My regular readers know that I love a good sign, especially when there’s some well-deserved snark involved. And this snark is wholly deserved. Oh sure, leaving a chair at the curb for a garbage picker is the best kind of recycling, but I’ve got to agree with this homeowner who wrote this sign: keep your freecycling at your own curb, people. Now if I could just find someone to nail a turd bag to this chair and someone else to pronounce it fit for dog pee, you’d have the best of my neighbourhood signs in a single location.
People of a certain age will remember Bargain Harold’s department stores, which went bankrupt in 1991. More than twenty years later, the name still appears on the façade of the West Rouge Plaza at the corner of Island Road and Friendship Avenue (no kidding) in Scarborough:
I didn’t have a Bargain Harold’s in my neighbourhood when I was growing up, but we did have Kresge and Woolworth, along with Bi-Way and Consumers Distributing not too far away. Zellers arrived later, replacing the local Eaton’s. Here are some random discoveries you make on the first page of a Google search for “Bargain Harold’s”: the founder, Harold Kamin, died two years ago; the Urban Dictionary says that a Bargain Harold is, well, pretty similar to every other definition in the Urban Dictionary; and this commercial:
Painted lettering on the hydro poles lining the quiet country road whets your appetite as you approach: “Pies / Butter tarts” and an arrow pointing to deliciousness ahead.
A little farther along, a whirligig-topped sign advertises “Fresh Baked Pies” and “Just Tarts Tuesdays” with another arrow pointing across the street.
Turning across the street, you see the pie shop beside the road in all its grandeur:
To a downtowner, life seems a little different in the rural belt surrounding the city. Roads are quiet (and sometimes not even paved), vistas are grand, and payment is on the honour system. But you don’t have to travel far to get a taste of the country. You don’t even have to leave the city: this pie stand sits in front of a home on the Toronto side of Scarborough-Pickering Townline, which separates Toronto from Durham Region north of Finch Avenue.
Glenn started the pie stand about six years ago as a sideline when he began taking care of his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, at the house. She couldn’t be left alone and he was restless at the house all day long, so decided to start baking one day. Glenn bakes all of the pies and tarts himself but mostly uses his mother’s original recipes. The stand was named Mary’s Pies in her honour and started as just a table and sign in front of the house. “I can still remember the first one I sold.” And yes, that first customer still buys pies. Glenn built the stand later and keeps it open from “12:30–dark” 7 days a week.
There’s no staff and the counter is self-serve. You’ll find an assortment of fresh pies or tarts inside the stand on any given day, along with a simple payment jar to drop off $9 for each pie or $5 for a half-dozen tarts.
The honour payment system works out well. “People just freak out about the honour system,” but Glenn says that he’s never lost money from the jar. “Sometimes people come and, you know, they’re short a little bit and you find a little note in the jar there with some money and it says, ‘I was short such and such the other day and here’s the money.'” He adds, “People like to be trusted.” Still, some people won’t leave money in the jar and bring it up to the front door of the house instead. He does lose the occasional pie to kids but he shrugs it off, recalling his own youth. “We used to do it too, eh?”
Glenn sells up to 80 pies a week in his summer peak season along with a couple of dozen 6-packs of butter tarts on Just Tarts Tuesdays. He’ll bake to order and takes requests.
Can he see himself doing it for another six years? “I dunno, man,” he chuckles. “It is a lot of work. I’ll keep it going for a while…”
At only about 180 metres of elevation, the peak of the hill at the former Beare Road Landfill isn’t even close to being the highest point in Toronto (that honour goes to the intersection of Keele & Steeles at 209 metres), but it is one of very few places in the city that offers an uninterrupted 360° panorama of the surroundings. The peak is in the far northeastern corner of the city but it’s not at all hard to get to: a few minutes’ walk from the Toronto Zoo parking lot or a few minutes’ bike ride from the end of the Gatineau hydro corridor trail will get you to the base with energy to spare for the quick climb up.
There’s an easier way to the top than the trail below, but I made it about halfway up this path before running out of steam and dismounting to carry my bike up the rest of the way:
This coyote was reading a big sign about habitat restoration in Rouge Park:
It was too hazy to see the 27 km-distant CN Tower (it would be on the horizon somewhere to the left of the road in the top picture), but the Pickering nuclear plant and wind turbine are just 7.5 km to the southeast and visible as the lumps on the horizon near the right side of this picture:
Now this is a twist: in a world of property owners who admonish dogs for using their lawns as toilets, here’s someone encouraging dogs to pee on this stump. Mind you, maybe the motive isn’t entirely altruistic: the pee post is on a sidewalk boulevard on Cambridge Ave and far from any homeowner’s lawn. I smell misdirection. My money’s on this guy.
Not even a month after I first noticed it, the stump chair near the Humber bridge is no more: someone broke it off at the top of the legs. You’ve gotta love people who see something unique and interesting and decide that they must destroy it.
An archaeological dig across from the National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place is uncovering the foundations of the East Barracks, part of the New Fort that replaced Old Fort York in the 1840s. The only one of the original buildings that survives intact is the officers’ quarters, commonly referred to as Stanley Barracks (which was actually the name of the whole facility). The site supervisor told me that they dug exploratory trenches about four years ago and discovered that the old foundation was still mostly intact, stretching a couple of hundred feet under the parking lot. The dig is in front of the site of the new hotel that has exclusive rights inside Exhibition Place. The developer is planning to cover the majority of the remaining foundation with glass and use it as a feature in the entrance.
A short image gallery is after the jump.
The Ned Hanlan, the tugboat beside Stanley Barracks at Exhibition Place, has been pulled out of its dry berth and will soon be moved, appropriately enough, to a new display at Hanlan’s Point. The middle of a parking lot at Exhibition Place may seem like an odd place for a tugboat, but it actually used to make sense: Stanley Barracks was home to Toronto’s Marine Museum until it was moved to Harbourfront in 2000 and then promply shut down as a cost-saving measure.
In an article in Spacing a few years ago (“Letters to a park,” Spacing, Winter/Spring 2007), Jessica Johnston lamented not being able to send mail to her favourite park. Although many parks have street addresses, Canada Post told her that “Parks aren’t customers … We can’t deliver to the third oak tree.” Well, she might have more luck getting that letter to the third oak tree now that there’s an actual mailbox tacked onto a signpost in Sunnybrook Park:
Despite riding by here quite regularly, I’d never noticed this mailbox until I saw a Canada Post truck pull up and deliver a load of mail to it this morning. A city employee who happened to be passing by while I was taking pictures said that it’s a shared mailbox for Sunnybrook Stables and the city works yard tucked in at the north end of the park below the sports fields. Canada Post won’t deliver mail all the way up the road and it’s too dangerous to stop at a mailbox placed at high-speed Leslie Street, so they reached a compromise with this mailbox located almost 200 metres inside the park where there’s room to safely stop and turn the mail truck around without having to reverse up the roadway. He also said that this particular box is new, having replaced the original wooden one that was installed in the same location last September. And I do remember seeing the old wooden one on this post, but never twigged to the possibility that it was for mail delivery.
Someone carved this tree stump into a fabulous chair near the Humber pedestrian bridge. The style should be familiar to anyone who’s seen a lumberjack show but is all the more impressive because it was carved in situ and is still attached to the stump. It’s also only about 18 inches high: