Archive for the ‘old buildings’ Category

This is another “come along with me as I walk” blog.  Let me share some of the sights from Thursday’s walk which started at Ossington subway station and sort of followed Davenport south to Queen Street with a few diversions down alleys and side streets.

below: Ooops!  Dead end alleys too.  That’s one way to keep people out!

chainlink and barbed wire fence acorss the backyard of a house

below: A starry man (star face?) watches 007 below.   Street art in an alley.

street art in an alley - corner of a concrete block building, metal staircase as well, blue star with a man's face inside it, a racing car near the bottom with licence plate 007

below: More painting, this time Princess Leia and a strange red man with a latch in his ear.

street art in an alley - red man's head, with protruding lower jaw and two large yellow teeth, white eyes, on a door, black and white picture of Star Wars Princess Leia on the wall beside

below: If he’s aiming for the garbage bin, he’s missed.

street art in an alley - word radar on grey metal door, with screaming face below, on the wall beside is a moon shpaed figure, with arm out and seems to be holding something in its fingers but nothing there, garbage bins (real) below

below: ‘Always fresh bread!’ according to the mural on Nova Era bakery… but maybe you see the edge of the blue and white city of Toronto development notice sign peeking into the picture….

an old and fading mural on the side of an old bakery, showing two bakers, male, baking bread, with chef's hats and white aprons on

below:  … because a 12 storey condo may be moving in.  Retail is planned for the lower level but it may the same old same old glass and steel development with excessively high ceilings on the ground floor and zero street appeal.  Please prove me wrong!

blue and white city of toronto development notice sign on the side of a building, under a window, beside a mural of a baker in chefs hat and white apron icing a three layer wedding cake

below: Across the street, is this empty storefront.  Two intriguing blackboards remain – the one on the left says Thank You! and leaves you lines to fill in with things you are thankful for.  On the right, a “Before I Die” board.   What are you thankful for? What would you like to do before you die?  The business once here didn’t die, they just moved around the corner to Bloor Street.

empty store front with a bike parked inside, a red wall beside the door way, dirty glass in front, reflections in the glass

below: A bit of local ‘colour’ complete with ‘colourful’ language.

the back of a cyclist stopped at the side of a street by a bus stop, and traffic light, a woman stands on the sidewalk with a large puffy pink scarf around her neck and a lot of belongings with her

below: This building is on the northeast corner of Bloor and Dovercourt.

old square brick building on the north east corner of Dovercourt and Bloor, apartments on top and stores on ground level

below: I haven’t been able to find out anything about Valentinos but I quite like the debonair rider with a rose between his teeth.

old faded mural of a man on horseback, with hat and cape, the word Valentinos is written near the top, most of the mural has been painted over and is now just green

below: Vintage photo of the Bloor and Dovercourt intersection.  No cars!

vintage coloured postcard of the intersection of Bloor and Dovercourt in Toronto, hydro poles, brick buildings, streetcar, woman crossing road, no cars

below: The red and white building in the postcard above is on the southeast corner of the intersection. It is now home to a Pizza Pizza. Most of it’s large windows have been covered over with large pictures.  The streetcar tracks on Bloor are long gone and Davies butcher shop is now a Starbucks.

below: I walked past St. Michael Archangel Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church (on Delaware Ave) and a Portuguese Presbyterian Church (on Dovercourt).  Then I came across the Centennial Methodist Church.  It was built in 1906 and converted into residences in 2010.

front of Centennial Methodist church on Dovercourt, now apartments, red brick building with large round top windows

historical plaque for centennial methodist church on dovercourt road

CENTENNIAL METHODIST CHURCH, 1906, This Neo-Gothic inspired church replaced an earlier Centennial Methodist Church built on this site in 1891. Notable design elements include decorative stone trim, three central Tudor-arch windows, and flanking square towers topped with pyramidal steeples. It was renamed Centennial United Church in , after the creation of the United Church of Canada. In 1986, the Nisei congregation of the Toronto Japanese Church joined Centennial United to form Centennial Japanese Church. A residential redevelopment was completed in 2010.

 

below: A little farther south on Dovercourt I passed this for sale sign.   I stopped and took a photo of it because of the words in pink: “Laneway suite potential”.  Of course I had to check the lane to see if anyone had built suites back there.   Suites, according to the city of Toronto, are rooms built over garages and not stand alone residences.

for sale sign on the grass in front of a house

below: It is a neat and tidy lane but so far with no suites

Bill Cameron Lane

below: But I did see this mural there.

garage door covered with a mural of a boy walking in a birch forest in the snow with his dog following him

below: I also noticed that the backyards on both sides of the alley were very deep, wonderfully deep actually, especially for a city house.  You could probably sever it in two quite easily.

backyard, view from an alley

below: In fact, something like that has happened a bit farther south where someone took one house, renovated it, and added three more residences with additional access from the alley behind.   I notice that there are 4 water meters here as well as a gate that possibly provides access to the houses behind.

part of a modernized and renovated house with new houses built behind it

In case you’re curious, the four houses are all for sale.  The house in front is a semi and the asking price is $2,400,000.  For that you get 2992 square feet and 4 bedrooms.  The others are slightly smaller and slightly less expensive.

below: A rare large vacant lot

the side of a house on the other side of a large vacant lot

below: Norbregas Variety and Grocery.

Norbregas variety and grocery store, the ground floor of a house on a corner in a residential area, Dovercourt

below: And nearby, a cafe with both Coca-Cola and Pepsi signs

a deli, cafe, with old coca cola, coke, signs as well as pepsi signs. chairs and tables out front, large windows, two boys wakling past, on a corner in a residential area, old house

below: The streets around Dovercourt are all very nice with lots of large solid old houses and tall trees – in this case, a chestnut tree.

chestnut tree and large old houses on a street

below: I even spotted some wildlife!

two statues of small deer in the front yard of a house, one is lying down and looking at the other who is standing nearby, both are in the shade of a large tree

below: Northeast corner of College & Dovercourt

three storey red brick building on corner of college and dovercourt, northeast corner, stores on the lower leve, traffic lights, utility poles and streetcar wires

below: Letters embedded in the sidewalk where one of the branches of the Garrison Creek passes underground, just south of College Street.  The creek was buried more than a century ago.  In the early days, the creek was treated more like an open sewer than a river.  As the city developed, the stream was diverted into underground sewers (1880’s) and streets were built above it.   By 1920, almost a century ago, the stream was entirely diverted into the sewer system.

brass letters embedded in the sidewalk that say Garrison Creek, also a round metal medallion with the same words

below: The age of this car seemed to fit well with the buildings around it.

man stands beside on older car in a parking lot surrounded by old brick buildings

below: Some of Dr. Spock still remains.  He hasn’t been beamed up  yet.

once a mural of Dr Spock, now tagged over although Spock's head is still visible

below: Part of a mural by elicser in a lane behind Dundas West

elicser painting of a man in a brown toque

below: Looking east along Dundas, from Dovercourt

view along Dundas to the east, and downtown Toronto, from Dovercourt Rd

below: A larger than life Pink Panther painted by Matt Gondek.  This is on the northeast corner of Dundas and Dovercourt, close to Skey Lane where his other murals are (see recent blog post on Skey Lane)

mural of pink panther sitting in a chair, large

below: She can still be found near Queen and Dovercourt (painted by Jarus)

mural by jarus in an alley, a woman looking over her shoulder

Just before Queen Street West there is an art galley called the David Kaye Gallery.

below: It may be difficult to see, but this cup is displayed in a glass case mounted on the wall. The back part of the cube is a mirror. For $12,500 it can be yours (but my arm is not included!).

a white tea cup on a black block inside a glass cube with a mirror at the back. on the cup, in black letters, are the words a cup is a cup

below: Both this piece, and the cup above, are part of “Camp Fires: The Queer Baroque of Léopold L. Foulem” and are on display until the 23rd of September.

artwork by Leopold Foulem, a porcelain piece with gold figures on the sides like handles

I am going to end this blog post with a few pictures of some of the graffiti that I saw:

below: Red hearts on a yellow door.

a door painted yellow with three large red hearts on it

below: No more need for parliaments

a beige garage door with the words no more need for parliaments written on it

below: She’s a bit frayed at the edges and coming apart at the seams.

a hand drawn picture of a face, on paper, pasted on a fence

There is no theme to this blog post.  It’s just a description of some of the things that I saw as I walked down Bathurst Street the other day after taking the 512 streetcar to St. Clair West station.   In a lot of ways its like other busy Toronto streets, some houses, a few corner stores, and an alley or two along the way.   A little bit of architecture and a little bit of history round out the story.

At St. Clair West and Bathurst, the northeast corner remains vacant. About four or five years ago there was a gas station and car wash on this corner.  St. Clair West subway station is just to the east, just beyond the trees on the right hand side.

northeast corner of Bathurst and St. Clair West, vacant lot, St. Michaels College in the background as well as a couple of highrise condos.

below: I went looking for an old photo of this corner and this is what I found.  It’s from 1924.  If the streetcar’s destination is Caledonia, then it is going westward.  In 1924, St. Clair was the northern edge of the city and very little development had occurred here.  It is interesting to note that the streetcar tracks came first, then the development.   In addition, I’d love to be able to read the sign about dogs but the resolution of the photo is not good enough.  An ad?  A sign saying no dogs allowed?  Or something else?

vintage black and white photo from 1924 of a streetcar on the St. Clair line stopped at Bathurst to pick up passengers.

below: Of course, no vacant lot remains that way for long.   At the moment, three 30 storey towers joined with a 6 or 7 storey podium has been proposed for the site but it is still in the re-zoning and planning stages.  The light brown building to the left is St. Michael’s College School (boys school).

blue and white city of Toronto development notice sign on a small hill, by some trees, in front of a vacant lot. Highrises in the background

below: New development on the southeast corner of this intersection is almost complete. People have moved into the units above while the finishing touches are put on the lower retail floors. Developments like this are all over the city. Developments that look great (maybe?) on paper but are lackluster and banal at street level.

street level of a new glass and steel building, empty retail space available for lease, just finishing being built

below: As I walked south on Bathurst, this mural caught my eye.

mural in a laneway, painting of many trees with red and yellow sky, dark brown earth, and a few small black figures, some words beside it

Words written beside the mural:
“Long before concrete and steel
Punctuated the landscape
The land was pure and natural
This mural acknowledges and honors 13 trees and 21 medicinal plants that have thrived here since time immemorial.”

The mural was funded by Toronto’s Start program (street art) and Na’Ma’Res Sagatay, a residence for indigenous men that is nearby.

close up of mural, large trees with wavy red and yellow sky, small black figures standing under the trees

I will admit that the main reason that I was walking in this area is because I wanted to check out the new public artwork that I’ve read about at Bathurst and Vaughan.  It is “Three Points Where Two Lines Meet” by Christian Giroux and Daniel Young and apparently there is some controversy about it.

below: For those who don’t know that intersection, it is V-shaped.  This photo shows the approach to  the intersection from the north, on Vaughan.  I took this photo because my first reaction to the scene was “Ugly.  Ugly is what Toronto does”.  From this angle the sculpture gets lost in the visual noise.

sidewalk, lined by tall hydro utility poles, wood, road, some buildings, approaching the intersection of Bathurst and Vaughan

Cities have rules and regulations for public art. It needs to be weatherproof and graffiti-proof.  It can’t block the view of drivers and pedestrians.  No sharp edges or structures that people might hurt themselves on – note the two black poles are to prevent people from hitting their heads.

A woman walks past Three Points Where Two Lines meet

From Giroux & Young’s website:  “Taking its form from the orphaned triangular site on which it sits, this artwork produces a new urban room by combining a multicoloured truss structure, the triangular plot of wild grasses it encloses, and an encircling sidewalk thats acts as a podium and plinth. Located between the converging energies of uptown and downtown, the structure densifies an intersection already clotted with utilities and challenges established forms of urbanism and spatial representation in Toronto.”  Think of that what you will.  While you’re thinking, you can check the website for more photos and information.

Three Points Where Tao Lines meet, a public art sculpture in bright colours, metal grid like construction cranes, by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux at the intersection of Bathurst and Vaughan.

below: An interesting (unique?) roofline on what turns out to be The Occult Shop.  I made one mistake – I neglected to cross the street to go inside and find out just what one can buy here.

brick building with a large rounded roofline, the bulding is a semi, one half has doors and windows covered with white from the inside, the other is the occult shop

below: These people can still be seen in the space above the doorway at 1358 Bathurst.

the space above a doorway at number 1358 Bathurst is painted with pictures of people (head and shoulders) in shades of brown

Continuing south on Bathurst, as you go downhill towards Davenport Road, there is a retaining wall beside the sidewalk on the west side.  This wall was painted back in October 2013.  The city paid $23,000 to two Brooklyn NY street artists (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, together known as Faile) who designed the mural and in turn paid other artists to paint it.

The mural is quite long and I only have a few pictures of bits and pieces of it.

mural, large blue and white owl, with words in large letters that say no change my heart

mural, large painting of a blond boy sleeping, head on pillow, head and shoulders only

mural, by faile, orange car, woman driver, the word vanity written on the side of the car

below: Apparently Davenport Road is considered to be one of Toronto’s oldest roads.  It follows the base of a ridge and provided a route between the Humber River in the west and the Don River in the east.

toronto historical society plaque for Davenport Road, 1995, description of the history of Davenport Road

below: There is a park on the northwest corner of Bathurst and Davenport, The Tollkeeper’s Park.  The old house, the Tollkeeper’s Cottage, is now a museum run by The Community History Project.  It is open on Saturday afternoons (and some Sundays during the summer)

The Tollkeeper's Park, sign, green space, trees, and an old small wood frame house, now a museum,

below: And across the road is Tollkeeper’s Lane.  There are chairs everywhere in this city not usually as comfy looking as these.

two comfy chairs in an alley withtheir backs agains a grey garage door

below: An old Comet parked in the alley

a yellowish beige Comet car, old, parked behind a house in a lane

below: Tomatoes and other vegetables growing in a front yard.

small front yard packed full of vegetable plants looking very green and healthy

below: A hand, part of an Elicser mural.  This mural, which is on both sides of the railway underpass just north of Dupont, is still there.  Photos can be seen in a blog post from Nov 2014 (Yikes!  Have I been blogging that long?!).

part of a mural, a blue hand horizontal on a wall with some weeds growing in front of it

There are a few remnants of a more industrial past in the area near the railway tracks.

a window consisting of 18 panes of glass, 6 across and 3 down, some have texture and some are clear. the clear ones are reflecting the blue sky and clouds.

old wood door, once painted green but the paint is peeling

below: Another door –  I doubt that it’s open now, or that it ever will be again.

back door of an empty house, window boarded over, door with board nailed across it, open sign in the window, also a sign that says beware of dog

below: These windows, and the house too, probably won’t be here much longer either.

green trim around roof and windows of an old house

below: A very standard row of semi-divided houses; a common sight.  Hundreds (thousands?) of these were built around the city.

a semi divided house on bathurst street, two storey, bay windows on upper floor, porches, stairs to front door

below: And a not so usual semi.

a semi divided house on bathurst street where one side has been rebuilt into a taller square structure

below: A touch of art deco.

two doors side by side with art deco motifs, on a low rise brick building

below: Slight larger houses, with turrets even!  (or is there another name for this architectural element?)

a semi divided house on bathurst street both with small turrets above upper floor bay windows

below: This is part of Coopers Hawk Lane which is just south of Dupont.

buildings and garages in a lane, Coopers Hawk Lane, garage doors have street art on them.

painting of a wooden box with papers in it, pictures of people on the papers

below: In another nearby alley …. a pink cat eating ice cream

two doors in an alley, painted, one in colours, the other in black and white

below: And a gate with a frame, and the laundry beyond.

a chainlink fence and gate in a back yard, laundry hanging out to dry in the yard, brick houses, some green grass

red octagonal stop sign with a sticker on it that says take a breath

 

A trip to Toronto Islands on a sunny spring day.
Photos and stories – an eclectic mix of history and nature that resulted from wandering around the eastern portion of the islands.

below: From the ferry, looking toward the glass and steel of the city.

sail boats in Inner Harbour of Lake Ontario, in front of the Toronto skyline with highrises and skyscrapers also ship moored at Redpath Sugar refinery

Toronto Islands is a collection of at least 12 small islands.  In the early years the island archipelago was really a peninsula of sandbars and ponds; it was connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of sandy shoreline. This landform was created over centuries by the action of waves, winds and lake currents – washing away portions of the Scarborough Bluffs and depositing this material to the west in a five-mile-long hooked shape. This process of natural “landscaping” continued until the spring of 1858, when a particularly powerful hurricane created a channel four to five feet deep through the peninsula.  By June of that year, the Eastern Gap was a waterway, and the Toronto Islands came into being.

below: On the ferry between the city and Centre Island.

people lined up along the front railing of a ferry from Centre Island to the city of Toronto, looking at skyline and taking picture of it. Toronto is in the background.

The first buildings on the islands were the Blockhouse Bay garrison built in the 1794 by the British at Gibraltar Point – it included a blockhouse and storage structures.  A second blockhouse and a guard house were built soon after, only to be destroyed by the Americans in the Battle of York in April 1813.   The lighthouse at Gibraltar Point built in 1809 still stands (sorry, no photo).

In 1833 Michael O’Connor built a hotel on one the islands.  He used a horse-drawn boat to ferry customers across from the mainland to his hotel.  At that time, there was still access by road but it was a toll road.  In 1836 it cost sixpence for every four-wheeled carriage drawn by two horses.  Smaller ‘vehicles’ paid less.   In 1858 the hotel (now Quinns Hotel) was destroyed during the same hurricane that turned the peninsula into an island.  The hotels were destroyed but the islands remained popular.  With no road access, ferries were needed and many people ran private ferry services until they were bought out or amalgamated into the Toronto Ferry Company in 1892.  It was privately owned until 1926 when it was purchased by the City of Toronto for $337,500.

ferry, ceiling is full of orange life jackets, railings along edge, Lake Ontario, benches to sit on but no people

blue abstract from two blue doors with cut out where handle should be

Many houses and businesses, (hotels, restaurants, bowling alley, laundry, theatre etc) were established over the years from Hanlon’s Point in the west to Wards Island in the east.   Today, residences are only in the eastern section of Wards Island and on Algonquin Island.

The Ward’s Island community began in the 1880s as a settlement of tents. Up until then, that eastern end of the islands was mostly wetlands.  The first summer colony on Ward’s in 1899 consisted of just eight tenants, each of whom had paid a fee of $10 rent for the season. The number of tents grew each year.  In 1913, the city felt it necessary to organize the community into streets. The evolution from tents to cottage structures progressed in stages with the building of floors, the addition of kitchens and then porches, resulting in the creation of the homes.

two houses on Wards Island, small wood housses, one bright blue and the other is white

grey wood siding on house with white door and small porch. Two yellow and metal chairs on the porch

In 1953 the municipal government changed their policy toward the Toronto Islands landscape and its residents. Businesses were removed and the systematic demolition and burning of homes began.  More of the islands became parkland.    There are 262 houses on Wards and Algonquin Islands today, down from about 630 residences on all the islands.  The last of the Lakeshore houses was removed in 1968 but traces of them still remain.

wood boardwalk along the foreground of the photo with a concrete path leading away from it, into an overgrown area

part of old concrete breakwater, once there was house here, number 170 embedded in the concrete

below: The pier on the Lake Ontario side.

metal fence in the foreground, beach, pier and Lake Ontario in the middle and background

below: Sandbags along the shore.  Last spring there was a lot of flooding here and the island was closed to visitors – sort of.  Ferries didn’t run and the park facilities were closed.  The islands are very flat and low so it doesn’t take much extra water to flood.

large white sandbags along the shore, beach on the other side, Lake Ontario in background with a row of rocks as breakwater a short distance from the shore, sign on the beach

sign fallen over and under water, surrounded by rocks, Lake Ontario

below: There is a small amusement park, Centreville, on Centre Island.

CN tower in the background, people on the Skyline ride at Centre Island passing over water, with large boats docked farther up the river

below: Island transport that can be rented if you don’t want to walk.

people cycling in 2 quadricycles, a four wheeled bicycle like vehicle, on paths,

the orange and white wall tile pattern of Pizza Pizza with a red bike parked in front of it.

below: Boats moored QCYC (Queen City Yacht Club), one of the three yacht clubs on the islands.

sailboats moored at a wood dock, QCYC

below: Sakura trees in bloom.   The trees were donated by the Sakura Project.  The aim of this project was to strengthen Japanese Canadian relations by planting cherry trees in visible locations across Ontario.   Between 2000 and 2012,  3,082 trees were planted at 58 locations.  The trees on Centre Island were planted in 2011.

path, sakura (cherry) trees on either side with their pink and white blossoms, other large trees around them with pale green of new leaves

below: Catkins from a red alder tree.  They almost look like raspberries packed tight together.

red fuzzy blossoms droop from the end of a tree branch

new yellowish green flowers on a tree, also leaf buds just opening,

ants in the bud on a tree

below: An early family of Canada geese.

family of Canada geese, 2 adults and 7 or 8 fluffy little goslings swimming in the water

below: The pier at the eastern end of Wards Island is bad need of repair.  To the right is the entry into the Eastern Channel (or Eastern Gap).

broken concrete pier into Inner Harbour of Lake Ontario, with Toronto skyline and CN Tower in the distance

below: Looking over to Algonquin Island.  Once upon a time this island was just a sandbar.

waterway, orange life ring and ladder on one side of the river, houses and docks, and boats on the other. r

two people standing on the shore of Center Island, looking at the Toronto skyline and taking pictures of it.

and back to the mainland.

people exiting a ferry, from above

Well, that was quite a weekend.  An April winter storm with snow, sleet, ice pellets, freezing rain, and even some just plain rain.   The streets were icy and the sidewalks were slushy and wet.   Chunks of ice have fallen off roofs, tree branches have broken off with the weight of the ice that formed on them.  And then there was the wind that blew hard.   Of course I went out!

hazy, blurry picture of a person walking with an umbrella up Yonge street with other people, cars, wet sidewalk,

below: Dressed in our April finery. Black parkas.

people walking in the rain, downtown Toronto

below:  There is a small, but interesting, exhibit at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Asquith that I wanted to see.  It’s called ‘Toronto Revealed’ and it’s in the TD Gallery on the main floor.   It features drawings and paintings of Toronto’s past.

sign in the window of the Toronto Reference library re the display at the TD gallery, Toronto Revealed, pictures and paintings of Toronto in the past

below: One of the paintings in the exhibit is this one, ‘Cherry Street Hotel’ by Gerard Lazare (1978).  The Cherry Street Hotel was built in 1890 at the corner of Cherry and Front Streets.  It later became the Canary Restaurant (1965-2010).  The building is still there but it stands empty.

painting of the Canary restaurant on the corner of Cherry and Front streets

below: There was a display of small artworks by Nicholas Hornyansky (1896-1965), including this one of St. James Cathedral (1938).  Hornyansky was born in Hungary and immigrated to Canada in 1929.  He is known for the etchings and aquatints (another print making technique) that he did of Toronto buildings and landscapes.

small framed painting of Saint James cathedral in Toronto, by Nicholas Hornyansky, painted in 1938 .

below: Most of the paintings were very realistic (documentary) except this one – a wacky view of Bloor Street looking west from Yonge towards Bay by Carlos Marchiori, painted in acrylic in 1976.   Even then, it is fairly true to reality.  The darker tower on the right is on the NW corner of Bloor and Yonge.  Stollerys store (the low building on the SW corner) is long gone.

bright painting of city landscapre, Yonge & Bloor, bendy buildings, cars as coloured blobs on the streets, puffy clouds in bright blue sky, by Carlos Marchiori

While I was at the library, I wandered around and took a few pictures of its vast open spaces.  It was warm and dry!  I was expecting to be told to put my camera away, but no one seemed to care.

interior of the Toronto Reference Library from the fifth floor, semi circular tables, reddish carpet, open concept architecture, rows of books,

below: Most were too busy working to notice.

looking down an aisle between two stacks of books (book shelves), a woman is sitting at a table studying and writing, there is a window behind her

below: One more picture from the ‘Toronto Revealed’ exhibit is this painting of the intersection of King and Jarvis by Vernon Mould.   It was painted in 1979.  Was gas really 20 cents a gallon in 1979?  No! That was the year that prices went metric and a litre of gas was 20 cents.    I came back to this picture because I chose to chase down that intersection to see what it looks like today.

painting, in mostly brown tones of a three story building at the corner of King and Jarvis, Toronto, with a small gas station across the street, sign says gas 20 cents, 2 gas pumps,

below: Et voici, same intersection, approximately the same angle.  There is now a building (with a Second Cup on the ground floor) where Mould would have stood.   By the looks of it, the three storey brick building on the NE corner has been fixed up since 1979.  So glad to see that it hasn’t been replaced by a glass condo tower!

intersection of King and Jarvis, looking north, three story brick building,

below: I wanted to find out more about the building, so I googled Sportsman’s Shop and I found a wonderful old picture of it from the 1970’s, obviously taken before it was renovated.    Apparently, it was fixed up in the early 1980s.

old black and white photo of the Sportsmans Shop at 150 King East in Toronto, three storey brick building

photo credit: Gary Switzer, source: Urban Toronto

below:  The next photo was taken as I stood on the same corner of King and Jarvis, but pointing my camera in different direction – looking west on King towards St. James Cathedral.  This is the eastern limit of the King Street streetcar project which is why the multicoloured barricades block part of the righthand westbound lane.

looking west on King street from Jarvis, St. James Cathedral and park on the right, downtown towers and office buildings in the distance, rainy day, TTC streetcar,

below:  These women are waiting in the wrong place.  Although the city changed the location of the streetcar stops along King Street, the bus shelters haven’t been moved yet.   At least they were (sort of) out of the rain.   They soon realized their mistake.

below: Looking back, the prerequisite photo of a TTC streetcar through a rainy day window.

looking out the back window of a streetcar, rainy day, raindrops on the glass, another streetcar is passing by

It’s always better to end a blog post on a happy note, right?  It may be a dream (I hope not!) but spring can’t be too far away.  April showers bring May flowers, right?  On my second warm up stop I saw this cheerful, hopeful drawing tacked to a wall.   It was one of many on the wall, all the work of Maihyet Burton.  They were at the Artscape building at the Distillery District.

a pen and ink drawing of spring flowers, poppies, in blues and purples, and fiddleheads in bright green

below: Headed home again.

two people with their back to the camera wait on the subway platform as a train arrives

Don’t put away your boots and hats yet!

two women holding cups of coffee walk across Victoria St. on Queen Street East

Just after I wrote the previous blog post about some of the buildings on Yonge Street that are in the middle of an area being redeveloped, I walked across Queen Street East.  I noticed that there were a lot of similar three storey buildings here to those around the corner on Yonge.  Toronto must have been a booming city in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when these stores and warehouses were built.

below: What I also noticed is how many of the storefronts are empty.   This is the northeast corner of Queen and Mutual.

the northeast corner of Queen street east and Mutual street, with an empty building on the corner.

What I don’t have is a photo of the northwest corner – it is about to be developed, or at least there is a plan to develop it, into a 29 storey glass tower.   Urban Toronto called this location, “a spot that currently feels disconnected from the rest of the City. ”  … maybe because the Moss Park neighbourhood is on the lower part of the socioeconomic spectrum?    Urban Toronto is a website that is, their words, “populated by the tastemakers, condo aficionados, buyers, builders and realtors”.   I try to stay neutral in the pro/con condo development argument but it irks me to read things like, “Redefining the urban experience” and variations thereof over and over and over again to describe mediocrity.

To be fair, this 88 Queen West project is redeveloping a parking lot.  Why is it a parking lot?  Because in the 1950’s a parking lot was more important that the buildings, including Cooke’s Presbyterian Church (1857), that originally stood there.   Perhaps we get what we deserve.

 

below: Richard Bigley (1853-1933) started off as a woodworker but soon switched to selling stoves. He sold the ‘Happy Thought’ line of stoves. He holds two US patents, one for a water heater and one for a sectional water heater. The building was converted into loft apartments, one loft per floor, back in the late 1990’s.

tall brick building, Richard Bigley 1876 written in white at the top (4 storeys), large glass windows in front, once an old store and warehouse, now a 3 loft apartments. 98 Queen Street East

below: Two views at the corner of Queen East and Jarvis.  You can just see the Moss Park Armoury building on the right side of this picture.  This Canadian Forces facility was built in 1960’s and it takes up a large chunk of land.  Development  rising in the north…

Queen and Jarvis intersection looking north to tall towers being built on Dundas
below: … and development rising in the west.

the intersection of Queen and Jarvis, looking northwest, with a foodora cyclist in pink in the intersection, traffic, street car, and in the distance, development on Yonge and westward, cranes, glass towers

large blue public parking sign, also a large box shaped sign on a tall pole. The sign is wearing out

below: At Ontario Street, the street sign says, Old Town Toronto.  In 1797 the city limits were moved north to Queen Street (then called Lot Street).  Ontario Street was one of the most easterly streets at that time.   And, oh yes, the city was still York.  It officially became Toronto in 1834.

toronto street sign for Ontario Street with the top part that says Old Town Toronto

below: Posters on a boarded up window – once it was a barber shop?  Posters on Queen East for events on Queen West.

posters on an empty building, exterior wall, bottom of wall has barber pole stripes painted on it.

below: A blue and white Development Notice. I still haven’t found out how many of these there are hanging around the city.  My best guess is ‘hundreds’.

blue and white city of toronto development notice sign on a chainlink fence in front of a vacant lot wehre cars and trucks are parked. For 245 to 285 Queen Street East, Bridgen Place and Richond.

At the risk of another anti-development rant, I just want to say a couple of things about the above photo.  The development here involves the closure of two public lanes, McFarrens Lane and Brigden Place.  There will be pedestrian access (public access on private land) between Queen and Richmond, between two large buildings with three towers built above them – 39, 39, and 49 storeys high.

From a City of Toronto report written in April 2016…”City Planning staff is not in support of the proposal in its current form, as the proposal not only represent over development, but also fails to recognize the existing built-form character and scale of the King-Parliament Secondary Plan Area by departing from the existing warehouse and main street typology where the site is located.”

I am not sure what the status of the project is at the moment, but the developer has a website for this project, Queen & Sherbourne, that describes it exactly as the original proposal – Three glass towers on two boring bland base buildings. It’s yet another development that looks flashy from above but is blah ick at street level.

below: The northwest corner of Queen and Sherbourne

northwest corner of Queen and Sherbourne, Moss Park variety store on the corner, three storey brick Victorian buildings, cars, people,
below: Bright and cheerful.

three storey victorian buildings includia Acadia Book Store, established 1931 and Seaton Butcher

below: 310 Queen East at the corner of Queen and Berkeley.

below: Moving slightly east to the corner of Queen and Parliament (NE).  That looks like a solid old bank building on the corner.

northeast corner of queen and parliament, old brick buildings,

flat roofed old brick buildings, with oriel windows on third floor, Ray's Discount Convenience and Supermarket on the ground floor. A bus shelter on the sidewalk, people waiting for the bus, building painted rust red colour,

below: 354 and 356 Queen Street East

two narrow three storey buildings squished in between two slightly larger buildings. On the ground floor of the building on the left is Redline Coffee and Espresso while Ryans Restaurant is on the right.

below: 380, 382, and 384 Queen Street West.

two storey store fronts on queen street east, 380 Queen, 382 Queen and 384 queen.

below:  Wherever you walk there is construction.  Some of it good, some of it poor.  That’s Toronto these days.

a man walks through a covered sidewalk, past a construction site and towards a bus shelter

The other day I discovered that there is a small gallery on the 3rd floor of Ryerson’s School of Image Arts.  If you want to find it too, it’s in a building that it’s in is attached at the ground floor level to the Ryerson Image Centre on Gould Street.   At the moment, there is a small exhibit of photos by Avard Woolaver.

the back of a man looking at a wall in a gallery, old photos of Toronto

below:  The photos are ones that Woolaver took in Toronto in the late 70s and early 80s.

old photos of Toronto from the 1980s by Avard Woolaver.

below: This photo is one of Woolaver’s – it is looking towards the northwest corner of Spadina and Queen Street West.  For those of us who lived in Toronto at the time, it’s a bit of nostalgia.  Somethings are very familiar – the older TTC buses, the car styles, and a lot of the architecture, for example.   This photo in particular lends itself nicely to the game of ‘Spot the Differences’….. compare this with

photo by Avard Woolaver of Toronto in the 1980s, this view is the north west corner of Queen and Spadina

below: …..this. Here is the same intersection, at a similar angle, last week.   The large brick building is still there but without a billboard.   The poles are no longer wood but they are covered in posters and remnants of posters – so no change there.    The street signs have been updated and there is now a streetcar lane in the middle.   All in all, I was surprised how little had actually changed in 30ish years.

the northwest corner of Queen and Spadina in 2018, pedestrians, buildings, street scene

below: I found this photo online (originally from the Toronto City Archives, 1950?) but before we can play another round of ‘Spot the Differences’, we have to identify these buildings?  Any ideas?

vintage photo of 357, 359, and 361 Yonge street, black and white, 3 storefronts,

below: Here is the same location in the 1980’s (not a photo from the exhibit).  Not too many changes.   The building that housed George Richards Men’s shop, 361 Yonge Street, was replaced by a dull and boring two storey brick building but the other changes were just to the facades and the owners/tenants.   The tavern is still a tavern and the drug store is still a drug store.  The large brown building on the top right that you can only see part of is Ryerson College.   Unfortunately the Wrigleys ghost sign on the taller building on the left has been covered.

357, 359, and 361 Yonge street in the 1980s including the Zanzibar tavern

photo source BuzzBuzzNews online

below: Fast forward another 30 years.  The Zanzibar is all bright lights and dazzle while the building that housed the drug store is now for sale.  Ryerson is now a University and has expanded out to Yonge Street – that’s the large blue building in case you are not familiar with the area.

Yonge stree, easy side, just north of Dundas, about 357, 359 and 361 Yonge Street including the Zanzibar Tavern. The blue glass wall of Ryerson University behind the Zanzibar,

below: If you pull back a bit, and look just a bit farther north on that stretch of Yonge Street, you’ll see that there are many empty buildings

yonge street, between gerrard and dundas, most storefronts are closed and boarded up waiting for redevelopment of that stretch

below: … including what was until recently the XTC clothing company.  It looks like it has gone through a number of ‘renovations’, not all of which were good.  Some traces of its original brick facade can be seen at the top but at street level it is (was?) a mess.

empty two storey building, once was X T C clothing store

 There is a plan to build a 98 storey mixed-use building on this site including just over 900 residential units ranging in size from 520 to 2000 square feet.    It will be the tallest residential building in Canada.   In the promotional material for YSL Residences, as they will be called, is this: “The epitome of luxury living, designed to elevate the fortunate few who will call it home.”

 

below:  Back to Ryerson, also on the 3rd floor of the School of Image Arts, there was a small series of photographs like this one hanging on the wall in the hallway.  There was no sign as to the name of the artist that I could find either on the wall or online.   I quite like the technique and the resulting image.  Two ideas melded into one.  Two time frames in one frame.  Two artistic styles combined to create another.

a photograph on a gallery wall, a hand holding a photo printed on glass in the middle of another photo, superimposed landscapes

If you are interested in Woolaver’s work, you can find more on his blog.

I was meeting a friend at Queen and Church for walkies and coffee last Monday. I was there a few minutes early so of course I took a few pictures while I was waiting. I had come across King Street because the streetcars tend to be faster on King these days. Plus, it was a nice day for a walk.

below: Looking north up Church Street from Richmond.

looking north on Church St. from Richmond Street, stores, street, people, street scene,

below: Metropolitan United Church is on the NW corner of Queen and Church. Even if you aren’t religious, there is something inspiring about the architecture. In this case, the setting adds to the grace and beauty of the building.  Usually there are people around but it was surprisingly quiet that day (too cold outside?)

front of Metropolitan United Church, with the snow covered park in front, snow, large trees, red door

below: Take a few more steps towards Metropolitan United and then turn around. This is the view that awaits you. The intersection of Queen and Church from a different angle.

looking at the intersection of Queen and Church, through the park, with yellow building and other stores in the background

below: As I walked back to the intersection, this man walked in front of the streetcar. I think that he called himself either Cowboy Bob or Cowboy Bill.

man in long coat and hat stands in front of a TTC street car with his arm up in the air.

below: Church #2. Jarvis Street Baptist Church.

Jarvis Street Baptist Church, from diagonally across the intersection

below: Yes, there are a lot of churches in this section of downtown. This is the third (and last for today’s blog) but there are many more. Grace Church through the trees.

park, in winter, with large mature trees, in the background is Grace Church, brick building with green roofed steeple

below: A stop at Allan Gardens conservatory for warm and a washroom. If this picture is looking a little fuzzy around the edges, my camera lens kept steaming up faster than I could wipe it off.

inside shot at Allan Gardens conservatory, with two people looking at the plants, glass roof, large yellow flowers

below: Every Christmas, the conservatory at Allan Gardens is decorated with many amaryllis plants. The other day, many were looking a little worse for wear. These buds were a few of the exceptions. At some point (soon?), the Christmas plants will be switched out for spring plants.

close up of two small red amaryllis buds at the bottom of a red and white amaryllis.

below: Barrel cacti in differing sizes in the Allan Gardens conservatory.

4 barrel cacti of differing sizes in a semi-circle in a conservatory, glass house, with some succulents in front and some taller cacti behind

below: And just around the corner from Allan Gardens there is this painted cactus (or is it a succulent?) standing in the cold.

a metal telephone or traffic box on the sidewalk that has been painted with a picture of a cactus.

below: This part of Church Street is now in McGill Granby Village. There is even a lovebot on the pole.

street sign for Church St., with the top part being McGill Granby Village

below: “Enough is enough”, a large Church Street mural.

large mural on the side of a two storey building, with metal fire escapes on the side of the building as well. Mural is enough is enough, rainbow flag and other things

below: On Church Street, another redevelopment victim.

old, large, three storey red brick house with boarded up windows, about to be redeveloped, people walking past on the sidewalk, winter, street scene,

below: And just up the street, another.

an older two storey house house boarded up with construction hoardings in front, looking at it through a park with large trees, winter

below: Trucks, construction, and condos. Ho hum. Been there, done that.

large truck parked on a street with tall buildings behind, and a large billboard with a KFC ad on it

below: One set of construction hoardings has been decorated with kids’ paintings.   Bright and cheerful.

white construction hoardings with childrens paintings on it. a painting of a soccer ball, kids playing, words too

below: Through the layers

looking in a window, people sitting inside, looking through the window on the other side as well, a large tree is reflected in the window too

below: Icicles!

older yellowish brick building with green bay window, with icicles on the eaves of bopth roof and window

below: Trudeau senior looks down on the world.

 a large black and white picture of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the window of the Ryerson Image Center, with a tree in front of it, some snow on the tree

below: The guys over the entrance to the Chang School at Ryerson are wearing little puffy white hats.

stone sculpture of the door of the Chang School at Ryerson, two men with interlocking arms, looking at each other, wheat, apples, and other produce in their hands, covered with snow


below
: As we walked past Yonge Dundas Square, I stopped, took another look, and then said: “Isn’t that a new sign?”. My walking partner replied that she wasn’t sure. Neither was I.

Yonge Dundas Square, men working on sign

I happened to walk past Yonge Dundas Square again yesterday, and yes, there is a new sign. A big one.

below: “It’s OK to be scared, just take a deep breath” as the fourth panel of the new sign is installed.

a large crane is putting part of a new light sign in place at Dundas Square, large billboards and lighted signs behind, people walking past, street scene

below: Working on the new sign. That billboard on the left, 98.1 CHFI is all Christmas music? Still? In February?

two men on a lift are working on a new elevated sign at Dundas square

C’est too for now friends!