Saturday, September 21, 2019

Toronto Windfest 2019

The sky over sandy Woodbine Beach is full of large, colorful kites as part of Windfest 2019. Coming onto the beach it was hard to believe how many kites and how big some of them are, like the huge blue, striped fish, frogman, whale and an almost hello kitty kite.
Check out the fleet of kites on both Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22 right beside Ashbridges Bay Park and the Woodbine Bathing Station until 4pm. Luckily the weather is almost full on summer like and games of beach volleyball, paddleboards in Lake Ontario and sunbathers are all on the gigantic beach enjoying the weekend.

See more kites after the jump.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Return of the Fall Fair

Autumn returns on Monday, September 23rd and so does the season of fall fairs in Ontario. The fun will continue into October before the chill slows down those fierce garden tractors, making it hard to pull anything.

Leading up to Fall are several fairs this weekend - including Acton, Ancaster and Wiarton so get ready to buy your fair tickets and have fun. Here are some photos from the 2019 Acton Fall Fair.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Toronto Biennial of Art

I had to look it up, but Biennial meanings includes something that occurs every two years, you're welcome. This is a new art festival taking place at various locations around the city from September 21 to December 1, 2019. There are several vertical banners hanging at Union Station advertising the coming '72 days of art'.

There will be free exhibitions, performances and talks with more than 100 contemporary, visual art pieces by Canadian and international artists at the Toronto Biennial of Art.
I did manage to track down Curtis Talwst Santiago's installation called J'ouvert Temple at 55 Unwin Avenue in the Portlands just before Cherry Beach. It is behind a construction fence adjacent to the Giant Containers building, draped in green mesh and hard to identify as a work of art, yet when you glimpse the broken tableau and man of metal, you still wonder if it is art. From Biennial's website "Built of rubble salvaged from construction sites across the city, Santiago’s new commission J’ouvert Temple is a modern-day capriccio—an architectural fantasy informed by the artist’s experience of ancient and modern-day ruins. Viewed through holes in a fence, vignettes emerge from the debris, evoking a similar sense of intimacy."
I did like the crystal disco ball

Unusual Ontario Attractions

Travel is more than just the fastest journey between two points, sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to find something interesting, or just plain weird, to make travel fun and adventurous. In Ontario you can look for blue signs along the roads and highways or check online for potentially fascinating attractions.
Front yard miniature village in Chatsworth (315306 Ontario Highway 6)
The toy sized buildings are rotting and neglected, renters seem to be few and far between and the financial situation seems to be dark. But I did like the castle.

One of my favourite websites looking for things to see is Roadside America that has maps with attractions pinned to the map that you can lookup information and addresses. You can look up your route, see if there are any pins, review the attractions and decide if you want to take the time to visit, or instead give a hard no and skip the attraction. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes the thing sucks.
Tiny church in Shallow Lake (718708 Highway 6)
You can go in this church and sign a visitors log. It is similar to one found in Niagara-on-the-Lake

See more unusual Ontario attractions after the jump.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Boo at the Toronto Zoo coming soon

As Halloween approaches so to does the Toronto 'Boo at the Zoo' event happening on the last two weekends of October at the Toronto Zoo. Special rides on the BOOmobile will entertain with knowledge of the animals and you can also learn about some scary ghosts that haunt the zoo.
Mom and baby gorilla
Boo at the Zoo will bring kids in costumes to meet the many animals while taking in a ride on the zoomobile which has been made much scarier with the likes of the 'Zoo Kreeper'. It is a family friendly day at Canada's largest zoo. Children will also get to ride on the Conservation Carousel and meet 'Explorer Bear' the scare-bear. This might be one of the scariest animals at the zoo but never forget the worst animal at the zoo - the litterbug.

Our family just paid a visit to the Toronto Zoo on a damp Sunday in September and it was a great time to go as the crowds were down from the usual peak attendance during summer. Seats on the regular zoomobile were plentiful and the animal viewpoints weren't jammed to capacity, plus the animals weren't hiding from the hot sun. Keeping out of the rain was easier by taking more rides or waiting at the zoomobile stations.
Plenty of animals built of plastic highlight the amount of waste plastic found in the World's oceans

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Georgetown Craft Beer Festival

Head for the Hills brings craft beer and cider to the Town of Halton Hills on September 14, 2019 from 11am to 6pm. You start off with an 8 oz glass sampling beer stein and four tokens - good for about two full mugs at the festival location in the Trafalgar Sports Park. Additional tokens were available (3 for $5) as well as beer swag on sale.

Beer Steins filled with 4 tokens await festival goers upon entry

This is the fifth year of the event which benefits local charities and runs for only one day and that day was extremely popular, I even overheard someone say that even the crappy beers (is that even possible) had gigantic lineups. Certainly everything had massive lineups as the beerfest was very successful.

The only game I found was an entertaining tournament of Dodge Ball going on, none of the other traditional games like cornhole and giant beer pong, although there were some great music from a variety of bands on the stage.

You could grab a free shuttle bus from a variety a number of locations including nearby towns Acton and Glen Williams.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Museum of the Moon installation

Tides around Toronto have been thrown out of whack by the installation of the Moon under the Gardiner Expressway at Bentway Park. From September 10-15, 2019 (6-11pm) you can visit the heavenly body during the free Museum of the Moon exhibition located right beside Historic Fort York.
The Moon is 7m in diameter, or approximately 1:500,000 scale, illuminated from within and is a touring sculptural piece by UK multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram using NASA lunar imagery. From the Bentway’s website: “The installation allows visitors to experience the moon up-close and personal, reminding us of the moon’s influence on our daily lives despite urban barriers like light pollution and high-rise density. Visitors will be able to further reflect on the moon through moon gazing and moonlight meditation, turning The Bentway into an open air planetarium.”
Sunset in Toronto around this time of the year is just after 7:30pm so in a little while we shall see what the moon looks like at night.

Other nocturnal activities around the moon them will be meditation sessions, free astronomy talks and a soundtrack that features an astronaut playlist. With the actual full harvest moon occurring on September 14 the Bentway will begin a Moon Merge podcast hosted by Laurie Brown and Juno nominated composer Joshua Van Tassel. As well other activities include a silent disco and a sing-a-long with Toronto’s Choir! Choir!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Spiral Staircase on the Niagara Escarpment

You can wander the Bruce Trail in Spirit Rock Conservation Area and visit the abandoned ruins of an 1800's estate and take a spiral staircase that leads down to the waters of Colpoy's Bay in Georgian Bay from the heights of the Niagara Escarpment. Located at 92 Highway 6 north of Wiarton Ontario the 87-hectares park was once an estate owned by Alexander McNeill who was a Canadian Member of Parliament from 1881 till 1901.

Entering the Spirit Rock by a small gravel road, you come to a paid parking lot which costs $6 per day (2019) which you can pay by app, website or phone. There is a seasonal washroom (two-hole) on site and a large satellite map on site showing the trail and ruins, along with photos and a history of the grounds. They note that the 17-room mansion had the first electricity in the Bruce Peninsula. Later it was passed on and sold until it was left vacant in the 60's and vandalized. Finally in 1971 it was purchased by the Grey Sauble Conservation and fell to fire in 1976. 
The ruins of the Corran

Looking from the parking lot into the park, the ruins of a barn are almost straight ahead partially hidden by a growing forest and to the right side is the remaining walls and stairs of the Corran (which is Gaelic for land running into the sea), part of the McNeill Estate which was full of carvings, books and antiquities. The walls have been made safe and picnic tables are inside the careful ruins.
Inside the Corran
Some of the walls of the barn

If you keep following the trail which leads out in front of the Corran it will lead you to the top edge of the Niagara Escarpment which runs from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. Just minutes from the ruins you can find the red spiral staircase which you can use up to two people at a time. At the bottom you have to make a challenging hike down the steep slope at the base of the cliff, down to the waters which are part of the Great Lakes; Lake Huron. Be careful of poison ivy which is quite extensive in the area.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Flower Pot Island and glass bottom boats

End of season trips to tourist areas are a great way to enjoy great attractions with less hassle, you just have to hope that the weather holds up. Last year we couldn't do the glass bottom boat because the weather was just too rough for the tour boats. This year we struck gold and the weather was a perfect temperatures for hiking, traveling and boating around the end of the Niagara Escarpment. The large flower pot sits in the water in the panorama photo at top.

Blue Heron Cruises are the blue boats

We initially pushed in our kayaks at the lighthouse at Big Tub Harbour, just west of downtown Tobermory, and boated down to the wrecks at the end of the harbour - The Sweepstakes and the City of Grand Rapids lie just under the surface. In kayaks you can make out general shapes and features of the wrecks but can use under water cameras to capture some of the details.
Bruce Anchor Cruises are the yellow guys
Lucky people at the glass bottom

Later we went to the Bruce Anchor glass bottom tour boat and returned to the wrecks. First of all I was disappointed when we first got on the boat The Evolution because the glass bottom portion of the boat was pretty small compared to the area of the ship, however when they do their navigation turns at the wreck, it creates a flat portion of water which makes it look like the surface is a glass and you can see more of the wreckage. I did not have a chance to look through the glass bottom though because too many people gathered around and blocked out the views.

The ticket offices of Bruce Anchor Cruises are at dockside (61 Front Street) or at 10 Hay Bay Road just down the street. When you get your tickets you can park for free in their lot at 22 Legion Street where they have a free shuttle running back and forth to the dock. The evolution is the largest sightseeing vessel in Tobermory with room for 150 passengers with both an enclosed lower deck or on the exposed upper viewing deck. You can book online, we tried but gave up, otherwise you can visit the ticket booths in person or call and pay ahead of time. Just decide if you want to get off the boat or stay aboard, choose one of 4 boats, choose your departure and return time and book your tour. Cost was approximately $45 per adult.
Small flower pot (l) and large pot (r)

Small flower pot

After a look at Big Tub Harbour we then set out for the trip to Flower Pot Island which is within the Fathom Five National Marine Park. We paid for the drop off at the island and spent a couple hours visiting the pots along the shore, neglecting the other trails to the light station. Definitely fun to go along the trails and make your way to the beach to explore the famous flower pots, or sea stacks.
Gathering around the large flower pot

There are two large formations of rocks which remain after the surrounding areas have been eroded - they call one the large flower pot and the other is the small flower pot. Both look like they have been helped by man in restoring some of the ongoing erosion and also have erosion protection applied at the top of the stack. We can't have those babies falling over and ending the marine tourism business.

I definitely can recommend the tour and drop off option, it was a great day.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square