Shafts of Sunlight

Autumn is upon us, and as the sun sinks lower in the sky, every sunny day becomes more appreciated. The streets of downtown Toronto can get dark as you walk among the office towers, but there are locations where the sun still shines.

It has taken me some time to find a new theme for a post. Last week, I journeyed into the downtown core in search of shafts of sunlight. They are even more appealing today as we are greeted by a wet and soggy morning.

walkway shadows

Most of the time I found lots of people also out enjoying the sunshine as they adventured into the day.

three amigos
sunshine plaza

The high contrast subject matter was best exhibited in a monochrome interpretation. The hard edges of the shadows created by the architectural elements were softened by the human content.

business day
tuned in
good morning sunshine
mottled sunshine
exit stairs

“C” Words

It has been a long period of several months since I last posted on my blog. So now I am trying to find a way to get unstuck and move forward.

My blog is primarily about my photography, so I reviewed some of my Flickr images, where I found a theme for this post. On a recent visit to Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, I created two images with single word titles – both of them starting with the letter “C”. In my search, I found a few more “C” images, and here they are.

connection
contemplation
curves
conversations

Doors Open Toronto 2019 – Part 2 (Hart House)

One of my stops during Doors Open Toronto this year was on the campus of the University of Toronto. I did not attend university here, so I look for opportunities to acquaint myself with some of the facilities at this downtown campus.

Hart House is a grand old institutional building designed in the Collegiate Gothic style. It was commissioned by the Massey family and gifted to the University of Toronto by the Massey Foundation. The building was named by Vincent Massey – who later became Governor General of Canada – in honour of his grandfather. Henry Sproatt, along with engineer Ernest Rolph, designed the building, which opened in 1919.

Hart House serves as a gathering space for students, faculty, staff and others who study, work at or visit the campus. There are several facilities housed within the building, including a theatre, a meeting hall, a restaurant, an art gallery, a library and a fitness centre.

The Gothic architecture and stone facade encourage black and white interpretation when taking photographic images of the building. I have included some of my shots below. Although there are no doors in any of these images, this collection is my contribution to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors blog for the week of June 13th.

Hart House entrance
the Great Hall
halls of learning
corner stone

The stained glass window in the chapel was one exception, and deserves a full colour interpretation.

chapel window

Doors Open Toronto 2019 – Part 1 (Riverside)

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Doors Open Toronto. The theme for 2019 was “20 Something,” focusing on the event’s past and the future, with an emphasis on Toronto’s youth and Indigenous communities. I chose to begin my Doors Open experience with a guided walking tour of the Riverside community in Toronto, on what turned out to be the better weather day of the May 25-26 weekend.

Riverside is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Toronto’s East End (formerly East York). It’s backbone is Queen Street East, starting at the Queen Street Viaduct where it crosses the Don River. The Riverside Mural greets eastbound visitors after they cross the bridge. The construction crane looming over the mural is a sign of change that is coming to the neighbourhood.

The Riverside Mural

Our walking tour started across the street from the Riverside Mural at another mural. This mural is titled Tkaranto Past / Tkaranto Future, and it explores Toronto as a meeting place. It represents Indigenous people, who first met, traveled and hunted here; and later, a place where people from around the world have come to live. An appropos starting point in keeping with this year’s theme.

Tkaranto Past / Tkaranto Future

Our next stops were at the Broadview Hotel and the Royal Canadian Curling Club, neither of which I photographed. The Broadview Hotel is likely the most well-known landmark in the area, having been transformed from Jilly’s Strip Club into a boutique hotel with a restaurant, bar and cafe, which reopened in 2017. The Royal Canadian Curling Club started out as the Royal Canadian Cycling Club, but ice sports became more popular. The Royals continues to host major curling championships to this day.

The next stop along Queen St. East was outside Maison Caras, the headquarters and couture fashion house of the internationally renowned CARAS brand. The Stephan Caras building was repurposed from its original use as a branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. I was intriqued by the classical facade and the wonderful front door, which is part of my contribution to this week’s Thursday Doors blog, hosted by Norm Frampton.

Maison Caras

Further east was my most favourite old building of the day – The Poulton Block. There is an inscription above the second floor that states “Poulton Block, 1885,” which dates back to the original naming and establishment of the Riverside community. The red brick facade includes some rounded, square and pointed arches, and the overall proportions are just lovely.

The Poulton Block

Near the eastern end of Riverside, before the railway overpass which separates Riverside from Leslieville, I found the Riverside Building. It looks vacant at the moment, but I hope that a new occupant will find a good use for the shop. And please keep the storefront intact!

Riverside Building

Our final stop was at another mural. The Pollenator mural was created in 2016, and it also represents some of the area’s past. Beekeeping and wildflower gardens have been a part of the Riverside culture, while clockmaking was the profession of one of the founding members of the Riverside Business Improvement Area. The Riverside BIA was one of the sponsors of this walking tour, as well as the mural.

The Pollenator

More information on self-guided tours in East End Toronto can be found in a publication titled the Cultural Loops Guide, produced by the City of Toronto Arts & Culture Services, Economic Development and Culture Division. Check them out at toronto.ca/culture.

Guardians at the Gates

While located 1000’s of kilometres apart, and hundreds of years different in age, the following two sculptures have much in common.

The village of Saint Jean Pied de Port is located at the base of the Pyrenees in south-western France. It is one of the departure points for walkers and pilgrims on the St. James Way of the Camino de Santiago, before they cross the border into Spain.

A sculpture of a shepherd, carrying a staff and caring for a lamb, is perched above the Porte d’Espagne in Saint Jean Pied de Port. The shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port is a symbol of caring and guidance, protecting all of the pilgrims who pass under the gate at the commencement of their journey.

roncesvalles 1 cw

pied de port v2 cw
the shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port

Ryerson University is a post-secondary institution which has a large campus in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. Kerr Hall is one of the primary buildings on the campus, and it was constructed in the form of a square, enclosing an open green space in the centre (the Quad). There are two portals that open onto the streets at the north and south ends. Above the south entry gate, there is a statue of an ice hockey goalie.

ryerson 1 cw

ryerson v2 cw
the goalie of Ryerson

The goalie of Ryerson can be viewed as the protector of all those who pass through the gate to enter the campus. I am sure that only in Canada would this metaphor of a goalie as a guardian be accepted and understood. A shepherd with his staff can be universally understood – at least within the Christian ethos – to be a guardian. But a goalie with his hockey stick is a truly Canadian phenomenon. Of course, for some Canadians, hockey is a religion, so it goes without saying that the symbolism of a goalie is well understood.

It would be interesting to see more examples of guardians like these from other parts of the world. If any readers have some images or suggestions, please respond.

Discovering Toronto Heritage – by Accident

I recently discovered this preserved building facade during an exploratory walk in downtown Toronto. The Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries signage was created in full Art Nouveau style, and I am sure that this is a rare example of the preservation of this architectural style in Toronto.

d35-jenkins gallery cw
Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries – Now

After further investigation, I have found the following historical facts. This building was incorporated into a high-rise condominium known as The Gallery which was opened in 1990. The architects for this development were Kirkor Archiects and Planners. The original building was designated as a Part IV heritage building in 1984, whicch meant that the sign and facade had to be incorporated into the new structure.

The original gallery was designed by Sproatt & Rolph Architects, who designed many well known buildings in Toronto. It dates back to the early 1900’s when it was the primary importer of antique mahogany and rosewood furniture in Toronto. I found the accompanying archival photo of the original building.

25 grenville street
Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries – Then