Rambling Around Downtown Toronto On A Saturday in October

It is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and my Saturday began with the usual morning walk with Viggo around the perimeter of Riverdale Park. Given that he’s really meant to be a working sheepdog, I think of our ramble as a pasture patrol.  On our rounds we met a handsome Belgian shepherd dog at the off-leash area.

Belgian Shepherd

Rider, a Belgian Shepherd, in the off-leash area at Riverdale Park East

We then headed down Broadview Avenue towards the Rooster Coffeehouse for a drink out of the water bowl they have sitting on the sidewalk – but before we got there it was time for a wee break on the steps of the Ukrainian Catholic Church

Viggo on the church steps

Viggo on the church steps –  with a modern take of classic Orthodox church features behind him

After dropping Viggo off at home with Laila, I hopped on my bike for a quick ramble through the downtown area of Toronto, just across the Don River from where we live. First on the list was a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) to check out the Mesopotamia exhibit. While there I also visited old friends in the China gallery.

the heads of bodhisattva statues at the R.O.M

the heads of bodhisattva statues at the R.O.M

head of the statue of a Chinese monk - ROM

head of the statue of a Chinese monk – ROM

The Mesopotamia exhibit was in the basement of the museum and the lighting was very subdued.  I had seen most of the pieces before – most are from the British Museum with some R.O.M. items added. I spent maybe thirty minutes there but found I was getting tired (the lighting?) so decided that I would visit another day. (My R.O.M. membership has its benefits!)

On the way out I thought I’d visit the Native Peoples gallery. At the gallery entrance is this  wonderful painting by the Anishinaabe painter Norval Morrisseau. It brought back to mind the photos of some of the canoe pictographs I had taken at Cliff Lake back in July.

Norval Morrisseau painting titled Migration

Norval Morrisseau painting titled Migration (1973)

The snazzy new $250,000,000. retrofit ( Daniel Libeskind’s Crystal stuck on top of the original building)  was finished back in 2008 and it is frankly not a great success.  There is now lots of space completely unsuitable to exhibit artifacts.

The once-front entrance on the University Avenue side is now just an interesting little side corner. I stood below the great dome and looked up to the museum’s “mission statement” on the tiles of the mosaic above –

mosaic on the dome of the ROM

mosaic on the dome of the ROM

Hopping on my bike, I cycled down University Avenue towards the Eaton Center. I was on my way to the Apple Store to pick up a track pad for my iMac. It was a beautiful sunny day so I ended up stopping at City Hall en route to check out the Ai Weiwei installation piece “Forever Bicycles” again.  Nuit Blanche has come and gone for another year but a few pieces remain a bit longer.  I had been there a few days previously but it had been overcast – and I was wondering if some sunshine might help the piece make a better impression.

Wei Wei bicycles on an overcast day

Ai Weiwei’s “Forever Bicycles”  on an overcast day

I approached City Hall from the north on Elizabeth Street and, seeing that the gates were open, decided to check out the rooftop terrace that goes around the sides of the square. It is one of the great vantage points from which to take in Toronto’s downtown skyscrape!

City Hall terrace to the north of the square

City Hall terrace on the north side of the square

City Hall terrace to the north of the square -2

City Hall terrace to the north of and above the square -that’s the old city hall in the middle

I looked over the edge of the terrace and there was Weiwei’s installation piece – and not too far away was Henry Moore’s “The Archer”.

City Hall square from the terrace -_

City Hall square from the terrace – with the Henry Moore in the foreground

a panoramic view from the City Hall terrace

a panoramic view from the City Hall terrace – the flying saucer has landed!

looking into the sun at The Archer_

looking into the sun at The Archer_

looking back at City Hall Council Chamber

looking back at City Hall Council Chamber

As for Ai Weiwei’s piece, I’ll admit to finding it as sterile as I did a few days ago. It left me cold with its mind-numbing repetition of not-even bicycles – an homage to the Chinese ability to clone almost anything industrial.  Apparently he has more interesting work elsewhere.

Wei Wei and City Hall

Wei Wei and City Hall

Wei Wei and City Hall = closer up

Weiwei and City Hall – closer up

And then it was time to get over to the Apple Store at the the Eaton Center. It is just a couple of streets over from City Hall so off I cycled to what can only be thought of as a modern  cathedral, offering salvation through consumption! Without a doubt the shopping mall has replaced the church or temple as the place we go to find solace or meaning – or in my case, a track pad for my computer.

the Eaton Center - looking north

the Eaton Center – looking north

crowds in front of the Apple Store

crowds in front of the Apple Store

Flying above the crowd at the south end of the mall is Michael Snow’s iconic piece – Flightstop.

Harold Town's Flying Geese_

Michael Snow’s FlightStop, starring a skein of fiberglass Flying Geese

Harold Town's Flying Geese - another view

Michael Snow’s Flight Stop – another view

Harold Town's Flying Geese - up closer

Flight Stop – up closer

My new piece of Apple in pocket I cycled up Yonge Street towards Dundas Square, the new “living room” of the city. On my way I spotted the bike rack you see below – not a lot of takers on this particular day!.

bicycles for rent on Yonge Street

bicycles for rent on Yonge Street

And then over and through the square itself – making sure I didn;t get caught by the gushes of water.

Dundas Square

As slight detour down to Queen and Victoria and I was standing in front of yet another piece of installation art –

the Chair Tower from the inside looking up

Tadashi Kawamata’s Garden Tower in Toronto from the inside looking up

Tadashi Kawamata’s Garden Tower in Toronto  is another hold-over from this year’s Nuit Blanche. Standing next to the “old school” Gothic features of the Metropolitan United Church, it has a wackiness that I can’t help smiling over.

the Chair Tower from the outside

the Chair Tower from the outside

And then it was time to head back to Riverdale. I had left home at about 10:30 and it was now about 2.  I still had not had lunch but figured that instead of eating out I’d pick up a couple of vegetarian dishes at the south Indian/Sri Lankan place on Wellesley in Cabbagetown and bike home for lunch with Laila. On the way I cycled up Sherbourne and got to experience the new dedicated bicycle lane – but unlike Montreal’s there is no concrete barrier to reinforce the separation.

new dedicated cycle lane on Sherbourne

new dedicated cycle lane on Sherbourne

Rashnaa's on Wellesley Street

Rashnaa’s on Wellesley Avenue

A nice ride through Cabbagetown and over the bridge to Riverdale and I was home. Waiting for me was Viggo, ready for a another walk and play session somewhere in the neighbourhood.

Viggo at Riverdale Park East shortly after lunch!

Viggo at Riverdale Park East shortly after lunch!

This entry was posted in Ramblin' With Viggo, Toronto. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rambling Around Downtown Toronto On A Saturday in October

  1. What an outstanding collection of art installations and architecture–and the photographer captured it all 🙂 I think I need to put Toronto on my travel list.

    • true_north says:

      It is a good thing to put on your traveller’s eyes and take in your hometown the way a stranger might. Toronto has its charms! Just don’t visit between November and May when it can be rather wet and drab and grey. You won’t have a problem filling in a week in and around the city. A train ride away are Montreal and Quebec City, arguably Canada’s most enchanting and most European-looking city. Send me an email if it ever makes it to the top of the list and I’ll be your tour guide for a day!

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