“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.

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contemplation
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conversations

Guardians at the Gates

While located 1000’s of kilometres apart, and hundreds of years different in age, the following two sculptures have much in common.

The village of Saint Jean Pied de Port is located at the base of the Pyrenees in south-western France. It is one of the departure points for walkers and pilgrims on the St. James Way of the Camino de Santiago, before they cross the border into Spain.

A sculpture of a shepherd, carrying a staff and caring for a lamb, is perched above the Porte d’Espagne in Saint Jean Pied de Port. The shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port is a symbol of caring and guidance, protecting all of the pilgrims who pass under the gate at the commencement of their journey.

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the shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port

Ryerson University is a post-secondary institution which has a large campus in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. Kerr Hall is one of the primary buildings on the campus, and it was constructed in the form of a square, enclosing an open green space in the centre (the Quad). There are two portals that open onto the streets at the north and south ends. Above the south entry gate, there is a statue of an ice hockey goalie.

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the goalie of Ryerson

The goalie of Ryerson can be viewed as the protector of all those who pass through the gate to enter the campus. I am sure that only in Canada would this metaphor of a goalie as a guardian be accepted and understood. A shepherd with his staff can be universally understood – at least within the Christian ethos – to be a guardian. But a goalie with his hockey stick is a truly Canadian phenomenon. Of course, for some Canadians, hockey is a religion, so it goes without saying that the symbolism of a goalie is well understood.

It would be interesting to see more examples of guardians like these from other parts of the world. If any readers have some images or suggestions, please respond.

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

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‘Chinese Lion, Burning Bright’ by Dylan Glynn

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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How Has Our World Changed?

This week I attended a presentation at my grand daughter’s school in Canberra, Australia. Her Grade 1 class was asked to create a museum to display an old item from home and explain how it was used.

Technology was a major topic for display, and telephones were the most frequently displayed items. These included several analog phones, and even one early¬†cellular phone. In Jacob’s family, “my daddy used this telephone to call people and some of his friends about 20 years ago.”

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Abby displayed an old camera that belonged to her father. As she explains, it “took a picture you couldn’t see on the screen,” and you had to “wait ages” to get the prints back.

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Marlie chose a VHS cassette player that her parents used about 30 years ago. “Today we use Netflix, Foxtel and DVD’s” to watch the same programs.

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Going back further in time, Amelia displayed an RCA transistor radio that was purchased 60 years ago. Interestingly, she included some comments on the relative cost of technology in the 1950’s, noting that the price of the radio was equivalent to about 3 weeks of salary.

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Other students chose items that reflected their cultural history. Ryan displayed a photo of Buddha who “used to be a real person, but now he is dead.”

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This was an educational “window” into the minds of six year olds. They are already developing an appreciation of the past and anticipating what the future may bring.

Simple solutions

In March, 2016, the State of North Carolina passed a “bathroom bill” that requires people to use public restrooms of their sex at birth and not the sex to which they identify. Although there was a great outcry from various community leaders and celebrities, the law remains in effect in North Carolina.

With the subsequent election of President Donald Trump, this situation has paled in light of other, more sinister decisions that are now being made in the USA. Apparently, several other states are also considering similar legislation.

Meanwhile, on a recent visit to Christchurch, New Zealand, I spotted these public washroom facilities in the downtown core. The signs say “Unisex Restroom”, and the doors are all colours of the rainbow. There is no need to have to make any choice here – other than finding one that is vacant!

This blog post is my contribution to Thursday Doors this week. Perhaps a bit out of the mainstream of submissions, but there is a message here.

Continuing on the topic of Thursday Doors, kudos to Norm Frampton on his February 2nd post regarding the recent murder of 6 people in a Muslim mosque in Quebec City. Doors on places of worship are left open to welcome anyone who wishes to enter. Doors do not discriminate but people do. Time to take a pause and think about all of the people who were affected by the events in Quebec.

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Simple solutions