Monday, April 30, 2018

Still waiting for Cherry Blossoms in Niagara

Update May 12, 2018: The blossoms have started to show but the cold weather might have hindered their development. Some trees have already started to have more leaves than blossoms and the orchard fields seem to have sparse blossoms now. Maybe another week may be required for peak bloom - or this could be it.
Orchards have a slight pink colouring

Niagara Botanical Gardens and Arboretum

Previous post ....

Only the Magnolia blossoms are out to play now. Cherry blossoms are still waiting for warmer weather as the buds are small on the trees. The tiny buds grow into florets and finally become cute little blossoms along row after row of trees in Niagara area orchards.
The orchards at Quiet Acres
Buds are small on the branches

See more of Niagara after the jump.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Burleigh Falls

I was driving towards Ottawa passing through scenic east Ontario, north of Highways 401 and 7, on a very rainy day. The rain started overnight and continued into day and finally overnight and into the afternoon of the next day. All that rain, combined with melting snow and ice created many a swollen river and raging waterfalls.

Water flowing from Lower Buckhorn Lake into Stoney Lake passes through a dam and under the Highway 28 bridge, cascading down past several small islands before the pounding current stops churning and goes gentle into the lake. The waterfall is just south of Lock 48 on the Trent-Severn Waterway and there is a small parking spot down Old Burleigh Road. The land is also Ontario parkland so you can get out and wander along the water's edge and really enjoy the beauty of nature.
Another waterfall blows through an opening in the forest

It is hard to driver several hours on Highway 401, the monotony of the vista and the steady route just do their best to put me to sleep. Taking more northern, smaller highways like Highway 41 and 28 let you enjoy the rolling, rocky and tree lined parts of eastern Ontario - full of lakes, rivers, peaceful picnic areas and parks.
You can also find some interesting homes - this one would be a cool half a million fixer upper in Toronto.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Toronto Cherry Blossom Watch 2018

Osgoode Hall

Update: Saturday, May 5 some of the first blossoms have appeared in High Park. Most of the trees have only florets waiting for peak bloom expected May 9-12. Rain may shorten peak bloom so visit as soon as possible. Queen's Park cherry trees are in peak bloom.

On May 8, 2018 Mayor John Tory and the Consul General of Japan Takako Ito were joined by other city representatives to celebrate the beauty of the High Park Sakura Trees. Blossoms which started blooming on May 4 are expected to peak between four and 10 days. Visitors are asked not to climb or injure the cherry trees or remove blossoms. From the City's press release is the following information.

"Taking in the beauty of the blossoming Sakura trees has become a well-loved tradition in Toronto," said Mayor Tory. "It's important that we continue to care for these living gifts so that they can be enjoyed by generations to come." "Sakura in Toronto symbolize the invaluable friendship between our two countries," said Consul General Ito. "This fact is especially significant this year when we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of Japan-Canada diplomatic relations and the 30th anniversary of redress for Japanese-Canadians."

"Many of the Sakura trees in High Park are roughly 60 years old. In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada presented 2,000 trees to the people of Toronto on behalf of the people of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Many of these trees were planted on the hillside overlooking Grenadier Pond. A grove of cherry trees donated by Yoriki and Midori Iwasaki was planted in 1984 in High Park, In 2001 and 2006, a total of 50 additional cherry trees were planted as part of the Sakura Project, a symbol of friendship between Japan and Canada."
Osgoode Hall Law School crab-trees are only starting to bud. May 8, 2018 

Previous updates....

Update: Blooms are expected starting May 4-6 and peak bloom from May 9-12!

With only weeks to go before the Sakura cherry trees in High Park begin to sprout experts are debating whether the buds will go to leaves or to blossom - hopefully the majority of buds will flower. The beautiful weather brought many families out to the park, but they are a fraction of the people that will invade the area when the blossoms are in peak bloom which will be sometime in early to mid-May. Experts have narrowed down the window for peak bloom between May 5-12, 2018.
The High Park Trackless Train is already winding its way along the paths throughout the park. Until April 30 the train only runs on the weekend. Between May 1 and Labour Day the trains run daily from 10:30am in the morning. After Labour Day until October 31st the trains switch back to weekend operations. Cost is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and children.
Hopefully the blast of cold weather in April won't stop the buds from blossoming into the beautiful cherry blossoms.
There are plenty of places around Toronto where you can find fruit trees so keep an eye open for the coming blossoms. You can find them in Exhibition Place, on the Toronto Islands, at U of T, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Osgoode Law School, along University Avenue and by old City Hall.
The trees in Trinity Bellwoods Park are starting to bloom. Picture above and below taken May 5, 2018.

University of Toronto Robarts Library trees, photo above and continued below, are close to Peak May 5, 2018

See more blossoms after the jump.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2018 coming in June

With the recent warm Spring weather (just kidding) it is time to start looking forward to the upcoming Saturday, June 9, 2018 WNBR - it should be just enough time to plan your riding wardrobe choices; It's as bare as you dare so it could be all or nothing. All body types and people, naked or not and even on roller-blades, all are encouraged to take part in the ride. WNBR leaves the park at 1pm.
The world wide clothing-free protest against oil dependence and pro-cycling, pro-body acceptance came to Toronto in 2004 and since then has been an annual staple of freedom loving, eco-bicyclists. Creative costumes, masks and body paint are popular choices for the event and their will be an artist ready to apply paint before the ride starts for a fee, or come with your own paint.
Organizers Gene Dare and Leif Harmsen continue their leadership of the Toronto World Naked Bike Ride and they do an excellent job of promotion as the ride becomes more popular every year - they are even looking for a horse for the 2018 ride! Gene is very noticeable with his giant red hat, glasses and Canadian Flag flying from his bike. He says the flag will be modified so that it will be less ass, more grass.

Gene notes that there will be a baseball tournament at the park diamonds as well as a charity run which takes place starting at 7:30am and ends at 11:30am. If the events pose an issue for the ride he says we can always relocate 200m west to Inukshuk Park. Parking at Coronation will probably be an issue so you might want to park close by in Exhibition Place, Ontario Place or at another convenient location and bike over to the park.
The ride begins in Coronation Park which is located just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place on Lake Shore Boulevard West. Limited parking is available on site (and another event might be closing off the parking on that day) so you can find parking in Exhibition Place, at Ontario Place or near the Island Airport.

Bikers meet at the Victory Peace Monument and Canadian flagpole located right beside the waters of Lake Ontario. The stepped, circular area, bookmarked by metal sculptures that suggest you are standing in a ship, is the perfect place to gather round and socialize and prepare for the ride. Gene is usually on site early, say by 9am, and the body painter arriving by 10am, so drop by anytime in the morning with the ride hitting the streets around 1pm.

You can bring some snacks, beverages for staying hydrated and definitely bring some suntan lotion. Many people bring towels to cover the bike seats, especially important if you are bringing a community bike share bicycle.
Gene says the riders are "a mix of men, women, youth, families, all religions and all cultures ride together in harmony; even visitors from other cities and countries". Gathering in a large group around the memorial, it doesn't take long before most people remove their clothes and people start to gather to take in the nakedness and to take pictures of, or with the participants, because you really don't see this kind of thing every day.
After assembling for a group picture, riders leave the park en masse and the group heads north on city streets gettin tons of positive responses on the way. People honk from their cars, pedestrians along the way stop on the curbs, take photos, laugh and wave at the cyclists as streetcars and tour buses riders really enjoy the spectacle or occasionally cover someones eyes. Generally several people see the naked bike ride and then in the spirit of the day, remove their clothes and join in the ride. The actual route changes slightly each year depending on conflicting events at certain locations or construction restricting the path but it generally follows the map above.

Some of the trip highlights include the UofT campus, Kensington Market, Queen's Park, Allan Gardens Park, Church St Village, Ryerson University, City Hall and the Ferry Terminal at Harbourfront. At the park at the terminal the riders divide up with some people going to the Toronto Islands nude beach at Hanlans Beach, some returning to Coronation Park and some putting on their clothes and leaving the group. We stop at a few of the places for group photo opportunities such as at Queens Park
In earlier years the police have provided escort duties but for the last several years they just show up at the park to confirm what is going on and then let everyone alone. WNBR riders provide their own traffic control to keep the group together and safe. Always be careful when biking because sometimes people do fall from their bikes, usually because of railway tracks, and with less clothes the fall could be a little more painful.

Here are my posts from some of the other Toronto WNBR events over the years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Doors Open Ontario 2018

Everyone can be a VIP gaining access to places, many not normally open to the public, free of charge in 35 towns and cities from April 21 to October 13, 2018. Toronto Doors Open happens May 26-27 and is part of the Ontario Heritage Trust event taking place across the province. Doors Open is in the top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario and receives funding from Celebrate Ontario program and Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

You can visit historic sites, natural spaces, cultural sites and architectural treasures across Ontario. Since starting in 2002 over 7.3 million people have visited the sites available as part of the program. Toronto Doors Open only has 14 sites listed at this time and I don't see the unused TTC subway station listed at this point - one place I haven't seen yet. The full list of Toronto locations will be available in early May. While entrance to the facility is usually free, the cost for parking will probably apply so check out the website to avoid surprises.

"Doors Open Ontario 2018 will feature more than 800 sites, such as historic homes, fire stations, hiking trails, courthouses, schoolhouses, gardens, places of worship and countless others. Many sites are also offering special tours, lectures, exhibits and performances, to better explore the stories inside. n 2018, the Ontario Heritage Trust is exploring the theme of 100 years of women's rights and suffrage, looking back to the end of the First World War – a time that saw great change for women in our society. Throughout the year, the Trust will be sharing stories about Ontario's trailblazing women and the enduring fight for equality. Doors Open Ontario will provide an opportunity to visit interesting sites that relate to this chapter in our history."

See the Doors Open Ontario 2018 alphabetical list of events and dates after the jump.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling

The 2018 Players' Championship is on at the Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Players from around the world, including Olympic Champions, are going head to head at one of the last competitions of the season. Both sexes are taking part in the April 12 to 15 games and the Saturday semifinals have both groups
taking to the ice at the same time.
Some Pinty's curling stones
Actual Gardens chairs hanging at the Loblaws

We took time to watch the ladies quarterfinals which began at 3:30pm. Many of the seats which were sold were empty due to the unfortunate return of winter in springtime. Freezing rain and ice pellets made the roads hazardous. Even the tailgate party for the Raptors was cancelled due to the extreme weather alerts.

Canada's Jennifer Jones continues with 26 consecutive victories since the Scotties. Her team is the leading Canadian and World Champion and beat Japan's team Satsuki Fujisawa in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "Team Jones has captured two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championships this season, winning the Masters and Boost National, and already clinched the $75,000 Bonus Cup. Jones is also the defending Players’ champion winning the women’s title for a record sixth time at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre a year ago."

Players' Championship Schedule
Thursday, April 12
Round Robin Draw 7 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 8 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 9 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 13
Round Robin Draw 11 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 12 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 13 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 14
Men’s Quarterfinals 11:30 a.m.
Women’s Quarterfinals 3:30 p.m.
Men’s & Women’s Semifinals 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 15
Men’s Final 12:30 p.m.
Women’s Final 5:00 p.m.

See more photos after the jump.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Toronto Earth Day 2018

Nathan Phillips Square will host the Gen-Earth Day celebrations from 1-5pm while Downsview Park will have the Earth Day Festival from 11am-4pm on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Earth Day was started in 1990 to bring people closer to nature and to foster stewardship and conservation. But we also like to party so consume less and play more!

The square at City Hall will be a free event with concerts, eco-experts, eco-friendly companies and family friendly activities. "Gen-Earth is a FREE (but registration is preferred), not-for-profit event to educate and inspire our youth, our communities, and our policy makers to take action for the protection of our ecosystems, the environment, and our Earth!" I love their motto "Leave the Earth better than we found it".

Up north in Downsview Park the annual free Earth Day tradition has educational activities along with tree planting, bird of prey demonstrations, arts and crafts, a campfire sing-along and much more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Toronto Peta Protest

Vikki Lenola, model and animal rights activist protests for Peta

Several women went topless for Peta at Toronto's busiest intersection as they protested the commercial seal pup hunt. The ladies gathered quietly beside the Eaton Centre at lunch on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and at first I thought they were a flash mob that would wander into the scramble intersection like so many other groups have done for promotions.
After a few minutes they removed their tops showing off pasties and slogans written on their bodies while holding up posters which said 'END COMMERCIAL SEAL SLAUGHTER' and 'SEAL SLAUGHTER BLEEDS TAXES'. Pedestrians stopped to take in the sight and grab some photos as the group set off several smoke flares. They were at the intersection long enough to almost freeze in the early springtime weather.

Peta claims that the Canadian government subsidizes the seal pup hunt to the tune of $7 million a year.

Other Peta Toronto protests include the following events: Wear your own skin, Go Vegan and when the lettuce ladies met with Mayor Rob Ford.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Toronto Blog

I recently changed the Toronto Grand Prix Tourist blog to a secure site through Google and Blogger. Now the green https shows up in the URL address. So far nothing has crashed so it seems to have worked without any major issues - woot woot.

2018 has been a great year so far and the best part is still to come!

BREATH at Brookfield Place Toronto

Studio F Minus has created a flock of birds flying in the Allen Lambert Galleria. The birds look like they are made with some colourful pajama material and are hooked up to flap their wings.

The 50 birds were commissioned by Brookfield in celebration of Earth Day and will remain flying from April 9-27, 2018.

This installation is a derivative of Air Pressure which is another avian art concept which used blue birds. Studio F Minus hung those in several office towers in the downtown core:

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square