/** Google Analytics tracking code*/ /** End Google Analytics code. */

Doors Open: Best for last. Agathom

Agathom Co. is a different kind of architecture firm. It’s more of an architecture family because the two principals, Katja Aga Sachse Thom and Adam Thom work and live in their unique, cinder block headquarters. The building is a utilitarian structure, mid 20th century, with garage doors for former use by auto mechanics.

Today, it is a fascinating workshop for residential architectural design, textile-making and sculpture. Danica and I both loved the place. We were greeted in such an informal, friendly way, we felt like friends who had dropped in for a visit. Katja, who is from Denmark, caught Danica’s eye. She was wearing a simple but creatively printed dress. The fabric bore a print by Marimekko, the Finnish design firm, whose show we saw at the Textile Museum.

Katja introduced us to one of their daughters who attends school on the Toronto Islands. “What an absolutely great childhood,” I thought. The kids live upstairs with Katja and Adam and, rather remarkably, visitors were allowed up into the living quarters, too. There is art and creativity everywhere you look … even some heritage, because the upstairs was once used by a taxidermist. The stuffed fox remains.

The flat rooftop is accessible through a window and serves as a patio, garden and BBQ zone. The view from there shows old laneways, other old workspaces and new builds that are fanning out from the Distillery District development. 

Danica and I agreed that we had literally saved the best for last.

[UPDATE:] Is it any wonder that I felt so at home in the Agathom Co. environment? Not only does Katja’s Danish modern furnishing remind me of my own childhood home, husband Adam Thom has connections to British Columbia. His father was Ron Thom, a respected Canadian architect, who happened to be a student of the painter B.C. Binning at one point. Binning, in turn, became head of UBC’s Fine Arts department. He was one of the three adjudicators who suffered through the oral presentation of my graduating essay.

And so it goes…

Toronto Doors Open: Saturday

Today’s visit to the Aga Khan Museum was about seeing the new(ish) bulding and grounds, not viewing art exhibits. the slides will show you much of what we saw. Pattern is everywhere of course, and much emphasis on skylights, reflecting surfaces shadows.

The Ismaili Centre next door serves as a social gathering place as well as a place for religious activity. Shoes off in the prayer area, please. Similar to the Hindu Temple in this regard. Danica went in for a look while I held her sandals outside in the lobby. No photography prayer area, but there was a picture on display at the next place we visited, so I snapped it.

Our third and last Doors Opened into the Ontario Association of Architects headquarters. I was pleased to learn, from a volunteering intern, that the eye-catching steel superstructure on the roof is functional, not merely decorative. The trusses permit spanning of a large, open space within, without supporting posts.

A special display of award-winning and notable feats of architecture in Ontario lined the main reception area. Most designs were international in character and would not have been out of place anywhere. One structure, inspired by an indigenous longhouse was an exception. Geese patrol outside on the grounds. 

Doors Open 2015 – Toronto – This Weekend

Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf: Explore Toronto’s architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings and discover the story behind every door. May 23-24, 2015

Source: Doors Open 2015 – Doors Open Toronto – Special Events Office | City of Toronto

This message brought to you with a single click of the WordPress “Press This” feature. Easy and cool! — Bill

Today on Spadina

New, super-long streetcars are still a rare sight in Toronto, as Bombardier fails to meet delivery schedules. This one on the dedicated lane Spadina route lined up nicely with an older single car, affording a kind of comparison in size.


The new model consists of 5 segments with accordion connections to accommodate curves. Each one is two-headed so it doesn’t have to turn around to reverse its path. (No remarks about TTC expertise in backward systems, please.)

Why not smaller streetcars, instead of larger, so that more cars could be put into service at peak times and fewer at low traffic times? Who knows? Maybe that would have meant more drivers and higher operating costs. Surely longterm plans will involve driverless streetcars, though.

elmo-sign-200Since I was standing near Spadina and College, the iconic El Mocambo sign caught my eye. How to present it, though? I decided against a column-wide photo because it would have been a big download. Instead, here’s a small version you can click if you want to see the bigger one.

Michael Wekerle of Dragon’s Den fame gets a big thank you on the marquee. His money saved the rock ‘n roll shrine from closure.

This is where Margaret Trudeau once partied with the Rolling Stones back in 1977. Elvis Costello, Blondie, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Mingus, U2, Lou Reed and the The Ramones have all played the El Mocambo.

Back at the Flying Pony, literally.


I usually approach the Flying Pony Gallery/Café from Gerrard Street, so when I arrived via Rhodes Avenue and saw the bright paint on the back wall, I wondered how long it had been there. Proprietor-artist Andrew Horne came around the corner as I was taking this picture, so I asked.

You are viewing the work of the Eskape Reality Collective and it’s only been up for about a week.

Coming soon, up in the front … talented & energetic artist Lorette C. Luzajic will bring original art to the masses with a Cash & Carry Show – Preview at http://flyingpony.ca/

Still trying for those red-wings

Best effort first: This female must have seen what I was doing because she sat patiently while I tooled around trying to see her in the reflections of my sun-blanked view screen. Without her vanity, I never would have gotten even this shot.


The male decided he’d better keep and eye on his lady, so he perched high on a rush and surveyed the scene. Not much detail, but his handsome shoulder patch shows well. Maybe I’ll have better luck on an overcast day.


There are quite a few red-winged blackbirds around Woodbine Pond. They are NOT hard to find, but they move quickly and constantly.

Ukelele strums in first farm market


Beach Hill. May 20th. Day One of the summer-long Fairmount Park Farm Market on Wednesdays. Because of the beeswax products, I thought the display of local honeys from U of T, the Toronto Islands and the Portlands was one of the more interesting tables.