The Groovy Gooderham

Now that we’re finally leaving the minus-temperatures behind us, it’s time to snap some pics of Toronto’s downtown core. My first stop on the tour was the Gooderham Building. The Gooderham was designed in the flatiron wedge-style and most people know it as the Flatiron.

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Built in 1892 for distiller George Gooderham, the Gooderham Building is wedged inside the Front-Wellington-Scott triangle. The Gooderham replaced the Coffin Block, which was a shorter building with the same shape.

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A description of the building’s interior can be found here. I’d like to have an office in that round room underneath the green cone roof. I just need to win the Lotto 6/49 to begin leasing it. No problem.

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The architect, David Roberts, Jr., certainly knew how to make an entrance. Elegant pinnacle dormers and French Gothic arch frames add personality to the north side of the Gooderham Building.

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The back wall of the Gooderham features The Flatiron Mural by accomplished Canadian artist Derek Michael Besant.

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There are many triangular-styled buildings around the world named Flatiron Building. The North American flatirons are listed here.

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Toronto’s other flatiron building is located at Yonge and The Esplanade.

Comments are welcome!

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Loblaws Continues Its Winning Streak at Maple Leaf Gardens

One of Toronto’s most famous buildings can be found on Carlton Street, just east of Yonge. This iconic yellow-brick building was given a proud Canadian name when it first opened its doors to the public in 1931 – Maple Leaf Gardens.

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Maple Leaf Gardens was home to the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931 to 1999. During that illustrious period, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup 11 times.

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The Gardens was dubbed “The Cashbox on Carlton” as the Leafs’ home games were a huge revenue-generator. In fact, the Leafs sold out every single game played at Maple Leaf Gardens from 1946 to 1999. The seating capacity for hockey games at the Gardens was 16,485. While this is an impressive number, hockey arenas in the last two decades have grown to capacities of 20,000-plus. As a result, the Leafs built a new home near the financial district, and since February 20th, 1999, they have called the Air Canada Centre home.

Maple Leaf Gardens is now a multipurpose facility. The Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens occupies the upper section of the building and it is owned by Ryerson University. The lower section is now an enormous supermarket called Loblaws 60 Carlton. I popped into the mega-supermarket this week to take a few photos. Enjoy!

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Dozens of seats from the Blue Section of Maple Leaf Gardens have been cleverly arranged on a wall near the supermarket entrance to form a spectacular iconic shape, the Toronto Maple Leafs logo.

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I love this section of the supermarket. BBQ season is here!

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Got Milk?

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A top-flight bakery

Throughout the supermarket, pillars proudly display significant moments in Maple Leaf Gardens history.

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Gretzky Breaks Leafs’ Hearts (29 May 1993)

I remember watching that game on the Skydome Jumbotron.

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The Leafs last won the Cup on May 2nd, 1967. Here we see the 1967 captain, George Armstrong, holding the trophy.

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On March 29th, 1966, Toronto’s George Chuvalo fought Muhammed Ali for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World. This legendary fight at the Gardens ended with a victory for Ali. However, the rumble went 15 rounds as Chuvalo was one of the few opponents in Ali’s career that he did not knock out.

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Who’s that peering over Aisle 8?

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The same woman you see on all of your Canadian coins – Queen Elizabeth II! During her Royal Visit in 1951, she was still a princess.

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Did you notice that none of the players wore helmets back then? Even the referees looked dapper back in the day, as they wore dress shirts, ties and sweaters.

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Did you know that the Toronto Maple Leafs won 4 Stanley Cups in the 1960s?

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A jubilant Toronto Maple Leaf smiles victoriously at the Loblaws shoppers.

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Now that’s a Patisserie!

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So many delicious cupcakes, so little time.

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It’s been a long time since the Leafs last hoisted the great silver Cup. 48 seasons have come and gone since their last glorious victory in 1967. Despite these last few Cup-less decades, I believe that the Leafs will turn things around and ultimately win the Stanley Cup once again, in my lifetime.

And on that glorious night, at age 97, I will wear my Toronto Maple Leafs jersey proudly, bang on every door at my retirement residence, and lead my cronies up the stairs to the rooftop where we will wave our canes wildly in the air and shout to the city below, “LEEEEEAFS RUUUUUUUULE!”

Comments are always welcome!

Bloor-Yorkville Icefest 2015

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This year, at Bloor-Yorkville Icefest 2015, talented sculptors were provided with 20,000 pounds of ice. They chipped away at the mighty ice blocks for days, and the result was an Egyptian-inspired spectacle entitled, Frozen in Time.

I snapped a few photos of the ice exhibit last week, just before the temperatures dropped. Enjoy!

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Isis with a Clock

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King Tut

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Anubis

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Pharaohs

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The Icefest sponsors

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Finely detailed hieroglyphs

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I hope that you enjoyed those wonderful ice creations.

Goodbye cold Toronto winter! HELLO SPRING!

The 2015 Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Sunday, March 15th, was a wonderful sunny day for the 28th Annual Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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My ancestors left Cork, Ireland, on boats in 1825 (20 years before the Great Famine) and made the long journey to a rural area in central Ontario now known as Peterborough. Although their trek occurred nearly 200 years ago, I usually tell people that I am Irish or Irish-Canadian.

De-emphasizing my true nationality is not completely my fault. Growing up in a multicultural neighbourhood in Brampton, Ontario, people often asked me,

“What are you?”

“I’m Canadian.”

“Yeah, but what are you really?”

“Oh, I’m Irish!”


In Toronto, the parade is always held on St. Patrick’s Day or the Sunday before the big day. St. Patrick’s Day occurs every year on March 17th as many believe that Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, County Down, Ireland.

A Quick Bio of Saint Patrick:

  • Born in Bannavem Taberniae, Roman Britain (now Wales)
  • Was abducted in Britain by Irish pirates at about age 16 and forced into slavery herding sheep for six years
  • Escaped from slavery in his early 20s and returned to his family in Britain
  • Became a priest and returned to the northern half of Ireland as a Christian missionary
  • Supposedly converted thousands of the pagan Irish to Christianity
  • Credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland

Now, back to the parade!

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Toronto’s heroic firefighters looked dapper as they marched in large numbers.

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Our Irish Castle – if the rent in my building goes any higher, we’ll be moving in there.

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The Cork Transit Commission. My ancestral home, Cork, is represented by a guy lying in bed while drinking hard whiskey in the “Sleeping Car.” The next car offers a “Massage To Go” – I’m not sure what that’s about.

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The St. Patrick’s Day Parade brings people from all backgrounds together. A Chinese Dragon entertained the crowd as it danced down Yonge Street.

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A large Portuguese brass band got into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

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The steel drum band added a tropical vibe to the festivities.

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Even the GO Bus was Irish for a day.

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The County Armagh Leprechaun.

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Another leprechaun marching home to his Pot of Gold.

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The green, white and orange flags were everywhere on Sunday.

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Paraders continue their long march down Yonge Street.

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I had to get a pic with the County Cavan banner.

Éirinn go Brách! (Ireland Forever!)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

Comments are always welcome.

The Brilliant Colours of Barbara Hall Park

I live just a few minutes away from beautiful Barbara Hall Park.

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On July 16th, 2014, the public space formerly known as Cawthra Square Park was renamed Barbara Hall Park in honour of our former mayor. The park is located at the top of the Church-Wellesley Village, which is defined as “Toronto’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans village.” It’s fitting that Hall’s name now graces the park sign as she worked tirelessly for Toronto’s LGBT community during her time in office.

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The entire park was revamped just in time for WorldPride 2014 Toronto which took place last June. The renovation brought many new additions to the park including an enormous mural dedicated to the LGBT community, and programmable LED lighting which lights up the public space at night.

Toronto-based landscape architecture firm, Thinc Design, designed the fabulous new park.

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Where does the rainbow end?

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The Beer Store!

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Residents who live beside the park get a coloured light show every night.

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I hope you enjoyed the amazing colours of Barbara Hall Park.

Comments are always welcome!

Snowy Saturday Snaps

Another snowy day in downtown Toronto.

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View from my living room.

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A fine day for drinks on the balcony.

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Great French roof!

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Anyone chillaxing on the rooftop today?

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Nature on the rooftop!

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Rooftop tree with brutalist Toronto architecture in the background.

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Frosty benches.

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Think I’ll fire up the BBQ and watch the construction cranes.

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A fine day for a picnic. Tell Brian to bring the bratwurst!

Toronto Condos 4 Everyone

Sunday was another snowy day here in Toronto. I shuffled down Yonge Street on a mission to see the newly built Aura – the tallest residential building in Canada.

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Snowy Yonge Street with the spectacular Aura in the distance

In the downtown core, most Torontonians spent the day inside their high-rise condo buildings. Toronto is going through a condo explosion right now and is leading all cities in North America in high-rise construction. Along with this astounding condo boom has arisen a new fear among condo developers, buyers and sellers – tetraphobia!

Tetraphobia is the fear of the number four and it’s common in many parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia. In many Chinese dialects, the words for “four” and “death” are almost homophonous. The same is true in Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese.

In an effort to remove the number 4 from most new residential buildings in Toronto, floor numbers jump from 3 to 5. My building has followed the trend as you can see in this snap of my condo’s elevator panel:

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This isn’t the first time that buildings in North America and Europe have toyed with floor numbers. From the early twentieth century until today, the 13th floor has been removed from most buildings in Canada, the U.S. and Europe due to a fear of the number 13. According to Wikipedia, research conducted by Dilip Rangnekar of Otis Elevators found that 85% of buildings with elevators in the world did not have a floor called the 13th floor.

Some Christians believe that the fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) originated from the story of The Last Supper. They maintain that the thirteenth, and last, guest to sit at the table was Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus the Nazarene. The Bible, however, mentions nothing about the sitting sequence of the disciples. Other scholars point to the 13th god in the Norse pantheon, Loki, who orchestrated the murder of the benevolent god, Baldr.

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci (1494-1498)

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Was Judas the 13th person to arrive at The Last Supper?

Fast-forward to 1990s Toronto and we see a similar floor renaming procedure. However, this time it involves the 4th floor, rather than the 13th, due to the recent wave of Asian immigrants to the city.

Canadian real estate developer, Canderel, has taken notice of the changing demographics and, as a result, the company is catering to the superstitions of all cultures with their latest developments. Their shining jewel, the previously mentioned 82-storey condominium, Aura, at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard is set to open in Spring 2015. Following the Western tradition of removing the 13th floor, Aura has 4 floors of retail space and 78 residential floors above it. With the 13th floor removed, the penthouse is now located on the 79th floor.

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Look way up! It’s Aura! The flashy ad campaign invites buyers to “Own a piece of the sky.”

Canderel’s latest project, the upcoming skyscraper YC (Yonge at College) Condominiums, will cater to people with varied superstitions. Multiple floors have been skipped in the YC design – 13, 14, 24, 34, 44 and 54.

The Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill has taken it one step further. In 2013, the Richmond Hill City Council passed a motion to ban the number 4 from all new street addresses. The motion was proposed by Greg Beros and it passed by a slim margin (5 votes to 4).

In this CBC interview, Beros explains why he forwarded the motion.

Outside of Canada, many other countries cater to the superstitions of newcomers and visitors. For example, the American hotel chains, Marriott and Hilton, both go to great lengths to ensure that no Chinese tour group is ever placed on a floor containing the number 4. In Hong Kong, both Western and Eastern superstitions are observed as the 13th floors, and any floors ending in a 4, have been renamed in most buildings.

Some find this new trend silly, but it’s no more odd than the 13th floor ban we’ve been complicit with in the past century. Besides, if anglophones counted, “One, two, three, death, five, six, seven, eight,” would you want to live on the Death Floor? Or, would you rather reside on a more peaceful sounding floor? I would definitely go with the latter. How about you?

Your comments are always appreciated!