The Festival also includes a wide range of Programs including a book fair, a symposium, lectures, talks, panels, and workshops. CONTACT exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public, with some exceptions at major museums."
Sputnik Photos at Brookfield Place - Allan Lambert Galleria

Sunday, May 12, 2019

High Park full of blossoms and people

It's a good thing Toronto's High Park is so big because when the cherry blossom festival comes into peak bloom, most of the city moves into the park to witness and document the occasion. On Saturday, May 11 the Sakura cherry trees were indeed in peak bloom and anticipated to remain that way for a few days more - unless the unmerciful weather decides to intervene, but nothing beats a sunny weekend of blossoms!

Adjacent parking lots and streets were full of park visitors as more poured in through the vehicle free roads. Public transit pumped the arteries of people, ebbing and flowing as each new streetcar dropped off its load and continued its journey. Popular spots to park were the lots along Lake Shore Boulevard, currently without the parking machines (so enjoy the free parking until they get installed), and walked north until they hit an entrance to High Park.

See the massive crowds at various spots in the park

Some of the trees did go to leaves, skipping the blossom stage and it looks like most of the trees weren't as full as other years, however the forest of white and pink was still very impressive.

Budweiser Clydesdale team in Toronto

The majestic draft horses of the Budweiser brewery are in Toronto over the weekend, part of a promotion for their new beer - Copper Lager. On Friday they were at Union Station and along King Street, today they were at the LCBO Queen's Quay and tomorrow they will be at the Historic Distillery District (noon to 2pm).
The pilots were dressed in suits of green and their copilot was a cute dalmatian puppy.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2019 in June

#WNBR is one just month away, patiently waiting for warmer weather to come as Toronto prepares for the annual clothes free protest against oil consumption on Saturday, June 8th.  Co-organizer Gene Dare poses with his bike early in the morning of the 2018 ride in the photo at top.
The ride starts at Coronation Park, just outside Exhibition Place, with people gathering around 10am for socializing and body painting, then the ride will head out onto the roads of downtown Toronto at 1pm. Gene Dare says "Rain or shine, we ride."

Look for more details as we get closer to the date and remember, it's only as bare as you dare. 2018 also had a police escort which has been missing for the past couple of years.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Doors Open Toronto 2019 May 25-26

Knock, knock. Doors Open Toronto celebrates two decades of bringing great buildings to curious visitors and this year's even happens Saturday to Sunday, May 25-26, 2019. This year has over 150 buildings with free admission. Check out Citytv, Black Creek Village, the Design Exchange, Fort York, Historic Don Jail, Old City Hall and many other local buildings and attractions.

The showcase of architectural, historical and significant buildings has "captivated residents and visitors with the history of the city through the buildings which embody its essence. This year will continue the admirable legacy of Canada's largest Doors Openevent and one of the three largest Doors Open events in the world." - Mayor John Tory. "Since its start in 2000, Doors Open Toronto has attracted more than 23.1 million visits to over 730 locations across the city. The 20th anniversary edition builds on the event's tradition of using open doors to open eyes and minds to new possibilities." - Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

There will be walking tours, special Indigenous programming, a focus at Toronto City Hall and panel discussions at the Bentway. Hours and days open over the weekend vary and some locations have paid parking.

Beerlicious Toronto BeerFest returns for 2019

#TFOB has both the Spring Beerfest and the Toronto Festival of Beer, presented by the Beer Store, coming soon to a Toronto near you. Spring marks the beginning of cottage season and why drive hours north when you can beer it up in Fort York's Garrison Common May 18-19. Then in the heat of the summer when you desperately need beer-conditioning, you can find it in Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place during TFOB 2019 from July 26-28.

You don't have long to wait for Spring Beerfest, it is just one weekend away. As as it is a long weekend, feel free to party hearty - longer. Cottage vibes, fun games, good food and entertainment is always one of the best ways to welcome summer. "We are very excited to bring Spring Beerfest Toronto back this May long weekend," said Les Murray, president and owner of Spring Beerfest Toronto. "We know fans are ready to kick-off patio season and this is the perfect place to do it. They might even discover their favourite new beer too!"

Participating beverage companies: Thornbury Village Cider House & Brewery, Georgian Bay Spirit Co, Waterloo Brewing Co., Goose Island Brewery, Pop Shoppe Hard Soda, Catapult Brewing Co., The Big Lemon, Duntroon Cyder House, Great Lakes Brewery, OverHop Brewing Co., Silly Sir Brewing Co., Northern Maverick Brewing Co., Magners Irish Cider, Common Good Beer, Storyteller Beverages, Brickworks Ciderhouse and Mill Street Brewery.

Toronto Festival of Beer

Then mid-year, the Toronto Festival of Beer happens in Exhibition Place ahead of the Canadian National Exhibition. You will be able to judge which one is better and my guess is the Festival of Beer which will have over 400 beers to tempt all tastes.

“Friday night of Toronto’s Festival of Beer features a legendary lineup of hip hop artists on the Bandshell stage,” said Les Murray, President and owner of Toronto’s Festival of Beer. “for fans of classic, old school hip hop, this in the night to join us.” Friday, July 26 headliners Public Enemy Radio will be joined by Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon & Ghostface Killah; DJ Jazzy Jeff; Smif-N-Wessun, Black Moon and Rock of Boot Camp Clik; and Toronto’s very own Michie Mee. Headliner for Saturday will be Dwayne Gretzky and Sunday will be Ja Rule and Ashanti. There will also be a Complete Country Stage with top country artists Brett Kissel, Hunter Brothers and Blackie Jackett Jr.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square