rfmcdonald: (obscura)
In memory of the dead of Earlscourt, Toronto

Toronto's Prospect Cemetery extends as far south as St. Clair Avenue, touching Earlscourt. Back when this neighbourhood was a newly-annexed municipality on the northwest fringes of the City of Toronto, Earlscourt was a new communiy, home to many recent British immigrants. These people volunteered by the thousands to serve on the Western Front, and died in the hundreds. After the First World War, this memorial was built in Prospect Cemetery, Earlscourt's local cemetery, in honour of the neighbourhood's dead. Future king Edward VIII lent his presence to the ceremonies surrounding of this cenotaph in 1919.
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  • Torontoist takes on Galen Weston and the $15 minimum wage and poverty in Toronto (and Loblaw's contribution to said).

  • At the Toronto Star, Shawn Micallef describes how high property values in Toronto discourage open-air parking lots.

  • Noor Javed looks, in Toronto Star, at the question of who authorized the cathedral elevated cow statue in Cathedraltown, in Markham.

  • The Star's Fatima Syed shares some old memories of Torontonians of the Centreville carousel, soon to be sold off.

  • At The Globe and Mail, Dakshana Bascaramurty takes a look at Jamaican patois, Toronto black English, and the many complex ways in which this language is received.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
Mother Mary in the front garden #toronto #wallaceemerson #lansdowneave #virginmary #statue #garden

This blue-and-white statue of the Virgin Mary standing in the front garden of a home on Lansdowne Avenue, in the heavily Portuguese-Canadian (and even more heavily Roman Catholic) west-end neighbourhood of Wallace Emerson, caught my eye when I was walking down the street on the Saturday before my flight.
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  • blogTO notes apartment complexes will soon be rezoned to allow them to host more businesses.

  • Torontoist's Tamara Yelland argues against Matt Gurney's dismissive take that people who can't afford Toronto housing should go.

  • Global News reports on the bidding wars for condo rentals in Toronto.

  • At CBC, Doug George-Kanentiio argues in favour of renaming Ryerson University, perhaps giving it a First Nations name.

  • The Toronto Star's Martin Regg Cohn reflects on his experiences around the world, seeing statues to past regimes taken down.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
Community, by Kirk Newman (2001)

Kirk Newman's 2001 sculpture "Community" stands on the lawn of Manulife Financial's headquarters on Bloor Street East.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Maisonneuve Monument, at night

The Maisonneuve Monument, erected in honour of Montréal's founder Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, stands squarely at the heart of the Place d'Armes.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
On the weekend, I took a photo of the statue of Alexander Wood that lies on the northwest corner of Church and Maitland.

Alexander Wood at twilight #toronto #churchandwellesley #churchstreet #maitlandstreet #alexanderwood #statue
is one of several orphan pictures of mine taken during Pride.

I remembered that I had taken a photo of the statue in 2014.

Statue of Alexander Wood in the Village, from below

In October 2012, during Nuit Blanche, I took some night-time photos of the statue. Below is one of the photos, and what I wrote at the time.

Alexander Wood at Nuit Blanche (1)

On the night of Nuit Blanche, I went to the northwestern corner of Church and Alexander--just two blocks south of the fabled intersection of Church and Wellesley--to take photos of sculptor Del Newbigging's statue of Scottish-born merchant Alexander Wood, unveiled in 2005. Located next to the compass painted on the sidewalk at the same corner, Newbigging's statue of Wood has become something of a community landmark, quite literally a touchstone--apparently some locals rub the statue for good luck before dates.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
In August, I made a daytrip to east-end Scarborough, I went to the Guild Inn. This park, built around an abandoned hotel, is of some renown as host of a sculpture garden collecting rescued building facades and ruins.

"Ontario", by Frances Loring #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #sculpture #ontario #francesloring

Temple gate #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #follies

By the hedge #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #follies #hedge

From the Royal Conservatory of Music #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #royalconservatoryofmusic

Prince Edward Island #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #pei #sculpture #princeedwardisland

Gate and birch #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #gate #birch #trees

Into the woods #toronto #guildinn #guildpark #path #woods
rfmcdonald: (photo)
John A. MacDonald on Victoria Row #pei #charlottetown #victoriarow #johnamacdonald #bronze #statue #latergram

In 2009, a statue of Canada's first prime minister, John A. MacDonald, was erected in Charlottetown at a cost of 80 thousand dollars, sitting on a bench at the western end of Victoria Row on Queen Street. Spacing Atlantic suggested in 2009 that there was some controversy over the statue, as much over the American nationality of sculptor Michael Halterman as of the cost, but it has remained, a recent addition to Canada's MacDonald's statuary collection.
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In the shadow of Charlottetown's St. Dunstan's Basilica on Great George Street stands a statue of Angus Bernard MacEachern, the Scottish immigrant to early British Prince Edward Island who brought Roman Catholicism to the territory.

Statue, Angus Bernard MacEachern #pei #charlottetown #greatgeorgestreet #statue #romancatholicism #latergram #stdunstans

Of note is the multilingualism of the plaque explaining MacEachern's life and works, in English, French, Gaelic and Mi'kmaq.

MacEachern's multilingualism #pei #charlottetown #greatgeorgestreet #statue #romancatholicism #latergram #stdunstans #english #français #gàidhlig #mikmaq

St. Dunstan's stands above it all.

St. Dunstan's in the evening #pei #charlottetown #greatgeorgestreet #statue #romancatholicism #latergram #stdunstans
rfmcdonald: (photo)
John Hamilton Grays #pei #charlottetown #greatgeorgestreet #johnhamiltongray #johnhamiltongrays #latergram #statue #nathanscott

Sculptor Nathan Scott's statue commemorating two Fathers of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray, one a Prince Edward Islander and the other a New Brunswicker stands squarely in the middle of Great George Street. What did the two men, namesakes of each other, talk about in 1864?
rfmcdonald: (photo)
When I went to New York City in June 2012 for my cousin's wedding, I opted not to go to the World Trade Center site. We've all seen the images before: did I really want to, never mind need to, see them again? Instead, I walked down to the nearby Zuccotti Park and photographed this statue.





"Double Check" by John Seward Johnson II--J. Seward Johnson on the commemorative plaque next to the statue--is a life-size figure in bronze cast in 1982 of a businessman preparing for the workday, a piece of public art that had gained some fame after the World Trade Center attacks for its fortuitous survival in the park wrecked by the towers' collapse. Stuart Miller's 2004 New York Times piece recounted that story.

On Sept. 11, 2001, with everything in ruins, one figure remained in Liberty Park across the street from the World Trade Center. He was sitting hunched over, staring in his briefcase, a businessman who seemed to be in shock and despair. Rescue workers, it was reported, approached him in the chaos to offer assistance, only to discover that he was not a man at all, but a sculpture.

The sculpture, created by J. Seward Johnson Jr. and placed downtown in 1982, was titled ''Double Check.'' It was named for what it depicted: a businessman making final preparations before heading into a nearby office building. Before 9/11, the sculpture was simply part of the downtown landscape. Afterward, it became an icon, as newspaper and magazine photos showed it covered in ash and, later, by flowers, notes and candles left there by mourners and rescue workers. ''Double Check'' was a memorial to all those who perished. It was also a fitting metaphor for the city: though the sculpture had been knocked loose from its moorings, it had endured.

After the attacks, ''Double Check'' was stored behind a fence in Liberty Park. When plans for its future were not forthcoming, Mr. Johnson, who owns the sculpture and had lent it to Merrill Lynch for display in Liberty Park, took the work back to his studio. There he bronzed the commemorative objects left on the sculpture, adding them to the figure permanently. And there ''Double Check'' has stayed -- largely forgotten, overlooked in the creation of a large-scale memorial design for the World Trade Center site.

The blog Daytonian in Manhattan, meanwhile, took the statue's story to the present day. (Key to this is the fact that, unbeknownst to me, the park where "Double Check" is located is the Zuccotti Park made famous by the Occupy movement.)

The original statue was refurbished by Johnson. He left the damages caused by crashing debris of the towers as a permanent reminder to the world of the holocaust of that morning in September. It was returned to Liberty Plaza Park. The businessman sits on a granite bench facing the site of the Towers.

[. . .]

The park took on a new personality about five years later when it became base for the Occupy Wall Street protestors. In their fervor to denounce anything remotely capitalist, they stuffed trash in the sculpture’s briefcase, tied a mask around his face and a bandana on his head. The statue that had become a memorial to the deaths of 3,000 innocent lives became a symbol of decadence to the protestors.

Their misled zeal was widely condemned by shocked and offended New Yorkers.

The garbage in the bronze briefcase has been removed and “Double Check” has regained his dignity. The statue that was intended to be a passing comment on everyday life along Wall Street instead became a poignant symbol of survival and a tribute to the common working man.

Five years later, I still like "Double Check". Even the datedness of the contents of man's briefcase--vintage 1980s tape cassette recorder to the left, oversized calculator to the right, even what seemed to be a package of cigarettes--endears to me. It feels like a perfectly quotidian state, a monument to the everyday, a reminder that despite everything the important can endure. Events like September 11th, or like the Air India Flight 182 bombing I mentioned this afternoon, happen. They need to be dealt with, somehow. They need to be transcended, somehow.

Most of these words, and these images, come from a post I made five years ago. I wished that these five years would see a progress back towards some sort of stability, some new equilibrium, some new quotidian. Alas.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Statuary and sculpture, often of Indonesian or Southeast Asian origins, is everywhere on the grounds.

Statues of the Dunes (1)

Statues of the Dunes (2)

Statues of the Dunes (3)

Statues of the Dunes (4)

Statues of the Dunes (5)
rfmcdonald: (photo)
They Come Out At Night, Michel Dumont #toronto #nuitrose #churchandwellesley #barbarahallpark #statues

I went to Nuit Rose last night, for the third year running, and once again I enjoyed myself. There were fun things in Church and Wellesley, and fun things on West Queen West. One thing that I liked in the first region were Michel Dumont's cellophane statues They Come Out at Night, a revisiting of the streets of queer Toronto circa 1986 and their people.

(More will come.)
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  • Anthropology.net reports on a study suggesting that ritual human sacrifice paved the way for complex societies.

  • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling shares an essay skeptical about the idea of a sharing economy.

  • D-Brief and The Dragon's Tales reports on a study of some South American mummies suggesting that the vast majority of populations in the pre-Columbian Americas did not survive the conquest.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining conditions on 55 Cancri e.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how access to abortion can be limited by simply making it difficult to access.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders how bad the effects of the upcoming shutdown of the D.C. Metro will be.

  • Noel Maurer continues to look at the prospects of a Venezuelan default, looking at oil exports.

  • Spacing Toronto explores the history of the Toronto Sculpture Garden.

  • Torontoist explains inclusionary zoning to its readers.

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Torontoist's Jamie Bradburn looks at the various places and monuments built in Toronto to commemorate the centennial of Confederation in 1867. There is much in this article, including photos.

From neighbourhood tree plantings to the international spectacle of Expo 67, Canada proudly celebrated its centennial. The stylized maple leaf logo graced everything from historical sites to reservoirs. Cities and towns applied for governments grants to spruce up parks, restore historical sites, and build attractions to last long after the centennial spirit faded.

Across Toronto, many legacies remain of, as Pierre Berton’s book on 1967 termed it, “the last good year.” There are the community centres and parks in the pre-amalgamation suburbs with “centennial” in their name. Celebratory murals lining school walls. Caribana and its successors celebrating Caribbean culture each year.

Many of these projects received funding from programs overseen by a federal commission, whose work sometimes felt like an Expo footnote. “They felt like poor cousins,” British author Peter Ackroyd observed. “Expo was so big, so appealing, so clearly headed for success that it discouraged those who were plodding away on the less focused, something-for-everyone program of the Commission.”

As is our habit, Toronto wanted spectacular major centennial projects. As is also our habit, they were mired in bureaucratic squabbles involving penny-pinching city councillors, politicians and pundits who swore delays embarrassed us in front of the rest of the country, and bad luck.

Discussions over marking the centennial began in earnest in September 1962 when the Toronto Planning Board proposed a $25 million cultural complex. With financial pruning, this evolved into a $9 million centennial program focused on the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, which included a repertory theatre, arts and culture facilities along Front Street, and a renovation of the decaying St. Lawrence Hall. Proponents also tossed in an expansion of the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the AGO) and refreshing Massey Hall. Mayor Phil Givens supported the project wholeheartedly—during his re-election campaign in 1964, he said “I have never been so sincerely convinced in my life that something is right.”


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