July 18, 2012

Imperial Clay

Image Credit: Gardiner Museum, 2012
At lunch today I took the subway up three stops to check out the Gardiner Museum, Canada's national ceramics museum.

I had never been to the Gardiner before, and I was impressed that there exists a museum devoted solely to the curatorial presentation and preservation of ceramics. The museum's collections numbers some 3,000 pieces and it also hosts special exhibitions.

I was drawn to a current special exhibition called Rule Britannia!: Four Centuries of British Style, Power & Taste.  According to the show's website," Rule Britannia! celebrates the union of artistry and craft that symbolises and captures the social history, ingenuity, aspirations and sensibilities of one of the world’s greatest empires. Examining significant moments in the development of iconic British potteries, Rule Britannia! documents their emergence in the late 17th century to their domination of the world market in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

Of special interest was the aisle devoted to the celebration of members of the Royal Family, dating back to the 16th century and rolling right up to the marriage of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 

Just down the street from the Gardiner is another specialty museum devoted solely (har) to shoes. I have never been there before either.  Perhaps a peek into the Bata Shoe Museum will be a fun lunch trip for another day...

July 17, 2012

Recommended Reading

This is not a vacuous self-help book with platitudes and endless lists with bold instructions on how to make your life better in 150 pages. If you are seeking such a read look elsewhere.

Rather, this is a meditation on the nature of work in our times. Told using real-world stories spanning the globe, de Botton encourages deep thinking and reflection in his readers about the relationship between meaning and work as well as the meaning of our work.

July 16, 2012

In the towers of steel

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012

Freeway like a river cuts through this land
Into the side of love
Like a burning spear
And the poison rain
Brings a flood of fear
Through the ghost-ranch hills
Death valley waters
In the towers of steel
Belief goes on and on

        U2, "Heartland"

I snapped this photo recently while waiting for the 504 King Street streetcar to take me home. I thought the framing of the CN Tower was rather nice.

It also made me think about how the city's skyline is being irrevocably changed by the never-stopping construction of high rise buildings.

I had written about how Toronto is in the process erecting more high-rise buildings than any other city in North America in a posting back in November; something along the lines of 132 high-rises under construction. Admittedly, my posting was fuelled by some chest-pounding so I was taken aback by a provoking article in the July issue of Toronto Life called "Faulty Towers" that exposed the costs and risks of the massive condo rush happening in the city.

I have always seen Toronto as a city of high-rises and skyscrapers. What I did not realize was that, unlike New York City, Toronto had never historically been a city where people lived in high-rises on a massive scale. Rather, people in Toronto worked in high-rises and skyscrapers. Since Toronto was not hemmed in on all sides like Manhattan, the GTA became well-known for its urban sprawl and terrible commuting times. It was not until rather recent times that high-rise (i.e. 12 to 40 floors) condos began to sprout on the Toronto skyline.

The other new beast that arrived in Toronto alongside the swarm of condos is the soaring mixed-use, "5-star living" hotel/residence complexes, such as the 53-storey Ritz-Carlton Toronto (pictured above), 60-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower,  the 55-storey Four Seasons Hotel & Residences, and the almost-completed 65-storey Shangri-La Toronto. Media reports indicate that the actual sales of the apartments in these massive towers is less than ideal, despite the opulent marketing spin otherwise. Again, this is a new arrival to Toronto, home to vast square kilometres of suburban sprawl and semi-detached homes. On the immediate horizon are also two staggeringly tall condo residences: the 75-storey 10 York and the 78-storey Aura, slated to be Canada's tallest condo, already under construction.

With 132 high-rises on the way, Toronto will soon really look and feel like a Manhattan or Hong Kong, with all the pluses and minuses of a densely-packed urban core. No doubt, the downtown already has an outstanding array of food, entertainment, festivals, nightlife to offer its urban residents. I expect most Torontonians are ready to see more people move into the downtown core; what will be the test, however, is whether the city adequately prepares its beleaguered TTC so it can move even more people around in the most efficient and effective ways.

A toast to The Beach

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012
This past Saturday we finally made it over to Toronto's slice of paradise, The Beach.

Home to a wonderful boardwalk along the Lake Ontario shoreline, opened in 1932, The Beach is also stocked full of Victorian and Edwardian era houses tightly packed along gorgeous tree-lined streets. The main street, Queen Street East, is mostly chock full of quirky independent stores.

We checked out Ends, which is sort of like a version of Phase 2 for my Kingston friends, and a great store called Binz, which is completely devoted to organizing and storing things. Their motto is "Think inside the box". I rather like that! We also stopped in at Seagull Classics, a handsome furniture and lighting store.

But mostly, we went to The Beach neighbourhood to take in its namesake, the long beach and inviting stroll along the waterfront on a hot and humid summer day.

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012

July 3, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 6: Our Apartment

We had the top floor apartment in the front (circa 1850)

All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 5: P-town to Hyannis

Main St., Chatham

Church, Chatham

Chatham Town Hall (left) and Church, Chatham

John F. Kennedy Memorial, Hyannis

John F. Kennedy Memorial, Hyannis

Looking onto Lewis Bay, Hyannis

Korean War Memorial, Hyannis
All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 4: Pretty Provincetown

Commercial Street

The Crown & Anchor

Commercial Street

Church on Commercial Street

Commercial Street

View of P-town from the west end

View of the 3 towers from Commercial Street

An art gallery in a former school house

A community centre in an old school house
The town's library!

Leaving P-town on the ferry

View of downtown from the west end

View from deck of Boat Slip, home of the famous Tea Dance

Waterfront homes in the east end

Looking downtown from the east end
All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 3: Mmmmm

The cute almost-hidden entrance to a great restaurant
One of our favourite spots, the Squealing Pig

Clams and oysters at The Waterford Inn

A plate of--what else--cod at the Waterford Inn

A great find: Blue Moon Belgian White from Colorado

Osyters freshly shucked at The Squealing Pig

Read the sign
Mussels pasta at the Waterford Inn
All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 2: Clapboard Cuties

All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012