A light look at the Necropolis

In keeping with the mood set by Jack Layton’s monument, I offer some of Danica’s finds on various plaques.


Toronto’s non-denominational Necropolis is the resting place of many notables. Some of the more recent arrivals have a sense of humour about the whole thing.


If you are wondering, Arthur is a small Ontario town.

The geographical jest reminds me of the famous epitaph proposed by W.C. Fields: “I would rather be living in Philadelphia.”

Vintage Hunter drop-in

If there is a theme to Debbie Facey’s Vintage Hunter shop on Lower Gerrard, it must be variety. Every time I look in, the place is full of stuff, but always different stuff. Today, a new cache of vintage food merchandising items were big.


The secret of the rapid turnover is reasonable pricing, interesting objects, imagination and a bit of trading. Of course, the fact that there’s always something new to discover brings people back, too.

Vintage Hunter 1390 Gerrard Street East. Hours: Wed-Sun: 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Today, Taylor Creek Trail

Before the slideshow, Danica’s first iPad panorama. Click the pic to see it BIG. In the background, the Woodbine O’Connor Bridge.


When Danica asked where we should walk today, I said “Somewhere peaceful.” Taylor Creek Trail isn’t far from our place and it was the perfect choice.

 The slides show a hornet’s nest and what we think is a squirrel’s nest. both high up the the branches. You decide which is which.

Toronto’s waves of immigration

Karen Bell sent this nifty photo, taken about 100 years ago in Toronto’s St. John’s Ward. Now almost completely erased, the downtown slum area was home to foreign newcomers. Not that long ago was it?

toronto past

It reminds me that wave after wave of nationals from abroad have built this city, their children becoming today’s citizens. Irish, Italian, Jewish, Eastern European, Chinese and African American … all these and more have landed in our town after leaving undesirable conditions in their homelands.

We’d like to pretend that all went smoothly and that our diversity has always been embraced, but of course there was awkwardness and strife before everyone settled in. We had to learn to live together. Mostly, we have learned, and prospered.

Today, a few ignorant bigots still blot our news. In Thorncliffe, an innocent mother beaten and robbed by thugs spewing racial slurs as they delivered blows. Halfwits taunting and shoving hijab-wearing women on the TTC. A firebug burning a mosque in Peterborough. The perpetrators will probably be shocked to learn that penalties are much stiffer because of the racist component of their crimes.

They might even be surprised to learn that their fellow Canadians don’t agree with them. Otherwise normal, intelligent people have tut-tutted about supposed dangers of giving refuge to those fleeing the terrorists we loathe. Don’t they know that stupid people take such remarks as licence for criminal behaviour?

It’s sad, but those who have suffered racist attacks in Canada will probably never forget the feeling of being harmed because of their appearance. Long after the bruises have healed and the mosque has been rebuilt, those memories are bound to remain.

Karen’s shared photo is associated with a new site under development. It was part of her city councillor’s newsletter.

AGO Turner show worth a visit

Use a Museum Access Pass from the Toronto Public Library and the ticket cost is $10. Without the pass, it’s $25 … or $21.50 for seniors.

turner-1[Art Gallery of Ontario/Turner] –Above: One of my favourites.

Sometimes as dramatic and cinematic as an action movie director, sometimes as delicate and meditative as an ancient Chinese master, Turner was always a showman whose influence would be difficult to overstate.

Try to go at off-peak times, so that there aren’t too many people standing in front of the pictures. Take photos. They are not banned.

It would be lovely to see the originals in natural light, but that’s not possible. It’s still pretty amazing to be able to visit them by taking a streetcar downtown rather than a jet to England.

Everything is behind glass, of course, so reflections can interfere with viewing, but in many cases, the lighting is well enough done to make the glass imperceptible.

 Don’t forget to stand back to view the pictures. It’s interesting to get in close and see how they are made, but step back and watch how they “pull together”.

Turner’s landscapes are so abstract, they often look more mid-20th century than mid 19th century. The exhibition is quite large, displaying many watercolour sketches and a worthwhile number of larger oil paintings.

Here’s a trailer from a 2014 movie that might put you in the mood. The AGO plays clips from it as part of the exhibition. I’m sure Turner would have loved the audio-video accompaniment to his paintings. Indeed, much of the visual language we take for granted today was invented by Turner’s restless, relentless experimentation.

Spiffing up the Beach

First, a nice panorama to show you the kind of day we had. My iPad made the shot, stitching pictures together as I panned across the scene.


For the “pano”, I was standing on the new patio behind the updated bath house seen below. Nice, new, stamped concrete hardscaping and stones for sitting on.


A very long stretch of the boardwalk has new wooden beams. Sixty bucks apiece for the top planks, I’m told. They are 4″x 8″ x 16 feet. The 4″x 4″s are for the supports, which were placed on top of the old boardwalk. The timbers are from BC.

Bottom photo: Modular plastic panels joined together to make the beach accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. They are great! The view is better from out on the sand, but many couldn’t go there without these.

The temporary snow fences are already up, even though we are enjoying a surprisingly warm November. When those fences go up, the whole beach becomes an off-leash zone, so the dogs are happy.

Spelling’s easy, try pronouncing

icelandThis is as close as I’m likely to get to the land of some of my ancestors. Pretty close, actually, isn’t it?

It is a little piece of Iceland, and specifically the volcano that stopped air traffic in 2010.


[Wikipedia story]

 I don’t know how Peter Tatham guessed that I would have an affinity for obnoxious things from Iceland, but he brought me the keepsake and presented it today. Peter has just returned from an excellent 5-week jaunt around Europe, finishing up with a few days in Iceland.

A win for our waterfront

no-jets-buttons-smallWe can retire our protest buttons! The federal government has shut the door on the Porter Airlines attempt to get approval for jet aircraft on the Toronto Island Airport.

There goes Bombardier’s order for “whisper jets”. Now maybe the struggling manufacturer can concentrate on real orders and start delivering the streetcars they owe us. Wheels on steel, not pie in the sky.