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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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sunny south in Toronto
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rising sun in Hanover

Neo-Classical Doors

My door theme for this week includes doors that are part of a Neo-Classical entry design. The first common elements associated with this theme are columns that have a Classical motif. In my first example, the columns are a “faux” element applied to the simple exterior of an industrial building. The other two examples include actual columns – with the third one having columns that physically support a portico above the main entrance.

The second common element is the fanlight window above each door. All three windows have radiating mullions which fan out from the top of the door.

All of these door images are from Toronto, where this style of architecture is often referred to as “Georgian.”

For more blog posts on doors, visit Norm’s Thursday Doors post for this week.

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Neo-Classical entry 1
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Neo-Classical entry 2
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Neo-Classical entry 3

Empty

On Friday, April 6, a tragic traffic accident took the lives of 15 people on a highway in northern Saskatchewan. All of the victims were players, staff and assistants from the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey team, riding the team bus to a playoff hockey game in the Centennial Arena in Nipawin.

Playing ice hockey is a popular activity for children and young adults growing up in Canada. Many dreams have started on local ice rinks, and these young hockey players were pursuing their dreams and aspirations.

It is hard to comprehend such a loss of life in this magnitude, and at this young stage in life. It leaves one feeling empty inside.

This photo is in memory of all of those who lost their lives, those who were injured, and those who were otherwise impacted by this event.

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