This past Monday, November 6, 2017, I had the privilege to attend the Tower of Song: A Memorial Trubute to Leonard Cohen. The doors to the Bell Centre, downtown Montreal, opened shortly after 6:30 pm, and the rest, as they say, was history.
The tribute was organized by Adam Cohen, his family and friends, to celebrate the life of Adam’s father, Leonard Cohen. The late Leonard Cohen passed away a year ago, on November 7, 2016. He was born and raised in Montreal, and became a well known poet, song writer and musician.
The overall experience was magical and overwhelming, listening to more than 20 renditions of Leonard Cohen’s music by various artists, who volunteered their time to participate. My most favourite songs of all were k.d. lang’s rendition of “Hallelujah,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Damien Rice. My partner and I had seen Leonard Cohen and Damien Rice in a concert together in Dublin in 2008, and this brought back many fond memories of that overseas trip.
Also worth mentioning were performances by Sharon Robinson, who sang “I’m Your Man,” and provided background vocals with the Webb sisters for much of the concert; Patrick Watson, a local singer who I had not been aware of; and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, who performed the background vocals for “You Want it Darker.”
Leonard Cohen penned many poems and song lyrics, so I will leave the last words to Leonard (and his co-writer):
I’ll try to say a little more:
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door –
Then Love Itself
Love Itself was gone.”
chorus to “Love Itself,” written by Sharon Robinson and Leonard Cohen
I recently visited Crawford Lake, located NW of Toronto, near the City of Milton. Crawford Lake is a conservation area that is managed by Conservation Halton, which is a regional land use administrative authority.
Although Crawford Lake Park is named after a farming family that settled by the lake, the park is known for the reconstructed Indigenous longhouses located on the site. The original inhabitants of this site were Nations of the Iroqoian linguistic group, who occupied a village on the site from around the 13th to the 17th centuries.
Three of the longhouses have been reconstructed and are used as presentation spaces and to display artifacts found during archaeological investigations at the site.
The images presented focus on the wooden structure of the longhouse. They are also being posted in conjunction with this week’s theme of Black & White Sunday: Structure on Paula’s Lost in Translation blog.
The basic structure consists of tree trunks that are buried in the earth, and connected at the top with flexible poles. The cladding consists of bark from trees. I am unsure of the materials used to construct the roof membrane.
This is my third and final post on the downtown Toronto buildings that I visited as part of Doors Open Toronto. Before I describe these buildings, I thought that I would provide some more background on the event.
Doors Open Toronto provides an opportunity to visit buildings in the GTA that may or may not be regularly open to the public. The event also includes walking tours and other special events such as guest speakers, visits to architects’ offices and concerts.
This event was originally developed by the City of Toronto as a millennium project in 2000, and just completed its 18th annual showing, on the last weekend in May. Toronto was the first North American city to offer a Doors Open program, which has inspired many similar events. The event relies on all of the participating businesses and organizations, the financial support of several sponsors, and the efforts of many volunteers.
The Toronto Star newspaper (one of the sponsors) publishes a broadsheet map and listing of all of the opening buildings a couple of weeks before the event. This is very useful for planning your itinerary. The City of Toronto also maintains a website that lists all of the buildings and provides some background information on each one.
Some of the most useful information on the website includes the photography regulations for each site. There are three basic options for shooting indoors: not permitted; permitted without tripod; or permitted with or without tripod. There are similar levels of restrictions on interior filming. I have discovered in other indoor shooting in Toronto that there is a lot of emphasis placed on governing the use of tripods. I am at a loss to understand why tripods are not allowed inside some buildings.
The theme for this set of images is social spaces. First on my itinerary was St. George’s Hall, which is home to the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. This building – opened in 1891 – was originally the home of the St. George’s Society, a charitable organization which supported new immigrants to Toronto. The A&L Club moved in as a tenant in 1920 and, much later, purchased the building in 1986.
As this is a private club, public access on the weekend was a special occasion. It was only in 1985 that the Club welcomed women as members. The Club has a permanent art collection on display, and also exhibits artistic work by its club members. In the 1920’s, the Club became a meeting place for artists, some of whom became known as the Group of Seven. They included J.E.H. MacDonald, who was Club President from 1928 to 1930.
Massey Hall is a concert hall that was first opened in 1894. The building was financed by Hart Massey, a devout Methodist and a founder of the Massey-Harris agricultural equipment corporation. Massey donated the hall to the city for “musical entertainments of a moral and religious character, evangelical, educational, temperance, and benevolent work.” The temperance movement was an important part of the hall’s history, as no alcohol was allowed on the premises until a bar – named Centuries – was opened 100 years later.
Massey Hall was the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir until 1982, when both groups moved into their new location at Roy Thompson Hall. Both of these facilities are collectively managed by one non-profit corporation. Massey Hall is now primarily used for rock concerts, and it can seat about 2,700 patrons.
The fire escapes were added to the front facade in 1911 to improve fire exiting. A revitalization project, to be funded as part of the development of a nearby condominium on Yonge Street, will address some of the shortcomings in public gathering areas outside the main hall and the backstage area. If the project renderings are to be believed, the exterior fire escapes will be removed as part of the upgrade.
The address of Massey Hall is listed as 178 Victoria Street, yet the main entry doors and box office are actually located on Shuter Street. I find this confusing.
St. Lawrence Hall is located one block north of the St. Lawrence Market. The hall was constructed in 1850 and it was Toronto’s first large meeting hall. It was named for the downtown neighbourhood, or ward, where it is located.
When the hall first opened, thousands of African American slaves were fleeing to Canada after the US Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The hall became an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement, and hosted the North American Convention of Colored Freemen in 1851.
The opening of larger performance centres, such as Massey Hall in the 1890’s, led to a decline in use of St. Lawrence Hall. However, it was refurbished in 1967 as part of a centennial project, and is now a popular venue for weddings, conferences and art shows.
I like the symmetry of the front entrance and facade. Too bad that the period street lights were not so precisely aligned.
The theme for my second part on Doors Open Toronto is the judicial system. I visited two buildings along Queen Street West that accommodate the courts and other aspects of the legal system.
Osgoode Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Toronto. It houses the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice and the Law Society of Upper Canada. The facade has a lot of neo-classical elements that convey an “orderly” message – hence my photo title Law and Order.
Lawyers and paralegals in Ontario are self-governed, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, originally established in 1797, is responsible for this role. The Law Society is governed by a board of directors, who are referred to as “benchers.” The present Benchers’ Quarters are located in the original east wing of Osgoode Hall, which was opened in 1832. Several steps lead up to the Benchers’ Entrance which is sheltered under a portico. Parts of the steps and surrounding stone work were recently repaired or replaced.
Old City Hall was opened in 1899 as the third city hall for the growing City of Toronto. It originally accommodated both city hall and court facilities, but it now operates solely as a courthouse.
There is a great amount of detail in the stone carvings that surround the building. Some of the faces that appear around the front entrance are said to resemble some of the city councillors from the time of construction. If you look carefully, you can read the “Municipal Buildings” carved into the frieze above the front entry.
After a hiatus of several weeks, I am back to blogging on doors. My previous posts on doors have used images taken from my travels in other countries. This time, I thought it would be a good idea to keep closer to home in Toronto. I have only lived in Toronto for the past three years, so there is still much for me to discover in this city.
A perfect opportunity presented itself with the 18th annual Doors Open Toronto event, hosted by the City of Toronto. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there were 150 buildings open for public viewing across the City on the May 27-28 weekend.
The curatorial theme – Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture – was intended to highlight the evolution of Canadian architecture. I used this opportunity to focus on several of the older buildings in downtown Toronto, and discover some of their features.
In keeping with Norm’s Thursday Doors blog theme, I have focused on the doors at some places of worship in Part 1.
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church was built in the 1890’s and was originally named Holy Blossom Temple. It served as a synagogue for the first 40 years, before it was acquired by the Parish of St. George. The church is a good example of Byzantine religious architecture.
The tympanum (the decorative half-circle space over the entrance) originally had Hebraic lettering. A mosaic of St. George and the dragon was incorporated after the building became a Greek Orthodox church.
There are many variations on the myth of St. George. Many of these myths – involving St. George and the slaying of a dragon – evolved in medieval times. St. George, with the white shield and the red cross, representing good, and the dragon representing evil. Earlier stories of St. George still had something to do with Christianity, but nothing to do with dragons.
The church doors were open for viewing of the interior, but interior photos were not permitted; however, they did have a book of photos available for sale.
Doors open at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica was built in the 1840’s and preceded Canada’s confederation. During this decade, there was an influx of Irish emigrants to Toronto, escaping the Great Famine, and contributing to a doubling of the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto. The church was designed in the gothic style and was just recently refurbished. The Archdiocese of Toronto is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.
St. Michael’s Choir School originally opened in a single room in the diocesan office building next to the basilica in 1937. It reopened in a new location across the street in 1950. Although it is a newer building, the front door reflects some of the gothic elements of the past.
The Cathedral Church of St. James was opened a few years later in 1853, and it is also an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The main entrance is quite impressive, while the side door is still quite an elaborate mini-version of the front entry.
The Church of the Holy Trinity is tucked away on one side of the Eaton Centre, which was forced to be built around the existing church. The church was opened in 1847 and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity was associated with the “Catholic Revival” in the Church of England, which implied a return to Medieval art and a renewed sense of social responsibility.
The church congregation has been a lead in fostering social diversity in Toronto, and is considered to be a home for the LGBTQ community.
First Evangelical Lutheran Church was not on the Doors Open Toronto list of buildings, so the doors were not open. I wonder what is behind the green doors?
“There’s an old piano
And they play it hot behind the green door
Don’t know what they’re doing
But they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out
What’s behind the green door”
It has been several months since I posted my Part 1 blog on la Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. For much of this time, I wasn’t certain that I would ever follow up with my planned sequel to Part 1.
This Parisian cemetery opened in 1804. It contains about 70,000 graves, including many famous artists, musicians, writers, politicians, etc. from the past 200 years. It has traditionally been of particular importance to the political left in France. However, at the back of the cemetery, up the hill and about as far away from the main gate as you can get, there are several commemorative monuments. These memorials commemorate several 20th Century wars, and some of the atrocities associated with these wars.
When I saw these monuments, I couldn’t help but wonder – how did these get here, and who was responsible for their installation?
I was especially struck by the monuments constructed in memory of the occupants of Nazi concentration camps, three of which which I photographed.
In order to learn more about the history of the war memorials at Père-Lachaise, I found a blog created by Jennifer Boyer-Switala. Some of her research is incorporated into the following descriptions.
Ravensbrück was a concentration camp located in northern Germany and built specifically to accommodate women. It was opened in 1939 and liberated in 1945 by the Russian army. Polish women were the largest population of the camp, but there were many other nationalities represented among about 130,000 female prisoners who were deported to the camp during these seven years.
The “Monument to the Memory of the Deportees of Ravensbrück Camp” was sculpted by Émile Morlaix in 1955. It was commissioned at a time when President Charles de Gaulle was trying to bolster French national patriotism by celebrating the role of the French Résistance during World War II. Many captured female Résistance fighters were imprisoned and died at Ravensbrück, which is likely the primary reason why this memorial was created.
Dachau was the first concentration camp built in Germany by the National Socialists Party in 1933. The camp initially imprisoned German citizens opposed to the Nazi regime. Later on, résistants and victims of Nazi oppression were deported there, having been arrested in countries occupied or annexed by Germany. More than 200,000 inmates were imprisoned there over its 12 years of existence, prior to its liberation by US troops in April 1945.
The”Monument to the Memory of the Deportees of Dachau Camp” was designed by architects Louis Docoet and François Spy and installed in 1985. It is constructed of granite and is surmounted by a large red granite stone. The red triangle was used to identify the category of political prisoners in the camp system. This differs from many of the other monuments in its simplicity – a stark antithesis to the atrocities and inhumane treatment forced upon its prisoners.
The Dachau monument was conceived during the presidency of Francois Mitterand. In the 1980’s, France was obsessed by its memory of the occupied years during WW II, and there were prominent trials of several French citizens who had collaborated with the Germans during the war. More than 12,000 French citizens had been arrested and sent to Dachau.
The camp at Buna-Monowitz (also known as Auschwitz III) was constructed by the Germans in proximity to the larger Auschwitz extermination camps. Auschwitz III was used to house a labour force to work at the nearby J.G. Farben Company factory, where synthetic rubber and synthetic petrol were produced.
The”Monument to the Memory of the Deportees of Buna-Monowitz-Auschwitz III” was commissioned by the organization of survivors from the Auschwitz III camp, under the sponsorship of the French government. It is a bronze sculpture, depicting six skeletal men – one in a wheelbarrow – trudging towards their execution at the Auschwitz gas chambers. It is one of the most graphic memorials in the cemetery.
The memorial was sculpted in 1993 by a famous French cartoonist Louis Mitelberg (aka TIM). Mitelberg’s life experience (1919-2002) mirrored many of the prisoners’ lives. He was born in Poland, and moved to Paris in 1938 to study architecture at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. After the war broke out in 1939, he joined the French army; was taken prisoner and placed in a camp in Germany; and later escaped, ending up in Edinburgh, Scotland. He then joined the French Free Forces and fought for the liberation of France. Following the war, Mitelberg became a cartoonist and a sculptor.
Louis Mitelberg was also Jewish. The Auschwitz III monument was the first original memorial at Père-Lachaise to specifically mention Jewish victims. Writing of the significance of this sculpture, Mitelberg wrote “For me, this work…represents the life of those who died, those who accompany us in our search for dignity.”