Tag Archives: Toronto

Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Sign beside the door of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Sign beside the door of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Gallery of Ontario streetscape, fronting Dundas Street in Toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario streetscape, fronting Dundas Street in Toronto

The Art Gallery of Ontario began as the Art Museum of Toronto in a historic Georgian manor in downtown Toronto.  The building was left as a bequest of Harriet Boulton (nee Dixon) in 1909.

The building has had numerous upgrades and expansions over the years.  The current structure looks like a dirigible facing the street.  The original mansion is behind and serves as the members lounge.

The gallery has seen many travelling exhibitions through the years, including the 1979 King Tutankhamun Exhibition.

The Barnes Foundation in 1994, the Courtald Collection in 1998.

Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts
Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts – Silver Rolls Royce
Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts
Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts

In 2010, the Art Gallery of Ontario gave us “Maharaja:  The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.  A massive exhibit of sumptuous paintings, jewellery and furniture representing court life.  Prior to Toronto, the exhibit had been on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Haute Culture: General Idea
Haute Culture: General Idea at the Art Gallery of Ontario

In 2011, General Idea’s two meter tall AIDS sculture was erected outside at the corner of Dundas West and Beverley Streets.  This was the first comprehensive retrospective devoted to the collective.

Alex Colville retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario
Alex Colville retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario

In 2014, more than one hundred works from Mr. Colville were on display beginning in the summer.  and gave graphic representation of his influence on Stanley Kubrick’s films.

Landscape Exhibition
Landscape Exhibition
The Grange
The Grange

The Grange is the original home of the Art Museum of Toronto.  Believed to be the oldest standing brick building in Toronto, it faces out to Grange Park.  Behind the Grange is the rear of the Art Gallery of Ontario, in glass and titanium.

Tom Thompson:  The West Wind
Tom Thompson: The West Wind

Part of the permanent collection, this iconic image was created in 1917.  It was the artist’s final painting:  he drowned later that year.

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Sherbourne Street Toronto

There’s lots to see and do in Toronto, some off the well worn tourist path.  Sherbourne Street stretches from Bloor to the lakeshore (where it’s called “Lower Sherbourne”.  I took a stroll from Carlton Street to Richmond.

Parish of the Sacred Heart
Parish of the Sacred Heart, at the corner of Carlton and Sherbourne

Located on the northeast corner, Paroisse du Sacre Coeur was built in 1936, despite looking significantly older.  The building was expanded in 1951, and remains an active French language church.

St Luke's United Church
St Luke’s United Church, at the corner of Carlton and Sherbourne

Located on the southwest side of Sherbourne, St Luke’s United Church.  Opened in 1887 as Sherbourne Street Methodist, later Sherbourne United.  This church amalgamated with Carlton United to form the present entity.

Allen Gardens Conservatory
Allan Gardens Conservatory

One of Toronto’s oldest parks, Allan Gardens is situated between Carlton, Sherbourne, Gerrard and Horticultural streets.  The conservatory was built in 1910 and is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Robbie Burns
Robbie Burns

Allan Gardens has had significant changes over the years, including two wings to the conservatory.  There was a massive fountain in front of the conservatory which has long been lost to history.

In 1902, the Toronto Burns Monument Committee gave the city a life size statue of Robbie Burns which still stands.  Located midway down Sherbourne Street, the statue faces into the park.

John Ross Robertson House
John Ross Robertson House

John Ross Robertson was a philanthropist and publisher who lived in this house from 1881 – 1918.  He published the first school newspaper, was city editor and The Globe and later founded The Daily Telegraph.  In 1876 he founded The Evening Telegraph which became on of Toronto’s most influential newspapers.

True Love Cafe
True Love Cafe

The exotic purple and red True Love Cafe, located at Sherbourne and Dundas.  They have an extensive reasonably priced menu, and acoustic jams on the weekends.  A large space that’s good for the neighbourhood.

Mansion at 230 Sherbourne Street
Mansion at 230 Sherbourne Street

Located just south of Dundas Street, this mansion was derelict for many years.  Dating from appoximately 1872, it housed William Dineen, a prominent furrier.  As the neighbourhood declined, it became a rooming house, and eventually was an empty, boarded up shell.  The absentee landlord applied for a demolition  permit, which was denied, and the building received heritage status.

The home has been restored within the last five years, but remains vacant.

Sherbourne and Queen
Sherbourne and Queen

Toronto has many buildings similar to this in various states of repair.  Although most still have residential occupants and businesses at ground level, this location has been abandoned for years.

A 2008 Toronto Star article refers to the area as “skid row”.  Even today, this area is laced with trendy boutiques and million dollar condos within sight.

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Pompeii at the ROM

There’s a story you can read here, about my first, and only, trip to Italy.  I could have gone to Pompeii as a day trip from Rome, but since I was travelling south to Sorrento, it was much closer to go from there.

I remember passing by Pompeii on the train, and on my arrival in Sorrento, THIS HAPPENED.  The next morning I was on the train, and passed by Pompeii again, never to return (so far).

Now, it’s the summer of 2015.  The Royal Ontario Museum has another huge touring show coming in for six months.  Pompeii:  In the Shadow of the Volcano.  Two hundred artifacts that tell the story.

Here are a few:

Pompeii:  garden statue
Pompeii: garden statue originally at the end of a wall.
Pompeii:  Bakery
Pompeii: Politicians would hand out bread in exchange for votes.  This generosity happened both before and after an election.  This painting was found in the home of a baker.  There were about thirty bakeries in the city to satisfy demand.
Pompeii:  Garden Statues
Pompeii: These statues were found at the entrance to a private garden near the theatres.  Made from terracotta, they were originally brightly painted.
Pompeii: Apollo
Pompeii: Apollo was the Greek and Roman god of music, prophecy and poetry.  His temple in the city dated back six hundred years.  The pose indicates that Apollo was worshiped here long before the Romans took over.
Pompeii: Oscilla
Pompeii: Oscilla were marble discs which were hung from the ceiling to twist in the breeze.  
Pompeii: Bronze
Few bronze sculptures survived from antiquity, usually having been melted down and the material re-purposed, although some survived being buried in ash.  This sculpture was one of five surrounding a residential pool in the city of Herculaneum, which was also destroyed by the volcano in the year 79.  

This represents a small sample on display at the ROM, which is a far cry from what would be a fascinating trip to the ruins of the city.

I’ll leave you with this, also quite common in the city.

Pompeii:  Porn
Images like this were very common in homes in Pompeii

Guild Park

Take a trip out the Danforth and then Kennedy Road, way out in Scarborough.  Make an exit onto Guildwood Parkway, and you’ll arrive a Guild Park, eighty-eight acres that abut the Scarborough Bluffs.

Originally the location of the Guild Inn, which was built in 1914, later to become an artists colony and subsequently a hotel and restaurant.  It stands today in a shabby state of repair, having been closed for ages.  Circled by chain-link fence, there’s a sign on one of the doors warning of the danger inside from mould and asbestos.

There is, however, a significant reason to make the journey to Guild Park.  Inside are the architectural remains of some of Toronto’s historic, long demolished buildings.

Bankers Bond Building
Bankers Bond Building, 1920 – 1973
60 King St W, Toronto – at the entrance to Guild Park
Temple Building
Temple Building
1895 – 1970
Bay & Richmond, Toronto – home of the Independent Order of Forresters
The Granite Club
The Granite Club
1926 – 1973
63 St Clair Ave W, Toronto – main entrance
Greek Theatre
Bank of Toronto
Built 1913
King & Bay, Toronto – used in the summer as a theatre, playing Romeo & Juliet in 2015.  Operated by The Guild Festival Theatre

Although many beautiful historic buildings remain throughout the city, Toronto has long been on a mission to destroy the past, no matter how magnificent.  These are just some of the pieces scattered throughout Guild Park.

More in a future post.



Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum is situated on Wynford Drive at the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto.  Land was purchased from the Shell Corporation, and the modernist Bata Shoe Headquarters were demolished.  The site is composed of the Museum, the Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre.  The museum opened in September, 2014.

Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum and reflecting pond.

The museum’s contents include collections from His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan.

Courtyard Fountain from Egypt, 1500's
Interior Courtyard Fountain from Egypt, 1500’s

Silk Tunic from 1300's Iran


Intact silk brocade tunic originated in Iran in the 1300’s.  Note the extra long sleeves.

A massive carpet from the 1300's - possibly Samarkand
Safavid Carpet, mid 1500’s.  Made of wool, cotton and silk in Iran.

Revetment Tiles


A panel of revetment tiles from Damascus, Syria in the 17th century.

The museum is closed on Mondays.  On Wednesday, there are extended hours, and admission is free from 16:00 to 20:00.  Surface and underground parking is readily available.