Toronto Through My Lens

Month: March 2023 (Page 1 of 3)

“The Water Guardians”

On the Front Street Promenade in the Canary district there resides an interesting sculpture entitled The Water Guardians. Created by Toronto artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, the painted steel and concrete piece was installed in 2015.

The Water Guardians is an integrated artwork, landscape design and play project. It depicts three towering abstract figures, keeping watch over a stylized river made of recycled rubberized play surface, which flows underneath them. The riverway runs on the same axis as Front Street (east to west within the artwork site) and is punctuated by green mounds of rubberized play surface.

Statues & Monuments of Queen’s Park

It was a sunny Sunday (finally!) this past weekend, so I opted for a little wander through Queen’s Park to shoot a few of the statues, monuments and memorials there.

Tribute to Salome Bey, Canada’s Queen of the Blues

Not in Queen’s Park but this utility box on my way there caught my eye. In front of 2 Grosvenor Street, west of Yonge Street is “Tribute to Salome Bey, Canada’s Queen of the Blues” by Adrian Hayles, mounted in 2021. If the style looks familiar, this DJ/artist/muralist has done numerous murals in the city. In 2016, Adrian took 8 weeks to paint a 22 storey Downtown Yonge BIA music mural on the north wall of 423 Yonge Street, just south of College Street. The next year, he painted the south wall of the same building, continuing the musical theme. Adrian also painted a substantial mural on Reggae Lane in the Oakwood Avenue/Eglinton Avenue West area.

Hours of the Day Monument
Whitney Plaza, 23 Queens Park Crescent East

Ontario Police Memorial
Whitney Plaza, 23 Queen’s Park Crescent East

Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe Monument

Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe 1752-1806, First Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, 1791-1796. Founder of the City of Toronto July 30th 1793.

Northwest Rebellion Monument

Ontario Veteran’s Memorial
Queen’s Park, 100 Wellesley Street West

Afghanistan Memorial
Queen’s Park, 100 Wellesley Street West


Someone at Queen’s Park has a sense of humour

Robert Raikes

This bronze statue of Robert Raikes was executed by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1930. Raikes was often regarded as being the founder of Sunday schools. This statue was first erected in Great Britain in July 1880 and replicas where installed in Gloucester (1929) and then in Toronto.

Dr. Norman Bethune

Cannons at the Legislative Assembly

At the entrance to the Legislature there are two Russian cannons that were captured by the British during the Crimean war and sent to Toronto as a gift.

Queen Victoria Monument
Queen’s Park, 100 Wellesley Street West

Installed in 1902, this bronze statue of Queen Victoria on a stone pedestal was designed by Mario Raggi.

Post One Monument
Queen’s Park, 100 Wellesley Street West

To celebrate Canada’s centennial in 1967, a bronze map of the country was installed. It features surveyor tools and a time capsule to be opened in 2067.

Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Monument

This monument to the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, erected on the grounds of the Ontario provincial legislature in Toronto in 1995, was the first to commemorate Canadian involvement in International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Approximately 1500 Canadians volunteered to fight for the Republican cause, many out of ideological motives and class convictions underpinned by the experience of the Great Depression. They were often forced to make the long and arduous journey to Spain independently, since in 1937 the Canadian government had forbidden the involvement of its citizens in the Spanish Civil War through the passing of the Foreign Enlistment Act. Initially a number volunteered with the American Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but the substantial number of Canadian volunteers would ultimately lead to the formation of a separate battalion, named after two leaders of the unsuccessful Canadian rebellions against the British Crown in 1837-38.

Makeshift Memorial

Pairs of shoes have been placed in front of Queen’s Park as part of a makeshift memorial in response to the discovery of 215 children whose remains were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Plaque: King George V’s Silver Jubilee

Installed in 1935, this plaque commemorates the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Time and tide have taken its toll on the inscription and it’s difficult to see, but the text reads: “This tree was planted by James Simpson, Esq., Mayor of Toronto, on the occasion of the celebration of the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of the accession of King George the Fifth to the throne. May 6th 1935”.


“Optik” at Yonge-Dundas Square

The last couple of times I’ve passed through Yonge-Dundas Sqaure I’ve noticed these odd gyroscope things, with people spinning them around. It turns out this is a project entitled Optik.

Optik is an interactive installation that incorporates sound, light, and touch to create a multi-sensory experience. The installation features 10 gyroscope-like displays that produce various rhythmic sounds and cascades of colour when manipulated in a spinning motion.

It’s a bit of a multimedia experience: users spin and rotate the disks to reveal a spectacle of colour. No matter the time of day, the dichroic film built into the centre of each display reflects rays of lights. There is also sound: you can hear notes of 10 different instruments that sing out as the user manipulates the forms to create unique sounds and rhythms. The sounds match the speed the discs are spun – fast, slow or in harmony with another.

The Creation Team

Optik was created by The Urban Conga team in collaboration with Serge Maheu

Click here if you’d like to learn a little more about the project in Yonge-Dundas Square.

“Still Dancing”

Is it a whiskey still? A droplet of liquid? A man and woman dancing?

Myself, I’ll go with the idea of a whiskey still. The sculpture in question – Still Dancing – is by artist and creator Dennis Oppenheim. He describes Still Dancing as a “combination of sculpture, architecture and theatre”.

Installed in the Distillery District in 2009, the piece seems to be an acknowledgement of the Distillery’s brewing/distilling past (if you go with the interpretation of the piece as a whiskey still, that is).

The installation is quite large – the top of the copper apparatus reaches almost 40 feet in height.

Eaton Centre & The Bay, 2014

So, I don’t know if shots from 2014 qualify for inclusion in my so-called series From The Vaults (i.e. old shots of Toronto). I found these the other day while browsing and thought I’d post them as they are a bit of a blast from the past, so to speak.

Some of the shots are slightly “arty”; I was experimenting at the time with capturing urban life using a slow shutter speed, hence the intentional motion blur.

The Bay at Queen and Yonge

The original Bay store at Yonge and Queen Streets only partially exists since Saks Fifth Avenue took over the entire east half of the building in 2016. These shots are prior to the merge and remodel of the building.

The Bay’s southeast entrance on to Yonge Street. This entrance is long gone; in its place is a trendoid coffee bar/resto, which is part of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Pay phones!!?? Remember those? In the lobby of The Bay’s southeast entrance.
The Bay sales floor, ground level
Riding The Bay’s escalators
More people movers
Ground level sales floor, Women’s jewellery (note Ivanka Trump’s jewellery line, far right – that dates it!)

In The Old Queen Street Bridge

I shot these while crossing over from The Bay to the Eaton Centre in the old pedestrian bridge spanning Queen Street West. This bridge has long disappeared and been replaced with a new one (check out my Eaton Centre bridge post here).

Above Queen Street during a rainstorm
The old Eaton Centre pedestrian bridge

Inside the Eaton Centre

Another busy Saturday afternoon in the Eaton Centre

Speeding through Yonge and Richmond Streets

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