Tag Archives: Toronto
When I was a child, my mom and I used to head for Danforth Avenue or The Danforth as it is called in Toronto to shop. Usually on a Saturday. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s -before the subway ran under the Danforth. We would take the Broadview bus from around the corner where we lived and transfer to another bus a few stops afterwards. This bus took us to one short block north of the Danforth. Mom and I stopped at the butcher’s, several green grocers and the now defunct Kresge’s, Woolworth’s and The Met. Sometimes we even bellied up to the lunch counter in The Met for a hot dog. Every Easter season we were in and out of hat shops trying on hats until we each found our perfect hat for Easter Sunday. And when my feet grew a little more we visited a particular shoe store where I stood on a machine and stuck my feet underneath the “camera” part to get my feet measured for new shoes.
Then, the only scary thing, the only blood was at the butcher’s – mainly on his white apron from splashes when he cut the meat. The floor was covered in sawdust, not blood.
Fast forward to this century and now I am back living in Toronto – back almost 20 years. Mom passed away years ago, but I still shopped on the Danforth – at green grocers and now health food stores. I often would stop to rest at the small parkette at Logan and Danforth Avenues. Sometimes I ate at local restaurant with family and friends. I always felt safe – even in the crowds for the annual Taste of the Danforth in August.
That all changed with the massacre on Danforth from Logan westward a few blocks. When the area was turned into a massacre site. When a young man named Faisal Hussain became a murderer, firing his gun at people. When our world in Toronto just nose-dived to a low in safety. This is a peaceful family area – not late-open nightclubs, not a gang war area But all that changed at 10 p.m., Sunday, July 22, 2018. So far the murder count is two, with the injured at 13, and the killer dead from a gunshot wound. My son referred to it as something unimaginable, akin to a US style gun attack.
I’m not going to post graphic photos of the massacre. I wasn’t there to take them, although I was there a few hours before it happened to shop. But I am providing a few links to stories about this massacre which you can view or not as you wish.
News update to now
A community restaurant owner speaks
Teen killed in mass shooting identified
Yesterday I posted the following on my Facebook page.
Horrific what happened on the Danforth last night. It is a place where I shop regularly and also eat out there sometimes. Was there near Logan (Carlaw and Danforth) earlier last evening at Healthy Planet. I feel for those who were killed, injured and anyone there and their families. As for the murderer, he got what he deserved.
That last line sums up how I feel about the murderer. So what if he had mental issues. His parents posted that he had mental health problems and all the drugs that didn’t work. What about therapy? Maybe a good therapist would have spotted this possibility. Maybe… Well, that’s after the fact and too late for his victims, for their families, and for all of us in Toronto. I still stand by my beliefs – except for police officers in the line of duty where necessary and anyone who kills in self-defence and in wars, killing someone else is wrong and the guilty should get the death penalty or at the very least, a life sentence with no parole, no day passes – ever. Canada hasn’t had the death penalty for years but a life sentence isn’t life. And never mind the “not guilty by reason of insanity” – it should be “guilty by reason of insanity”.
Don’t get me going on that.
One thing is for sure. I will not stay away from the Danforth – or anywhere else in Toronto I choose to go because someone might start shooting in the area when I am there. That would be losing my city. That would be giving up. That would be giving in to violence.
Now, I hope the city’s mayor, police chief and the provincial and federal leaders do something about all this. Toronto’s mayor had just started to do something. We need to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of people like Faisal Hussain. How this can be done I don’t know. If anyone has any ideas, please comment.
Only Child Writes
A few weeks ago my friend Carol and I were driving home from an event near Toronto’s waterfront. We drove onto Queen’s Quay coming from the west. The view in front of us showed opposites. On our right was Harbourfront Centre, which although touristy, has some calming natural areas, such as the garden and walking along the boardwalk by Lake Ontario and the boats.
The other side consisted of big high-rise condos. In front of us, more tall buildings. The road sloped down and the view came across to both of us as something from the future, something from a science fiction movie.
Is this what my city, my Toronto has come to? The downtown core, once filled with historic buildings (some still standing, but hard to find), is now overloaded with high futuristic buildings. Not pretty. Not aesthetically pleasing. No wonder I don’t go downtown much anymore, but just as far as mid-town, unless over by my son’s area where there are still old beautiful houses. And yes the main street near there looks a little shabby in places. But it is a damn sight better than futuristic downtown.
Where did the developers and city councillors, mayors, etc. go wrong? We have leaned too much towards progress instead of combining it gracefully with history. Sadly, this seems to be the way globally.
There is an old axiom about learning from history. Well, when I look at the futuristic high-rises in downtown Toronto, the only history lesson here is to forget any history and build build build. People want to live downtown; houses are too expensive; condos not as expensive, so build up and up and up.
Beyond the aesthetic aspect, what about the utilities? Many of the utility infrastructures are old and wearing out and if not now, but soon, at this rate of growth, will not have the capacity to take all the overbuild. What happens then? A few instances are already happening. Floods from heavy rains. One high-rise condo had re-occurring power outages in under two weeks. Broken watermains.
If that weren’t enough, some of the glass panels (and I don’t mean the windows, but the walls) of some of these condos have fallen off, shattering when they hit the street. It is a miracle that (so far) no one has been injured.
Take a look at the photos above and below. And check out these links. This one shows a tight cluster of condo locations in downtown Toronto. This one a photo of one part of downtown Toronto. One historic building The Ironworks manages to rise out among the big buildings.
No wonder I tend to gravitate towards Toronto areas that are still pleasing. Not just where I live and where my son and his girlfriend live, but other older areas. Just to clarify – there are still a few colourful areas who have managed to retain their history while being vibrant and interesting, such as Kensington Market and China Town, which (no surprise here) are next to each other. And another clarification – some older areas of Toronto are not aesthetically pleasing in any way. They are boring and just there. But they still have one thing going for them – they don’t look like something out of science fiction.
Do you think historical buildings and common sense progress are being sacrificed for big modern progress only? Not just in Toronto, but where you live?
Only Child Writes
Sunday, I got the big run-around (literally) with travelling on public transit in Toronto. I avoided the subway route where part was closed to subway trains due to maintenance. But when I had to take a bus from a subway station to get to a grocery store, the bus took a detour. Sure, the sign on the bus said “Detour on route,” but not where. No signs at the subway station and the driver made no announcements. Imagine my surprise when the bus suddenly make a right turn off its schedule – one stop before I had to get off.
I charged up to the front and asked the driver if we would be getting back to Pape at Cosburn. He said he would be getting back to Cosburn. The detour continued around and up Donlands Ave. and when we got to Cosburn (and a red light) I asked if he was left turning onto Cosburn. He didn’t know. The bus ahead of us at the light continued straight on and so did “my” bus. Furious, I demanded to be let off on the other side of Cosburn. He let me off and I walked back to Pape (a short walk) in case there was a problem with the regular bus on Cosburn Ave.
What caused the detour? A street festival on Pape.
Why couldn’t the bus have a sign indicating where the detour was? Why didn’t the driver know about it?
So many unanswered questions.
Of course I later filed a complaint online at the TTC website. Seems that I do many of these lately.
I find travelling on Toronto public transit – bus, streetcar, LRT or subway can be a challenge sometimes. Despite the TTC website postings for times, delays, postings at subway stations, sometimes I feel like I travel public transit at my own peril. A little disclaimer here – I do not have a Smart phone (can’t afford one) so once I leave the house I can’t check updates that way. Before leaving I do trip planners online, check for any delays, and make note of the four bus routes where I can board a bus near home. I am grateful for this proximity.
Anything can happen. Sometimes the buses are late or early. I used to enjoy subways rides. It gave me a chance to read or observe people. Now, when I get on I wonder if I’m going to make it to my destination on time and without mishap. Subway fires in stations sometimes flare up on the tracks; signals malfunction; there are medical emergencies and police investigations of incidents (these latter two are necessary), and of course there are scheduled subway closures on weekends (we get lots of warning about those). The irony here is these closures are usually for track and signal repair and upgrades. So why do these track and signal mishaps still happen? I’ve also noticed that the subway closures for maintenance are often repeats of areas where it was supposedly done in previous’ months closures. What does this tell you?
Shuttle bus service is put on for these weekend scheduled subsay closures. But no matter how many buses are in service, it doesn’t come near the space on the subway trains. So, you get long lines of commuters patiently waiting to get on a bus (if lucky) or angry groups of people crowding on the street outside the subway station waiting for a bus to get to work. The latter occurs more often when pop-up emergencies happen – such as a fire under some of the tracks at the Yonge subway station last week. That is Yonge-Bloor – the major subway transfer station in Toronto. The subway was closed for three hour during rush hour.
I’m glad I don’t commute to work every day.
But I used to years ago and yes, subways were crowded, but it didn’t seem as bad.
Taking it back even further (we’re in the grey years now folks), when I was a small child I used to travel a lot on buses, subways, and streetcars with my mother. I never worried about getting where we were going because Mom was leading the way. Sure we had to wait for buses and subways and streetcars, sometimes in the snowy cold; sometimes it seemed like hours. There was always something to look forward to – such as where we were going – our weekly shopping trip to the Danforth for fresh vegetables and fruit and wanderings in the old Kresge, Woolworth and Metropolitan stores. I would often let my imagination and sense of adventure take over (yes, despite being a shy kid, I liked some adventures, although not real scary).
And yes, it wasn’t all convenient. Here’s a very short excerpt from my memoir in the works about getting a bus from home – which was not too far from where I now live.
The bus stop closest to 139 was around the corner on O’Connor Drive – that is if you walked left and the TTC hadn’t moved its trademark red and white sign to the far side of Don Mills Road. If we saw the bus coming, we played transit roulette with the streetlights at Don Mills Road and the driver’s whim to wait for us and the alternative – making a hasty right turn and sprinting to the next bus stop. Once we boarded the bus, we continued with the rest of our travels. (excerpted from You Can Go Home – deconstructing the demons copyright 2016 Sharon A. Crawford)
Ironically bus service in that area has increased in bus routes but the old Broadview 8 bus route mentioned above actually runs more infrequently then back in the 1950s and 1960s. Another paradox, service slowdowns seem to happen more frequently than back then on these routes, old and new. I know that with the subway and streetcar routes aging infrastructure is often to blame and a lot of that is being fixed – at least work is being done on it. But sometimes it seems as if the work is being repeated in the same areas.
And the timing seems to be bad. Lots going on in Toronto on weekends in the summer – from Blue Jays games, to street festivals that close streets, concerts and all those runs and walkathons. It is a nightmare, but more signage and information would be a start to help.
So would upgrading and fixing those subway signals and tracks the first time round.
Only Child Writes
Growing up – back in the grey ages of course, I spent some time with my dad doing simple things. He seemed to take on the role of teacher as well as parent. Family members used to say he was proud of his little princess. Yes, that was me. Hard to believe it now as I’ve turned into a motor-mouth opinionated person. There is a back story there but that’s not for today’s post. Today, I want to honour my late father – Albert Louis Joseph Eugene Langevin – because the anniversary of his birthday is this Saturday, June 4.
Dad was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1899. The Langevin family moved to Toronto when Dad was five – or so I’ve been told. Doing research in the Toronto City Might Directories for the early 1900s doesn’t show the Langevin family living anywhere in Toronto until a few years later. And believe me I have looked in all the earlier directories – bending on my knees and moving four heavy directories at a time to a table on the second floor at the Toronto Reference Library. But some of the family history I didn’t know comes out in these short, simple directory listings. For example, I knew Dad didn’t serve in either World War – too young for the first war and too old for the second. But one of his brothers, Uncle Paul, did serve in the First World War. Considering Paul’s age at the time it wouldn’t surprise me if be lied about his age to get in. That was done back then. From 1918 Dad worked for the Grand Trunk Railway and then the Canadian National Railway when the latter swallowed up the former. Dad worked in the main Toronto office, then on Front Street and connected to the big Union Station on Toronto’s Front Street. Most of his work life there was as a time-keeper. That might explain his penchant for insisting everyone and everything always be on time – no excuses. But his job gave Mom and I free train rides and that’s how we travelled for our summer holidays – to my Mom’s family farms near Lucknow and Mildmay, Ontario and longer trips to Detroit (more of Mom’s relatives there), Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Quebec province.
Dad married my Mom, Julia, when he was 40 in November 1939 and by the time I came along he was 49. He was often mistaken for my grandfather with his then grey, and later white hair. Yes, he spoke French in his earlier years, but lost that ability over the years living in Toronto. It was actually embarrassing when he, Mom and I went for a holiday in Quebec province when I was 14. We got away with English only in Montreal but not in Quebec City. Dad had to find a bilingual cab driver who helped us find a bed and breakfast to stay.
Mom was the gardener in the family – with me learning the green thumb tricks from her. But Dad had a few up his sleeve. When he mowed the lawn – with a push mower – he also showed me how to do it and let me do a bit. Same for watering the lawn. But when it came to the trees and shrubs in the front and back yard, he could be a bear.
You see, my friends and I used to set up our dolls and their “houses” (turned over doll or small people suitcases) for rooms. We would have kid-sized dishes and then we would go get “food” for our dolls. “Food” wasn’t berries from the garden, but we would pick and pull leaves from the big and small shrubs. Dad caught us at it once and came charging out into the backyard and gave us you know what for doing damage to trees.
Dad also taught me to ride a bicycle – but not until I was almost 10. I would sit on this 28 inch wheel bike with my short legs and feel barely reaching the peddles and feel terrified that I would fall off. But Dad held onto the front handle with one hand and the back of the seat with the other and steered me along the street. That got me some teasing plus from my friend the Bully. But I did learn to ride the bike on my own, albeit just on the immediate neighbourhood streets which had little traffic. My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads by my cousins near Lucknow, Ontario. I would ride one of the boy’s bikes or one of the girl’s bikes – depends on whom I was riding with. The terrain might have been tough (gravel roads, not paved) but the only traffic – if any – was the odd car and tractor.
Dad also was very protective, perhaps over-protective as shown by his teaching methods. But I still loved him.
But, when he got cancer in his brain when I was 12, things changed so much. I found myself distancing myself from him. In hindsight I think it was a protective measure for when he was gone. Mom and I knew that the cancer would eventually kill him and it did when I was 16. He was 66 when he died.
I still miss you Dad.
Only Child Writes
When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.
I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.
In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.
When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).
So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?
I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.
Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.
Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.
Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.
There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.
I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.
The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.
He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.
This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”
And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.
Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.
Now if my mother had been there….
I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.
Only Child Writes
I was going to start writing posts of how I am trying to make my world a little more joyful. Instead I am in emergency storm watch mode which will become big storm starting tomorrow into Thursday. Southern Ontario is going to get hit with a big storm thanks to yet another Colorado clipper. We have the warm air and cold air clashing and that could bring freezing rain or snow. I might have known that something bad would be coming.
It might be nice if I was wrong for a change. Meteorologists can’t, at this time, actually nail down what will arrive where and when- all rain, freezing rain or snow and some mixing. We will get the latter Wednesday, but it is overnight Wednesday and into Thursday – all day and into evening – that is the big concern. I hate winter weather with a passion, and hate to say this, but I preferred the extreme cold of last winter. We had no mixed precipitation, no rain, no freezing rain and there was not a lot of snow. For this unwelcome, unwanted storm coming up, I would pick regular rain only, except this time it would be a lot of rain with the winds coming from the east and some water might get into my basement. Freezing rain is the one I really don’t want. Think power outages, ice, ice and ice on trees and hydro etc. wires and on the ground. Think the big ice storm in December 2013 in southern Ontario.
After all that ice in December 2013 and a two-day power outage where I live, I do not want to experience it again. I should not have to. Neither should anybody else anywhere.
So, I’m putting emergency plans into operation but really, it won’t stop the ice storm and any power outages, downed trees, icy roads and sidewalks, etc. resulting.. Only God can prevent the freezing rain and I am hoping he will be merciful this time and listen to me (and any others asking him). Sparing us the ice storm is something that will benefit many people.
I’m also supposed to be part of a panel of crime writers presenting at a library Thursday evening but hopefully that will be cancelled and we can re-schedule for all of us for a later date – preferably in late spring, summer or early fall.
If those reading this post think I am being a fear-monger or a wuss, just think about previous ice storms around the world. Maybe you had to go through one (or two or more). They are not to be taken lightly and in fact, should be taken completely off the weather we get – anywhere at any time.
Not bloody likely.
Only Child Writes