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.

The Journeys

St. Cuthbert played an important role in the early introduction of Christianity to the people of northern Britain in the 7th Century. Cuthbert first became a Prior in Melrose, Scotland, and then moved on to become the Prior at Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Following his death as Bishop of Lindisfarne in 687, he was buried at Lindisfarne Priory.

St. Cuthbert’s relics later became important religious artefacts. Amid the threat of Viking invasions, St. Cuthbert’s relics were transported to various locations between 875 and 1104, when they were moved to a shrine in the new cathedral of Durham, where they are still located.

Over the past four years, we have travelled to the UK on our journey to retrace the steps of St. Cuthbert. In 2015, we walked on St. Cuthbert’s Way, from Melrose to Lindisfarne. We returned by car in 2018 to visit Lindisfarne and Durham. Our stay in Lindisfarne included participating in an archaeological dig to help discover the site of the original priory on the island. We also toured the Open Treasure exhibit and the Shrine of St. Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral.

A modern homage to the journey of St. Cuthbert’s relics is housed inside the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, located adjacent to the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. ‘The Journey’ was created by English sculptor Fenwick Lawson and installed in the church in 2009. This sculpture was carved from seven elm trees and depicts six monks from Holy Island carrying the coffin of St. Cuthbert to safety.

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the Journey

 

My image of The Journey has been edited in Photoshop with the intent to depict the historical theme of the sculpture.

Doors of the UK – the NYMR

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs across the North Yorkshire Moors between Pickering and Whitby and it is a very popular tourist attraction in North Yorkshire. The railway is a great place to visit for all (former and present) model railway enthusiasts who wish to experience a full-scale version of old train locomotives, carriages and stations.

This railway is owned and operated by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust, which is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Daily operation is carried out by a team of paid staff alongside many volunteers with railway operations and business experience. The railway trust marked its 50th anniversary of operations in 2017, while the railway line has actually been in operation since 1836. It is the largest preserved heritage railway in the UK in terms of route mileage operated and passenger numbers.

The NYMR owns and operates the railway line from Pickering to Grosmont, and extends its train services from Grosmont to Whitby on the east coast over the Network Rail line. Many varieties of rolling stock are used on the line, including steam and diesel locomotives, and vintage carriages. The NYMR own and restore much of the stock, in partnership with the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) Coach Association, which provides an umbrella organization for privately and corporately owned vehicles that are used on the NYMR. Imagine owning, restoring and operating your own full-scale railway carriage or engine!

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engineer on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Some images of a few doors shot during a recent visit to the NYMR are included in this post as my contribution to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors blog for this week. The first two green doors are from similar carriages in various states of repair. The train guard – also known as the conductor or train manager – is responsible for the safety of the train.

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green guard door 1

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green guard door 2

This brown carriage door is from one of the restored heritage teak carriages, originally built in 1935.

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teak carriage door

This second pair of green doors is attached to a small building located on the station platform in Pickering. Both doors are signed “private” – one door is an electrical room – but I don’t know the purpose of the other. The purpose for the red buckets is clearly understood, although water and electricity don’t mix well.

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private doors

There are four stations located along the NYMR line between Pickering and Grosmont. Each station has been restored to reflect various periods in the history of the line. One of the train stations is at Goathland, which has been used as a set in various movies and TV programs. Viewers of “Heartbeat” will know the village of Goathland as Aidensfield. The doors of the Aidensfield Garage and Scripps Funeral Services are shown here. It now serves as a souvenir shop.

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the Aidensfield Garage

The Devil’s Door

Early Anglo-Saxon churches in the UK often had a north door entrance to the nave of the church. Although not considered to be significant at the time, later medieval superstitions led to the north door of a church being known as “The Devil’s Door.”

The Devil’s Door was intended to be left open during any infant baptisms in the church, so that any evil spirits could escape as the child was christened. In medieval times, the north side of the church was considered to be the “sinister” side (Latin: sinestre = left), the side where the evil spirits could hide in the shadows of the building. Following the Reformation (1530s), many of these doors were removed or blocked up.

The north side of a church yard had similar connotations, as it was sometimes used for the burial of suicides, criminals, and infants who had not been baptised.

I learned all of this while visitng Escomb Saxon Church near Bishop Auckland, England. Escomb Church is considered to be the best preserved Anglo-Saxon church in England. The following images of the church are my contribution to this week’s Thursday Doors blog, published by Norm Frampton.

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the devil’s door

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the north exterior wall

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the south entry to Escomb Saxon Church

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interior of Escomb Saxon Church

Doors of the UK – Church Doors

Our recent trip to the UK included visits to many older churches. One of our first stops was at the Kilmartin House Museum, located south of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. This museum displays some of the 5,000 years of human history in this area, and is well worth a visit. The Kilmartin Parish Church is next door to the museum. The purple church doors were attractive, while the sign “To the Stones” was intriguing. Alas, not the Rolling Stones, but the stones that were on display in the graveyard included a well-preserved collection of early grave slabs. Two late-medieval grave slabs with interesting geometric designs are illustrated here.

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Kilmartin Parish Church

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early 18th Century grave slabs

Travelling north-west from Oban we visited the island of Iona and the Iona Abbey.  The abbey is located on the site of the original monastery established by Columba, who arrived here from Ireland in AD 563. The Book of Kells was started by the monks of Iona, before they had to retreat to Ireland to escape Viking raids.

Next door to the abbey is St. Oran’s Chapel, a simple church structure that was orignally built around 1150. The Romanesque arched doorway is original, although the chapel was abandoned for 100’s of years, and was only recently restored at the same time as the abbey. Surrounding the chapel is Relig Odhráin (Gaelic for Oban), which is a graveyard that has been used for over 1,400 years. Iona is the symbolic centre of Scottish Christianity, and many Scottish kings have been buried in this graveyard.

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St. Oran’s Chapel

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St. Oran’s Chapel door

Hexham Abbey is another site of an early Anglo-Saxon monastery, founded in the old Kingdom of Northumbria in AD 674-8 by St. Wilfrid. The abbey is located in Hexham, England, in proximity to Hadrian’s Wall. The only remaining portion of the original monastery is the crypt, which is lined with stones recycled from a nearby abandoned Roman fort.

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the view from the crypt at Hexham Abbey

This is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of October 18. To see what other contributors have posted, check out Norm’s blog post here.

Doors of the UK – Holy Island

I have recently returned from a month of travels in the UK. In addition to the many new experiences we enjoyed on this trip, I have  a new collection of doors to share with others who participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors every week.

Holy Island – also known as Lindisfarne – is a tidal island located off the east coast of Northumberland. Being a tidal island means that it is accessible by car over a one-mile long causeway during low tides, but otherwise only accessible by boat. The Holy Island HM Coastguard is kept active by having to rescue motorists from their stranded cars when they attempt to make the crossing during high tides. About a dozen cars have been stranded during the summer months over the past three years.

The Holy Island Coastguard are a team of eight volunteers. Their all-terrain vehicle and equipment are stored in this shed, which is located near the harbour.

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Holy Island Coastguard shed

There are many boats in the harbour and along the shoreline, including several fishing boats. Some of the older boat hulls have been repurposed as sheds, such as this one with the lucky horseshoe on the door.

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fishing boat shed

Lindisfarne is best known as an important historic monastic site. The first monastery was founded here in 635 AD when King Oswald invited an Irish monk named Aidan to travel east from Iona to introduce Irish Christianity to the northern kingdoms of the resident Anglo-Saxons. A cult later developed around the relics of St. Cuthbert, who served as the bishop of Lindisfarne in the late 7th Century. The Lindisfarne Gospels were created by the monks of Lindisfarne in the early 8th Century, but Viking raids beginning in 793 reduced the prominence of the church on the island.

The church regained its stature on the island after the Norman conquest of 1066, and Lindisfarne Priory was constructed about 1150. In 1537, about 400 years later, the priory was closed on the orders of King Henry VIII, and was abandoned. The ruins of the priory are a popular tourist destination, and the site is managed by English Heritage. You can imagine that there may have been a pair of impressive doors located in the archway that now serves as the entrance to the priory grounds.

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Lindisfarne Priory