Saturday, April 30, 2011

Toronto windmill stops spinning

Update May 1, 2011: Windmill is back in operation, lights burn brighter.

The large 91m Windshare windmill in the Exhibition grounds, installed in December2002, has stopped spinning as the bearings have given up the ghost and currently wait for replacement. These blades have nothing to do with the Toronto green power generator, but you can see the windmill working in my shot here.

Police Marine Unit

They don't wear bright red swimsuits and bounce on the beach (although their people patrol the beaches of Toronto as lifeguards) or drive flashy cigar boats, but they do drive a variety of boats along the shores of Lake Ontario keeping people safe and fighting crime in the water. Ned Hanlan II (see number one below) - a former police boat, sits tied up to the Queens Quay dock, above, and a smaller police boat patrols the inner harbour during the Toronto International Air Show, below.
Queens Quay has the large Toronto Police Marine Unit located at Queens Quay as well as three smaller units based out of Centre Island, Humber River and Bluffers Park.
I found the original Ned Hanlan tugboat sitting in Exhibition Place beside the old Nautical Museum. The museum moved over to Queens Quay and his since shut down.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dirty, Dirty Building

Oh, you are a dirty little building, a little musty, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. You can lease some offices along Yonge Street here - what will it take to get you into this beauty? It looks tired, so maybe it should get a massage from a nearby RMT.

Brought to you by the letter R

Nathan Phillips Square construction continues: The washroom/skate rental/elevator building has been ripped down and its replacement is going up and the Peace Garden/Eternal Flame have also been removed, apparently the flame was just temporary. Here is a shot of the Peace Garden dismantling going on during winter. You can check out the winning design here.
The flags along Bay Street are still up.

Softcore Pawn Stars of Toronto

TV series ‘Pawn Stars’ in Las Vegas and ‘Hardcore Pawn’ from Detroit have shined the spotlight on the pawn business (buy, sell or use almost anything as collateral for a loan) in the States. From what I see they need margins of 40 to 60% to stay profitable and will only keep away from large items that would take up space for too long, otherwise anything seems to go. In Toronto we have a large group of pawn stores downtown in the Church Street/Queen Street East area. The few stores that I have been in are extremely crowded, dusty and, for some reason, nothing like what I see on television. They aren’t very busy either. As a photographer I check out the camera equipment and see that most of the stuff is old film cameras. Another time I checked for guitar cases but the few I found were not much cheaper than going out and buying something new.

One of the big stores is James McTamney & Company with their large green name on the Church Street building. McTamney’s say they are one of Canada’s oldest businesses and one of the world’s largest pawnbrokers. Next door is the H. Williams & Co with the large red, vertical Pawnbroker sign.

With the advent of online resellers like eBay, kijiji and Craigslist this probably isn’t the best market for selling used goods in a retail store front operation anymore. A lot of the loan business also would have gone to the abundant populations of payday loan outfits scattered everywhere. I think that they need to get Chumley on board and maybe the business north of the border may improve.

All that talk of hardcore and softcore reminds me of someone that long ago jokingly told me he was in the p*rn business. When I asked him what he did, he said he was a stunt dick. Now that was funny, when the action was too dangerous maybe a stunt dick would have to be called in to keep the star safe.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prince William and Kate Middleton in TO

Just one day before Britain's Prince William marries Kate Middleton when I stumble upon the couple in front of the Toronto Eaton Centre. They must have been on a walking tour with a friend, trying to get over their nervous state of mind waiting for the big day. They seemed a little stiff, but I figured that was just the stiff British upper lip. Cheerio and time for tea.
Just across the road and down the street I saw a small tree full of fluttering cards. They were promoting the movie 'Something Borrowed' starring Kate Hudson. The title calls to mind the marriage saying "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue" that some people follow at weddings. You could add a hope to the tree and get a gift mirror or little neon martini glass. I took the glass and had a little nosh after work.

Sears Stars on Ice at Eaton Centre

Sears presented the stars of the show ‘Stars on Ice’ at the Sears store at the Yonge & Dundas Eaton Centre. It was great to see Kurt Browning who is also know as the celebrity skating host of ‘Battle of the Blades’ and ultra-cute skater Jamie Sale signing autographs and meeting fans. You can get tickets for Friday April 29, 2011 show at the Air Canada Centre at their Stars on Ice website.
More from the Stars on Ice "This year's Sears Stars on Ice presented by Samsung brings an all-star cast of world renowned figure skaters to an arena near you. Four-Time World Champion Kurt Browning will be joined by a phenomenal cast of some of the world's most respected athletes, including 2010 Olympic gold
medalists Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. Evan Lysacek, Olympic gold medalist, will bring his flare and passion for the ice to the Canadian tour for the first time as well. Returning for another great season are Stars on Ice fan favourites, Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, Joannie Rochette, Sasha Cohen, Jeffrey Buttle, Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto, Shawn Sawyer and Kyoko Ina."

See more pictures after the jump (click on read more >>, below).

UFC Experience at Y-D Square

The UFC Experience descended on Yonge-Dundas Square on Wednesday, April 28, 2011 and it didn’t take long for fans of the mixed martial arts fighting league to gather, eager to see some of the stars of the sport. Three Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes including Ryan Bader and Jon Fitch greeted the large lunchtime crowd and signed autographs. Fighter Dominick Cruz came by later to sign autographs.
Fighter Ryan Bader (left), Royce Gracie (centre), Jon Fitch (right)

The big rig Octagon Nation was parked and inside you could find the massive silver UFC belt, pictures and memrobelia and actually wear a replica of the championship belt and stand next to the life-sized cardboard picture of Georges St-Pierre (GSP), picture at top.
Later, Octagon Girl Chandella Powell made an appearance along with fighter Josh Koscheck who also helped to receive the City of Toronto Proclamation presented by Mayor Rob Ford. You can also get UFC Fighter Stephan Bonnar’s autograph at Sears Yonge & Dundas today only between 6pm-8pm.
Octagon Ring Girl Chandella

See more photos after the jump (click on read more >>, below).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I see my Peeps

Easter Peeps stop and smell the early spring flowers like the Hyacinth, above, which are rising from the soil and helping to make this a more colourful time than the just passed dull grey winter. The bright yellow marshmallow Peeps candy are a favourite of the Easter Bunny.
Spadina Avenue Chinatown sign
Motorcycle helmet Royal Flush.
Long lashes at the Fan Appreciation ComicCon

Highway of Harper

The Stephen Harper Conservative campaign bus and entourage rolls down Highway 401 into Toronto. His slogan is "Harper here for Canada". He is not here to answer questions though - even the big one - Does Stephen Harper like squirrels?

Conservatives continue to lead the polls, Liberals are crashing and Layton is gaining momentum as we come down to the wire on election day May 2, 2011 (9:30am to 9:30pm ET in Toronto, ps this is what ID you need to vote). I say Layton because everyone seems to like Jack Layton more than the NDP party he leads. I think that the perfect combination for this election might have been with Jack Layton leading the Liberals (Hey, if Rae can do it) instead of the NDP. He might want to do this until Justin gets a little older and snatches the prize himself.

For predictions of this election check out the Election Prediction Project.
Photos taken by passenger Adam Ostrowski on the 401.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April showers

The cat can't play piano, but it understands a sunbeam.

Bring May flowers. Still, you have to walk in the rain before the flowers come out to play. So forget about clouds and thundershowers, here are some things to make you think about the flowers and the beer drinking, sunny summer that is coming.
Mailbox sundial

Waterpark fun

Good Humor bicycle ice cream carts

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boy in the 501

A small boy looks out of the back window of the TTC's #501 streetcar. The car itself is full of grime, so that reminds me; don't go around licking the outside of any TTC streetcars.
Here is another streetcar driving towards Lake Ontario at Queens Quay. Maybe it will take a bath in the cool waters of the inner harbour.

High Park anticipates cherry blossoms

Getting in and around High Park this long weekend was easy, the cool weather, grey clouds and the lack of cherry blossoms kept the big crowds away, in fact birds, squirrels and chipmunks easily outnumbered the visitors to the large park. A few people had started spring cleaning in the allotment gardens, getting ready for the upcoming growing season. The train was already carrying passengers through the streets in the park.
I wanted to check out and see what nature was up to in person after finding out that the blossoms were a little late. Some green buds have sprouted on bushes, you can see the cherry buds are swollen (see my photo update here) and some blue flowers are covering the ground in some areas.
Hikers and nature lovers were joined by puppies and dogs in the leash free zone - there was a lot of butt sniffing going on there, let me tell you, but I stopped when people started to get mad. There was a really cute shepherd dog that was wearing special sunglass goggles waiting to play fetch with his orange ball (pictured at top), this dog had been featured in a few newspaper and magazine articles. Caution signs warned of coyotes but I did not see any around, nor did I see any bunnies either, they must have been out delivering chocolate eggs.
Relaxing at the big maple leaf down near the Grenadier Pond

See more dogs and nature after the jump.

Beach Bunny 2011: Easter Parade

The Beach got all up in my face, kicked some sand at me and held the 44th annual Lions Club Easter Parade which culminated in a fuzzy, white bunny waving to all the happy people (many wearing bunny costumes and bunny ears) along Queen Street on Sunday, April 24, 2011.
Beach Bunny 2011 featured a lot of chocolate, including a golden Lindt car with bunny ears, marching bands, cheerleaders and lots of community groups marching and handing out candy while the weather warmed up as the parade wound along the street full of people. Here is Canadian Olympic Gold Medal winner and parade Grand Marshall
Bobsleader Heather Moyse flashes the golden Olympic Medal and sports bunny ears as Grand Marshall.
Toronto's 64th Mayor, Rob Ford walks in the parade.

This parade rivals the size of the Santa Claus event and has the benefit of being a lot warmer than jolly old St Nick's winter parade. Find a side street for parking and begin your hike to the side of the Queen Street where you can see the magic and your kids can put their baskets - ready for the candy that will soon come.

See plenty of pictures of the parade after the jump (click on Read More >>, below).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Cherry Blossoms 2011

Update May 7, 2011:  Blossoms are blooming around Toronto - see my photos of High Park cherry trees and the trees at Queens Park. Now back to the original post.
Update: May 2, 2011, leafs continue to sprout but no blossoms on University Avenue or by Old City Hall yet.

Update: April 25, 2011, the harsh spring has pushed back the beautiful blossoms that will soon bloom. Buds have started to build (see High Park buds above), waiting for their breakthrough moment which will probably be this week, with full bloom anticipated to be the weekend of May 7. Some of the brush has sprouted green (below), soon all the known world of Toronto will be green with envy. If the weather is nice on the weekends and the blooms are out be prepared to search high and low for parking in the area. 
Now back to the original post.
Happy Easter and merry chocolate eggs to you. When you think of easter you think of daffodils and when you think of spring you have to think of apple and cherry blossoms filling the trees with their flowers and filling the air with their scents.
In a little while you will find the beautiful blossoms down at High Park, around Old City Hall and in the centre boulevard of University Avenue. The cold weather seems to have slowed down the growth and from what I can see the buds haven't started blooming yet. Winter, it's time to let go and let blossom freedom ring. Find some High Park updates here.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square