Local, Far-Flung … & a Tease

30 November 2016 – This one is Local, definitely local.

Cyndie & I are walking south on Bay at dusk, no destination, just the joy of being outdoors on such a fresh, mild evening. We wander into Nathan Phillips Square, cast an appreciative eye on our clam-shell City Hall, circle sculptures & read plaques, walk through the Peace Gardens, and then stand delighted when we catch sight of the pond.

Which, despite mild weather, is now officially in skating-rink mode.

skating in Nathan Phillips Sq., Queen W & Bay

Laughter, adult & child; selfies; swish of blades on ice; music on the loudspeaker. It really is fun.

On to Far-Flung.

My friend Chris is just back from his travels, which included — along with Petra & other major bucket-list destinations — a stay in Cyprus. Once home, he showed me what he discovered on the streets of Limassol.

Street art.

With his permission, I’m sharing some of it with you. From squid-girl …

Limassol Cyprus, by Chris C

to a line-up of wall critters (plus a wall bike, far end) …

Limassol Cyprus, by Chris C

to a big old lady bug …

Limassol Cyprus, by Chris C

to fresh-art DNA …

Limassol Cyprus, by Chris C

to a pensive mother & child.

Limassol Cyprus, by Chris C

That in turn brings us to …

my Tease.

Also a mother & child, but the work of Chilean-Canadian street artist Shalak Attack, on a wall right here in Toronto. (Roughly Dundas West & Brock, if you’re in the neighbourhood & curious.)

Dundas W & Bock, by Shalak Attack

I know it’s local. It is also my tease.

You will see.

“Live, Love, Paint”

There’s Elizabeth Gilbert, American author … and then there’s Spud1, Toronto street artist.

I don’t see his garage mural with this upper-left-corner mantra until later in my walk, but, belated or not, it perfectly sets my theme.

detail, spud1 garage mural nr Danforth & Pape

I’m walking east on Danforth, heading for Main St. or farther, but of course soon find myself wiggling around alleys just north of Danforth. Lively as the street always is, I am endlessly curious about what might be going on behind its store-fronts.

Lots is going on, is the answer. Even in this modest little stretch between Logan & Greenwood.

I’m attracted by this long line of colour blocking. No rambunctious alley art here, just pure hits of colour.

Red. Black. Turquoise. White.

nr Logan & Danforth

I reach the far side of the white building, look left, & start to laugh.

It’s time for rambunctious!

alley off Danforth

The fish in that right-hand garage is particularly splendid.

detail, right-hand garage

Next comes Spud1 — aka Spud, and, especially earlier, Spudbomb, when he was mostly known for his happy-face hand grenades. He’s been branching out in style more recently, and isn’t this a fine example? First I see a curled-up fox; later I see his name.spud1 garage mural

Mantra as promised, upper-left corner.

Some other Big Names in these alleys, including Cruz1art.

I’d like to call this a pink panther, with a bow to Inspector Clouseau, but suspect he’s more likely a tiger. Or something else. (I’m the one who called a baboon a lion in All Along the Milky Way & had to be gently corrected by DJ in a comment, so what do I know?)

Anyway, he’s pink, & he’s pretty certainly a Big Cat, let’s go with that.

cruz1art garage mural

Then there’s haunting lady with mattresses …

artist name covered, if there

Usually alley mattresses are grubby & potentially crawling with life you’d rather not meet. These are pristine, each tidily wrapped, per bed-bug bylaws. Another mystery of alley life.

A whole fence of drip art, over by Donlands.

Look at this, think how ugly the underlying fence really is, and join me in thanking whoever decided to make it, instead, a work of art.

nr Donlands & Danforth

Some sort of Big Cat earlier; three more cats to round out the tour.

I’m practically at Jones when I see The Jazz Cats. This is wonderful! I first saw this cheeky image several winters ago, and here he still is. A little battered — but what true alley cat is anything else?

high on a wall nr Jones

A much sketchier alley cat, but also quite gloriously battered.

guarding an alley intersection...

And, to close, my favourite cat of all.

He is alive-alive-o, sashaying down the alley like he’s channelled Mae West, passing one garage mural & another, and another, and another … and then he makes his choice.

He sits.

the cat that got the canary...

Of course he chooses the canary. (Oh that Uber 5000.)


Street Talk

22 November 2016 – Chatter-chatter-chatter, three examples in quick succession as I march north just east of Church St. and then hook eastward on Dundas.

And each example a slightly different twist on text & visual.

First up, text later rejected by visual …

on Mutual St.

then pure visual, the only text being the thought bubble in your own mind (“Aha, his Project Gallery show & now this, ANSER is playing with his trademark image”) …


on Mutual St.


and, finally, pure text.

Filmores, Dundas St East

Even a strip joint like Filmores has standards.

7 Down, 1 Up

17 November 2016 – Sounds like a crossword puzzle command, doesn’t it? But it’s not, it’s what happened today when I went walking with Mary C ( As I Walk Toronto ).

We’re in Leslieville, happy to follow our feet wherever they choose to go, and — no surprise here — they choose to walk a lot of alleys.

Which takes us past a lot of garages.

I become fascinated with ones that are … how shall we put this? … a little down on their luck.

Brilliant, dramatic, but decidedly down on their luck.

Like this one.

peeling door, in a Leslieville alley

And this one. From peeling red, to peeling black & blue.

Leslieville alley garage

Lots of stern instructions here, but they forgot the important one …

Leslieville alley garage

namely, No Tagging.

“Bang” says the garage door, in large letters. Bang?

Aha, check those cute little mousies, in the lower right.

Leslieville alley garage

Mouse (Right) has Mouse (Left) at gunpoint.

A second round of weather!, this time on a field of turquoise …

Leslieville alley garage

then a garage sporting a whole lot of turquoise.

Which is weathered, but not weather!-ed.

Leslieville alley garage

Then a little more turquoise (along with Memories of Insulbrick) …

Leslieville alley garage

and finally, out on a city street, whole great whooping stripes of turquoise.

very harrow, very exuberant Leslieville house

After 7 Down, we have hit our 1 Up.

Up-tempo, up-energy, up-humour, up-up-up.

Cat & Mouse

12 November 2016 – The cat …

detail, mural Brock & Dundas W

and the mouse …

detail, ural Brock & Dundas W

and the artists …

artists, mural Brock & Dundas W

and the whole glorious mural …

mural, west side Brock just south of Dundas West

right there on Brock just south of Dundas West.

“Happy Tuesday”

9 November 2016 – The sign has no political import, you understand. It’s just doing its sidewalk job, drumming up business for the café inside — and very time-efficiently at that. Why write a whole new sign, when you can just edit one word?

repurposed café sidewalk sign

But the Tuesday Walking Society is out there on November 8. This is Election-Tuesday in the USA, a day that will make a lot of Americans very happy indeed.

Others, not so much.

In fact, enough others are unhappy enough to cause the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website to crash the following day. More immigration inquiries than it could handle.

But on Tuesday itself, nobody knows any of this. It’s a warm, sunny morning in Toronto, and Phyllis & I are working our way west on Bloor Street to Christie Pits Park, located at — you guessed it — Christie Street.

A few blocks short of the park, we dive into an alley just north of Bloor. Look! Raccoons!

alley to the east of Christie St., n. of Bloor

Two surprises. First, they are painted on a garage door, not live on the ground. And, second, I find them delightful. (Not necessarily my attitude to their marauding live cousins.)

We have no particular reason to visit the park, except we haven’t done so in a while, and it’s as good a starting point as any for further exploration.

Fall colours have been muted this year, we agree, but the golds are still blazing throughout the park.

still brilliat trees, Christie Pits Park

We kick through the leaves underfoot, wrinkle happy noses at the distinctive aroma, cock our ears to the distinctive sound.

We see a big, blue canoe. Phyllis stops, so do I, but I also murmur, “It’s awfully scruffy…”

Community Canoe, in Christie Pits Park

“It’s meant to be,” she replies. (The world’s gentlest reprimand.)

“That’s what native species do, this time of year…” And she then explains Community Canoe, the network of pollinator-friendly canoe gardens, part of the Homegrown National Park Project.

Leaving the park, I turn back for a moment to watch four ladies practise their morning tai chi. Sure, peaceful movements, in a warm, peaceful dip in the ground.

tai chi i Christie Pits Park

Distinct change of mood as we begin exploring neighbouring streets & alleys!

More urban wildlife in an alley off Ossington, once again painted not live.

alley nr Ossington n. of Bloor


As with the raccoons, I find the painted variety delightful, the live variety somewhat less so. (In fact, when it comes to pigeons, I tend to agree with Tom Lehrer.)

More alleys in the general area, some with very fine murals, others that owe their impact more to Mother Nature than to any local artist.

another Ossington area alley

A bit farther north in the alley, though, some happy murals.

A giddy flower …

Ossington-area alley

and smiling faces in an Elicser mural. (The very first smiles I have seen on any work by this artist.)

same alley, farther north

We walk a lot more — up to Dupont, as far west as Lansdowne, south to Dundas and then head east again.

The loop eventually brings us to Trinity Bellwoods Park. I drag Phyllis to a vaguely remembered stretch of pavement, a place where various pathways intersect near the north-east corner of the park.

I want to know if “Sun slant low…” is still visible on the pavement, or if time has scuffed it away.

It is faint, but still there. I am so pleased.

in the N/E corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park

I had to come home & look up old records to see when I first noticed, first photographed, this extraordinary love poem to the sun’s yearly trajectory.

There! 20 December, 2014. (Click: you’ll be rewarded with the full text.)

And when better to honour the poem, than as we approach the winter solstice?


And then I turned the corner …

5 November 2016 – I was trying to find something else.

I found this instead.

nr Pape & Queen East

I think it is by Jarus – it has that look about it, and there is a signed Jarus portrait nearby.



Down the Bluffs with Doris McCarthy

3 November 2016 – Finally on the Doris McCarthy Trail! We found it in spring — and also found it closed for restoration. Grrr. It has now reopened, and we are back. (Thanks to Phyllis’ perseverance, I must add.)

I knew of the artist Doris McCarthy; even, decades back, attended a showing of her works at which she was present (though I was too shy to approach her). I also knew vaguely that she had long lived out on the Scarborough Bluffs.

Now the artist and the place come together beneath our feet, as we start down the gravelled trail. Signs warn cyclists to dismount, to respect the steep slope.

partway down the Trail, with Lake Ontario already visible

Not that steep, we agree, as we march on down, Lake Ontario already in view.

The day is sunny-cloudy, but not raining, so we are content. And anyway, how could you not be content, with views like this?

view west, from foot of Doris McCarthyTrail

Down there in the distance to the west, Leslie Spit. Up close, rusty fall colours in the shrubbery. Linking the two, great striated bands of glacial material, layer on layer, North America’s most complete record of Pleistocene geology.

Smack at the foot of the Doris McCarthy Trail, a sculpture.

Passage, by Marlene Hilton Moore

Passage, it is called, and it is perfect. The work of Marlene Hilton Moore, a tribute to both Doris McCarthy and the Bluffs she loved so much. We peer down the ribs …


see two columns of dates along the spine, & rush back to the plaque for help.

One column tracks major events in the life of Doris McCarthy, from birth (1910) to years training in & then teaching art, to her 12-acre purchase of land on the Bluffs (1939) and subsequent establishment of first a cottage & then a permanent home on the site (Fool’s Paradise, 1946), her travels & honours as an artist, her induction into the Order of Canada (1987), her donation of Fool’s Paradise to the Ontario Heritage Trust (1998), & her death, age 100, in 2010. Fittingly, the Trust now runs her beloved home as the Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residence Centre.

The other column tracks major events in the life of the Scarborough Bluffs. It starts a little earlier: 23,000 B.C., when Lake Iroquois is first formed.

We amble westward on the lakeside trail, enjoying the warmth, the breeze, nature’s extravagant textures.

heading west along Lake Ontario, from foot of Doris McCarthy Trail

And, oh, in a while, the path successively narrows and finally ends.

Scarborough Bluffs, looking west

We turn back, explore our way to the east; explore, too, what else is on offer, along with those sweeping vistas.

Rocks, for example, along the beach …

beach rock

and beautifully crafted little bird nests …

at path's edge

and, of course!, an inukshuk, out on a point.

inukshuk, beyond the tree

Finally we loop back once again to Passage …

marking the foot of the Doris McCarthy Trail

and head back up the Doris McCarthy Trail to the city streets of Scarborough.

It is, we agree, much steeper to climb than to descend!




All Along the Milky Way

31 October 2016 – No, no, not that one.

Far galaxy, Wikipedia

This one!

Elm Grove end of Milky Way Lane

The one just south of Queen West, between Elm Grove & Gwynne (just short of Dufferin). I featured it in my 2014 Blurb book, Walking the Streets & Lanes, and then forgot about it.

Until Tuesday.

And there we are, Phyllis & I, straying slightly from Queen West, when I spy the street name & give little squeaks of joy. What fun, into it again, a chance to see what’s new & what is still here.

The horse at the Elm Grove end is, I think, new since 2014. So is this delightful Milky Way Community Garden, in a lane-off-the-lane, just before you dive into the laneway for real.

just off Milky Way, near Elm Grove


We walk along the garden border, one bouncy image after another. I am quite taken with the dancing beets, for example, but will show you the pumpkin instead. This is Hallowe’en, after all.

Milky Way Community Garden fence detail

And on into Milky Way Lane proper.

This mural I know was here in 2014, and still in darn good condition, too.

in Milky Way Lane

This next one, though, is surely new. I mutter how I can’t “read” this style, then become engrossed in picking out the tiny symbols that are tucked in throughout.

in Milky Way Lane

“Oh, look,” cries Phyllis, “Good Dog is still here!”

We are so happy. He is so lovable.

in Milky Way Lane

You can bet this rusty wall was here in 2014, and long before that as well.

I always think of bold, battered elements like this as part of the art installation as a whole.

in Milky Way Lane

We don’t remember Mr. Doorway Lion. We wish him luck in not losing his head.

in Milky Way Lane

Right, everybody. Focus.

In this next photo, the fire escape & the wheelies are merely incidental. Your task is to find the hidden squirrels. Real squirrels. Two of them.

spot the hidden squirrels...

Now find the “tree house mail” box!

Don’t worry if you can’t. Phyllis & I couldn’t, and we were right there on the spot.

in Milky Way Lane

Down by the Gwynne St. end, the perfect slogan for any street artist.

nr. Gwynne end, Milky Way Lane

Hurray for Blue Fish.


Signs of Fall

28 October 2016 – As established readers know, & the rest of you are about to learn, I am shameless about puns. Even when they are dead-obvious groaners. Case in point: the title & content of this post.

The Tuesday Walking Society is out in force, all two of us, starting south on Roncy (Roncesvalles, when it is trying to be dignified) & planning eventually to turn east on Queen St. West and then … just keep going.

I stop almost immediately to gurgle endearments at this cat. The surrounding parking-lot signs just add to his raffish charm.

Roncesvalles parking lot, s. of Dundas West

Stomp-stomp for a bit, and then Phyllis nudges me, chortling, “A huge pumpkin — on Garden Avenue!” I agree it is terrific, a true sign of fall, and on exactly the right street corner.

fake pumpkin, real fruit & veggies

Upon inspecting it up close, we realize it is fake!

We decide to roll with the punch. Just a bit of Hallowe’en decoration, we agree, and look — everything else this greengrocer has on display is absolutely real.

First sidewalk sign of the day.

in front of a Roncy bakery

We admire the word — it doesn’t exist, but ought to — yet resist the temptation. Too early in the walk for treats.

Next up, more fall fakery, but come on, admit that you love it.

bike on Queen West nr Roncy

An old geezer watches me take the photo, squints at the bike, rocks on his heels for a moment, and rasps, “Now, that’s really pretty.”

Striding down Queen St. West by now.  A coffee shop catches our attention, but not our patronage.

on Queen West

Still, if you happen to be addicted to both offerings … what bliss.

Bliss comes in many forms. Some have a hole in the centre.

more temptation

I stop mid-stride for this doorway alcove.

Why am I so enchanted? I think I’m still imprinted by that walk on Sherbourne (previous post), where I saw bird (etc.) forms everywhere. Here, I see a moose. Phyllis is not convinced.

moose, sort of

“Look,” I argue, waving my arms. “Left antler turquoise, right antler blue-striped, and he’s hugging Claret Guy With One Sad Eye.”

I’m still thinking about compassionate moose when I am again stopped mid-stride. By now we are in the heart of one of Toronto’s Little Tibets, and therefore awash in various meditative offerings …

Plus this.

in the Queen West Little Tibet

I love it. Take that, Tibet-stereotype!!

Now a Mysterious Gap in this account of our walk. Next post will fill it in, I promise.

Meanwhile, hop-hop, and on to Queen West & Dufferin, and the railway underpass that when constructed in the late 1890s was known as the “Queen St. Subway.” We know the date & the original name — plus the name of the mayor and city engineer — because all this information is chiselled in stone to commemorate what must have been, at the time, an epic next step in technology, transportation, city expansion and Progress in general.

underpass, Queen West & Dufferin

That’s not what I notice first, as we walk through the underpass. First I see that saucy 21st-c. mouse, only afterwards the stately civic pride of the 19th-c. stone signage below.

(You squint. You ask yourself if I intend this blur as an artistic effect. Don’t be silly. I was merely incompetent at taking the shot. But I do like the mouse, and his culture-contrast with the stonework below.)

Next, just a big old fun mural, complete with happy guy in cherry-red shades.

Until you read the tribute line above.

a Queen-West RIP tribute

Notice one RIP, and you start noticing more of them. Too many.

More Queen West kilometres under our heels, & more signs. Like this admonition …

Queen West nr Ossington


and then this riff (sort of) on an old Beatles song.

Queen West east of Ossington

Who could argue?

Meanwhile, Back on Sherbourne Street …

I have such helpful readers! Back yourselves up to my previous post (The Show on Sherbourne) and revisit the mural at Sherbourne & Queen St. East. Where I originally confessed I couldn’t decipher the artist credits, you will now see the three names nicely filled in. That bit of editing is thanks to reader filo21, whose comment on the post supplied the missing information.

My second thank-you is to Rick H., who commented quite perceptively on my breezy but lazy “certified Whatever” tag for the west end of the Birdo Tenso mural. Rick sees it as “a close relative of the Hornbill-esque bird” at the mural’s east end, and I think he is absolutely 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"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 71,702 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,194 other followers

%d bloggers like this: