Thursday, June 25, 2020

Royal Winter Fair 2020 cancelled

The Royal Winter Fair which was scheduled to run November 6-15 has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic precautions. As the fair was happening so late in the year they were probably hoping that they would be able to open the largest, indoor combined Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Royal Horse Show. However without any vaccine and social distancing still on the table. It has only been cancelled once before during the second world war. The fair will look at virtual programming options for this fall.

“Over the past several months, we’ve all experienced an unprecedented disruption to our daily lives and are redefining how we live, work and play. Ultimately, our decision is grounded in our commitment to help ensure the health and well-being of our community at large,” stated Charlie Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer at The Royal. “Our primary responsibility remains rooted in serving our community and protecting the integrity and welfare of all. We understand and appreciate the time, effort and financial commitment required to compete and exhibit at The Royal and did not make this decision without very careful consideration.”

“During these uncertain times, we’re heartened by the resilience of farmers, the ingenuity of entrepreneurs, and the abundance of care shown towards family, friends and animals,” concluded Johnstone. “As we lead up to our 100th Anniversary celebrations in 2022, we take comfort knowing that the 2021 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be, as always, an outstanding experience for all those who compete, exhibit and attend.”

Toronto Island Ferry Service returns June 27

Long shut off from the rest of the city, the Toronto Islands will be a destination once again as Mayor John Tory, Councillors Joe Cressy and Pasternak announced the island ferry service resumes Saturday, June 27, 2020. Only one ferry has been running to the Islands since Covid-19 precautions took place, limited to those that live on the islands. Beaches have not been closed by the Province as part of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act so the Island beaches should be ready for swimming - including Hanlan's Point clothing optional beach.

Not only will the ferries run but the bathrooms and some restaurants will be open as well, thank goodness.

As the Waterfront Business Improvement Area says: The ferry service will have a number of COVID-19 precautions, developed in consultation with Toronto Public Health, to protect passengers and staff. These include:

Ferries will operate at 50% maximum capacity
Ferry tickets will be limited to 5,000 per day and must be purchased online at
Passengers will be required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings.
Visitors are encouraged to travel outside of peak times (avoid the ferry from 9:30am-12pm, 3:30-6:30pm). 

A map of the Toronto Island Park
The view from Hanlan's Point beach
Here is what the City is saying about beaches as of June 25, 2020: "Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act orders, the City bylaw on physical distancing, and laws prohibiting consumption of alcohol on City property and in unlicensed public areas remain in effect. With the warm weather, the City’s beaches are seeing very high volumes of beach-goers. At many beaches, littering, bonfires, alcohol consumption and public intoxication, and individuals not practising physical distancing are recurring problems. Individuals visiting beaches and parks should use litter bins provided, leave alcohol at home, and, if a park or beach is too busy to safely practise physical distancing, come back later or head to an alternate location. The COVID-19 enforcement team continues to patrol parks and beaches, particularly problem areas, with a focus on providing education. Yesterday, the City received 83 complaints related to parks use and physical distancing. Officers have spoken to or cautioned more than 6,500 people this month. Bylaw officers issued 11 tickets yesterday in City parks or squares."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Collision From Home tech conference 2020

Canada's largest technology conference had just successfully settled in Toronto in 2019 for the first of three years (see photo at top), where it had welcomed over 25,000 people. Collision immediately started planning for the 2020 edition, then as Covid-19 swept around the world governments shut down festivals, concerts and almost everything that moved. Collision decided to use technology and instead of cancelling the conference in 2020 they brought the conference to the world - online. From June 23 to 25, 2020 over 32,000 people from 140 countries around the world will watch 600 speakers provide over 100 hours of online content, right from your home. You can still book tickets for the remaining days by heading over to their website and watch the informative talks, enjoy workshops that are still to follow.

Opening day featured Toronto Mayor John Tory helping to launch Collision from Home with a desire to start Toronto's journey in rebuilding the city's economy. "Toronto participants will have the opportunity to connect with members of these delegations representing academia, government, small to medium enterprises, foreign direct investment prospects, accelerator and innovation partners, technology buyers, start-ups and venture capital investors."

Mayor John Tory stated "COVID-19 is changing the way we do many things, including Collision – North America's fastest growing tech conference. I'm proud to participate in Collision at Home to showcase Toronto’s phenomenal technology and innovation sector and connect them to international investment opportunities but I especially look forward to the day we can welcome Collision back to Toronto.” The conference and the City worked together to make free tickets available to students, community groups, the tech sector, a number of higher institutions of education and to displaced tech workers. Tickets were also distributed to organizations that supported diversity.

Each day will includ discussions focusing on Black Lives Matter, the culture war in the upcoming US election, Covid-19 impacts and Mental Health. Speakers like Shaquille O'neal, Arianna Huffington, Anthony Scaramucci, Margaret Atwood and scores of high level executives from some of the world's most famous software and technology firms.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2020

Hopefully everyone prepared for #WNBR, the annual global protest against oil dependency, and brought along plenty of fluids because the day is a hot one! After a short postponement due to covid-19 precautions the ride was moved to Saturday, June 20, 2020. 

Co-organizer Gene Dare is here (photo at top) in Coronation Park, just south of Exhibition Place, in the veteran's memorial near the giant flag pole. Protesters have started to gather here before noon as curious park visitors mingle with the riders. The bicycle protest will leave Coronation Park around 1:00pm and if you see the riders duff your clothes, grab your two-wheeled transportation (or roller blades, scooter or whatever) and hit the road with them.
WNBR Toronto will drop by several of the city's top tourist attractions and neighbourhoods - like UofT, Queen's Park (photo op), Kensington Market, Yorkville, the Gay Village, Yonge-Dundas Square, City Hall (photo op and chance to cool off in the reflecting pond) and the park at the Ferry Docks. As the Toronto Islands are closed for visitors the decision was made to add Sugar Beach and HTO Beach tot he route.
Update: Toronto Police have showed up at 11am and are discussing the planned route for the ride. The plan is still a go!

The Novel Coranavirus impacted the amount of people that have joined the 2020 World Naked Bike Ride in Toronto. Instead of several hundred people, only approximately 50 people joined in, picking up some of the riders along the way. Participants from the States couldn't make it in and large groups from north of Toronto decided to be cautious and pass up on this year's ride.
The ride starts to head out of Coronation Park

Stopping at Allan Gardens
Yonge-Dundas included a double loop around the urban park and passing by the Toronto Eaton Centre
Riding down Yonge Street
The ride visited Toronto City Hall and found out that the reflecting pond was empty so the stop was shorter than usual

Riding around HTO Park before finishing off back at Coronation Park

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Preparing for the Toronto World Naked Bike Ride 2020

The global protest against oil dependency was postponed due to Covid-19 precautions. The protest on two wheels was delayed from June 13 to Saturday, June 20, 2020 as the Province has now started to reopen for business and protests have been allowed by Canadian public health officials. Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said that "I think it's people's right to express their support, and in some cases concern, about things that are unfolding both here in our country and across the world." But remember that in a Covid-19 world we must wear masks and maintain physical distancing. Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Theresa Tam suggests using signs instead of shouting while protesting.

Gene talks to CBC news
The Start - Coronation Park

Riders will begin to gather around noon on Saturday around the flagpole in Coronation Park (about the centre of the park near the veteran's memorial). The park is at 711 Lake Shore Boulevard West, just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place.
No vehicular access to the park during ActiveTO

Unless the City ends the weekend closures (started May 11 and will continue until further notice) Saturday's ride will take place during Toronto's ActiveTO: From the City's website "ActiveTO is about making sure people have space to get around while respecting physical distancing. Initiatives include quiet streets, closing major roads for active transportation, and expanding the cycling network." Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road will be closed along with the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146). Update: ActiveTO Major Road closures will be in place this weekend, from Saturday, June 20 at 6 a.m. to Sunday, June 21 at 11 p.m. This will mean that the entrance to Coronation Park is closed, participants will have to ride to the park from other areas. In the park the reconstruction of the multi-use paths is almost complete and most of the fences have been removed.

Nearby Parking

The closest public parking is probably in Exhibition Place and the Gore Lot across Lake Shore Blvd, but there are also plenty of spots along Queen's Quay. Parking lots on the south side of Lake Shore Blvd across from Exhibition Place will be closed.

Pre-ride Preparations 

Usually ride co-organizer Gene Dare gets to the memorial early and his extra-large, red felt Canadian hat and World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) banner becomes a beacon for riders to converge on. I don't think body painters will be on site this year, however you never know. Update: No official body painters to attend, so bring some of your own paints. This time is also used for individual and group photos. Appropriate social distance socializing will take place ahead of the 1:00 pm departure - rain or shine.

Approximate route map from the Wiki World Naked Bike Ride Toronto website

Toronto WNBR route

The ride heads north, leaving Coronation Park and heading up Strachan Avenue, west along Queen St West and into Kensington Market. At College St you go west again until you hit the University of Toronto. The ride goes around the giant circle, then under the bridge and onto Queen's Park where the first photo op takes place. Continuing north into Yorkville, just above the Mink Mile, the south on Yonge Street and west along Bloor Street before heading south into the Gay Village along Church Street. Then west on Gerrard St, pass through Ryerson University and west on Dundas and around Yonge-Dundas Square (sometimes twice) and regaining Yonge Street down to Queen Street. Hitting Queen Street the ride continues westerly until they dismount at Toronto City Hall. The riders pause to play in the fountain in Nathan Phillips Square, pose for more photos, then it is back on the road and heading south to finish at the Ferry Docks and Harbour Square Park.

Most years, part of the riders head to the Toronto Islands, part head back to Coronation Park and part depart the ride at this location. Currently ferries to the Toronto Islands are closed to all but residents so it looks like the party at Hanlans Point nude beach is a no go this year.

A side route is sometimes taken into Allan Gardens, ahead of the visit to Ryerson University, for solidarity with sex workers. Whether that happens this year is still to be confirmed.

Ride length and precautions

The overall ride lasts almost 3 hours, includes hundreds of riders, and finishes at the Ferry Docks around 3:30 pm. Posing for a few more photos, saying goodbye and splitting up by 4:00 pm. The ride is a pretty gentle pace, stopping at red lights, sometimes accompanied by police cyclists providing traffic control (see the police lead the ride around Toronto University's King's College Circle in the photo at top). The only cautions are be prepared to stop or slow down at all times and be aware of the streetcar tracks. Both of these have caused riders to fall and it is painful if you don't have the protection of clothes. Because of Covid-19 the use of helmets and masks are both recommended.

Update: Saturday's weather is supposed to have a few clouds along with a high of 31 degrees Celsius and a scorching humidex reading of 37 degrees. Keep hydrated and slather on some sun tan lotion. Gene says "If on the ride you feel like you will pass out, remove your mask. Bring water. It will be the hottest ride ever."

Come back during the ride when I will post photos and information on the WNBR Toronto 2020 Covid edition. And remember that the ride is as bare as you dare.

Friday, June 12, 2020

High Water at the Niagara Whirlpool Trail loop

The Niagara River turns 90 degrees about 5km downstream of the Horseshoe Falls creating a massive whirlpool about 100m down from the top of bank along the Niagara River Parkway. Running across the whirlpool is the Aero Car, silent due to Covid-19 precautions, while the river below has crept up to the treeline, hiding the usual rock beach that fishermen line in search of the big one.

Rugged paths run above and into the Niagara Gorge within the Niagara Glen Park. The winding trails can be accessed from the Niagara River Parkway, leading down stairways and into the valley that leads down to the water. Part of the wooden stairs are massive timbers that make for big steps for shorter people like me. After the stairs you are wandering down along twin trails which cross two pedestrian bridges and continuing until you hear the water and find the river bank. If you head left, following the trail near the edge of the water, you start to see the massive limestone blocks, cliffs and waterfalls which you have to wind through, climb over and squeeze through to continue the journey. At the exit of the Whirlpool, where the Gorge narrows and the exposed cliffs along the American side are close, you can find a great, flat table rock, perfect for picnics and enjoying the view.
The first set of stairways heading down into the gorge

Climbing along the rock walls as a small waterfall cools you off

Don't forget to bring out everything you bring in. Some still pollute even this section of nature and only with the help of superheroes that collect some of the garbage and haul it out of the park does the area remain a paradise.
Take advantage of the rest stops along the way

While the hike down is hard, you can feel your ass and thighs hurting as you go down, it is nothing compared to the hike back up. Take a break and enjoy the rest stops built into the trail, someone told us that the top section of stairs is known as heart attack alley as people see the end of the journey and start to rush.
Down at the water's edge

See more of the park after the jump.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2020 is back June 20

A naked protest is taking place next Saturday when the postponed #WNBR will roll through the streets of Toronto on June 20, 2020. This event is part of the global protest against urban pollution and our dependency on oil. Just show up and ride. You can see more posts of previous rides by checking out my link to WNBR.

Ride organizer Gene Dare says "We are riding. Third week of June. June 20, 2020. Keep your ass safe. Masks and Bicycle distancing in effect. Ride at 1 p.m. Decorate and message your mask. The ride is as safe as Toronto is; otherwise, do not ride if you are not comfortable." Remember, LESS GASS, MORE ASS.

The ride will start at Coronation Park along Lake Shore Boulevard, which is just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place. From the WNBR wiki page

"Time: Gather at 12 noon. (RIDE AT 1 P.M.) for socializing, body painting (the detailed artists will be there at 10a.m.), bike decorating etc. Bring food to share if you wish. RIDE STARTS AT 1 P.M. rain or shine, following a route along several major streets in the downtown core. Location: It starts at Coronation Park (by the waterfront at the centre of the park; at the big Canadian flag pole. A couple of backup sites have been chosen nearby just in case are event interferes with an event that has not finished. There are other events going on at Coronation Park. Be respectful. Inukshuk Park, just 200 meters west and worst case, we will meet at the CNE's Prince's Gates, just northwest of Coronation Park; across Lakeshore Ave.)"

The annual ride that takes to the streets of cities around the world was put on hold during the Covid-19 precautions, originally scheduled for June 13, the flattened curve has started to open up activities in many counties, including Canada. Outdoor activities with social distancing are being promoted for health and stress relief and so this protest ride is back on - take everything off but the mask! Actually the ride is as bare as you dare. 

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Black Lives Matter Protest Toronto

Hundreds of people have gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, June 6, 2020 to protest against racism and injustice - in Canada and around the world. The gathering started at 2pm with people handing out posters and facemasks for social distancing. The gathering starts at the north east area of the park along Gore Vale Ave. Crowds started to enter Dundas Street at 2:36pm.

Only groups of bicycle police are in the area, some setting up traffic routes which will allow the protest to move safely onto city streets as they head to Queen's Park.

See more of the protest after the jump.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Mount Toronto at Beare Hill Park

A former gravel pit, turned into a giant mound of garbage near the eastern edge of Toronto, Scarberia, I believe which provides great views of Toronto and Pickering. Located along the Rouge River at Finch Avenue and Beare Road, you can access the park from Meadowvale Road, or by following a trail from Pickering's Pinegrove Park or from numerous other trails in the area.

At the top of the hill

They have recently redone the park, making long, wide paths that lead up the mountain to a viewing area. Apparently the park is at 180m elevation, 10m over Centennial Parks ski hill (another landfill). The dump was closed in 1983 and plans for a ski hill fell through, now it is a nature area complementing the Rouge National Urban Park which will be one of the world's largest urban parks. Recent upgrades were started in March of 2019 and the park is open now.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square