Last week I wrote about the view from my kitchen window (see here); the inspirational changing of the view from season to season. It is my ‘picture’ window to the world outside (or at least to my neighborhood). Since writing that post many of you have shared with me stories about the view from your window and some even sent photos.
Imagine looking out your window and seeing this view as one reader does!!
Well today, I am going to visit that reader’s home to experience first-hand the view from that window. This photo was taken last week while the fall colours were still in their heightened glory. Beautiful. And oh, by the way the reader lives on a houseboat!
I live in a neighborhood close to downtown Toronto nestled on Lake Ontario. In the early 1900’s the neighborhood was used as a summer retreat for Toronto residents less than 10 miles away. Large private homes and ‘cottages’ sprang up in the area which still remain standing today. Many of the homes originally built were never intended to last 100 years – but they have. Garages constructed to originally house buggies or Model T’s were narrow wooden structures built apart from the house. One of these old wooden garages belongs to a friend of mine who I have named ‘Superwoman’. Superwoman (SW) is capable of anything – she can leap tall buildings if she puts her mind to it. SW has transformed her old wooden garage into a ‘ladies lounge’ – the female version of a ‘man cave’. What SW started with was this:
At some point in the history of this garage a former owner had built a chimney and drywall the inside. (I suppose to use as a workshop.) There were remnants of old linoleum on the floor and many, many holes where raccoons and squirrels entered to take up residence. Of course SW had a lot of her own ‘junk’ in there too. But once SW decided that this valuable piece of real estate could be better used there was no stopping her. Out went the junk, the drywall was ripped down, the chimney was dismantled, the numerous holes were covered, the linoleum was pulled up etc. etc. etc. SW had her work cut out for her.
But after many months of hard work the Ladies’ Lounge is finally ready. Stay tuned for the reveal!
I recently came across this fabulous billboard advertising a new home development in Toronto’s east end. I thought it was a wonderful departure from the typical billboard for new home developments showing an artist’s impression of lovely homes, mature trees and blue skies. Nice enough, very typical but not head turning. Or the classic billboard of a future development showing a happy couple in a big embrace with huge smiles on their face making me think that possibly this to be an advertisement for teeth whitening! The Lilly Factory Towns sales centre billboard is a colourful and unique display of creative, outside-the-box thinking. Sixty four colourful cups are lined up in the shape of a huge cup on a glossy black background. Some of the lettering is also in bright pink. Very fun and catchy; made my head turn. The Lilly Factory Towns development has been named in tribute to the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation factory that had stood on the property for many years. The famous Lily paper cup was manufactured at the factory that became a well-known community landmark because of its huge two-story white cup marking the entrance into the building. A definite head turner. As a child whenever I saw this building I imagined it to be a place where cups of pop were handed out to anybody who knocked on the big white cup door! Just as the huge white cup was distinctive so is the new billboard. Which now makes me wonder, “Does each of the colourful cups hold a cold drink in them too?”
In past posts I have written about bicycles, Bikes for Bikes – July 12, and signage, Keilhauer Sign – September 13, but this time I am going to write about bicycles as signage. This past weekend was the fall Beach Studio Tour in Toronto. The tour is advertised in magazines, local newspapers and this year the event was advertised in a new, very creative format – on painted bicycles. Many brightly painted yellow bicycles with yellow signage were positioned throughout the neighborhood. Some bicycles had baskets containing flowers and pamphlets attached to the handlebars. I thought this was a great way to advertise versus the usual and common A-Frame sign (the kind you usually see Real Estate open houses advertised) or flyers stapled to telephone poles both of which I never even take notice. The signs even had a QR Code for obtaining further information. Advertising is the key to the success of the event and the key to advertising success is getting noticed by as many customers as possible. I believe these bright, eye-catching, fun bicycles made you turn your head and take notice. The yellow bicycles were a wonderful departure from the ordinary and as Bill Moyers, White House Press Secretary, news commentator, journalist, once said “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous”.
It may seem that I have a preference for contemporary architecture and that I lean towards the mid-century modern style but I do appreciate other eras. Recently while on a search for the perfect orange coloured fabric (time to replace the chartreuse yellow cushion on my living room sofa – see post April 7th) I ended up in the Riverside district, located just east of downtown Toronto. It was such a beautiful day and while looking up and admiring the bright blue sky I also happened to notice the great architecture that was around me. At the corner of Queen and Saulter, is an outstanding example of some of the older architecture in Toronto. Built in 1913 and designed by architect E.J. Lennox, (who also designed Toronto’s ’Old City Hall’) the building originally housed a post office, then a Town Hall and now it is home to the Queen/Saulter Library. The building is truly ‘photo worthy’ and so I snapped away. If I had not told you that this building was in Toronto you may have thought I had just returned from a vacation in Europe.
Across the street I spotted another ‘photo worthy’ example of older Toronto architecture. At the corner of Queen and Boulton St is the Poulton Block. This building was constructed in 1885 for William B. Poulton, a painter and a Mason, as a Masonic Orient Lodge. The building was designed by Kennedy, Gaviller and Holland Architects in the Gothic Revival style. From 1888 to 1910, Toronto’s first library east of the Don River was housed in rooms at the back of this building. Once again I snapped a bunch of photos. Through the wonders of technology I was able to view the photos asap and noticed that the shots of the Poulton Block made the building appear as if it existed as only one wall! It was as if you looked right through the windows and out the back of the building but actually it was the reflection of the sky from the very tall windows.
I like these photos and am thinking about enlarging them to black and white or maybe sepia toned and framing them. Actually a friend has been looking for some architecture prints for above her sofa so I may consider that too.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending time in Hudson, Quebec. Truly a story book town; quaint, charming and picturesque. I felt I had stepped back in time and was strolling through a Dickens novel. Located along Main Street which ran parallel to the river was the town hall, churches with bell towers, the barristers’ office, bakeries (with the most amazing goodies), ladies attire shops, the village playhouse, farmers’ market, the newspaper office, a school and many beautiful homes built of stone or brick that were well over 100 years old. And gardens! Everyone took such pride in their gardens. The gardens around the shops, churches, businesses and homes were spectacular. Many homes had tall cedar hedges instead of fences which made the town feel very green. Colourful flowers were abundant. But stepping back into the 21st century Main Street also had the conveniences of today; a grocery store, realty offices, pizza takeout, video shop, car dealer, salon and spas and many restaurants all housed in period-looking buildings. As a banner hanging on Main Street identified exactly what I felt, “Hudson, A way of Live/Un style de vie!” I knew I could live in this idyllic town forever and be quite happy.
I am heading out for a gal’s weekend to beautiful Hudson, Quebec. The picturesque town (population ~5000) located 60 km west of Montreal was once voted as one of the top places to live in Canada. Originally settled by French Canadian farmers and “voyageurs” in the early 18th century, the region became known for its large English farming community in the early part of the 19th century. The immigrants were mainly from northern England, with others coming from Ireland, Scotland and the United States. Nestled on the Ottawa River (Lake of Two Mountains) surrounded by farms and forests, Hudson is known for its large, turn-of-the century homes, various boutiques and antique markets, wonderful restaurants and hiking trails. I believe a trip to the well-known Finnegan’s Market will be on the agenda to check out the ~100 vendors offering antiques, handicrafts, organic produce, home baking, local wine and lots of seasonal goodies. Cheers!
What makes a building or structure so iconic? Is it that the architecture is a marvel and a masterpiece? Or does a renowned individual have to lay claim to its design. Must the building be very unique and exclusive in its style and construction? Or is it essential that the building be award-winning and internationally acclaimed? Often a building or structure will singularly define a city and/or country. Paris is known for its Eiffel Tower, Australia for the Sydney Opera House, New York City for the Statue of Liberty, London for the Tower Bridge, Dubai for the Burj-Al-Arab, India for Taj Mahal and Egypt for its Pyramids. The list is lengthy. But sometimes an ‘iconic’ building is simply no more than a building in a neighborhood that has become embedded into the hearts of the local residents. One such building in my neighborhood is the Leuty Lifeguard Station. Built in the 1920’s the small, simple wooden structure sitting at the water’s edge has stood the test of time. It is still used every summer as a lifeguard station to monitor swimmers at the lake but it is also a spot well-known for “I’ll meet you at the lifeguard station” destination and the place where a ‘first kiss’ often occurs and where many great ‘photo ops’ are shot and a favourite scene for artists to capture. A few years ago a S.O.S. (Save our Station) went out as a massive restoration $$ was required. The local residents rallied and the Station was saved. Couldn’t let an old friend down! So what building is iconic for you? Let me know.
Summer is always the time to get away, travel the countryside and to see what is happening in other parts of your world. This summer if you have the opportunity to visit the city of Sudbury located in northeastern Ontario you will be pleasantly surprised. Sudbury’s history began in the late 1800’s with the development of the Canadian Pacific railway. Initially planned as only a temporary work camp for the railway workers, Sudbury has grown into a diversified regional urban centre with strengths in technology, education, health and government. The focus of Sudbury in the last many years has been its ‘transformation’ with land reclamation and municipal amalgamation. But Sudbury’s present ‘transformation’ is about focusing on its people. With a population of more than 160,000, the city of Sudbury is ‘tapping’ into the power of local institutions, businesses, community groups and citizens. One of the items that the people spoke about and were heard was new bike racks along the downtown streets. And I must say these are the coolest bike racks I have ever seen. They are bike-shaped bike racks! I am loving them. Truly the ‘transformation’ of the utilitarian into art! Bravo Sudbury.
I thought in the aftermath of the (Lord) Stanley Cup playoffs I would write about the location I found myself at for the final championship game. Yes, I was a ‘jump on the bandwagon’ kind of fan but hey, I was there supporting the team. Ah….but which team??!! I spent the evening in a ‘Man Cave’!! My friend has outfitted his garage into a sports-central, man cave zone complete with all the necessary furniture and accessories; décor very befitting of a man cave. It is a double garage so the dimensions are good. The focal point is the built-in bookcases storage units with a LCD television mounted above it. There is an under counter stainless steel wine beer fridge and lovely amusing artwork hanging on the walls. There is the required punching bag necessary for venting at half time. There are numerous bicycles, shovels and power sprayers for hits of colour. There are lots of comfortable seating made of durable, heard-wearing nylon fabric complete with beverage holders. The chairs are foldable so they can serve multiple uses. The window coverings are vintage terrycloth towels. The lighting is by the glow of the television and the stars in the sky. Not to mention the beautiful full moon that was out last night. I enjoyed the evening very much as there were lots of friends and neighbours to share this momentous occasion with, not to mention that the setting and ambiance were perfect. My friend has definitely achieved what he set out to create; a fabulously designed ‘Man Cave’. Well done!!