I spent the weekend in Toronto visiting my bro and checking out his new place.  Here are a couple of thoughts about it.

Toronto’s Got a Big Building Boom

I haven’t lived in Toronto for a few years now, but it is unreal how much the city is changing.  The skyline is dotted with cranes – and almost all of them are making condos (why, oh why, do I feel like I’ve heard this story before and I know how it’s going to end…).

Two items signify just how extreme this is.  The first, is the pit for the new Shangri-la hotel/condo.  It’s about 10 stories deep:

Shangri La Pit

The other is a dilapidated house near Chinatown where someone has graffitied it with turn me into condo daddy.

Condo Graf

Toronto’s Got Some Great Public Buildings

In the last few years, Toronto’s upgraded a lot of their institutions: a new opera house, an addition to the ROM and a complete reworking of the AGO.

The ROM now has a brilliant facade – a rotated cube that juts out over the street:

ROM Crystal

ROM Facade

Just a few blocks away is the new and improved AGO.  It’s now got a blue cube on the back…

AGO Cube

…with a Frank Gehry-designed galleria on the front:


The inside of the galleria is just as beautiful:

Inside Galleria

One of its entrances is from the Henry Moore gallery and the effect is spectacular:

Entrance to Galleria

The central atrium is possessed by an anthropomorphic, soothing, wooden staircase (made less soothing by Andrew standing in front of it):

Andrew in front of Staircase

Close-up of Stairwell

If you climb to the top of the stairwell, you can sit under forty foot ceilings, surrounded by contemporary art and sip an espresso with a killer view of the skyline:

Espresso in AGO

The most important part of the AGO is that it is not simply archiporn.  It has the single best collection of Canadian art in the world.  Period.  There are more Krieghoffs, Colevilles, and Group of Sevens here than you will find anywhere else.  You can visit this gallery and then feel like you know Canada.

This collection is better than what is in the National Gallery (and I’m an Ottawa boy originally, so I should be looking down on a Toronto gallery).  Thank you Ken Thomson.

Kensington Market is Still Great

We spent a lot of time bombing around Kensington Market.  On Friday, Andrew and I had dinner at La Palette.  The steak and frites are amazing; sit at the bar to eat and humour the bar staff.  We asked one what a beer was like.  Her response: smooth – comme le petit Jesus dans un cour de velour.  She’d picked that one up from a French Canadian woman; it translates as ‘like the baby Jesus in a velour suit’ – quite the image.

Later on in the weekend we picked up some cheese at Global Cheese…

Global Cheese

…plus a quick bite of tacos at El Trompo.  Go there for some authentic mexican.  The building might not look like much but the food holds its own with the best:

El Trompo

City Center Airport is the Only Way to Travel

I flew in to the City Center airport right at sunset and it’s the only way to travel.  Here’s what the flight in looks like:

Docks from Airplane

You can then walk into the city (when was the last time you walked to an airport?) and if you go at sunset you’ll see something like this:

Sunset from Sculpture

2 thoughts on “Torontonia”

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