Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Random Acts of Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti, the scourge of any downtown wall, can be both a work of art and an act of public mischief. Some graffiti installations have a definite theme and in one area it is Calvin and Hobbes and another it is comics or portraits. I liked the little girl screaming in the photo at top.

Groundskeeper Willie eating a donut
A famous mouse slaps a cat

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Honda Indy Toronto track build 2019

With less than a month to go till the latest edition of Toronto RaceFest, construction crews have already started putting together the temporary 2.89km, 11-turn street track in Exhibition Place and onto Lake Shore Boulevard. This year's race weekend is July 12-14 and ticket prices have not changed for the second year in a row. Fan Friday free general admission returns for the 10th year, courtesy of the Ontario Honda Dealers Association with a voluntary donation to Make-a-Wish Canada.
Turn 3 grandstand - Lake Shore Blvd W and Ontario Dr
Honda Indy Toronto Director of Track Operations leads the large crew in putting up the barriers and fences needed to safely contain the race cars and to put up the extensive grandstands that line the route. "Concrete barrier block placement has begun along Manitoba and Ontario Drives. In total over 2,050 blocks made using more than 10 million pounds of concrete will be positioned. Fencing spanning 14,000 feet made from 410,000 pounds of steel will be erected, and over 1,600 feet of tire wall barriers will line the course."
Festival map

NTT IndyCar is half way through the 2019 season and the current points leader is Josef Newgarden - who has won twice in Toronto (2015 and 2017). Also on the track will be the following race series: Robby Gordon's Stadium SUPER Trucks, NASCAR Pinty's Series, Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama.
Turn 2 on Lake Shore Blvd W near the Princes' Gates

“Robby Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks are a spectacular and popular feature that we are thrilled to add back on the schedule for the first time since 2016!” said Jeff Atkinson, Honda Indy Toronto President. “On and off track, this annual summer Toronto tradition has so much to experience for festival-goers of all ages. A variety of single-day and weekend ticket options and unique packages at varying price points help make the event accessible to all.”

Come back as I add more photos of the 2019 build progress.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Luminato House of Mirrors

Over 55 tonnes of steel and mirrored glass combined into a giant, open air maze at Harbourfront Centre as part of Luminato 2019. You can reflect upon yourself and others while wandering the mirrored installation searching for the exit which should take about a half hour at a cost of $10 a person (kids under 5 free). Tickets are only available on site.

This is the North American debut of the traveling, mirrored attraction from creators Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney. From Luminato "Optical illusion meets vanity in this house-sized kaleidoscope where reflections are fragmented: shadow, ghost, stranger, or is it just you? Nothing is quite what it seems as you stumble through thousands of bewildering reflections. Seeing is believing ... or is it?"
It is confusing with many dead-end paths, bypasses and mirrors that make it difficult to to traverse. A second to last doorway leads to a large, triangular room with mirrors around the edges, then a final door leads to the outside.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Taste of Little Italy Festival this weekend

College Street West between Shaw and Bathurst will be car free and pedestrian friendly as the Little Italy Business Improvement Area puts on the Taste of Little Italy Festival from June 14-16, 2019. You can pretend you are in a classical Italian piazza while spending time at the main stage and six band locations, or enjoy some of the patios, carnival rides, vendors and the restaurants along College Street.

"All weekend you’ll have a chance to taste classic Italian food, fuzion restaurants, wine and cocktails on extended patios, authentic Spiducci and more while taking in over 20 performances from international and local artists as you explore the authentic culture of Italy on College Street. College St. is much more than just Italian as it has grown to a epic food and drink centre in Toronto with a variety of cultural cuisine, fuzion recipes and specialty cocktail focuses. From restaurants and street vendors to the myriad of free tastings and samples, you won’t leave unsatisfied. Just make sure to come on an empty stomach — it’s the only way you can properly enjoy all the classics — like authentic Italian pasta, wood-fired pizza, and tradition and non-traditional flavours of gelato. If you’re looking for something a bit different, you won’t be disappointed, as the festival is known for it’s diverse and multicultural food options."

When: Friday, June 14, 2019 6:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Saturday, June 15, 2019 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Sunday, June 16, 2019 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

#JunctionTO Summer Solstice Festival coming

The longest day of the year is always best celebrated on a weekend and you can join Toronto at the 8th annual Junction Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 22, 2019. The free Junction festival takes place from noon to midnight on Dundas Street West from High Park to Indian Grove and the theme is a retro-inspired Beach Party.

Over a hundred vendors, live music, an art market, street performers, delicious food and other family entertainment that will highlight the creative local community. The vendors will also be joined by over 30 Junction restaurants that will serve exclusive Summer Solstice menus. Young people can also take in the Summer Solstice Festival Tropical Kid Zone with a beach, an obstacle course, sand castles and a preschool play area. Plus ride an antique, trackless train called the Junction Express.

"Do you love live music? Whether you’re into energetic punk rock or laid back indie-folk, the Summer Solstice Festival features bands that cover every genre. Our Main Stage has nonstop music all day from popular Toronto artists. If you’ve ever wanted to perform in front of your own band, check out the live karaoke on our Community Stage. Our headliner, Wing Night (the band) is a tremendously successful 90’s R&B/Hip Hop cover band that makes upbeat music which engages large crowds with exuberance and charisma."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Lake Ontario historic water level

Beating the 2017 high water levels, Lake Ontario hit 75.92 metres above sea level and the lakefront edges of Toronto are getting a little soggy. The Toronto Islands are full of sandbags and water pumps - the west island closed to visitors with no ferry service, in the city areas are temporarily fenced and blockaded, no go zones in case you get a soaker. While the situation around Toronto is mostly one of inconvenience, on Ward's Island peoples homes have been damaged or are still at risk of flooding.

The International Lake Ontario - St Lawrence Board controls the flows of Lake Ontario to keep the levels within a certain range of 75.88m (2017 previous high) to 73.56m above sea level. The 2019 peak should start going down slowly as the outflow through the St Lawrence is now greater than the inflow from Lake Erie and the above average precipitation in Ontario, unless more rain feeds into the Great Lakes. The high water levels have pushed the Board to deviate from regulation above navigation limits to move the water out of Lake Ontario faster than usual to provide relief to shoreline property.
It doesn't take long for underwater vegetation to take hold on the steps that used to be above water

The Board says that "Water levels vary from year-to-year and throughout the year depending on weather and water supply conditions. Such variations benefit coastal wetlands and are critical to a healthy lake environment, but may at times and depending on individual circumstances increase the vulnerability of shoreline structures and reduce opportunities for recreational boating activities. The Board urges everyone to be prepared to live within the full range of levels that have occurred in the past and of those that may occur in the future. Based on historical observations and projected future conditions, at a minimum, Lake Ontario water levels are expected to range from a high of 75.88 m (248.9 ft.) to a low of 73.56 m (241.3 ft.) at infrequent intervals. However, it is also recognized that future climate conditions are uncertain, and more extreme water levels may be reached and these extremes may occur more often. Levels on the St. Lawrence River tend to vary more widely than on Lake Ontario. Also, these levels do not include the varying local effects of strong winds and wave action that significantly increase or decrease local water levels on both the lake and river, with temporary changes of over half a meter (two feet) possible in some locations."
The partly submerged Spadina Wave Deck

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Forks and Barrels Toronto 2019

The Forks and Barrels festival 19+ tour has hit Toronto and is setup in Ontario Place over the June 7-9 weekend. Located on the west island at the end of the pedestrian bridge, the festival has all the ingredients that growing adults crave on a hot weekend - alcohol and food, entertainment and games.
Historic Lake Ontario high water levels has some of the island edges under water but the venue is high and dry so you can stroll Beer Lane, Spirit Street and Wine Avenue which surround the main stage. Food trucks circle the areas with tons of culinary choices. Food vendors take cash and drinks can be acquired by buying tokens near the entrance. It was $20 plus tax for ten drink tokens with most samples being two tokens and you get a free sample glass at the gate. On Sunday most of the drinks were only 1 token each.
Ontario Place is undergoing a rebirth as the Province has opened the island park up for visitors and festivals in the last couple of years. Redevelopment is probably still far in the future (although the Province has said no residential or casino development) but the whole place is a perfect setting for a festival like Forks and Barrels. Outside the hustle and bustle of the city with a fantastic view of our beautiful skyline. Wandering each specific area of the festival you can see lots of people enjoying the weekend weather along with the food and drink offerings. 
Evidence of the high water levels in Lake Ontario are visible along the edges of the party zone
Early friday afternoon crowds start to fill the former amusement park as the event welcomed their first guests at 1pm. Check out the Square to "Connect and play for a Chance to Win; Lawn Games and Tournaments include Cornhole, Bocce Ball, Giant Jenga, Barrel Pong, Giant Connect Four, Spike Ball, Foosball and More!"

See more pictures after the jump.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Royal Enfield Canada Twins in Acton

The British are coming and they are bringing the royal twins to the small GTA town of Acton on Saturday, June 8, 2019 because it is worth the drive. Acton is in good company as the twin launch is happening in hotspots like Miami, Denver and San Diego.
It's not all gears and throttles, sometimes you need an ice cream
The motorcycle manufacturer, with a history over a century in building motorcycles, is taking over the town of 10,000 to promote their twin 650s - the Interceptor 650 and the Continental 650. So there were a few full throttle roars heard in town on this day.

Royal Enfield says "With some festivities commencing in Toronto throughout the week, on Saturday, June 8th, 2019, why wouldn’t we end our Canada Twins celebration by teaming up with the city of Acton, Ontario to take over their city? With the blessing of the residents, Royal Enfield will be taking over the streets for a day. The streets of Acton will be adorned with Royal Enfield signage which will lead you to the main venue where you will be able to take a ride on the Twins, ride the Himalayan through a mini dirt track, paint your favorite Royal Enfield logo on a building or dance to live music. Scroll down to RSVP to the event, and sign up for newsletter updates on additions to this upcoming celebration."
Story and photos by Ann Hamilton.

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2019

Bring your sunscreen and a bike and leave your clothes behind because the annual environmental protest is back in Toronto. The place to be is the war memorial at Coronation Park on Saturday, June 8, 2019 from about 10am on until the WNBR departure at 1pm and here are some pictures of the ride.
Flags and posters are up around the city

Their will be a body painter on site around 10am, available for commissions, as well as quite a few amateur painters using bodies as protest signs. Socialize in the park with the hundreds of riders that will take part in the event which will see a naked swarm of bicyclists taking over some of the busiest streets in downtown Toronto.

Stops along the way will include Queen's Park, Allan Gardens, Toronto City Hall and the Toronto Island's ferry terminal. The route also passes through the University of Toronto and Ryerson University while also traveling by some of the city's tourist hotspots like Trinity-Bellwoods Park, the Toronto Eaton Centre, Old City Hall and the Financial district.
Cheers and photos as the WNBR goes by

Public reaction is positive and everyone scrambles to get there cameras out as the bikes go by. Cries of "World Naked Bike Ride" alert people that the ride is coming.
Co-organizer by Gene Dare, photo at top, who spends a considerable amount of time to organize and spread word about the event, including putting up flags and posters throughout the city. Gene is always the first on site with his oversized glasses and Canadian hat and with the flag already mounted on his bicycle. Gene is always here hours before the first riders arrive and says that Bare Oaks nudist resort and the ladies from Oasis Aqualounge should be joining this year's outing once again.

Participants do not have to be nude, you can ride as bare as you dare and some people wear masks to protect their identities. This is a famous event that also takes part around the world so there will be news coverage and plenty of photographers snapping photos. Visitors also like to get photos taken with the naked riders, which most are happy to do.

The police have been providing an escort again over the last year or two and Gene has asked the mounted police to also lend a hand this year, which would be cool. The police drove up to check out the ride in Coronation Park and left after a quick scan. No mounted police or bicycle escort provided in 2019.
The purpose of the ride is to raise environmental awareness and to protest our dependence on oil in a manner that will draw maximum exposure to the cause, plus nudists. So join in, grab a camera or cheer the group as they pass by. The majority of the riders get to the ferry terminal where some end the ride, others go to the Islands (Hanlon Point clothing optional beach) and some return to Coronation Park.

The ride goes again next year on Saturday, June 13, 2020.

Ride to Conquer Cancer Toronto 2019

Thousands of bicyclists are here at the starting line in Exhibition Place for the 12th annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Opening ceremonies are underway and the race will start shortly.

The riders are giving up a warm spring weekend June 8-9 to travel over 200km in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre - over $190 million before this ride! For 2019 the amount raised was $19.2 million.

From the ride's website; "Join thousands and choose how your epic impact will be made! Find your velocity with our classic route of two days and over 200 kilometres or take on the one-day Ride on the Saturday of event weekend. Looking for the ultimate cycling and fundraising challenge? Try The Hammer course. And if you want to raise vital funds for cancer research and care minus the bike and helmet, we have a Virtual Rider option for you!"

Mayor John Tory wearing his Raptors jacket helped with the opening remarks

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square