Category Archives: Heritage & history

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR NEXT MONTH’S “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL”

Last week, one of Toronto’s favourite watering holes, The Duke on Queen St East, played host to a special fundraising concert benefiting this year’s 14th Annual Beach Celtic Festival (Sept. 9/10) and festival founder SANDY GRAHAM was thrilled to welcome an exciting line-up of Celtic dancers and musicians to the stage.

MC  & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured musicians to take their bows.

MC & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured performers to take their bows.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers and that of the prize donors for the silent auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to help underwrite the costs for producing the annual festival celebrating the contributions made to Toronto’s history and growth by Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English immigrants.

Led by Meghan Bold, the lovely ladies from the Bold Steps Dance Studio entertained with traditional dances and clogging – the excited crowd clapped along in time.

Apart from MC’ing the evening, singer/songwriter Don Graham opened the night with some great tunes….20170822_195838…and he was followed shortly by roots musician Syd Simkins (below)…20170822_203237….and award-winning artist Lisa Hartt (below)20170822_205652The auction tables were pretty busy throughout the night, offering all sorts of treasures and treats.20170822_183041 20170822_183938MPP Arthur Potts (below) dropped by to wish Sandy and the Festival volunteers well…and shared a few funny stories with the audience. He and Sandy go waaaay back and she was delighted to pose for pictures with him.20170822_194407 20170822_195102Music insider and columnist for Cashbox Canada e-magazine (Sandy is publisher of this long-running music magazine), Lenny Stout (below, left) helped sell 50-50 draw tickets with Festival volunteer Fiona Lawson (right). 20170822_203358…they also helped Don with the draw. And the winner is…. Zita DaSilva who was obviously very excited about the result!20170822_220328Sandy was pleased to welcome reporter Courtney from Snapd newspaper (below left) to the event where she snapped lots of pictures of the performers including Brooke and Steve from Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.20170822_211243 20170822_213338Stephen Lamb (Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost) was, in fact, presented with the “Beach Celt of the Year” award honouring his contributions to the Celtic community and continued support of the Festival. Steve was later joined by Sandy and MPP Potts for photo opps.20170822_212210 20170822_195122

It truly was a grand night and the artists and audience all paid tribute to Sandy Graham for creating such a unique family-friendly annual event.  You can learn more at www.thecelticfestival.com

BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL
Sat/Sun September 9 & 10 and it’s FREE!
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in the Beach, Toronto

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MEET HANNA KOSTANSKI, URBAN GALLERY’S ARTIST OF THE MONTH!

Last night, Toronto’s coolest indie art venue, URBAN GALLERY, hosted the opening reception for HANNA KOSTANSKI, whose work is inspired by vintage photographs of our city from years gone by, found in the City of Toronto Archives.  With permission from the Archives, Hanna has recreated well-known intersections and streetscapes from the early 1900’s through to the 1980’s, adding colour and movement to the imagery, bringing the scenes to life.  Her show, 20th Century Toronto: Intersections & Interactions, runs until August 26th at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto) and I strongly recommend you visit in person to see if you recognize each of the locations she’s painted. Betcha you’ll be amazed to see how our city has changed!

About the artist:  Hanna was born in Szczecin, Poland, and grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. She obtained her BFA from OCAD University in 2007 and currently resides in Hamilton and works in Toronto. Her work can be found in dozens of private and public collections in both cities.Hanna Kostanski YONGE AND DUNDAS 1978 acrylic on board(Above) Yonge and Dundas, 1978 Acrylic on Wood 30″ x 60″ by Hanna Kostanski
From City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 92, Item 49 • Original Photograph by Harvey R. Naylor

Artist Statement:   For nearly a decade my work has been focused on the visible passage of time, experienced through the exploration and documentation of abandoned and decaying buildings in cities like Hamilton and Detroit. I have always been fascinated with historical architecture, specifically how we interact with our buildings and structures, and what happens when that interaction ceases to exist.

My current body of work continues to explore the connection between people and their environment, but with a focus on historical representations of that relationship.  To that end, I have been working on a series of paintings based on photographs found at the City of Toronto Public Archives. These images span several decades and are nostalgic of the city as it used to be. They celebrate the many past incarnations of Toronto, the vibrant intersections of the city and the interactions of its people.  Hanna Kostanski (2017)

The gallery was quickly crowded with fans of Hanna’s work which has recently garnered some exciting media attention – even Toronto Mayor John Tory has weighed in on Twitter about Hanna’s ability to capture a sense of time and place with her large format paintings.20170803_18202620170803_17482220170803_17564020170803_16431220170803_164228Two of Hanna’s BFF’s came to support her and found a familiar sight in this painting (below) of Yonge Street between Queen & Dundas! 20170803_171702 20170803_173123I think this fellow (above) must work on Bay Street – he appears to be looking for the location where his office now sits and explaining the old geography to his lovely companion.20170803_173228 20170803_180704Hanna welcome many of her friends and fans (above), all of whom seemed eager to see her newest paintings.

Fellow artist Nancy Bennett (below) looks like she’s calling a cab from the intersection of Yonge & Dundas…LOL20170803_172148Amidst the hub-bub of the busy gallery, I managed to grab Hanna for a quick chat about her work…

Hanna is also offering fine prints for those who don’t have the space for the original BIG paintings…here’s a happy art-lovin’ family who purchased 2 prints of their favourite paintings….20170803_173528(0)Here’s Wayne Abell of Urban Source Catering (they always present the most deelish treats for gallery openings!!) with KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca, a Toronto-centric e-newspaper who really liked Hanna’s work.20170803_173304If you would like to come and play “spot the street” with Hanna’s work, please visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions.  You can also follow Hanna on social media via her own website: www.hannakostanski.com

 

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Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

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MEET ARTIST PAULINE LANGMAID, A TRUE NORTHERN SPIRIT!

Several months ago, I was sitting on the subway staring at the inane advertising banners – no I don’t want to meet sexy singles, nor do I want to buy a house and I am certainly not interested in a change of career at this point in my life! I overheard two ladies chatting and laughing nearby, so I found an opening to contribute to the conversation and soon found myself enjoying the journey with joyful companions. Skip ahead to present day and one of them, artist Pauline Langmaid, is now a friend and a client.

Based up north in Bracebridge, Pauline’s work is reminiscent of the famed Group of Several meets Edvard Munch meets Emily Carr – full of colour and bold strokes that describe her vision of the stark landscapes that surround her.Pauline-Langmaid_4351_Social-Media Pauline-Langmaid_Pic-Island_1600x1064I recently spoke with Pauline, asking her to share her thoughts on painting, her inspirations and her advice for others wanting a painterly life.

What first inspired you to start painting professionally, more than as a hobby?   I just wanted/needed to paint everyday and I belong to several wonderful groups of artists, The Burk’s Falls Art and Crafts Club, the Kearney Art Group; the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council; the East Central Ontario Artists Association; and the Muskoka Art and Craft Club who have been instrumental in my growth as an artist and continually encourage me to keep painting and to sell my paintings.Pauline 003Did you have any formal training and if so, where?  My first courses began when I was 8 years old at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery under the skilled direction of Paul Sloggett who is now a renowned Canadian Abstract artist.  I’ve also studied at Meta 4 Gallery, primarily with Linda Edwards.  The Haliburton School of the Arts introduced me to Ramune Luminaire and I took many courses from her as well both in Haliburton and in Oshawa at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  Janine Marsden and Diane Finlayson of Huntsville have also been instrumental in my growth as an artist.Pauline 007Who are your artistic inspirations?  I started out in love with Van Gogh’s work and moved on to Emily Carr – I long-lamented that she was not still around to guide and mentor me.  People over the years have told me that my work also reminds them of Edvard Munch’s work.  I have recently completed two paintings in the Jackson Pollock style and can understand why he painted this way – it was extremely satisfying.  Another huge inspiration is, of course, Mother Nature.  One of my favorite subjects is Georgian Bay after an awe inspiring kayaking trip with some wonderful girlfriends who are all over the age of 50.  I have painted at least 10 paintings of that trip in the past 3 years.Pauline-Langmaid_Georgian-Bay-Pine_1600x1283Pauline-Langmaid_4321_Social-MediaDo you have a preferred colour palette or technique, and if so, explain?  My favorite palette is orange and its complements, I’m not sure why.  My favorite way to paint is to find something in nature…sketch it, take photos of it, bring it back to the studio and begin putting down ideas.  I will often integrate many different scenes I’ve seen in nature into one painting.  At this point, I will pick my colour palette using my colour wheel, generally try to force the painting into something that I think it should be, fail miserably, then pray and do my best to let go!  Once I have been able to let go of the outcome, I get up very close and personal with my canvas and the paint just starts flowing and I try not to think.  Then the hard part comes when I need to stop this feeling part and look carefully at it and place finishing touches.17992122_1274465729297558_3029712665192584507_nYour current work shows a very bold style – how do people react to your paintings upon first sight?  And does this excite you as an artist?  I can place people’s reactions in two distinct categories.  They either “get it” or they don’t and that is ok with me.  Those who “get it” get very excited start dancing around in my small studio and expressing quite loudly that they see what I am trying to convey and often purchase at least one item, large or small, as a token of their experience.  Then there are those who don’t “get it” and they basically walk in and walk out.  All reactions are valid.  The comments I most often get are “WOW!”; “that’s interesting”; and “there’s just something about your painting, I can’t put my finger on it but I love it”.  People have definite favorites and some have compared one of my trees with a face to “Groot”, a character from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  At the time I painted her, I had never even seen the movie.  Possibly because my tag line is “art as worship” I have many conversations relating to God and spirit and how He/She/It moves in their lives.  More than once people have been moved to tears as a reaction to some of my paintings.  Of course I love to sell my paintings as this allows me to continue painting and spreading God’s love, however, just having people come into my studio and understand what it is I am trying to say is very gratifying. October Wind Three TreesCan you tell us about your studio which is located 3hrs north of Toronto?  My studio is located in the historical Clock Tower Center in Bracebridge, Ontario.  I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and was able to secure this lovely creative space.  I love my days in my little studio (below) where I get to paint and interact with people from all over the world.  I currently have a guest artist, Tamara Blakelok, also sharing my space.  Martin Sheffield, the owner of the building, had a vision and has created an amazing space for fine artists and artisans, and it’s also a Clock Museum housing many antique clocks available for sale.Pauline 014 Pauline 012Bracebridge’s historical Federal Post Office building, now renamed “The Clock Tower Centre” is officially listed as one of Ontario’s notable clock towers.  It’s located in the heart of the downtown at the corner of Bracebridge’s busiest main intersection, Manitoba and Taylor Streets.  Within the walls of the Clock Tower Centre you will find a treasure trove of artist studios, galleries, boutiques and spas creating an incredible shopping experience that will keep you coming back for more.

You seem to have a lot of support from your local community via social media and attendance at art shows – has this helped your decision to reach out to a bigger audience in Toronto and across Canada?  I was invited to do a solo show at the Dwight Public Library last year and at the Pickering Village Jam Festival this year.  I also participate in group shows across Northern Ontario and in Algonquin Park.  The Burk’s Falls Art & Crafts Club has an Arts Center where all members show and sell their work and I have pieces for sale at this location.  I do have quite a following via social media and, yes, these things have encouraged me to reach out and test the waters in the larger Toronto market and across Canada.  I kept telling my Burk’s Falls group that the Group of Seven painted their masterpieces up here and took them to Toronto to sell.  I decided I needed to put my money where my mouth is!The Hills Are AliveAny other comments or advice for those taking up a paintbrush?  Just keep painting but also learn by intention the basics of drawing, composition and of colour.  This makes a huge impact in our work.  Get connected with other like-minded people who are willing to share their expertise and once you get some expertise share that with others, remembering:
“We Learn…
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”- William Glasser

So I say stick with the winners.  Most importantly, get connected with your higher power whoever or whatever that is for you personally.  For me this is God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost who direct my path and help me to paint my paintings.The Other Side 3

You can learn more about Pauline at: www.paulinelangmaid.com and you can view her paintings in Toronto at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East (“O Canada” group show closes July 29). You can also follower her on social media at:  Facebook.com/Pauline-Langmaid-Fine-ArtPauline 016I recommend buying a Pauline Langmaid original now before too many collectors find her and recognize her talent! You can’t go wrong investing in Canadian artists.Print

 

 

 

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MY LATEST VISIT TO PORT HOPE ENDS WITH A TRANSFORMER AND T-REX! HUH?

I took my friend, artist Nancy Bennett, to Port Hope (my “spiritual home”) today where I introduced her to my fave cafe & bakery, bling store, boutiques and flower shop, ending with a quick visit to Primitive Designs on the outskirts of town where giant metal dinosaurs roam and a huge Transformer greets visitors. So come along for a virtual visit with us…… 20170713_112639Driving into Port Hope, we made straight for the Ganaraska River (above) that rushed through the genteel little town where fat lazy Canada Geese waddled and wobbled leaving a rather unsightly trail of poo…oops, watch where you’re walking Nancy.20170713_11241320170713_112406Our first port of call, as always, was Queenie’s Bake Shop where today we enjoyed coffee, tea and sticky buns, courtesy of chef/owner Adam and his charming server (below)20170713_115627 20170713_112915…then once we’d polished off all that, we popped next door to visit the super fabulous Kenneth Bell in his jewellery & accessories store. Kenneth supplies hundreds of boutiques across the country with their bling and baubles. He was already busy entertaining two other lovely ladies, Helene (below L) and Nancee (below R).20170713_113746What a warm welcome….and it just so happened that he was starting a 50-80% off sale so talk about perfect timing! Nancy and I dove right in and found some lovely sparklies…  www.kennethbell.com20170713_120538 20170713_120952Nancy found a great pair of sunglasses for her daughter on the rack of shades (below)…20170713_120958 20170713_121014And I loved these stylish silk embroidered clutch purses (below) from the Far East with tiny tassels and charms.20170713_120947Bidding adieu to Ken, we then headed up Walton St to a relatively new boutique called Turquoise where we found multiple pretty pieces that would look good in our closets!  www.Facebook.com/TurquoiseBoutiques20170713_123030 20170713_122943 20170713_122845Then into Flourish, another new shop…. www.flourishfashions.com20170713_124414….and Nancy’s eye was caught by a beautiful green lightweight top, perfect for wearing over a camisole or tank top. What do you think…should she buy it?20170713_123400Well, she did! A perfect top for an upcoming art expo where she knows she’ll get a tad chilly in her booth. Big thanks for her warm hospitality to owner Julie Pandoff (below) and congrats on such a lovely boutique. I then spied the sock rack…wow, these are too cool!20170713_124126 20170713_124215…and I loved these two tunics (below) that could hide a multitude of my caloric sins…LOL!20170713_124357Past the flower shop, we trekked further up Walton St where I discovered yet another fab new store…20170713_124436 20170713_124446….Dwellissimo, a beautifully presented vintage furniture store that was a treasure trove of mid-century modern. Oh my, I was in heaven!   www.dwellissimo.com20170713_124903_001 20170713_124827 20170713_124922 20170713_125139I really really really want this red horse lamp. Hey, Santa, make note of this one, okay? You never brought me that pony I asked for when I was 6 so now’s the time to make up for that glaring omission.

As we wound down our Port Hope walkabout, Nancy and I popped into the Art Gallery of Northumberland shop on Queen St, and found these beautifully crafted works of art….20170713_131201 20170713_131207 20170713_131215 20170713_131336We enjoyed a quick late lunch at Jim’s Pizza but we were both too hungry to even think about a photo so we just gobbled it all up. But we both recommend Jim’s for a great Italian nosh! www.jimsporthope.ca

In between rain showers, we made it down to the lakefront beach…er, where’s the beach? Due to high water levels, the beach, the kid’s playground and picnic area were all complete submerged. Yikes!

One last drive thru town….20170713_131704….then off to visit Primitive Designs, a very strange, wonderful and fantastic series of barns, tents and outbuildings devoted to exotic imports. Located a little N.E. of town, you cannot miss this place – you’re greeted by a Transformer and a herd of huge metallic dinosaurs – yep, talk about eye-catching.20170713_151850 20170713_151655 20170713_151725Thank goodness this happy little Buddha watched over us as we left the car park…I was gettin’ scared!20170713_151810You gotta go visit in person to truly appreciate the weird, wild, wackiness of this place.  www.primitivedesignscanada.com

So there we are, another trip to Port Hope done and dusted! If you would like to learn more about this friendly small town that offers big entertainment, sports, shopping and dining, you can visit their tourism office for more information and directions:  www.visitporthope.ca  and tell them Glenda sent you!

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THAT CANADIAN GUY, GLEN FOSTER, CELEBRATES CANADA’S 150th ANNIVERSARY @ ABSOLUTE COMEDY CLUB in TORONTO

Guaranteed to deliver at least 150 belly-laughs, GLEN FOSTER (a.k.a. That Canadian Guy) headlines at the Absolute Comedy Club, 2335 Yonge St, Toronto, on Canada Day Saturday July 1st. And with an early 8pm showtime, you’ll still be able to catch the big fireworks displays around the city afterwards.Head_shot_0089Glen (pictured above) has been one of Canada’s top comedians for over thirty years – I’ve known him ever since his first set at Yuk Yuk’s back in the 80’s where I was the comedy agent and business manager.   Since then, Glen’s become a mainstay on the Canadian comedy circuit -he didn’t just work the road, he’s one of the comics who built it! His comedy is clever and intelligent, combining reflections on his own personal experiences with razor sharp commentary on current events and popular culture.

Glen has appeared many times at the world-renowned Just For Laughs festival, had his own TV specials on the Comedy Network and can be heard frequently on CBC Radio’s “The Debaters”. He has also released his own comedy DVDs and is a club favourite across the country.   That Canadian Guy is a reference to Glen’s first network comedy special during which he joked about the fact people could call him “that Canadian guy” if they couldn’t remember his name.  Sure enough, after the show aired, Glen received a flood of e-mails from viewers who said, “I couldn’t remember your name but I remembered “that Canadian guy.”ippGlen headlines at the Absolute Comedy club June 28 through July 2 and you can purchase tickets for all of Glen’s performances and his special Canada Day July 1st show here: https://www.absolutecomedy.ca/toronto

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I VISIT MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR – ST PAUL’S on BLOOR STREET FOR “DOORS OPEN TORONTO”

Each year, Toronto hosts a special weekend called “Doors Open” where we can visit beautiful buildings around the city that are normally closed to the public such as offices, law courts, architectural treasures and places of worship. I’m fortunate to live next door to one very special building: St Paul’s Anglican church which is one of the largest parish churches in N. America. When I entered, the organist was practicing – take a listen here…

During today’s special tour, visitors got to see some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows in Canada, many depicting heroic WWI stories and in fact, one of the windows was made from the glass fragments found around some 70 destroyed churches and buildings in Belgium, France and Italy.20170527_112002 20170527_11304620170527_112224Around the walls of the massive interior were many plaques and memorials dedicated to past parishioners who had lost their lives fighting in Europe….20170527_112444 20170527_113244…and the incredible wooden carvings of angels were breathtaking…20170527_112612Not a lot of people ever look up when they visit such venues but I always do (you never know what cool things you can spy up above) and I’m so glad I did…check out these awesome state-of-the-art fans in this video. They look old-school to fit in but are actually brand new….

20170527_111902 20170527_113058 20170527_112542 20170527_112647The marble altar (above) shows the Last Supper – it’s so beautiful and is flanked on either side by historic figures from the first World War. There is just one female depicted in the carvings and statuary…Florence Nightingale!  I found another beautiful window behind the altar screen (below). I could have stood there for an hour enjoying all the intricacies in this little window and the marble carvings in front….20170527_112954Next month marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of St Paul’s and to commemorate the occasion, a special craft lager has been created, the St Paul’s CLXXV, which will be available in 6-packs for a limited time only following their June 11th anniversary service. Considering the church’s reputation for warm hospitality and sharing food and drink, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

If you’d like to learn more about this fine church and the wonderful work they do, please visit: www.stpaulsbloor.orgSt Pauls

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ST. PAUL’S ANGLICAN CHURCH ON BLOOR ST. EAST UNVEILS “When I Was a Stranger” SCULPTURE BY TIM SCHMALZ

I have really nice next-door neighbours – I overlook St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor St East and today I joined the staff, Board of Trustees and members of the congregation as they unveiled the beautiful bronze sculpture by leading Canadian artist Tim Schmalz, called “When I Was a Stranger”. Here, let Pastor Barry Parker do the honours….

20161013_110700 20161013_105652As Pastor Barry suggested, come visit, sit a spell and take a selfie with Jesus!

Artist Tim Schmalz is an accomplished sculptor and has undertaken many religious commissions which you can see on his website: www.sculpturebytps.com Below, Tim explains more about his work for St. Paul’s

And below, Bishop Peter Fenty (Bishop for York-Simcoe and the Diocese of Toronto) offers up a prayer

Immediately after the speeches, visitors started sharing their selfies, like this lady here…20161013_110740….and there were lots of photos being snapped for the Church newspaper and local media….20161013_111036 20161013_111050 20161013_111341(0) 20161013_111505The gentleman who modelled for the face of Jesus came by to lend support & congratulate Tim (below left)20161013_111257And this is the result…the serene face of Jesus, bowed in humility, full of warmth and love. 20161013_111248Inside the church lobby, there was also a display of paintings by local artists Ruthia Pak Regis and Matt Wood…..nice to pop in and warm up a bit.20161013_110821 20161013_110843 20161013_110855Thank you to Exec. Pastor Joyce Badley for her kind invitation to join the celebration today, and to Assoc. Priest Sandra Seaborn for sharing additional information about the event & other church activities.

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ANOTHER GREAT “NOLLYWOOD” FILM FOR THIS YEAR’S TIFF-GOERS TO SEE

For this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18), the focus for their City-to-City program is Lagos, Nigeria – home to “Nollywood” filmmaking. One of the films being featured is 76 helmed by the multi award-winning director Izu Ojukwo, and starring Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Memry Savanhu and Daniel Kanayo Daniel.IMG_3500 IMG_351076 is a love story that centers around the challenges women married to men in the armed forces go through when their husbands are captured in war. The 76 story is told using the backdrop of the Nigerian 1976 Dimka’s coup. The movie isn’t about a botched coup attempt but is clearly about the women who are courageous enough to bear a soldier’s last name. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating and humorously therapeutic.

Six years after the Nigerian civil war, Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) a young officer from the middle belt gets entangled in a romantic relationship with Suzy (Rita Dominic) a young lady from the southeastern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance was almost ruptured by the overwhelming strains of tribalism. Now heavily pregnant, her world comes crumbling when news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt hits the headlines.IMG_3506 IMG_3505 IMG_3514You can check out the official preview trailer here:

Visit the official TIFF website for tickets, screening times and additional information on the City-to-City “Nollywood” programme

www.tiff.net/tiff/

 

 

 

 

 

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ONTARIO…YOURS TO DISCOVER – so I did, and I learnt it’s a real fun place to live!

Thanks to my friends at Tourism Toronto, I was invited to attend the Celebrate Ontario Tourism promotional event held at Union Station this morning (#DiscoverON) and I’m so glad I put the alarm on for the early call.IMG_2085I arrived shortly after the Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister for Tourism, Culture & Sport opened the event with a brief address promoting “stay-cations” in our home province of Ontario, something I always love doing (ain’t that right, Port Hope?).  So I “hopped on the bus” and toured around the exhibits featuring the province’s top attractions.

First off, I indulged in a deelish butter tart offered by these charming pioneers from Sainte-Marie-Among-the-Hurons which is located only a couple of hours north of Toronto. www.hhp.on.ca20160527_093418 20160527_100514Next door, it was shark attack time! The fun and fabulous folks from Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada let me play with their friendly mascot Sharkee although I think they threw me in as tasty shark bait/breakfast ..LOL!  www.ripleysaquariumofcanada.com20160527_092149 20160527_092201I’m looking fwd to taking a tour of the giant aquarium, conveniently located at the base of the CN Tower, so I can post a blog editorial complete with photos of the real thing…ooooo scary!

While I was “chumming” for sharks, I ran into Lorrie Pella, VP of Visitor Engagement & Northern Mkt’g for Ontario Tourism www.ontariotravel.net  What a fun lady she is…here she is (below) with the equally fun and groovy Chef Scott Savoie, Founder & Chief Eating Officer (!) of Toronto Food Tours.  www.tofoodtours.com20160527_093508I ran into a couple of knights from Medieval Times, along with this gorgeous bird of prey who posed so elegantly for me. www.medievaltimes.com/plan-your-trip/toronto20160527_093903I swear I then saw Yogi and Boo-Boo take off with a picnic basket so I ran up to Ranger Sheila Wiebe at the Ontario Parks booth to see how I could help. She told me everything was fine and that perhaps I needed to learn all about fishing & camping – frankly, I consider Holiday Inns as camping ….but she introduced me to several of Ontario’s premiere camping locations, including one at Bronte Creek, not far from Toronto, where I could actually “camp” in a yurt (yes, there are flush toilets on-site so this city slicker could cope). www.ontarioparks.com20160527_09394920160527_094000 20160527_094009Ranger Sheila’s colleagues (above) were promoting this beautiful waterfall located up north in the region made famous by the legendary Grey Owl in the 1930’s.

Bringing me back to civilization, these guardsmen introduced me to the City of Toronto Historic Sites & Museums  www.toronto.ca/museums  This weekend is the annual “Toronto Open Doors” festival where the city’s finest old (and new) buildings open their doors to the public for free tours. What fun!20160527_094322(0) 20160527_100915Back to this century, I then hung out for a while with the folks from KX96 New Country radio, where DJ Tim Lawrence broadcast live from the show (centre pic). Here he is with tech coordinator Lucas, and further down, there’s the lovely Tanya (Mkt’g Consultant).  www.kx96.fm20160527_094643 20160527_094750 20160527_094854The ladies representing the Ontario Science Centre obviously love their jobs…and who wouldn’t with all that cool nerdy sciencey stuff?! I haven’t visited there since 1980 so I think it’s about time I get my geek on and pay them a visit. Another fun blog to plan, eh?  www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca20160527_095519Next up was…UP, the Union Pearson Express that takes passengers to and from the airport and downtown Toronto, by-passing all that horrible traffic.  www.upexpress.com   They were running a pick-n-win contest and although I didn’t win a free trip, I did win a lovely prize pack that included a yummy cookie, thanks ladies.20160527_100025 20160527_095718 20160527_100045One of the more popular stops was the City Sightseeing Toronto / Mariposa Cruises booth where they gave out tons o’ goodies and showcased many of the downtown Toronto attractions. Jeez, nothing like getting photo-bombed by SCTV’s own Edith Prickly, eh?  20160527_100253 20160527_100259 20160527_100506www.citysightseeingtoronto.com     www.mariposacruises.com

Time for a quick refreshment break and I found 2 awesome booths, first the Kawartha Ice Cream folks…love the chair, love the ice creams! www.kawarthadairy.com20160527_100936 20160527_101724…then on to the Hawthorne Food & Drink booth for a refreshingly cool glass of  rhubarb lemonade. www.hawthorneto.ca20160527_101051 And finally….the biggest/tallest attraction in Ontario (sorry, Niagara Falls) –  the CN Tower!  If you’ve ever taken the elevators all the way to the top, you KNOW how awesome the tower is. Betcha haven’t done the EdgeWalk?! Yes, you get put into an orange jumpsuit then hooked up to safety rails as you take a walk around the outside edge of the CN Tower waaaaaay up top. Definitely an OMG moment in anyone’s life.  www.cntower.ca  20160527_101137 20160527_101615Above, the tower’s Sales, Mkt’g & Communications Manager Krista Kalbfleisch chats with out of town visitors…the woman is definitely considering the Edge Walk – go for it, girl!

So I had a blast and am certainly glad I got up 2hrs earlier than usual to join all the other visitors to this special show-and-tell of Ontario’s leading tourist attractions. Congrats to all at Ontario Tourism and thanks to all the booth reps for extending such warm hospitality.
Check out ALL the Province’s many attractions at  www.ontariotravel.net 20160527_091823 20160527_092126Y’all come back now real soon….Sharkee’s hungry!!!

 

20160522_133232

ARTFEST BRINGS EXCITING ARTISTS AND CRAFTSPEOPLE TO TORONTO’S HISTORIC DISTILLERY DISTRICT

Over the long weekend, my bestie, Erena, and I made a quick visit to the annual ArtFest crafts and fine arts market in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. We also visited some of the established art galleries located in the enclave of 19th & early 20th century warehouses and cellars. It was so crowded that it was hard just to get in to some of the tents so Erena and I focused on just a few.

Our very first stop was at Joseph Calleja‘s handcrafted silk & cotton scarf display The Toronto-based photographer & artist incorporates many of his own photos into the unique and beautiful prints in multiple colours, shapes and sizes. Some are pure silk, others a cotton/silk blend as well as long wraps in the softest of cotton. Erena purchased 2, one a vibrant pink and the other…the blue one she’s modelling below. www.callejascarves.com20160522_133428 20160522_133236I then noticed a very talented sculptor, Chaka Chikodzi, who hails from Kingston, ON, which has become quite the artists’ colony thanks to the great light quality in that area (about 3hrs east of Toronto, on Lake Ontario). This one charming piece of carved Springstone is a a guinea fowl and it really called to me. Perhaps next time he comes to Toronto, I will have the $s to make it mine!   www.chakachikodzi.com20160522_141408Erena and I wandered around some more trying not to trip over the cobblestones (hint: NEVER wear your Manolo Blahniks to the Distillery District!!) and saw lots of returning exhibitors from last year which I previously covered in my blog, so we sought refuge from the hot sun inside the Thompson Landry Gallery and discovered all sorts of amazing artists we’d never previously seen, for example Tommy Zen from Montreal. He is descended from several generations of Venetian cabinet makers and artisans, eventually discovering his own love for clay and ceramics. The gallery (there are actually 2 amazing Thompson Landry Galleries on-site, opposite each other) proudly displays his giant ceramics, each gilded with sparkling gold and vibrant colours. Below are 2 of my favourite pieces, each well over 6ft tall!!  www.thompsonlandry.com20160522_160806 20160522_161353Many more artists are showcased there including this massive 10′ x 6′ canvas of a raging bull (titled Turbo) by Dominic Besner (below). This was Erena’s fave.20160522_161251I also liked these pieces…what do you think?20160522_16131520160522_160924We then walked over to artagallery where I found some more gorgeous works of art that really resonated with me. I really liked these two: below left is P. Colbert’s “Dream Creek” oil on canvas (36″x48″) and below right is I. Stoyanov’s “Yellow #18″ mixed media on canvas (68″x48″)  You can find out more at www.artagallery.ca20160522_164359I also found these florals engaging…and happy!20160522_164730 20160522_164742….and Erena made a bee-line for the playful pieces featuring wildlife!20160522_164839artagallery offers some unique display settings, too – I really liked this rusted old boiler plating (below)20160522_164702The next Artfest takes place over the labour day long weekend (Sept. 2-5) in the same venue; if you’d like to check out the shopping, dining and sight-seeing opportunities at Toronto’s Distillery District, visit their website for hours & directions: www.thedistillerydistrict.com20160522_164631