Thursday, 17 January 2013

Canada Day Boat Cruise on Lake Ontario

One  of the fraternal groups within the Gay Community sponsors a boat cruise on Lake Ontario almost every summer. July 1, 2010 was a near perfect day for such an activity and the cruise was sold out. For those of you who are not familiar with Toronto and area, there are a series of small islands (large sand banks) a half mile or so from the foot of Yonge Street. We sailed through many of the passages between the islands, back and forth past the downtown core and well out onto the lake. There could not be a better way to see Toronto and the islands than that!

Being such a perfect day, ours was not the only craft out on the water. Here is a canoe passing between our boat and another cruise ship.

                             If you think that the canoeist was brave - how about this kayaker?

As well as all sorts of tour boats and private craft, there was a 'Tall Ship' gathering too.

                                  This boat looks more like an Oriental junk than a 'Tall Ship'.

                      Another 'Tall Ship' was moored beside some condominium towers.

It being such a lovely day the Center Island ferries were continually passing back and forth - full while bound for the islands and near empty on the return trip.

Cruising east from the boat slip we were soon past the downtown core and could see St. James Anglican Cathedral.
Where is the cathedral in the above photo? The green spire in front of the tallest building on the right hand side.

                                                  And  it was a grand day for sailing too!

As the captain of our boat kept cruising back and forth, the views were not always in chronological order. Here are two more 'Tall Ships' moored off of the islands.

A rival to the cruise ship which we were on is the Mariposa Belle. Reminds one of the Mississippi and 'Showboat'?

To the east of the downtown core is an estuary into which the Don River flows. A local street passes over on a bridge with the elevated Gardner Expressway behind it. As our boat approached this spot the helmsman turned to the right so we cruised between Wards Island and the Leslie Street Spit (Tommy Thompson Park).

 Trees on Wards Island are in the foreground with the CN Tower and condominium buildings along the shore and the bank towers in behind.

                                         Looking across Ward Island to the downtown core

Two more unusual watercraft. Yes - the guy on the surfboard was actually paddling in the channel and the craft near to him is a Native Indian canoe!

          The derelict Leslie Street Spit Lighthouse as seen from off of Ward Island.

When I snapped this photo our boat was a couple of miles out on the lake from the islands

                                          Cruising through the passages between the islands

On our way back to 'port' the Captain steered towards the west near the mouth of the Humber River and the arced foot/bicycle bridge over that waterway. The bridge can be seen behind the two sailboats

This is the ferry which carries passengers across the strait to the Billy Bishop Airport

From there the captain steered the boat to the pier from whence we had left. A day among great friends and out on the lake in sunshine and a nice breeze, I was tired - but the cruise was well worth the price. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Toronto Waterfront

Actually, Toronto's waterfront extends all the way from the boundary between Etobicoke and Mississauga to the west to the boundary between Scarborough and Ajax to the east. I have written about some of that area to the west and to the east but, except for the Toronto Islands, not about the territory in the middle. I will begin with the ferry docks and move west from there.

There are four ferries which ply the waters between the Islands and the downtown core. Two of these ferries go back and forth between downtown and Center Island, one goes to and from Ward's Island to the east and the fourth one (which is a 'barge' ferry) to and from Hanlan's Point - the western extremity  of the islands. It is by this method that delivery trucks and school buses are able to cross over and return.

The following photo is of the ferry terminal at the foot of Bay Street.

From here I will move east for a couple of blocks to the Redpath Sugar Refinery. There is/was an artist based at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco who moved from city to city painting images of whales  upon walls. The attached was painted upon the Redpath Sugar facility.

Much of the downtown center waterfront is a bunch of condominium buildings - including along the quay immediately across from the ferry terminal. When I chanced to go by, one of the boats that are leased out for parties was in view.

It is only towards the furthest west - and the furthest east - that one finds bathing beaches. However, there are 'sun bathing' beaches in the central core. The following photo is of one of them and the name of this spot is 'Sugar Beach'! It is built upon a pier so, while there is sand, beach umbrellas, and deck chairs, there is no where to bathe in the water - only in the sun.

The city commissioned the world renowned cellist - Yo Yo Mah - to help design a 'symphony' garden in the middle of which is a small stage where folk can lounge on the grass while listening to music. The photos of the garden above and following are a part of that.

The most prominent edifice in the city is the CN Tower which is almost immediately beside what was known as 'Skydome' but has been renamed The Roger's Center. The above photo shows one of the elevators which connect the ground to the viewing platform near the top (it is on the left hand side of the pylon and a little less than half way to the top). The item high and to the right is not an elevator but a light stanchion. I have been up there four or five times - the last time was with a friend from the Bay area of California. I am terrified of heights so, although I know that the glass floor of the viewing area is perfectly safe I flatly refused to stand on it - until she dragged me out there. I have a photo taken by a professional photographer of that incident and it looks as if we were literally standing in space! I have no idea what has become of that photo but, if I find it, I will scan it and add it here.

Moving on west of there one comes to Bathurst Street at the foot of which is another small ferry which takes people across to Billy Bishop Airport which has been leased to Porter Airlines. Here is a photo of one of their aircraft coming in for a landing.

Moving on, the seawall walk goes by some more parkland to the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition. Along there one always sees plenty of waterfowl.

Three Canada geese keeping a close eye upon a female mallard and two ducklings.

Immediately across from where I took the above photo is Inukshuk Park and, of course, a real inukshuk.

The Chinese Lantern Festival was photographed largely at Ontario Place which is an adjunct to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. Usually I attend the CNE every summer and, while there, I look at the displays of sand sculptures in one of the pavilions and visit the farm animals on display in another building.

Not having an artistic bone in my body, I continually marvel at the creations by people who do.

On one visit I saw alpacas for the first time (I have seen many llamas). First a small group.

A young alpaca who seems to be saying, "Take me home with you PLEASE!



Friday, 4 January 2013

Guns and Ammunition

I have been toying with ideas for this post ever since the tragedies at Shady Nook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and the shootings at West Webster, New York and, also, I was spurred by the post of Michael (aka Kananaskis Traveler). Both he and I were raised in homes where hunting was a way to put some meat on the table so there was at least one shotgun as well as rifles and ammunition in the house.

Dad enjoyed hunting and fishing which - unfortunately - did not rub off on me, his oldest son. In the autumn  of each year Dad and some buddies would go hunting. The activity was relatively successful when it came to waterfowl (mallards, teal and Canada geese) but not when it came to bigger game like deer or moose.

For my fourteenth birthday I was given a new 22 caliber rifle and, it went without saying, I was to go to target practice. I did not like spending hours on cold afternoons shooting at targets placed upon posts across a field from where we were positioned. However, what was even worse was target practice using clay pigeons. As the junior member of the group, it was my task to release the clay pigeons and then be deafened by the three or more others around me banging away with their shotguns while hoping to see the targets disintegrate in mid-air. The noise always reduced me to a quivering sobbing heap.

Always I have hated loud noises - even summer thunder overhead. 

While Dad never brought home the carcass of a deer nor a moose, it was extremely rare for him to return empty handed from a hunt for waterfowl. On one occasion Mom was in hospital and Grandma was looking after the household so she ordered me to pluck and disembowel bird carcasses so she could cook them for dinner. I flatly refused - but was not punished for my disobedience. In the end those carcasses rotted and had to be thrown away.

I guess that I was/am a 'wuss'!

This has nothing to do with hunting but this does put me in mind of two unusual meals where the meat portion was a novelty.

We lived in a semi-rural area and a man with a specially equipped truck came around once or twice a week. He liked my parents so, once, he offered something special to our family. Near Edmonton, Alberta is Wood Buffalo National Park and a herd of buffalo live there. Each year the herd was culled and the carcasses of the slaughtered bison are sold. Mom purchased a cut of roast from him and cooked it. The cooked meat had a dark color to it  but it tasted very good.

For a short while in the 1950s specially licensed butcher shops were allowed to sell horse meat. As the price per pound was less than that of a pound of beef Mom purchased enough for a roast while on a shopping trip into New Westminster. Among our neighbors was the Philcox family. The head of the clan lived near to where we had first lived on Dawes Hill while one of his sons and family lived about half a mile east of where we were then living. Mr Philcox had a team of horses and a plow and, every spring, he would visit the families of his offspring and plow their yards for them.

Always it was Dad's task to carve the roast. His position at the dinner table was the south seat with the highway outside passing behind his back. As he was about to carve into the roast he paused with the carving knife in one hand and the fork in the other and said, "If Old Man Philcox passes along the highway with his team of horses while I am carving, it will finish  me!".

Mr Philcox did not pass by at that crucial moment!