Saturday, September 30, 2017

Nuit Blanche Toronto and Les Rues Des Refuses 2017

The all night art party and the renegade art festival will fill the city with excitement and wandering souls as people take to the streets starting at sunset on Saturday, September 30. Over 90 projects are featured in Nuit Blanche from artists around the world while Les Rues Des Refuses is back with a number of events including some raves. PS if you don't like crowds you can always wait till after 3am when the people hit the combined brick wall of 'is it art?' and 'I want to go to bed!' The best way to see these exhibits is pick a part of the town you want to see and take public transit and walk around, experiencing the whole night with so many other engaged people.
Revolution is at Nathan Phillips Square
My 'light bike' mobile art exhibit is ready to go so if you see me in the streets say hi. I had a lot of positive interactions with people about my bicycle including three offers to buy my bike and one guy who screamed from a car that I should just give the bike to him. I rode over 40km during Nuit and at the end I left the city at 5:30am feeling very tired. You can see my bike in front of the Hendrick's Gin hot air balloon in the photo above.

"Hendrick's Gin, which is oddly infused with cucumber and rose, will once again bring Torontonians a taste of the unexpected, by offering a rare opportunity to view many of the Nuit Blanche art installations from 44 & ¼ cucumbers (or 44.25 feet) elevation in the air. For the first time ever, the Hendrick's L.E.V.I.T.A.T.R.E hot air balloon will be tethered at Nathan Phillips Square. If you haven't already secured your "Golden Ticket" to the stars, there will still be a chance for a select few art enthusiasts and night owls to join the standby list for the first ever hot air balloon ride at City Hall – for free. Contest winners can rest and rejuvenate in a spectacular Hendrick's Air Departure Lounge, filled with Victorian decor, magicians and mentalists, and start snapping some sky-high selfies beginning at 7:00PM on Saturday, September 30th through 7:00AM on Sunday, October 1st. "Hendrick's is a gin that elicits wonder and curiosity," comments Beth-Anne Perry, Senior National Brand Manager, Hendrick's Gin. "By bringing the L.E.V.I.T.A.T.R.E. (Levitating. Elevating. Voluminous. Illuminating. Tantalizing. Amazingly. Towering. Roaming. Eye) to life in the heart of Nuit Blanche, we are hoping to "elevate" that feeling and further open the minds of the already creative and imaginative art lovers who stop by to see us."
'Truth' at Yonge-Dundas Square

Transforming the city for the 12th time, Nuit has four featured exhibitions at four locations; "Taking to the Streets" at Queen's Park and University of Toronto, "Calculating Upon the Unforeseen" along Dundas Street from the Art Gallery of Ontario to Yonge-Dundas Square, "Life on Neebahgeezis; A Luminous Engagement" on Bay Street between Albert Street and King Street and at Campbell House Museum, and "Monument to the Century of Revolutions" at Nathan Phillips Square. 'Truth' had a circular ring of fences that brought you closer to the entrance and at 4 in the morning there was no lineup so the flight path was clear and you progressed quickly in the loop. Someone behind me said that they didn't come here for exercise, they came to see art.
'Garden Tunnel' at The Drake Hotel

At the University of Toronto downtown campus and around Queen's Park is the exhibition 'Taking to the Streets' curated by Barbara Fischer, curator of the UofT Art Museum. “There's an incredible celebratory aspect to Nuit Blanche, with so many people interested and curious about encountering something that surprises them, where people seem to really enjoy seeing things they're not familiar with,” says Fischer. Approaching Queen's Park, you’ll hear the bass from a group of souped-up cars blasting music for the Automobile installation. At the park’s College Street border, join artists and activists for Won’t Back Down, a commemoration of a Black Lives Matter protest march in 2016. Head to the U of T's Medical Sciences building for a different perspective on how police and passive protesters clash, with Holding Still // Holding Together, and have a rest while voices sing to you in unison in the Faculty of Music building for Dream Variations."

The Nuit works are catagorized as produced by the City of Toronto, partner projects (special projects and major institutions) and independent projects. You really need to go to the website and look through each project to try to determine the merits of traveling, waiting in lineup and finally seeing 'art' rather than all willy-nilly walking around Toronto and hoping for the best. And even studying the projects might still leave you disappointed. Many people probably had the I won't do this again mentality and then, what the heck let's get back on the horse and see if this year is better.
'Raveslave' in Trinity Bellwoods Park

Alternatively you can also attend what is described as the anti-nuit blanche, renegade art comes to life with Les Rues Des Refuses. Curators and producers submit their work into the Refuses facebook page with new events popping up so keep checking back. You never know what you will get with these programs but one of my favourites is always the mobile rave, however it looks like this year's Kigurumi Parade has been cancelled due to permit and zoning issues. There will be other rave events at Queen's Park (maybe not as free raves at the park may be shut down by police) and Trinity Bellwoods Park (Raveslave).
'Photon Gallery 3.0' at Site 3 coLabratory where you could look at streams of water lit by strobes
'Horses' in Queen's Park Crescent

See more of the 2017 Nuit Blanche after the jump.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Prince Harry presents the first Invictus Games medals

The Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge was the first event at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto and the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Denmark took the gold, silver and bronze medals. Founder and patron Prince Harry took a spin around the course and later gave the medals to the winners on Tuesday, September 26 as shown on the following video.
Prince Harry waves as he leaves the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

There were 13 nations competing in the off-road and agility challenges driving Jaguar F-Type SVR and Land Rover Discovery vehicles. The Games run from September 23-30.
Mayor John Tory at the opening ceremony at Toronto City Hall

Erik Schuijer who competed for The Netherlands team said “I might have been the one out there competing today but the Invictus Games is not about the individual, it’s about the team and the journey we all go on to get here. Invictus has played such an important part in my recovery so far. Not just for me but all of my family. We’re here today not just celebrating my achievements but what we’ve achieved together.”
Looking down at Nathan Phillips Sqaure
The Invictus Games tennis courts

"The Jaguar F-TYPE guarantees speed and handling precision for the tough slalom challenge course featuring ’Jaguar Smart Cones’ to create an unpredictable, constantly-changing track layout to increase driver difficulty. The Land Rover Discovery is also used on a daunting urban off-road driving course with tracks designed to test both driving and navigational skills."

The Invictus Games were started by Prince Harry after seeing the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado and hoped to expand the international reach of the competition. At the Colorado Games he also saw how the wounded warriors benefited physically, psychologically as well as socially from participation in the events.

"Billed as the world biggest international adaptive sporting event for wounded, ill and injured servicemen, servicewomen and veterans, the 2017 Invictus Games events include archery, athletics, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, and, for 2017, golf."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Fall Heat Warning for Toronto

Wow, summer is finally coming to the big city - in the Fall. With information from Environment Canada the Medical Officer of Health issued the warning for Toronto today. People should drink plenty of fluids, try to keep cool and seek an air conditioned space if you are affected by the warm temperatures. Here are some photos from Fresh Joe to help you forget the heat.
You can visit air-conditioned malls, libraries, community and civic centers and if you need help you can call 311. Please remember to not leave people or pets unattended in a car. Here is a list of the town centres where you can escape the heat.

• Metro Hall, 55 John St. (24 hours)
• East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
• North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
• Driftwood Community Centre, 4401 Jane St. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
• McGregor Community Centre, 2231 Lawrence Ave. E. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Centennial Community Centre, 1967 Ellesmere Rd. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Miss Budweiser Pit Crew competition
The temperature in Toronto on Saturday, September 23 will hit 31 degrees Celcius at 4pm with the humidex peaking at 39.

See more of Joe Hamilton's photos after the jump.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

#nb2017 Nuit Blanche around the corner

Art Night Long is coming to Toronto September 30th from sunset to sunrise. I have to get working on my light bike again to get it ready for the adventure and review this year's program. And I can't forget the anti-Nuit excitement from the Les Rues Des Refuses, although nothing has been posted about 2017 events.
There appears to be Revolution and Porta-Party coming to Nathan Phillips Square, Disturbing Graffiti in Graffiti Alley and Horses at Queens Park.

"The presence of horses might come as a surprise, heightening our perception of the city as an environment virtually exclusively designed for humans. Companion pets are tolerated as long as they are bridled by safety measures and movement constraints. The horses momentarily return to the city - if only for this night - as another species, a formidable one, and one that stands in place for species whose sentience is not commonly recognized in our language, yet once were companions that occupied an important place in the city. They heighten the perception of the city as a place from which most animals continue to be expelled, declared as pests, taken to slaughter, shot, or are kept in the safe enclosures of the zoo. The introduction of horses into public space is a curator driven project by Barbara Fischer."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Small Town Fall Fair Season

Ontario's big boy, the Canadian National Exhibition is over, and in community parks the amusement rides are starting to be setup and candy floss is being spun, ready for the gates to open. The vast majority of fairs happen in September, the golden month where leaves change colour, kids go to school and fair operators are asking if you feel lucky. The Canada Goose is the symbol of this year's fair as Acton celebrates Canada's 150th.

The Acton Fall Fair is almost ready to go. People are bringing in their baked goods and other items that will be judged, Friday is education day and the fair goes live Friday night. The blaring music, the bright lights of the rides and the beer tent are open from September 15-17, 2017.

A big part of a small town fair is the farm animals, with cattle and goat shows, poultry competitions and horse barrel racing. This is the time to win one of the colourful ribbons for your winning breeds and 4-H is heavily involved in the fair.
Former Miss Acton winner Kailey Donaldson (2012-13 Miss Acton) takes home the red ribbon for her cow. She is also entering the Ontario Plowsman 'Queen of the Furrow' contest as Halton's candidate. You have to plow a field as part of the skills competition.

Gates open to the public at 4pm Friday and 8am for both Saturday and Sunday and free shuttle buses will run from the Acton Legion to the fairgrounds in Prospect Park.

See more photos after the jump.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ship wrecks of Tobermory

The end of the Bruce Trail overlooks the town of Tobermory on the north edge of the Bruce Peninsula. From the harbour you can catch some glass bottom tours of ship wrecks and tourist destinations like Flowerpot Island as well as explore the tourist town or take the car ferry called Chi-Cheemaun over to Manitoulin Island. A plaque also notes that the Niagara Escarpments which follows an overland path, unbroken from Niagara Falls, submerges at Tobermory.
My fellow pirates
The clear waters are a beautiful blue and green and help form the entrance to Georgian Bay off the Great Lake waters of Lake Huron. We plan a two day kayak excursion with our friends heading north of Toronto to Collingwood where we check out the choppy waters at Northwinds Beach which is near the base of Blue Mountain Ski Resort. Too cold, too wavy, too late in the day. No go, so we head into Blue Mountain Village for some sightseeing and restauranteering. We stay in Collingwood for the night at Comfort Inn and Suites at the corner of Balsam and First Streets and get some rest before our adventure in the one of the prettiest towns in Ontario. In the morning the hotel puts on a great breakfast, which is included in the cost of the room, and so fortified we begin our journey to the end of the Bruce Peninsula.
Our first destination is somewhere to put in kayaks so that we can go into Big Tub Harbour to see some of the shallower ship wrecks. The closest place to find parking and a launch site was at Lighthouse Point Public Access (Tobermory Big Tub Lighthouse) which features paid parking and porta potties. We set off in our kayaks to the inland end of the harbour where the ruined ships lay on the bottom of the bay. At certain periods when the water is low, parts of the ships stick out of or are close to the surface. Bouys mark the location in an area circled by some pretty nice cottages and homes.
The view from above

At first you notice large changes in the colour of the water and when you get closer you can make out the shapes of the vessels. Without a mask or waterproof cameras it is difficult to make out the details of the ships and that is why glass bottom boat tours are very popular with the Blue Heron Company and Bruce Anchor Cruises providing these tours. One wreck seems almost complete laying across the bay in about 20 feet of water, it is the Canadian Schooner Sweepstakes sunk in 1885. Very close to this wreck is the burnt out hull of the City of Grand Rapids which caught on fire in the Tobermory harbour in 1907 and was pulled into the adjacent bay to save the dock and other ships.
City of Grand Rapids
It's a busy harbour as the tour boats come up to the ship wrecks in quick succession

We enjoy the experience and float around the wrecks wearing our pirate hats and saying 'arrrr' a lot. The tourists seem to like our pirate group and we get a lot of friendly waves before we board their ships and seize their treasure. Later we take out treasure and head out of Big Tub and into Little Tub Harbour, home to Tobermory and the loading point for the Chi-Cheemaun. We disembark our kayaks at the boat launch and survey the town, still wearing our pirate hats but leaving our cutlasses in the car. After a quick check we kayak back to the lighthouse and pack up and drive into the town for dinner and sightseeing. There are four sunken tug boats sitting in 40 feet of water along the east edge of Little Tug Harbour otherwise most wrecks rest in waters deeper than 100 feet, probably best seen by scuba divers.

Nearby is the Fathom Five National Marine Park and Land Base, the Bruce-Peninsula National park with the well known Grotto, Singing Sands and many other parks and reserves so there is lots of attractions to keep you busy in the area. The whole Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula is a tourist paradise and worthy of extended visits.

See more of our adventure after the jump.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

And tiff returns

Festival Street is back, King Street from Peter St to University Ave is blocked for the annual street festival that coincides with the start of the Toronto International Film Festival. You can enjoy the pedestrian friendly zone from September 7-10, 2017 and catch some tunes at the Slaight Music Stage or just keep your eyes peeled for some celebrities.
The streets cleared out pretty fast when a down pouring of rain drenched the festival

If nothing else you can pose in front of the cool tiff sign.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Adventures for couples in Niagara-on-the-Lake

"Jets boats, helicopters and ziplines add excitement to any day out for couples." Looking for an exciting night? It is time to consider the Niagara area with a variety of options in and around Niagara-on-the-Lake, including the gorgeous town itself and Niagara Falls down the road, with helicopter tours, jet boats and a zipline over the Niagara River Gorge. Photo above from Whirlpool Jet Boats.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017 having been in business since 1992 and provides tours of the Niagara Gorge through Devil's Hole rapids and the Niagara Whirlpool. Here are some of the top date experiences couples can enjoy in Niagara-on-the-Lake courtesy as suggested by Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours.

"Get a stunning bird’s-eye view of Niagara Falls and the gorge, courtesy of Niagara Helicopters. The helicopter flight follows the Niagara River, giving passengers an incredible view of the rapids, plus the Whirlpool and other sights along the river.

Enjoy lunch or dinner aboard the Niagara Belle, a fully restored New Orleans-style paddle wheeler, as it cruises the Niagara River. Niagara Sunset Cruises operates a variety of tours aboard the Belle, taking passengers down the Lower Niagara River, through Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake, to the mouth of Lake Ontario. Tours depart from docks in Queenston.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours takes adventure-seeking passengers on unforgettable jet boat rides from the mouth of the Niagara River through the Class 5 Devil’s Hole Rapids and to just below the incredibly powerful Niagara Whirlpool. The trip includes commentary from guides on historic locations along the route. Passengers can get onboard at three departure points: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Ont. (shuttle bus from Floral Clock on Niagara Parkway to Queenston dock) and Lewiston, N.Y.
Take your date for a jaw-dropping zipline ride to the base of Niagara Falls with Wildplay MistRider Zipline and then test your skills on a spectacular obstacle course suspended over the Niagara Gorge with Wildplay Whirlpool Adventure Course.

After any of these adventures, you and your date will want to plant your feet on solid ground and relax. Drop by Niagara-on-the-Lake craft beer maker Silversmith Brewing Company to sample some award-winning brews and soak up the ambience in a renovated former church building."

Sunday, September 03, 2017

High Rollers in Burlington - Surf City

Surfers and windsurfers in Ontario need to take advantage of every passing storm that brings high winds and rolling waves that crash onto the beach. And when the conditions are ripe these athletes head into the swells and ride the waves until their wet-suits can't keep them warm or the waves start to calm. This is the life for Great Lake Surfers year round. These guys were working hard as most of Burlington was next door at Spencer Smith Park for the "Canada's Largest Ribfest".
Bad weather threatened the skies over central Ontario for quite some time on Sunday, September 2, 2017 but in spite of a few sprinkles the rain remained at bay. Watching the whitecaps on the lake as the waves crashed along the shore, throwing up spray at the along the piers and rolling through the canal into Hamilton Harbour, you marvel at the power of wind and water. You had to pick your surf spot carefully because in some areas the waves hitting break-walls caused reflected waves that crashed into the oncoming waves, exploding in a fountain of water and showing that under water currents were probably active in the area.

There were several groups of surfers spread out along Burlington Beach and Hamilton Beach, trying to head out into the pounding waves with their big boards, riding the peaks until they were out far enough to catch a wave and stand up on the surf boards.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Toronto Buskerfest 2017

The 'Beaches' Buskerfest, which moves every couple of years, continues at Woodbine Park with a stream of talented street performers from around the world. Full of vendors, food trucks, a mini ribfest, beer garden, musical guests and a children's fair, the entertainment will keep you tapping to the beat while you enjoy more room than the former locations in the St Lawrence Market Area and downtown Yonge Street site. On from Friday, September 1 to Sunday, September 4 you may want to take public transit to get to the festival because it is hard to find any parking spaces available and surround the stage early or you will find yourself behind a couple rows of people watching the act. NorthFIRE is featured in the photo at top,
"Epilepsy Toronto is proud to announce that the 18th annual Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy will once again take place in Woodbine Park in The Beach, serving up its non-stop, action-packed, fun-filled entertainment over the Labour Day weekend, Friday September 1 through Monday September 4. Since its inception in 2000, the Toronto International BuskerFest has featured hundreds of the best street performers from around the world, hosted millions of amazed spectators and helped raise much-needed funds for Epilepsy Toronto through visitors’ donations at the gate. Now in its 18th year, the event is widely recognized as one of the best and biggest street performer festivals in the universe, and the largest epilepsy awareness event in the world!"

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square