Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Canoe Landing Park

The long line of condos running along the railway tracks have filled in, the community centre and school nearby along with the shops, stores and restaurants have brought in thousands of people into the area and many of them check out the Canoe Landing Park. Within the park is a dog run, soccer fields, fishing bobbins art along with a splash pad and of course the big, red canoe by Douglas Coupland.

The big, red canoe sits atop a mountain of fill, perched overlooking the Gardiner Expressway
Fishing bobbers and splash pad

The bridge crossing between the condos in the background wasn't installed when I took pictures of the park in 2010.

Monday, July 19, 2021

A biking visit to the Toronto Islands

One of the safest places to bike in Toronto is actually on the islands, away from the busy roads. You can take the City's ferries or grab one of the numerous water taxis plying the trade in the inner harbour and they will take your bikes as well, or you could even rent one on Centre Island near the pier. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beaches or check out the few restaurants on the islands.

The quad bikes are back
Ferries are currently working at half capacity and tickets can only be used on the reserved date. Note they were sold out on July 16, 2021 so you might prioritize taking a water taxi to the island, then return on the ferry. I like to head out to Ward's Island check out the cottage/homes and the view of the city from the eastern most point, then check out the pier and fountains on Centre Island (don't forget the amusement park and Far Enough Farm and zoo), pass through Hanlan's Island with its clothing optional beach and leave from the ferry at Hanlan's.
Some of the cottages on Ward's Island are really impressive, many are tiny and some have seen much better days. The homes are owned by the cottagers, the land is leased from the City, passing ownership down to spouses, children or legal co-owners.
The haunted lighthouse
Planes parked off the runway at Billy Bishop Island Airport
The old airport facility and tower remain, falling into disrepair
The airport is on Hanlan's Island, you can access the airport by ferry or in the new pedestrian tunnel
Approaching Toronto and the ferry terminal
Some land locked bouys at the Centre Island Pier
This cat was stretched out on his back, enjoying the sun
The view from the east side of Ward's Island

Back on the mainland the second greatest place to bike in Toronto is along Toronto's Waterfront Trail.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Summer of Play in the Bentway

Playing in Public is the Bentway Park's latest installation under the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. Fun and games are the themes of the collection with a smashingly large collection of basketball hoops of all sizes attached to the pillars supporting the elevated highway and seven other installations.
From their website, "The Bentway launches Playing in Public this summer, a collection of outdoor and online projects that invite you to rediscover “play” in the city. By the neighbourhood, for the neighbourhood, the program includes 8 art installations, a connective Play Path, roaming and audio experiences, and more. Playing in Public spreads out across “The Bentway and beyond” into local parks, public spaces, and sidewalks throughout the Fort York, CityPlace, Niagara, and Waterfront communities. Participatory and “playable”, it has been designed to offer COVID-safe engagement for local residents to explore their city in new ways. Installations (including work by Daily tous les jours, Esmaa Mohamoud, Assemble, Studio F-Minus, Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels, Pierre Poussin, The Street Society, and Nelson Wu and biosphere) are rolling out in the coming weeks; with the full exhibition launching in early July."
Dribble Dribble
Big Red
Walk Walk Dance

"The Playing in Public lineup includes:

Eight (8) creative installations, including new forms of basketball, play equipment, and music-making:
Walk Walk Dance by Daily tous les jours (Montreal)
Now open through July 24
Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd

Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud (Toronto)
Opening July 7 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Big Red by Assemble (UK)
Opening June 19 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Nil:Nil by Studio F Minus (Toronto)
Opening June 19 (approx.)
The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd

Play Public by Thomas Mailaender (France) and Erik Kessels (Netherlands), co-commissioned with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Open now
The Bentway Studio, 55 Fort York Blvd (next to Canoe Landing Park)

Jax by Pierre Poussin (Toronto), co-commissioned with Concord Adex
Opening June 30 (approx.)
Under the Gardiner at Dan Leckie Way

Dream Street by The Street Society (France), co-presented by TAS
Opening June 19 (approx.)
125-133 Niagara St

Midsummer Mix Vol. 1 by Nelson Wu (Toronto) and biosphere (Toronto), co-presented with the Waterfront BIA
Opening June 30 (approx.)
South side of Queens Quay West (Bathurst St to York St)"

Theodore Tugboat stops over in Toronto

The famous tugboat from Halifax was moored to Harbourfront Centre for a stopover in its travels around Ontario from July 16 till the early morning hours of July 18, 2021 before heading over to Burlington and Hamilton.
You can see Theodore at the right side of the Toronto's skyline
Nestled up adjacent to the Harbourfront Centre's concert stage amphitheater

Looking like a regular tugboat ready to push or pull some other vessel except this boat is special, it has a giant face of a child wearing a bright red baseball hat where a smoke stack might be. The real life replica was built in 2000 and is now on a mission to promote the marine industry. The original Theodore Tugboat was the star of a CBC television series that lasted 5 seasons, ending in 2001. The show was filmed in Halifax using small, radio controlled tugboats and associated sets and equipment. I think they will be going up the Welland Canal to Port Colborne soon.

Grey Goose has a minigolf setup in Ontario Square

The colourful patio in the empty Natrel Pond

Harbourfront Centre is a great place to hang out in Toronto. Plenty of restaurants and patios, harbour cruises, concerts, museums, art galleries and many events and other attractions nearby.

See more of Theodore Too after the jump.

Friday, July 16, 2021

2021 Canadian International Air Show is back on

The CNE might not be back this year but the high flying acts that take place over the city of Toronto are returning from September 4-6, 2021.

Their website says, "The Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) is committed to presenting Canada’s oldest continuous, running air show that is enjoyed annually by millions of fans on the shores of Lake Ontario. As with many air shows throughout North America, the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty about the format of our air show. Based on our current information, we still plan to host an air show in 2021."

The aerial performances will be by the Canadian Snowbirds, F-35A Demo, Mike Wiskus, Quicksilver – P51 Mustang and the CF-18 Hornet Demo. Photos by Joe Hamilton

Friday, July 09, 2021

Honda Indy Toronto 2021 was to be this weekend

The annual burning rubber, engines screaming Honda Indy race weekend was cancelled due to covid precautions, like many public events of 2020 and 2021. Originally scheduled to take place July 9-11, 2021, organizers had to cancel after the City of Toronto banned large gatherings up till after Labour Day in September. For those counting, this is the second HIT cancellation - let's hope that 2022 is the magic year where so much of our social and entertainment life will return in force.

From the IndyCar website, "Last month, due to restrictions in Ontario focusing on COVID-19 health-and-safety measures, organizers of the Honda Indy Toronto and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES announced the cancellation of this year’s event. In a decision based on the strength of the remainder of the 2021 schedule, INDYCAR will not replace that event on this year’s calendar. We are thrilled the season will continue next month with a memorable July 4th race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which has hosted the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since 1980. It will be followed by an action-packed August with a fantastic inaugural event on the Streets of Nashville (Aug. 8), another historic NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Aug. 14 INDYCAR race) and the final oval of the season at World Wide Technology Raceway (Aug. 21)."

For 2021 IndyCar will finish their 16 race schedule in the Streets of Long Beach on September 26. The current leading drivers are ALEX PALOU, PATO O'WARD, SCOTT DIXON, JOSEF NEWGARDEN, MARCUS ERICSSON and SIMON PAGENAUD.

Honda Indy Toronto is a street race, with the roads in Exhibition Place and out onto Lake Shore Boulevard making up the 2.84 km temporary track featuring 11-turns and a heck of a lot of excitement.

Here is part of IndyCar's talk with the Canadian drivers regarding the Toronto cancellation, "Toronto’s Exhibition Place was supposed to be roaring this weekend with the annual electricity generated by the Honda Indy Toronto, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event which traces its roots to the first event held in the Ontario city in 1986. However, lingering effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic prohibited that for a second consecutive year.

No one is more disappointed that James Hinchcliffe and Dalton Kellett, Canadian drivers itching to again compete on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit.

Both NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers call the Toronto area home. Hinchcliffe is from the suburb of Oakville, Kellett from Stouffville.

“The drivers are right there with you,” Kellett said of again missing this event. “We love that track, and everyone really enjoys coming to the city.”

AJ Foyt Racing driver Kellett insisted he wasn’t just boasting about his hometown, which annually puts on a terrific show for the motorsports community.

“It wasn’t the right time, given Ontario’s COVID numbers, for it to happen this year,” Kellett said. “We will see you next year!”

Canadian drivers have a history of performing at a high level in this event."

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Drums over historic Fort George

It's hard to believe that the U.S. and Canada were once at war and battles were fought on both sides of the border. In Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Fort George historic site, built in 1802, which became the headquarters of the British Army's Centre Division during the fighting of the War of 1812. The Americans did capture and hold the Fort for 7 months before being retaken by the British, leaving the fort in a little less than pristine condition. You can see photos from a large reenactment on my post here.
Loading the musket
And firing the Brown Bess

The fort was reconstructed in the the '30s (1930s that is) by the Niagara Parks Commission and opened in 1940 and run by Parks Canada from 1969 and in response to the whole covid thing they say, "Parks Canada is following the advice and guidance of public health experts and continues to make every effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. As a result, Fort George will operate at a reduced capacity and access will be limited. All heritage buildings remain closed at this time and all indoor programming has been moved outdoors. Guided tours will not be offered at this time. Ticket sales will be suspended once the site reaches maximum capacity." Fort George opened for the season on June 16, 2021.

Fife and drummers were very young in the British Army

Now you can see soldiers dressed in period uniforms fire their muskets and listen to music from the 41st fife and drum band as well as explore the grounds and talk to the tour guides. Hours are from noon till 5pm with ticket sales ending at 4:15pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Adult entry is $11.90 and parking is $5.90 per vehicle. In July and August you can see a demonstration (music or musket) every half hour, beginning at 12:30pm.

See more of the fort after the jump.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Spectacular view from Tower Hotel in Niagara Falls

It was time to return to Niagara Falls, due to covid we haven't stayed in the city, just passed through several times as it went from a world wide tourist destination to ghost town. One place we hadn't gone to was the old Minolta Tower, now known as the Tower Hotel. The elevated concrete tower is on the escarpment just above the Horseshoe Falls offering the best views of both the Canadian and American waterfalls along with the Niagara River.

Looking up towards the hotel from the falls

We arrived in the evening and after unloading our bags in the hotel falls view Tower King room on the 28th floor. The windows are almost floor to ceiling and room wide, perfect for views of the falls at sunset or at night as the flood lights illuminate the falling waters in a variety of colours. The room was nice and included a fridge and available highspeed internet wifi. Parking was an additional $25 and you parked in the adjacent Embassy Suites parking structure. Some of the downside items were no USB hubs in the room and you couldn't turn the temperature down below 67 degrees Fahrenheit or 19 degrees Celsius. Room rates of around $140 are inflated by the extensive list of fees and taxes that amount to about $60 (typical for Niagara Falls hotels and the fees hit your restaurant bills as well) - and don't forget the parking fee. However I must again state that the view is amazing and worth the cost.

The Floral Showhouse

We took in the TGI Fridays restaurant patio located in the Embassy Suites entrance, right beside the Keg Restaurant patio and then headed out for a nice walk around the Canadian falls and over to the Floral Showhouse along the Niagara Parkway. Coming back we watched the floodlights from the walkway adjacent to the river as the lights flashed over the waterfalls, in blue, red and occasional in the Pride colours.

 See more of the hotel after the jump.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Berczy Park mural and dog fountain back on

The water fountain was turned off for the winter season in late 2019 and when covid hit, turning on the fountain was not on the list of essential items. Moving into stage one of the new covid precautions on June 11, 2021 brought back things like outdoor fountains around Toronto.

Berczy Park is in downtown Toronto, very near Union Station and adjacent to St. Lawrence Market, famous for the mural on the Gooderham flatiron building and the 2017 replacement of the original fountain with a work of art featuring 27 dogs and one cat, topped by a doggy treat.

You can also find fountains in Nathan Phillips Square and the double line of water spray at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Nathan Phillip Square reflecting pond and fountain at City Hall

Thank goodness for CafeTO patios

Covid vaccinations are slowly opening our world again and in mid-June 2021 the Province of Ontario opened up a number of outdoor activities which included outdoor dining. Luckily this is patio season so outdoor dining is just the perfect way to celebrate the new relaxed rules. The umbrella patio in the photo at top is from Mercado Negro's restaurant located on St. Clair West.

From the provinces' website “Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the Roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario. As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines. In order to safely enter Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 60 per cent of adults with at least one dose for two weeks or longer, ensuring the first dose offers a strong level of protection against COVID-19. As of June 6, 2021 at 8:00 p.m., 72 per cent of the 18+ population in Ontario had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with over 10 million doses now having been administered."

Toronto has continued the CafeTO program where lanes of traffic are reduced so that restaurants can open patios in the streets or on the sidewalk, subject to public health measures and social distancing.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Hamilton's Albion Falls - access closed

The stunning escarpment waterfall has been closed off as the City of Hamilton tries to prevent accidents from happening to curious tourists, especially ones that require hazardous rope rescues by emergency services. Additional fencing and signage have been added to Albion Falls and those that trespass could be subject to fines of $10,000.  

Located along Mountain Brow Boulevard, the cascade waterfall passes the water of Red Hill Creek down a stepped path 19 metres high. While the base is out of bounds there are two viewing platforms available to check out the waterfall - although you have to look through the foliage that partially blocks the falls. There is a parking lot just across from the falls and a wide asphalt path runs along the top of the gorge.
The exposed rocks of the escarpment are ready to fall without notice
The cascading water splashes on the steps of the falls

Erosion and safety concerns, combined with environmentally sensitive areas have led to the city actively enforcing the bylaw with a typical fine being up to $200, the higher fines were saved for repeat offenders or for those that caused rescues to be performed. In 2017 the south limits of the gorge at Albion Falls were fenced off, so the nearby Lover's Leap Vista lookout is your only option on that side.
The view from Lover's Leap Vista
The main access gate and stairway to the falls is locked

The beauty of Albion Falls will continue to draw visitors to the area and some will trespass into the gorge to view the falls up close. The city should make safe transit to the falls with an area where you could view the waterfall safely. Failing that they should make the platforms that extend over the escarpment and provide a view where you could see the falls without trees blocking the way.

I have had to go through my pics from years ago to remember what it looked like around the base of the falls and have included them within this post. You can see me at the base of the falls in my 2009 post here.
While in Hamilton you can visit the downtown core and enjoy a meal on one of the many patios that have been opened as certain covid restrictions are being lifted. The fountain in Gore Park is another must see tourist spot.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square