Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #29! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a mainly sunny and warm week. Ontario moved to Step 3 of the 3-Step Reopening plan on July 16. This means indoor dining, indoor fitness centres, indoor swimming pools, movie theatres, art galleries, concert halls, conservatories, and more businesses are re-opened with capacity limits.
I enjoyed cycling, walking around town to see outdoor art exhibits and taking photos at different angles. After sixteen months of restrictions and lockdown, fountains with water flowing gave me joy.
I’m sharing five eye-catching art stations for the weekend. In each of my photo galleries, I encourage you to click on the “About” photo and read it as it explains the artists’ intentions.
The first four stations are winning designs for Toronto’s 2021 Spring Stations exhibition. They were selected by a jury from a record-breaking 400+ submissions from around the world. The theme of the exhibition, Refuge, asked designers to “reflect on the ongoing pandemic and consider what refuge means to each of us: a shelter, a place of comfort and security, a sanctuary.”
1. ARc de Blob
2. The Epitonium
3. From Small Beginnings
5. Plant It Forward
This urban garden/ sculpture installation created by John Notten is one of five winners of Toronto’s 2020 Temporary Parklet Design Build Competition.
The concept of Plant It Forward by John Notten:
I enjoyed these art stations and their messages. Happy weekend, everyone!
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #27! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a typical warm week of summer with showers mid-week. Toronto’s cycling network has new routes, some are permanent and some are temporary pilots. I’m excited about new cycling possibilities and nice places to see, such as Berczy Park.
Berczy Park is named after William Berczy. Born as Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll in 1744 in Wallerstein, Germany, he later changed his name and studied at the Academy of Arts in Vienna, before sailing to the Americas in 1792. He was co-founder of York (now Toronto) in 1794 when John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.
Here are 5 things to see at Berczy Park for your weekend.
1- Gooderham “Flatiron” Building: The red brick building in the Gothic Revival style was designed by architect David Roberts and built in 1892 for George Gooderham, the president of Gooderham and Worts Distillery.
2- Flatiron Mural: Canadian artist Derek Besant created the Flatiron Mural on the rear wall of the “Flatiron” Building in 1980. It’s a beautiful optical illusion. Check out the amazing details and their ‘trompe l’oeil’ effects.
3- “Dog” Fountain: The park’s centrepiece is a two-tiered“Dog” Fountain with a unique and whimsical theme. 27 dog sculptures – and one cat – are situated around, in, and on the fountain, each spraying water from its mouth. A golden bone sits atop the fountain.
The fountain was turned off during the pandemic until June 11, 2021 when Ontario reopened. The flowing water is a welcoming sign that things might be returning to normal.
4- Jacob’s Ladder: Designed by Toronto artist Luis Jacob, the artwork encompasses two giant bronze hands, with a rope lattice suspended between the fingers, forming a whimsical string game. The rope lattice is to be installed. Once it’s in place, it’s perfect for climbing, swinging, or a backdrop for a play.
5- The William Berczy Family sculpture: The sculpture was designed by artist Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey and is in the south-east corner of the park.
Berczy became a well-known Canadian painter, architect, surveyor and writer before dying en route to England in 1813. His older son, William Bent Berczy, was a Member of The Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and a gifted painter. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of the Consumers’ Gas Company from 1847 to 1856 and Postmaster of Toronto.
One more thing…The Garden in Berczy Park is lovely with a mix of plants, shrubs, trees and pretty flowers.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #26! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a warm and humid week with thunderstorms. I had a reflective Thursday July 1. It was Canada Day and the beginning of a new month. As usual, I look back at the previous month (June) and look forward to fun activities in July. Let me share what made June joyful with my nature-inspired photos.
Nature gave wonderful gifts in June: Sunny days, blue skies, green trees in parks, beautiful flowers in the gardens, sparkling water by the lake, fluffy white clouds, warmer temperatures, and some rain. Summer arrived on June 20 evening. I’ve been spending more time outdoors to savour all the good things that summer brings.
In June, I continued to keep myself healthy with regular cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’m fully vaccinated and feel good to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
It helps that vaccination uptake has been phenomenal in Toronto and the city’s mask mandate in all indoor public spaces continues to September. On Sunday June 27, Toronto set a world record after 26,771 doses were administered in a single day in one clinic.
On June 2, Ontario ended the province-wide lockdown and allowed the province to gradually reopen in three steps. We started Step 1 on June 11 and Step 2 on June 30. This means I can do things such as outdoor dining with my family and friends and get a haircut.
I love exploring my home city by bike and on foot. I can easily stop when I see something interesting and go when I’m ready. Here are three public art displays that I stopped to photograph impromptu.
What I enjoyed
Cycling on the Waterfront trail and Toronto’s bike network.
Walking on green grass in parks.
Smelling floral scents and identifying new plants in the gardens.
Watching young goslings by the lake and listening to bird songs.
Savouring summer fruits and the occasional ice cream.
Viewing public art and learning about the artists.
Visiting Heritage buildings and tracing Toronto’s history.
Taking photographs of places and things that I like.
Blogging and hosting Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
Learning French and Spanish on Duolingo.
June was a month with many beautiful flowers in the gardens.
What I read
I read five novels and brought my total of Books in 2021 to forty five. Here’s my list with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #25! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
The weather has been mainly sunny this past week. I spent plenty of time outdoors cycling along the Waterfront trail and walking in parks. I’d like to share two unique places: Wigwam Chi-Chemung and Corktown Common.
Wigwam Chi-Chemung or Big House Canoe
Wigwam Chi-Chemung, which roughly translates to “Big House Canoe” in Ojibway, is a houseboat purchased by Elder Duke Redbird in 2019 and became a ‘canvas’ painted and outfitted with a series of Indigenous themes and murals. It’s a floating art installation located at the Ontario Place South Marina until October.
June is National Indigenous History month and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. I encourage my blog readers to watch this 3-minute video where Elder Duke Redbird and Phil Cote talk about their artwork on the boat from an Indigenous lens.
Corktown Common is a park located in Toronto’s West Don Lands. Here are three reasons and a few photos why this park is special.
1. Multi-purpose use of land
Corktown Common is a former industrial landscape transformed into a natural urban oasis and community meeting place. This sophisticated 7.3 hectare (18 acre) park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and opened in 2013. The park sits atop flood protection hill (landform) which protects over 200 hectares (over 500 acres) of Toronto’s eastern downtown from Don River flooding.
2. Natural habitats and organically-managed park
Corktown Common is a showcase for Southern Ontario native plant species. Native plants have been planted in unique groupings to create a variety of habitats, including woodland, marsh and prairie, for a growing population of birds, amphibians and insects.
Corktown Common is Toronto’s first organically managed park. This means that emphasis is placed on supporting ecosystem health and soil biology. Nearly all of the potable, splash pad, irrigation, and storm water is collected on site and reused in the marsh and irrigation system. The irrigation cistern holds approximately 568,000 liters (150,000 gallons) of water; enough to irrigate the park for a week.
3. Comprehensive park features
Aside from the marsh, beautiful marsh trails, and urban prairies, Corktown Common park features include a pavilion terrace, sprawling lawns, benches, playground areas, a splash pad, and a variety of inviting features like a fireplace, permanent barbeque, large communal picnic tables and washrooms. Solar panels on the pavilion offset the park’s energy needs and the pavilion’s power needs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto’s residents are encouraged to get outside to exercise. My go-to places are Lake Ontario and parks like Corktown Common. A bicycle ride along the lakeshore or a walk in a green space always makes me feel good. I’m grateful to have easy access to the great outdoors.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #24! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It’s been a good week with lots of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Much needed rain came and gone on Monday afternoon. Over the years, the original City of Toronto had a total of four City Halls. On one of my cycling and walking excursions, I visited all of them, plus a historic courthouse.
1. St. Lawrence Hall
Toronto’s first City Hall: From the time of the City’s incorporation in 1834 until early in 1845, the Council met in a building at King and Jarvis Streets. The building was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1849. Following the fire, architect William Thomas designed St. Lawrence Hall in the Renaissance Revival style in 1850. It stands on the site today and was designated a National Historic Site in 1967.
2. South St. Lawrence Market
Toronto’s second City Hall: From 1845 to 1899, the seat of City government was located at Front and Jarvis Streets, in the South St. Lawrence Market. The City’s Market Gallery now occupies the 19th century City Council Chamber on the second floor of the Market.
3. Adelaide Court
Adelaide Court was designed by the firm of Cumberland and Ridout and built in 1851-1852 in the Greek Revival style. It served as York County Court House from 1852 until 1900, when the courts moved to “Old” City Hall. It currently houses Terroni restaurant.
4. Old City Hall
Toronto’s third City Hall, known as Old City Hall, was designed by Toronto architect Edward James Lennox. It took more than a decade to build and was officially opened on September 18, 1899. The civic building in the Romanesque Revival style contained a Council Chamber, courtrooms and municipal offices.
Old City Hall at 60 Queen Street West was the home of the Toronto City Council from 1899 to 1966 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1984. When Toronto’s fourth City Hall opened in 1965, Old City Hall became a Provincial courthouse.
5. Toronto City Hall
Toronto’s fourth and current City Hall at 100 Queen Street West was designed by Finnish architect, Viljo Revell. His design was divided into three main parts: The podium, the convex circular council chamber and two office towers of differing heights. The building was opened on September 13, 1965.
On September 13, 2020, Toronto City Hall turns 55 years young. This virtual tour highlights its history and many features of the building, including a peek into the Mayor’s Office and views from the 27th Floor Observation Deck.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had the pleasure to see the interiors of all of the above buildings. During the pandemic, St. Lawrence Market is opened with public health protocols in place. The other four buildings are closed to the public. I look forward to their re-opening day.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #23! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
A Warm Week
Toronto broke a record on Saturday June 5 when the temperature rose to 31C (88F). According to Environment Canada, the highest temperature recorded for June 5 is 30C set in 1940. The scorching temperatures and heat warning continued on Sunday and lasted through Wednesday.
I went outside earlier in the morning when it was cooler to cycle and walk. In spring season, I like to visit the gardens at least once a week to catch the new flower blooms before they disappear or get destroyed by strong winds or rain.
Here are something pink for Terri’s Sunday Stills photo challenge: Poppies, azaleas and peonies. The attractive Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) flowers have large, layered, crepe papery, pink petals with dark purple eyes and black splotches at their base. Have you seen them before?
On one of my cycling excursions I passed by the Canary District in Toronto’s West Don Lands. I took a cycling break and walked along Front Street East and Mill Street to see five interesting sculptures. Once I took time to examine each of them at different angles, I liked them more than at first glance.
Canary District was the site of 2015 Toronto Pan American Games Athletes’ Village. After the Games were over, the six buildings were converted to condo buildings, a YMCA Centre, and student housing for George Brown College students. Forty one plaques along Front Street promenade display the names of the participating nations at the Games.
Sunny days, gorgeous flowers and interesting sculptures. I enjoy my discoveries and feel grateful for this leisure time. Life is good.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share#21! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
The Distillery District is a favourite place to explore Victorian industrial architecture, heritage buildings, interesting art installations, delightful coffee shops, a distillery, a beer brewery, a sake brewery, delicious restaurants, unique art galleries, and specialty stores.
What began as the Gooderham and Worts Distillery in 1832 grew to become the largest distillery in the world. The Distillery District was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988. Let me show you in pictures.
The Distillery District itself is popular with locals and visitors alike. Upon entering the district, you’ll be greeted by hues of dark green and burnt orange. You can wander the ten pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets to see more than forty heritage buildings, the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America.
A good meeting place is at the clock in the main square where one can see the Gooderham & Worts Limited sign and the streets that branch out from there.
The Stone Distillery and fermenting cellar built in 1860, rebuilt 1870, takes up a long block on Distillery Lane. It’s the building with white-grey stone colour. Its original use: Gristmill and granary, mashing and distillation areas, and steam engine room.
On Trinity Street, on display is the Millstone that was brought from England in 1832 and used for grinding grain. There’s history everywhere you look and I was interested in reading the Heritage Plaques indicating the original function of each building and its date of construction.
Green doors and windows are consistent throughout the Distillery District. However, their designs vary.
Spirit of York Distillery has taken up residence in what was once the Gooderham & Worts malting room. Spirit of York produce gin, vodka and whisky using locally sourced water from Springwater, considered some of the purest water in the world.
At the intersection of Trinity Street and Distillery Lane is the gigantic Still Dancing sculpture, a twisted and colourful depiction of the area’s past as a distillery, designed by artist Dennis Oppenheim.
Along Gristmill Lane, there are three notable Love, Peace and Red Heart art installations by Toronto-born artist Mathew Rosenblatt. The Love sign is filled with love locks.
Also on Gristmill Lane, Michael Christian’s I.T. sculpture looks over the neighbourhood with a red eye alien stare from its post.
Aside from public art installations, the Distillery District is home to more than twenty art galleries, two theatres, and many specialty shops.
Cafés and Eateries
The Distillery District is a wonderful place for wanderings with a stop for takeaway coffee and cake. Café Balzac’s is a local favourite. Inside this coffee shop, you’ll find exposed brick, vintage posters and chandeliers. The shelves are full of colourfully packaged coffee beans and tea, while the counter is lined with cookies, pastries and cakes.
The Distillery District offers something for every taste bud. Examples: Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, El Catrin Destileria, Izumi Sake Brewery, Mill St. Brew Beer Hall, and Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill.
In normal times, the Distillery District is packed with people. I appreciate the lack of crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic and Toronto’s lockdown.
Although I’ve been to the Distillery District on many occasions, I’ve still only scratched the surface. You could easily spend an entire day here. My walk began and ended at Cherry and Mill Streets. It was a fantastic outing.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #20! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
This past week the weather was glorious, lots of sunshine and blue skies with daytime high reached 27C (81F), felt like 30C (86F) yesterday. Since I’ve been cycling, walking, exploring and having fun with photography most days, I have a backlog of things to write up.
Today’s post is about my walk at the Spadina Quay Wetlands and my Spring fun list update.
Spadina Quay Wetlands
Spadina Quay Wetlands is a gem located in Toronto’s waterfront area. It’s a thriving ecosystem full of plants, birds, butterflies, ducks, and fish. It’s complete with flowering heath plants, poplar trees, flagstone paths and a creek. Aside from nature, there is also art.
1. Birdhouse Sculpture
Artist Anne Roberts designed the Birdhouse sculpture on stilts that was installed in the wetland garden. This sculpture recalls the human activities of the Toronto lakeshore at the turn of the 20th century, with warehouses of the Toronto Electric Company, the corner bank, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and clusters of ice cream parlours and boathouses attracting Toronto residents to the lure of the water.
When the water level in Toronto Harbour is high, water fills up the small creek where the Birdhouse sculpture is located and it’s not accessible to foot traffic. This spring, since the creek has been dry, I was able to visit the sculpture up close.
2. Bright Birdhouses
While walking around the wetland garden, I found these bright birdhouses. They made me smile.
It was a delightful walk at the Spadina Quay Wetlands. As an urban dweller, I appreciate this green space and enjoy seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Spring Fun List – May Update
Back in March, I wrote a Spring Fun List of things to do while in COVID-19 lockdown. Most of my activities are outdoors or online and follow public health protocols so I’ve been checking off a few items in April.
I’ve recently completed two more items (#3 and #7). Here’s my update and contribution to Leslie’s Spring link-up.
Cycle to explore parks, the lake shore, and the city centre: Yes, most days.
Take walks to enjoy nature in Spring and free outdoor public art: Yes, most days.
View Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms and the annual Canadian Tulip Festival: Yes, I saw gorgeous cherry blossoms and tulips in Toronto. I viewed the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa virtually due to the province-wide lockdown.
Meet my family and friends outside: Pending. Starting May 22, outdoor gatherings for up to 5 people are allowed.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #19! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
A week of sunshine, blue skies and pleasant temperatures meant more time outdoors and less time indoors. Let me show you in pictures a few nice things that I’ve seen. My photos start with neutral gray then get more colourful.
The City of Toronto has launched the ActiveTO weekend road closures for 2021. Starting May 1, on weekends, a few routes will be closed to vehicles and open to cyclists and pedestrians. The objective is to make more space for people to get outside and exercise while practicing safe physical distancing.
The ActiveTO weekend road closures mean additional cycling and walking routes for me, yay! Before May, I cycle on weekdays and stay home on weekends. Now I go cycling on weekends as well while the weather is good.
I visited two historic buildings on the same street and the street name is Toronto!
Toronto Street Post Office, also known as Toronto’s Seventh Post Office, was built in 1851-1853 in the Greek Revival style. It served as a post office until 1873 and as a government office building until 1937. It was then used by the Bank of Canada until 1959 and by investment businesses to date.
In 1958, the building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. In 2006, it was designated a Heritage building by the City of Toronto. The building was sold to Morgan Meighen & Associates, an independent Canadian investment manager, in 2006 for CA$14 million.
Consumers’ Gas Company Building: The Italianate/neo-Renaissance style Consumers’ Gas Building was first built in 1852, as the Consumers Gas company’s head office at 19 Toronto Street. The company remained in this location for 125 years.
May is a beautiful time to be in Toronto’s public gardens where many spring flowers bloom. See my sample below (and the painted flowers on Simcoe Murals).
4. Simcoe Murals
The lead artist, Tannis Nielsen, who is of Metis/Anishinaabe and Danish ancestry, began the murals at Lower Simcoe Street underpass in 2017 and welcomed young artists from Toronto’s Indigenous community and other members of the local community to help paint the final artwork. Simcoe Murals were officially unveiled in September 2019.
The Elder/Honour Wall, on the west side of the underpass, consists of 28 portraits of Indigenous Peoples named by the local community while honouring the Indigenous Elders and leaders of the local Toronto community. Colourful flowers and plants adorn this wall.
Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger.
The Water Wall mural, on the east side of the underpass, is inspired by the work of Josephine Mandamin, an Anishabaabewe grandmother who has walked almost 18,000 kilometres around each of the Great Lakes in order to bring attention to the physical plight of the planet’s greatest resource, water.
Gray, black, white, blue and green dominate this wall. Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger.
5. Lake Beach
I’ve been going to various lake beaches since March. The water is still too cold for swimming so the beaches are nice and quiet, except for natural sounds from the waves, the wind, and birds. Here I find soothing neutral colours from pebbles, water, and gray feathers on gulls.
Lakes, trees, and rocks are common elements in Ontario landscape. The rocks vary from small pebbles to big boulders. Many of them have beautiful patterns in shades of gray, rose, orange, or amethyst. Amethyst is the official gemstone of Ontario with many amethyst clusters found around the area of Thunder Bay.
Looking for nice rocks is just as fun as looking for shells, then let the rock stacking begin.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #18! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station.
This past week has been fun and productive. A new month just began so I mapped out new cycling and walking itineraries, started a new body weight training program, and updated my reading list. Here are five fun finds from my cycling and walking excursions.
1. Purple Flowers
Jude at Travel Words blog asked “Have you any purples in your neighbourhood?” – Yes, I have many. Tulips and hyacinths are some of the common flowers in spring here and their blooms are beautiful. Here are my picks.
2. Heritage Churches
Continuing my visits to historic and surviving buildings in Toronto, I found two churches designed by the same architect Henry Bowyer Lane: Little Trinity Church on King Street East and the Church of the Holy Trinity at Trinity Square.
Little Trinity Church: The Tudor Gothic church was built in 1843 making it the oldest surviving church building in Toronto. The structure is red brick with accents of tan brick and stone. The 18 m (60 ft) square bell tower has contrasting octagonal buttresses at each of its four corners.
Click on any image in the following gallery to enlarge it.
The Church of the Holy Trinity: The modest Gothic Revival structure was built in 1847. Like many Gothic churches, the Church of the Holy Trinity uses limestone for its foundation and window tracery, as well as sandstone, brick, and wood.
3. Henry Scadding House
While I walked around the Church of the Holy Trinity, I found the old Rectory and Henry Scadding House built in 1862 adjacent to the church. Henry Scadding was the church’s first rector and Toronto’s first historian. He lived here until his death in 1901.
Terri’s Sunday Stills Weather theme inspired me to share Toronto’s weather beacon at the top of the Canada Life building and its code.
The Canada Life building is a historic office building opened in 1931 in Toronto. The fifteen-floor Beaux Arts building stands at 97.8 m (321 feet) including its 12.5-metre-tall weather beacon.
Fun facts about the Toronto’s weather beacon:
It’s Canada’s oldest weather beacon.
It’s been keeping Torontonians abreast of weather conditions since 1951.
Employees at Canada Life’s front desk update the weather forecast four times a day in conjunction with Environment Canada’s weather station at Toronto Pearson International Airport. If you’re looking up at the tower, here’s how to read the code.
The beacon light on top indicates sky conditions:
Solid green = clear
Solid red = cloudy
Flashing red = rain
Flashing white = snow
The beacon tower lights explain the temperature story:
Lights shooting up = temperature is warming
Lights shooting down = temperature is cooling
Lights steady = steady temperature
The time of day is also important:
Daytime = signals the balance for the day
Night time = forecasts for the following day
Sunny or cloudy or rainy or snowy, as long as it’s not extreme, I dress for the weather and head outside to explore. For my cycling and walking, the cool temperatures in Spring feel great.
Move the slider arrows to compare the following images.
5. Goose Diet
We had sun, clouds, wind, and rain this past week. I wondered how Lucy the nesting goose was doing on windy or rainy nights. I found her nesting and looking healthy. She got a new “wall” as the Empire Sandy tall ship has docked next to her nest. A flyer from Ontario Waterfowl Society, attached near the nest, gives interesting tidbit about her diet.
I’ve got more fun finds to share next week. Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday to those of you celebrating!