Spring’s coming, but it’s not here quite yet.
A great ghost sign was uncovered on the Danforth at Chester Avenue last week. The sign for Logan Furniture & Appliances had been hidden behind the facade of Parthenon Jewellery, which closed last year. A small corner of the ghost sign was revealed after a pop-up store hung its shingle for a few weeks leading up to Christmas, and the entire old sign was uncovered just a few days ago.
Worth noting is the old-style phone number giving the exchange name of HO (HOward) for the first two digits. Also worth noting is that even back then, “easy credit” was a big selling point.
I mentioned Presqu’ile Provincial Park’s horse trees—Risa prefers the term “camel trees”—in my anniversary gallery post last week. They’re so-called because their swaybacked trunks resemble saddles and people (including Risa and me) love sitting on them for pictures. Trees like this aren’t unique to Presqu’ile, but what is unique is that there are several dozen of them concentrated in a small grove and are all presumed to have developed their distinctive form as a result of the same weather event about 120 years ago.
Ball’s Mill Conservation Area, north of Cobourg in the hamlet of Baltimore, has a few horse trees too and one of them is remarkable for having not only a saddle, but what appears to be a front limb and a very long neck too:
You can see a couple of additional views of this tree and the explanation of this kind of formation from the info board at Presqu’ile after the jump.
The strangest thing in Cottonwood Flats is what my fellow Don Valley explorer Rudy Limeback calls “Slab City.” That’s as good a name as any that I can think of, so I’m going to run with it. Slab City is a series of concrete and asphalt slabs piled about 5–7 feet high that runs along the bank of the Don River in Cottonwood Flats. A very short portion of Slab City is visible in this view from Bing Maps as the jumble of big square rocks near the middle of the frame. I don’t know anything about the origin of the slabs, or when or why they were placed along the river. I do know that their placement predates my first bike ride around the site sometime in the late 80s. They are all reinforced concrete and some have a layer of asphalt on top of them, so I’d speculate that they were part of a bridge deck at one point. The Leaside Bridge was rebuilt in the 1960s and is close enough that this site would have been a convenient dumping ground. That’s just conjecture, though. A more fanciful conjecture is that they’re the remnants of the Bayview Ghost. Note that I don’t actually believe this to be the case, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it was? Check out the short gallery of Slab City below the fold.
Cottonwood Flats [PDF] in the Don Valley is no stranger to industrial degradation. Before being used as a snow dump by the city, the site was home to a series of mills and factories beginning more than 200 years ago (here’s an interactive map of Cottonwood Flats, Crothers Woods, and adjacent areas). I remember tooling around the trails on my bike and navigating around the big sloppy pile of dirty ice and garbage that still towered overhead in the middle of the valley floor as late as June some years. Recognizing that it’s not really a good idea to use a site that drains directly into the Don River as a dumping ground, the city finally ended its use as a snow dump in 2009. It has since been renaturalizing and there is supposed to be a new management plan that I haven’t been able to find online.
As you can see from the picture above, Cottonwood Flats in winter is very much a reflection of Toronto itself at this time of year: flat, barren, and relentlessly brown. With the DVP just across the way, the Bayview Extension at the top of the hill, and two railways nearby, there’s no mistaking this for a bit of pristine wilderness in the middle of nowhere. At first glance it seems like little more than an overgrown field beside a noisy highway, but the site’s edges, especially along the river, are filled with winding paths that carry you to a variety of interesting nooks and crannies. In the last few years, it’s also grown to be a much more popular destination for cyclists, families, and especially dog walkers. I’ve seen more people on my two recent visits this winter than I ever used to during the summer. Read below the fold for the first of two short galleries (or second of three, if you include the one from a couple of weeks ago) looking at a few of the interesting sights.
There’s an interesting sight on the Don River north of Pottery Road. Just across the river from Cottonwood Flats, a series of icicles dripping from the hillside create an ice curtain that curves for about 200 metres along the river bank.
Although a few of the individual icicles can be traced to water channels that trickle down from the top of the hill, most seem to sprout from the hillside just a few metres above the river:
Given the extent and uniformity of the ice, my guess is that most of it comes from groundwater seeping into the river at this location.
On Yonge Street at Aylmer Avenue, the Meallenium Cafe serves up food for the ages. Or aged. Or something. The name may seem a little anachronistic given that we’re currently twelve (or eleven, depending how you count) years removed from the millennium celebrations, but keep in mind that we’re barely 1% of the way through the current millennium. The name will be fresh for at least another 300 years.
One name that was instantly anachronistic was anything that referred to Y2K. Most perplexing of these to me was the Y2K Bar & Grill on the Danforth which not only first appeared well after Y2K, but persisted until just a couple of years ago:
…but you lost the election. Well over a year ago. It’s probably time to take down that sign on your Bloor Street East campaign headquarters.
But if flying a flag upside down is the symbol for a ship in distress, then this sign displayed elsewhere on the same building speaks pretty accurately to your campaign:
Every time I walk past these signs I wonder if there’s an equivalent to “nerkle” for people who leave election signs up long past their relevance date.
A Toronto Zoo ticket booth, accompanied by a pile of logs, an oil tank, and other assorted detritus, sits abandoned in an overgrown field near the zoo’s rear entrance. I guess this is the zoo’s basement: just shove everything there that they don’t really want at the moment, but can’t quite bring themselves to get rid of.
[This is a repost of an article that I originally put together for Torontoist in 2008. Torontoist’s recent redesign seems to have eaten all of the photo galleries in older posts, so I’m adding this one here because it was way too much fun (and work!) to allow it to disappear into the ether.]
Mr. Stickman has the toughest job in Toronto: keeping you safe. In a day’s work, he gets smushed, crushed, beheaded, befingered, mangled, strangled, thrown, blown, ground, and crowned. And unlike the relatively delicate spokesmodels who calmly remind you to mind the gap or use proper escalator technique, Mr. Stickman is willing to give the extra effort and actually demonstrate the consequences of not following the rules. Wherever danger lurks, Mr. Stickman plies his educational trade. He endures every manner of indignity, accident, and disfigurement that you can imagine, all in the hope that you will learn from his painful and sometimes deadly misadventures. What follows is a small sampling of his daily work around Toronto.