Blog

Old School Doors – Series 2

Central Technical School is located on Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The school was opened in 1915 as the Toronto School Board’s flagship technical school.

The front entry has some interesting features. There are three pairs of oak doors at the front entrance to the school. Above the doors is a stone archway with some carved features. These include two sculpted gargoyles that represent industry and science, or technical and academic, depending on how you wish to interpret the two educational streams.

d27-central tech 1 cw
Central Tech main entry

Featured above the archway is the original City of Toronto coat of arms, with the motto “Industry, Intelligence, Integrity”. It is the only school in Toronto to display this coat of arms, because the school was fully funded by the municipal government. It is also an early version of the City’s coat of arms. The shield consists of four quadrants, depicting the following: three lions, alluding to the coat of arms of England; a beaver (a symbol of the City’s history for industry and activity); a ship; and a sheaf of wheat. Standing on either side of the shield are an indigenous chief, with an axe and a bow; and Britannia, bearing a trident. A crown and another beaver are positioned above the shield.

d27-central tech 2 cw
Central Tech entry details

Some of the doors at other entrances are painted blue – the official school colours are blue and white.

d27-central tech blue doors cw
Central Tech blue doors

This is my second post dedicated to old school doors – to see my previous article, please check this link. Like all of my other posts on doors, this is my contribution for Norm’s Thursday Doors this week.

 

 

Fast Food and Beer

All of these images were shot on a walk along Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The street has a rich diversity of subject matter, and like much of the rest of the city, it has a mix of old buildings and redevelopment.

None of the doors in this collection are noteworthy – it is the stories behind these doors that make them interesting. These are my contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of August 9, 2018.

Tim Hortons has been in the news a lot lately. Once an iconic Canadian fast food outlet for coffee and donuts, the company expanded in the 1990’s when it merged with Wendy’s International and became an American company. It was later bought out by a multi-national congolomerate in 2014. Restaurant Brands International is now trying to make every cent they can out of a cup of coffee and a donut, and many of the Canadian Tim Hortons franchisees are feeling the revenue squeeze.

In Ontario, these problems were compounded in January 2018 when the provincial government increased the mandatory minimum hourly wage to $14. Some franchisees were accused of stripping benefits, banning tips and removing paid breaks because they were not permitted to increase their prices to accommodate the wage increase.

d26-tim hortons cw
Tim Hortons

Things have been much quieter at McDonald’s, which operates as an independent Canadian company within a world-wide corporation. It seems to have escaped any of the bad publicity. McDonald’s is the second largest fast food chain in Canada after Tim Hortons, and it is stil best known for its hamburgers. A few years ago, McDonalds got serious about the breakfast market, and incorporated McCafe outlets within their restaurants. Breakfast bagels were also recently introduced in Canada.

d26-mcdonalds cw
McDonald’s

The Beer Store is where you go to buy a case of beer in Ontario. Established in 1927, the Beer Store is a private business owned by a group of breweries. Until recently, the ownership was monopolized by three multi-national brewers, but smaller craft brewers now have opportunities to be shareholders and sell their products.

Each province in Canada has its own unique system for the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. In Ontario, you can shop for liquor, wine and small volumes (six-packs or less) of beer and cider at the government-owned LCBO. For larger volumes of beer, you go to The Beer Store. Pubs and restaurants must also purchase their beer from The Beer Store. Wine, beer and cider are also sold at some groceries and small retail stores.

All alcohol containers are sold with a deposit, which can only be refunded by returning the empty bottles and cans to The Beer Store.

d26-beer store cw
The Beer Store

Lowering the price of beer became a campaign slogan for the newly-elected Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario this year. One of their campaign promises was a return to “a buck a beer.” This seemed to be a bizarre item to include in a party platform, but it must have appealed to some of the voters, along with other regressive promises such as a return to the sex-ed curriculum of the 1990’s in all public schools (but that’s another whole topic of concern).

You can also order your beer online for pick-up or delivery through The Beer Xpress, to go along with your drive-thru or takeout food. Maybe this is where the first “buck a beer” will become available – although you might have to buy a case of 24 to get the “deal.” There’s an app for that!

Doors of Happiness

I recently visited the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The AKM opened in 2014, and celebrates the arts of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.  The collection includes various artefacts and cultural objects that span from the eighth Century to the present.

The stated purpose of the Aga Khan Museum is that it will become “a centre of education and of learning, and that it will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

d25-aga khan museum cw
the aga khan museum

Among the items on display I found and photographed three pairs of double doors, which are displayed here as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of July 12, 2018. There was no indication of the context in which these these doors were originally used, so they can only be admired for their design and craftsmanship.

The first pair of doors are from Northern Iran, and are very specifically dated to have been carved in the years 1486-1487 AD. In the Muslim calendar, this is equivalent to the year 892 H (Hijri). The geometric design is quite unique, especially when compared to contemporary arts and crafts design in Europe.

d25-iranian doors cw
Iranian doors, 1486-87

The second pair of doors originates in either Iran or northern India, from the late 18th or early 19th Century. The doors are embellished with carved and painted floral patterns around the edges of the frames and inner panels. The Persian inscription in cartouches at the top is translated to state:

Open the door of happiness for the owner of this door, opener of doors.

d25-doors of happiness cw
doors of happiness

There is very little information provided about the third set of doors. They are constructed of wood, metal and mother of pearl, and probably originate from Gujarat, India, in the 19th-20th Century.

d25-pearly gates cw
pearly gates

A Visit to Stratford – Part 2

The evolution of the use of older church buildings is an interesting study topic. Originally built as places of worship during the early growth of towns and cities, churches were imposing structures funded and constructed by community members. Over time, as local congregations have moved on, and religion has lost some of its relevance, increasing numbers of church buildings have become surplus and may be re-purposed.

The church located at 70 Brunswick Street in Stratford is a good example. According to one source, it was originally named the Congregational Church when it was built in 1873-1874. Congregational churches comprised Protestant groups arising from Puritanism, and were organized on the principle that each congregation should be autonomous. Many congregational churches later joined with other churches in the creation of the United Church of Canada in 1925. At some point in time, this church was named the Mackenzie Memorial Gospel Church.

About 40 years ago, the church was re-purposed as The Church Restaurant, and offered fine dining to local residents and theatre goers. In 2015, the church and restaurant were sold to new owners, and the premises were renamed Revival House. There are three components: Revival, a street-level event space; Chapel, a second-floor gastro pub; and Confession, a small balcony VIP lounge. After the restaurant re-opened, a leak was discovered in the roof. A group of local musicians assisted the owners in organizing a fund-raising event to help pay for a new roof.

Community support to build the original church in the 1800’s has evolved into community funding for the repair of a restaurant and event space in the 21st Century! The new roof can be seen in the accompanying image.

The hinges on the front doors are also noteworthy. Apparently, the ironwork on the doors was crafted by workers at the Grand Trunk Railway, which later became the Canadian National Railway, at their shops based in Stratford.

d24-Revival House cw
Revival House

During our visit, we found a door oddity on Wellington Street in downtown Stratford. This image of a horse (at least I think it is a horse and not a mule) could be attributed to an aspect of the history of the city: either as an “iron horse,” to early railway buffs; or a role in a Shakespeare play, as there are references to horses in several of the bard’s plays. I chose the latter. I also found this Shakespeare quote about a painted horse, which may or may not be relevant.

Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion’d steed,
His art with nature’s workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
So did this horse excel a common one,
In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone.

Perhaps another visit to Stratford is warranted to inquire into the origins of this door. For more encounters with doors, be sure to check out other contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors.

d24-78 Wellington St cw
the painted horse

A Visit to Stratford – Part 1

Stratford is a city located on the Avon River in south-western Ontario. Sounds familiar? That’s because Stratford (and its river) were named after Stratford-upon-Avon in England when it was first settled in 1832.

Stratford is best known for hosting the Stratford Festival, which presents a variety of theatrical productions among four venues. The original Stratford Shakespeare Festival started in 1953 in an amphitheatre covered by a tent.

There are some published scenic walking routes in the city, including the Festival Walk, which wanders through some of the older residential areas. There are many fine homes – and doors – along this walk. I am presenting some of these doors today as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors. After taking these photos on a quiet Sunday morning, it has been interesting to discover some of the history of these buildings and their occupants while writing my blog.

The house at 115 Brunswick Street was built in 1874 in the Italianate style. It features a double door enclosed porch – I love the curved windows.

d24-115 Brunswick St cw
115 Brunswick St.

Just down the street, at 91 Brunswick Street, is a house that didn’t make it onto the walking tour list. The house features a Palladian window on the second floor, but some exterior maintenance is long overdue.

d24-91 Brunswick St cw
91 Brunswick St.

77 Brunswick Street is aptly named An Artist’s Cottage. It is the home and studio of Gerard Brender à Brandis, an artist who has been engraving small and detailed wood blocks for over fifty years. Brandis produces limited editions of his engravings in his home, including the printing and binding of his books.

d24-an artists cottage cw
An Artist’s Cottage

The Aubergine Bed and Breakfast is located at 67 Brunswick Street. The sand-coloured brick, the round window and the green and white trim make this an attractive residence.

d24-67 Brunswick St cw
67 Brunswick St.

The use of gold leaf on the carving in the heading above the door was the attraction at this house located at 30 Nile Street. Many houses in the neighbourhood have large verandahs, which often wrap around two sides when the house is on a corner lot.

d24-30 Nile St cw
30 Nile St.

 

 

Sunny Doors

This past week has been a rough ride for residents of Canada and Ontario. The looming uncertainty of NAFTA negotiations with the US and Mexico and pending escalation in trade tariffs has made everyone uneasy about the Canadian economy. There are also clouds on the horizon in Ontario with last week’s election of a new Progressive Conservative government for the province. Where will the first cuts in services be made?

It has been hard to find any sunny ways these days, so this week I have tried to find some sunny doors to compensate. Here are my contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors for June 14, 2018.

d23-sunny south
sunny south in Toronto
d23-rising sun
rising sun in Hanover