Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My Toronto Neighbourhood

In my blog about moving to Toronto I did describe - and posted some photos of - the city.  This blog is about the neighbourhood where I have lived for the past 17 years. With my initial blog I did post a photo of the building in which I live. As that photo is not clear, I am posting another here.

I live in the shorter of the two buildings in the foreground (the one in front of the white condominium building) and on the third floor of twenty (each floor has twelve apartments). I live in a bachelor of which there are two on each floor. My view is east and - as my unit is towards the south end of the hallway - much of what I see is the other building. However, when I look down I see the plaza the southern end of which faces St Mary Street - a short cut to the University of Toronto as well as two church based colleges and, therefore, a very busy pedestrian route.

Probably the best known intersection in Toronto is where Yonge and Bloor Streets cross each other. My residence is one block west of Yonge and an equal distance south of Bloor. The photographic tour that I have planned is east for two blocks, south for seven, west for approximately 4 blocks and then back here.

Diagonally across the intersection from my apartment is one of Toronto's largest apartment buildings (the Manulife Center). It is obvious that this photo was taken at around Christmas with a lit tree in the background and fresh snow in the foreground. By the condition of the cleared walkway across the plaza you can see that it is subject to a lot of foot traffic.

In that building is a fair-sized supermarket, a pharmacy, one of Toronto's leading retailer of electronic equipment, the flagship of a national book store chain, and a movie Cineplex. Also, there are underground walkways which lead to other shopping centers and to the Yonge/Bloor and to the Bay subway stations. 

                     Charles Street looking east to Yonge and, a block further, Church Street. The building in the distance with a pointed green roof belongs to Rogers Cable - one of the larger media companies.

                  Church Street at Charles looking south to the heart of the Gay Village

Next summer - 2014 - Toronto will host International Gay Pride. This is generating excitement and preparations are underway. The above photo was taken two or three years ago so it does not show the latest street improvements. There are a number of restaurants along this strip and - in front of most of them - there is no parking and the sidewalks have been extended to accommodate more patrons (outdoor tables and nice planters between celebrants and the motor traffic).

Three blocks south of where I took the above photo is the 519 Community Center, Cawthra Park and the AIDS Memorial.

The AIDS Memorial. On the reverse side of these pillars are plaques (one for each year since the epidemic began) on which are the names of those who passed away during that year.

A part of the large crowd which gathers on the Thursday evening of Pride Week for the Memorial Service.
                                            Solemn magic descends as the candles are lit.

Moving further south the heart of the 'Gay Village' is the intersection of Church and Wellesley Street East.
There are Gay owned businesses north of Wellesley Street but most of them are found south of this spot.

Two and three blocks south of the above spot are Alexander and Wood Streets respectively which are named after an early settler who came to Toronto from Great Britain - Alexander 'Mollie' Woods. His land grant was in the area that now comprises the Church/Wellesley Village. A few years ago, the local Business Improvement Association commissioned a nearby artist to create this statue which is much admired. Yes - he was notoriously gay!

                                                          Alexander 'Mollie' Woods
Wood Street passes along the north side of the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens (the south side is on Carlton Street). Maple Leaf Gardens was replaced by the Air Canada Center a number of years ago and it is situated closer to the lakefront and near the Skydome/Rogers Center. When this occurred many of us were left wondering what would become of the old building? The answer was to turn it into a Loblaws Superstore (for non-Canadians - the country;s largest supermarket chain.).

                                                           Maple Leaf Gardens

I am now returning to the building where I live and will go west and south from here.

On the south side of the complex - in which I live - is St Mary Street which extends from Yonge Street to the gates leading into the grounds of Victoria College/University. At the time of this writing, the south side of St. Mary Street is a mass of construction (a large condominium and town house complex). Past the construction is St Micheal's University/College while, on the north side, is Loretto College which is a residence for female university students. 

                                               Loretto College clad in winter snow.

                    St Michael's College and the spire of St Basil R.C. Church covered in snow.

The grounds of St Michael College have many lovely trees - especially when they are displaying autumn foliage.

                            The end of St Mary Street and the gate to Victoria College/University

The main building at Victoria College/University which is/was the setting for more Gothic movies than I can count! This property belongs to the United Church of Canada and is the locale of Emmanuel Theological College. 

Toronto's seemingly quixotic naming of streets has led to there being three differently named sections to the road on the west side of Victoria University/College. To the north it is named Avenue Road, where it splits to go around Queens Park it is named Queens Park Circle and, south of College Street, it becomes University Avenue. Except for a few flower gardens near Queens Park (the legislative building) the entire park is given to lawns and trees - and the odd statue.

In the center of the park is the statue of a mounted King Edward VII - Queen Victoria's eldest son.

For a while I looked after a friend's golden retriever. On one of our morning walks we encountered two women walking a large dog. My friend's dog - Napoleon - was not neutered so I was very careful while near other male dogs. The other dog completely ignored Napoleon and began barking loudly at the statue. One of the women noticed my perplexed look so she told me that her canine usually ignored other dogs but barked loudly at all horses - real or a part of a statue!

The trees in Queens Park are a haven for numerous squirrels. Here is one of them panhandling from the limb of a tree.

North of Queens Park  - and on the west side - is the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum).  The next photo is of the original entrance.

A few years ago the museum sponsored a contest for the best reconfigured entrance to the museum. The result is shown in the following photo - admired by some and despised by others!

So far I have not shown photos of the University of Toronto campus (another part of my neighborhood) but will save those photos and description for the next blog. 

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