Pleasant surprise on Queen East

Noting the new sign on the old Lion on the Beach restaurant, we looked in the open door. What a change! The place is bright and airy, with higher ceilings and all new everything. The old Lion was dark and I don’t think they could ever get the cigarette and stale beer smell out of the carpeting. The new Stone Lion looks inviting, so we stayed for beer, burger and coffee.

stone-lion

The burger was good and the patio (which was the only place we’d sit before) is still in use if you want to sit outside and people-watch. Service was good and servers pleasant. May you live long and prosper, Stone Lion!

Beautiful Beach Hill

new-plantings

Sure, the new plantings in all of the Gerrard Street sidewalk beds are lovely but what’s really beautiful is the squad of volunteers who put them it. It wasn’t SUPPOSED to thunder shower, let alone hit at precisely the start of planting time. Undeterred, a large number of dedicated locals showed up, got drenched to the skin and planted hundreds of flowers. They were good-natured and cheerful about it, too. As rivers ran down the gutters, they noted that no watering in would be needed.

Alert citizen spots violators

alert-citizen New “stealth” graphics were not enough to keep this police car hidden from Danica’s eagle eye. Two of the Sunshine List’s Finest returned with their shopping bag, popped it into the trunk of their illegally parked getaway car and drove off to continue their relentless pursuit of law and order.

You are not seeing Captain John’s ship towed…

… not in my photo, anyway. Danica and I rode our bikes to the slip beside T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street. About 20 minutes before my photo, tugs towed the old floating restaurant off to the scrapyard… right past that gap.

Well, anyone would show you that. I show you where Captain John’s isn’t. I believe this is what’s called “gonzo” journalism, because the subject is gone when the reporter arrives.

no-more-captain-john's

For a more conventional (some would say successful) approach, here’s the Globe and Mail version.

Our poet laureate puts Toronto on the map

george-elliott-clarkeMy photo of G.E.C. at the dedication of the Souster Steps in Lollipop Park

Toronto’s Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke has a strong voice, great diction, enormous enthusiasm and now, it seems, boundless energy. He has teamed up with our excellent library service to create a “poetry map” of Toronto.

U of T Magazine convered the story and added:

A poet himself, Clarke says he was struck by how infrequently Canadian poets would mention specific places, until the 1980s – probably because “it was considered less interesting than talking about a street in New York or London.” Raymond Souster, who reached the peak of his success in the 1960s, was the lone exception. “He really deserves to be thought of as Mr. Toronto Poetry,” says Clarke. “He deliberately went against the trend of that time as making us sound blandly American or blandly British.”

Danica and I were privileged to visit Ray Souster shortly before his death, thanks to our friend John Robert Colombo, who also brought the poetry map to my attention. Thank you, JR!

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…

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