Thursday, May 28, 2020

DROM Taberna on Queen St W

There is a tavern in downtown Toronto, made for travelers, whose name means 'safe journey'. It is located at 458 Queen Street West and it is open for takeout and pickup orders. The reason I noticed this tavern is because across from the tavern, plastered over a former KFC's windows were posters advertising DROM and a lady with a gorgeous hat and cool dress started colouring the DROM poster.
From their website: "DROM Taberna is a heartfelt homage to places that we came from, have traveled to, or have never been - the lands that stretch from the Baltic to the Balkans to the Black Sea. Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belorus, Czeska Republika, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Georgia. The golden thread that ties this soil together is the Romani people. From the deserts of India, over mountain and sea in their westward journey, the gypsies brought the traveller spirit to many gadjo.
That is us, finding community amongst strangers, joy in the face of adversity, immigrant souls eating, drinking and playing music together."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Toronto Graffiti Alley open in the times of Covid-19

So famous there are tours of the alleys running along Queen Street West. People check out the ever changing walls of graffiti on a daily basis, some setting up photo shoots with the brightly coloured murals as a backdrop to their portraits.

The alleys remained open because they are still small roads after all, so you can still wander the area looking to your hearts content.
In the style of Honest Eds: We'er all in this together

Monday, May 25, 2020

Distillery District has curbside pickup

With the economy starting to reopen during the early phased precautionary reductions many more stores and restaurants are open for curbside pickup in the historic Distillery District. You can check out the list of participating stores on their website.

I took the opportunity to wander the district during a slow Tuesday and picked up some hand sanitizer from the Spirit of York Distillery.
What is missing will be the many outstanding events that might not come back for quite some time, including the Light Festival, Winter Christmas Markets, Sunday Market and the Buskers. It is still a great place to visit as it is so unusual compared to any other neighbourhood in the city and pedestrian friendly.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Honda Indy Toronto 2020 cancelled

Toronto Covid-19 precautions through August means large events like the Honda Indy Toronto, scheduled in mid-July, to search for other dates in the calendar. Unfortunately the decision was made by IndyCar on May 21 to remove the Toronto race from the Series' 2020 schedule.

I think that without a vaccine any large gathering is probably not a possibility for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. By then a remedy to the corona virus may bring us together again!

From the Honda Indy Toronto; "Following the City of Toronto’s decision to cancel major festivals and events by not issuing permits through August 31 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, INDYCAR announced today that the Honda Indy Toronto has been removed from the Series’ 2020 schedule. The event was originally scheduled to take place July 10-12 at Exhibition Place. We are extremely disappointed, and will miss the incredible fans who have supported us, but the safety of fans, participants, volunteers, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority. Green Savoree Toronto remains open to exploring all possibilities moving forward as the global situation continues to evolve."

And from IndyCar; "An updated 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule was released today, displaying calendar adjustments implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway remains the season opener with a night race on the 1.5-mile oval Saturday, June 6. The next race on the INDYCAR calendar will be the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Saturday, July 4.

“Our teams and athletes are ready to get back on track and will deliver world-class action at Texas Motor Speedway and the Racing Capital of the World,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We appreciate the opportunity to begin our season during these unprecedented times, and I’m confident we’ll put on a great show.”

The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America has been rescheduled from June 21 to July 11-12, becoming a double-header with championship points races Saturday and Sunday on the iconic, 4-mile road course.

Two events have been canceled for 2020 due to local restrictions surrounding the pandemic: the Indy Richmond 300 on Saturday, June 27 at Richmond Raceway and the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 12 on the streets of Toronto.

The season finale will be the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25, a new date recently announced after the originally scheduled season opener March 15 in St. Pete was postponed due to the global health crisis."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Cheltenham Badlands in a Covid-19 Spring

The rolling red hills and its section of Bruce Trail remain closed by Credit Valley Conservation due to Covid-19 precautions since mid-March 2020. Barriers have been put in place at the entrance to the lookout and at the nearby parking lot. The narrow road and no stopping signs make the badlands inaccessible to cars unless someone drops you off to explore the area by foot along the fenced off area.
In some areas you can take pictures over the fence
Access to the hills were closed for three years as the area was studied and finally reopened in September of 2018. The hills themselves have been restricted to visitors and you can only see them from the lookout platform built on top of the badlands, or view them from along the roadway through the fence that was placed to keep people out. Now extra barriers are in place and the lookout platform has been gated.

You can see the platform at the top left of the hills

I was fortunate to get dropped off to wander along the edge of the property and take a look at the amazing Cheltenham Badlands. Spring rains have turned the exposed Queenstone Shale a deep red with its surface crossed by narrow bands of a light grey colour. Trees are starting to bloom and there are white blossoms that line the edges of the hills.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Honda Indy Toronto 2020 looking for alternate dates

The City brought the hammer down and cancelled large events for July and August, taking out the Honda Indy Toronto's mid-July scheduled races, as part of the ever evolving Covid-19 precautions. The organizers haven't given up on getting the race into Toronto at a later date in 2020 and discussions are ongoing with all the partners for alternate dates. You can see the City's media release on the cancellations at the bottom of this post.

For now the first IndyCar race of the season will be June 6, 2020 in Texas.

City of Toronto News Release May 15, 2020:

"City of Toronto extends cancellation of permits for major festivals and launches recovery program for events

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people through July 31, and those with attendance of 25,000 or more through August 31. The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision.

Today's announcement includes festivals, conferences and cultural programs held in facilities managed by City divisions or public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares. Issued permits are now cancelled and permits that have been applied for will not be issued.

Major summer festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside the area.

This decision follows the cancellation of all such events up to June 30, announced by the City on March 30, and the cancellation of Canada Day events. It enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches, such as virtual events.

The decision to extend the cancellation of City-led events and third-party permits has been made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service, and major event organizers, and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to provide support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 250 people until July 31 includes Salsa on St Clair, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Honda Indy, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, and Big on Bloor, among others.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 25,000 people until August 31 includes Jerkfest, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Manila, and Toronto Chinatown Festival, among others.

Toronto Public Health needs to ensure that the risk for the spread of the virus is reduced before we can consider resuming major mass participation events. This includes conforming with the prevailing provincial orders, using the provincial framework for recovery and taking into account Toronto's specific circumstances for the following criteria:
• significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto
• health care system capacity able to implement an effective response to any resurgence of cases
• public health capacity to manage resurgence in cases
• adequate surveillance and incidence tracking capacity.

Timing of when services may reopen requires an assessment of risk. Planning for service resumption must then consider actions to modify operations (mitigation strategies) to slow the spread of COVID-19.

To mitigate the impacts of these cancellations, Mayor John Tory announced today that the City will repurpose grant funding that was previously approved by City Council, in order to support festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program will provide financial and in-kind support to:
• defray financial losses for festivals that were cancelled due to COVID-19
• assist festival organizers to meet payments due to their suppliers, including artists and small businesses
• help festival organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival
• support planning and purchases that help improve the public health and safety practices of festival organizers and
• aid collaborative efforts in areas such as event planning, insurance, volunteer training and marketing to strengthen Toronto's network of festivals."

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Toronto cancels 2020 CNE and Airshow

Sadly the massive Canadian National Exhibition and Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) has been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19 precautions.  I am unsure how we will be able to know when school will start if we cannot gauge it with the end of the CNE.
Here are sections of the media releases announcing the cancellations.

"Canada’s largest fair, and an iconic Toronto celebration, will not light up this summer. The Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA) announced today, with the support of the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto, that this year’s CNE will not move forward with its 18-day event slated for August 21 to September 7, 2020 at Exhibition Place. The historic decision marks only the second occasion in its 142-year history, and not since WWII, has the CNE closed in its entirety.

“Safety always comes first at the CNE, and the decision to cancel our event is the right decision during this critical time to protect the health of all Canadians,” said John Kiru, President of the CNEA. “Summer in Toronto will not be the same without the sights and sounds of the CNE, alongside so many annual festivals and cultural events that have been forced to cancel. We stand in solidarity with the collective effort to curb this global pandemic, and we will all do our part to ensure it happens.”

In close consultation with the provincial and municipal governments, the CNEA Board of Directors voted on May 7, 2020 to cancel the event this year out of an abundance of precaution to safeguard the health of its employees, volunteers, visitors, vendors and artists; and its shared responsibility in protecting public safety during this unprecedented health crisis.

“Our hearts go out to the thousands of Canadians and families who have been affected by COVID-19; and we continue to draw hope and inspiration from the bravery of our healthcare and frontline workers, the compassion of everyday heroes, and community spirit that is stronger than ever,” says Kiru. “We believe in the resilience of Torontonians; and know – when the time is right – the CNE will be back.”

The CNE is one of the largest fairs in North America and attracts more than 1.4 million visitors each year. Last year’s highlights included the 3rd annual Gaming Garage presented by AMD, The EX Race obstacle course, Legends of the Silk Road Come to Light indoor lantern festival, and perennial favourites including the President’s Choice SuperDogs, the Canadian International Air Show, and Bandshell Concerts featuring artists including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jann Arden and Walk off the Earth in 2019. The CNE is perhaps best known for its vast array of food offerings, and annual debut of creative dishes such as last year’s pickle pizza and pickle lemonade.

And for the Airshow.

We are extremely sad to announce that we are unable to hold the 2020 Canadian International Air Show. As our loyal supporters, we wanted the Insiders to be the first to know. A press release will be going out shortly to announce this publicly. We are in the process of advising all our performers, partners, and sponsors.

The extraordinary circumstances and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the risk to public safety, has brought us to this difficult and unfortunate decision. In partnership with our presenting sponsor, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), we have chosen to jointly cancel our 2020 events based on recommendations by Government and Health Officials.

Since we don't know what to do with ourselves on Labour Day weekend this year, we do plan on having an online event on show weekend. This will be an opportunity for you to see your favourite performers and get behind-the-scenes access to aircraft. Stay tuned for more info.

Don't worry, we'll be back with another exciting Air Show over Lake Ontario for Labour Day weekend 2021. Thank you for your understanding and continued support."

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Snowbirds are coming to Toronto #OpInspiration

Mothers Day 2020 will be the new date of the planned flyover of Toronto. The planned date of the Ontario flight was Saturday, May 9th but Mother Nature wanted it on mom's special day. The Canadian Forces aerobatic team was to take to the skies in three legs: from Trenton to Pearson, then Pearson to London and finally London to Barrie at various times throughout the day. Instead snow and hail around the city proved too formidable and the birds are holding at 8 Wing Trenton for 24 hours.

If the weather is good hopefully they will hold to their scheduled flyovers on Sunday, May 10, 2020 as part of Operation Inspiration. The first leg will be CFB Trenton (9:30am takeoff) to Pearson Airport (landing at 10:30am) - flying along the shores of Lake Ontario and over towns like Colborne, Bowmanville and Oshawa before doing some maneuvers over Toronto.
The second leg is from Pearson Airport (12:45pm takeoff) and flying over the Golden Horseshoe to Niagara Falls and heading west towards London (landing at 1:45pm). From Mississauga, over Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Grimsby, St. Catherines, Niagara Falls then to Brantford, Woodstock, Ingersol and then to London.
The day's finale is the London (takeoff 4:15pm) to Barrie (5:15pm landing). From London to Stratford, Kitchener, over Guelph, up to Collingwood and then east to Barrie.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds launch cross-Canada tour
From the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, April 30, 2020:

"The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will cross the country to salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19. This unique mission is being aptly dubbed Operation Inspiration.

The team’s signature nine-jet formation, with trailing white smoke, will fly over cities across the country starting in Nova Scotia this weekend and working west throughout the week. The team will release anticipated locations, routes, and times on their social media platforms each day. Flyovers will occur at an elevation no lower than 500 feet above all obstacles.

“Every year, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds travel the country putting smiles on the faces of Canadians,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force. “While Canadians may not be able to gather at air shows for now, we’re honoured to bring the Snowbirds team to Canadians and to pay special tribute to them.”

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds paused operations on March 20, 2020, to preserve the team’s health. The members have been at home physically distancing since that time. The team will spend two days at their home base of 15 Wing Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan flying refresher and proficiency training missions, which is standard Royal Canadian Air Force practice after an extended pause from flying operations, before starting their cross-Canada tour, during which they will be practising recommended hand-washing and wearing recommended personal protective equipment while travelling. Team members will also be minimizing any interactions with people outside of the team.

“We’ve been asked to do what we do best… inspire Canadians,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces Snowbirds. “Through Operation INSPIRATION, we not only want to salute the front-line health-care workers, first responders, and essential workers, but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We want Canadians to know we’re in this with you.”

We encourage Canadians to observe the flyovers from the safety of their home and refrain from travelling to see the flyovers. Please maintain physical distancing practices that are keeping us all safe."

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Niagara-on-the-Lake blossoms

Ontario's wine country is also famous for fruits and in spite of the polar vortex the trees are starting to blossom. Bright pink flowers are filling some of the orchards with beautiful colours while many of the other trees are just starting to bud, so peak bloom should be within a week I would think. This is from our trip on May 3, 2020.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake area is one of our favourite destinations for day trips. We head to the Lakeshore just short of Port Dalhousie, run up the Welland Canal to look for Great Lake Steamers and then go into NOTL to check out the blossoms and a winery or two.
Baby Geese, or goslings, stick close to the protective parents

One of Algoma Central Shipping lines boats passes under a lift bridge as it heads from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. This bridge is just beside the Garden City Skyway (QEW)

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Toronto Global Marijuana March 2020 Postponed

Massive clouds of smoke drifting above Toronto will have to wait for better times, the annual GMM starting at Queen's Park, is being postponed due to Covid-19 precautions. The weekend event which was scheduled for May 2-3, 2020, will go on when it is possible to hold the event. 420 Toronto's twitter feed says:

These are photos from past GMM

Toronto Cherry Blossoms in Bloom 2020

Cold weather delayed the blossoms and some went to leaves and skipped the blossom phase, but right now the fruit trees have released the blossoms in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. To reduce the crowds that would swell the parks the City of Toronto has fenced off many of the cherry tree locations, including High Park and Trinity Bellwoods Park.

You can find other locations spread around the city, such as in Exhibition Place, where the City has not put the trees into tree prison, until the blossoms have faded from the trees.

The blossoms from all the fruit orchards in Niagara-on-the-Lake area will soon be in peak bloom. You can check out my pictures on my post here.
NOTL orchards as of May 3, 2020

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square