CBC Digital Archives

Today I want to share a Canadian treasure trove with you. It belongs to all taxpayers , so get your money’s worth. CBC Digital Archives

Here’s one I chose because I met the subject when I was a kid, watching him carve poles for UBC’s Totem Park. I met him again as a teenager when he brought Robert Davidson around to our sculpture classes, so we could meet his protegé.

[Sorry about the short commercial] 🙁

Later, during a brief stint as an unprepared curator for the Vancouver Art Gallery, I worked on the same Art of the Raven show that was largely conceived and executed by Bill Reid and Doris Shadbolt. Doris had hired me, bless her generous heart.

While I was at the VAG, I could go out the back door and through a parking lot to a rented house where Bill Reid was carving a large cedar screen for the museum in Victoria. The commission paid so little that Bill was considering a move, to do his carving in the Hudson’s Bay department store while shoppers watched. I remember the shame I felt, that this great artist should have to consider supplementing his income that way.

I had already moved to Toronto when Bill was working on the enormous Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture but I have seen the plaster original in Ottawa (Hull, actually).


My mother Helen Andersen visited Bill’s studio when he was working on it. I have a photo of the occasion.


506 streetcar route inspires …

If you are in Toronto, save the date: Saturday, March 5th will touch off a series of events with an art exhibition celebrating Toronto’s “most well-patroned streetcar route“.

float+506Last summer’s streetcar parade float by Andrew Horne and Rob Elliott is still on show in a vacant shop near the Flying Pony.

The 5O6 Streetcar Project is a concept that began with organizer Karen Franzen and caught the imaginations of many others. Why not? The 506 route covers such a huge slice of Toronto’s diversity, culture and creativity. It links west and east, from High Park to Main Street. The potential is huge.

The neighbourhood around the Gerrard India Bazaar is jumping in first, but the 506 could wind up with events all along the line, all year around. Little Italy, two Chinatowns, Little Portugal, Cabbagetown, Downtown …

Watch the fun that’s possible. Here’s that streetcar float in the Gerrard Street parade last summer.



Fresh Paint Studio + Café


Danica and I stopped to look at the latest nobots in the animation studio window, then noticed a new studio café next door. Fresh Paint. Well, we have to sit in that, don’t we?

Through the front window, we saw a forest of artists easels and seats. Inside, past the studio section, we found Roxane, the proprietor, manning a long coffee bar. While we waited for a fresh brew of dark roast, Roxane explained the easels.

Guests come in, buy a canvas and paint … materials supplied, no extra charge. Inspiration is also free … from an Inspiration Station of reference materials, if you don’t have an idea to get started.

Roxane said she also helps, if customers are stuck creatively. She is an artist herself and her colourful batiks are on display. In addition to individual painting sessions, there are group events and workshops.

The coffee’s good, the baked goods too, and the interior is warm and welcoming, all freshly renovated with exposed brick walls and plenty of wood. Fresh Paint has only been open for a couple of weeks, after a year of preparation. We wish Roxane Tracey every success!

Steve’s Quality Meats and Deli

Although they’ve been open since October, today was our first visit to this clean, spacious addition to the Danforth, just west of Woodbine. Steve’s Meats is a family operation, selling local meats, some from the family farm.


Quite a few offerings are prepared to be ready for cooking … flattened chicken, for example, chunks of pork already on skewers for kebabs, spiced chicken wings, oven-ready chicken Florentine.

Danica can comment more knowledgeably, but the shop looks great to me and Piera, who was behind the counter, is very helpful and easy to talk to. Her husband (Steve, I’m guessing) prepares those ready-to-cook products on the premises.

We hadn’t planned to shop for meat, but Danica picked up some nice calves liver (from the family farm) that we’ll have tonight.

UP prices coming down

up-downStill overpriced, in my opinion, but no longer insane, the UP Express ride prices will be cut by more than half after March 9th. We’ll see if money was the main thing keeping people away from the train, to and from the airport.

If I were a visitor coming into the city, I would probably use it for its speed and convenience. I wouldn’t have a Presto Card, so the ride to Union Station would cost 12 bucks.

I could take the TTC and get closer to my final destination for $3.25, but that would take longer, require luggage transfers from bus to subway and I’d need better knowledge of the city than a visitor might have.

If I were a business traveller, with my expenses covered, I’d still just grab a limo.

Will the half fare turn out to be half right? Useful for tourists arriving but less popular going from town to airport? Poor connectivity to the city transit system remains a serious problem, but at least the fare obstacle is being reduced.

UP Express project total costs will climb and we still have the price of electrification to face, if that promise is to be met in a few years. If it is, there will also be a big bill to raise the too-low roof at Union Station.

Update on the “secret” parkette

The parks department managed to send some information about the local parkette that Danica discovered using Google Maps satellite view. The first attempt failed, the mail bouncing as “undeliverable”. My follow-up query brought a document successfully; minutes of a 1996 council meeting. Thank you, parks person.


The parkette was described as a “wasteland” called the Kingston Road Playground before its renaming in 1996.

 Jeff Sloan lived his entire life with the Kingston Road Playground as his back yard. You may remember that after you turned it from a wasteland into a greenspace, you helped Jeff with his first civics lesson, petitioning for a basketball hoop.

Jeff touched many lives in a positive way. He was an important part of the crime prevention initiative S.A.F.E. He was an active volunteer at CC55. [Community Centre 55] He did a lot of peer counselling and often worked with the police regarding street people, local gangs, and graffiti. Perhaps most importantly, Jeff was actively involved in the local music scene and used the influence his music and his band gave him to encourage his peers to have faith in themselves and the future.

Jeff’s father George Sloan, in a message to then-Councillor Jakobek

Apparently Jeff Sloan died prematurely. I can find nothing about that, but his friends and schoolmates were inspired to propose the parkette dedication. Jeff’s parents deemed the proposal “fitting and appropriate”.

While I remain curious about the cause of Toronto Jeff Sloan’s death, at least this entry may provide an alternative search result to the many entries about the death of another Jeff Sloan, age 29, in Missouri, in 1996, by lethal injection.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!