“I Spy, With My Little Eye…”

26 May 2016 – I spy, indeed. Thank you, Birdo, for the eye.

An eye-spy!

detail, Birdo mural, Queen St. E. & Seaton

It belongs to one of his Lego-gone-mad-ish mural creatures, this one on a wall near Queen E. & Seaton.

Birdo mural, Queen E. & Seaton streets

I respond to the eye, and the invitation to look and see, really see.

Really-seeing is, I hope, a major part of every walk — certainly a major objective, whether solo or, as today, headed for a Tuesday Walking Society outing.

We’re bound for Toronto Island but I play I-spy while still city-side, even before I rendezvous with Phyllis.

I spy God & Mammon. for example — the St.James Cathedral steeple, neatly lined up against the V-nicked Scotiabank tower.

King St. E., looking west to Church ST.& beyond

Then hello Phyllis, and on down Yonge to the lakefront, and west to Bay St., and into the ferry terminal, and  over to Hanlan’s Point, the western end of the curving main island in the complex, and a good place to start.

And to resume the game of I-Spy.

I spy a tree disguised as a candelabra!

tree, Hanlan's Point

I spy two very distant bare bottoms on the Clothing Optional beach …

Clothing Optional beach, Hanlan's Point

and a glimpse of stencilled paradise …

on the beach nr Gibraltar Point

a shelf of carefully arranged found objects, tucked into a secluded tree crotch …

beach nr Gibraltar Point

one end of aged fencing, being eaten by the dunes …

part of old fencing, nr Gibraltar Point

and a foraging Mallard duck, with the most exotic back pattern I’ve ever seen.

Mallard in the waters nr Centre Island

Soon we rejoin one of the main paths, work our way through Centre Island, picking up an abandoned doggie tug-of-war toy as we go. Same thought strikes us both: Let’s donate it to the Algonquin Island take-something-leave-something kiosk.

Sure enough, right off the end of that island’s arched pedestrian bridge, we plonk the fluorescent green toy on one of the kiosk shelves, so that I can triumphantly spy …

kiosk off end of Algonquin Island bridge

the toy, now among wildly varied other offerings.

On around Algonquin.

I spy two snakes!

ceramic ornaments on an Algonquin Is. gatepost

and a crow, and other Celebration Of A Life decorations …

prerparations for an event to remember a beloved island resident

and Canada Post’s miniest-mini-van, linked up with the world’s largest tree house base (that imposing wooden structure visible above the hedge).

Canada Post mini-van, on Algonquin Island

One final I-spy, well worth the wait.

A Very Fierce Dragon, propped neatly against a tree near the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

near Ward's Island ferry dock

What could possibly top that? Nothing.

So we ride back to the city, and make our way northward to home. (I walk all the way: 14.8 km, says my pedometer.)


Salute to Spring

18 May 2016 – The temperature begins to rise, and we get all excited. Body language changes, our use of public space changes. Even when the temp is still only mid-teens — because we’ve waited so long & we are so over-eager & anyway we are rough-tough Canadians (aren’t we?), so we act like it’s really, really warm.

Office workers, & for all I know tourists as well, bask in noon-day sun on tiered benches in Nathan Phillips Square, facing the Peace Garden.

noontime sun-bathing in Nathan Phillips Square

Even a bronze lion — paired with a lamb in Eldon Garnet‘s sculpture, “Equality Before the Law” — lifts his snout to the sun in drowsy contentment, right next door in the McMurtry Gardens of Justice.

detail, Eldon Garnet sculpture "Equality Before the Law"

A man down on Richmond West bends to his smartphone — sockless!

among office towers, Richmond St. West

A woman stares peacefully into space, enjoying every moment of her lunch hour.

office worker, Richmond St. West

Up in C0urthouse Square, just south of the old Adelaide Street courthouse, the tender new leaves of espaliered shrubs shimmer in the afternoon light.

shrubs, Courthouse Sq., 10 Court St.

The Square’s water fountains are turned on again for the season, gush happily into their troughs.

1 of 2 water fountains, Courthouse Square

A young man stretches (I swear) every muscle group in turn, then begins kicking his soccer ball all about the Square. Just for the sheer delight of it. Because he is young, & nimble, & full of springtime energy.

in Courthouse Square

Across the street, next to St. James Cathedral, a young woman eyes her smartphone …

N/W of St. James Cathedral, King West & Church St.

while east of the church, in St. James Park, another woman patiently eyes her dog, who is busy sniffing up every odour he can catch on the newly-green grass …

in St. James Park

and a couple only have eyes for each other.

in St. James Park

Ahhhh … spring!

Comment Catch-Up

  • Remember I showed you a blue-figure sculpture in my previous post? Now, thanks to Mary C (visit her blog As I Walk Toronto), I can tell you the artists: David Borins & Jennifer Marman.
  • Remember my post, Danger at the Cliff Edge, in which I lamented being unable to walk Gate’s Gully due to repair work, but more than compensated for that frustration with a walk first in Sylvan Park, then through Guildwood Park and down to the lakeshore? Popo posted a great comment, giving the link for a wintertime walk that virtually mirrored my own. Go see for yourself.




Bansky! (and other Very Good Things)

15 May 2016 – Well! You’d think Banksy would be quite enough Very Good Thing (VGT) for any one day, but this particular day has delivered a bumper crop.

Plus one Very Silly Thing, and we’ll get to that.

First VGT: the 11 a.m. Pilates class at Central Y, my home branch — it has a devoted following, & is fast becoming my own Sunday morning ritual as well.

Second VGT: finding the scrap of paper where I’d written down the directions to the one remaining example of Banksy street art here in Toronto. I wish I’d also written down the name of my blog follower who sent me the information, but I didn’t, so all I can do is say “Thank you” and know that he’ll know who he is.

Bansky, Church St. n. of The Esplanade

The location is now public online & the art protected with plexiglas, so I feel no concern about repeating the directions here: west side of Church Street, at the corner of an alley just north of The Esplanade. Also behind chain-link fence, just high enough to have short little me on tippy-toes to get any images.

Bansky art, longer view

Third VGT: carry on by bike over to the new, not-yet-quite-open Cherry Street YMCA — where despite being not quite open, they are open enough to offer tours and a free yoga class. I’m hoping to add a volunteer stint at this Y to my existing connection with Central Y, so I am a happy girl as I chain my bike and finally enter the building.

It’s a cheerful human zoo in there, all ages & types, people on tour, people lining up for the yoga class, people taking out memberships. I follow a tour, then bimble around on my own. (“Bimble = meander about. Thank you Smacked Pentax for this glorious verb.)

The exercise room looks out across Cherry St. at old once-waterfront industrial buildings, now spiffed & repurposed, but often still bearing faded names from the past.

from Cheery St. Y across looking west

Back out again, with a grateful eye at all that sunshine currently beaming down on the Y’s exuberant façade …

front, Cherry St. YMCA

since the weather has been more than iffy, all day long.

And that is the end of my planned VGT list, but no … more happens. I cycle along Front St. East, unrecognizable now among these new buildings, complete with bouncy public art.

Front St. E., nr Tannery Rd

I’ve seen this before, forgotten about it; squeak with delight to see it again. A fourth VGT! Having just come from the Y, I see them as a happy family, in exercise mode. Sorry, I can’t tell you the artist, but at least I can tell you how to find the art: Front St. East, between Rolling Mills Rd & Tannery Rd.

close-up, with the ground level

I hope you enjoy this closer look at the green ovals & wavy blue lines, since I was practically flat on the ground to get the necessary angle for my little camera. The posture earned me fluttering sideways glances by a trio of passing teens.

And now for the Very Silly Thing. The weather. By the time I straighten up from that last shot, the blue sky is again grey, and hail — hail — is pelting down.

detail, same artwork

Suddenly the happy trio are looking horrified! I share the mood.

Honestly. A high of 6C today, half-way through May, with ploppy rain/snow this morning and now hail. How silly can things be?

But I cycle on, spirits already lifting, since I have just added two more VGTs to my list. First, a latte somewhere in the Distillery District, and then — if I don’t loiter endlessly over coffee — on to St. James Cathedral for the 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon organ recital.

The hail stops, so all is well. Coffee is good.

But as I emerge from Caffe Turbo (Case Goods Lane), more hail! Absolutely pelting down, yet again.

Death Head No. 3, Case Goods Lane, Distillery District

Death Head No. 3 (right outside the Caffe Turbo door, artist name illegible) is not amused. Neither am I.

Once again, only momentarily.

The weather is too silly to keep this up for long. By the time I reach the cathedral, the sky is sunny again.

And the organ recital is terrific.



Danger at the Cliff Edge

11 May 2016 – Never mind “Into the Woods” and “Into the City,” my friends — that’s for sissies. If you want a little excitement in your life, just go dance with the cliff edges.

warning near Sylvan Park, Scarborough Bluffs

Never mind the cliff edge. By now, the Tuesday Walking Society itself is tempted to collapse, from sheer frustration.

First, we take ourselves all the way east into Scarborough (for downtown girls, a thrilling adventure in itself); then we struggle to find parking anywhere near the launch point for the Doris McCarthy Trail down through Gate’s Gully, since everything on the closest residential street has been commandeered by a film shoot; then we discover our ultimate parking success is irrelevant since the Trail is temporarily closed, due to a washout; then we drive on, hoping to find another launch point for this assault on the Waterfront Trail and the Scarborough Bluffs, in whatever combination may offer itself …

You get the picture.

But we persevere, and we succeed, and soon we are parked on another tucked-away Scarborough residential street above the Bluffs. Where to our joy we discover a sign pointing to Sylvan Park.

And another sign warning us about those cliff edges.

warning sign, near Sylvan Park

The “I [hemp] TO” is a sticker, some marijuana-lover’s addition to the warning. You may disregard it, though perhaps loving Toronto in that particular way could add a new variable to your cliff-edge experience.

We don’t add that variable to our experience. We are sufficiently taken with the challenges of finding our way via streets & connecting pathways to the park.

Where, indeed, we are at cliff’s edge! Albeit behind a fence.

view east from Sylvan Park

Photos never show you the drama of the vertical drop. Please note the teeny-tiny size of those human beings ‘way below, and be suitably impressed.

Not a large park, but secluded, very pretty, and quite rightly equipped with benches from which you can admire the views eastward & westward along Lake Ontario.

view east from Sylvan Park

Phyllis points across the fencing toward the west side of the park. We note the concrete slab where a bench used to sit — but has prudently been withdrawn, from a collapsing edge.

abandoned bench slab, facing west

Not that teenage boys care about collapsing edges. (Though one does seem to care, if only slightly, about the click of my camera.)

Right, fine, that’s Sylvan Park. Now what?

A pleasant dog-walking man gives us instructions on how to get ourselves over to Guildwood Park and, with some bushwhacking luck, find a switchback path down to those beckoning trails ‘way below at water’s edge.

His directions are good, we navigate farther east, park again & start walking across Guildwood Park on its upper level.

Spring is jumping up all around us. With baby-bronze leaves just starting to unfurl …

new leaves, Guildwood Park

and pretty yellow, if anonymous (to us) wildflowers …

wildflowers, Guildwood Park

and wetland bits, especially welcome this dry spring.

standing water, Guildwood Park

And — of course! — more dire warnings about collapsing cliff edges.

Guildwood Park warning sign

We are becoming connoisseurs of these warning signs. We agree this one wins the award for Most Dramatic Imagery.

We find & scuffle on down the switchback trail, knees bent, leaning slightly back on our heels, and arrive still upright at the lake.

Where we look up at those much-touted cliff edges, now towering over us.

Scarborough Bluffs, from base of Guildwood Park

And agree, that yessir, they obviously can suddenly collapse. Those pretty turf edges are curling out into empty space, aren’t’ they?

We follow the gravel path on toward the east …

path east, below Guildwood Park

and spy one sole inuksuk.

How odd that he is the only one, given all the breakwater rubble lying around.

inuksuk, below Guildwood Park

He isn’t really that wonderful, either, but I find I am very protective of him. He is doing his best.

Phyllis admires a spider web, whose “best” — given its fly-count — is clearly very good indeed.

spider web, below Guildwood Park

The flies undoubtedly admire it rather less.

We begin chattering a bit about when to turn back. Will there be some logical point at which to about-face?

And then it presents itself: the end of the trail.

trail's eastern end, below Guildwood Park

Back we go. And climb back up the cliff. And do not fall over the edge.

And reward ourselves with fine coffee, back in town.

Into the City

6 May 2016 – So here we are, Mary & I, complementing our woodland walk with a city walk.

Kingston, to be precise, the nearest big city to her home, located halfway between Montreal & Toronto at the confluence of assorted waterways: where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario, and also at the mouth of the much smaller Cataraqui River, which doubles as the south end of the Rideau Canal.

All of which made the location attractive first to indigenous peoples, later to European settlers, with a surge of Loyalists in the 1780s following the America Revolution — and attractive later yet again, to Americans just across Lake Ontario, during the War of 1812. They didn’t win the war, but posed a continuing threat thereafter, which caused Kingston to be stripped of its role as capital of the Province of Canada in 1844.

(Toronto & Montreal alternated as capital for a while, but were also uncomfortably close to those pesky Americans, which led Queen Victoria to look for somewhere safe & remote and, in 1849, to declare that Ottawa will be capital, period full stop thank you very much.)

Never mind. Kingston was home to John A. Macdonald, ultimately Sir John A., and, in 1867, the first Prime Minister of the new Dominion of Canada. “The Father of Confederation.” So there.

We know we’re in a city because we find ourselves in a ribbon park, with not a wildflower in sight — but lots of colour nonetheless.

a mural in the park facing Cataraqui R.

I quite like it, I decide, and begin to explore the retaining wall, each segment covered with its very own mural.

section of the mural-coered retaining wall, same park

One mural of the city itself, with a recognizable City Hall dome mid-left in the background, lots of strange robot-sort-of creatures strewn around, and over there, right foreground … yessir, Sir John A. himself.

mural, same park

My eye is caught by a folk art-ish rendition of an alley between Barrie & Clergy streets (right) …

murals, same park

and only later pays any attention to the kiddies on the left, spinning snow angels into the snow with their vibrating arms & legs.

“In Greenland,” I tell Mary, a snowmobile trip there suddenly surging into memory, “I remarked on some children making Snow Angels and was promptly corrected. ‘Here,’ I was told, ‘they are Snow Eagles.’ ”

Mary laughs, then pulls me to the river’s edge.

We are on the Cataraqui River, she has already told me, just where it dumps into Lake Ontario — and just before the lake itself flows into the St. Lawrence River, as best I can make out, all that water on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.

She has us here at the shoreline, because she wants to examine the wording on this striking Celtic Cross. A monument to desperate Irish immigrants, fleeing the Great Famine? No, but it is about the travails of the Irish nonetheless.

memorial to Rideau Canal labourers, same park

The Rideau Canal, completed in 1832, was a great technological achievement in its day and a very fine success all around. As long as you don’t worry about the fate of its labourers, that is. This cross does worry about them, paying tribute to:

an estimated one thousand Irish labourers and their co-workers

who died of malaria and by accidents in terrible working conditions

while building the Rideau Canal 1826-1832

On we go, in occasional drizzle, into downtown city streets, with their frequent passageways marking where horses once came & went from the stables in behind the street-front buildings. I stop to read a plaque in one of these arches on Clarence St., between King and Ontario.

I expect historical information, and I receive it. Look! It’s all about Sir John A. Macdonald! Enlarge the photo, and enjoy the joke.

in Clarence St. passageway, between King & Ontario

We giggle, explore some more, & soon read another plaque on King St. itself. A serious plaque this time, on an imposing building east of Clarence.

I photograph one doorway detail, my modest rip-off of a very fine image we’ve just seen in a near-by art gallery.

former Whig-Standard building, King St., east of Clarence

Didn’t note what the building is now; previously it was home to the Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper and, before that building existed, home to St. George’s Church where, in 1792, the first meeting of the Executive Council of Upper Canada was held.

Kingston, in North American terms, is an old city.

But one with 21st-c. amenities. Such as parking lots. Though sometimes — as here on Brock St. — there are surprises on offer, all around the cars.

in a Brock St. parking lot

I don’t know why these attractive poles exist. I’m just glad they do.

Another treat, but an anticipated one. On King St. East we walk the mazes of Berry & Peterson Booksellers, where great wobbly stalagmites of books constantly threaten to crash down on your head. I look for a resident cat, there isn’t one; the only flaw in an otherwise exemplary bookstore.

Berry & Peterson

And then, before heading off to join Mike in the Queen’s University library, Mary & I walk through another waterfront park — this time along Lake Ontario, with Wolfe Island in the background.

There is an undulating ribbon of rubble as breakwater, which surely means … many, many inukshuks. Here is just one, a baby among adjacent giants and all the more charming for that.

inukshuk in Lake Ontario waterfront park

Then, hop-là to the library, and hop-là back to their 100-acre woods and book-filled home, up there north of Gananoque.



Into the Woods

2 May 2016 – I’m off into the woods with my friend Mary — and when you have 100 acres, as she & Mike do north of Gananoque, you have lots to explore, right there on your own property.

This is Canadian Shield country, with its ancient, massive granite outcroppings, the land scraped to its elemental bones by glaciers.

outcropping of Canadian Shield, near Gananoque

We’re on a big looping walk that will take us eventually up to a road, to a farmhouse for a new supply of eggs, and via road on back home.

That’s eventually. Meanwhile, we enjoy the woods, scramble our way to a high point with sweeping views across the wetlands and the creek meandering its way from South Lake to Gananoque Lake, ultimately to dump its waters into the St. Lawrence River.

Sassy admires the view!

That’s Sassy — officially lives on the farm next door, but always up for a walk.

The glory of early spring in Canadian woods is the wildflowers. Glorious for their beauty, also for their ephemerality — here today, gone tomorrow, one display after another, all pell-mell for their brief moment in the sun before the tree canopy leafs out.

The cool spring has put everything a bit behind schedule. Trilliums are just beginning to unfurl.

White trillium buds

Some, though, are fully out.

Trillium grandflora

That’s the white trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, the provincial flower here in Ontario.

Soon, to my delight, we begin to see red trilliums as well, the Trillium erectum. They are typically less plentiful than the white, which — especially when happy on south-facing slopes — carpet the woodland floor.

red & white trilliums

Other treats as well.

Look! Dutchman’s Breeches! (Dicentra cucullaria)

Dutchman's Breeches

A member of the bleeding heart family, just look at those leaves, and nicknamed for its twin-tipped flowers, quite like upside-down trousers, pegged out on a laundry line to dry.

And look again!

Dogtooth violet, I say promptly. Then I begin to doubt myself. Ummm. Trout lily, perhaps?

Trout lily, aka Dogtooth violet

Later, thumbing a guidebook, I learn I am right. Both times. Two common names for Erythronium americanum. Hurray for me. (Not being at all sure of these things, I enjoy any moments of accuracy that happen to come my way.)

We reach a bit of fencing, the dividing line between this property and that of a neighbour.

Sassy tummy-wiggles through a convenient gap in the fence. We use legs, not tummies, and instead climb over the stile.

Mary climbs the stile

A distinctly boggy bit next, rare & welcome (even if personally inconvenient) in this unusually dry, as well as cool, spring. Sassy splashes through; we explore this way, then double back that way, and find a sufficiently narrow stretch to hop across.

Someone has carefully laid branches across the rivulet next to where we hop, creating a mini-version of the pioneer-era “corduroy road” — logs laid perpendicular to the road’s direction in swampy areas, and named for the fabric, with its distinctive ridges.

a corduroy road (mini-mini)

I am grateful not to be in a buggy, jolting over long stretches of corduroy road.

Instead, we climb on up a path; Sassy and a neighbouring dog shout a few half-hearted (and safely long-distance) insults at each other; we wave at a couple of young men splitting wood in a clearing — and we end up on the road.

Where we buy the eggs, and finally walk on home.



Discord at Yonge & Belmont

28 April 2016 – I’m walking back south on Yonge Street, enjoying the sun (if not particularly the chill), and I suddenly think: “Barcelona!”

Which is silly, because I am in Toronto.

I am victim — or beneficiary — of a visual pun.

Namely, the sight of this building, all bendy & brilliant, picked out by afternoon sunshine & reflected in the plate-glass opposite.

reflected building, N/W Yonge & Belmont

And I flash to the bendy-buildings of Barcelona’s famous Illa de la Discòrdia (Block of Discord), in the Eixample district of Barcelona.

Block of Discord, Barcelona

“Discord” because these examples of early 20th c. architecture — the work of Modernists Lluis Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafakh & Enric Sagnier — clash not only with the sombre beauty of the district as a whole but also with each other.

(Since I nicked that 2nd photo from Go Barcelona Tours, the least I can do is give you their name & the website link!)


Wait For It …

25 April 2016 – Oh, I know you!

You don’t care that I discovered this spankin’ bright new mural down a parking-lot wall on College Street, the work of Jimmy Chiale

parking lot mural, S/E College & Huron, artist J. Chiale

Nor do you care that, by spinning 90 degrees on my left heel, I could also photograph the iconic inspiration for that mural’s central image …

CN Tower, from that parking lot


All you want is this.

Cafe Novo, Augusta Av. s. of College

My latest coffee-philosophy signboard, courtesy of Café Novo on Augusta Avenue.

How cross will you be, to learn that I (blush) went & had my latte somewhere else?


Into the Market

18 April 2016 – On Sunday I had a terrific time being guided through a walk, instead of inventing one of my own. (Small tip of the hat here to Jackie, of Tour Guys.)

The day is gloriously warm & sunny, everyone in the group is silly with pleasure as we cluster at our meeting spot, Henry Moore’s Two Forms outside the AGO. But this is just the meeting spot, soon we’re in neighbouring Chinatown, and ultimately spend most of our time in …

at Augusta & College

Now you get the “Market” reference.

Factoid about these Ken Market elevated signs: each features two of only three symbols — a globe, a chair, a cat. I’ve often enjoyed the signs, never before noticed the pattern. See? Tours can be wonderful.

Now a quick back-up into a Chinatown alley. Jackie wants everyone in the group to see & appreciate graffiti, tags, throw-ups, street art & the rest of the terminology — and the corresponding realities, right here on walls & doors.

ANSER eyes on a Chinatown alley wall

ANSER eyes for sure, but not that mouth!

We spend a lot of time in … if not always exactly alleys, certainly very-very-very narrow-&-hidden little streets. Where sheer streetscape can itself be a form of street art.

With prayer flags, for example …

inside Kensington Market

or an ode to means of transportation.

in a Kin Market back street

Oh, go ahead, start counting. One canoe, with wheels; several bicycles; one wagon; one bright red come-along. And I may have missed something. (Surely not all needed to transport Chinese herbs from hither to yon?)

Then again, sometimes the alley/street is not about streetscape at all. It’s total street art, in every direction.

Like this.

in a Kin Market back alley

Multiple works of art, and multiple mail boxes too!

Around another corner, and the unmistakable work of one of the city’s most unmistakable artists: Birdo.

wall mural by Birdo, In Ken Market

This one looks curiously like a muzzled dog.

The next Birdo creation, around a few more corners, gets me thinking instead about lobsters & parrots. Then I shake my head & just let it be whatever it wants to be.

by Birdo, in an alley N/W of Queen & Bathurst

By now our tour is finished, I’m just N/W of Queen & Bathurst, and I nip through an alley onto Bathurst itself.

Where I see an old fave.

on Bathurst, just n. of Queen West

I hope you get a kick out of it …


Two Jeffs & a Raccoon

14 April 2016 – One Jeff (Blackburn) to paint the raccoon; the other Jeff (Phyllis’ husband) to wave a newspaper article at us that includes the raccoon in its street art photos; and, finally, the raccoon himself.

Whose teeth look like this.

detail, Blackburn raccoon, Spadina & Davenport

(That’s a tease. The rest of him comes later. Be patient.)

The Tuesday Walking Society decides there is no way to build a coherent walk route around all the photos, they are too jump-about for that — but we can at least pick a few as the starting point for our next outing.

Which is why we find ourselves walking up Bedford Rd. north from Bloor, heading for a trio of pieces roughly clustered in the Davenport/Dupont/Spadina area.

Aha, we’re not halfway up Bedford Rd. before we make an unscheduled stop in Taddle Creek Park. You really cannot simply walk past something like this.

public art, Taddle Creek Park

I can’t tell you why a pitcher is the chosen adornment, let alone who created it — no signage — but a bit of snooping seems to suggest there is a water outlet inside the pitcher. Maybe it trickles merrily away, all summer long? This demands a revisit!

Bedford is lined with old Victorian homes, most of them restored and/or renovated, and many of them (perhaps most?) still single family dwellings.

Bedford Rd., Victorian housing

Very pretty indeed, and it’s churlish to point out, as I am about to do, that the gas lamp now sports a light bulb. Humph!

The first of the “official” trio of art works we plan to visit (i.e. ones shown in that newspaper article) comes soon afterward, just north of Davenport & Dupont.

Synethesia RR underpass art, looking north from Dupont up Davenport

You with me? I’m showing you Synesthesia, the artwork Paul Aloisi created to cover the walls of this railway underpass, based on his sound recordings of trains passing overhead. And look, there’s even a stationary freight train on the tracks, to get you in the mood. (Do click on that link; you can then click on a video and hear the trains for yourself.)

I decide I like the way the rusty metalwork adds to the total effect.

Synesthesia west wall

We follow Davenport, closing in on that raccoon.

But first, the even bigger landmark that looms over his head: Casa Loma.

This is the Gothic Revival mansion that very-very-rich financier Sir Henry Pellatt decided to have built for his family, a whim that occupied 300 men from 1911 to 1914. And included gold-plated faucets in the adjacent horse stables …

Casa Loma, from Spadina s. of Davenport

Not surprisingly, the building is now a tourist attraction, run by the city.

Back to the raccoon.

He is one of a growing number of traffic signal boxes that are now huge fun, as well as functional, thanks to the attention of local artists. Jeff Blackburn has wonderfully loopy animals all over the city; this guy is just one of them.

Blackburn's raccoon traffici signal box below Casa Loma

Here he is, genus Procyon in all his urban — & artistically enhanced — glory.

Complete with ringed tail.

back view, same box

Also complete with an impatient pedestrian, who wishes the traffic signal box would just do its job, and give her a green light when she wants one.

On we go, still heading west on Davenport, our target now being the retaining wall just to the north on Bathurst.

Bathurst n. of Davenport, west side

It may all be by one hand, I’m not sure about this, but though the images vary widely the style seems consistent. Kind of 1950s cartoon-y. I think.

detail on the Bathurst wall

This suitably alert-looking owl is right next to the command “Despierta” (Wake Up) — you can see the “T” and “A” on the left.

I’m most amused, though, by an obvious interloper on the scene:

detail on the Bathurst wall

Then again, this may only be amusing if you are familiar with “Tout est possible” — a stencilled slogan that pops up around town.

After that, the walk goes downhill.

Literally, as we start south again, following the incline of the city itself toward the lake.

More wandering-around ensues, with the usual latte/americano stop along the way. Our route takes us past Matt Cohen Park at Bloor W. & Spadina, where we admire the stacks of domino sculptures.

in Matt Cohen Park

Perhaps this fine Canadian author (who died far too young) liked to play dominoes?

in Matt Cohen Park

Eventually Phyllis peels off, to catch her subway north. I keep walking — long enough to decide that, yessir, I will walk all the way home.

Finally home, and a peek at my pedometer, which says 14.5 km. That’s not wildly heroic, but I am pleased.



    "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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