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Doors Open Toronto – Part 3

This is my third and final post on the downtown Toronto buildings that I visited as part of Doors Open Toronto. Before I describe these buildings, I thought that I would provide some more background on the event.

Doors Open Toronto provides an opportunity to visit buildings in the GTA that may or may not be regularly open to the public. The event also includes walking tours and other special events such as guest speakers, visits to architects’ offices and concerts.

This event was originally developed by the City of Toronto as a millennium project in 2000, and just completed its 18th annual showing, on the last weekend in May. Toronto was the first North American city to offer a Doors Open program, which has inspired many similar events. The event relies on all of the participating businesses and organizations, the financial support of several sponsors, and the efforts of many volunteers.

The Toronto Star newspaper (one of the sponsors) publishes a broadsheet map and listing of all of the opening buildings a couple of weeks before the event. This is very useful for planning your itinerary. The City of Toronto also maintains a website that lists all of the buildings and provides some background information on each one.

Some of the most useful information on the website includes the photography regulations for each site. There are three basic options for shooting indoors: not permitted; permitted without tripod; or permitted with or without tripod. There are similar levels of restrictions on interior filming. I have discovered in other indoor shooting in Toronto that there is a lot of emphasis placed on governing the use of tripods. I am at a loss to understand why tripods are not allowed inside some buildings.

The theme for this set of images is social spaces. First on my itinerary was St. George’s Hall, which is home to the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. This building – opened in 1891 – was originally the home of the St. George’s Society, a charitable organization which supported new immigrants to Toronto. The A&L Club moved in as a tenant in 1920 and, much later, purchased the building in 1986.

As this is a private club, public access on the weekend was a special occasion. It was only in 1985 that the Club welcomed women as members. The Club has a permanent art collection on display, and also exhibits artistic work by its club members. In the 1920’s, the Club became a meeting place for artists, some of whom became known as the Group of Seven. They included J.E.H. MacDonald, who was Club President from 1928 to 1930.

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St. George’s Hall
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Doors open at St. George’s Hall

Massey Hall is a concert hall that was first opened in 1894. The building was financed by Hart Massey, a devout Methodist and a founder of the Massey-Harris agricultural equipment corporation. Massey donated the hall to the city for “musical entertainments of a moral and religious character, evangelical, educational, temperance, and benevolent work.” The temperance movement was an important part of the hall’s history, as no alcohol was allowed on the premises until a bar – named Centuries – was opened 100 years later.

Massey Hall was the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir until 1982, when both groups moved into their new location at Roy Thompson Hall. Both of these facilities are collectively managed by one non-profit corporation. Massey Hall is now primarily used for rock concerts, and it can seat about 2,700 patrons.

The fire escapes were added to the front facade in 1911 to improve fire exiting. A revitalization project, to be funded as part of the development of a nearby condominium on Yonge Street, will address some of the shortcomings in public gathering areas outside the main hall and the backstage area. If the project renderings are to be believed, the exterior fire escapes will be removed as part of the upgrade.

The address of Massey Hall is listed as 178 Victoria Street, yet the main entry doors and box office are actually located on Shuter Street.  I find this confusing.

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Massey Hall

St. Lawrence Hall is located one block north of the St. Lawrence Market. The hall was constructed in 1850 and it was Toronto’s first large meeting hall. It was named for the downtown neighbourhood, or ward, where it is located.

When the hall first opened, thousands of African American slaves were fleeing to Canada after the US Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The hall became an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement, and hosted the North American Convention of Colored Freemen in 1851.

The opening of larger performance centres, such as Massey Hall in the 1890’s, led to a decline in use of St. Lawrence Hall. However, it was refurbished in 1967 as part of a centennial project, and is now a popular venue for weddings, conferences and art shows.

I like the symmetry of the front entrance and facade. Too bad that the period street lights were not so precisely aligned.

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Doors open at St. Lawrence Hall
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Black & White Sunday Photo Challenge – Traces of the Past

This is my second contribution to the Lost in Translation blog Black & White Sunday Photo Challenge. This week’s topic is “Traces of the Past Y2-06,” which instantly reminded me of images I have taken of ancient standing stone monuments in my travels in the UK. I enjoy visiting sites like these because they stimulate your imagination, and make you wonder how these structures were used when they were first built.

The portal into the past is probably the most recognizable image, as Stonehenge is a popular tourist destination, located in Wiltshire in southern England. It is a neolithic standing stone circle that is several 1000’s of years old.

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portal into the past

Lanyon Quoit is much lesser known. Located in Cornwall, south-west England, this stone structure was once part of a dolmen, or ancient tomb. The stones that remain are a reconstruction of the original tomb, with many missing parts.

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Lanyon Quoit
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Doors Open Toronto – Part 2

The theme for my second part on Doors Open Toronto is the judicial system. I visited two buildings along Queen Street West that accommodate the courts and other aspects of the legal system.

Osgoode Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Toronto. It houses the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice and the Law Society of Upper Canada. The facade has a lot of neo-classical elements that convey an “orderly” message – hence my photo title Law and Order.

Lawyers and paralegals in Ontario are self-governed, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, originally established in 1797, is responsible for this role. The Law Society is governed by a board of directors, who are referred to as “benchers.” The present Benchers’ Quarters are located in the original east wing of Osgoode Hall, which was opened in 1832. Several steps lead up to the Benchers’ Entrance which is sheltered under a portico. Parts of the steps and surrounding stone work were recently repaired or replaced.

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Law and Order

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Benchers’ Entrance

Old City Hall was opened in 1899 as the third city hall for the growing City of Toronto. It originally accommodated both city hall and court facilities, but it now operates solely as a courthouse.

There is a great amount of detail in the stone carvings that surround the building. Some of the faces that appear around the front entrance are said to resemble some of the city councillors from the time of construction. If you look carefully, you can read the “Municipal Buildings” carved into the frieze above the front entry.

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Old City Hall front entrance
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side door
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west wing doors

 

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Black & White Sunday Photo Challenge – Windows

This is my first time entering an image in the Lost in Translation Black & White Sunday Photo Challenge. This week’s challenge is the topic of windows, with some selective colouring.

My choice of widows is a shot that I took for its minimalist qualities. It is a single storey commercial building with black ribbed metal siding, and a window that was quite literally punched into the facade. The monochrome effect was almost there already, with the exception of a small green vase in one corner of the window.

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window with green vase
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Doors Open Toronto – Part 1

After a hiatus of several weeks, I am back to blogging on doors. My previous posts on doors have used images taken from my travels in other countries. This time, I thought it would be a good idea to keep closer to home in Toronto. I have only lived in Toronto for the past three years, so there is still much for me to discover in this city.

A perfect opportunity presented itself with the 18th annual Doors Open Toronto event, hosted by the City of Toronto. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there were 150 buildings open for public viewing across the City on the May 27-28 weekend.

The curatorial theme – Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture – was intended to highlight the evolution of Canadian architecture. I used this opportunity to focus on several of the older buildings in downtown Toronto, and discover some of their features.

In keeping with Norm’s Thursday Doors blog theme, I have focused on the doors at some places of worship in Part 1.

St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church was built in the 1890’s and was originally named Holy Blossom Temple. It served as a synagogue for the first 40 years, before it was acquired by the Parish of St. George. The church is a good example of Byzantine religious architecture.

The tympanum (the decorative half-circle space over the entrance) originally had Hebraic lettering. A mosaic of St. George and the dragon was incorporated after the building became a Greek Orthodox church.

There are many variations on the myth of St. George. Many of these myths – involving St. George and the slaying of a dragon – evolved in medieval times. St. George, with the white shield and the red cross, representing good, and the dragon representing evil. Earlier stories of St. George still had something to do with Christianity, but nothing to do with dragons.

The church doors were open for viewing of the interior, but interior photos were not permitted; however, they did have a book of photos available for sale.

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St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

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Doors open at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica was built in the 1840’s and preceded Canada’s confederation. During this decade, there was an influx of Irish emigrants to Toronto, escaping the Great Famine, and contributing to a doubling of the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto. The church was designed in the gothic style and was just recently refurbished. The Archdiocese of Toronto is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica

St. Michael’s Choir School originally opened in a single room in the diocesan office building next to the basilica in 1937. It reopened in a new location across the street in 1950. Although it is a newer building, the front door reflects some of the gothic elements of the past.

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St. Michael’s Choir School

The Cathedral Church of St. James was opened a few years later in 1853, and it is also an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The main entrance is quite impressive, while the side door is  still quite an elaborate mini-version of the front entry.

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Doors open at the Cathedral Church of St. James
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Side entry to the Cathedral Church of St. James

The Church of the Holy Trinity is tucked away on one side of the Eaton Centre, which was forced to be built around the existing church. The church was opened in 1847 and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity was associated with the “Catholic Revival” in the Church of England, which implied a return to Medieval art and a renewed sense of social responsibility.

The church congregation has been a lead in fostering social diversity in Toronto, and is considered to be a home for the LGBTQ community.

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The Church of the Holy Trinity

First Evangelical Lutheran Church was not on the Doors Open Toronto list of buildings, so the doors were not open. I wonder what is behind the green doors?

“There’s an old piano
And they play it hot behind the green door
Don’t know what they’re doing
But they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out
What’s behind the green door”

Lyrics from The Green Door, Jim Lowe, 1956

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First Evangelical Lutheran Church

 

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Bicycle Collection – Part 1

It has been a few weeks since I last posted on my blog. I thought that I would start a new “thread” of posts based on one of my favourite topics – bicycles.

Cycling was one of my favourite recreational pastimes throughout much of my life. Cycling to school, cycling to work, bicycle touring on the weekend and bicycle touring on vacation. It all came to an abrupt end, after being hit by a car door, but that’s another story.

During my travels, I have always looked out for bicycle photo ops. The following images are the beginnings of my nostalgic look at old bicycles and how they are or have been used. I hope that you find some enjoyment in these as well.

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bicycle and flower pots
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bicycle and treats
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bicycle leaning on a concrete block wall
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How Has Our World Changed?

This week I attended a presentation at my grand daughter’s school in Canberra, Australia. Her Grade 1 class was asked to create a museum to display an old item from home and explain how it was used.

Technology was a major topic for display, and telephones were the most frequently displayed items. These included several analog phones, and even one early cellular phone. In Jacob’s family, “my daddy used this telephone to call people and some of his friends about 20 years ago.”

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Abby displayed an old camera that belonged to her father. As she explains, it “took a picture you couldn’t see on the screen,” and you had to “wait ages” to get the prints back.

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Marlie chose a VHS cassette player that her parents used about 30 years ago. “Today we use Netflix, Foxtel and DVD’s” to watch the same programs.

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Going back further in time, Amelia displayed an RCA transistor radio that was purchased 60 years ago. Interestingly, she included some comments on the relative cost of technology in the 1950’s, noting that the price of the radio was equivalent to about 3 weeks of salary.

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Other students chose items that reflected their cultural history. Ryan displayed a photo of Buddha who “used to be a real person, but now he is dead.”

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This was an educational “window” into the minds of six year olds. They are already developing an appreciation of the past and anticipating what the future may bring.

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Door Oddities

This will be my last regular post of images of doors for a while. I will be away for a few weeks and I am uncertain when I will have the time and opportunity to contribute to Thursday Doors.

In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this week’s contribution of a “potpourri” of doors that have some unusual characteristics.

When is a door not a door? Maybe when it is missing. The door at this address has been replaced by a sheet of plywood, but hopefully a new door will be installed when the construction is completed.

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Door MIA

This second image was selected more for the resident door stop than the actual door. Maybe trolls shop here.

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Friendly door stop

This next door looks very much like it has a face and a moustache. One has to wonder – was this intentional or just left to the beholder’s imagination?

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Doorway with a face

We all know what happened when King Henry VIII was not amused – off with her head! Best to obey the sign and enter the pub through the correct door. Too bad they didn’t write the sign using an older style of font.

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The wrong door
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Doors of the UK – Part 2

My original post of three doors from the UK (albeit two were actually from Ireland) was not intended to be serialized as a weekly post. But then Norm from Thursday Doors commented on my doors – and so we have progressed on a new track.

In this week’s post I am revisiting my collection and adding three more doors from the UK.  I have also corrected the title of my earlier post and sub-titled it “Part 1.”

The first two images are of grand Georgian doors from the Royal Crescent in Bath. I came across these doors in mid-December one year, just following the first snow fall of the season. In some parts of the world, we are still seeing some snow, so these doors are still “in season.”

Apparently, door No. 22 has received some notoriety, due to its colour. In the 1970’s, the resident of No. 22 painted her door yellow, while all of the other doors were painted white. The Bath City Council insisted it should be repainted white, the Secretary of State for the Environment intervened, and the door remained yellow. Rebellion in Bath!

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No. 22 The Royal Crescent
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No. 23 The Royal Crescent
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Door No. 10, somewhere in Oxford

The third door image was shot in Oxford, and is probably the earliest vintage door in my digital collection. The longer I study this door, the more I discover its eccentricities. One of the stained glass panels differs from the other two as the grid pattern is smaller. And what happened to 10A?

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Monochrome Arches – Series 4

This series continues with a few more favourite images of passageways and doors.

Old churches in England are great places to search for arches and vaults. Salisbury Cathedral has the largest cloister among all of the churches in England. A cloister is a covered walkway that surrounds an outdoor quadrangle. Salisbury Cathedral also houses one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.

The underground vaults are from Canterbury Cathedral, which is the centre of the Church of England. Canterbury Cathedral is a popular pilgrimage destination for tourists visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170.

The other images are taken during walks in France and Spain. The passageways lead the viewer on to explore the world on the other side of the opened doors.

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Cloister walk, Salisbury Cathedral
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underground vaults, Canterbury Cathedral
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the garden path
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the passageway