Friday, June 30, 2017

#Canada150 Holiday Weekend is Here

Fireworks, concerts and a giant rubber duck will make the City of Toronto party central over the June 30-July 3, 2017 long weekend. Canada's birthday celebration will kick off with concerts by artists like Barenaked Ladies and Buffy Sainte-Marie during the free Canada Days festival at Nathan Phillips Square. Friday, June 30 will see the fun start at 5 and run to 11pm and will feature adult beverages, live music on three stages, dance, street performers and circus performances with a fireworks finale each night at 10:55pm
The main stage performers at City Hall for Friday are the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra (5:15pm), Bareto (6:40pm), Buffy Sainte-Marie (8:05pm) and the Barenaked Ladies (9:45pm). Canada Day July 1st Municipal events in Toronto will also take place at Humber Bay Park West, Scarborough Civic Centre and Mel Lastman Square and each of these locations will have a fireworks show.
And the baby duck is on dry land
The World's largest Rubber Duck is docked down at HTO Park. See more of the duck on my post here.

You can find the big duck down at the Redpath Waterfront Festival from July 1-3 along with other on-land and on-water programming such as music, food, entertainment and nautical programs.
Fireworks can also be seen at Amesbury Park, Ashbridges Bay Park and on the CN Tower at various times near dusk.
Crossing the pedestrian bridge into Ontario Place
Some great artists entertained the crowds in Ontario Place

The free admission Heritage Ontario Festival will be at Ontario Place June 30 - July 3 and Queen's Park will have a Canada Day celebration July 1 which will officially open with a 21-gun salute at noon.

Weekend events and road closures information from the City of Toronto are after the jump.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Honda Indy Toronto 2017 coming mid-July

Track construction which started on June 7 is well underway in Exhibition Place and the 11-turn temporary street circuit is taking shape as the concrete block barrier and fencing are put in place. With over 10 million pounds of concrete barriers and almost a half million pounds of steel fence put in place to keep fans safe you can see why the build takes almost a month. At the same time as track construction is happening, the grandstands are also being put in place. Jim Tario, Director of Track Operations manages a crew of almost 200 in a mostly night operation to minimize the impact upon commuters.
The Mayor of Hinchtown rides into the pits on Friday, July 13, 2017

Update: See coverage of the 2017 race weekend on my post here.

Pit Lane and a stockpile of barriers

Honda Indy Toronto track build 2017
360 degree sphere panorama photo of pit lane

Lake Shore Boulevard West will close on midnight of July 12 as the final track sections are placed, ready for the July 14-16 Honda Indy Toronto. “Each year the crew gets more efficient with the construction and tear down process. The logistics of night construction comes at a greater cost to us, but the time savings is significant in completing the track build,” said Jeff Atkinson, president of Honda Indy Toronto. “We transform the streets into a world-class race track while showcasing the beauty of our city to a worldwide TV audience.” As the weekend event finishes, the track tear down will begin right away on Sunday, July 16.
Festival Map
Panorama of Pit Lane across from BMO Field

The headline races will be the NASCAR Pinty's Series Grand Prix of Toronto on Saturday, June 15 and the Verizon IndyCar race on Sunday, June 16. Other races on the card are the Global MX5 Cup, USF2000, Porsche Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge and the Indy Lights series. You can see the race schedule later in this post.
In addition to the on-track excitement there is plenty of entertainment with a lot of family friendly areas just for children. "One of the new family initiatives is the creation of a kids club dubbed "Honda Indy Toronto Rookie Racers," best suited for children aged five to 12 years. Club registration is now open for $20 each with a limited number of memberships made available. Kids 12 and under get free general admission to the Honda Indy Toronto making this an exceptional value." Benefits of the Rookie Club including gifts and apparel from race series and event sponsors like Tires, Honda Canada, NASCAR and Tim Hortons.

Adjacent to Thunder Alley will be the Honda SpeedZone which will have fan activities all weekend and the infield also will hold the NASCAR Pinty's Series Garage and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Paddock. Honda World will be near BMO Field across from Pit Lane and will feature the Honda Canada's Junior Red Riders program which allows children to ride dirt bikes with full safety gear provided. "The enthusiasm from our partners in supporting this new Honda Indy Toronto Rookie Racers program has been phenomenal," said Jeff Atkinson, president of Honda Indy Toronto. "Our youngest fans are in for an exceptional experience which will create an impactful connection to the sport for a lifetime."

Prior to race weekend will be the inaugural Indy Cycling Challenge in support of Prostate Cancer Canada on the afternoon of Thursday, July 13 with circuits of ten and twenty-five kilometres. Racers will compete for prizes in the timed event.

Fan Friday sponsored by the Ontario Honda Dealers Association returns again with free entrance with a voluntary donation to Make-A-Wish Canada.

Honda Indy Toronto has introduced the Great Canadian Combo ticket which includes one single day general admission ticket, one Smoke's Poutinerie Poutine and one Tim Hortons $10 gift card all for a purchase price of $45. Tim Hortons joined the Honda Indy as a sponsor in 2016 and continues as the event's official coffee and baked goods provider. "Tim Hortons joined as a partner of the race for the first time last year, and we're proud to have them return again," said Jeff Atkinson, president of the Honda Indy Toronto. "As Canada celebrates its 150th, this is a truly Canadian ticket package combining our country's iconic race weekend, coffee and food at a fantastic value."

Daily Schedule and Festival Information after the jump.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Toronto Pride Parade 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Mayor John Tory, pictured above, were near the front of Sunday's Pride Parade as it left from Church and Bloor Streets at 2pm. This year's parade did include a contingent of Black Lives Matter but they did not halt the march.

With the final parade and the end of the street festival, Pride Month 2017 is quickly winding down, rain only making the day more memorable as it came down by the buckets at noon. The moisture only slowed the festival down a bit, then it was back to full streets full of people enjoying the atmosphere of the Church Wellesley Village. Here are some more pictures of the StreetFest.

Crowds at Pride Parade
A 360 degree view of the crowds at Bloor and Church Street

See more of the street festival and Pride Parade after the jump.

Oxford Renaissance Festival

Travel back in time when road rage meant picking up a lance and running full tilt into a knight on horseback or when the girl next door was referred to as M'lady. There used to be a great Renfest in Milton but that shut down years ago, now if you want to dress up in all your regal splendor you may want to go to the annual Oxford Renaissance Festival in Dorchester, Ontario. In 2017 the royal, pirate and fantasy festival takes place in the Dorchester Fairgrounds from Saturday, June 24 to Sunday,  25.
This festival started in 2013 and used to be held in Woodstock but moved to Dorchester in 2016. They are "proud to carry on the tradition of celebrating history, live music & entertainment, and artistic endeavors." The year is 1566 or thereabouts and the small village of Wolvercote, just down the road from Oxford University, is the setting for all manner of excitement and costumes - from pirates to Roman centurions and a goodly number of knights in search of a round table and something to stab people with. Huzzah, I will see you in the Morrow, until then I must away.
Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 1st and her court attend the festivities and are greeted with cries of God Save the Queen. You can volunteer and join the members of the Queen's party or just wear your costume to the festival. Wandering the village you can see vendors, stage shows and some exciting battles by noble sirs intent on delivering bodily harm to their peers on the backs of war  on horses or later, on the ground using swords and axes. Loved the jousting as the lances break into pieces with the horses running towards each other and the knights not yielding until contact is made.

New Riders of the Golden Age take to the Royal Arena on large horses with both in suits of full armour fashioned in the 16th century style. Wearing titling armor the fighters don't pussyfoot around, no this is full contact jousting using 10 foot long, solid pine lances and it is fun to watch. These guys are professional knights from War Horse Farm in Florida and fight all over the US and Canada.

The Washing Well Wenches - wet, dirty women that are a lot of fun

You could wander the outdoor or indoor vendors with such fare as crowns, swords and food, come upon some magical ladies in the Fairy Village, take in the shenanigans at the Washing Stage, watch the action at the Queen's Stage or at the larger Royal Stage tent or take the kids to the inflatables area. You could also take up some archery, watch the trebuchet launch watermelons onto a stick army or watch the gun crew shoot off a 3 pound canon or even take a ride on a War Horse. Boars Head Tavern also featured a great band and a small craft beer festival. Parking was free but they requested a donation for charity.

Dorchester is almost two hours from the centre of Toronto in a westerly direction, close to the City of London. luckily it is only a few minutes off Highway 401 so it is very easy to get to. The weekend festival starts at 10am and continues to about 7pm with full schedules of events throughout the day.

You can also check out the upcoming Royal Medieval Faire in Waterloo, Ontario on September 16, 2017. These festivals recreate a simpler time right after the black plague had cleared out a large portion of the world's population and people dressed up in metal suits to help them survive a day's work. For the rest it is a chance to play dress up and socialize with friends. It is also interesting if you want to try something a little different rather than the usual dinner and a movie or netflix and chilling.

See more of the fun after the jump.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Canada Days festival 2017

Toronto will host four days of music and performing arts in a special festival to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday. The festival is planned for June 30 to July 3 at select municipal facilities including Nathan Phillips Square. 'The Provinces', 2016 by artist Douglas Coupland is in Brookfield Place in the photo at top.
Stand for Canada and the Toronto signs

"The city-wide Canada Days festival showcases the diversity of our city and our residents through more than 130 performances across four sites," said Mayor John Tory. "From Indigenous and Francophone artists to the many cultures represented across the city, Toronto's diversity will be heard, seen and felt this Canada Day long weekend through music, dance and arts. I encourage all Torontonians to join the celebrations."
Stage set in the reflecting pond

“In this momentous Canada 150 year, Canada Day celebrations will highlight what makes our country so unique, diverse and vibrant," said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "I invite all people of Toronto to participate in the activities surrounding July 1. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to celebrate this important milestone with your family, friends and neighbours.”

"This Canada Day, thousands of local revelers and visitors from around the world will be treated to extraordinary, not-to-miss, 150th anniversary celebrations in Toronto that will pay tribute to the cultural diversity we have in Ontario,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “2017 will be a year to remember, with nearly 1,000 Ontario150 programs and events taking place across the province that will bring us together, ignite our spirits and capture our imaginations.”
"Toronto’s celebrations will encompass all corners of the City," said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic Development Committee and Chair of the City of Toronto's Canada 150 External Advisory Committee. "It is a great opportunity to get all Torontonians involved in these once-in-a-lifetime festivities."

From the City of Toronto News Release:

With more than 130 performances by national and international artists, the all-star lineup will highlight Canada's rich cultural fabric and will feature a diverse blend of music, dance, circus and street arts.

Canada Days headliners will include Barenaked Ladies and Buffy Sainte-Marie on June 30, Ron Sexsmith and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on July 1, dvsn on July 2 and Belly on July 3 at Nathan Phillips Square.

July 1 performances will include Basia Bulat and DakhaBrakha at Humber Bay Park West, Busty and the Bass and The Lytics at Mel Lastman Square, and Deen Squad and Horsepowar at Scarborough Civic Centre. A fireworks display at 10:55 p.m. will take place nightly at all four sites and food and beverage will be available for purchase.

On July 1, national partner CIBC, in partnership with Canadian Heritage and the City, is hosting a Citizenship Reaffirmation Ceremony at the four Toronto sites, in addition to 17 other communities across Canada. These ceremonies will showcase cultural performances, the recitation of the Oath of Citizenship and the singing of O Canada, to help ignite national pride across the country and celebrate what it means to "Stand for Canada."

Canada Days is produced by the City of Toronto in partnership with the Province of Ontario’s Ontario150 Program and the Government of Canada. The event is sponsored by National Partner, CIBC; Premier Sponsor, Tim Hortons; Official Beer Sponsor, Steam Whistle Brewing; Official Wine Sponsor, Barefoot Wines & Bubbly; Official Beverage Sponsor, Pepsi; Official Volunteer Sponsor, Vistaprint; and Hospitality Partner, Barque.

Social media updates on Canada Days are available on Facebook at, on Twitter at, on Instagram at and on Snapchat at The event hashtag is #C150TO. A custom Canada Days Snapchat geo-filter for Nathan Phillips Square will be available from June 30 at 5 p.m. to July 3 at midnight, and for Scarborough Civic Centre, Humber Bay Park West and Mel Lastman Square from 2 p.m. to midnight on July 1.

Toronto Pride Weekend 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor John Tory and First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde at the 2017 parade

The month of Pride takes place from June 2-25 at events all over the City and this weekend brings the festivities to a close with several parades and the Church and Wellesley Village StreetFair. The whole event is a vibrant, inclusive, energy filled party that brings in visitors from around the world.
With the City shutting down Church Street at 6pm on Friday, June 23 to allow the setup of the street festival, participants of the first parade - Friday's Trans March, assemble at Church and Bloor Streets. Both the StreetFair and the Trans March begin at 7pm. This parade heads out along Bloor Street, turns south on Yonge Street, east on Carlton Street and ends at Allan Gardens. The Streetfair lasts the weekend long and is worth a long visit.

StreetFair Hours: Church Street, Wellesley Street and Alexander Street
Friday, June 23, 2017 7:00pm - Saturday, June 24, 2017 2:00am
Saturday, June 24, 2017 12:00pm - Sunday, June 25, 2017 2:00am
Sunday, June 25, 2017 12:00pm - 11:00pm

On Saturday, June 24 the Dyke March begins at 2pm and will follow the same route as the Trans March, finishing once again at Allan Garden Park.

The culmination of Pride Month is the Pride Parade which starts Sunday, June 25 at 2pm running from Church and Bloor Streets, west on Bloor, south on Yonge Street and end at Yonge and Dundas Streets.
From the City of Toronto: Pride weekend events with road closures in Toronto

Pride Week festivities in Toronto this weekend will involve events with some road closures as described below. Residents and visitors are encouraged to come out and enjoy these events. Businesses in the areas affected are open to pedestrian traffic but some roads will be closed to vehicles.

Festivals and other special events are important to the city, injecting hundreds of millions of dollars annually into Toronto’s economy, and they are enjoyed each year by local residents.

In addition to road closures related to special events, a significant amount of road work is taking place in the city. People are encouraged to take public transit as a greener, faster and more affordable way of getting to their destinations.

Those who need to drive in the general vicinity of special events should allow extra time to get to and from their destinations. A more complete list of events and road work is available at

TTC customers can receive information about service diversions by subscribing to eAlerts at or following @TTCnotices on Twitter.

Pride Week events
• Church Street Pride Festival, June 23-25
Church Street from Carlton Street to Hayden Street will be closed from Friday, June 23 at 6 p.m. to Monday, June 26 at 6 a.m. for the street festival.

• Trans Pride March, Friday, June 23
Route: The march will start at Church Street and proceed from Hayden to Bloor Street, west on Bloor Street, south on Yonge Street and east on Carlton Street to Allan Gardens. Roads along the route will be closed from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

• Pride and Remembrance Run, Saturday, June 24
Wellesley Street between Jarvis Street and Queen's Park Circle, and Queen's Park between College and Bloor Streets, will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to noon for the run.

• Dyke March, Saturday, June 24
Route: The march will start at the intersection of Church and Hayden Streets, proceeding north to Bloor Street, west on Bloor Street, south on Yonge Street and east on Carlton Street to Allan Gardens. Roads affected will be closed from noon to 6 p.m., with the march itself from 2 to 5 p.m.

• Pride Parade, Sunday, June 25
Route: The parade will start at Church Street and Bloor Street East, proceed west on Bloor Street, south on Yonge Street and east on Dundas Street East to Victoria Street. A number of roads in the area will be closed for periods between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with the parade itself taking place from 2 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Freighter moves under Burlington Bay Lift Bridge

The Algoma Equinox approaches the City of Hamilton, lining up the 740 foot long freighter to pass through the Burlington Bay Canal, under the lift bridge and into the harbour. The tower driven, lift bridge sees the ship, sends out an alarm, drops the barriers across Eastport Drive and raises the massive steel roadway 33.5 metres high into the air to allow safe passage for the Equinox.

From the Canadian Public Services website: "The bridge spans the Burlington Canal that was opened in 1826. Once a narrow cut, the canal now provides Burlington Bay (Hamilton Harbour) with navigable access to the Atlantic Ocean. The canal connected the Hamilton Harbour industrial region to international trade and commerce. It was among a series of waterway projects begun, 200 years ago, to provide navigation from Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean. Today the Burlington Canal remains a busy waterway and is vital to the area commerce. There were five different moveable bridges located on this site since 1830. The present bridge was opened in 1962 and carried two lanes of vehicular traffic across the canal. This structure originally had tracks for the Hamilton — Northwestern railway which were removed in 1982 when the road way was widened to four lanes."

Video by Ann Hamilton

Ann and I kayaked in from Beachway Park, setting off from the closed off beaches that used to have sandy shores that ran 30 feet or more down to the waters of Lake Ontario. Now the water is so high that the beach is ten feet or less. The water itself is still a little cool for swimming unless you like it brisk, baby

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Speed 2 - Kayaking in Guelph

Our first trip on the Speed River in the University town was most excellent and we had boated from the Royal City Park to Victoria Street which was just over 2.5km each way. This weekend, before the rain and thunder came and the tornado warnings were still in the future, we returned to the Speed to check out the sequel - from Victoria Street to Stone Road (another 2.5km).

Part of the bridge has collapsed

We were thinking of parking at Royal City Jacees Park off of Highway 7/York Road but for some reason that place is all closed down. Parking is closed and the park is returning to nature. The two large ponds are full of geese and you have to walk through a field of goose crap to see the water. They separate bodies of water are not connected in any way that you can boat from one to the other and the water looks a little skunky so we give up on this option and continue on our search.
You have to boat around a lot of trees that fall into the water. I don't know how much would be navigable during the dry season

There are a bunch of streets off York Road west of Victoria Street, that terminate at the Eramosa River Park and the Royal Recreational Trail. You can drop off your canoes or kayaks at the cul-de-sac and park back up the street.
The railway crossing bridge
A partial underwater photo at the rapids
The old bridge at Stone Road
The boating is fabulous now, water is high and temperature is perfect for wading. Going upstream we pass a cool railway bridge, an old, abandoned wooden bridge and finally we hit the shallow rapids about 400m from Stone Road. We had to walk our kayaks upstream, finally dropping them off along the river banks and continuing to Stone Road to see the twin bridges - one is the newer one, one is the adjacent 1916 arch bridge with cool arches blocked off for use as a recreational trail.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square