Toronto Rock at the ACC

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I brought my nephew to a Toronto Rock vs. New England Black Wolves lacrosse game last Friday at the Air Canada Centre. It was our first Rock game and we were not disappointed. The Rock currently have the best record (13-4) in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and they’ll be playing for the Champion’s Cup in the upcoming NLL Playoffs.

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Unlike hockey games, the great thing about lacrosse games is that they play rock music as the game is happening.

Check out this clip of the Rock scoring a goal with The Tragically Hip, Guns N’ Roses and Helix playing in the background:

9,271 fans + Toronto Rock + non-stop rock music = full-on awesome night!

In the end, the Rock defeated the Black Wolves 15-12 and the raucous crowd in attendance celebrated as they poured out of the Air Canada Centre.

If you’re looking for some tuned up action on a Friday or Saturday night, I highly recommend checking out the Toronto Rock. The Rock’s next game will take place on Friday, May 1st at 7:00 PM in Uncasville, Connecticut, where they’ll be taking on the Black Wolves in a re-match. You can catch that game on TSN.

Amazing Blogger Panel

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We had a Blogger Panel come to our Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media class recently at U of T. The class was both informative and entertaining as we gleaned a ton of useful information from the panel.

Blogger Panel 1

Zane Caplansky talked about the very personal blog he’s maintained for years while managing various restaurants. Zane owns Caplansky’s Deli on College Street and he now has a weekly radio talk show on CFRB 1010am and appears regularly on the Food Network and many other TV shows based in Toronto.

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Shannon Kelly is the Manager, Public Relations & Special Events at Canada’s Wonderland. Shannon quotes Steve jobs on her Linkedin page: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” ―Steve Jobs

Shannon gave us many great tips for our blogs. She said that everyone wants to read authentic stories when reading people’s blogs. Shannon told us not to hold back when writing personal blogs. She said, “If you’re going to write a personal blog, tear the bandaid off!”


Elena Yunusov founded a creative collective called Communicable. Here’s what her website says about her:

Elena founded Communicable to respond to the growing demand for startup marketing expertise.As a senior editor at BetaKit, a leading Canadian tech and startup news site, she knows good copy. As a serial community organizer, she handled operations and media relations at Toronto Maker Faire, a showcase of tech, hardware, DIY inventions and science creations, which drew a crowd of 10,000 people this fall. Her marketing and communications skills work as a well-stoked toolbox, and whenever she needs extra resources, Elena knows just who to ask. Outside of the office, you can find Elena in a coffee shop having conversations with super smart people that will change the world in your lifetime. In startup marketing, mind beats money and everything is possible. Let us show you.

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Hessie Jones is a Digital Strategist, Marketer, Data Junkie, Writer for the Huffington Post and much, much more. Hessie is the CEO of ArCompany and the co-author of EVOLVE, Marketing (as we know it) is Doomed!

I recommend following all of these social media strategists and bloggers on Twitter. You won’t regret it!

The Distillery District – Music City Summer Series

Don’t miss the Music City Summer Series in The Distiller Historic District!

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The Music City Summer Series will start June 3rd and runs weekly throughout the summer. Just go straight to historic Trinity Square in the heart of the Distillery District for their Wednesday performances beginning at 6pm.

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The Distillery Sunday Market will be starting soon!

Dates: Every Sunday, June 7 – September 27, 2015
New Time: noon – 5:00pm
Location: approximately Trinity Square, 1 Trinity Street, the Distillery Historic District

Click here to meet the 2015 Vendors!

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Free, Loud and Live at 3030

If you are looking for a place that’s buzzing on a Saturday night, head to The Junction and check out 3030.

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3030’s slogan says it all, “FREE. LOUD. LIVE.” The enormous space, which was once a Bad Boy Furniture store, offers free live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Due to the expansive interior of 3030, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a table most nights.

When I went there on March 21st, The Jammed, The Blanks – songs of CBGB, and BLONDEE performed 4 sets of classics from The Jam, the heyday of CBGB’s, and Blondie.

Both bands were amazing and Blondee really got the crowd rocking with her great vocals. As the evening went on, more and more of the crowd packed the dance floor, while others hit the pinball machines.

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They have a wide variety of microbrews on tap. If you like a hoppy beer with lots of flavour, order a pint of Conductor. You won’t be disappointed!

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The address is easy to remember as it’s in the name – 3030 Dundas West (at High Park Avenue).

3030 has it all and their food has just received a perfect rating from NOW Magazine. What more could you want?

Okay, okay… it’s not close to the subway. Just bring some extra cab fare. After all, you didn’t pay a cover charge for that amazing live music, did you?🙂

Has the ROM’s Crystal Conquered Toronto?

Crystal Gazing

The dazzling ROM Crystal has wowed tourists and locals since its opening in June 2007. However, despite the Crystal’s popular appeal, it has received mixed reviews from architectural critics over the last eight years.

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Many local critics, in particular, slammed the unorthodox structure when it was first unveiled. However, if I had a loonie for every time I witnessed a tourist with an SLR camera photographing the Crystal from the north side of Bloor Street, I would be happily retired in Aruba right now.

In early 2000s, an international search began for talented architects who would be part of the Renaissance ROM project. More than 50 international architectual firms competed for the job of designing the ROM’s new addition. The search ended in February 2002 when Berlin-based Studio Daniel Libeskind was chosen.

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Surprisingly, Libeskind’s brilliant design was first drafted during a family wedding he attended at the ROM. Inspired by the ROM’s minerals and gems collection, Libeskind was struck with the idea of a crystal addition to the ROM and quickly sketched the initial concept onto a few napkins taken from the ROM restaurant. In this interview, former ROM director and CEO, William Thorsell, explains why Libeskind was chosen.

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Getting the Crystal made was a challenge and required national and international collaboration:

  • Polish-born and New York-based Libeskind designed the Crystal in Berlin.
  • The steel girders were produced in Hamilton, Ontario
  • The aluminum cladding was produced in Germany
  • $30 million was donated by Jamaican-born Michael Lee-Chin, a businessman who lives in Canada

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While the Libeskind team and all involved in the project had great enthusiasm and willingness to make the Crystal one of Canada’s architectural landmarks, they received harsh criticism (which is not surprising considering other daring projects such as the Eiffel Tower was badly received by many). Critics have slammed this structure for its metal cladding claiming it looks cheap and undignified. It has also been called aggressive and in-your-face. I reject these claims and agree with Conde Nast Traveller, the magazine that called it one of the “new seven wonders of the world” in 2008. To me, the Crystal is dynamic, daring, exciting, innovative, complex, brilliant. It is an amazing feat of physics and engineering. The architectural jewel of Toronto.

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With over one million visitors annually, the ROM is a hot spot. In the summer, attractions can be seen both inside and outside of the museum, with musicians performing on the plaza every day. The Sidewalk Crusaders, a high-energy brass band, can be found playing in front of the Crystal most summer days.

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Renaissance ROM has allocated $5 million for remodelling the plaza, which will greatly enhance the exterior landscape. There is no doubt it will draw further criticism. Regardless of what they say, I’m glad that money is being invested in provincial landmarks.

A final note to all of you geniuses out there, the next time you’re struck with a brilliant idea, pull out your Sharpie and grab a napkin!

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Here are some reviews from 2007:

The Dream Life of Toronto (AndrewBlum.net)
Only Love Can Break Your Art (Rabble.ca)
Build it, and they will shun (Toronto Star)

Crystal Scatters No Light (The Globe and Mail)

What are your thoughts on the Crystal?

The Monumental Scale of Union Station

I brought my trusty iPhone 4s to Toronto’s Union Station this week to snap photos of Canada’s largest and most palatial train station.

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Union Station was constructed between 1914 and 1920 by Toronto Terminals Railway. On August 6th, 1927, it was opened to the public in an extravagant ribbon-cutting ceremony by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (using a pair of gold scissors). According to Wikipedia, numerous other dignitaries and members of various governments were in attendance that day including Prince George, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario William Donald Ross and his wife, Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, Premier of Ontario George Howard Ferguson, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Stanley Baldwin and Mrs. Baldwin.

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Since its grand opening, Union Station has received high praise from both dignitaries and critics for its opulent design done in the Beaux-Arts style. Designing this monumental structure was a collaborative effort led by Montreal architectural firm, Ross and Macdonald. The other collaborators were CPR architect, Hugh Jones, and Toronto architect, John M. Lyle. In this photo, we see 7 of the 40 Roman Tuscan columns that stand proudly on Front Street.

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Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli

This is one of five identical sculptures made by Pirelli. The other four are located in Buffalo City, South Africa; Changchun, China; Sarajevo, Bosnia and Sydney, Australia.

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The towering columns dwarf the happy traveller.

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Let’s head inside…

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The opulent Ticket Lobby is commonly known as the “Great Hall.”

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The Great Hall’s four-storey tall arched windows closely resemble those found in Roman baths.

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Every train is running on time today.

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The monumental scale of Union Station is warranted as it has over 250,000 people going through its doors every weekday.

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The Union Station Revitalization Project is currently underway. You can read about the City of Toronto’s future plans for the station here.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Union Station!