A Beautiful Building Bites the Dust

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The number of cranes overhead, plywood tunnels enclosing sections of mucky and broken sidewalk, and noisy construction trucks everywhere, are clear indication that we’re in the middle of a massive building boom in Toronto right now. There seems to be a new condo building going up on every block.

I have to assume that careful analysis has preceded all this new development and that city planners are monitoring what is going on, so, for the most part I support it. I want to live in a city that is vibrant and exciting, and understand that it takes people and places for them to live to achieve this.

Being a lover of history and vintage things though, it always pains me to see one of our old buildings torn down to make room for the new. Today I write about one such victim, a grand old dame of a structure that I wish could have been saved.

Last summer, luckily, I took some pictures of this three story brick building located on the south-east corner of Bathurst and Niagara Streets, in the belief that I was capturing what would become the “before” pictures for a post about its restoration. What led me to think that it was set to receive some loving attention was a sign I saw in an adjacent lot, stating that a Farmers Market would be opening where it stood. I envisioned something charming like the St. Lawrence Market, over here on the west side of the city, housed within some beautifully restored red brick walls. No doubt, I was looking forward to seeing that happen.

So, you can imagine my shock upon passing the corner not long ago, to find that the building had been obliterated — completely gone with no sign that it had ever been there. There isn’t even a whisper from its ghost on the internet …. well, until now, that is.

Considering the age of a couple of other buildings located a very short distance away, that very much appear to have been built in the same era, I estimate that this one was built in 1899 or 1900, making it over 115 years old. Granted, this might be considered young in most major cities around the world, but Toronto is a relatively new city, so anything over 100 years stands out as being old.

The other buildings I compared it to age-wise are this one, located just to the west on Niagara Street, built by The National Casket Company in the late 1890s, and one located a block to the north at 49 Bathurst Street, built in 1900 by The American Hat Frame Company, photographed at the end of the post. Both have been classified as heritage properties and is therefore protected from demolition, but it seems nobody was looking out for this one.

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^ Formerly at 37 Bathurst Street at Niagara, Toronto – Summer 2015. ^

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^ What I could see of the inside – peering through reflective glass. ^

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^ The sign that made me think the building was going to be restored. It points to the building and says there will be a Farmers’ Market there. ^

I guess those pictures are, in fact, “before” photos after all, except they go along with some less appealing “after” photos …

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^ And then it was gone – Summer 2016. ^

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What could have been …

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^ This restored building is one block north and was built at the same time as the one that was torn down ^

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With this post, I don’t want to give the impression that the old buildings in Toronto are being knocked down without a care, because, while this one was taken down, there are also some great examples in the city of developments that incorporate parts of the old structures right into the new ones and of some beautiful restorations. I plan to get shots of some of them soon, as there are some really good ones around.

Thanks for visiting,
xo loulou

Posted in Interesting Buildings, Streets of Toronto | Tagged | 2 Comments

Art Gallery Gifts : The Pop Up Shop for Mystical Landscapes at AGO

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I recently posted about the wonderful exhibition that is currently on at the AGO, called Mystical Landscapes. Today I thought I’d give you a look at the lovely gift shop that the gallery has set up to accompany the show.

To back up a bit, this exhibition includes works from great masters we know and love, Van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin, and many we’ve never heard of because the paintings have never before left the countries of their origin. In all, 37 artists from 14 countries are represented, in 90 paintings and 20 drawings, created over the 50 year span from 1880 to 1930. Each reflects the artist’s desire to capture the spiritual presence they sensed out of doors — in woods, on mountain tops and in the night sky.

The paintings in the exhibit were chosen because they demonstrate or promote feelings of calmness, relaxation, wonder and optimism and many of the items selected for the shop aim to do the same thing.

While looking around I had the good fortune of meeting the AGO’s Assistant Merchandiser, Kierin, who was part of the team who made the shop happen. She told me a bit about the concept.

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The large wooden boxes in which the items are displayed are meant to bring to mind the packing crates that paintings travel in when being transported. The colour scheme was picked directly from one of the paintings in the show, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows.

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Things are divided into the same categories that the art is in the exhibition : Zen, Spiritual, Nature, Environment, Meditate and Cosmos. Additionally, there is a section containing gifts for children that are somehow related to the message of the show.

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^ Gifts for children ^

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^ There are two paintings by Van Gogh in the show ^

Included are some wonderful paintings by Canadian artists, Emily Carr, Tom Thompson and Lawren Harris, falling within the categories Nature and Environment.

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There are many items aimed to give a sense of well being …

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^ Those “chunks” in the front are pieces of great smelling soap, called SoapRocks. ^

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There are eight paintings by Monet in the show, and a fine arrangements of gifts in the shop reflecting that, displayed within the Zen crate …

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^ The AGO partnered with the local company Pluck Teas to offer tea blends that compliment the exhibition. Here is a tranquil blend. ^

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^ There is also a Pacific Coast Blend that contains ingredients grown across Canada found in the crate with the Emily Carr things. ^

These pendants by Moonglow are really neat. You’re invited to look in the book for any date from the past that is special to you and find the phase the moon was in on that date. Then you select the corresponding pendant and wear it to commemorate your special date …

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^ Books about some of the artists in the show. ^

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^ Jewellery and scarves. There are also printed socks that men will enjoy. ^

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Mystical Landscapes is a ticketed show that will be showing at the AGO until January 29th, 2017. It’s a beautiful exhibit that I hope you can see yourself, however if you are unable to, you can still access the gift shop from the main gallery. Note that general admission is free on Wednesday evenings, when ticket prices for Mystical Landscapes are offered at a reduced rate.

Thanks for checking out my post. I hope you have a good weekend.
xo loulou

Posted in AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario, Shopping in Toronto | Tagged | 3 Comments