Monday, July 23, 2012


 View of Downtown from Toronto Islands Ferry

A couple of days ago, when I opened this blog after a long time away, I realized that my last post was more than two years ago.  Since then, I've had my third Indian vacation and my first trip to the south of Italy.  I'll be traveling again in a month when my husband Paul and I head off to the Isle of Wight for a week and then to Germany for four weeks with side trips to Vienna and Prague. Then, in February and March we'll be in Hilton Head, South Carolina. This travel should give me a lot more to write about.

But while I'm at home in Toronto where I've lived for the past twenty years, I plan to blog about this city. I love Toronto, and I know it will offer plenty of interesting material.

Every year, as spring approaches, I've been telling myself that I will frequently get out of the house to explore the city. But so far my busy life has interfered with this plan. Now, I have a new brilliant idea: I realized that if I resumed my travel blog with Toronto as its focus, I would create an incentive to keep it going so as not to disappoint my followers  - assuming, of course, that some of these make an appearance.

And, there is also a second objective. After I had taken thousands of photos over the years, my husband Paul commented about one of the best, saying "even a blind squirrel finds a nut some of the time." I laughed at his comment, but it gave me a reason to aim for better quality. Now, as I embark upon a new journey with my blog, there will be an opportunity to practice what I've been learning over the past year as a new member of the Toronto Camera Club. Instead of blindly pointing and shooting, I will make an effort to think about what I want to achieve with each photo.

There are many aspects of Toronto that I would like to cover in this blog: people, both long-time residents and newcomers; artistic and cultural events; historic buildings and new architecture; political and other issues of importance to the community; and major events.

Of more interest, at least to me, would be the attributes of the city that make it unique. Toronto is not known for possessing one great landmark like the Sydney Opera House in Australia or the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Rather, I think of Toronto as being a collection of things that individually may not be worthy of high praise, but when taken together form a unique and wonderful city. Some examples are its distinctive neighbourhoods with their many beautiful parks, the Lake Ontario beaches and recreational facilities, the strength of its non-profit and charitable organizations and their participation in important city decision-making; its many festivals; and, perhaps best of all, the diverse culture that people have brought to the city after moving here from almost every corner of the world.

Now I will turn my attention to Toronto and an outing to Queen's Quay and Harbourfront last Saturday. While walking west on Queen's Quay, what struck me forcefully was the amount of new construction. I was aware that many highrise buildings were going up, having counted 56 cranes while returning home through the city centre recently. It was the development near the lake that was a surprise.
New Buildings and Cranes Viewed from Queen's Quay

As we continued on our way, it gave me a good feeling to recognize the casual, relaxed atmosphere of Harbourfront after two years since my last visit. We saw an elderly busker playing a sax and lots of people of all shapes and sizes, making their way like us to Lake Ontario. We rounded a corner and there it was, the lake in front of us and Queen's Quay Terminal with its shops on our right. 

The creation of Harbourfront as the attractive recreational area it is today was made possible by public ownership of the land and a deliberately flexible official plan. I thought I could see the results of a relatively hands-off approach by the authorities. There is a sort of helter-skelter unplanned appearance that I could see might encourage visitors to relax, enjoy, explore and experience the place freely and at their leisure. Maybe that is why it has become so popular.

 Harbourfront Kiosk
 Boats, and Behind Them, a Footbridge
A Performance in the Bandshell
 Fun in the Water
 Boat Called the Oriole
Harbourfront Restaurant
West Jet Stage
Paul and our Border Collie, Maxwell

Harbourfront extends for almost a mile along Queen's Quay west of Yonge Street and east of Spadina Avenue. It is full of people and activity, especially on weekends. There are several buildings, including Harbourfront Centre.  A search on Google Maps - Earth will give a good picture of it, especially if you zoom in.

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