Posts Tagged ‘condos’

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

 

While walking on Yonge Street on the day of the Pride Parade, I noticed that the St. Charles tavern clock tower was visible once more.  Also on that day, I heard someone ask the person beside them what the tower was.  The answer was something like, “I don’t know what it is but it looks interesting.”  I went back this weekend to take some pictures – not quite so many people in the way!

below: The St. Charles as it was back in the 1950’s.  It was built by Charles Hemstead who had made his money in real estate and horse breeding.  Hemstead sold it in 1958 but it continued as the St. Charles until 1987.

black and white photo from 1955 of the St. Charles Tavern and it's clock tower on YOnge Street

photo credit: 1955. Photo by James Salmon, originally found  at Toronto Public Library. I found it online at Toronto.com in an excellent article about  the history of the building and its role in the LGBQT community.

I have always associated the tower with the St. Charles Tavern but I now know that the tower pre-dates the St. Charles by many decades. It was built as part of Fire Hall Number 3 in the 1870s. Although the fire hall is long gone (it was replaced by the fire hall on Grosvenor Street in the 1920’s), the clock tower has survived several changes of ownership.  It is also going to survive the next change which, of course, is the building of a large glass and steel condo on the southwest corner of Yonge & Grosvenor.

below: The site has been cleared.  Looking south from Grosvenor.

construction site, downtown Toronto, clock tower of St. Charles tavern, tall condos, construction equipment

below: Looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor.  The yellow scaffolding is holding up the brick facade of 480 and 482 Yonge Street.  It too will be incorporated into the new development.  Can you count how many new condos there are? Did you notice that the two clock faces say different times?

looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor, clock tower still there, yellow scaffolding holding up the facade of an old brick building

The clock kept time until 1969.  It had been maintained by the city up until then.  Repairs and upkeep stopped when the city decided that the cost was too much.   Maybe it will function once again in the near future.

St. Charles tavern clock tower stands on a construction site as a woman on a bike cycles past

below: An archway has been built into the back of the clock tower.

close up of the lower part of clock tower, with archway that has been constructed at the back

looking up, condo towers and the clock tower from the St. Charles tavern

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

Monday’s walk was a meandering route downtown, once again going where my feet and eyes take me.  No particular plan in mind and no set destination…   just trying to explore where I haven’t been recently.   No theme jumped out and tapped me on the shoulder but a few “stories” emerged.

below: There is now a 3D sign between the CN Tower and the Aquarium that says Canada 150.

a young boy is leaping from the D of the 3D Canada 150 sign in front of the CN Tower, and is leaping onto the top of the A. His hands are on the top of the A, one foot is one the side of the A and the other foot is near the top of the D

below:  …and another 3D sign by the CN Tower (you can see part of the back of the Canada 150 sign through the tree). I wonder how many there are in this city now?   Another bit of information (trivia?) – this area is called Bobbie Rosenfeld Park and has been since 1991. Fanny (“Bobbie”) Rosenfeld was a Canadian athlete who won two track medals  in the 1928 Olympics.   She also played softball and hockey in the 1920s and 30s.  When arthritis force her to stop playing she turned to sports journalism, working for the ‘Globe and Mail’ until her retirement in 1955.

3D sign for the CN tower with tourists taking pictures in front of it. Canada 150 3D sign in the background as well as some people sitting around on benches

One of the routes from the CN Tower into the downtown core of the city is via the Skywalk, a glass enclosed elevated walkway over the railway tracks.  The next few photos were taken as I walked that route.

below: A Toronto species of woodpecker in its native habitat – a forest of glass and steel. This artwork was completed in 1997 and is the creation of Dai Skuse and Kim Kozzi who together are known as Fastwurms.

large sculpture of a woodpecker on a pole in the foreground, many glass skyscrapers condos in the background

below: The above photo was taken from a quiet little terrace that I accessed from the Skywalk. Now you can see just how big the woodpecker is!  The ‘tree trunk’ pole is 30m high.  What you can’t see is the second woodpecker who is on the other side of the pole and slightly farther down it.

a concrete terrace, with benches and planters with purple flowers, lots of condos in the background, one person standing there

below:  The glass of the Skywalk creates some interesting reflections and shadows.  The glass was fairly clean the other day when I walked through it.  I have seen it when it’s been quite dirty and it’s not a pretty sight.

reflections of a woman walking on the Skywalk between Union Station and the convention center, with views of the street below and buildings beyond also in the frame
reflected in the red glass of the entrance to the CN tower are two women walking

below: Union Station, looking east from the Skywalk.   The new roof over the station platforms is taking shape.  Someday soon I’m going to have to take a look at the insides of the station; I can’t wait for all the renovations to be completed.

union station as seen from the west, from the skywalk, with open air tracks as well as the covered platforms. New roof over the platforms, tall buildings in the background

below: Part of the south “wall” along the railway tracks.

buildings reflected in another glass building right beside the trains tracks south of Union Station

below: Looking east from lower Simcoe along the south edge of the Gardiner Expressway.   The podium of the new condo under construction at 10 York Street is quite the wedge!

construction of a tall condo beside the gardiner expressway. The bottom of the condo is a wedge shape to maximize the space available

below: I played a bit on google maps street view and this is what I found for the above scene (taken Nov 2016).  If you compare the photos (above & below), it’s obvious that one of the ramps for the Gardiner Expressway has been demolished.   The eastbound exit to Yonge/York/Bay was removed a couple of months ago.  If you are a regular user of the Gardiner, I’m sure you have already experienced the consequences of this!

screenshot of google maps street view of Lower Simoce stret just south of the Lakeshore, one of the offramps for the Gardiner, a new condo under construction

below: Standing on the same spot, but turning around 180 degrees – looking west from Lower Simcoe.  An old ramp in the foreground…. and what looks like new construction in the background.  Those are new bents (the structures that hold up the road).

under one of the Gardiner Expressway ramps, with new bents being built for a new ramp in the background.

below: To get a closer look at what was happening here, I ventured around to the other side .  This is the view from closer to Rees Street. There is car on the old ramp so it must still be open (onramps still functional, just the offramp was removed).

two "cherry pickers" parked in front of new bents being constructed for a new ramp for the Gardiner Expressway

below: The trees are growing at Canada Square (Harbourfront), but so are the condos.  Yes, this new building is the same one with the wedge shaped lower floors.

view from Canada Place (Queens Quay West) with a clump of birch trees in the foreground and 3 highrise buildings in the background - two older ones and one in the middle that is under construction.
below: Also at Canada Square, there are three large photographs by Johan Hallberg-Campbell, a series called “Coastal”.   This one of them:

a large photograph of a run down building, northern, on the side of a concrete structure that is an entrance to the underground parking

below: More of Hallberg-Campbell’s work can be seen inside in the Artport Gallery (Harbourfront building) – here, many photographs with simple wood frames are mounted on a wall that is covered with large images.  “Coastal” is the product of the artist’s travels to coastal areas of Canada, from Newfoundland to northern Manitoba to British Columbia and many places in between.   Life on the edge, so to speak.  (Note: gallery show ends 18th June)

three colour photos in simple light wood frames mounted on a wall that is covered with large images

below: It’s not art but sometimes the line between public art and advertising campaigns is fuzzy.

a man walks on the sidewalk below a largef ad for Apple watches.  The photo is cropped so that the only part of the ad that shows is a hand on the handle bar of a bike.  A bright turquoise watch is on the person's wrist

Not all is shiny and new.   And that’s the way it should be.

metal grille, part of a barricade along the side of a parking structure, rusted,

parking structure on the top, old door and wall on the bottom. A wood picnic table in disrepair is in front of the door

Right now, the section of Sheppard Avenue East between Yonge and Leslie streets is a mix of old, middle aged and new – a hodge podge of sizes, styles and uses.   It’s neither ugly nor pretty.  It’s not sure if it’s city or  suburban.

below: The intersection of Bayview and Sheppard from the southwest.

main road with traffic, coming to an intersection, with a tall building in the background

You’ll probably never hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk along Sheppard”.  So why was I there?   I’ve driven along this stretch many times but I have never walked it.  Have I been missing something?

below: A short distance west of Bayview is the modern brick St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, or ÁrpádHázi Szt. Erzsébet Római Katolikus Templom according to their sign.  Sunday mass is in Hungarian.   If you are driving past on Sheppard Ave, it’s easy to miss the simple steeple and cross that marks this building as a church.

steeple of St. Elizabeth of HUngary RC church, modern brick building with simple cross on the top

below: A large mosaic adorns one of the exterior walls.

mosaic on the exterior brick wall of St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church showing St. Elizabeth and two people kneeling beside her.

below: A small shrine is in front of the church.

small picture of Mary and baby Jesus in bright colours, on a small shrine in front of a church

below: The south entrance to Bayview subway station.  There are no escalators at this entrance  – instead, there is an elevator and a LOT of stairs.

south entrance to Bayview subway station with tall residential buildings behind and a construction site beside

below: The artwork at Bayview station is by Panya Clark Espinal, titled ‘From Here Right Now’.  Half an apple lies on the platform.

art on a subway platform, a line drawing of a very large apple that has been cut in half, on the wall and floor of the station

below: A salt or pepper shaker on the wall.  I’ve only shown two of the images in the series.  There are 24 in total and they are scattered throughout the  station.

art on a subway platform wall, a salt or pepper shaker in black on white tiles

below: There is a small park behind the south entrance to Bayview subway station, Kenaston Garden Parkette where I saw this tree in bud.   The first signs of spring are always wonderful to see.   Today it’s -12C outside so I hope the tree is okay.

pussy willow buds on a tree

below: This little park was designed by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture and it incorporates a large number of rocks including a glacial boulder found on the site.   A bronze sculpture of a tree clinging to a rock  by Reinhard Reitzenstein is one of the features of the park.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock

below: If you stand in the park and look east,  you can’t miss the construction.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock - crane and construction site in the background

a convex mirror beside a black and yellow caution sign, condos are reflected in the mirror

the front and side of a large truck is in the foreground, right side, with a construction site beyond

Construction is everywhere on Sheppard Avenue.

below: All of the houses on Cusack Court are now gone.  Only the ‘No Exit’ sign remains.

a construction site where the houses on a a whole street have been demolished. The no exit sign for the street still remains., the site is behind a chainlink fence

a banner of the Canadian flag has fallen over and is lying on the ground behind a chainlink fence

below: The single family homes on the south side of Sheppard are slowly being demolished to make way for condo developments.  At the corner of Sheppard Ave East and Greenbriar  the proposed development of 184 residential units is the subject of an OMB prehearing on the 8 May 2017  (case number PL161113).

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below: Five houses are empty and waiting to be demolished to make way for two buildings, 11 and 6 storeys, mixed use (i.e. retail at street level) and incorporating a few townhouses.  In other words, the same old same old.

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below:  I said “same old same old” above because these types of buildings are popping up all over  many major roads that are outside the downtown core.  I suspect that Sheppard Avenue will be lined with structures like this one that’s already been built on the north side of Sheppard.

across the street is a 10 storey residential building, cars on the street, small trees in the foreground

Many people make the argument that there isn’t the density to support a subway along Sheppard.  I am of the opinion that if they’re not wrong now, they soon will be.   Development and public transit are dependent on each other, a symbiotic relationship if you will.   If you are affected by the construction along Eglinton for the new Crosstown line, you might agree that waiting for density only increases the problems and inconvenience (and cost?) of building new subway lines.   Also, have you seen photos of what the area around Davisville or Finch (and others) stations looked like when the subway opened there?   What is the required density?  Why do we want to funnel even more people towards the overcrowded Yonge line anyhow?   Is there an end to the questions we can ask?

And that’s another reason for my walk here…. to make note of the construction that is occurring whether we agree with it or not and to document some of  the changes.

below:  Two low rise apartment buildings.

two three storey brick apartment buildings with balconie in the front, taken from across the street

below: Once upon a time there were a lot of these little houses along Sheppard (even more so on the west side of Yonge Street).  At least one of these is still used as a family home but most are now offices or businesses.

a few small brick houses on the south side of Sheppard Ave

below: The north entrance to Bessarion station

looking across the street to the small north entrance to Bessarion subway station, with a small two storey plaza beside it

below: Looking east from Bessarion.  You can see as far as the condos on Don Mills Road.

looking west from Bessarion subway station towards Leslie Street and beyond,

   There is a reason that you haven’t seen many people in these pictures and it’s not because I waited for people to get out of the way.   Sheppard Avenue is a “major arterial road” under Toronto’s road classification system and traffic movement is its major function.  20,000+ cars are expected to use it every day.

I don’t like to say it, but why would you be walking along Sheppard anyhow?

below: Bayview Village parking lot at the NE corner of Bayview and Sheppard.

parking lot of a mall, Bayview village with surrounding buildings in the background.

As you might know, scroll down to the next blog post to see some pictures of Bessarion station!

 

This is another meandering blog post… a post about being out and about on yet another wonderful autumn day, going wherever my feet and eyes take me.

below: The first picture of my day was this intriguing wall made of old wooden doors.  Bathurst Street.

a tall narrow wall about three storeys high made of old white doors.

below: A small elicser mural tucked away at the end of a parking lot.   The man has his back to the viewer but I can’t figure out what’s behind him or what he might be doing.

small mural on a fence, a man's head is back to the viewer

below: The leaves have fallen off the vines to reveal a yellowish creature with his baseball cap askew.

graffiti painting of a yellow animal like creature wearing a blue and yellow baseball cap. The creature is yellow. On a red brick wall, with spots on its back

below: Toronto’s tallest icon framed by a construction crane.

CN Tower in the distance, condo construction in the foreground, with a red crane

below: And on a similar note, a vacant lot cleared and ready for the next stage of its life.

a box beside a fence that has been scrawled over with blue spray paint. Behind it is a fence around a vacant empty lot. There are some small trees growing in front of the fence.

below: No more cranes here (and not many vacant lots either for that matter).  A view showing how much development there has been on the south side of the railway tracks.   Fort York is between the tracks and the condo towers.

a VIA Rail train passes by on one set of many tracks, in the background is Fort York and then a series of new condo buildings.

below: And what’s this? An old blue canoe beached on the tracks?

looking at the scene from a above, a blue canoe has been used to plant plants in. It lies across an old railway track, a chainlink fence separates the canoe from the main railway tracks that still function.

below: Standing guard over Bathurst Street, Fleet street and the Lakeshore, is one larger than life gold replica of a Royal Newfoundland Regiment and his fallen silver American foe. A sculpture by Douglas Copeland entitled “A Monument to the War of 1812”, a nod to nearby Fort York and the history of Toronto.

Douglas Copeland's sculpture of two tin soldiers, a gold one standing with backpack on and rifle in hand, and a silver one lying on its back on the ground, uniforms circa War of 1812, seen from the back, figures are much large than life sized and they are on a corner at an intersection, Bathurst St. and Fleet St.

below: My favorite example of bad grammar still exists!  Off-leash dog area at Coronation Park.

a wood fence around a dog park, in autumn with lots of leaves on the ground, on the fence is a white sign with black letters re the Toronto municipal code 608,

A beautiful day in the park.  A slight November nip was in the air but it was sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue.  Coronation Park is named in honour of the coronation of King George VI who was crowned on 12 May 1937.  At that time nearly 150 trees were planted here.

Apparently, an oak tree was planted to honour the king.  Surrounding it, a ring of silver maples was planted.  This was to symbolize the countries of the British Empire.  I wish I had known that bit of trivia before I walked through the park because now I am curious if these trees are still there.   Some of the trees are quite substantial.

below: Long shadows for the morning sun, low in the sky.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park.

below: Looking back towards the city center, past the empty docks of the National Yacht Club to the residences on Stadium Road.   A small group of people were making a video in the dog park.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park. a small group of people in the distance are filming a video

below: This Victory Peace Monument was unveiled on 14 November 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War 2 and honour those who died in that war.   It was designed by John McEwen; the bronze pieces resemble the bow of a ship.

Metal partial cylindrical shapes on a concrete circular monument. World War 2 memorial

below: On the inside of one of the bronze pieces is a map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.  Each boat on the map represents a ship or U-boat that was sunk during the war.  The Canadian ships are located on the map at “their last known position”.  I hadn’t realized that so many ships were lost so close to North America.

relief map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, in bronze on a WW2 memorial. Little ships are shown on the ocean where they were sunk during WW2.

Trees were also planted to represent the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (WW1) and its units as well as those who fought in the Fenian Raids of 1866-1870, the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, and the Boer War (1899-1902).  Once upon a time, brass plaques were placed at the foot of each tree to indicate the units the tree stood for.  If any plaques remain, I didn’t see them.

below: Another memorial is close by, a  “Memorial to Lieut. Tommy Hobbs gallant British Canadian soldier in the Great War 1914 – 1918.  Died on active service November 10, 1940.  Beloved and remembered by his comrades.”   Tommy Hobbs was involved in the creation of this park.

a memorial in a park made of a small pile of rocks. The top rock is inscribed, memorial to Tommy Hobbs, died 1940, in Coronation Park

below: A little farther on I noticed another rock, one that was painted red.   The bronze plaque on the rock says that 20 trees have been planted here in commemoration of the G20 Summit held in Toronto in 2010.

a large rock with a bronze plaque on it. The rock has been crudely painted red

below:  A 30 foot tall Inukshuk stands looking out over Lake Ontario.  Approximately 50 tonnes of mountain rose granite was used to create the Inukshuk, which was made by Inuit artist Kellypalik Qimirpik from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

a tall stone inuksuk on a raised mound of warth

below: Streetcars across the baseball outfield.

Looking across the outfield of a baseball diamond towards a street. A line of mature trees by the street with two red and white TTC streetcars on the street, condo towers behind.

below: A closer look at that brown octagonal structure in the middle of the streetcar loop for the 509 and 511 cars.  Apparently it’s the Queens Wharf lighthouse, one of a pair built in 1861.

a brown structure, the Queens WHarf Lighthouse, sits on a patch of grass beside TTC streetcar tracks in front of a new condo.

The lighthouses marked the entrance to the Toronto Harbour from 1861 until the Western Channel was built in the early 1900’s.   This one stood on Queen’s Wharf which used to be at the foot of Bathurst Street, adjoining Fort York.  The wharf was built by the military; in 1833 it was a pier 42 feet long.    The pier no longer exists; a hundred years ago it was buried under what is now Bathurst Quay.

below:  A picture of an historical map (1886 or 1887) of the area showing Toronto Harbour, Fort York and the railway lands.  Queen’s Wharf is the pier on the left.   At that time, Front Street was the southern most street in this part of the city.   All the present day development south of the train tracks is on reclaimed land.

picture of historical map of part of Toronto Harbour from 1886, showing Fort York, Front St., and Bathurst St., and the railway lands and wharves into Lake Ontario,

below:   Taken from google maps, what the layout of the city looks like now.   As you can see, there have been many changes!

present day map taken from google maps of Coronation Park and Bathurst Quay including Fort York

Lake Ontario in the foreground, trees in Coronation Park in the middle and Toronto skyline in the distance with the CN Tower and a large Canadian flag.
a sticker of a rainbow in a heart shape. A small purple heart is in the center, then a blue heart is drawn around it, moving outwards in rainbow colours.

The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, commonly just called the Gardiner, has been in the news a lot lately.  This 18 km stretch of road between the city and the lake was completed in 1965 after years of planning and building.  At the time that it was built, Toronto’s waterfront was largely industrial and there wasn’t much objection to having a 4 to 6 lane expressway, with many sections elevated, built there.   The railway had begun the process of dividing the city from its waterfront a hundred years previously.

As the city changes and grows, more and more people live in the downtown core.  Industry has moved out and residents have moved in.  For so long the land south of the Gardiner as well as under the Gardiner was neglected, especially from a city planning point of view.  But now, the city is looking differently at that swath of land.  The far east elevated section between the Don Valley Parkway and Leslie Street was demolished in 2001 and there have been calls for the next section (Jarvis to the DVP) to be demolished as well.   There has been some controversy as to whether to demolish it or move it… and if move it, where to? I am not even sure what the plans are at the moment.   On the other hand, the western section of the elevated expressway (Strachan to Spadina) will remain standing.  Work is underway to refurbish the structure – the city doesn’t want any more stories of pieces of concrete dropping onto cars beneath!  Plans are being implemented to use the land under the Gardiner much more efficiently.  To make it work for the public.

The Bentway is the name that has been given to this new park, or public space, beneath the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan 1.4 kilometres east to Spadina. The first phase is due to open Canada Day 2017 and it involves the stretch between Strachan and Bathurst.  Many of you have probably driven on the Gardiner but do any of you know what is under it now?  Let’s take a look.

below: The Gardiner passes over Strachan Avenue which  in turn passes over the railway tracks.

bridge over a street, many orange and black construction cones down the center of the road, some pedestrians on the sidewalk

below:  On Strachan Ave looking west.   Condo development in this area has extended right to the railway line.  The Exhibition GO train station is in the distance.  You can also see the Gardiner to the left of the tracks.  Here the north side of the under part of the expressway is walled in and the enclosed space is used by Exhibition Place.  At this time there is no plan for the Bentway to extend this far; I have used this photo to provide more context as to the location of the park.

railway tracks in the center of the picture, condos on the right. On the left is the elevated Gardiner expressway, but under it is a concrete wall that makes it look more like a concrete building than a road

below: A closer look at the Gardiner on the west side of Strachan Avenue.  Maybe there is potential to expand the park westward? to Exhibition GO station? And by the way, those concrete structures holding up the expressway – those are called ‘bents’ and that is why the park is called what it is.

a dirt road runs alongside the Gardiner Expressway, some condos in the distance

below: This photo was taken as I stood on Garrison Common and looking towards Strachan Avenue.  This will be the western end of the new park. You can see the underside of the Gardiner as it passes over Strachan Ave which in turn is also a bridge.  This bridge once crossed the Grand Trunk Railway tracks that were built in the 1850s.  New entrances to the park are planned that incorporate the present sloped embankment of the bridge.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway passes over Strachan Ave which in turn has a bridge over what used to be a rail line. The bottom part of the bridge is covered with graffiti. The whole area is a construction site at the moment.

below: A quick aside:  It’s a slightly different angle, but here is a photo of the Strachan Avenue bridge from 1959, before the Gardiner was built.  I suspect that there has been upgrades made to the bridge since then.  Photo credit: R.L. Kennedy, found online (also a good source for the history of the Grand Trunk Railway in Toronto).  Garrison Common is to the right.

vintage photo from 1959, GTR tracks pass besidde Garrison Common park and under the bridge at Strachan Ave

Garrison Common is the green space surrounding Fort York.  It will abut (be continuous with?) the new Bentway.  Fort York is a National Historic Site and on its 43 acre site are original buildings from the War of 1812 as well as an 1813 battle site.  Did you know that the Americans beat us here in 1813 and controlled the city of York (as Toronto was known then) for a few days?

below: The new Fort York Visitors Centre is now open. There is still being work done both inside and outside, but it is open to visitors. For so long the fort was hidden away and difficult to get to; it is nice to see it receiving more attention.

entrance to Fort York, under the Gardiner, still a construction site but nearing completion

below: Jake from Park People, one of the groups helping to design the new park, stands under the Gardiner as he talks to a group of us on a tour.    Here, by Fort York, the Gardiner is the equivalent of 5 storeys from ground level, the highest it reaches as it crosses the city.

a man is standing in front of a group of people on a walking tour, he is standing under the Gardiner Expressway where it is 5 storeys above ground level.

below: Standing on the grounds of Fort York.  The Bentway will be beyond the stone wall.  You can get a good idea of the spacing between the bents.  These spaces are being referred to as ‘rooms’ and there are 55 of them between Strachan and Spadina.

from the grounds of Fort York looking south to the Gardiner and the condos built beyond it. Grass field in the foreground.

below: One obstacle is the fact that Fort York Blvd passes under the Gardiner on a diagonal.  Plans are to build a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the street.  Also in the photo, note the TTC bus – Fort York and vicinity are finally on a bus route.  Route 121 runs between the Portlands and Fort York via Union Station.

fort york blvd is in the foreground, a TTC bus and a car are on it, the Gardiner is to the right and a short condo building is in the background along with the CN tower

below: The section under the Gardiner Expressway between Bathurst Street and Fort York Blvd is not city owned. It is owned, and has already been developed, by the Onni Group who built the Garrison at Fort York condominiums on either side of it.  This is the eastern end of phase 1.

evening, low angle sunlight shines under the Gardiner Expressway where it has been developed with paving stones and some large rocks.

below: Northbound traffic on Bathurst passes under the Gardiner.

some traffic on Bathurst street on a rainy day, as the street passes under the Gardiner Expressway, condos on the right, construction hoardings on the left.

Phase 2 of the park’s development involves land between Bathurst and Spadina. This is an area that is undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, i.e. a lot of construction.

below: Immediately south of the Gardiner on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore is a construction site.  Demolition of the old 1928 Loblaws warehouse building is now complete.  The facade of the old building was disassembled rather than demolished; after cleaning and refurbishing of the bricks, it will be rebuilt in its original location.  Two condo towers are planned for the space between Loblaws and the Gardiner.  Yes, more condo towers to face the Gardiner and add to the tunnel effect that you get when you drive on the expressway.

construction site in downtown Toronto, Gardiner Expressway runs behind the site, rubble in the foreground, a few remaining remnants of the old Loblaws building that was there, high rises in the background.

below: The development of this site is a collaboration between a number of developers.  I found a photo of one rendition (source) of what the space under the Gardiner will look like here in the future.  Public space including a cafe are part of the plans.  Check back in a couple of years to see what really happens here!

artist's rendering of what a planned development for under the Gardiner would look like, part of a larger condo and retail development.

below:  Standing on Bathurst Street, looking east along what will be Housey Street.  This is just north of where the Loblaws development (above) will be.  As you can see, you can’t walk there yet.

the elevated road, the Gardiner Expressway passes over a construction site on the right, a new street being built on the left.

below: Southeast corner of Bathurst and Fort York Blvd.  This is the section of land just north of Housey Street.  Construction hoardings and cranes – familiar sights in this area.  It also means that taking photos of under the Gardiner here are difficult!

late afternoon, long shadows, yellowish tint to the photo, looking east from Bathurst, south of Front, north of the Gardiner, wood construction hoardings with posters on it, many orange cranes, some condos already built, a woman jogging past, cars on the street.

below: Development north of the Gardiner between Bathurst and Dan Leckie Way.

construction site under the Gardiner, cranes and condos being developed on the left, CN tower in the fog in the distance.

Dan Leckie Way is a north-south road that runs under the Gardiner just east of Bathurst.  It is the western boundary of Canoe Landing Park.  This park is north of the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

below: ‘Tom Thomson’s Canoe’, by Douglas Coupland sits at the highest point of land in the area; it’s almost at the same level as the Gardiner and is very visible as you drive by.   This park extends down the hill.

The end of a large red canoe, an artwork by Douglas Coupland called 'Tom Thomson's Canoe' sits in a park, high above the surrounding scenery. Looking southwest towards the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the condo developments south of it.

below: Looking the other way from the same vantage point. The street running under the Gardiner here is Dan Leckie Way . Up until this point the Lakeshore is south of the Gardiner.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway with traffic is in the middleground, some trees and parkland in the foreground, and condo developments in the background.

At Dan Leckie Way, the Lakeshore is still south of the Gardiner and the space under the expressway is wide open.   By Spadina, one major block east, the situation changes.   The Lakeshore splits and westbound traffic lanes go north of the Gardiner and eastbound lanes stay south.  Shortly after Spadina, the Lakeshore runs under the Gardiner and there is no room for any further development under the road.

below: Standing on Spadina, just south of the Gardiner and looking west.  Here there is a lot of road to cross for pedestrians on Spadina.  Not only has the Lakeshore split to run on either side of the Gardiner, but there are also ramps between the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

major road with traffic under an elevated expressway in a city, long ramp from the upper level to the lower. Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd in Toronto, at Spadina looking west

below:   Still on Spadina, and still looking west, but now under the Gardiner.  The space under the road is not as high as it was previously.  Its lower and darker and not as inviting.   It will be interesting to see what phase 2 of the Bentway development will look like in this space.  I am not sure when it will to be finished but I will keep an eye on it!

under an elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway, at Spadina.

As for the eastern Gardiner, what does that look like?  Well, that’s a whole other blog post!

 Project: Under Gardiner  On this site you’ll find detailed maps and diagrams of this area as well as information about the plans for the various sections of the space.