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Mural, Cabbagetown Corner Convenience #toronto #cabbagetown #parliamentstreet #cornerstore #mural #publicart #wires

I love this cheerful mural covering one whole side of a convenience store's building on Parliament.
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  • Doug Ford is running for mayor in 2018, hoping to continue Rob's legacy. (Doug was the more functional of the two.)

  • Toronto has cracked down successfully on a property owner in Cabbagetown using their buildings for Airbnb.

  • The Lower Don Trail is scheduled to reopen later this month, one year later than originally scheduled.

  • The LCBO will be the authorized seller of marijuana in Ontario. I think I largely support this: regulation matters.

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  • With news that Toronto police is now treating the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman from his Cabbagetown a week ago as suspicious, the search for Kinsman is taking on new importance. Please, if you can help in any way, let Toronto police or his friends--anybody--know.

  • The Toronto Star's Hina Alam reports on the huge crush over the Canada Day weekend to see the World's Largest Rubber Duck.

  • The Parkdale Villager's Hilary Caton reports on the push to make West Queen West a protected district.

  • The National Post shares the Canadian Press' poll reporting on general anxiety, including among the well-off, on affordable housing in Canada.

  • The Globe and Mail's Kenny Sharpe writes about controversy at Ryerson University over the legacy of founder Egerton Ryerson.

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I'm inclined to agree with Shawn Micallef's argument in the Toronto Star about the NIMBYism in opposition to a Bike Share stand in Cabbagetown.

In a Jan, 23 letter to City Councillor Pam McConnell, the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Committee expressed disappointment that a Bike Share station was installed last summer within the Cabbagetown North Heritage Conservation District (HCD) without “any regard for the truly unique character” the area presents and asked it be removed.

An HCD protects an entire neighbourhood, not just a historic building. Bike Share, Toronto’s municipal bike lending program, installed a station with 14 bikes in the northwest corner of Riverdale Park, near the Winchester and Sumach Sts. intersection. The committee says the bikes interfere with the “character, rhythm and overall setting” of Cabbagetown and mentioned three listed heritage properties nearby, including the Toronto Necropolis chapel, that the bikes compromised.

Back in November, the Cabbagetown Residents Association conducted an online survey after two residents launched the first historic petards at the bikes, with complaints that stated, in part, “the park should not be dumping grounds for the latest trend from city hall.” Of the 739 who responded to the survey, 721 were in favour of the current location, with only 16 wanting the bike station removed, and two people choosing somewhere else entirely. Undaunted by the survey results, the heritage committee, made up of Cabbagetown residents, launched another volley.

Should the committee be successful in removing the Bike Share station from the park, can we expect them to then work on removing the on-street parking found throughout historic Cabbagetown? While the Bike Share station took up just one small pocket, the entire park and necropolis are surrounded by Hondas, Volkswagens and Volvos, many of them closer to the heritage properties than the bike share is.
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I quite like Dave Leblanc's feature in The Globe and Mail describing efforts to revitalize the stretch of downtown Toronto where Parliament Street meets Bloor Street East.

Toronto, it is widely known, is a movie stand-in for Chicago, New York, and even Southern California (The Bridle Path has played Beverly Hills). Until recently, a long, triangular patch of land near Bloor and Parliament was a shoo-in for Detroit: a shabby Victorian stood alone in a weedy field, and, half a block away, a dead-end street sported a row of falling-down, boarded up semi-detached homes.

The area bounded by Sherbourne, Parliament, Howard and Bloor streets had been that way for two decades, give or take. In 2006, The Globe’s Alex Bozikovic wrote that the stub of Glen Rd. between the Bloor Street overpass and Howard Street was rife with hookers, drug dealers and crackheads. One home had a “large hole” in its roof; another had a tree taking root on its rotting, wet shingles. “I feel that the city has abandoned this neighbourhood,” one Glen Rd. resident told Mr. Bozikovic at the time.

It was a rare spot of neglect in an otherwise prosperous city. A few years later, however, Lanterra Developments handed heritage superheroes ERA Architects an assignment: Make something out of this.

“They wanted to do this development at the outer parts of the site, but they couldn’t really do anything with the centre just rotting,” remembers ERA’s Scott Weir, “so the first phase of this was ‘let’s make a beautiful district, whatever it takes to do that,’ so they did restoration on all of these almost un-repairable buildings.”

One of those “almost” dead buildings was the hulking, three-storey Victorian home that stood alone at 76 Howard St. After years of planning, Laurie McCulloch house movers pulled it, slowly, to its new digs at No. 28 just a few weeks ago. Hello, neighbours!
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The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell reports on a grim Toronto Community Housing rooming house on Parliament Street, in the heart of Cabbagetown.

Rick Keegan uses dark humour to describe life in and outside his Cabbagetown rooming house, a fetid, bug-infested three-storey Victorian that attracts a roster of transients who gain entry by kicking in the front door.

“It went from crack to meth, and if you can believe it, I miss the crack days,” says Keegan describing the current drug of choice for visitors.

“Crack users are a little paranoid, you can get them out of the house, you just go and tell them to get lost and they go, but you try and tell that to the meth heads and they want to fight.”

Keegan, 61, says this while sitting inside a busy Tim Hortons across the street from part of a row of tall, narrow Parliament St. homes listed on the city’s Heritage Registry and owned and operated by Toronto Community Housing (TCH).

Rooming houses across the city — and what to do about them — is on the fall agenda at city hall. This month, city staff will report to executive committee on new zoning and licensing regulations for rooming houses, including 27 rooming houses operated by TCH.

Toronto has 433 licensed rooming houses. Hundreds more are unlicensed.
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  • The Big Picture shares photos of life around the world this month.

  • blogTO notes that a vacant lot on Sherbourne Street will become an urban farm, for a time.

  • Centauri Dreams explores the strange oceans of Titan.

  • Dangerous Minds shares some astoundingly open ads for cocaine paraphrenalia from the 1980s.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a study suggesting that it was the Chicxulub impact, not the Deccan Traps volcanic eruptions, which were extinction-triggering.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the governor of South Carolina's statement that his political opponents orchestrated the reaction to anti-trans legislation to ensure he would not get re-elected.

  • Language Hat reports on an Igbo journalist explaining why he, and many of his people, do not speak their ancestral language.

  • The Map Room Blog maps patterns of rail travel in Europe.

  • Michael Steeleworthy is critical, and rightly so, of the massive announced cutbacks to Newfoundland and Labrador's library service.

  • Torontoist notes the Toronto Hard Candy gym's cutting of its links with Madonna.

  • Transit Toronto notes the TTC is looking for volunteer ambassadors.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that population growth in Russia is concentrated in largely non-Russian regions.

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In memory #toronto #parliamentstreet #cabbagetown #benwicks

The Ben Wicks Pub on 424 Parliament Street, named after the British-born cartoonist of the same name, has been closed for almost three years. The wall painting advertising it on the wall north of the pub's former location, drawn in Ben Wicks' style on the wall north, does remain.
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In a great Torontoist photo essay, written by Edward Brown and with photos by Harry Choi, the site takes a look at a remarkable institution, the community Christmas tree lot at Spruce and Parliament.

In 1952 Louis St. Laurent was PM, Toronto got its first television station, Leafs games aired on Hockey Night in Canada for the first time and Gerry McDermott, an ambitious 20-year-old apprentice electrician, began selling Christmas trees at the corner of Spruce and Parliament Streets.

St. Laurent died and the Gardens became a grocery store but McDermott’s unadorned tree lot continues selling Fraser firs on the same Cabbagetown street corner, a neighbourhood institution for over 60 years.

A year into renting sidewalk space from the Power supermarket at 449 Parliament St. Gerry’s younger brother Dale and their father Elmer joined Gerry in his fledging venture. Responsibilities were assigned. Gerry and Dale preferred the operational side of business, growing, pruning and harvesting trees. Elmer tried his hand at sales. To Gerry’s delight his father, blessed with the gift of gab, was a natural salesman.

Elmer returned to the tree lot every December until 1996 when he died at the age of 91.

In the early days the McDermott lot sold a wide selection of trees including spruce, Scotch pine and juniper grown on the family’s 6,000 acre tree nursery north of Bracebridge. Early success led to additional lots around Toronto, in North York and Mississauga. Eventually the acreage was sold and all but one of the lots shuttered. The last remaining lot in Cabbagetown sells only Fraser firs harvested from a nursery north of Barrie.
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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the things important to her.

  • Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram shares a quietly beautiful picture of a Paris cafΘ late at night.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes a paper suggesting that atmospheric haze on exoplanets might be a biosignature.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that the Earth appears not to have gotten its water from comets, and examines the geology of Mars' massive Hellas crater.

  • Far Outliers notes initial Soviet goals in Afghanistan and looks at Soviet reluctance to get involved.

  • Joe. My. God. notes panic in the Republican Party establishment over a possible victory of Carson or Trump.

  • Language Hat notes some online resources on Beowulf and the Hittite language.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic Germans in Ukraine in 1926.

  • Torontoist notes an architecturally sensitive data centre on Cabbagetown's Parliament Street.

  • Towleroad notes Ukraine's passage of a LGBT employment non-discrimination bill.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Putin's attempt at forming an anti-globalist coalition and notes Russian opinions about Western passivity.

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Tuesday evening, I left home too late to do a full tour of the Don Valley, north from Queen Street East.I should be used to the diminution of the evening in fall by now, I know, but I didn't quite. I rather travel by foot up through Riverdale side streets to first Dundas then Gerrard, cutting west across the Don river and the Don Valley Parkway before ending up in Riverdale Park.

Sidewalk leaves, Munro Street #toronto #evening #autumn #munrostreet #riverdale

Towers of evening #toronto #evening #autumn #munrostreet #riverdale

Old and new #toronto #evening #autumn #gerrardstreet #riverdale #donjil

Looking west down Dundas #toronto #evening #dundasstreet #dundasstreeteast

North, DVP #toronto #dvp #evening #autumn #donvalleyparkway

North, the Don in evening #toronto #donriver #don #dvp #evening #autumn #donvalleyparkway

Transformers #toronto #dvp #electricity #transformers

Towers of Regent Park, 2 #toronto #evening #autumn #gerrardstreet #regentpark

Looking east #toronto #dvp #cabbagetown #riverdale #evening #autumn

More to come from another exploration tomorrow.
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Spacing Toronto's Jake Tobin Garrett takes a look, with abundant photos, of the way Toronto's Winchester Park in the neighbourhood of Cabbagetown combines both public and private space.

There is a lot of blending between the two, to the point where sometimes you have no idea whether the space you are using is public or private. (This has led to a few instances where a security guard materializes from somewhere to tell me no, you can’t lie down on that lovely stone bench and read your book, you bum.)

The several small parks that make up the block where Winchester Park is located in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood (Ward 28) creates that same feeling of blended public and private spaces. It consists of four (I think) public parks set amidst several housing complexes that also have their own (private) spaces that are all connected by various internal walkways that are (I think) private.

One of the two small parkettes that make up Winchester Square Park (south of the bigger park) contains some raised bed gardens and is very clearly a public park. But the second space is a less defined green space that seems more like a private yard for the adjacent apartment building, whose towering blank face rises above the park, begging to have a mural painted on it. There’s even a small garden that borders the park with a green picket fence, but is (I think) a private garden of the building.
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blogTO's Chris Bateman writes about the history behind St. James Town, a high-rise complex of social housing that has acquired a negative reputation for crime and poverty. It turns out that St. James Town was, and apparently is, actually a decided improvement on what was there before.

When it was first proposed in the 1960s, St. James Town was the biggest urban renewal project ever conceived in Toronto. By clearing a vast swath of crumbling Victorian properties in one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods, urban planners aimed to engineer the densest concentration of people in the country. The only people standing in the way were the owners of a handful of holdout homes who refused to budge.

Lucio Casaccio, a taylor, and Francis Berghofer, and 68-year-old grandmother, both fought to keep their homes against the St. James Town developer with varying levels of success. The remnants of their battles are still visible today, if you know where to look.

In the 1950s, many of the Victorian homes of north Cabbagetown were seriously grim. Many of the rental properties were owned by unscrupulous landlords and lacked even the most basic utilities.

One St. James Avenue mother told the city how she was forced to keep a light on above her two-month-old baby's crib to ward off rats and mice. Five families - 11 children and 10 adults - shared her building and its single bathroom. In a letter, she complained of roaches, faulty wiring, broken plumbing, and a lack of heat in winter. And she wasn't alone.

Inspections by health and building inspectors uncovered horrific conditions. Ceilings were collapsing, rotten floor boards created pits into filthy basements, and light fixtures hung off walls. "People shouldn't be living here," alderman June Marks told a tenant during a visit that was covered by the Toronto Star. The woman's pet cat had a freshly killed rat in its mouth. It waited, she said, by a hole in the wall for a new rodent to emerge every day.

Landlords were often to blame for the gross unsanitary conditions. Joseph Shori, the owner of some 24 properties in the area, said he rented one his St. James Town homes for $89 a month to a total of 23 tenants. He blamed people who were behind on rent for leaving the buildings in a not "ideal condition." (He would later threaten to cut off the heat, light and power to his properties when his tenants complained to the city's Board of Control.)
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Chris Bateman's blogTO post "What's it like to live on a private street in Toronto?" takes a look at Toronto's Percy Street, a private street south of Cabbagetown, by the Don and not too far from the waterfront.

Percy Street isn't like your street. This small stretch of Toronto road that runs south in a dog-legged kink from King Street to the Richmond Street ramp is one of the city's some 250 private streets and laneways. There's no gate, but the 35 residents here are just about as separate as it's possible to be in the city, and they like it like that.

"We call it the 'Republic of Percy,' it's kind of a joke," says Kali Hewitt-Blackie, co-owner of The Percy Bed & Breakfast at No. 6. "When you walk down the street it's like you're living in another land. It's not like Toronto, it's like something in England or someplace."

What really sets Percy apart is its lack of access to regular city services. There are no gates, barriers, or glaring warning signs, but snow, leaf, and garbage management are all arranged privately and paid for out of the resident's pockets. Even sewer maintenance costs are part of the experience shared by other private community residents like the home owners of Wychwood Park near St. Clair and Bathurst.

"We nominate people to do things," explains Hewitt-Blackie. We have a guy that's in charge of the bank account ... we have a little street signage committee, a street lighting committee, and we have one dealing with the rest of the things to do with Streetcar [the new condo that backs onto Percy.]"

Bateman has some interesting notes about the history of the street and its denizens.

See also this 2009 post at the Toronto Realty Blog and a 2011 National Post article
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The CBC reports.

Police have identified the man that died following an overnight shooting in downtown Toronto as the brother of the victim in last summer's Eaton Centre shooting.

Police say they received a call reporting gunfire just after 11:30 p.m. Thursday at a seniors apartment at 55 Bleecker St., in the area of Carlton and Jarvis streets.

When police arrived, they found Nisan Nirmalendran, 21, suffering from gunshot wounds.

He was taken to St. Michael's hospital and pronounced dead. Police have not yet made any arrests.

Police confirmed that Nirmalendran was the brother of Nixon Nirmalendran, the 22-year-old who died on June 11, 2012 after being shot in the food court of Toronto’s Eaton Centre on June 2, 2012.

Det. Sgt. Terry Brown spoke at a news conference Friday, saying that there was “nothing to suggest that the two instances are related at all.”
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The Toronto Star's Rosie DiManno has a typically emotive, but thorough article describing the life of a recent murder victim. A refugee from Eritrea, Nighisti Semret was walking home from her work as a hotel cleaner to her rented room in Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood about 7 o'clock yesterday morning when she was fatally stabbed by a passerby, apparently at random.

Proud and stoic, a private woman, Nighisti Semret didn’t want people knowing where and how she lived.

Now, sadly, everybody knows where and how she died.

A makeshift flower memorial — forlorn urban ritual for violent loss in modern times — marks the spot where the 55-year-old refugee from Eritrea was brutally slain early Tuesday, a gloomy, wet morning.

The attack was frenzied and seemingly random, Semret’s assailant shadowing her footsteps, striking suddenly from behind, repeatedly plunging the knife. Dropped it, picked it up again, fended off a couple of Good Samaritan wranglers who tried to seize him, and fled.

Semret never saw any of it coming, likely didn’t even hear menace approaching as she walked homeward, umbrella lifted over her head. She’d just finished her overnight shift as a cleaning supervisor at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. No doubt she was tired and anxious to get out of the wet, back to her cramped 12-by-12 bolt-hole at a city-run women’s rooming house on Winchester St., with its shared kitchen and bath down the hall. Home and safety were just 100 metres away.

[. . .]

Yet it was a better life than the one Semret had known in Eritrea, and vastly improved from the homeless, friendless existence of two and a half years ago, when she first arrived in Toronto.
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Last Saturday evening, I snapped this picture looking south down Cabbagetown's Metcalfe Street at Winchester, east of Parliament Street. I was standing kitty-corner to the Winchester Street Theatre, also photographed by me that evening.

Looking south, Metcalfe at Winchester
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The Winchester Street Theatre, located on 80 Winchester Street off of Parliament Street in the green, Victorian house-dense downtown neighbourhood of Cabbagetown, is home to the acclaimed Toronto Dance Theatre but is also a space open to rental for other performing groups. Saturday, I saw the debut performance of a friend's play in the central space of this converted church.

Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester Street


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