Toronto Through My Lens

Tag: CollegeSt

Musical Boxes

While working feverishly on my new site TO Utility Boxes (which is now complete by the way), I noticed a few utility boxes that could be grouped together thematically to portray Music and Dance in Toronto.

With that out of the way, here are some Toronto utility boxes dedicated to music and dance in our city:

Jeff Healey Tribute

Utility box painted by artist Adrian Hayles, 2018
147 Tecumseth Street just south of Queen Street West

I had looked forward to photographing this box for some time. When I finally reached the site I was extremely disappointed to see the damage done by taggers and vandals since the piece was created in 2018.

The box artist comments on his work:

Jeff Healey is a profound member of our Rock and Roll Canadian history and his knowledge of jazz is unmatched. His part in the classic movie Road House will forever mar my memory. Jeff once owned a bar called “Healey’s” at the corner of Bathurst and Queen just a couple of blocks away from his freshly painted bell box. At first, like with most public projects, I was meet with very suspicious eyes as passers-by would question my reason for being there spraying. After about two hours, the piece started to take form and the compliments came pouring in.

Queen Street Vibe in the 80s

Utility box painted by artist Glen Guerin (aka Noxious), 2018
4 Markham Street, southwest corner of Markham Street and Willis Street

Ah yes, Carole Pope and Nash the Slash. So 80s, so Queen Street West back in the day. It was all about the look – shoulder pads, raccoon eyes and bandages.

The box artist comments on his work:

The theme given me was local musicians of the “Queen St. Days”. As a patron of the Gary’s Horseshoe days, then a regular on the “Queen St. scene of the 80’s” I thought of many, many artists I’d like to commemorate in a mural who inspired me as a young artist. Then it hit me, NASH THE SLASH! However, boxes are usually two panel, and who to compliment him, but his friend Carole Pope of Rough Trade. One guy in a car stopped and yelled out who they were, gave me a thumbs up and moved on. Another middle age woman with a thick accent told me she saw Rough Trade in Poland when she was younger (who knew?!). Others were curious and asked who they were and I explained the best I could. All in all, it was a fun and learning experience and I’d do it again any day.

Echo Beach, Far Away In Time

Utility Box painted by artist Julii McMillan, 2019
5 McCaul Street, northeast corner of Renfrew Place and McCaul Street

Continuing in an 80s Queen Street vibe, this box is an excellent tribute to Martha & The Muffins.

Gordon Lightfoot

Utility box painted by artist Adrian Hayles, 2021
6 Scollard Street, in the Frank Stollery Parkette

Gordon Lightfoot… a Canadian institution.

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

Utility box painted by Adrian Hayles, 2021
2 Grosvenor Street, northwest corner of Grosvenor Street and Yonge Street

Bell Box Murals comments on this box:

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.

The Dance

Utility box painted by artist Keight MacLean, 2017
230 College Street, northeast corner of Huron and College Streets

The box artist comments on their work:

‘The Dance’ celebrates Toronto’s communities, past and present, as a literal dance. Everyone holding hands in a continuous circle around the box, jumping and dancing barefoot and smiling and laughing. Bright fluorescent splashes of colour weave in and out of the dancing group to further highlight how people come together in Toronto to form a unique tapestry.


Utility box painted by artist Louise Reimer, 2017
542 College Street, northwest corner of College Street and Euclid Avenue

The box artist comments on their work:

The design is an homage to dancer. In our current world, where most people work at highly sedentary jobs, it is important to promote movement and an active lifestyle. Dance is not only exercise, but expressive, non competitive, and joyful. All cultures have some form of dance, which brings people together and allows for joy and expression. Contemporary dance is the result of a lot of work done by pioneering women, and especially queer people, and people of colour, which deserves to be honoured. These groups of people are all cultural producers in Toronto who still struggle for space and recognition within the art world.

Parkdale Social Club

Utility box painted by artist Cesar Rodriguez, 2017
2 O’Hara Avenue, northeast corner of O’Hara Avenue & Queen Street West

The box artist comments on their work:

‘Parkdale Social Club’ pays tribute to the history of vibrant music and arts communities in Parkdale. It was a great experience. I met many interesting people and met some friends who happened to live and work around the neighbourhood. Some people brought me gifts and others were interested in commission some of my work as well. I was not expecting that. Even a guy who seemed homeless said he had money and would love to get some of my art.

Piano Hands

Utility box painted by Jerry Silverberg, 2013
244 Bloor Street West, northeast corner of Bedford Road & Bloor Street West

Outside The Box comments on the work:

Jerry Silverberg’s box is located across from the Royal Conservatory of Music. He chose to depict hands playing piano to acknowledge the presence of the conservatory and create synergy between the two.

Sams + A&A Records

Artist and date unknown
189 Mutual Street, northeast corner of Mutual Street & Gerrard Street East

This box is a bit of a mystery; the only ID on the box is the artist’s email address: I appreciate the throwback touch, though, to when record stores at Yonge and Dundas ruled that stretch of Yonge Street.

The box is affiliated with 6 St. Joseph House.

That’s about it for now. Special thanks to Vince who, after running an editorial eye over my new Utility Box site, suggested this box theme 🙂

And of course, I can’t publish this post without giving one more shameless plug for my new site:

The Griffins at Lillian H. Smith, Toronto Public Library

Several of you will instantly recognize this very familiar site! Today we take a look at the Griffins (or Gryphons) guarding the main entrance of the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library at 239 College Street.

The figures were designed and constructed by architect Philip H. Carter and sculptor Ludzer Vandermolen. The griffins took their permanent place beside the entrance when the branch opened in 1995.

Edgar and Judith

Each griffin weighs 3 tonnes or 3000 kilograms and took about 1.5 years to make. Small clay models were approved by the Library Board, then enlarged and cast in fibreglass and wax before being sent to the foundry. Since they are so big, they were cast in different sections – about 12 parts for each statue. The bronze finisher was Vince Graham.1

The griffins have their own identity and heritage: the lion is Edgar (east side of door) and the eagle is named Judith. If you study the griffins for a while you will soon see various little animals embedded into each main figure.


Judith resides on the west side of the library’s main door. It is named for the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy.


Edgar guards the east side of the library’s main door. He is named after the benefactor of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books.

Near the griffins, but not part of them, is this owl. Prior to taking up residence at Lillian H. Smith branch it was situated at the entrance of the old Boys and Girls House library on St. George Street.

If you’d like to read about the history of Lillian H. Smith and the Toronto Public Library in general, here are a couple of interesting articles:

RC Coffee

RC Coffee (short for Robo Café) kiosks are popping up around Toronto.

So far in my travels I’ve come across two locations – one near the St. Lawrence Market area, and the other at 475 Yonge Street, above College Street.

Automated coffee cafe at 36 Church Street, north of Front Street East
RC Coffee automated café at 475 Yonge Street, just above College Street

So what are they, exactly? RC Coffee’s website proclaims themselves Canada’s First Robotic Café – Fully Automated Coffee Kiosk, Open 24/7. Serving coffee without a live person present is the name of the game here. From their website:

RC Coffee is filling a void in the market for high-quality unattended coffee kiosks. We’re looking to change the perception of self-serve with sophisticated technology that brews coffee up to the standards of seasoned coffee connoisseurs. No more drip, no more pods. RC Coffee taps into the potential of the latest Eversys Cameo espresso machine technology to rival the coffee from any café.

Here at RC Coffee, we understand that it’s more than just great coffee that keeps people coming back. Our robots delight users with their speed of service and accuracy. Our simple mobile app makes it easy to find the closest Robo Café, remotely view the menu, and load an account via credit card. Next time, you can load your previous order or select from saved favourites, selecting personalized blends at the touch of a button.

So much for the personal touch. Oh well, automation marches on, I guess.

Other RC Coffee locations in Toronto are at:

Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street
Kensington Market, 160 Baldwin Street
Little Italy, 550 College Street
Lyndhurst Centre, 520 Sutherland Drive
Dundas Station, 1 Dundas Street West
St. Joseph’s Hospital, 30 The Queensway
Bickle Centre, 130 Dunn Avenue

You can learn more about Robo Café here on their website.

Good Friday Procession

The annual Good Friday Procession is a Toronto tradition which has been held every Good Friday for the last 70 years. After three dormant years due to COVID-19 the Procession, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, has returned to take over the streets of Toronto’s Little Italy on Good Friday.

The Good Friday Procession starts on Good Friday at 3 PM at St. Francis of Assisi Church (Mansfield Ave & Grace St), and goes through the Little Italy neighbourhood, before circling back to the church. The Procession includes religious statues, bands and people representing different characters associated with the Passion of Christ.

The Good Friday Procession follows this route:

Assembling The Procession

I’ve attended the Good Friday Procession once, in 2018, to photograph the spectacle. The most interesting shots are the ones in which the participants assemble at St. Francis of Assisi Church prior to the actual procession through Little Italy:

The Good Friday Procession Across College Street

The procession is a mile-long march re-enacting the fourteen Stations of the Cross (Jesus on his way to his crucifixion):

Eldon Garnet’s Toronto Sculptures

By creating this blog I’ve discovered the Toronto sculpture works of Canadian visual artist and novelist Eldon Garnet piece by piece. As it turns out, over my years of photographing Toronto I’d been unknowingly capturing shots of Eldon Garnet’s work. Going through shots both old and recent I realized I have enough to publish a post focusing on Eldon Garnet’s collective sculptures in Toronto, soooooo… here we go.

Eldon Garnet is a true Torontonian; he was born here in 1946. His prolific sculptures and photographic work has been held at the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Amsterdam Center of Photography. He is also a Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design located in the city’s core. Eldon Garnet is represented by the Christopher Cutts Gallery in Toronto and the Torch Gallery, Amsterdam

The Toronto Sculptures

To Serve and Protect

To Serve and Protect is a three-part sculpture surrounding the Metropolitan Police Headquarters in downtown Toronto. The three pieces are located at the main Headquarters entrance at 40 College Street, the southeast corner of Bay and Grenville Streets, and the Grenville entrance. The sculptures were erected in 1988.

The first part of the “To Serve And Protect” trilogy is a policewoman with a police radio and trowel in her hands.
“Little Glenn” is the second part of the set. He’s depicted pulling a 22-foot-tall stone obelisk in a four-wheeled cart. On the obelisk are carved the words “To Serve And Protect”, the motto of the Toronto Police Force.
The third sculpture in the “To Serve And Protect” trilogy is a male figure balancing books and blocks on his shoulders.

If you’d like to read my post dedicated to this 3-piece sculpture, click here.

Time And A Clock

This bridge on Queen Street East, which crosses the Don Valley Parkway, bears an inscription across the top which reads:

This river I step in is not the river I stand in

The text is based on a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said: You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. Basically, change is the one constant in life.

The overall textual theme of the work is Time, its substance and ambiguity. Time And A Clock is 1 part of a 3-site art piece, with the second part appearing as words embedded in the 4 corners of the Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East intersections. The last part of the work appears on 4 metal banners further east at Jimmy Simpson Park. Unfortunately I have no shots of the other 2 pieces of the installation (I’m thinking there just might be a further post on these), but as a whole the work is presented like this:

1) At the location Queen Street East/DVP location:


2) Each of the 4 corners at the intersection of Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue, bear 1 of the following text embedded in the sidewalk:





3) Near Jimmy Simpson Park (872 Queen Street East) 4 steel poles hold banners which read:





On a less artistic note, this current steel Truss bridge crossing the Don Valley was built in 1911 by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company of Darlington, England. It was higher in elevation than previous bridges at the location and streets on each side of the river were graded higher to meet the level of the bridge. The bridge was opened for streetcars on October 8, 1911, and for other road traffic 5 days later.

The bridge was renovated in the 1990s; Eldon Garnet’s public art was added at the top of the bridge in 1996.

Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial

Created by Eldon Garnet and Francis LeBouthillier and erected in 1989, this monument is located at the intersection of Blue Jays Way and Navy Wharf Court.

The sculpture depicts 2 life-sized Chinese workers precariously moving a beam into place to complete the construction of a railway trestle. The boulders at the base are from the Canadian Rockies. Three pairs of rocks from the original transcontinental rail route are parallel to the pedestrian pathway and contain a small plaque stating One by One the Walkers Vanish.

Between 1880 and 1885, 17,000 men emigrated from China, most from the province of Kwangtung (Guangdong), to work on Canada’s burgeoning railway. By some estimates, more than 4,000 workers died during the construction. In addition to facing racist discrimination, the immigrants were often given the most dangerous jobs in the already dangerous task of blasting through the Rocky Mountains to lay the Western section of the track. Many were killed by landslides, cave-ins, disease and explosions. Despite the high risk involved in their work, Chinese were paid half as much as other workers.

The Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial was erected to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of these workers, who remained nameless in the history of Canada. After the railroad was complete, many of the immigrants who survived could not find new jobs. To that end, a plaque on the memorial reads:

With no means of going back to China when their labour was no longer needed, thousands drifted in near destitution along the completed track.

Equal Before the Law

This sculpture is located at 21 Osgoode Lane, behind the Courthouse and adjacent to Nathan Phillips Square. It features the scales of justice on which balances a lamb (left) and a lion.

The text on the piece reads:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination

A description from the artist’s website:

The lamb often signifies purity, innocence, meekness. It often represents either pure thought or a just person. The lion is rich in symbolism. In common correspondence, the lion is the “king of beasts,” the “natural lord and master,” the possessor of strength. It also can represent earth and at times “philosophical fire.”

The context in which the lamb and lion appear in this sculpture direct the interpretation of these two symbolic representations. One is large, one is small and yet the scales balance. The mis-weighted yet balanced scale invites us to question why and how. The answer is simple – on the scales of justice each individual is equal. One is strong and one is meek, one is powerful and one is weak, but the law treats both equally.

To borrow some further explanatory text from the McMurtry Gardens of Justice website:

The scales are also represented symbolically. The tower and the platform are constructed symmetrically yet askew. The tower is twisted to a 60 degree angle to the back of the courthouse, to which the platform is parallel. The ends of the platform are cut at 30 degree angles in correspondence to the support tower. The tower is constructed such that the dimensions from the top to the bottom are angled.

Everything about the mathematics of this scale is calculated to be in perfect proportion, balanced, but turned or angled 60 or 30 degrees, as are the proportions designed to range from 1 to 2. The final effect is a scale that is balanced yet in a complicated fashion, possibly a metaphor for the law itself.

The scales are constructed of brushed stainless steel. The lion and the lamb are life size, realistically rendered in bronze.


In Inversion, you will see upside down moose, foxes and wolves in front of the James Cooper Mansion condos, 28 Linden Street (Bloor/Sherbourne area). Placed in 2011, they are made of bronze.

But what exactly does it all mean? From Eldon Garnet’s website:

This sculptural work is a comment about our current, local relationship with the age-old Canadian, and particularly urban, interaction with nature. Simply put, nature has now been turned on its head. The threat has gone, the desire is not to fortify our existence against the wilderness which has been tamed to disappearance, but rather, it is now a nostalgic desire to embrace what no longer exists. Our current longing is to return a sense of nature to our environment, not to build walls against its presence, but rather to embrace nature.

Artifacts of Memory

Near the corner of Yonge and St. Joseph Streets stands Eldon Garnet’s sculpture Artifacts of Memory. Unveiled in 2016, it consists of 5 lines of text stretching out into interconnected yet disparate strands:


The piece highlights the conditions of living in the modern world with a focus on the passage of time. The sculpture is meant to captivate the observer’s curiosity and reflection as they walk toward and under the artwork.

Eldon Garnet has expressed that Artifacts of Memory materially espouses the difficulty of coming to terms with history, time, and death.

Art critics have commented on Artifacts of Memory:

Sprouting a multiplicity of civic narratives, the sculpture resists the comfortable and easy sense of resolution – of certainty – often dispensed by less playful and less daring public art.

Well, that’s about it for Eldon Garnet’s sculptures in Toronto – at least the ones I know about. If you know of any I may have missed please let me know.

Drs. James Till & Ernest McCulloch

This 2016 monument of James Till PhD and Ernest McCulloch MD, created by artist Ruth Abernethy, resides at the MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street.

James Till PhD and Ernest McCulloch MD are globally recognized as the Fathers of Stem Cell Science for their research in the 1960s at the Ontario Cancer Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. They received Canada’s Gairdner Award in 1961, and were inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2004. They also won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2005.

A College Street Walk, From West to East

For some time, it’s been on my Toronto photography bucket list to explore College Street from absolute end to end. Having never been west of Bathurst Street on College, it was territory new to me – even better! My College Street photowalk turned out to be an absolute delight. Here’s a bit of what I encountered that day; to see all the shots from this photowalk, see the link at the bottom of this post.

Psychic Reader
On College Street
Bethel Evangelical Community Church
1155 College Street
Flowers Outside Yerba Buena Cannabis Store
On the corner of Dufferin Street & College Street
Antiques at Ralph’s Hardware
846 College Street, near Ossington Avenue
Repainting The Revival
783 College Street. Revival is an event venue for hire.
Camões Square
In Portuguese Pioneers Parkette. Luis Vaz de Camões (1524-1580) is considered Portugal’s greatest poet.
The Garden
Portuguese Pioneers Parkette
College Fruit Market
Northwest corner of Beatrice Street and College Street
Little Italy Heart
Southeast corner of Grace Street and College Street
Piazza Johnny Lombardi
Southwest corner of College Street and Grace Street. Johnny Lombardi, Broadcaster and Founder of CHIN radio among many other things, was often referred to as the “Mayor of Little Italy”. He lived in the neighborhood all his life. This memorial to him was installed at the southwest corner of College Street and Grace Street in an area known as “Piazza Johnny Lombardi” in Little Italy. The sculptures were designed by Veronica and Edwin Dam de Nogales.
Old School Retail
On College Street
Sneaky Dee’s
Still at the corner of College and Bathurst Streets
St. George’s Lutheran Church
410 College Street. St. George’s is a German–English speaking Lutheran congregation with German roots. Their focus is to offer German and English speaking congregational life in downtown Toronto.
Fancy Franks
326 College Street, corner of College and Major Streets. Gourmet hot dogs!
Colourful Condo Balconies
301 College Street, near Spadina Avenue
Church With An Identity Crisis?
8 Robert Street, just off College Street. The sign out front says it is Iglesia Hispana La Casa de Misericordia Eterna (Spanish church), but the sign on the church door (and on Google Maps) says it is the Hungarian Reformed Evangelical Christian Church. Whatever it’s called I think it’s a pretty, quaint little church.
James Till & Ernest McCulloch – MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street
James Till PhD and Ernest McCulloch MD are globally recognized as the Fathers of Stem Cell Science for their research in the 1960s at the Ontario Cancer Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. They received Canada’s Gairdner Award in 1961, and were inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2004, and won the Albert Lasker Aware for Basic Medical Research in 2005. Monuments sculpted by Ruth Abernethy in 2016.

Street Art on College Street

I recently walked College Street from end to end; here’s some of the street art I encountered along the way.

Mural by Young Jarus
On wall of LALA Contemporary Art Gallery, Lansdowne Avenue and Dundas Street West
Overgrown Mural
Northwest Corner of College Street and Lansdowne Avenue
“College West” Mural
At College Street & St. Clarens Avenue
Utility Box
On the corner of Margueretta Street & College Street
The Gaze
On College Street, near Delaware Avenue
Mural at Lullaboo Nursery & Childcare Centre
Corner of College Street & Concord Avenue
“College Promenade” Mural
Corner of College Street & Ossington Avenue
Mural by John Kuna
Portuguese Pioneers Parkette

Galipo Brothers Lane

Across the street from the Portuguese Pioneers Parkette, Galipo Brothers Lane is a small laneway north of College Street connecting Crawford Street and Montrose Avenue. The mural pays tribute to the four Galipo brothers – Natale, Aurelio, Francesco and Giuseppe. They were master ice cream makers from Capo D’Olando, Sicily who established one of Little Italy’s oldest landmarks, the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe.

“Little Italy” Mural
719 College Street. This mural is by Just Sum Artist. Apparently it was badly tagged almost as soon as the artist finished the mural, though the mural has been repaired recently. It is difficult to get a good shot of the mural; it’s in the parking lot of an auto mechanic and there’s so many cars in the way!
Looks Like Sophie Loren to Me…
Mural on north side of College Street in Little Italy, between Crawford Street and Montrose Avenue
Utility Box
Corner of College Street and Manning Avenue
Mural on Domino’s Pizza Building
On College Street, near Lippincott Street

On Croft Street, Just Off College Street

Elicser Mural On Croft Street
“City is burning… Protect your energy”

Borden Street near College Street

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