Sunday, November 29, 2020

Distillery District Winter Village at night

The historic Distillery District is helping to keep the spirits of Toronto high during the Covid-19 Condition-Grey, Lockdown situation. Life in the district during winter is a lot calmer without the annual Christmas Market, however they have put up the lights and the giant Christmas tree in Trinity Square and Winter Village will continue until March 31, 2021.

Stores and restaurants are open for online orders and curbside pickup and visitors are asked to wear masks inside and outside and practice good social distancing. Hours for the village are Sunday to Wednesday from 11am to 8pm and Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm.

Within the Distillery District you can view the 44 foot tree, decorated with over 60,000 LED lights, red and gold balls and gold garland sparkling in the night. Overhead are strings of lights crisscrossing the alleyways and roads while on the buildings waterfalls of light, coloured spotlights or animated displays play across the facades. Signs of 'JOY', 'NOEL' and 'FAMILY' provide excellent photo ops for visitors.

See more photos after the jump.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

New Cherry Street Bridge in Toronto

As the City of Toronto works to rebuild the Port lands at the outlet of the Don River, one of the first changes to come to the site is the installation of a new bridge along the future alignment of Cherry Street. It will soon be joined by a twin at the Keating Channel crossing - one for vehicular traffic and one for the public transit. At this time they placed the first new bridge, about 100m west of the current bridge which will remain in place until the new bridge is open.
The old bridge operators structure perched above the bridge to allow a better view
Portlands construction started in 2017 with the completion estimated into 2024. As part of the port lands work the Don Valley outlet will follow a new river course turning part of the lands into Villiers Island which will be developed and include a residential component.

The current Cherry Street Bascule Bridge is a lift bridge built in 1968 that kind of got stuck in the up position recently. After approximately 1 month the bridge was dropped back into place after extensive work and you can see it stuck in my post here.

Here is an overall map from WaterFRONToronto of the planned port lands development proposal based on a number of precincts.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

NASCAR Pinty's driver Alex Tagliani and TAG E-karting

Canadian driver Alex Tagliani's long career in racing has seen him take part in a number of series such as CART, IndyCar and several NASCAR variants including the Canadian NASCAR Pinty's stock car Series. In the 2020 Pinty's FanCave Challenge Alex had five top 10 spots in the #18 RONA-Viagra-CanTorque Team car, while overall he has taken home 9 lifetime wins in the series. And now the driver/entrepreneur will open the TAG E-karting and Amusement Centre in Quebec in early 2021.
Photos above provided by TAG E-karting

Alex Tagliani was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2015 and I looked forward to running into him on and off the track as he promoted racing, won at the Pinty's GP of Toronto race,  introduced TAG on the GO cookies, attended Motorama and promoted his sponsors like EpiPen and RONA amongst many others throughout the years. His new venture is an exciting indoor amusement centre which will have 3 karting tracks, six axe-throwing lanes, a laser tag arena, interactive cinema and trampolines, arcades, bowling lanes, virtual reality experience, two dining areas and an interactive children's wall.
From TAG E-karting and Amusement Centre, "For the passionate racing driver, this project represents the realization of a long-cherished dream which puts the spotlight on Karting through an unparalleled racing experience. A set of three tracks on three levels—one for adults, one for children, and a super track combining the two with a length of 0.5 km—will feature a total of six course choices, each of which can be completed clockwise or counterclockwise. Imported from Italy, the go-karts will be 100% electric, silent, non-polluting, and odourless (zero emissions), available in a wide range of sizes. They are the world’s most sophisticated electric models available for the first time in North America. Featuring a digital steering wheel, bumper-integrated sensors for safety, and a Boost button for accelerated passing, these professional-calibre vehicles carry the prestigious CRG brand name. An artificial intelligence platform will be used to safely manage the go-karts."
Alex Tagliani races in the Honda Indy Toronto as part of the Pinty's GP of Toronto

Alex Tagliani says that "I think of all the young people and thrill seekers who want to let off steam and get their adrenaline flowing. The TAG E-karting & Amusement Centre will be the new generation recreational centre of choice, an exhilarating place for an outing with friends, colleagues, or family. Even better, I see this project—the first multi-level electric karting centre in Canada—as a springboard to eventually develop talents that will shape future Quebec karting champions."

"Just as I have learned that in motor racing victory can only be achieved through the work of a good team, I know that it is thanks to the added value provided by each member of our dream team that this extraordinary project can finally see the light of day. The completion of this venture has proven to be a greater challenge than the Indy 500!" added the creator of the TAG E-karting & Amusement Centre, Alex Tagliani.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

NASCAR Pinty's Series 2020 winners

I was happy to see that Jason Hathaway took the 2020 NASCAR Pinty's Series Championship, especially since he retired from the series in 2016 then returned to the NASCAR in 2019. A year later and BOOM he wins 3 races and finishes 2020 with 265 points in 1st place, beating Kevin Lacroix in 2nd and D.J. Kennington in 3rd place in the Pinty's FanCave Challenge. Jason drives the #3 Kubuta Fast Eddie car.

COVD-19 also impacted the planned 2020 schedule and the reduced stock car races featured only three double headers, or six races in total which was less than half of the 13 races in 2019. NASCAR hasn't released the upcoming 2021 season schedule yet.

Honda Indy Toronto has included the NASCAR Pinty's Series in the 2021 race schedule in Exhibition Place, headlining the Saturday ticket as they speed through the streets of Toronto. This is Jason Hathaway driving in the 2019 HIT.

IndyCar 2020 Champion and the 2021 Race Schedule

Covid-19 blew a piston in the planned 2020 NTT IndyCar season and the 17 races eventually became 14 races starting in June and ending in October, skipping Toronto due to the restriction on large gatherings and emergency declarations. In the end defending Champion Josef Newgarden was edged out by Scott Dixon who celebrated his sixth Indy Championship. The 2021 schedule has been released and the Honda Indy Toronto is coming back in July 2021, hopefully James Hinchcliffe will also be back! UPDATE: Covid says NO! See the Honda Indy news release as follows.

Honda Indy Toronto 14 May 2021: Following the City of Toronto’s decision to extend the cancellation of permits for major festivals and events through Labour Day (Sept. 6) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honda Indy Toronto has been removed from the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series schedule. The event was originally scheduled to take place July 9-11 at Exhibition Place. Of course, we are all disappointed in this outcome. Our team greatly appreciates the incredible fans, participants, volunteers, media and dedicated partners who have supported us as we all navigate these unusual and uncertain days."
Back to the 2020 leaders - 1st Scott Dixon #9 of Chip Ganassi Racing Champion led with 537 points, winning 4 races. 2nd Josef Newgarden #1 of Team Penske had 531 points, winning 4 races. And 3rd Colton Herta #88 of Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport with 1 win and 421 points.

2021 NTT IndyCar Season Schedule

 March 7: Streets of St. Petersburg

 April 11: Barber Motorsports Park
April 18: Streets of Long Beach

 May 1: Texas Motor Speed Race 1

 May 2: Texas Motor Speedway Race 2
 May 15: Indianapolix Motor Speedway Road Course

 May 30: 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500

 June 12: The Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 1

 June 13: The Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 2

 June 20: Road America

 July 4: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

 July 9-11: Streets of Toronto CANCELLED

 August 8: Streets of Nashville

 August 14: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

 August 21: World Wide Technology Raceway

 September 12: Portland International Raceway

 September 19: Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Niagara Falls 2020 Winter Festival of Lights

The lights are back along the mighty Niagara River as part of Canada's largest illumination festival which are viewed by almost 2 million people every year. Put on by Ontario Power Generation and running from Saturday, November 14, 2020 to Sunday, January 10, 2021 along the Niagara Parkway. The time is 5pm till 11:59pm. The weather on the opening night will be mostly sunny and a high of 8 degrees C, hopefully the night stays above freezing and that social distancing and masks will be a priority to visitors.

From the WFOL website, "Started in 1982, the current festival features over three million lights along an 8km illumination route that travels along the Niagara Parkway through the Niagara Parks Queen Victoria Park, into Dufferin Islands and into the surrounding tourist districts. Over the years, the Festival has earned countless travel and tourism industry awards including Event of the Year, Top Festival/Event in Ontario, Best Volunteer Program, Most Innovative Partnership and the prestigious Events of Distinction Award from Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO). In addition the American Bus Association (ABA) has long recognized the OPG Winter Festival of Lights as one of its Top 100 Internationally Known Events (2005 – 2015)."
We went to the falls on opening night and the weather was perfect for this time of year. The day was sunny and had a high of around 10 degrees C, the night continued relatively warm which was great for spending time wandering around the pathways of lights. Nearing the falls by the floodlights which light up the Canadian and American waterfalls, the usual light mist turned into a solid downpour that soaked us within minutes and stopped most visitors from progressing on foot towards Dufferin Island unless they took cars.

See more of the light installations after the jump.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Toronto Grand Prix Tourist In the Top 60 Toronto Blogs in 2020

I was happy to see that my blog - Toronto Grand Prix Tourist remains as one of the top spots to find information, photos and events, even as Covid precautions shut down so much and the coronavirus is hitting back and surging across southern Ontario. We are sitting at #38 on the list, rising like a bullet.

Top 60 Toronto Blogs & News Websites To Follow in 2020

Friday, November 13, 2020

Royal Horse Show and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Virtual in 2020

It's never easy to used to the continuous cancellation of public events, here in Toronto, Ontario and around the world due to Covid precautions. The Royal shows, both the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Royal Horse Show which is run alongside the fair, was originally scheduled for November 6-15, 2020 in Toronto's Exhibition Place. Now the Royal is virtual from November 10-14 online at

On June 24, 2020 the Royal's Board of Directors issued a statement cancelling the event, "Due to our ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the excitement of The Royal will have to wait for another year. The Royal’s Board of Directors today made the heart-wrenching but unanimous decision to cancel the 2020 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, originally scheduled for November 6th to 15th at Exhibition Place, Toronto. This treasured annual tradition will return better than ever in 2021." Then on August 25, 2020 the Royal announced the virtual experience that was to come in November of 2020. The show is a highlight of Toronto's live events, from the vendors to the farm animals, with cooking, agricultural displays and the always exciting horse shows and jumping contests. 

You can get free access, with no download required, to the Canadian show jumping and equestrian sport along with Fireside Chats and Breaking Down the Round. From the Agricultural Winter Fair don't forget to check out the Burnbrae Farms cooking classes and the virtual butter carving competition.

Beezie Madden, a four-time Olympic medalist for the United States and fan favourite at the Royal Horse Show, will be featured on Fireside Chats, presented by Henry Equestrian, on Friday, November 13, at 7 p.m. ET. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography

“The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be a different experience this year as we are dedicated to keeping patrons and supporters of the event healthy and safe while also doing our part to celebrate the best of the best in Canadian agriculture, food, and horse sport,” said Charlie Johnstone, CEO of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “We are excited to provide Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience viewers access to some of the top equestrian athletes in the world. In addition, we are extremely proud to offer the virtual experience at no charge thanks to the unwavering support of our Royal sponsors and partners.”

Two-time Canadian Olympian for eventing, Jessica Phoenix, will be a guest on Breaking Down the Round, presented by, as part of the Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience from November 10 to 14, 2020. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography

More from the Royal Horse Show: "The Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience also included an opportunity for equestrians to compete in a virtual conformation class. Over 250 entries were submitted in three categories – heavy horses, horses for sport, and ponies for sport – of all breeds, which were judged on conformation and suitability. Results will be announced on Tuesday, November 10, and the top three competitors in each category will received a pair of box seat tickets for opening night of the 2021 Royal Horse Show.

In addition to free access to all of the Royal Horse Show’s virtual content, registrants will also receive access to the FEI Campus. FEI Campus is a cutting-edge e-learning platform and the virtual reference point for education within the FEI and the equestrian world for horse education. The content and courses have been carefully crafted and selected by experts and professionals within the equestrian community and have the FEI seal of approval. The Royal Horse Show has been the proud host the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto since 2015 and is the only Canadian event in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League for the 2021/2022, and 2022/2023 seasons. For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit Funding support for The Royal is provided by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto."

The Agricultural Fair virtual experience draws heavily on the University of Guelph conversations, the Burnbrae Farms Culinary Series and Royal Horse Show events. PS I loved Duke the rooster who was the Fair's Ambassador for 2020.

The virtual Butter Sculpture Competition was open to all Canadians for the first time in history. Participants of all ages could create a miniature sculpture from one pound of butter and by posting a photo on Instagram (@ButterSculptureChallange and tagging @theRoyalFair) to enter. Winners will be announced on November 14. Category champions will win a $150 Royal package. My favourite sculpture for the 13+ division was by Lex who created an owl.

Unlucky Friday the 13th 2020 in Port Dover

A resurgence in Covid and the colder temperatures in November make the latest Port Dover motorcycle rally a much smaller affair. We can look back at previous, extremely crowded and covid-free events from previous years in these photos.

From the PD13 website, "Information about Friday, Nov. 13th, 2020 in Port Dover. The Covid-19 pandemic has cancelled events world-wide and Friday the 13th in Port Dover is no exception. There will be no vendors set up downtown. Local groups are not selling Friday the 13th merchandise in parks and parking lots." The call for the low key event was made by Norfolk County who made the decision to restrict leases to vendors. 
Reports from the area say that this Friday the 13th was less crowded than even normal cold weather rallies in the Lake Erie port town. The bikers, visitors and town stores saw social distancing being practiced and face mask use in the busier areas said Global News.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square