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Paint it white

The pale ghost of Colonel Saunders appeared to me today, on Queen Street East near Coxwell. When he expired, the grill next door and the parking lot went with him … to a better place?

No one will mourn the loss of a fast-food franchise along this nondescript part of Queen. Another condo probably won’t perk it up much, but it will fit. These blocks need lots and lots of trees, since interesting business places seem out of reach.

Here’s the Colonel, as he looked in the funeral home.

Wondering along Dawes Road

It was the sign that got me wondering. A long driveway looped into a wooded area, so I followed it in.

The tudor-style house is beautifully situated. When everything’s green, it must be idyllic. The Children’s Peace Theatre mentioned on the sign seems to consist of hillside bleachers overlooking a grassy, flat level for performers.

Closer examination suggests that the place is in rough shape. All of the windows are sheathed in plastic. What IS this place?

A bit of online research reveals that the Hannon-Shields/Children’s Peace Theatre organization has been using the place since 1997, helped by below-market rent granted by the City of Toronto.

So it’s City property. The future use of the site is still up in the air. In spite of the building’s appearance, The Children’s Peace Theatre is not dead yet.

More about the estate, here.

Known as the Goulding Estate and protected by the Ontario Hertitage Act, the house is the last surviving structure of the Dentonia Park Farm, where the Massey family helped pioneer pasteurization in dairy farming. The house was built in 1921 and has an interesting history.

Solar blogging

I am sitting under an installation called Dawes Crossing by artist Noel Harding, typing this entry for you to read. The wifi connection is provided by solar panels and it works!

Continuing, from my home desktop computer …

Noel Harding died last year, but his work is well-known to drivers on the Don Valley Parkway. Elevated Wetlands is one of his. Here’s my photo from an earlier post.

Obviously, Dawes Crossing (below) has a lot less visual impact than Elevated Wetlands. Crossing is not a showpiece, it’s a modest people place.

Both serve their environments and use nature for power. That’s what they have in common. Wetlands filters rainwater clean, through roots of plants and shrubs, Crossing offers shelter and light (clear plexi roof panels) and sun-powered wifi.

Crossing gathers rainwater, too … probably for the plantings in the parkette. The tiny bit of electricity generated goes into the grid, contributing a small trickle of cash toward park maintenance.

The setting for Dawes Crossing is a rather unimpressive triangle of land formed by the junction of Dawes Road and Victoria Park Avenue. Car drivers passing probably don’t give it a glance, but if I lived in the neighbourhood, I’d be glad it was there.

Meditation on a mud hole

Following up on an earlier post, I poked my camera through the chainlink fence and recorded the fate of a derelict house on Queen Street East near Woodbine.

I don’t know why other old men like looking into urban excavations. It’s a common pastime. They put viewing ports in hoardings for us.

For me, it’s satisfying to see the earth … to be reminded that it’s still there, under the asphalt and concrete. I find it comforting and nourishing to feel where I really am … not just in a superficial city space, but a real place that will long outlast our temporary toppings.

Warm, winter walks this weekend

Danica scouted a route by satellite map and we went to explore Juniper Avenue. I remembered the house at the corner of Juniper and Lee from 2011, when I posted about the Free Little Library in the front yard.

It’s still one of the nicest made, but now there are Free Little Libraries all over town, and only the registered ones are mapped. There are many, many more.

Back in 2011, I never thought to look at the side of the house, but I didn’t have Danica along. This time, she was there to call my attention to details I missed.


 The flag pole in the back yard is beautifully maintained, like everything else. The top flag unfurled to suggest 3 cats. We only saw one, preening in the window, but I’ll bet there are more. Birds seem safe,though, ‘way up high in the multi-unit condo called Tara.

Departures: Now and then

The poor, old Beach retail strip along Queen East is suffering through a period of economic change as rents climb and businesses flee. Today we noticed that the St. Louis wing joint has closed because the lease was up.

I suppose a deep-pockets international chain will move in. The location seems prime, but the building’s business history is sketchy.

Danica and I went there first when the restaurant was Nevada. Beachers lined up because the chef was so good. When he left to do his own thing, Nevada never found a talent to replace him. Business died away and in came the wing and beer people … now gone themselves.

That exit reveals a more interesting past failure. You can see traces identifying the defunct Home Bank of Canada (1903-1923). This was one of 82 branches the Home Bank had at its peak … before shady dealings brought it down.

Being ad-free isn’t easy

Image (with my embellishments) from a site offering an anti-tracking web brower.

The web is so saturated with ads, clickbait, pop-ups and such, I hoped to keep my little blog as a place where you could get away from all that.

When I installed a tracker-blocking plugin for my web browser, I discovered that even my site was leaking information … to Google’s DoubleClick ad company, thanks to the Leonardo Youtube video I posted yesterday. By embedding Google’s Youtube player in a blog post, I had inserted code that reports to Google. I removed it … the whole post.

They say that on the internet, if you’re not a paying customer, you are the product. Most of us pay for internet access, but expect that content we find there will be free. Most of it isn’t, of course.

I won’t rant about the downsides of being sheared like so many data sheep. It’s part of 21st century life, but it gets tiresome, doesn’t it?