Dear Readers, the weather in Toronto has taken a turn for the worst, but before the rain really kicked in we decided to have a quick walk along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The land that you can see on the other side is The Island – it wasn’t an island until a storm in 1885 cut it off from the mainland. Now, it’s accessible by ferry or by a water taxi, and it has some of the best views of Toronto to be had in the city. Sadly today wasn’t the day for such an excursion, but there was plenty to see on the walk down.
Toronto is such a mix of the old and the new, the concrete and more modern glass/steel combination. This view down Yonge Street shows the contrast. Yonge Street used to be in the record books as the longest street in the world, but alas it was decided that this was because the street was ‘conflated with Highway 11’ which reduced its length from over 1000 kilometres to a measly 86 kilometres. The bronze building is Scotia Plaza.
This is a view towards the Hockey Hall of Fame (that’s ice hockey, guys), with the CIBC building in the background, and numerous condominiums in the background.
And here’s a view of the CN tower, which, at 553 metres is still the tallest free-standing concrete structure in the world. You can zip up to the round bit in a lift, and for the brave you can then go a bit higher to the pod in the top bit. For a while, you could bungee jump at least part of the way down. For some reason, I never saw the allure. Union Station is to the left, and from here you can trundle off to Montreal or Quebec City by Via Rail, or to the Royal Botanical Gardens by the double-decker Go trains.
It’s fair to say that the building boom in Toronto isn’t over just yet. And how about this amazing eagle sculpture, which looms over the commuters just before you go under the railway bridge to reach the lakeside? It was designed by MIsha Kovalenko, and you can see some photos of its installation here.
And before you reach the lakeside, you have to pass under the Gardiner Expressway, that takes traffic into and out of Toronto from the never-ending sprawl of the Greater Toronto area. Before you get there, though, there’s this endearing sculpture, plonked down by the side of the road. It’s by sculptor Tom Otterness, who has specialised in making work on social and political issues. Unfortunately, he is also famous for filming himself shooting a dog that he’d rescued from a shelter back in 1978 when he was a very young man. He has apologised profusely since, but let’s move swiftly on.
And here we are at the Gardiner. The concrete gets eaten by the salt that’s put down every year in winter, and the whole structure requires constant maintenance.
And I can’t resist another view of the CN tower.
This is Number One Yonge Street, the headquarters of the Toronto Star newspaper. It originally also housed the printing presses, but the new press centre was relocated to Vaughan in Ontario (which is on the subway system now, we noticed).
I’m not quite sure what’s going on below, but it must have been a long time since breakfast, as the building reminds me of some badly-stacked sandwiches.
Anyway, we can finally see the water. The Gardiner Expressway might not be the worst example of a waterfront cut off from public use, but it’s certainly a formidable barrier, though in fairness Toronto has spent a lot of time and effort to make the waterside more amenable.
There is a memorial to Jack Layton, a controversial politician who seems to have inspired love and hate in equal measure.
The first red-winged blackbirds that I’d seen since Collingwood were fluttering about and drawing attention to themselves.
This female was fluttering and calling from a shrub, and a male popped down to feed her.
The weeping willows are getting their new growth…
And that strange concrete and metal ball on the left hand side of the photo is not, as I first thought, some kind of deactivated mine rescued after war time, but an installation – you walk above a shallow pond and peer through the gap in the wall at the Island. Every time a boat goes past the sound is amplified until you can feel it travelling up through your feet. And at this point the weather took a decided turn for the worst, so it was into a Tim Hortons for a coffee and my first ever Tim Bits (round balls of doughnut dipped in something delicious). All in all, not a bad way to spend a drizzly day!