Seen / Unseen, with Echoes

16 October 2016 – Truth-in-advertising moment, I’m back in Toronto, but with one last Vancouver post to publish — one last tribute.

Sally & I hit a couple of her favourite north-shore parks. First up, the Maplewood Conservation Area, a bird sanctuary owned by the District of North Vancouver & managed by its Parks Department, but operated by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia.

Before any trails, before even the welcoming notice board, there is a large pond. It’s open on one side to the parking lot, overhung by forest on the other. “Come,” says Sally, tugging my arm. “Look!”

I expect bird life, something exotic, I hope.

Not bird life, but still pretty exotic.

Ken Lum, "from shangri-la to shangri-la," 2010


Three shanties, a 2010 sculptural installation by artist Ken Lum, models of three of the many squatters’ shanties that lined the mudflats here during the first half of the 20th century. Left to right, today’s echo of the one-time homes of Malcolm Lowry (who completed Under the Volcano while living here 1940-1954), artist Tom Burrows, & Dr. Paul Spong (who later led Greenpeace’s Save the Whales campaign).

On down to Maplewood Flats. The shanties long gone, no echo (for outsiders) of the political & physical turmoil that brought that era to a close. Just the north-shore waters of the Burrard Inlet, now a protected ecosystem.

Maplewood Flats, Burrard Inlet

We have already read the notice-board October Survey of the birds spotted to date.

bird list to date, Maplewood Conservation Area

Impressive! And frustrating, since we see none of them (beyond the usual gulls).

Something else we don’t see as we move about, an omission for which we are grateful:

trail-side, Msplewood Conservation rea

From Maplewood to Cates Park.

A gate suggests it is now more than an ever-so-Anglo “Cates Park.”

Cates Park / Whey-ah-Wichen

And it is.

This is Cates Park / Whey-ah-Wichen, its management being guided by the 2001 protocol & cultural agreement between the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation & the District of North Vancouver.

We see all around us an even broader “cultural agreement” — the great diversity of ages & ethnic origins happily sharing the space. A group picnic behind us, with grandpa (I assume) playing the accordion; dog-walkers & frisbee-players to one side of us; and on the beach below, a lively toddler with her supportive parents, tackling & conquering a physical challenge.

The unoccupied lifeguard stand is irresistible. Daddy stands protectively close, but lets her clamber up on her own.

first climb the ladder ...

Success. “I’m queen of the castle!” she crows. Mummy & daddy applaud & record the moment.

then pose for mummy & daddy...

Daddy asks permission to join her. She deliberates. Then grants permission.

then graciously share the stage with daddy

“Daddy’s the king!” One little foot shoots straight forward, in utter delight at how wonderful this all is.

Sal & I are still smiling as we finally head off, wandering a path that will wind us down to beach level. But first, the peace, the calm beauty, of the trees. And the resonance, the echo, of the trail name: Malcolm Lowry Trail.

on the Malcolm Lowry Trail

Then the beach. We’ve pulled on our jackets, but the late-afternoon sun still warms our faces & the rocks beneath us.

water level, Cates Park

We prowl a little farther, catch a glimpse of the docks of wealthy private homes just beyond the park boundary.

private docks, adjacent to Cates Park

Back to the car on a different trail through the same woods, granting us another glimpse of another world, this one very tiny & tucked in among tree roots.

geo-cache in Cates Park

Seen, the miniature, physical world; unseen, the geo-cache app that leads players to this spot.

And now I sit in a sunny/cloudy Toronto morning, and Vancouver itself is the echo. A delightful echo.


Sea to Sky to Pumpkins

11 October 2016 – Of course pumpkins! This particular sea-to-sky adventure takes place on Thanksgiving weekend.

Make that Sea to Sky, upper case. I’m talking about the 120-km stretch of Highway 99 that lies between Vancouver & Whistler, snaking its way from the Pacific Ocean around Horseshoe Bay, on up through the Rocky Mountains,  beneath a huge, arching sky.

Our destination is Pemberton, another 40 km or so beyond Whistler, snugged into a mountain floodplain that yields rich crops every year. The farmers sell large-scale to international networks, and small-scale to visitors on-site. Sally & Owen are among those devoted fall visitors, and have a favourite farm on their list.

Which doesn’t prevent stops along the way! First stop Whistler, ski town supreme, where Owen eyes bargains at the annual Turkey Sale (every kind of mountain sports stuff, zero turkeys), and Sally & I visit the Audain Art Museum.

Next stop, a roadside veggie stand somewhere between Whistler & Pemberton.

roadside stand n. of Whistler

I did promise you pumpkins …

Sal opens the fridge, checks the produce, selects cherry tomatoes, and drops payment into the honour-system box.

cherry tomatoes for us

Meanwhile I admire the West-Coast imagery on the panels in the farmers’ garden.

same roadside farm

Into Pemberton, through Pemberton, down a branch road with farms filling the fertile valley either side. Lots of root vegetables, the traditional staples, but now cranberry bogs & hops growers as well.

We pull in at our destination farm.

the target veggie farm, beyond Pemberton

It’s a traditional, multi-generation operation. Last year Sal & Owen met the patriarch (94 next week, we learn) and did business with “The Wife.” Dave’s wife, that is, and it’s Dave himself this year, with whom they are soon arranging for lots of potatoes, carrots & a half-bag of beets.

(L to R) Sally, Owen & Dave

I wander around, admire the log cabin on one front corner of the family’s land …

a cabin on the property

and some nearby work implements. “There’s a lot of stuff on the land,” says Dave, “and we don’t use any of it all the time — but every bit of it is needed some of the time.”

more farm implements

Framing all this, the mountains. Snow already in the high peaks.

snowy peaks beyond

Skiers like Sal & Owen are counting the days. Meanwhile, Owen makes do with a close-up photo.

from the Hellerang farm

One more farm stop as we head back south to Vancouver, this time at North Arm Farm.

North Arm Farm

It is a more complex operation than Hellerang — a broader range of foodstuffs (including, I drool at the memory, chocolate-almond truffles), and destination experiences such as kiddie wagon rides, camp fires & the like.

fun at North Arm Farm

A good time is being had by all, happy children on the ground, gossiping crows in the trees.

One final stop, this time for coffee-and-a-treat, and much closer to home, in Squamish. A stop with a bonus. The little café has a used-book shelf, where Sal & I each pick up a book. “How much?” we ask. “Ahhh,” says the owner, looking at our choices, “ahhh, just take ‘em.”

And a second bonus, as we hop back into the car: a great view of The Chief outcrop (home to a demanding hiking trail), and of the message below (rather faint here, sorry!).

The Chief, Squamish BC

So. From Squamish to me to you, let us all rejoice in “This Beautiful Day.”

The Heroines of Fairy Creek

8 October 2016 – That would be us!

DJ & I learn about the Fairy Creek trail while on another trail — one of the Montane loops that offers an eye-smacking view over Elk Valley & the mountains beyond, & a bench from which to admire it.

We’re chewing our sandwiches when a young mountain biker drops down beside us, sucks some water, falls into conversation, and suggests we visit the Fairy Waterfall, up a trail on Mount Proctor, the other side of town. “The signage isn’t great,” she adds, & offers way-finding tips involving cattle-guard locations & the like.

She’s right about the erratic signage. Still, when it does show up, you get more than information. You also get to enjoy yet again that mountain flair for trail names.

signage on the Mt Proctor trail system

DJ is more than a terrific human being & a greatly valued friend. She is also Dr. Ethnobotanist DJ, & this means her photo moments usually involve plants. This time, she is focussing, literally & metaphorically, on a Mahonia shrub.

closing in on that Mahonia

Fairy Creek is an undemanding trail — only 400 m. of elevation change over 4 km. — but it is also very, very pretty.

a lower stretch of the Fairy Creek trail

Old stumps like these earn their eco-keep in a variety of ways. Some, for example, as woodpecker condos.

old stump, Fairy Creek trail

This is big land, with big vistas.

Here, white Snowberries dance on their denuded shrubs in the foreground, while glowing Trembling Aspen leaves live up to their name farther back.

on the trail

But looking down at your toes is equally rewarding. We see varieties of lichen, snuggled up in symbiotic bliss with moss …

lichen in moss on a log

and vivid “polypore” (without gills) fungi living just as companionably on a rotting log.


A rare signpost appears.

We learn we can veer off to the right for the upper falls vantage point, or stick left for the lower falls. We’ve been tipped to go to the lower falls: it delivers a bigger WOW factor.

the upper & lower falls trail divide

So we go left.

Pretty soon Fairy Creek comes into view, its waters tumbling their way down, down the mountain to Elk River below.

Fairy Creek below the falls

We must be almost at the falls. We’re hearing waterfall drum rolls now, not just the chatter of successive rapids. Round a bend, and yes! there it is.

I stop to take a photo …

Penny sees the waterfall at last


and then stow my camera.

We settle our bottoms on a rock, pull out some gorp …

Fairy Creek Waterfall

and enjoy the view.

Speaking of Signs …

Meanwhile, back in Fernie itself …

in front of Nevados

a Mexican-themed restaurant uses signage to woo the health-food crowd.



Town Time

5 October 2016 – We spend time in town, of course we do. Fernie — pop some 7,000 or so, altitude 1,010 m. (3,300 ft) — was & still is a logging/mining town. Now it is also a huge magnet for backcountry sports enthusiasts, year-round. For example, skiing, biking, hiking and (news to me) fly-fishing, big time.

The Elk River, which runs through town, is one of the best fly-fishing rivers in Canada, offering nearly 150 km of fishable waters, & home to the Rocky Mountain Whitefish, Bull Trout & Westslope Cutthroat Trout (“cutties”).

Which is why, this misty drizzly day, boats loiter at every bend.

fly-fishing in the Elk R., Gillbilly Festival

Which is also why this fall the town’s Old Type Music Society threw the first-but-annual Gillbilly Festival. Oh come on, you can work it out: fly fishing (gills) + hillbilly music.

poster, 1st annual Gillbilly Fest

An unlikely combo, I thought, until I learned that four dedicated banjo players discovered they were equally dedicated fly-fishermen. Which made the whole project stunningly obvious. Slam-dunk time. They booked the Art Station (former CPR passenger train station, still with the town name on its roof), and made plans.

partial view Fernie, with Art Station on right

DJ & I do not attend any of the workshops or jam sessions — or go fishing, for that matter — but we pile in with the rest of the town for the Saturday evening concert.

concert about to start!

Wowzers, it is darn good pickin’, and darn good fun.

Over the days, we also discover the best locally-made chocolate & hot chocolate shop (Beanpod), the best locally-roasted coffee (in Valley Social), and — well, you were waiting for it — local street art.

Not Bell boxes, not utility boxes, but all the bear-proof recycling bins.

Different artists, different themes, from Buddha next to hot-air balloons …

e.g. Fernie recycling bins

to a panorama of the town, with the usual urgent reminder:

e.g. Fernie recycling bin

Which undoubtedly inspired this bear to don Fake-Elk Headgear.

the bear that isn't...

We visit the local library for its free internet & its terrific range of used books on sale (I pick up three) …

1 of 2 decorated benches outside the library

and for the story-related fibre art on benches outside the doors.

In almost every yard, we see axes & chopping blocks & neatly stacked cords of wood …

the stack at DJ's chalet

because …

on a down-town wall

The writing is on the wall.

Leapin’ Lizards!

3 October 2016 – Little Orphan Annie had no idea just how much leapin’ they could do — once transformed into a range of the Canadian Rockies. Neither did I. In fact I’d never heard of the Lizard Range, but here it is, with peaks soaring to 2,360 metres (7740 feet).

lizard Range in dusk silhouette

The range enfolds the town of Fernie, BC, along with the cold & fast-running Elk River. I’m getting to know all this because, after more happy days in Vancouver & the Lower Mainland, I’m up in the mountains with my Ottawa friend DJ. She’s now a winter-time resident of Fernie, and we’re making a quick fall escape to the family chalet.

First full day, we’re out of town, on up through Mount Fernie Provincial Park to Island Lake and our planned hike around the lake. Brilliant sunshine, & more beauty thrown casually around than seems possible. Except … there it is.

Island Lake, nr Fernie BC

We read the Trail Condition notices. We do not want close encounters with any wildlife larger than a red squirrel, definitely not with moose — whether angry (lower right) or merely mating (upper right).

on Island Lake Lodge notice board

We check the trails map, though our choice is dead simple: follow that jagged red line to circumnavigate the lake.

area trails

After sandwiches in bright Muskoka chairs at water’s edge, we set out.

And soon, sure enough, our first view of the island in the lake.

the island that gives the lake its name

Lake Trail is relatively flat — “flat” being a highly relative term, in the Rockies. With altitude (over 1,000 metres) making the ups & downs even steeper for unaccustomed lungs.

But rewards at every turn. Sunshine & still water double every image.

on the Lake Trail

Later, another double: this time human. An acrobatic young couple glorying in strength, agility, sunshine & each other.

near Island Lake Lodge

We pause in Mount Fernie Provincial Park on the way back out, to read more trail signs. These are for mountain-biking trails, with mountain attitude in every trail name & description …

detail, mountain bike trails through Mount Fernie Provincial Park

Past Perfect Parks

A quick salute to my last walk in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, once again prowling all around Main St. but this time hunting its near-by parks, not murals.

Special thanks to Carla …

nanny Carla, in Mount Pleasant Park

who combines first-rate nannying skills with artistic ingenuity & local knowledge. With her help, I find the other parks on my hit list: some for what they contain (an upright piano, in Robson Park), & two above all for their names.

Tea Swamp Park reminds you it used to be a swamp.

And then there’s the park with the original name, Guelph Park, still on display. Except that is historic information, not current. What began as a prank gained neighbourhood support, and the City eventually gave in. The current signboard bears the now-official name: Dude Chilling Park. Really.

Mainly Murals

30 September 2016 – I promised you murals, and boy, they are all around me. My stay just off Main Street, in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, has coincided with the Vancouver Mural Festival — twined all around kilometres of Main Street like the double helix.

My first exploratory walk on Watson Av., essentially the lane just east of Main, introduces me first to wolves …

Watson & E13th Av

and then to this cerebral pair.

Watson & E14th Av

I later discover JJ Bean, on whose back wall they reside, and the potency of whose coffee they may perhaps illustrate. (It suits me fine.)

Sometimes the mural is one small vignette on an otherwise blank wall …

Broadway & Main

sometimes a whole building …

E8th Av & Ontario

and, sometimes, a hallucinatory explosion around balconies & other alley realities …

alley west of Main at E7th

with an equally hallucinatory riposte on the facing wall.

alley w. of Main at E7th

There’s a whole different context & therefore different mood up in the industrial area — the one I teased you with in my False Creek, True Fun post.

Graffiti & street art are nothing new around here.

Western & Nothern

But these full-bleed murals are certainly new, exploding across one warehouse terminal after another, the length of this block of Southern Av.

These panels look even more exploded than planned, since at the moment the door to the B&W segment is thrown open, across the face of the pink segment. Well, what do we expect? These are working terminals, not props.

Southern Av.

“Real pretty,” says a cheerful woman, helping her husband with final logistics before they hop in their truck and start the long haul back north. “But doesn’t make me want to move back south. Vancouver’s too people-y, you know?”

Another, much bigger rig, is also getting ready to roll. It is manouvering its way out of a terminal, easing into the tight turns it must make in this cramped space to get gone.

Southern Av.

Oblivious, the mad musicians play on.

Southern Av.

Over on Industrial Av., Chinese dragons and, around the corner, a pop bottle nicely corrugated into the corrugated roof.

Industrial Av.

Corner of Station & Central, more around-the-corner artwork — except this time I suspect (with no proof) that the “Knit Yourself” mural on Station Av. is part of the Festival, while the various panels along Central (to the right) are of earlier, assorted vintages.

Station & Central


I walk down Central, to check them out. A trucker leans against his rig, smoking, music blaring, watching but not interacting as I go by. There are lots of images, definitely by different hands, at different times.

I’m taken by the sheer energy of Red Face …

on Central Av

and charmed by this duo near the other end of the block.

Central Av

Happy Vancouver on the left, dancing in the sun, exactly how I feel about my days here …

and, on the right, an inukshuk, to guide my path.


False Creek, True Fun

28 September 2016 – Remember the first image in my previous post? Louise & I are hanging over the railing of the Cambie Street bridge, about to cross north to downtown Vancouver, but pausing to watch dragon boats flash through the waters of False Creek below.

Now I am “below.” Where it is a whole other world than the one of pelting cars overhead. Here, immediately right here, is the John McBride Community Garden, complete with its very own … well, I’m not sure what! Not a bird house; perhaps for either bees or butterflies, as the art work suggests?

bee house,JohnMcBridge Community Garden, Wylie & W1st Av.

One gentleman is working away in the larger part of the garden stretching on to the east. He is fully occupied; I do not intrude.

view of John McBride Community Garden eastward along False Creek

On I go eastward, following the road closest to the water. I have done no research, this is a whim, I am simply determined to follow False Creek as much & as long as I can.

So here I am on West 1st Ave, with sleek new condos typically rising on the south side of the street, facing parking lots and occasional disused industrial facilities by the water’s edge to the north.

at W1st Av & Cook

Hoof, hoof, hoof-hoof-hoof — and then a happy surprise: Hinge Park.

I walk in, enchanted as we always are by unexpected delights, pause by one pond to eye what looks like a very playful submarine sculpture ahead.

on Hinge Island, W2nd Av & Columbia

I follow a path to get closer, and discover that, playful or not, this sculpture also earns its keep. It serves as a covered bridge over the stream.

And those portholes frame great views.

inside the 'covered bridge'!

A couple of fellow walkers give me a tip: back up along this path — yes, this one right here — and go see the beaver lodge. When the city rescued a formerly buried stream and created this park from old industrial grounds, assorted wildlife moved in. Including beavers. Whom the parks people didn’t want, and whose lodge the parks people promptly destroyed.

So the beavers built it again. And the parks people said, “Oh, all right.”

beaver lodge #2, Hinge Park

Another tip from the same fellow walkers: visit Habitat Island, just ahead. It’s part of Hinge Park, and accessible across the gravel. (At least at low tide, I’m not sure about high.) Off I go, here’s the gravel — and a view of the city to the east.

gravel walkway to Habitat Island

More tales of wildlife doing what it wants to do, not what the parks people plan: once Habitat Park was created, a heron arrived. And a hump-back whale. (Several people told me the whale story, so I believe it. I trust he got out again.)

Planned wildlife here, or so officialdom hopes. Then again, Purple Martins can be annoyingly picky.

Purple Matin tower, Habitat Island

No problem about wildlife acceptance here! Crows love this dead tree. One loves it enough to bully another back into the air, and away.

ravens being ravens...

Complete contrast to the raucous crows: someone meditating on a rock.

meditation on Habitat Island

By now I’m enjoying wonderful mixed-use trails along False Creek and into a succession of parks. Next up, the Millennium Olympic Village Park, legacy of 2010, when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics.

Two huge bird sculptures in the park, always a total draw for small children.

in Millennium Olympic Village Park

Also a handsome columnar sculpture, the Olympic Truce Installation, created by Corrine Hunt, who incorporated the artwork of the 2010 medals into her design.

in Millennium Olympic Village Park

In a while I reach Main Street, end of the trails and parks. Right across the street, a big warehouse district. It is  gritty as all get out, but also on my walking agenda, because a number of its buildings feature in the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Aha! I haven’t told you about the VMF, have I? Well, my stay near Main St. coincides very nicely with the  Festival — whose murals are almost all near Main Street as well.

So the next portion of this walk is devoted to that warehouse area — which will be part of my next post, devoted to murals.

Which in turn explains why that foray is not part of today’s narrative. Instead, we’ll jump over all that, and pick up again at East 6th & Main. I’m now homeward bound, striding along, but I’m diverted by white letters on a black wall, in the shade of a large tree. I draw close.

neatly stencilled on the wall, E6th St. & Main

I pause. I enjoy the shade. Then I walk on south, back to the East 12th latitude and my Airbnb home.



3,364 Km Later…

26 September 2016 – No, I am not in Toronto any more. I am walking north across the Cambie St. bridge in Vancouver, hanging over the rail with my friend Louise to admire dragon boats beneath & mist-draped mountains beyond.

Cambie St. bridge, looking east

We are going walkies, Louise & I, not out to do a bucket list of Vancouver sights, though she is indeed taking me on a sort of tour. Along the way we will drink good coffee, surely enjoy some kind of organized art exhibition (she is an artist, as well as an ESL teacher), but, most of all, we will enjoy the quirky sights that amuse her in her own rambles.

I am all for quirky.

Next up, a quirk indeed — revealed if you carefully position yourself just so on Homer at Smythe to view the heritage building diagonally opposite.

The Homer, Homer & Smythe

“See?” she says, gleefully. “It’s  called ‘The Homer,’ but from here, the tree obscures the second word. You can imagine it is known simply as ‘The.'” We giggle, and swap memories of a greasy-spoon icon in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, known locally as ‘The Goof,’ since some burned out letters mutilate the proud neon claim of ‘Good Food.’

Just a little down Homer from The The, we contemplate a sidewalk that makes way for a tree.

Homer, nr Nelson

People & their dogs swerve right & left; the tree continues to stretch ever more majestically into the sky.

Still on Homer, but down in (I think) the Yaletown neighbourhood by now, and a quick detour into one of Louise’s favourite cafés. She loves the coffee, the food, the old building and, most especially, the name.

café on Homer nr Helmcken

Tourists get to ask the obvious question. I learn that the owner believes we should notice & celebrate any small victory that comes our way — including good coffee.

Down at Hamilton & Helmcken now, definitely prowling Yaletown, I shrug past glittering shops to stroke the twist of rusty metal that makes this bench a sculpture.

Hamilton & Helmcken

l laugh when Louise points out the refrigerated units inside Living Produce Aisle. Reflected towers jumble the shot, but focus on those living sprouts, just waiting for your selection. I know similar stores are found else where, but it does seem… so very west coast.

sprouts sprouting, on Hamilton nr Davie

We loop back on ourselves, find ourselves again on Homer with The The in sight. This time approaching from the other direction, with other things to admire.

Nature’s gift of sparkling blue hydrangea blossoms …

shrub on Homer, nr Smythe

and the City’s gift of scattered leaves, pressed into these sidewalk slabs as they were being laid.

sidewalk below the shrub

Quick steps into another café, this time not for the name on the wall but for the chandelier — of coffee cups, what else?

a café nr The The

We lunch at some point, on an outdoors patio ( take advantage while you still can), and then check out this year’s Word on the Street — a festival of tents and vendors and talks celebrating books & literacy.  We visit a whole stretch of tents on the closed street bordering the Vancouver Public Library central branch.

Where, to my delight, I see they have quite literally posted various words on the street.

Word on the Street tents, next to VPL Central Branch

I had to look it up. I means a tambourine or similar instrument.

More tables & displays just inside the library, in we go.

entering the VPL Central Branch

Soaring architecture, as you may notice — the 1995 work of Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, who first stamped himself on Canadian (and world) consciousness with his Habitat ’67 complex in Montreal.

We acquire pins & bookmarks & leaflets and even a book apiece, then visit the library itself — eventually up to the Special Collections on the 7th floor, where we also see the maquette for the building as it will appear once the planned 8th & 9th floors (complete with public rooftop park) are added.

maquette showing VPL as planned with additional floors

One art gallery visit only, to the Bill Reid Gallery on Hornby, which honours Haida Gwaii culture, and his personal contribution to that culture — both in greater public profile and respect, and in the jewelry, sculpture, paintings and other artistic works he created imbued with its spirit. If you have a 2004 Canadian $20 bill, you possess an example of his work: it features two of his sculptures, Raven, and Spirit of Haida Gwaii.

portait of Bill Reid, in Gallery stairwell

There are many other images & examples of his work (and other artists) in the Gallery, but I am especially moved by this quiet portrait hanging in the stairwell.

Finally, late afternoon, we head back south. We’ll meet again for dinner, but for now we part, Louise to home, me to my Airbnbn nest in Mount Pleasant.

At Broadway & Main, I look north to the water.

view north from Boradway & Main

The mist has lifted, the mountains dance in the sunlight.

Penny Putters About

23 September 2016 – My last three posts covered just one walk, but now we pick up the pace. This post covers three days!

Starting with my visit last Sunday afternoon to Centre Island, not just for the charm of foot bridges arched high over the lagoons …

a Centre Island bridge over one of the lagoons

but most especially for an afternoon’s concert at the 1884 Island church, St. Andrew-by-the-Lake.

I’ve attended other concerts & events there with pleasure, but this one is special: a fundraiser for a new grand piano, to support the active musical program that much better.

St. Andrew-by-the-Lake, Centre Island

So we gather, and we listen to the music, and we eat small & delicious home-made treats, and we put up our hands for the silent auction and, one way and another, the Fund is about $1,000 richer by the end of the day. (Read more about it on the church webpage, linked above. And click on Donate while you’re there!)

I walk home up Bay Street and, even though I’m not a beer person, I can’t help noticing the sign.

Who gives away free beer?

check the small print!!

Ah. Always read the fine print.

Monday I go looking for some planned Bell Box mural-painting activity, but can’t find it.

Never mind: I do find this building, smack at Wellesley & Sherbourne, wearing a hairnet.

Wellesley & Sherbourne

No, it’s not, it’s wearing a shadow. (A hairnet would have been a lot more fun…)

Tuesday I am puttering-about à deux: the day being the day it is, Phyllis & I head out together.

We learn it is always prudent to check for wild life, even in a downtown alley …

alley nr Dundas & Ontario

and later, in West Don Lands Park, we learn you can so indulge your inner 4-year-old.

We peer up the slide that dominates the north side of the kiddy play area in the park’s Corktown Common …

slide between steps, Corktown Common

and we climb those steps, and we arrange our bums and our legs at the top of the chute, and we giggle, and …

view from the top!

we sliiiiide all the way down. Whooping as we go.

On down through the Port Lands to the foot of Cherry Street, where Cherry Beach fringes Lake Ontario and the 1930s life guard station still stands, and is still in use.

Cherry Beach Life Guard Station

Though not on a Tuesday, with children now back in school.

Turning point, we head back north. Phyllis branches off one way, I walk on up Church Street — and pull out my camera again just south of Dundas East.

I tell you, some of the best mural art in town is now to be found in municipal parking lots.

north wall, parking lot Church St. s. of Dundas East

See what I mean? This is the north wall, the work of Cruz1. Every bit of it just jumps right into your eyeballs.

detail, north wall

Mind you, the south wall, by Ghk, has no trouble holding its own.

south wall, parking lot Churc St. s. of Dundas East

I don’t pay any particular attention to that “Burger Joint” sign at the Church Street end until I’m home and — blush — have to use its website to identify what street I was on at the time.

In the process, I also learn why the URL is Dac biet?? Vietnamese for “awesome!”

Next Up

Penny is about to putter a little farther a-field. My next post will not be from Toronto …

Towers, Terracotta, & a Joke or Two

19 September 2016 – By now Mary & I are having our first how-about-lunch thoughts, but they’re still just gentle background murmurs, nothing to focus on. (Or even, on which to focus…)

So let’s all focus here instead.

On this otherwise so-what photo of the Lansdowne subway station. Please notice the little wet paint sign.

Bloor line subway station

Now look at it again.

And if you’re still all “????”, read it yet again. Spell it out to yourself, letter by letter.

Joke # 1, as promised above.

All our wandering has dropped us south to Bloor Street, so we head north-ish again, following a very handsome fence along TTC lands north of the subway station. They’re doing something-or-other in there, and the usual chain-link is covered with really attractive, locally relevant, silhouette images.

My attention is first caught by a detail, though, not the big picture. I like the way wild vines just go where they want to, including right through an art installation if it happens to be in their path.

fence north from Bloor between Paton & Wallace

And I really like the local references, though not being local I can’t decipher them all. This one I do recognize, especially since the real thing to which it pays homage, the water tower, is visible in the background.

TTC fence with image & real water tower

Up & around, and soon we’re back on Wallace Av., east of Lansdowne, at the GO train tracks, with a good look at that water tower.

“Symbol of the Junction,” says Mary. Originally part of the Canada General Electric complex, in the Junction’s industrial heyday, it has since declined & again risen with the fortunes of the area itself, now a handsome exclamation mark for a location with renew energy & purpose.

the old, now repurposed, CGE water tower on Wallace at the GO train tracks

We cross the tracks, pay a moment’s attention to Mr. Red Bull …

on Wallace, just west of the GO train tracks

head north to Dupont, and carry on west.

Thoughts of lunch are becoming more insistent. Assorted little cafés on offer, we pick the one promising Ecuadorian cuisine and, with muted Ecuadorian fútbol on the big screen & Ecuadorian love songs on the sound system, we study the Ecuadorian menu. I choose a whole feast of ceviche — it’s been so long! — and we amiably discuss past adventures in Peru while waiting for the food.

It’s good, we eat well, and out the door again.

To have ourselves another Spudbomb moment.

Dupont at Symington

We goggle. We’re both used to his garage & wall murals, this is a whole other thing — and what fun! Otherwise it’s just a sad old vacant corner lot (Dupont & Symington, if you’re curious), how much better to let Spudbomb prance all over it.

Farther west, still on Dupont if memory serves, a palimpsest moment.

faded advertising, on Dupont west of Symington

We cock our heads side to side, as if shaking our eyes will clarify the image. We can half-read it, but wholly don’t care — it’s lovely the way it is, a muted, gently faded murmur from the past.

West & west we go, closing in on the second target of our walk.

Remember Sally the White Elephant, ‘way back on Yarmouth, near Christie St.? Now we’re tracking down 20 Jerome St. — which takes us just over Dundas St. West, and down Indian Rd. a tad, and left on Jerome.

To sneak up on this …

20 Jerome St.

I know. You rub your eyes. You know you’re looking for the Terracotta House, and this sure is terracotta, so you are conceptually prepared for the sight … but you still rub your eyes.

Terracotta House, 20 Jerome

NOW magazine gave the back story. It was built in 1905 by a man named John Turner, who owned a flourishing construction business and thought this a splendid way to use up left-over materials from other projects — and, bonus, to advertise his business in the process.

detail, 20 Jerome St.

We don’t know whether it pulled in new contracts or not. We do know that it has survived to this day, and will continue to do so, now being included in Toronto’s inventory of Heritage Properties.

(That house, depending on your sense of humour, may or may not qualify as a joke. Hence the careful “joke or two” in this post title!)

End of walk, time to drop down to the Dundas West subway station at Bloor — but of course we find an alley to get us there.

With a very cheerful mash-up right at the corner …

alley south fro Abbot, west of Dundas W.

and words to live by, farther south.

alley s. from Abbott, w. of Dundas West

Oh all right, one word to live by.




    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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