Wednesday, June 29, 2022

TD Union Summer 2022 now with colourful art

Sitting in front of Toronto's major transportation hub at Union Station is a large outdoor covered patio with food and drink vendors, a stage for musical performances and films and a colourful art installation. The returning mini-festival runs until Sunday, August 28, 2022 and is free to enter.

From the City's media release: "Union Summer reflects Union Station’s commitment to celebrate the diversity of the city by highlighting local, international and emerging artists. Daily themed programming will include:Big Easy Sunday afternoons, Global music featuring Small World Music artists on Sunday evenings, Blue Mondays in conjunction with Toronto Blue’s Society, Game night Tuesdays featuring musical bingo, live karaoke and trivia, Weekly Wednesday evening movie screenings, Showcase Thursdays featuring Canada’s Music Incubator artists, Lula Nights with Lula Lounge on Thursdays, The best of Union Beats DJs on Friday afternoons, Soul Sessions every Friday evening, Night Market on Saturdays with City Hall Live and Symphony Saturday afternoons with Big Lake Festival"

Vendors include TrulyTO which is a pop-up licensed bar sponsored by Moosehead Breweries along with food by Gus Tacos, Mikey’s Smashburgers, NaanSense by Butter Chicken Roti, and Souvla by Mamakas. The market hours are Sundays to Tuesdays: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays to Fridays: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Mayor John Tory says “Welcome back Union Summer! Union Station is a culinary, cultural and shopping destination. I am excited to see Toronto’s downtown bustling with activity as our strong reopening continues and I look forward to seeing people flock to Union Summer to experience the best of the city’s music, entertainment and food.”

Thursday, June 23, 2022

OFFA 2022 The Oakville Festivals of Film and Art

Fans of movies can visit the 9th annual Oakville Festivals of Film & Art (OFFA) from June 22 to 28, 2022 which also includes a number of Gala events. This year the independent film festival is supporting Ukraine with a Gala evening featuring Chantal Kreviazuk and ticket sales are now live.

Created in 2014, OFFA is an annual community-oriented festival occurring in June showing feature films, shorts and documentaries while providing amazing access to the producers, directors and actors - every screening introduces an interactive component to the experience. There will be Q&A sessions after each screening. 

The organizers highlight serious social issues and will present programming to raise awareness of the issue such as the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe. From OFFA: "An Evening to Celebrate Ukrainian Arts and Culture featuring: Chantal Kreviazuk in support of the Ukrainian World Foundation. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Oakville Festivals of Film and Art, the Ukrainian World Foundation, Zirkova Vodka, and Chantal Kreviazuk, are doing their part to support relief efforts for our friends in Ukraine." This Gala will take place at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, June 25.

This year is special since the return to live events after COVID-19 precautions will see the festival being a hybrid event with live events and screenings, hybrid screenings and some virtual only events. 2022 will have over 100 films presented over 7 days made up of regional premieres, independent films along with short films and documentaries. In addition to the Ukrainian Gala there will be two other galas; the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, June 23 and the Friday evening Gala Canadian Premier on the 24th.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Toronto Festival of Beer is brewing up summer fun for 2022

Beer, food, music. How much better could it be! The premier brewski festival comes back after the Covid-19 break ready to party Friday, July 22 to Sunday, July 24. The Toronto Festival of Beer presented by the Beer Store has a lineup of musical guests along with fun activities at Bandshell Park in Exhibition Place.

Musical headliners are Nas on Friday, Sam Roberts Band on Saturday and Sunday's entertainment is still to be announced. Both the General Admission, HOPtimized and extra special Club TFOB tickets are on sale now - with some categories already sold out! GA comes with the commemorative festival sampling mug and 5 sampling tokens, HOPtimized adds 5 sampling tokens along with early entry and Club TFOB has a ton of extra features which includes a pool and patio.

From the Festival's website: "From lagers to stouts, fruit beer to ales, we have something for everyone. #TOBeerFest features more than just beer; there are several non-malt based beverages available including cider, spirits, wine, and packaged mixed beverages. There is something for every beer lover to enjoy!"

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Honda Indy Toronto 2022 track construction is underway

It takes about a month to build the temporary street track and associated infrastructure for the massive racing festival that will take place in Toronto this July 15-17, 2022. To help with the build Nu-Era Logistics has partnered with the Honda Indy Toronto both as a sponsor and key contributor to the track build. The race is returning to Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Boulevard since 2019 due to the COVID-19 restrictions that shut down Ontario and much of the world throughout 2021 and into early 2022.

This will be the 34th edition of the annual race, owned and operated by Green Savoree Toronto, which is the second longest IndyCar event in years run, and is also the only international race of the NTT IndyCar Series calendar. Warm ups and qualifying over the race weekend will lead to the headline race on Sunday, July 17. The weekend will be a family friendly event and will include the Rookie Racers program, Thunder Alley and food festival options. The whole thing will start with a free with donation opening on Honda Fan Friday. Donations will be matched by Ontario Honda Dealers Association and will go to Make-A-Wish Canada.
Honda Indy Toronto Festival map

The race site will feature racecar paddocks, grandstands, vendors, activities, entertainment and beer gardens in addition to the reason for the season - the 11-turn, 2.874 km street course, with one pedestrian bridge and one underground tunnel. To put the track together the builders will use four kilometres of fencing, over 2,000 concrete barriers and 500 metres of tire wall barriers. Construction started Monday, June 13 with block placement along Manitoba and Ontario Drives.

“Nu-Era Logistics is honoured to partner with Honda Indy Toronto and contribute toward the construction of this racing event site. Once the extensive work is complete, racing’s return to downtown Toronto will be the most anticipated event of the summer in Ontario,” said Jeff De Sousa, president of Nu-Era Logistics. “The partnership is a great fit for our company as it allows us to support a major community event while lending our expertise to the construction process.”

“We are excited to partner with Nu-Era Logistics and grateful to have the company supporting the efforts of our track build team as we bring racing back to Toronto,” said Jeff Atkinson, president of Honda Indy Toronto. “For the first time since 2019, we look forward to turning the streets surrounding Exhibition Place into a world-class race track, and Nu-Era Logistics will be an integral part of that transformation.”

There will be plenty of action on the track as the NTT IndyCar Series, the Porsche Carrera Cup, The NASCAR Pinty's Series, the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, the Sports Car Championship Canada presented by Michelin and the high jumping Stadium SUPER Trucks will be competing in 2022.

Ticket pricing from HIT: "2-Day Grandstand and General Admission are available offering the best weekend value. Pricing starts at $95 for 2-Day Grandstand seating, and 2-Day Weekend General Admission is $75. Single Day General Admission is $50 for Saturday and $60 for Sunday while Single Day Grandstand tickets start at $75 and $85 for Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Children 12 and under are admitted free (general admission) with a ticketed adult providing an exceptional family value. Other items on sale to upgrade the Honda Indy Toronto experience include Pit and INDYCAR Paddock Passes. A Pit Pass includes the Paddock Pass and provides access to pitlane during practice, qualifying and pre-race for INDYCAR plus all of the on track sessions for the support race series. A Paddock Pass provides entrance into “the locker room of motorsports” to see the cars and drivers up close." You can also score a GO Transit/ticket combo deal through Metrolinx and avoid some of the traffic and parking issues trying to get to the popular attraction. The GO Lakeshore West Train makes a stop right at Exhibition Stadium.

Friday, June 10, 2022

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2022

The annual global environmental protest rides through Toronto once again as the World Naked Bike Ride takes place on Saturday, June 11, 2022. Riders will gather early on Saturday morning beginning around 10am to socialize, disrobe and apply some body paint before heading out on the streets of Toronto at approximately 1pm - "rain or shine we ride". Come back often as I add photos from Saturday's WNBR Toronto! Gene estimated about 200 riders for 2022, the numbers are climbing after the pandemic kept a few people away in 2020 and 2021.

Gathering at the memorial in Coronation Park
Gene Dare before his interview with Roxanne O'Neill from Naked News

Led by organizer Gene Dare (posing with a fan at the 2019 ride in the photo at top), the WNBR is fighting against climate change along with a healthy dose of body positivity and as Gene says "ride as bare as you dare", you don't have to ride without clothes. The gathering place is Coronation Park, just south of the Princes' Gates in Exhibition Place, in the Veteran's Memorial close to the trail along Lake Ontario. Gene will be in the tall, red hat standing near his bike with the Canadian flag WNBR banner. 

Before the riders depart the park the group poses for photos, including a large group photo on the steps of the memorial, then the 2.5 hour ride will head north up Strachan Avenue towards Trinity-Bellwoods Park, then going clockwise through some of the iconic Toronto locations such as Kensington Market, the University of Toronto, Queen's Park and the Legislative Building, Yorkville, Allan Gardens (also good for a bathroom break), into Ryerson University, a couple of laps around Yonge-Dundas Square and into Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall for a romp in the pond (also good for a bathroom break). Then the ride heads down Bay Street until it hits the bike trail along Queen's Quay, turning east to Sugar Beach. New for 2022; the ride will skip the Toronto Island ferry docks (some will leave the ride early to go to the the Island's nude beach at Hanlan's Point) and go to the CN Tower followed by a trip to H2O Beach and finally return back to Coronation Park. At this point there are a couple of options - one is you finish the ride, two you head back to the ferry docks and go to Hanlan's Beach and third is a dare to go bare swim at a Toronto Pool - you can talk to Gene about it if you are interested.

Construction and other events impacted the ride at Queen's Park Circle, Yorkville and through Ryerson. Weather wise it ended up an almost perfect day - the rain turned into a few episodes of spitting out, just enough to cool the riders down for a few seconds.

The ride heading south on Bay Street

Saturday's weather is supposed to be a mix of sun and clouds with a high of 21 degrees Celsius so it won't be too warm - undress accordingly! Some words of wisdom from Gene: wear sunscreen, bring plenty of fluids, maintain your bike, bring seat covers (especially if you use Bike Share Toronto bicycles), keep your bikes legal (working lights, bell or horn), wear a mask if you want (it will help you remain anonymous in all the pictures). Gene has also alerted the Toronto Police Service to the WNBR 2022 event and it is always possible that they will provide a bicycle police escort (they have in the past for the occasional WNBR ride).

Circling Yonge-Dundas Square along the Toronto Eaton Centre

The dreaded streetcar tracks crossing Spadina

And some of my tips - add some flare or costume to you or your bike (have some fun), bring some bodypaint, watch our for hazards such as streetcar tracks or when the group slows down unexpectedly, keep an eye out for road closures due to ActiveTO which might impact Lake Shore Boulevard West, there is limited parking in Coronation Park (and you have to be early to get a spot) otherwise park at Exhibition Place, Ontario Place or some other close by location. Be ready for people lining the street and watching in cars, buses and patios, most enjoying the spectacle of the ride and taking photos and videos.

Quick update from the City: The westbound lanes on Lake Shore Boulevard West, from Strachan Avenue to Windermere Avenue, will be closed to vehicles from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., June 11, for the Ride to Conquer Cancer cycling fundraiser.

See more photos of the ride after the jump.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit

The peninsula off Leslie Street continues to grow as concrete waste is still accepted into the landfill during weekdays, filling the man-made site since 1959 and adding to the original sand bar that existed when Toronto was still York. The southern part remains landfill while the northern part became Tommy Thompson Park which remains mostly naturalized. We even saw a beaver swimming alongside the shore looking for some trees to snack on.

There is a long, asphalt multi-use trail running the 5-km length of the spit, broken by a floating pedestrian bridge, perfect for cycling, hiking, roller blading or looking at nature. There is also pedestrian and nature trails along with an information kiosk and bathrooms with parking just off Unwin Avenue. Because the site is still a landfill it is closed to the public during the week and is open to the public evenings, weekends and holidays until 9pm.
A beaver swims along the shore 

From the park's website: "In the years between 1974 and 1983, the land base dramatically increased, as approximately 6,500,000 cubic metres of sand/silt were dredged from the Outer Harbour and placed at the spit. This resulted in the formation of the lagoons and sand peninsulas which now account for a significant proportion of the land base of Tommy Thompson Park. In 1979, another major expansion of land area took place, with the construction of an endikement on the lakeward side of the Headland. This provided protected cells for dredged material from the Inner Harbour and the Keating Channel."
The end of the spit features a circular pathway around the point and the rounded bricks, blocks and other concrete waste that provides a break wall to the pounding of Lake Ontario's waves. Interspersed in the waste are the metallic tentacles of rebar poking out along the water's edge. People have taken to building temporary brick structures and art forms based on bricks and blocks pierced by the rebar.

People were making tall towers from the construction materials used in the landfill, however as they were slightly dangerous they have been removed by the park.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Toronto Islands and Centreville Amusement Park

The Toronto Islands, a grand destination at most times, is also the home of the family amusement park named Centreville with over 30 rides and attractions such as the Centre Island Splash Pad which is ready to cool you down when the temps start going higher. The amusement park is open until Labour Day weekend in September.

You can get to the Islands by using the City's ferries which run to Hanlan's Point, Centre Island (home of Centreville) and Ward's Island. Summer weekends usually have massive lineups to get on a ferry so a popular alternative is the many water taxis that ply their trade along Queen's Quay. You can also take your bikes on both the ferries and the water taxis which allows for getting around on the large island park trails a lot faster, or you can rent bikes or canoes/kayaks and possibly looking cool biking around on the quad bikes.

Top attractions on the islands are the already mentioned Centreville Amusement Park (and Far Enough Farm) along with the many sandy beaches (including the clothes optional beach at Hanlan's Point, the split pier and restaurant area, the frisbee golf course and the great views of the cityscape.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

A Tribute to Toronto Smoke Sculpture at Sugar Beach

Artist Judy Chicago's floating art exhibition called 'A Tribute to Toronto' was staged in Lake Ontario on a barge placed off of Sugar Beach on Saturday, June 4, 2022. The show started a little late, about 10 minutes after 8pm, and lasted about 20 minutes, just shy of the promised 45 minute show.

First a line of red flares went off around the base of the scaffolding setup on the barge. Then the first smoke bomb that was ignited was blue which quickly filled the air with smoke. Over the course of the half hour temporary art installation different colours were used, followed by fireworks shooting off from the barge.

From the Toronto Biennial of Art's website: "Marking the closing of the 2022 edition, the Toronto Biennial of Art presents a newly commissioned site-specific work by artist Judy Chicago. This one-of-a-kind Smoke Sculpture™ will be visible from the shore of Lake Ontario, as a series of environmentally safe, non-toxic coloured smokes are released from a barge. For this one-time performance, the public is invited to gather at the waterfront to see the lake and sky transformed. Harkening back to Chicago’s Atmospheres photo series of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which sought to soften and “feminize” harsh, man-made environments, A Tribute to Toronto, 2022 works against the tradition of male Land Art artists whose work imposed itself on the earth. Instead, Chicago’s performance offers an alternative and impermanent approach that merges colour with landscape to increase awareness of the beauty of our natural environment. A Tribute to Toronto is commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art and made possible with the generous support of the City of Toronto, ArtworxTO, the Delaney Family Foundation, Menkes Developments, Waterfront Toronto, the Waterfront BIA, and the Women Leading Initiative."
Posted by Ann and James Hamilton

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square