Category Archives: Toronto

Doors Open 2011

Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library

The Bible in translation

Canadian Blood Services

Everything is Corinthian at Canadian Blood Services

Native Child and Family Services


“a welcome wall in a number of Native languages. The larger type represents those whose traditional territories are in and around Toronto”

Planter on the central staircase

Central staircase

Green roof

Lobby - The design on the floor is “inspired by beadwork on a Nishnawbe purse from the 1800's”

Le Meridien King Edward – Crystal Ballroom

Under the skin of the King Edward Hotel


Toronto Harbour Commission

Coffered Ceilings in the landing…

and the boardroom. Yay.

Redpath Sugar Refinery

Refinery building

Raw sugar warehouse

Corus Quay

Living wall and <em>doors open</em> on Sugar Beach



Portlands Energy Centre

Bleed Heat Air

Big metal thing?

Some form of generator?

Water filters?

Another World

High school was a heady time for me. For the first time, I was out of a Catholic environment, I had friends of a variety of backgrounds, I was kissing girl and studying science. And I was reading Common Dreams every chance I got.

Having grown up on The Toronto Star (centre-left and a bit wanting in international news), reading Common Dreams was just as much a part of becoming an adult as calculus and hormones.  Though I read about the cloistered meetings of the World Economic Forum in the Star, it was Common Dreams that introduced me to its more open alternative, the World Social Forum.

It was, and is, an exciting idea: activists and thinkers dedicated to a world of justice and democracy meeting in a city in Brazil that was trying to live the idea.  I’ve tried to live that idea too (my only real credit, beyond eating local/fair trade when I can, is my total use of Free/Open Source Software for my work.  Please give Ubuntu a try!) because I believed in that WSF slogan – Another World is Possible!.

TORONTO STAR/STEVE RUSSELL - The first of two cruisers burns on Queen Street West near Spadina, two damaged police cars were left on the street.

I think that’s why I’ve been haunted by that burning police cruiser.  The fire doesn’t bother me as much as the writing scrawled in green, because it makes me ask: just what is this other world?  Is it acceptable to destroy community property there?  Are our possible worlds limited to those in which violence is an excusable response to those who are disagreeable?

What violence, what excuses?  Well, let’s start with that one – it’s not that serious because it was just property.  Ignore for the moment that there were people in some of those properties.  If smashing store windows doesn’t sound like violence, imagine they were windows to abortion clinics, gay bars, newspaper offices, or constituency offices.  The violence is not just in breaking windows, but in making the city feel unsafe.

The evil of dento-fascism exposed

Independent pharmacies can afford speedy glaziers.

Then the excuse that makes the thought exercise necessary – the attacks were targeted at mega-corporations that do harm, and can afford to make repairs. I doubt the Bay/College medical offices and the TTC are part of a vast global-corporatist conspiracy to enslave the people, but if they are they’ve certainly learnt their lesson.  But how does that hold up as an excuse?  Can a better world only rise up after Tim’s, Bell, and Swiss Chalet have been annihilated?

Finally, it’s important to say that these are the acts of a tiny, violent minority, which is true.  But I’ve read on Facebook more times than I care to remember that the media should be writing on the issues raised instead, or that this isn’t really reprehensible because it’s targeted at evil corporations, and the police ‘planted’ their cars to be burnt.

FUCK THE FARE because in a communal society, we'll engineer power plants, drive streetcars and lay track without the violent coercion of the capitalist regime!

On Saturday, I tried to stop a couple of guys who were doodling on parked streetcars with their markers.  They had already been spray painted and scratched so it was really a moot point, but I love my city and my transit system, and I wasn’t about to stand by while a streetcar was defaced.  I ask them to stop, with a reminder that the clean up cost would be borne by the riders.  One said, “I ride the streetcar too.  I just don’t pay for it,” and they left.

I don’t know if these people had broken any windows or destroyed any police cars, but it feels to me that they come from the same place.  Apathy, incivility, self-righteousness, the kinds of attitudes that eat society away.  That’s always going to be a story, and that can’t be the foundation for a world built on community.  There were thousands of people this weekend trying to make legitimate points, or at least earnestly trying to make the world a better place to live.  Talk about them, but spare a sentence to condemn the violence.  Another world is possible.


I should have written this on Saturday night, after I got home.  I’d spent the entire day walking the streets, and I was unreservedly impressed with the professionalism of the police who didn’t lose their cool.  I think some of those present found that frustrating because they took to chanting “We are peaceful; how ’bout you?” to the lines of cops bracketing smashed police cruisers, in which there was apparently still an officer.  Even while I was eating dinner, it was reported that the police hadn’t used tear-gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, or the water and sound cannons.

I was on the phone when I heard that pepper spray had been used against a protest at Queen’s Park, and mounted police had charged in.  Later that night, I read Steve Paikin’s report that the police had arrested every person at a protest, and had beaten a reporter.  The next morning, I read of more mass arrests at a protest outside the detention centre on Eastern Ave.  Then heavy police presence at a Critical Mass ride far from the summit, and at a pray-in much further in the core.  And then the four hour non-arrest at Queen and Spadina.  Then, as people were released from detention, word of the poor conditions there.

Had I written this on Saturday, it would be an uncomplicated story.  But maybe it still is.  The actions of the police cannot be excused because few people were seriously hurt – the indiscriminate and unnecessary use of force makes the city feel unsafe and unjust.  Nor can they be excused because they were targeted at radicals – they clearly were not, and even if they were, it is not criminal to be radical.  Nor can they be excused because they were the actions of a minority of officers (hopefully acting off their own anxieties, and not orders from above).  Violence is wrong no matter who perpetrates it.  This weekend, it seems, nobody’s reasons were as good as they’d like to think.

(link)Street View, Toronto 1876 edition.

Seriously beautiful, especially the border sketches which to me a lot like historical Hong Kong (or probably any British colony of the era).
CAMH-trin U of T is basically part field, part park, save for Spadina Crescent (then Knox) and UC (then Provincial College, apparently).  North-east of the big CAMH complex on the left is Trinity in its original site (now Trinity-Bellwoods).  Vic was still in Coburg at the time; not sure where St. Mike’s was (yes, technically I’m an alumnus).

You can spot St. Stephen’s-in-the-Fields near the Spadina-College intersection; that’s the only part of Kensington I recognize.  This was a couple of decades after the area was subdivided from an estate, but before it became home to waves of immigrants.  And the Grange is further south, before it was split by Dundas I guess.

Osgoode South-east of that, is the palatial Osgoode Hall, at the foot of College Ave.   The surrounding area is pretty much unrecognizable, and I think this was before it became Chinatown.

StLawrenceSouthSouth east of St. James (that biggest church on Church), you can see the North Market in its original form, and the (relatively) tiny thing across from it was the City Hall and jail.

This map is really worth checking out, but it is a 76mb JPG, so you may want to use a lab.
You can also see it in The Historical Atlas of Toronto, though it’s a bit harder to pick out details in a physical copy (this thing is serious huge).  Also, the amazon link is for reference only – buy it at Book City or any other local bookstore if you can, because it’s kind of weird to celebrate this historical bookish dedication to the city then failing to support its contemporary form.