Sunday, February 21, 2021

Enjoying the sun along the shores of Lake Ontario

The sun helps us beat the February Blahs and even though it has been a tad cool during the Dog Days of Winter it's nice to get out in the fresh air. We have checked out Ontario Place and Burlington Beach during the last two weekends, walking carefully on the frozen ice as we try to keep upright.

Lake ice is limited to the inner harbour

Ontario Place is a great park for exploring and we end up along the breakwater protecting the marina on the south edge of the island. Three lake freighters were sunk to provide the wall (I only thought it was one) - Victorius, Howard L. Shaw and Houghton. The one at the very end is the Houghton with the bridge and lookout still in place.

In Burlington the long beach is covered in lake ice, piled in place and only stretching out about 40m from shore. The long piers leading into Burlington Bay/Hamilton Harbour are coated in ice so be careful walking out to the light house structures.

There is not a lot of ice cover on Lake Ontario now. In fact the ice cover over all the Great Lakes is down for this season. Overall Lake Ontario is forecast for only 12% cover, compared to its long term average of almost 30% from information by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Ice cover did increase with the recent blast of frigid air as a result of the polar vortex.

"The most recent ice cover forecast, updated on Feb 14th, 2021, predicted a maximum Great Lakes ice cover of 38%. The long-term average annual maximum ice cover (AMIC) is 53.3%. The predicted maximum seasonal ice cover for each lake is as follows:

Lake Superior = 46% (long-term average AMIC is 61.5%)
Lake Michigan = 27% (long-term average AMIC is 40%)
Lake Huron = 49% (long-term average AMIC is 64.6%)
Lake Erie = 67% (long-term average AMIC is 81.2%)
Lake Ontario = 12% (long-term average AMIC is 29.8%)"

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Light Up Leslieville

#LightingUpLeslieville is a new light installation in Toronto and the attraction is free to attend, brought to you by the Leslieville Business Improvement Area (BIA) and located besides 1247 Queen Street East (east of Leslie Street, across from Hastings Avenue). They ask you to social distance and practice covid safety protocols.

The Leslieville BIA in partnership with Condoman Developments and the City of Toronto "presents this spectacle of lights to say thanks to the community for its support of our small businesses. It is also an opportunity to re-imagine underused spaces and also an opportunity to give light and life to a dull area of the Main Street."

You can check out several arches, stars and an angel's wings in the small temporary parkette on the south side of Queen Street East which will apparently be ongoing until the end of March. It provided a perfect site for Valentines selfies.

See more photos after the jump.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto 2021

It certainly is challenging to find fun in the time of Covid-19 and its many variants. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the free time that people have now. Gone for now are the long times spent in restaurants, movies or over at friends places enjoying the company of others. The year started with the lockdown throughout Ontario, now continuing in Toronto until February 22, 2021.

Updated: On February 24th the City of Toronto extended the cancellation of major events until July 1, 2021 - you can see the media release on the bottom of this post.

From what I can read on the internet, which means it's true, is that indoor gatherings have the highest probability of catching the virus. Public Health Ontario 'COVID-19 Routes of Transmission – What We Know So Far' says "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs predominantly through close (<2 m), unprotected contact with an infected individual(s). Based on the epidemiology of COVID-19, transmission predominantly occurs via respiratory droplets from symptomatic, presymptomatic or less commonly, asymptomatic individuals.  Transmission over longer distances (>2 m) is less common, but possible under certain conditions such as prolonged exposure in a poorly ventilated space. Under these conditions, inhalation of small particle respiratory droplets and aerosols can occur. SARS-CoV-2 is likely an opportunistic airborne pathogen, as non-airborne transmission is most common, but aerosols may result in transmission under favourable conditions. In household settings, people are in close proximity to one another, thereby increasing the risk of infection. The consensus among systematic reviews is that most infections are occurring in household settings where physical distancing is not feasible and household secondary attack rates are higher than in casual-contact settings (e.g., shopping)."

From Toronto's website, "The City of Toronto has extended the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted outdoor major events through March 31, 2021 and all outdoor special event permits during this time period are cancelled. This includes festivals and other large gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and Civic Squares."

You can stay inside, alone, and try some virtual events (very available now) or put some puzzles together. If you need to get outside to prevent mental health issues, try to enjoy the outdoors and keep away from crowds, keep your mask on, maintain social distancing and practice good hygiene. I know it will be awhile before I go to a movie, eat in a restaurant and hope to minimize my public transit use. 

In Jan 15 to Feb 7 we got to experience the Festival of Cool at Harbourfront with two major audio and illuminated exhibits - Iceberg and the Sonic Runway. It was cool by the way, tres cool. 

There is also Light Up Leslieville installation on the south side of Queen St E, east of Leslie Street: Leslieville BIA Facebook page says "We invite you all to enjoy this installation with safe distances in mind (East of Leslie on Queen). Just in time for Valentines Day - it makes for a perfect photo op with a loved one. So if you’re out and stretching your legs, pay a visit."
Light Up Leslieville

Other possible light festivals include the following.
Winter Light Exhibition on the west island at Ontario Place?
Toronto Light Fest in the historic Distillery District?

As the year goes on and vaccines become available to all, more and more activities will open up once again. Here are some events that are actually planned to happen. 

Winter Stations at the Beach. The annual architectural/art installations based around beach lifeguard stations is planning to return in 2021 - just after Toronto's lockdown is lifted. They usually start on Family Day (Monday, Feb 15 in 2021) but lockdown is on until Feb 22, so hopefully the weekend following the lift will be the new start.
World Naked Bike Ride 2021 - Toronto Edition: Saturday, June 12 at Coronation Park. Gather before noon, ride at 1pm.
Honda Indy Toronto 2021: Friday, July 9 to Sunday, July 11.
Canadian National Exhibition 2021: Fri, August 20 to Mon, Sept 6.
Photo by Joe Hamilton

Canadian International Airshow 2021: Saturday, Sept 4 to Monday, Sept 6. The snowbirds have released their schedule and they are in Toronto for the annual long weekend show.
Snowbirds photo by Joe Hamilton

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Royal Horse Show 2021: November 5-14 (possible in-person event)

I will add more activities as they meet the requirements for easing restrictions, so come back often.

February 24, 2021: City of Toronto extends cancellation of in-person major events to July 1

"To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted major outdoor events to July 1, including Canada Day parades, festivals and fireworks.

Today's announcement includes festivals and other large, in-person gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares.

Major 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 of the area. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to support third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.

Advance notification of this decision 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.

This decision, made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service and major event organizers, follows the previous cancellation of all such events up to March 31 and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The following major events are impacted by this decision (for the most up-to-date status of an event, please contact the organizer):

• Toronto Marathon, half Marathon, 5k, 10k and relay (will be a virtual event)
• Sporting Life 10k (will be a virtual event)
• Canadian Music Week (will be a virtual event)
• Doors Open Toronto (cancelled)
• Juno Awards (will be a virtual event)
• Ride for Heart (will be a virtual event)
• NXNE Music Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Luminato (virtual option to be determined)
• The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer (will be a virtual event)
• TD Toronto Jazz Festival (virtual option to be determined)
• Indigenous Arts Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Trans March, Dyke March & Pride Parade (will be a virtual event)
• Scarborough Canada Day Parade & Celebration (cancelled)
• Canada Day Celebrations at Mel Lastman Square (cancelled)

Event organizers with questions are encouraged to contact the relevant City permitting bodies, Toronto Police Service officers/liaisons or email

More information about supports available to the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at

This announcement does not include permits issued by the City's Parks Forestry and Recreation division for activities in parks and other City facilities/sites that are able to be permitted under the province of Ontario's framework for reopening or that may be permitted as we hopefully progress through that framework. Professional sporting events are also not included in this decision – those events rely on permissions from the provincial and federal governments in addition to Toronto Public Health."

Friday, February 12, 2021

NASCAR Pinty's Series 2021 Schedule

Twelve races are scheduled in the upcoming NASCAR Pinty's Series for 2021, beginning in May and running into late September. Sadly the Honda Indy Toronto race will not be taking place this year so you will have to travel a bit, or check out TSN and RDS to see Canada's premier stockcar racing series. Here are some photos from Joe Hamilton's reserve.

Hopefully the full schedule of races will be able to take place this year as vaccines will hopefully start bringing normal life back to Canada. The 2020 season was shortened to a six-race season under the banner of "Pinty's Fan Cave Challenge. This year will bring the 12 races to 8 tracks with the season opener at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario May 23rd. 

2021 will only feature races in Ontario and Quebec which is a reduction in the travel from past years which also included races in the United States. It will be September 5th for NASCAR Pinty's Series to make it to my favourite track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville.

From NASCAR Pinty's Series media release that the season will be "culminating with the championship race at Jukasa Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 25. Jukasa has hosted the season finale every year since its return to the schedule in 2017.

“Our team has worked hard to put together a full schedule that will showcase the exciting, door-to-door racing Pinty’s Series fans have come to expect,” said Chad Seigler, NASCAR Vice President, International Business Development. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are focusing on stand-alone events, especially as we kick off the season. Though we are unsure of when we can welcome fans back to the race track, we will continue to work with local and provincial officials to put on as safe an event as possible. The health and safety of our competitors, officials and fans are our top priority.”

The Pinty’s Series will again serve as the opening act for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) with two races on Sunday, Sept. 5."

2021 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Schedule
Sunday, May 23 - Sunset Speedway; Innisfil, Ont.
Saturday, June 19 - Jukasa Motor Speedway; Hagersville, Ont.
Sunday, July 18 - Flamboro Speedway*; Millgrove, Ont.
Sunday, July 18 - Flamboro Speedway*; Millgrove, Ont.
Sunday, Aug. 15 - Circuit Trois-Rivières; Trois-Rivières, Que.
Tuesday, Aug. 17 - Ohsweken Speedway; Ohsweken, Ont.
Saturday, Aug. 28 - Circuit ICAR; Mirabel, Que.
Sunday, Aug. 29 - Autodrome Chaudière*; Vallée-Jonction, Que.
Sunday, Aug. 29 - Autodrome Chaudière*; Vallée-Jonction, Que.
Sunday, Sept. 5 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park*; Bowmanville, Ont.
Sunday, Sept. 5 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park*; Bowmanville, Ont.
Saturday, Sept. 25 - Jukasa Motor Speedway; Hagersville, Ont.
*Twin features

Happy Lunar New Year Toronto 2021

Friday, Feb 12 begins the Year of the Ox as the Chinese New Year comes to town - no more Year of the Rat for us! 16 days of celebrations end with the Lantern Festival on the 26th. In Toronto you will have to settle for virtual celebrations as the Covid lockdown continues.

Toronto Chinatown's Youtube says "We are inviting you to celebrate this year’s Lunar New Year with us virtually. If you miss the lion dance and other popular LNY activities in Chinatown or if want to learn more about how our community celebrates the Lunar New Year, tune in to our live event!" The celebration goes live on Feb 13, 2021 at 7:30pm.

Chinatown bia is also putting on a multimedia public art program beginning Feb 12th. Yue Moon artists PUFF Daddy and Winnie Truong are exhibiting works in public for "an escape from the darkness and cold of winter."

Yue Moon: Animated Light. Location: Huron Square
Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15, 6pm-9pm daily
Thursday, February 18 through Sunday, February 21, 6pm-9pm daily

Yue Moon II. Location: 79 Huron Street & more
Launching Friday, February 12 through February 28 (or later depending on the installation site permissions)

I miss the LunarFest exhibitions held down at Harbourfront Centre - ahh the good old pre-Covid days.
LunarFest exhibition

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Caves and ice skating along the Eramosa River

The drop in temperatures have been awhile coming with double digit negative readings first occurring in late January, 2021. But the cold has thickened the ice and people are walking on the Eramosa River in the Rockwood Conservation where two skating rinks were cleared of snow and skaters were taking advantage of the outdoor rink. The area is so unique that several movies, tv shows and commercials have been filmed in park - including Reign, Utopia, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Camp Rock 2, a bunch of Murdoch Mysteries and many others. In fact there is a movie being filmed in the park in the early part of 2021. Update Feb 9: The filming is for the tv series Titans from the DC Universe - see photos at the bottom of the post.

Pure Canada - playing hockey on frozen lakes or rivers

This recreational area was home to a long abandoned quarry and the remaining quarry roads and trails pass by a series of caves near the north end of the park. The park is also well known for the caves and glacial or geological potholes including a giant one called the Devil's Pit or Devil's Well (which I haven't seen myself yet). With the ice suitable for walking we had a chance to check out the caves and cliffs found on islands that you usually don't get a chance to see.

Potholes even join together to provide alternate routes for the river
You can only see these caves when you are out on the water

Exposed cliffs of Silurian Age Amabel formations are composed of dolomite, which is what you get when limestone losses calcite and gains dolomites. There are a couple of high vantage points to get a good look at the surrounding area. 

A small fire in the cave provides warmth for the skaters and families
Remnants of the first damn by the waterfall
Soothing sounds of the waterfall

If you are going to walk in Rockwood Conservation Area you should also bring some ice cleats to keep safe on the paths and trails, or on the ice.

Update Feb 7, 2021: Hot movie set in Rockwood ongoing.

See more of the movie set and caves after the jump.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Festival of Cool at Harbourfront Centre

Site Alive Winter Edition is on at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre which is a bright light in the times of Covid. The programming includes the Festival of Cool by the Harbourfront Centre and the Waterfront BIA from 10am to 10pm - January 15 to February 7, 2021 and don't forget to follow the safety protocols.

From Harbourfront's website, "Dear 2021, please be gentle. While there are still restrictions and a lockdown happening in Toronto, it's important to stay home and stay safe, but that doesn't mean enjoying life is canceled. There is still lots happening on the waterfront from amazing restaurants you can take out or delivery from, deals and discounts and even a light exhibit for when you go out for some fresh air and exercise. The illuminated public art was installed to bring light to the waterfront during a challenging time. Harbourfront Centre security staff will be on-site to ensure health and safety protocols are followed, in accordance with the advice and guidelines of Toronto Public Health."

'Iceberg' in South Exhibition Common

"Iceberg is a playful, immersive work made up of a series of illuminated metallic arches that tell the story of an iceberg. Visitors “warm up” the ice monuments to create a visual and auditory symphony.
Creation and execution: ATOMIC3 and APPAREIL
Architecture in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté and Philippe Jean
A production of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, created for the 3rd edition of Luminothérapie, Montreal, 2012."

'Sonic Runway' along the Boardwalk

"The Sonic Runway is a light-art installation that converts audio signals into patterns of light, shooting down a corridor of LED-lined arches more than 100-metres long at the speed of sound.
Creators: Rob Jensen, Warren Trezevant
Tour producer: Creos
Music: Classic Roots"

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Welland Canal sprang a leak

First they shut down the Welland Canal for the season, no big ships plying the H2O Highway between Lakes Ontario and Erie, then whenever they need to do inspection and maintenance they drain the water out between lock sections. In January 2021 the water between Locks 3 and 7 has been drained, leaving a small creek running down the canal.

Up at lock 7 they have heavy duty pumps sucking the water out of the empty lock and back into the upstream channel. The locks aren't really watertight and the ducks appreciate the slower flows.
The lift bridge at Glendale Avenue
The signs say don't use your anchor around the pipelines

The view of the empty canal is pretty amazing. It is hard to believe that those giant Great Lakes steamers can make it through without dragging their hulls through the dirt.

See more photos after the jump.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Pine Sanctuary sculpture in Riverwood

A big ass, colourful sculpture sits in the entrance to Riverwood Conservancy park, just off Burnhamthorpe Road West in Mississauga. The aluminum sculpture by Marc Fornes / THEVERYMANY was created to help celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary
Blue, green and black stripes come together as they reach for the sky. You can get inside the sculpture and luckily it doesn't drop the pine sap onto your head.

From Marc's Linkedin page, "The delaminated, double-layered skin provides a moiré of colors, as well as shadows and speckled light to catch on the ground. This is a place for spontaneous play as much as it is a sanctuary for one to simply lose their time. There's no trunk holding up this arboreal structure. Instead, it opens up into a shady space. Macro shingles resolve into branches that touch the ground lightly around a covered grove, like a redwood hollowed out. The stripes of Pine Sanctuary adjust in density, so that gaps between them generate areas of porosity. In petal-like forms, the stripes merge together at the base, offering spaces where dancers and explorers and tree-dwellers of all kinds can tuck in, recline, or hide for a moment. 3,161 unique stripes accumulate to host these activities."

Monday, January 04, 2021

Barrier to Scarborough Bluffs

The majestic cliffs of grey, unconsolidated sediment rising high above the shores of Lake Ontario tends to collapse and drift on the currents. In August 2020 a large chunk of the bluffs broke free and fell in a billowing cloud of dust and debris. A close call because it did not fall on anyone.

In response the City of Toronto put up a fence barrier near the high vertical slopes along the beach advising people that there is "No Public Access" and "Caution Falling Debris". Of course people being people, they ignore the signs as they think about climbing to the top of the bluffs, perched precariously where they could be rescued by emergency services.
Enjoying the danger, two people walk along the small section of beach immediately below the towering bluffs

Even in winter the public loves to visit Bluffers Park and wander the parkland, hoping for sun and watching part of the eroding, 15km long Scarborough Bluffs which were created over 12,000 years in the past. As the City says, "The Bluffs’ edge is unstable. Stay behind the fences and use your common sense. Do not approach the edge of the bluffs". The material hasn't combined into a solid rock, it remains a relatively loose collection of sand, stone, silt and clay - ready to fall with a little effort when exposed to the elements. One day it will just be a gentle hill so you better see it before it is too late.
You can see how thin the top section of the bluffs as erosion wears away the backing of a section of the cliff
A pile of debris sits at the site of the latest collapse
The path to the bluffs passes a small storm sewer outlet so bring your rubber boots if  you want to visit

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square