Tag Archives: Toronto

Snoozin’ at the Toronto Zoo

I went to the Toronto Zoo on Saturday figuring everyone else would be at the CNE and that was a good call. Having purchased a season’s pass for the family, we decided to investigate smaller portions of the zoo and not kill ourselves trying to see all of the 287 hectares. So, on this particular trek to the zoo, we decided to go to the Canadian area and let me tell you, from the beginning it went downhill until it was an uphill hike in the scorching heat. In the middle it was a snooze-fest in more than one way.

Here’s the Canadian checklist:

  • The Lynx…asleep.
  • The Cougars…asleep.
  • The Grizzly Bears…asleep.
  • The Moose…missing.
  • The Muskox…we didn’t want to chance not making it back from that distance.
  • The Eagles…were awake.
  • The squirrels and Seagulls…quite alert.
Here, you see a beautiful Lynx, sleeping in the shadows…

(more…)

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Toronto is ranked as the 8th best city in the world!

In an  Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and data-sharing company BuzzData poll, Toronto recently ranked as the 8th best city in the world. T.O. was the only city in North America to make the top ten. In spite of the hard work of CCT, we scored low for “cultural assets”. Fortunately, Toronto scored the highest possible marks for our air and green space but scored low for for our urban sprawl and our mayoral weigh-in…just kidding…or am I? When asked about the recent standings, Mayor Ford said, “We did? Well, I guess that’s something.”

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Supergirl Laura Vandervoort signed her Stamp!

Supergirl Laura Vandervoort signed her Canadian Culture Thing MapleLeafForever Stamp…ages ago! But hey, even though it predated this blog, it’s still cool.

Toronto-born actress Laura Vandervoort, actively acting from the age of 13, has appeared in many children’s shows like Goosebumps (1997-1998) and Are You Afraid of the Dark? (2000) until finally getting her biggest break in the WB’s Smallville. Laura played Kal-El’s (Superman‘s) Kryptonian cousin Kara, subtly known as Supergirl beginning in the 7th season (2007) of the series until the finale of season 10 (2011).

The Spectator's Canadian Magazine February 12, 1972
The Spectator’s Canadian Magazine February 12, 1972

Becoming Sci-Fi’s It-Girl, Laura was cast as Lisa, an alien visitor in the ABC reboot of V (2009-2011) along with fellow Sci-Fi It-Girl Morena Baccarin of Firefly (2002-2003) who worked with Canadian actress and MapleLeafForever Stamp, Jewel Staite.

Laura Vandervoort has starred in countless Television Shows like Instant Star (2004-2008) and Movies like Into the Blue 2: the Reef (2009) as well as the voice of Mary-Jane Watson in the Spider-Man: Edge of Time videogame (2011). Up, up and away!

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E.J. Lennox: Toronto’s Architect

If you build it, they will make postcards of it

This Large Letter postcard highlighting Toronto’s key landmarks feature three of E.J. Lennox’s designs c1954.
Architect E.J. Lennox 1885

Edward James Lennox was born on September 12, 1854 in a Toronto of just over 30,000 people. The son of Irish immigrants, Lennox would one day be Toronto’s most important and influential architects during the great growth and expansion of the City of Toronto during the 1880’s through the 1910’s.

Looking northwest from the top of the Canadian Bank of Commence building on King near Yonge St. c1915. The monolithic clock-tower of (Old) City Hall seen from everywhere much as the CN Tower is today.

Having designed over seventy buildings in Toronto, prolific architect Edward James Lennox near single-handedly designed the look of Toronto. Graduating in 1874 first in his class from the Mechanics’ Institute, Edward apprenticed for five years with William Irving before forming his own firm in 1881.His quickly rose to the top of his profession, winning the contract to build Toronto’s third City Hall on the northeast corner of Bay and Queen streets.

Looking west on Queen Street West at Bay Street past the front of City Hall at 5:15pm, April 13, 1923.
Looking north up Bay Street toward the towering clock-tower of City Hall c1912.

Built in the Richardson Romanesque style, the now-Old City has been and is still one of Toronto’s great features. Due to time-delays, cost over-runs and legal disputes, City Councillors spitefully refused to allow a plaque titling E.J. Lennox as the architect of the building. E.J. Lennox was not to be denied and had stonemasons engrave “EJ LENNOX ARCHITECT AD 1898” on corbels around the entire building on upper floor eaves as well as a carved portrait of himself on the facade. This was not enough for Lennox who also included grotesque caricatures of City Councillors and opponents.

Toronto’s City Hall at Queen Street West and Bay Street c1919.

E.J. Lennox would go on to build many landmarks in Toronto including St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1909-1913) on Bloor Street West, the Neo-Classical Bank of Toronto Building (1905) on Yonge Street and the King Edward Hotel (1905) on King Street. Lennox would pioneer in the Romanesque Revival style, the Annex House, an indigenous Torontonian house named for the Annex neighbourhood but used in most elite neighbourhoods. The Annex House blended Richardson Romanesque style of large rounded archways with Queen Anne turrets and were built mainly of brick and Credit Valley Sandstone.

In 1908, Lennox would be commissioned to design Toronto’s most famous house.

Former residence of Sir Henry Pellatt, the Casa Loma (the House on the Hill) c1930.

E.J. Lennox was notorious in Toronto society for his bravado, self-promotion in the press and networking at high-society parties. Infamous for publicly criticizing and insulting anyone who disagreed with any of his many opinions and he would shamefully slight other architect’s work. It was only a matter of time before his brazen antics brought him together with another larger-than life character, Sir Henry Pellatt.

Casa Loma

Commissioned in 1908 E.J. Lennox began construction on Casa Loma between 1911-1914, and it proved to be an exercise in the excessive vanity of the two men. With materials brought from as far away as Scotland and Italy, Casa Loma proved to be too much for Sir Henry’s pocket-book and with the start of World War One, Casa Loma would never be finished.

Aeriel view of Casa Loma c1954.

During this same time, E.J. Lennox would begin building his own dream-house just northeast of Casa Loma called Lenwil, a combination of Lennox and his wife’s name Wilson. Built between 1912 and 1914, E.J. Lennox now almost 60, saw Lenwil as an ideal 21-room retirement home and in 1917 sold his firm and retired from architecture. Though retired and no longer designing buildings, Lennox continued being involved in several architectural societies and associations and returned to the architecture spotlight in 1931 when the Province of Ontario passed legislation that required architects to be certified. Though retired for 14 years, a 77 year-old Lennox was certified, having written and passed the exam. E.J. Lennox passed away two years later at the age of 79 leaving behind a lifework that proves to be the cornerstone of the City of Toronto.

The now – “Old” City Hall looking northwest in 1929 showing what would eventually be raized to become “New” City Hall.
Old City Hall’s clock-tower after the gargoyles were reattached. The original stone gargoyles were lost after many years of absence were finally replaced with these cast bronze monsters.
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Rob Ford, Toronto’s temporary mayor.

Really, in defense of Rob Ford, (Toronto’s temporary mayor), he can’t be expected to be present at the Gay Pride Parade because he has a prior and immovable engagement shackled to that particular weekend. Unfortunately, when he won the Toronto mayoral race to this journalists bewilderment, he hadn’t counted on the Gay Pride Parade falling on the same weekend as his “family weekend”. This has been a Ford-Family-Trip-to-the-Cottage tradition dating back to 2010 and he has been looking forward to it all week. When asked why he wasn’t going to attend the parade the sort-of mayor responded in a nervous, sweaty and guilty-looking way: “One day at a time.”

Perhaps Rob Ford was nervous, perhaps he was tired or perhaps he was just sore from his “preparations” for his alleged retreat. An insider on the Private Ford Retreat Getaway guest list sent some pictures from last years “retreat” and we at Canadian Culture Thing would like to share them with you. Please keep an open mind because we Canadians must set an example of tolerance in this age of enlightenment. In the same way this beautiful and tolerant nation offered their necks to a party who’s leader may actually be Nosferatu, (but that is OK), Torontonians elected Rob Ford to say “look kids,  anyone can grow (and grow) up to be mayor…we don’t discriminate”.

Taken during the daytime hula festivities of “Retreat” 2010.
Later in the evening after Mistress Rob had hung up her coconuts. Ford Retreat 2010.

When asked if he might try to make things right with the gay and lesbian community on his return, Rob Ford responded: “Sure. Sure I will. I’m planning on going to one of those things when two guys or two chicks exchange rings. I think it’s like a wedding or something. Someone told me what they call it…ask me later. I’m also planning something a little special with the Maple Leafs, all of them but there’s like twenty of them. But I’m just going to take it one day at a time, one day at a time.”

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