Wednesday, December 29, 2021

New Years Eve in Toronto Dec 31, 2021

We are on the cusp of a new year as old man 2021 is about to become baby 2022 and Toronto is ready to celebrate New Year's Eve pre-recorded performances and live fireworks along the Lakeshore. The show will be broadcast on the City's YouTube channel starting at 10:30pm on December 31, 2021. 

The evening will be in celebration of the fight against Covid-19 and honouring frontline workers. Lights will be dimmed at 10pm for the end of the Cavalcade of Lights at City Hall.

Mayor John Tory says; “We have worked with Toronto Public Health to plan a safe New Year's Eve celebration for our city. This year's livestream show and fireworks will celebrate the progress we have made as a city confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and honour our frontline workers, including those working non-stop to help residents get vaccinated. I encourage residents and visitors to log on and join us as we safely ring in the New Year, looking forward to a brighter 2022.”

Several iconic Toronto locations and music venues will be included in the entertainment lineup which can be watched safely at home. Music will be by Walk Off the Earth and Andy Kim (at El Mocambo), Dwayne Gretzky (from their studio), Tamar Ilana (at Aga Khan Museum), Young Creek Indigenous drum group (at Small World Music Centre), Soukustek (at Lula Lounge), Marczyk Family and Friends - from Lemon Bucket Orkestra and the Medusa Quartet (at Small World Music Centre).

From the City; "At midnight, high-altitude fireworks displays will launch simultaneously across Toronto’s waterfront as part of the livestream broadcast. Fireworks will be viewable from anywhere with views of Lake Ontario. Please note that there are no fireworks happening at Nathan Phillips Square or the CN Tower. To further make the livestream as safe a production as possible it will be emceed by television personality Devo Brown now from a closed studio set. The livestream will be offered on the City of Toronto's CultureTO YouTube channel at beginning at 10:30 p.m."

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto July & August 2022

As I write this in December of 2021 I look forward to the upcoming summer in Toronto, free of covid restrictions because the vaccines obviously kept that pesky virus at bay. And there is nothing better than basking in the sun and taking in the best that the city has to offer, beginning with Canada's birthday.

Canada Day 2022 Fri, Jul 1

Beaches Jazz Festival Sat to Sun, July 2-24.

Toronto Fringe Festival Wed to Sun, July 6-17.

Taste of Lawrence Fri to Sun, July 8-10

Salsa on St Clair in Toronto Sat to Sun, July 9-10.

Toronto Caribbean Carnival Starts early in July, Grand Parade Sat, July 30.

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Fri to Sun, July 15-17.

Anime North Fri to Sun, May 27-29It's a GO Moved to July 15-17, 2022

Honda Indy Toronto Fri to Sun, July 15-17. Exhibition Place will sound like a jacked up hornet's nest as the IndyCar series and the NASCAR Pinty's series light up the streets of Toronto.

Big on Bloor Festival Sat to Sun, July 16. Car free from Dufferin to Lansdowne.

Toronto International BrazilFest Sat to Sun, July 16-17. In Earlscourt Park.

Toronto Festival of Beer Fri to Sun, July 22-24. Hmmm, beer.

Importfest Saturday, July 23 - cars and girls at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Ossfest Sat, July 23

Fun Philippines Festival Sat to Sun, July 23-24.
Guild Park Arts Festival Sat to Sun, July 23-24.

Toronto Craft Beer Festival Fri to Sun, July 24-26.

Keep an eye out for Sunflowers in August
Simcoe Day events in Toronto Mon, Aug 2.

National Bank Open (fmr Rogers Cup Tennis) Sat to Sun, Aug 6-14.

Taste of the Danforth Fri to Sun, Aug 5-7. Cancelled due to lack of room on the streets.
Canfitpro Consumer Fitness and Wellness Show Wed to Sun, Aug 10-14.
Wheels on the Danforth Sat, Aug 13.

Canadian National Exhibition CNE Fri, Aug 19 - Mon, Sept 5. Do you want to go faster? And don't forget the fantastic Canadian International Airshow.

Aloha Toronto Festival Sun, Aug TBD.
Toronto Chinatown Festival Sat to Sun, Aug 20-21
Go Topless Day Protest Sun, Aug 21. The Sunday closest to Women's Equality Day which is August 26.

2 Day Best of the Beach Coed Volleyball Sat to Sun, Aug 24-25.
Taiwan Fest Fri to Sun, Aug 26-28.

Toronto Tamil Festival Fri to Sun, Aug TBD.

Fan Expo Canada Thurs to Sun, Aug 25-28. Some amazing cosplay on display.

Leslieville Beerfest Sat, Aug 27.

Events moved to September

Buskerfest at the Beaches in Woodbine Park. Fri to Mon, Sept 2-5.
And the world famous Toronto International Film Festival, or tiff Sept 8-18.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto May & June 2022

Red, green, GO. For summer that is. May starts with blossoms and ends with Summer in full bloom (Solstice on Tuesday, June 21). Don't forget that June also has the World Naked Bike Ride! Mid-year should be free of Covid restrictions - Am I right?

Toronto Marathon Sun, May 1. It's a go.

Toronto Biennial of Art 2022. From March until Sun, June 5. They are on a mission to make contemporary art accessible to everyone.

Toronto Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo Fri to Sun, Mar 11-13. It's a go. New dates Apr 29 to May 1.

Peak Blossoms in High Park week of May 4! (Cherry Blossoms in Toronto - should happen late April, early May. Best views in High Park)

World Naked Gardening Day Sat, May 7 (usually first weekend of May).

Colour Me Rad 5k Sat, May TBD in Downsview Park.
Toronto Roller Derby League. Who knows?

Juno Awards in Toronto 2022 Sun, May 15 at the Budweiser Stage

Castrol Presents the Victoria Day Speedfest at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Fri to Sunday, May. 20-22. "The Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest returns to open Canadian Tire Motorsport Park's 2022 major event schedule. Join us for an exciting holiday weekend of on-track racing action, featuring the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, Nissan Sentra Cup, Sports Car Championship Canada presented by Michelin, Emzone Radical Cup Canada presented by Michelin and the Super Production Challenge Series."

Spring Sessions Toronto's Festival of Beer Sat to Sun, May. TBD. Probably have to wait for the summer beer festival.

Anime North Fri to Sun, May 27-29It's a GO Moved to July 15-17, 2022
Doors Open Toronto Sat to Sun, May 28-29. Chance to see things normally closed to public or attractions with no entrance fee. It's a go

Under the Big H Beer Festival and Carnival May 28. In the Henderson Brewery parking lot

DO West Fest (formerly Dundas West Fest) Fri to Sun, Jun 3-5. Dundas Street West from Ossington to Lansdowne presented by Little Portugal Toronto BIA

Woofstock Sat to Sun, June. TBD. Cute dogs in costumes at Woodbine Park in the Beach area. Don't forget about Winter Woofstock in November.

Forks and Barrels festival in Ontario Place Fri to Sun, June TBD.

Luminato Thurs to Sun, June 9-19. Cool art installations. It's a go
Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival Fri to Sat, Jun TBD. at Sugar Beach.
Toronto Pro SuperShow Sat to Sun, June 4-5. It's a go
Roncy Rocks in Roncesvalles Sat, June TBD.
Body painting ahead of the start of the WNBR 

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) Sat, Jun 11. Right through downtown Toronto, nude. Meet at Coronation Park by noon for some bodypainting, ride begins at 1pm. It's a GO
The Beaches Ribfest - Beach BBQ and Brews: Fri to Sun, June TBD.
Redpath Waterfront Festival Fri to Sun, June TBD.  Moved into September for 2022.
Nuit Rose in Church/Wellesley Village and Queen St W. A festival of queer art and performance. Sat, Jun TBD.
North By North East (NXNE) Music Festival Tue to Sun, June 14-19. It's a GO
Taste of Little Italy Fri to Sun, June 17-19.
Northern Ink Xposure Tattoo Show Fri to Sun, June 17-19. It's a go.
Toronto Comic Arts Festival TCAF Fri to Sun, Jun 17-19. It's a go.
Battle of Black Creek Re-enactment Soldiers and Spies Sat to Sun, June TBD.
Junction Summer Solstice Festival Sat, June TBD.
Dragon Boat Race Festival Sat to Sun, Jun 18-19. It's a go.
Yorkville Exotic Cars Sun, Jun 19 on Bloor Street from 12 noon till 5pm. It's a go.
OM T.O. Tue, June 21. International Yoga Day. To be confirmed
iHeartRadio MuchMusic Video Awards Sun, Jun TBD.
Collision Toronto Mon to Thurs, June 20-23. tech conference at the Enercare Centre. It's a go.
Toronto Jazz Festival Fri to Sun, Jun 24 to Jul 3. It's a go

World Pride: Toronto Pride Week and Pride Parades Fri to Sun, Jun 24-26. The parades are things of colour and beauty: Trans March on Friday, Dyke March on Saturday and the Pride Parade on Sunday. The Street Festival on Church St is on during Pride Weekend. Pride Month starts June 1st. It's a go.
Pride Parade, Sunday, June 26: Formation area: Rosedale Valley Road closed from Bayview Avenue to Park Road to accommodate the formation of the parade. Parade route: Starts at Church Street and Bloor Street East, goes west on Bloor Street East to Yonge Street, south on Yonge Street to Dundas Street and back to the festival on Church Street. Roads will be closed for varying periods between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The parade takes place from 2 to 6:30 p.m.
Hope Volleyball Toronto Sat, Jun 25 on Toronto Islands. Charity volleyball bash/tournament.
Toronto Roller Derby League: Clam Slam Fri, Jun TBD. Part of the Pride Celebrations - love the name.

Events moved into, or in July
Canada Day Fri, July 1, 2022
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Fri to Sun, July 15-17. It's a go.
And Toronto's MotorFest the Honda Indy Toronto is coming Fri to Sun, July 15-17.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Toronto Polar Bear Dip 2022 Cancelled

Update: A few dippers showed up to keep the tradition going with an unofficial Toronto Polar Bear Dip. See photos on my post here.

As Covid-19 Omicron sweeps through the world, including our little piece of sunshine in Ontario, the events that we all look forward to, and mostly cancelled in the past two years, are starting to fall like dominoes. Here is the announcement from the organizers of the Dip from their webpage.

"Well...this is disappointing. Hello Toronto Polar Bear Club Supporters,

Well, we thought the Polar Bear Dip might happen this year - things were looking so promising and our fundraising was off to a great start. Unfortunately Omicron and the resulting restrictions on gatherings had other plans for us. The Polar Bear Dip on January 1st at Sunnyside Beach is Canceled.

While this is disappointing, it’s out of our hands, and so in the spirit of the Dip, we hope you will continue to raise funds for Boost and do your own dip your own way on January 1st. Whether it be in a kiddie pool in the backyard, a bathtub full of ice or a dip in the lake up at your friends cottage; post your videos on facebook, twitter, instagram with the hashtag #daretodip and let’s celebrate our annual tradition online with the sincere hope that next year will be different. This is an especially challenging time for Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre who have been working on the frontline during the pandemic to provide kids the mental health and other supports they need during child abuse investigations. For those children, youth and families who rely on Boost CYAC they need our help more than ever. Your ongoing fundraising or a donation of any amount to Boost CYAC right now will make a big difference to children in our city.

Thank you,

Keith, Ian & Mike"

-----------------------original planned post-------------------------------------------------------------
For those that enjoy a cool breeze and a short plunge into a frigid Lake Ontario, you are in luck, the Toronto Polar Bear Dip is back once again on New Year's Day and all the money goes to Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre.

The beach at Sunnyside will be full of dippers getting ready for the burst of courage needed to get you running along the sand and into the water which tends to be just slightly above freezing and sometimes full of ice. They recommend that your arrive by 10:30am on January 1st, 2021, get ready (you have to register in advance this year as they won't be able to register you on site), check out some of the Polar Bears and some of the people wearing some great costumes and anxiously wait for the noon time countdown.

Also recommended is water sandals or old running shoes to protect your feet from the rocks in the water, do not, I repeat do not wear flip flops for this event as you will lose them when your feet first touch the water.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Old Spaghetti Factory Toronto

The Esplanade east of Yonge Street is a hidden area, south of Front Street and full of chain restaurants that are perfect for before and after sports games, or just fun dining off the beaten path. One of my favourite restaurants in the area is the Old Spaghetti Factory and the front of the house bar, now called Bar Cathedral. Next door are other restaurants like the Keg, Scotland Yard Pub, Goose Island Brewery and the Bier Market.
The chain started in the Gastown area of Vancouver BC in 1970 and soon spread out across Canada, including the Toronto location. They say that the tradition of the Gastown area influenced their interior designs, especially with stained glass, antiques and artifacts. You can even see the horses from an old carousel.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

And just like that holiday plans came crashing down

The ominous sounding Omicron variant of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic came to people's attention short weeks ago. Billed as a fast spreading virus that threatened to engulf the world in short order, infecting both vaccinated and un-vaccinated, governments around the world started shutting down travel to certain countries before they discovered that it was already vacationing in your local areas already. Growing exponentially and spreading through the air as aerosols, not just droplets spread with close contact, this was to be a game changer and the hammer came crashing down with new rules.  The University of Iowa's swiss cheese model for stopping Covid-19 diagram is shown at top.

On Friday, December 2021 Ontario Premier Doug Ford held a press conference to establish new public health and workplace safety measures which included limits on the numbers, or percentages of people allowed to gather, both indoor and outdoors. The rumours said it wasn't a matter of if you catch covid, it was when? And with large scale infections that might overwhelm hospitals and the healthcare system it was no time to hold off new rules, even though it was so close to the holidays and family plans were already in motion.

From the Premier's office; “Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”

"The latest modelling suggests that the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant could put additional strain on Ontario’s hospital capacity, making it critical to slow the spread as the government dramatically increases vaccine capacity and expands eligibility for booster doses. The province recently doubled its vaccination capacity and continues to ramp up further to get as many vaccines into arms as possible. Over 156,000 doses were administered on December 16, 2021 with capacity increased to 200,000 to 300,000 in the coming days."

Indoor capacity limits were established at 50 per cent, with social gatherings to be 10 or less while outdoor limits were reduced from 100 to 25. Unless you are holding a wedding, funeral, religious services, rites or ceremonies. Rules for serving food and drink along with operating hours were also adjusted. All new rules were to start on December 19, 2021.

“This was not an easy decision to make before the holidays, but the evidence is clear that further public health measures are required to slow the spread of Omicron and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we expand booster eligibility and continue our Team Ontario effort to get as many shots into arms as possible, I am urging every single person to get their vaccine if they haven’t already done so, and sign up for their booster shot as soon as they’re able.”

A positive note was that booster shots for everyone 18 plus was advanced from 6 months from your last vaccine to 3 months.

The number of cases have definitely shot up in mid to late December 2021.

Dec 15: 1,808
Dec 16: 2,421
Dec 17: 3,124
Dec 18: 3,301
Dec 19: 4,177
Dec 20: est 6,000. Actual 3,783. They say it is cyclical and always lower on Monday/Tuesday before it climbs again. Could also be problems getting tested. We will see....
Dec 21: 4,383
Dec 25: 10,412
Dec 31:
Estimated 10,000 cases a day beginning in January, 2022. Update - hit it on Christmas Day. Plus they say that the cases are under reported due to limitations in testing and backlogs. Update - by mid February 2022 we could hit a peak of 100k cases a day!

The government says that the cases in many countries are doubling every 2-4 days, with infection rates over 6 times that of the earlier Delta variant. Without major changes they expected cases in Ontario to exceed 10,000 a day in December. With new rules that will hopefully be pushed into 2022, or never come to fruition.

Lockdown and Covid fatigue and frustration is definitely a thing, especially since the Premier once said that this would all end in March 2022! Already the after affects include major planned events being cancelled, like the January Toronto Boat Show and smaller events like those held in curling clubs. The question that many people ask is how severe will be the infections from the new variant - like a cold, or more like the potential harsher Delta variant. Ontario has already seen over 25% increase in Covid hospitalization cases and ICU requirements over the past month.  At this point they don't really know and the older you are the less likely you want to take a chance with your health, or that of even older parents. So stay safe, get vaccinated and boosted, change over to N95 masks and avoid gatherings where ever possible. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Unusual Winter Storm blows into Fort Erie

Windspeeds of 69km/h starting around 5pm on Saturday, December 11 whipped up Lake Erie and pushed down the Niagara River into Fort Erie, taking out power and flooding the area around the Peace Bridge. Temperatures peaked at 1pm with an astounding 19 degrees Celsius; it was balmy in the early part of the day until the blowing winds gusting approximately100 km/h rapidly brought down the temperatures and quite a few trees and assorted tree parts causing many power outages. These conditions were also experienced throughout much of Southern Ontario.
The sea wall along the Niagara River
The wind whipped up the water level and produced high waves that quickly pushed over the wall along the river's edge. You can just see the top of the wall near near the bridge in the photo above

The Niagara Parkway was closed under the famous crossing between Canada and the United States as the area is prone to flooding. At first the high water levels and waves splashed against the concrete and block wall along the river, then the water gradually started to creep overland and onto the parkway. In the photo at top you can see the water as it starts to fill the parking lot at the foot of Queen Street, just off the Niagara Boulevard.

A lot of Fort Erie's power was out when we went into Southside's Patio, just before the power went out

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority's December 10th special weather statement identified the following hazards; "Niagara is currently under a Special Weather Statement as issued by Environment Canada, calling for strong southwest winds gusting between 90-110km/hr beginning tonight and continuing on into Saturday evening. These strong southwesterly winds will increase water levels and waves along the entire Lake Erie shoreline. The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry is currently predicting water levels to increase above current levels on Lake Erie by approximately 1.8m (6.0ft), to an elevation 176.3m. Significant wave heights of approximately 1.8m (6.0ft) are also forecasted to occur all along the entire Lake Erie shoreline during this time. Water levels are forecast to peak Saturday evening around 8:00pm."

As of 6:30pm Dec 11 the Town of Fort Erie had posted the following road closures on their facebook page.

"The following roads are closed due to flooding, trees or power lines down. Please use a lot of caution if you have to be out.
- Point Abino Road south of Erie Road
- Ridgeway Road at Crystal Beach Drive
- Lake Avenue at Crystal Beach Drive
- Terrace Lane
- Niagara River Parkway from Central Avenue to Queen Street (NPC)
- Lakeshore Road from Albert Street to Central Avenue
- Nigh Road from Mathews Road to Highway 3
- sunset Drive Garrison Road to Gilmore Road
- Bertie Street Pettit Road to Sunset Drive
- Thunder Bay Road Windmill Point Road to Nicolas Avenue
- Shirley Road Thunder Bay Road to Bethune Avenue
Crews are out working hard to clear the debris."

Monday, December 06, 2021

Toronto's Merry Christmas lights 2021

Tis the season to enjoy the holiday decorations and lighting displays that light up the night around the Six. The giant herd of deer and the Christmas tree is back in the Toronto Eaton Centre. Don't forget to check out the historic Distillery District Winter Village and head out to Harbourfront for some Saturday night time skating DJ parties under the concert stage.

Cavalcade of Lights is on in Nathan Phillips Square at City Hall
Toronto's outdoor rinks are open
From the City's website, "Experience the magic of the holiday season with Cavalcade of Lights, from November 27 to January 7 at Nathan Phillips Square. This year, the reimagined festivities will be different, transforming City Hall and its surroundings into a dazzling wonderland each night from 5 to 11 p.m. The City’s glittering tree and skating events return plus – new for this year – mesmerizing light installations inspired by cultural festivals from around the world. Explore tunnels made from thousands of energy-efficient bulbs, discover glowing ice sculptures in an enchanted forest and watch as beams of light animate City Hall like never before."

The gorgeous illuminated trees at Commerce Court remind me of watching familiar Christmas movies over and over during the holidays

See more lights after the jump.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Tiny Ball of GO Train in Toronto

Is it a GO Drone from Star Wars, searching for the rebel alliance's secret base? No, it is a GO Transit/Metrolinx art installation depicting a GO Train uniting Toronto to the rest of south and central Ontario.
The round ball is located at 16 York Street, just across from the Scotiabank Arena on Bremner Boulevard in Toronto. I waited a few hours in a line up of one to board the tiny, round train, my Presto card at the ready before I realized that this baby not only had no rails to run on, it had no door!

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square