Slogans for "the people"

I live in a Canadian province where the head of state likes to communicate with the public through the use of slogans and catch phrases. Doug Ford is the Premier of Ontario, and since winning the last provincial election as the leader of the Conservative Party in 2018, he has applied his personal leadership style to governing our Province.

During the election campaign, we heard terms such as “Ford Nation” and government “for the people.” The Ford family owns a company that produces decals, which are well-suited for advertising with punchy graphics and messages written in ten words or fewer. But how can this simplistic approach be applied to government operations in a parliamentary system?

The Conservatives are climate change deniers, and campaigned with the promise to cancel all provincial green energy initiatives. One example was to overturn the carbon tax that had been implemented by the previous Liberal government. Upon hearing that the Federal Government (also Liberals) would impose their own carbon tax on Ontario residents, to replace the cancelled provincial program, the Conservatives responded with a sticker campaign. All gas stations are required to display stickers on their gas pumps that outline the carbon tax costs.

There have been many problems with the stickers – on several levels – but the major problem is that they only tell half of the story. There is no mention of the carbon tax rebates that Ontario residents are receiving from the federal program.

Premier Ford has applied his sticker slogan mentality to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Many bills that the government has tabled in the legislature bear a slogan. For example, rather than just being Bill 115, this piece of legislation was named the “Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act .”

Based on the gas station sticker fiasco, one can’t help but ask “which people?” and who judges what is “fair,” and wonder what is really contained in the fine print.

In response, I have undertaken a personal project to create stickers with the names of all of the acts that were passed in the Ontario Legislature and received royal assent in 2019. On a basic level, I have used this as an opportunity to “brush up” on my brush lettering skills. I calligraphed each title using a brush pen, and then I traced over the lettering with a pencil. The final touches were applied in Photoshop, including the use of gradient maps to produce some catchy colour combinations for each slogan.

On a more substantive level, I feel like I am living in a banana republic, where the government is serving up superficial slogans and platitudes to disguise their hidden agenda.

The following images are my first batch of stickers for the past year. With more time and research, I would be tempted to add a “warning” message at the bottom of each sticker, to identify some of the potential outcomes. This would likely need to be in very fine print to fit it all in.

Deck the Halls

This year’s Christmas windows at the Bay were, in my opinion, a bust, so I decided to wander elsewhere in downtown Toronto in search of other “festive decorations.”

I soon found some decorations in the nearby financial district, beginning at the Scotia Plaza. Several star ornaments are hanging in the porticos outside the north and south entrances. There is a lot of volume to fill in these spaces, and it must have required a pretty large cherry picker to install these decorations.

Star ornaments

Upon entering the interior spaces, there is a large Christmas tree and a very elaborate round tree ornament.

Gold and silver Christmas tree
Ball ornament

Deck the halls with boughs of holly!

The closest thing I found that resembled boughs of holly was this large wreath, on display at First Canadian Place.

Christmas wreath

I can usually count on a visit to Brookfield Place to find something on public display, and I wasn’t disappointed this time either.

Brookfield Place is supporting the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada this season. This week, there is a teddy bear auction, with all proceeds to be donated to Starlight. The galleria also has other seasonal displays and services, including a gift wrapping service.

Teddy Bear auction

A large sculpture titled Frost is prominently displayed in the centre of the Allan Lambert Galleria. This sculpture was designed to reflect the structure of the galleria, and it is interactive, as the lighting responds to touching by hand.

Frost

Also on display this week at Brookfield is the Gingerbread House Challenge, featuring houses built by some of the Brookfield Place tennants. You can visit an app to view and vote on your favourite house, but it is a much better experience to view them first hand. Some of the gingerbread houses still look good enough to eat – but no luck with these, as they are encased in plexiglas. Unfortunately, they are on display for only one week – likely due to their biodegradeable contents – so, in the words of a long-time Toronto retailer:

If you miss it, you’ve missed it!

The gingerbread house challenge

Just like many of the building projects in Toronto, construction materials must be getting more expensive and harder to find. Alternative materials – such as the Shreddies and pretzels in the log cabin below – were used instead of gingerbread.

Pretzels and Shreddies house

Habitat for Humanity will soon be hosting the GTAs 17th annual Gingerbread Build, taking place on December 7th in Toronto and December 8th in Vaughan. Toronto City Hall will be the place to visit on December 7, where gingerbread building kits will be sold for $50. Proceeds will be used to transform gingerbread into new sustainable family homes!

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.