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 dacbietburger.com. 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.



Love & Bubble Gum

16 September 2016 – Love & bubble gum? Incompatible in my books but to some, as you’ll see later, a match made in heaven.

I left you (Stalking the White Elephant) closing in on Dovercourt Road, with the elephant duly “captured” but so much more to see.

And the next hit is right here, at Dovercourt & Hallam. In Dovercourt Village. (Want proof? Read the box.)

detail, Elicser mural at Dovercourt & Hallam

It’s one detail of an engaging long-wall mural by one of the city’s higher-profile street artists, Elicser. Here’s the rest.

Elicser mural, Dovercourt & Hallam

His work is always good, always powerful, always distinctive. And the faces … always doleful. (I’d say “Lighten up,” except that would brand me such a philistine.)

Soon after, perhaps still on Hallam, some front-yard prayer flags. Well, not exactly. Typical of prayer flags in size, colouring & the way they are casually looped around the yard, but lacking the prayer calligraphy.

Instead …

front yard flags, probably on Hallam w. of Dovercourt

I don’t know what they represent. (Ideas welcome.) I like them anyway. I am a firm convert to the view that you don’t have to “understand” visuals in order to enjoy them.

We duck down another alley, Mary C. & I, off Hallam & still east of Dufferin.

It does not reward our interest in any of the usual ways. It is, in almost every respect, a candidate for World’s Most Boring Alley. But all that grey & white sterility has one unexpected, and therefore redeeming, feature:

alley off Hallam, e. of Duffferin

Solar panels!

All that eco-virtue, and a crisp zigzag against the sky as well.

We’re at Dufferin St. now, a major north-south artery, and we court death to cross it mid-block. All because of the words either side of a narrow gap between two dreary buildings.

w. side of Dufferin, nr Shanly

I know: if you follow Mary’s blog, you’ve already seen this shot. But for everyone else, it’s new. And worth a laugh. Mary & I are laughing — though I must admit that Guy In Chair, ‘way at the back, is unamused.

And on into yet another alley, this one off Wallace near Brock, and full of delights.

A cheerful, I’m pretty sure home-made, garage door, for example …

alley off Wallace nr Brock

and the world’s simplest pussycat sketch …

alley off Wallace nr Brock

and proof that rust alone can create a city skyline, if you’re willing to see it that way.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

I become quite mesmerized by this, transported to some eastern city of miranets & towers.

Then I clear my head, and stop for a more prosaic 3-storey back wall, albeit one with visuals on every level.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

We identify the next garage mural from a good distance away. No missing this artist. “Spudbomb!” we shout.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

From hand grenades (albeit happy ones) to sweet self-affirmation …

alley off Wallace nr Brock


even if you hail from a distant planet.

off Wallace nr Brock

And finally — and not a moment too soon, either, for fans of Love & Bubble Gum — this garage door.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

There! Wasn’t she worth the wait?

Now I leave you cooling your heels in mid-alley yet again. Next post will complete the walk, and bag the second of our two targets for the day.


Stalking the White Elephant

14 September 2016 – And in deepest, darkest downtown Toronto, too! But we know the elephant is out there — NOW magazine tells us so, she is no. 3 in their 25-strong August list of “Hidden Toronto” wonders. I am disproportionately pleased to see that I have already discovered 21 of the 25 — all the more reason to visit the remaining four.

Blogger “Mary C.” (As I Walk Toronto ) & I head out on Sunday, with two of the four on our hit list: White Elephant & the Terracotta House. It offers us a very do-able rectangle (Bloor to Dupont, Christie to Dundas West) in a hugely walkable part of town.

I beat Mary to our rendez-vous, the Christie subway station, so I hike down the alley just east of the station, to see what I can see.

alley off Bloor W., nr Manning

A big, fat mural is what I see, two blocks over near Manning. “Painting to the artist… is like flight to the bird” it says, and the artwork proves the point.

Ooops, time to meet Mary; I stop mooning about & head smartly west again, back to Christie. But stop at Clinton en route, for this.

Clinton, just n. of Bloor W.

Pretty swell stuff, I tell myself, and our walk hasn’t even officially begun.

It augurs well.

Mary & I like alleys. We’re quite capable of walking down city streets, but we both twitch at every alley, can’t help veering into it at least a little bit, just to check it out. So we stalk our white elephant in a looping, circuitous way.

An alley just north of Christie Pits park yields nature’s own art installation. Give vines enough time, and they’ll cover anything. The utility pole is already smothered, and the battered old garage is caught in a leafy pincer movement.

possibly Willowvale Ln

Later, nearing Fiesta Farms, more conventional garage art. This contribution by Pascal Paquette.

behind Fiesta Farms

Well, not signed, but I’m pretty sure it is his work. (Chloe, you’re the expert on PP. Pass judgment, please.)

And then we’re on Yarmouth, count-down to 77 Yarmouth, where Sally the White Elephant is queen. Cherry tree leaves fan her row; sun dogs dance attendance.

Sally, at 77 Yarmouth Av

We do not bang on the door. What I tell you now is thanks to the NOW mag research: artist & industrial designer Matt Donovan created Sally as part of his OCAD thesis project, & in 2003 gave her to his friend James Lawson, who has cared for her ever since.

(Lucky James: fibreglass elephants do not eat you out of house & home, which I gather was the risk when maharajahs gave the real thing to chosen subjects — who then had to feed & keep the brutes in suitably royal style.)

Sally is life-size. That means nearly 3 metres tall. That means she fills the front yard.

77 Yrmouth Av.

Up Miles Place, an alley graced with a name — plus, at this time of year, abundant fall vegetable crops in all these backyard gardens. Which makes the scarecrow perfectly logical.

in Miles Pl.

Now look at the bit of wine-red garage in the lower right corner of the scarecrow shot. It is a very weary old garage indeed, its insulbrick losing the battle with time. But it does have one glorious corner!

in Miles Pl., near Melville

Plus an equally glorious stand of Cosmos, a member of the sunflower family that blooms extravagantly in the fall.

Onto Melville Av., and into another alley. Into other alleys, plural. I try to keep track, but I fail. Let’s all relax and enjoy the fact that Mary & I are following a whole jigsaw of laneways as we head basically north-west toward Dovercourt.

Oh, alleys are a treat! Sometimes the buildings are most strikingly decorated by time, using its favourite resource: rust.


And sometimes a human being provides the decoration. Often visual or, as here, in text. Small neat letters across the top of the garage door, you need sharp eyes to notice.

alley nearing Dovercourt

Let us hope one of those spells will call home the Lost Cat.

The visuals are often walloping great murals — but, sometimes, a single image. All the punchier, for its isolation.

alley nearing Hallam & Dovercourt

We are nowhere near Terracotta House yet.

So you’ll just have to be patient, won’t you? We’ll get there, all right, in another couple of posts …


The Tease. Transformed

9 September 2016 – And how does one transform an idea into reality? A concept into 800 square feet of community/volunteer-driven, LCBO parking lot mural?

I’m so glad you asked.

On 28 August, I showed you the concept as a tease:

LCBO Mural design

The project began with these two people, who have guided it to the reality that will be unveiled, with great hoop-la, during tomorrow’s Cabbagetown Festival celebrations.

Michael Cavanaugh & Poonam Sharma

Meet Michael Cavanaugh, the retired Lakehead University fine arts professor who is the core driving force behind the Bell Box Mural Program. And meet Poonam Sharma, a local artist who helps others discover their talents while developing her own.

This project came to them. The Cabbagetown BIA (Business Improvement Association) commissioned a mural to honour the 40th anniversary of the Cabbagetown Festival; the Parliament Street LCBO outlet offered a wall; Michael & Poonam posted 4 possible mural designs online for a community vote; and then drummed up volunteer help to turn the winner, with its Victorian heritage theme, into reality.

My AGO volunteer colleague, Chloe, and I turn up on one of the early days, to help with the base coat. Chloe takes the selfie. (Hmm, what’s the plural of ‘selfie’?)

Penny with Chloe (R)

We’re both resplendent in the safety vests worn by all helpers — the more visible we are to drivers in the narrow parking lot, the better. I am also, if I may say so, resplendent in my vintage Cabbagetown Festival T-shirt, the work of graphic artist & musician San Murata.

Michael & Poonam have already projected the design onto the wall; now we all take basic instruction and start laying on the paint. “Don’t worry about pretty edges!” cries Michael. “Just stay within the lines as best you can and, above all, cover the wall!” He’s right, there is a whole lot of white space up there, waiting to be transformed.

We slap on the paint.

base-coat volunteers, Chloe at front

When Chloe & I leave, that Friday evening, you can already see the mural taking shape.

Sept. 2 stage of mural

I come back on Sunday, just as they are setting up again, to admire progress & see what happens next. Progress, indeed.

Sunday 4 Sept, as they start

“The base coat is pretty well in place,” says Poonam. “Now for the detailing, and the shading.”

First step: tape off the wall-front work area. It cuts motorist access in half, but fortunately everyone is too pleased (or simply bemused) to argue.

Poonam tapes off the work area

They settle in for an afternoon of second-stage work. A dozen or so volunteers have helped power that base coat into place, but detailing & shading requires a steadier hand. Someone — to be blunt about it — with training & skill.

Michael, for one …

Michael Cavanaugh, detailling the mural

and Poonam, for another.

Poonam shading the borders

Friends, supporters and the just plain curious all stop for a look and a natter. Poonam is brilliant at welcoming and engaging everybody, while somehow getting her work done as well.

Poonam with admirers...

A long day, deliberately so.

They wait for nightfall so they can project the mural’s banner text onto the wall. It involves a laptop with the text image …

text for the mural

and a projector on top of the ladder, to throw that image upon the wall.

laptop (lower right) connected to projector, to throw the image on the wall

Poonam is up on the scaffolding, carefully tracing the projected lettering into place.

Poonam traces text onto the wall


A couple of days later, I go by again.

almost, almost final

There it is!

Tomorrow, the grand unveiling. I’ll be there, you betcha.

Mutant Fish, Identified

You remember “mutant fish,” in my post Down Down the Don? Sure you do.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

I whined at the time that I couldn’t find any artist ID. Thanks to a posted comment by filc21, I can now tell you that the fish is the work of two artists, jarus and kwest.

How nice to know, and give credit where credit is due.



After the Tease. (And off-topic)

31 August 2016 – I promise: my very next post will follow through on The Tease (previous post). But meanwhile, there was a Tuesday, wasn’t there? So the Tuesday Walking Society was out & about, wasn’t it?

Phyllis & I cover a little more than 11 km., weaving our way through mid-town, with urban din — road repair, water main work, ambulances & fire trucks, leaf blowers, excavations — pounding our ears. I catch a headline in a local paper, claiming the city is so noisy that songbirds can no loner easily locate each other by sound. I sympathize.

But there are escapist moments. In the gardens & grounds of the Spadina Museum, for example.


Wouldn’t you think you were in Tuscany, perhaps, not downtown Toronto?

Some noise here too, but enjoyable noise — day camp kiddies being led in competing teams on a puzzle/treasure hunt through the gardens. The staff & volunteers guide them to the chosen area …

day camp, Spadina House

and remind them to write down each animal they see, but not to tell the other, competing teams.

Sssshhh! Keep it secret!

one of the animal discoveries

Needless to say, delighted kiddies shout their discoveries at full force, dance little gigs of joy.

Off we go, PHyllis & I, down the Baldwin Steps next to Casa Loma …

Casa Loma, from top of Baldwin Steps

and near the foot of the steps are rewarded with this very colourful truck, covered with street art.

Well, half-covered. Only this side is painted.

truck below Casa Loma

But it does include, I swear, a salute to the Sydney Opera House.

the Sydney Opera House??

Right? Am I not right?

Into the Yorkville neighbourhood next, where, amid the classy art galleries, we meet a couple of horses.

Right there on Hazelton Avenue.

On this side, ladies & gentlemen, in front of Miriam Shiell Fine Arts, a Mountie cuddling his horse …

Hazelton Av., in front of Miriam Shiell

and across the way, in front of Heffel Fine Arts, artist Emily Carr leaning against her horse (courtesy of sculptor Joe Fafard).

Emily Carr sculpture, artist Joe Fafard, Hazelton Av.

Heat & humidity as we go, what else this summer in Toronto, but we walk the shady side of Tranby Av., with its calm & cool-looking doorways.

doorway on Tranby Av.

More shady tranquility in Town Hall Square, a park slivered into Yorkville Av. just west of Yonge Street.

Town Hall Square

And yet more tranquility — after the earlier cacophony, we are so grateful — in the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge.

It is an extraordinarily beautiful building, the work of Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama, later revitalized by his subsequent firm, Moriyama & Teshima.

Toronto Reference Library

We’re here to tour the Art of Cartography exhibit, in the library’s TD Gallery.

Phyllis & I both play with the high-tech, interactive map jigsaw puzzle on the way in, but after that we focus on the old stuff. I am particularly amused by a 1600s map of Iceland …


which, even then, knew all about Hekla.

And what she does.

detail, Islandia map, shwoing Hekla

Namely, erupt.


Blocks of granite, explained

In my early-August post about High Park (The Poetry Walk. Almost), I admired one of the park’s sculptures …

a sculpture in High Park

and bemoaned its lack of artist credit. Maureen Scott Harris has been kind enough to send me a comment of explanation. It makes poignant reading:

I’m sorry you missed our poetry walk, but thanks for the glimpses of the other things going on that day. Regarding the anonymous granite sculpture you wondered about, it dates from a sculpture competition in 1967. The chunks of granite were delivered but the sculptor who was to carve them had a nervous breakdown and the piece was never made. Here’s a link to information about the competition and the sculptures: http://www.highparknature.org/wiki/wiki.php?n=Explore.SculptureHill.

Thank you, Maureen.



This Is A Tease

28 August 2016 – All will be revealed, but not for another few days.

Think … oh … next Thursday.

the LCBO Cabbagetown mural design


But if you’re stomping your little feet and waving your little fists in frustration at the delay, get instant info by visiting this Facebook page. Where, I hope, you will just pound in the ‘likes.’

Aren’t I the coy one???



Down, Down the Don

22 August 2016 – Who needs the Loch Ness Monster? We have our very own mutant fish, right here in the Don River.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

Oh, all right, beside the Don River.

I don’t know that he, specifically, awaits me downstream, but I do anticipate art-by-the-Don, as I drop down from the Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge to join the trail heading south to Lake Ontario.

A powerful reminder: Bridgepoint Hospital there on the east bank, with its Bill Lishman sculptures tumbling down the river-side terrace.

view south down the Don, from Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

I can’t, from here, see the sculptures with my physical eye, but my mental eye conjures them once more. (You can conjure them with this link to my December post, Artful Flows the Don.)

Some traditional graffiti art under the Gerrard St. bridge — framed & enhanced by reflections in the river itself.

under the Gerrard St bridge

Then again, who needs graffiti?

River reflections make art all by themselves.

reflections in the Don

I promise you: this image is right-side-up. That buff-colour horizontal line at the top is the far bank of the river; the greenery bottom-left is right at my feet; everything in between is converging reflections from a playful sky.

More not-amazing graffiti under bridges as I go, ho-hum, yawn.

I perk up again south of Queen Street, with this view westward through various bridge underpinnings to the edge of — I’m pretty sure — Underpass Park. Major-fine murals & graffiti in there!

view west toward Underpass Park

This means I’m approaching Don Landing, and access to the West Don Lands Park, once toxic wasteland, now wonderful. This takes me off-river — but hey, this is my walk, right? I can divert if I want to.

Up the stairs to Corktown Common, the playground at the park’s high point of land. Full of parents & kiddies — here a dad carrying off his toddler after patiently pushing her in one of those bucket swings for ages. (I know, I’ve been sitting under a tree watching.) They leave, but another little girl has already claimed a seat, and a young boy is fast approaching.

Corktown Common, West Don Lands Park

It’s all charming, but I find myself most charmed by the water-fountain arrangements. First, that they exist, because I am thirsty and appreciate free, pure water.

water founains, Corktown Common

And, second, that there is tri-level water for everyone: the Big People fountain, the Little People fountain, and the Doggie water bowl bolted into position on the ground.

Back to the Lower Don trail, and on to that mutant fish, just a little farther south.

mural south of Don Landing

I cannot find an artist’s signature. Sorry!

Then, just north of Lake Shore Blvd. East, I hit more expressway trestles & more art. Memory clicks in: I came by here in spring, when the artists were first beginning to lay on base coats.

Well! Look at it now …

expressway trestles n. of Lake Shore Blvd

The fish is the work of an artist that’s new to me. Correction: two artists, known as PA System.

Next up, girl with green hair, by MC Baldassari, someone I’m beginning to appreciate a lot.

MC Baldasaari's trestle

And then girl with black hair, by EGR — so distinctive! Once you’ve seen her work, you always know it.

EGR trestle

Right here, trails diverge east & west. I could head farther east, on to Ashbridge’s Bay, but I choose west instead, starting to loop back through woodland toward home.

One last art installation to amuse me as I go. Very urban-art. Very downtown.

in the woods...

Oh, those shopping carts. They do get around. (And so much for the vaunted “wheels-will lock” technology.)

I eventually emerge from the trails, pick up Cherry St., and cut north-west through the Distillery District.

Distillery District

Where, to my amazement and no doubt yours, I do not stop for a latte.





Sign of the Times

18 August 2016 – So there I am, ambling down Wellington St. East, minding my own business …

and I nearly trip over this sidewalk ad for Bravi Restaurant.

sidewalk ad, Bravi Restaurant, Wellington St. East

They’re boasting, right?



    "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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