Convenience Stores – Introduction

Toronto is a city made up of many neighbourhoods. And most of these neighbourhoods still have their convenience store.

We can all remember a few of our past experiences with our local convenience store when we were growing up. It was a short walk or bike ride away, a place to meet up with friends, a confectionary store where we could spend our allowance or pocket money.

I am embarking on a mission to photograph many of the local convenience stores in Toronto, and present them in a photographic style that I am experimenting with. My first two images are included in this post, and I hope to add to this collection in the coming months.

I would also like to learn more about how these stores can continue to survive in today’s environment of rising real estate values, large chain stores and the continued reliance on cars as the primary means of transport.

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Sunshine Convenience
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Iren’s Grocery

Toronto Storefronts as Art

I have been experimenting lately with a technique in Photoshop on some images of storefronts. The technique involves creating a “cartoon-like” black and white image with black outlines and shading, and then selectively re-introducing colour back into the image.

My first series of images focuses Toronto storefronts. These are small businesses that I usually just stumbled across while walking along the street. Each storefront has something unique that made it worthwhile to capture.

Each image has been framed using an outline, shape, pattern or colour that is derived from the storefront. For example, I found a background of bats to include with the image titled Protected by Witchcraft, as there are bats depicted in the sign above the shop. In The Lucky Spot, I framed the image with a white ring as a play on the word “spot.”

Each storefront has a door, which is my pretext for posting these images on a Thursday in order to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors blog.

I plan on creating more Storefront Art images in the future, so please follow along on my Flickr site or stay tuned for another blog post. Any and all comments are welcome.

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The Lucky Spot
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BBQ Express
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The Pomegranate
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Protected by Witchcraft

Gates (and Walls)

Whereas doors are generally associated with entries to a building, or interior walls of buildings, gates are usually associated with exterior walls or fences. Gates can be similar to doors – they are usually hinged, and they may have a latch or opening mechanism. You can usually see through a gate, so you have a better idea of what is on the other side before you get there.

I have selected a few images of gates from the UK as a variation on the theme of doors for my first Thursday Doors post of the new year.

The first gate image is a favourite of mine, as it includes my first name. You can see through the gate and peer into the dark and mysterious Nicholas Wood.

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Nicholas Wood

The next two images continue with the theme of gates incorporated into the landscape. The gate at the entry to a public footpath is hinged and has a spring to keep it closed, in order to keep the sheep on the other side of the drystone wall. The second gate stands alone on the edge of a farmer’s field, while the fence has disappeared. I like to think that gates are more important and enduring than fences (or walls), as they allow for the movement of people, thoughts and ideas.

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public footpath gate
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lone gate

The next two gates are associated with walls. We have heard a lot of talk about walls recently, so I won’t contribute to the hubris. I will simply restate my preference for gates.

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red gate
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twin gates

The last two gates are associated with final resting places. The graveyard gate provides a vision to a place of burial, as well as to the ocean and the sky beyond.

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graveyard gate

For many people in the past, this final gate was a one way gate, which subsequently led to a beheading or another form of execution. Many prisoners accused of treason were taken to the Tower of London along the Thames River and through the Traitors’ Gate during the Tudor era in England.

This gate was originally called the Water Gate, when it was built for King Edward I, and these types of gates are now referred to as watergates. Ironic name, isn’t it?

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Traitors’ Gate

 

Festive Windows

It’s not that easy to find festive window displays in downtown Toronto during this year’s Christmas season. One go-to is the Hudson’s Bay store on Queen Street West, which features a few windows sponsored by the American toy brand FAO Schwarz. This is the first appearance of FAO Schwarz in Canada, as it has opened up pop-up spaces in Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada. Their windows are elaborate displays, but both the displays and the pop-ups are not expected to stay for long.

The city skyline window is a conglomeration of Toronto facades – some more recognizable than others – plus some vintage streetcars circling on a track. Maybe some long-term residents of Toronto are able to identify all of the buildings.

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FAO Schwarz – city skyline

The second window is a classic display of large-scale toys – a great place for window watchers young and old.

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FAO Schwarz – toy display

A second type of festive display is located in the windows of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street. There are a number of panels, each one created by a local artist as his/her interpretation of the holiday season. This display is rooted in celebration, diversity and community, and reflects the multiculturalism of Toronto. Each piece is being auctioned by public bid, with the proceeds to be donated to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank.

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‘Une Connection’ by Gabrielle Lasporte
northern lights
‘Northern Light’ by Patrick Hunter
good tidings
‘Good Tidings’ by Vivian Rosas
chinese lion
‘Chinese Lion, Burning Bright’ by Dylan Glynn

Door Potpourri

The word “potpourri” originated in the French language, and can be literally translated into English as “putrid pot.” It was used to describe a Spanish stew of various meats. [Source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary.]

More recently, this word has two common meanings. One refers to a mixture of flowers, herbs and spices, usually kept in a bowl or a jar, to create a pleasant scent. The other use of potpourri is to describe a miscellaneous collection or medley of things.

Norm Frampton has suggested that regular contributors to his Thursday Doors blog should consider posting a year-end recap of door discoveries over the past year, in celebration of the end of the year. As my final door post for 2018, I have chosen to feature a potpourri of forgotten doors from around the world that didn’t make it into a previous post. You could also refer to these as my “B-side” doors. For other year-end door contributions, be sure to check out Norm’s Thursday Doors blog for December 20, 2018.

My first door has an A-side and a B-side. The A-side has the address of 10 Adelaide Street East, Toronto (“A” is for Adelaide in this example). This building was opened in 1909 as the headquarters for a financial institution. The doors and the facade reflect the prosperity of the times in Toronto over 100 years ago. Like many cities, Toronto had its big downtown fire in 1904, and this new building was designed to meet stricter fireproofing standards. [Source: Ontario Heritage Trust website.]

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Ontario Heritage Centre – A-side

This building is now home to the Ontario Heritage Trust, which has the mandate to identify, protect, promote and conserve Ontario’s heritage in all of its forms. The OHT is trying to preserve Ontario’s Anglophone and Francophone heritage – a mandate that seems to have been half forgotten by Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government.

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Ontario Heritage Centre – B-side

My B-side image was taken from the interior of the Ontario Heritage Centre when it was open to the public during Open Doors Toronto in May 2017. For more of my images from Open Doors Toronto 2017, you can use the following links:

Doors Open Toronto – Part 1

Doors Open Toronto – Part 2

Doors Open Toronto – Part 3

The next four images could have been included in a Doors of the UK series, but I could not find a theme for grouping these with any other doors.

Following these are two more door images that could have been included in my collection of Doors of Southern France. I love these doorways for the elaborate stone work and carvings that surround the doors.

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One French door
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Two French doors

My original French doors attracted a lot of interest from readers and have received more likes than any of my other blog posts. Here are the links:

Doors of southern France – Part 1

Doors of southern France – Part 2

My final door image for 2018 is a blue Police Box. This style of police box was used in the UK during much of the 20th Century. The box (usually blue) contains a public phone, but the phone is not inside the box, like you would expect to find in a phone booth. The phone is actually located behind the hinged door on the door on the left. Fans of the UK TV program Dr. Who may recognize this as the TARDIS – which is Dr. Who’s time machine. [Source: Wikipedia – Police box.] This police box is actually located in a small town in Australia. This must be Dr. Who’s actual time machine – how else would you explain its relocation 1000’s of miles to the southern hemisphere?

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Blue Police Box – AKA the TARDIS