Saturday, 17 March 2012

Toronto, Ontario

As things were not working out in Victoria, where was I to go next? My favorite place to live in Canada is Vancouver but 'politics' would make it very difficult for me to move back there. Already I had resided in more than one community but not Toronto so this was where I headed.

As I still owned and operated my Honda Civic wagon, I loaded it with a few of my belongings and, as my funds were low, I arranged the contents in the auto so I would have room to collapse the back seat to make room for myself in a sleeping bag.  As room was limited, I accepted the offer of a friend to stow my slides, projector and screen in his ample basement with the idea that I would write when I became settled and they would be sent on to me. Of course, neither of us knew that George Ledig would die suddenly from a coronary and access to those slides would disappear. 

I had been to Toronto before for church meetings so I was not completely unfamiliar with the city.

Not long before leaving Victoria I met Kent Millar who had returned there after spending some time in Toronto. A friend of his  here was Tony Massie . Kent knew that Tony's partner had died and that he lived in a roomy two bedroom and, in all probability, would like a compatible roommate.

Tony was expecting me but did not know when I would arrive - until I telephoned from the northwest area of the city to ask for the final directions.

Fortunately, we liked each other and lived together for a couple of years before he did the opposite - moved to Vancouver. He had seen some of my photographs of southern B.C. and, especially, the number of sailboats out on English Bay on fair days - Tony loved Sailing.

It was not long before I found a position as a bookkeeper with an Economics Consulting Firm.  I remained in that position for about 20 months - the firm entered a period of severe economic stress and most of we employees were laid off.

What to do next? Put an ad in the local LGBT paper offering my bookkeeping experience. First I gained one 'client' and then a few more. I worked in that independent way  until I was a Senior Citizen and  I retired.

I remained in that apartment for 6 years having a couple of roommates in the interim. One was a Fijian man who worked for an airline. When he was transferred elsewhere I made a very foolish move - I accepted a young Acadian lad as Tom's replacement. I had never met a person who had so many excuses for not having his rent available. I confess to being naive and not realizing that he - and his buddies - were druggies. Eventually I lost the apartment with the upside being that I rarely saw the former roommate. 

When I arrived in Toronto I located the Metropolitan Community Church, became a regular attendee and a member. When my housing crisis arrived three different individuals gave me a roof over my head until I was able to qualify for social housing and was placed in the apartment where I have lived for the past 15 years.    

57 Charles St West - a poor quality photo but this is where I live
From the front door it is a five minute walk to a supermarket, seven minute walk to my bank, a bookstore is almost immediately across the street - and numerous cafes, diners and restaurants in all directions. From where I took the above photo, Yonge Street (Toronto's main street) is a long block behind where I was standing.

          Victoria College as seen on a snowy day. Because of the
Gothic architecture, it is the locale used for many 'Gothic' movies

When I exit via the rear door I find myself in a lane way leading to St Mary Street at the end of which is St Micheal's University/College (Roman Catholic) and Victoria University - a United Church of Canada facility. Across Queens Park Circle is the actual Queens Park with the Legislative Assembly at the south end and a large green space behind it. By crossing that park I find myself on the campus of the University of Toronto which extends west and south for many blocks.  

All in all, (except for the smallness of the apartment) I lucked out in where I was offered a place to live.

                                          Queen's Park - the Ontario Provincial Legislature

I do love theater and have been able to attend a number of performances (like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables" to name but two). Also, a friend here invites me to accompany him to a few operas each season. From the outside the new Canadian Opera Company building is often dismissed as "The Shoe Box" due to its plain exterior but the interior is something else. My host has been a member of the Canadian Opera  Company for many years and has season tickets. 

The last opera that I attended was a new one titled "Love From Afar" which is a Finnish story but sung in French. How shall I describe that performance? 'Different!' Where are his seats? The front row of the third tier - of five - above the main floor. The Royal Box is just over to our right and one tier down from where we sit. 

The auditorium is completely sound proof and, once inside, one cannot hear the passing of the streetcars on Queen Street out front - nor the subway trains passing beneath University Avenue on the west side of the building.  Frankly - patrons try very hard to neither cough nor sneeze as everybody else in the hall will  hear! No rustling of candy wrappers either. 

Toronto is a great city - and downright maddening at the same time. Much of the transit is old and, instead of working to replace it, the city fathers wrangle over surface transit or underground while doing neither! 

For the interest of my hockey mad family the next photo is of the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens. Hockey is no longer played there but in the newer Air Canada Centre down near the waterfront. So what has become of the venerable Gardens? It is now a Loblaws 'Super Store' with sports facilities for the students of nearby Ryerson College up above. 

                                                          Maple Leaf Gardens
There will be a number of further entries about my life in and around Toronto - they will be interspersed with entries about the traveling I have been able to do since 2001.                                                            

No comments:

Post a Comment