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Shrine among the flowers in late evening


I was walking south on Dufferin Street towards St. Mary of the Angels, a Roman Catholic Church on the southeast corner of Davenport Road and Dufferin in Davenport, when I saw this shrine and these flowers.
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Hill cresting #toronto #davenportroad #bracondalehill #hillcrest #trees #hill


On this stretch of Davenport Road west of Christie, the sharp descent that marks the ancient shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois is clearly visible.
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Tower in the night, north towards Davenport


The signals tower on the rail line to the north of my home was just barely perceptible, late last night, against the bright clouds.
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blogTO's Derek Flack reports about the latest developments of my neighbourhood's Geary Avenue.

Geary Avenue TorontoOne of West Queen West's most iconic landmarks in the late 2000s was Thrush Holmes' neon-adorned gallery and studio space. Located just west of Dovercourt Rd. beside what would become the sales office for the Bohemian Embassy, it was a symbol of a neighbourhood defined by a creative spirit that had emerged from its industrial past.

When Holmes relocated in 2011 after five years, the character of the street and surrounding neighbourhood had changed immensely. The arts hub that was 48 Abell was gone, the Mercer Union moved north to Bloor, and the area had become the city's hallmark of hip living, complete with a roster of new condos and bars.

This isn't a sad story. Or at least it doesn't have to be. Toronto needs place likes the West Queen West we have today, but it also needs areas that will serve as breeding grounds for artistic endeavours, new ideas, and cultural experimentation. For now, the city still has such places in steady supply.

Where did Thrush Holmes go when he left West Queen West?

Geary Avenue, of course. That strange hybrid of a street where you're just as likely to find an auto body shop as you are a jam space, a brewery, an architecture firm, or an artist studio. In a city that's growing as rapidly as Toronto, it's places like Geary where you might take our cultural temperature.
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The title of the Jane's Walk "Walk the Green Line: Infrastructures of Park Space" refers to the Green Line, a proposal to transform the chain of parkettes and green hydro corridors stretching southeast from Earlscourt Park almost to Dupont into a single linear park. Walk leaders Hon Lu and Netami Stuart did a great job of explaining the nature of the project, the challenges of park design in an era of environmental and political sensitivity, and the history of the neighbourhoods we went through.

Earlscourt Park can be quite beautiful.

Looking east along the slope, Earlscourt Park #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #parks #earlscourt #earlscourtpark


Following the hydro towers as we were, we obviously could not escape them. I was glad, since I'm also fond of their artificial metallic beauty.

Hydro tower by the parkette #toronto #torontohydro #hydrotower #primroseavenueparkette #parks #janeswalk #lovetowalk


The Green Line proposal was explained by a report that the walk leaders were kind enough to hand around.

Green Line proposal #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #parks #greenline


For whatever reason, there were plenty of dogwood trees planted in the corridor, blooming as if for us.

Dogwood in the corridor #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #dogwood #flowers


We were a good-sized crowd.

The crowd of Janeswalkers #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #chandospark


This odd ground-level footbridge, we were told, was built to minimize the contact of people with contaminated land. In old industrial neighbourhoods like western Davenport, the costs of environmental remediation can be significant.

Bridge over contaminated land #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #environment #bridge


On the east side of Dufferin, opposite Chandos Park, lies this narrow path between hydro transformers. The Green Line narrows here.

Path between the hydro fences #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #dufferinstreet #torontohydro #fence #path


The far side of this path broadens out into a grassy space that looks suspiciously park-like.

Hydro corridor east of Dufferin #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #torontohydro #dufferinstreet


This willow, swollen with age, towers over the Bristol Avenue Parkette.
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Especially if you include my Friday visit to the Jane at Home exhibit, this weekend has really been one dominated by the legacies of Jane Jacobs. As my aching feet remind me, this Jane's Walk weekend I did three different walks, each taking me around a different part of my broader neighbourhood.



I will be posting more from these walking tours later, photos mostly.
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My Dupont Street lies south of Davenport Road, which lies at the bottom of the escarpment that marks the ancient shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois. This, an Ice Age version of Lake Ontario distended by the ice dam that prevented the lake from draining down the St. Lawrence, covered what is now downtown Toronto, changing the geography of the modern city irrevocably. The Scarborough Bluffs, the Toronto Islands, High Park's Grenadier Pond, my home, even--all that and more are products of Lake Iroquois.

My curiosity in the changed landscape is what made me leave yesterday morning for "The Steps of Old Lake Iroquois", one of the weekend's many Jane's Walks. Leader Gary Shaul ably guided a gaggle of people all along the escarpment, from Spadina Road and Casa Loma almost all of the way west to Dufferin.

The walk began at the Baldwin Steps, at the foot of Casa Loma. The view looking south, along Spadina Road towards Spadina Avenue and the downtown, is beautiful.

Ancient shore #toronto #janeswalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #casaloma #sidewalk


Baldwin Steps #toronto #janeswalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #casaloma #baldwinsteps


Spadina below #toronto #spring #casaloma #spadinaroad #spadinaavenue #spadina


Spadina House is currently being repaired.

Spadina House, being repaired #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #spadinahouse #spadinamuseum


The Tollkeeper's Cottage, currently located on the northwest corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, is a vestige of the time when Bathurst Street was a toll road. Note the steep escarpment behind the building.

Tollkeeper's Cottage #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #bathurst #davenportroad #tollkeeperscottage


Ancient shore #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #bathurststreet #davenportroad


This flight of stairs descending to Christie Street was steep.

Down the stairs to Christie #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #bracondalehill #hillcrest #christiestreet #stairs


The Glenholme Steps, east of Dufferin in the Regal Heights neighbourhood, are much longer.

Glenholme Steps #toronto #janeswalk #lovetowalk #lakeiroquois #glaciallakeiroquois #glenholmesteps #regalheights


More photos from this walk, relating to specific elements and neighbourhoods, will appear here later.
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I hope the experts referred to in Tess Kalinowski's Toronto Star article are right.

Residents say a plan to build a three-storey rail bridge north of Bloor St. will cut their Davenport neighbourhood in half. The city favours burying the train tracks in a tunnel and trench.

But Toronto’s Design Review Panel sees the Metrolinx bridge proposal differently.

On Tuesday, several of the panelists — outside architects, landscape and design experts — praised the design, using words such as “simple,” “elegant,” “wonderful” and “excellent” to describe the plan for the 1.5-kilometre, $120-million bridge and the accompanying public spaces beneath it.

“How far we’ve come in 20 years that a bridge can actually be a unifier rather than a barrier,” said Diamond Schmitt Architects’ Michael Leckman, vice-chair of the panel that acts as a design watchdog for Toronto’s public spaces.

He compared the proposal to the ways in which the city is adding parks, paths, lighting, soundscapes and art to the space beneath the Gardiner Expressway.
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CBC notes continuing controversy at Dupont and Davenport over a new downtown rail crossing.

To the province, a proposed rail overpass just north of Dupont Street is an essential piece of infrastructure, key to expanding GO train service along the busy Barrie line. But for many residents of the Davenport neighourhood, the overpass they're calling a "Gardiner for GO trains" is a bridge too far.

Metrolinx — which manages regional transit for Toronto and Hamilton — will host a public meeting Monday evening to gather public feedback about its plans to build the overpass, which will allow GO trains along the north-sound Barrie line to pass over the Canadian Pacific freight corridor.

The bridge would eliminate the existing Davenport Diamond, where the two rail lines meet at grade level and create, according to Metrolinx, a choke point for train traffic.

Metrolinx is moving ahead with plans to build the bridge despite opposition from some residents who would rather see a tunnel built to separate the rail lines.

"We have a lot of concerns about it, it's going to be elevated three storeys high," said Davenport resident Sam Barbieri Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. Barbieri is with the group Options for Davenport, which is opposed to the overpass plan.
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David Rider's Toronto Star article notes what I might call a certain NIMBYism on the part of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood.

Toronto city council is blasting Ontario’s transportation agency and its plan for a big elevated rail bridge through Davenport neighbourhood, demanding Premier Kathleen Wynne intervene.

“We’re talking about a huge (ongoing) transformation, revitalization in this area, that could get severely impacted if you put this Gardiner Expressway-in-the-sky flying over this community, with trains going back and forth all day long,” thundered planning and growth chair Councillor David Shiner.

Davenport Councillor Ana Bailão said her residents support provincial electric rail expansion but “we don't want to be the community known as the train-watching community,” with, eventually, up to 180 a day overhead.

Others questioned Toronto’s future relations with the Metrolinx agency and its regional express rail plan, including agreements that compel the city to pay a share of some construction costs.
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Here's another Tess Kalinowski Toronto Star article, this one describing controversy over a new rail bridge at Davenport. In my humble opinion, NIMBYism is a bad idea, especially when it comes to transit improvements we need.

Residents along the train tracks may have lost the fight to stop Metrolinx from building a three-storey rail overpass near Davenport Rd. north of Bloor St.

But that doesn’t resolve the broader issue of reconciling the tight deadlines of the province’s massive GO expansion with Toronto’s city-building agenda, says the local councillor.

Metrolinx will move ahead with the approvals process for the 1.5-km rail bridge in January, rather than the spring as the city had expected. The provincial agency says its schedule for the electrified regional express rail program won’t permit further delay.

The bridge — which has been referred to as a Gardiner Expressway for GO trains — will allow all-day, two-way service on the Barrie line by eliminating the Davenport diamond where those tracks intersect with the CP freight corridor.

Even if CP and CN agree to move freight off the corridor in favour of a new freight line north of the city, Metrolinx says the Davenport rail-to-rail crossing needs to be eliminated to make way for more commuter trains.
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  • blogTO notes Yonge Street probably beats out Davenport Road as Toronto's oldest street.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes simulations of Earth's early atmosphere that might help us determine if exoplanets host life.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American Christian who thinks France deserved ISIS.

  • Language Hat notes how song lyrics help preserve the Berber dialect of Siwa, in Egypt.

  • Languages of the World's Asya Pereltsvaig reposts an old article of hers on the English language of the islands of the South Atlantic.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the complexity of solidarity with France in our post-imperial era.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests well-timed American aid helped Greece enormously.

  • Savage Minds notes the return of the Anthrozine.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russian is now widely spoken by ISIS and looks at the exact demographics of traditional families in Russia (largely rural, largely non-Russian).

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Torontoist's Josh Wise writes about the aftermath of the Davenportage, up the length of the old First Nations route that is Davenport Road.

This Sunday marked the second, now annual, Davenportage—a 16.5 kilometre portage from the banks of the Humber River skirting the top of downtown Toronto to the Don River. Yes, that’s right: a trek across a significant portion of Canada’s largest city with a canoe on your shoulders.

My love of all things canoe, Toronto and quirky piqued my curiosity enough to participate in this year’s Davenportage. I was able to convince a few buddies to join and we met the group gathered at Etienne Brule park on the shores of the Humber River just north of Bloor to begin this bizarre journey.

We were met by organizer and Davenportage founder Michael Bumby, who, along with two others, began his journey hours earlier by paddling down the Don River, across the Toronto harbour and up the Humber. Bumby and his crew, already 19 kilometres of paddling into their day, were set to complete their loop back to the Don along with four additional canoes and 19 so-called “historian athletes”, ranging in age from eight to 60.
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The Toronto Star's Shawn Micallef writes about a new celebration of Toronto's past.

“Why we do it is a mystery,” says Nicholas Brinckman. “There is no reason to walk across the city carrying a canoe on your back. It’s madness.”

On Nov. 15, Brinckman and others will be doing just that for an event they call the Davenportage, a 17-kilometre portage between the Humber and Don Rivers.

The bulk of their route follows Davenport, one of Toronto’s oldest roads that roughly traces an even older First Nations trail called Gete-Onigaming, or “the old portage.”

Davenport also passes south of the shoreline of ancient Lake Iroquois, the former expanded glacial version of Lake Ontario, today a prominent escarpment running across the middle of Toronto between Davenport and St. Clair that is the bane of all north-peddling cyclists.

Brinckman and a few other colleagues were working together in a shared office in Yorkville when they came up with the idea to do a long walk that both explored the city and honoured some of its history.

“It’s a profound way to be in the city,” he says. “It made me feel more connected to this place.”
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blogTO's Derek Flack writes about an area that I think encompasses my neighbourhood.

In the same moment when Toronto condo developers are determined to make new neighbourhoods in this city, our old villages rise up in the absence of big development and make their mark on the urban landscape. Such is the case with Davenport Village.

"When we opened here three years ago, people thought we were crazy," Sovereign co-owner Ross tells me over a coffee the other day. He's talking about the coffee shop's first spot at Davenport and Dufferin, but the sentiment remains true now that they've taken over the former Rockabilly Rock space.

He's one of the various people making this former retail wasteland a place where you might chat over coffee and wonder if the Green Line will actually happen. And he knows everything about the neighbourhood. There's a passion on display here that bodes very well for the area. Every time we chat for five minutes, I learn something new about this little village.


More, including photos.
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Daylilies #toronto #wychwoodpark #flowers #daylilies

I walked part of the way home, exhausted, through Wychwood Park. At the southern gate of this planned Neighbourhood adjoining Davenport Road were clumps of bright orange Daylilies, the flowers still fresh. They enliven me even now.
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NOW Toronto's Daqniel Rotsztain describes gentrification in what may as well be my neighbourhood.

Where I live at Dufferin and Davenport, the modest dwellings of Corso Italia meet the larger houses of Regal Heights.

More young people are moving into this neighbourhood north of the Dupont tracks in search of reasonable rent while staying close to the cultural institutions of the west end. Unsurprisingly, some see the influx of new residents as gentrification. But the numbers don’t quite add up in that regard.

According to the 2006 census, the most recent city data, these neighbourhoods had average individual incomes of $29,000 and $31,362, respectively. Compared to the 2006 citywide average income of $29,068, areas like Dufferin and Davenport are decidedly average: not too wealthy, but by no means poverty-stricken.

Young people aren’t moving to this area seeking dirt cheap cost of living. Rather, they’re looking for something more affordable than the prohibitively expensive rents colonizing the more southerly parts of the west end.

Maybe it’s the cafes, venues and art spaces that have begun to emerge, especially along Geary Avenue. As the US-based gentrification watcher Curbed points out, brunch spots, craft beer bars, and “inexplicable” general stores all score high points when determining if a neighbourhood is gentrified.

However, the kind of culture that young people are establishing in this area, the kind of culture pointed at by Curbed and described as “new” and “radical,” looks remarkably like the lifestyles that have already been forged by the Italian and Portuguese populations over the last 50 years: lively street culture, gardening, people watching from porches, DIY wine and beer making, hanging out in cafes. These are all activities that could be equally called “hipster” and “Italian.”
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Looking south on downtown Toronto from Bathurst at Davenport

I was walking south on Bathurst Street when I almost reached Davenport Road, realized the vista that the utility poles were framing, and took a picture.
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I don't have photos of Toronto's Masonic Temple anywhere in my Flickr account, but that lack shouldn't be taken to signify a lack of concern on my part as to what happens to the building. If, as the CBC suggests, the property is to be sold to a company that will keep the handsome building at Yonge and Davenport intact, well done. (I do have some concerns about the fate of MTV Canada, the company that used to own the building, but since I don't watch TV this is purely intellectual.)

Toronto's storied Masonic Temple has found a new owner in an Ontario-based technology consulting firm after Bell Media (TSX:BCE) decided to sell the former concert hall earlier this year.

Info-Tech Research Group says it has paid $12.5-million for the historic building, which was most recently home to MTV Canada and previously hosted famous rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Info-Tech, which is headquartered in London, Ont., will renovate the downtown building to accommodate its Toronto satellite office.

Joel McLean, the company's president and CEO, says Info-Tech wanted a space that could house its employees, but also impress visitors from outside the country.

"We're consistently inviting company after company into Toronto (and) we wanted something that was spectacular to come see," he says.

[. . .]

McLean says he will maintain the spirit of the entertainment era with meeting rooms named after some of the more famous musicians that played the Temple. He also plans to decorate the space with memorabilia that harkens back to the building's rock star days.

The firm says it will also keep the main concert hall's design so that it can move out office desks for its annual black-tie charity rock concert. In 2014, it plans to host, with its clients, an unofficial opening night party for the Toronto International Film Festival.

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