Friday, July 30, 2021

Colour explosion in RendezViews Patio

A former parking lot in downtown Toronto was transformed into a giant patio in 2020 and is within a giant graffiti mural orchestrated by RendezViews and Collective Arts Brewing of Hamilton. The patio is a joint development with restaurants The Ballroom and The Fifth and is located at 229 Richmond Street West. Of course I visited the patio on a Monday - when it is closed! However, it was worth the detour on the bike because it is spectacular.

Artists Attack and Bruno Smoky, known as Clandestinos Art, painted the asphalt surface as well as the back of The Ballroom and the overall art installation is titled "Reflections". The graffiti mural is on the wall while the old parking lot and picnic benches are painted in bright yellow, pink, green and turquoise.

From their media release, "An idea was born last November when Mayor John Tory dubbed 2021 the Year of the Arts, to transform RendezViews and inspire a greater impact as a destination. “I wanted to use the power of art to restore hope, joy, optimism and vibrancy to the city,” says Oliver Geddes (Owner, The Fifth). Hamilton-based Collective Arts Brewing, known for its colourful and creative labels (and a longtime collaborator and supporter of artists) was the perfect partner to bring this vision to life.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with RendezViews this summer. This is an exciting opportunity to create a space in the heart of downtown Toronto to safely celebrate summer with friends while enjoying incredible art, music, food and drinks,” says Matt Johnston, Co-Founder and CEO of Collective Arts.

“Times have changed and Toronto wants and deserves something that meets the moment - an evolution of a destination Toronto doesn’t have but needs right now,” says Barry Taylor (Director of Operations, The Ballroom)."

You will need to make reservations and check out the website for the hours of operations along with any scheduled musical entertainment. They seem to be closed on Mondays.

Hours for the Week of July 26th
Mon: closed
Tue: 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Wed: 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Thu: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
Fri: 4:00pm – 2:00am
Sat: 4:00pm – 2:00am
Sun: 4:00pm – 10:00pm

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Sunday in the Strand of 4C at Harbourfront Centre

A large mirrored box sits in Exhibition Common with one glass facade looking into the art installation by William Ukoh and Raquel Da Silva and presented by Bombay Sapphire. The title of the work is Sunday in the Strand of 4C and it will be at the Harbourfront Centre from July 25 to August 1, 2021 (open 24/7 and free to view).

From Harbourfront Centre's website, "A piece on the meditative nature of self-care Sundays. The reflective exterior element projects the outside influences of our current realities, while the interior architecture guides us into another realm, asking us to seek rest and solitude. The accompanying soundscapes induce a sense of peace while the film playing in the backdrop provides a calm, meditative space. Developed in the confinements of COVID-19, the inspiration dates back to William Ukoh’s childhood. A journey curated by Ashley McKenzie-Barnes and crafted in Toronto by artists William Ukoh and Raquel Da Silva, the installation examines feelings of nostalgia and connectivity to nature and community through the adaptation of sculpture and multimedia landscapes, that incorporate the lush botanicals of the Bombay Sapphire experience."
Looking into the installation

Stanley Barracks in Toronto at Hotel X

I have passed by the Stanley Barracks site in Exhibition Place many, many times not knowing what the heck the building was. At one time the tugboat Ned Hanlan was in front of the bland, block building before it was moved to Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Islands. I have yet to go into the building but I have been on the front yard a few times - it was a favourite place for Toronto Argonauts tailgate parties. Post military the building itself has been Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, then the Hockey Hall of Fame and finally a Maritime Museum (hence the tugboat).

Anyways, after exploring the fancy, white gazebo built over an entranceway into Hotel X, just east of Stanley Barracks and seeing the exposed archaeological site of the East Enlisted Men's Barracks, I decided to check out the historic plaque in front of the barracks building. The blue sign says, "The British army established a military post here in 1840-41 to replace aging Fort York. Known as the new Fort, it consisted of seven limestone buildings around a parade square, and a number of lesser structures. Massive defensive works were planned for the perimeter but never built. In 1893 the fort was renamed Stanley Barracks in honour of Governor General Lord Stanley. Canadian forces assumed responsibility for the post in 1870 and garrisoned it until 1947. The barracks then served as public housing until the early 1950s, when all but this building, the Officer's Quarters, were demolished."

Hotel X included the exposed ruins of the enlisted men's barracks into their site in 2012, at the request of the City of Toronto.

Stanley Barracks Officer's Barracks

The original Fort York, some 5km to the east and beside the Gardiner Expressway, was built in 1793 and in the early 1800s were found to be lacking and replaced with the New Fort York.  From the Fort York website, "Between 1932 and 1934, the City of Toronto restored Fort York to celebrate the centennial of the incorporation of the city in 1834. On Victoria Day 1934, Fort York opened as a historic site museum. Today, its defensive walls surround Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Even the older part of the one reconstructed building on the site, the Blue Barracks, contains a significant amount of 1814-period material and is an interesting example of the efforts made during the Great Depression to create employment by restoring and rebuilding historic sites. The grounds of the fort and the surrounding land encompass part of the 1813 battlefield, remnants of Toronto's late eighteenth-century landscape, and at least two military cemeteries. Below the soil of the fort lies a vast archaeological resource, capable of significantly expanding our understanding of life in the earliest years of Toronto's settlement."

The new fort or garrison included a large parade square, two enlisted men's barracks along with an officer's barracks (the only one still remaining in one piece) as well as four other buildings. You can only see the officer's barracks and the ruins of one enlisted men's barracks at this time, all of the other buildings are either gone or still buried beneath the asphalt and concrete of exhibition Place.
The ornamental canopy and walkway over the ruins leading into Hotel X
Remains of the foundations of the enlisted men's barracks

Regimental crests of the units stationed at the New Fort York displayed on the canopy

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 Saturday-Sunday, September 4-6, 2021 from noon till 3pm. There will also be a practice on Friday from noon till 3pm. Centre Stage is in Lake Ontario just across from the Liberty Grand in Exhibition Place so the parks along Lake Shore provide great viewing along with parts of Ontario Place and Hanlans Beach on the Islands are your best bets for watching the air show, note no tickets are required to watch the show.

CIAS map of the waterfront's aircraft maeuvering area and viewing sites

This year's show will also be live streamed so you can listen while you are watching on site, or you can stay at home, or the cottage and enjoy the show without having to head down to the waterfront. You can stream the show from the free 680 NEWS app - you can find a link to the iOS or Android app on the CIAS link here.

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, Quicksilver – P51 Mustang, Gord Price, CH-146 Griffon, CC-130J Herc, Harvard II, PBY-5A and the CF-18 Hornet Demo. Photos by Joe Hamilton

Here is a copy of the CIAS news release; "The Canadian International Air Show is thrilled to announce the show will be returning to the skies over Lake Ontario in 2021!

August 2021, TORONTO – It took a team effort to achieve this goal and the Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) would like to thank it’s presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin, the Ontario Government, and the City of Toronto for their tireless hard work.

The annual Canadian International Air Show will take place on Saturday September 4th & Sunday September 5th from 12:00pm-3:00pm showing casing such iconic performers as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds & CF-18, United States Air Force F35, a P-51 Mustang and so much more.

In accordance with current social distancing guidelines, CIAS will not have their traditional ticketed Exclusive Airshow Zone in 2021. Instead, they will have their narration streamed live as a Thank you to all Canadians for the sacrifices they made during the past 18 months.

The Airshow asks attendees to follow current COVID guidelines. There is 14kms of public viewing space between the Humber Bridge & the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to accommodate social distancing. Parking is available at the Exhibition Place and Ontario Place, or fans can take public transit. “We are looking forward to returning to the skies above Toronto again this year!” said Lori Duthie, Executive Director, Canadian International Air Show."

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.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square