Toronto Through My Lens

Tag: NathanPhillipsSquare

From The Vaults: Farewell, Jack

This post is based on an event from thirteen years ago, so I guess it qualifies for my so-called From The Vaults series.

A Bit Of Background

Everyone who has a pulse is familiar with the name Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011). Jack served as the leader of the NDP from 2003 to 2011 and was leader of the Official Opposition in 2011. Previous to that he sat on Toronto City Council, occasionally holding the title of Acting Mayor or Deputy Mayor of Toronto during his tenure as City Councillor. Jack was also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto-Danforth riding from 2004 until his death.

Jack rose to prominence in Toronto municipal politics, where he was one of the most prominent left-wing voices on the City and Metropolitan Toronto Councils, championing many progressive causes. In 1991, he ran for Mayor, losing to June Rowlands. Returning to Council, he rose to become head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In 2003, he was elected leader of the NDP.

Under Jack Layton’s leadership, support for the NDP increased in each election. The party’s popular vote almost doubled in the 2004 election, which gave the NDP the balance of power in Paul Martin’s minority government.

Jack died on August 22, 2011, after being diagnosed with cancer. He was survived by his wife of 23 years – our current Mayor – Olivia Chow.

Remembering Jack, Nathan Phillips Square

In the week before the funeral, Jack’s body was laid in state at Parliament Hill at the House of Commons foyer in Ottawa, then in repose at Toronto City Hall.

On August 26, 2011 a huge memorial for Jack was held in Nathan Phillips Square, outside Toronto City hall. It is from this memorial that my following pictures originate. It was a low-key but very powerful event; the love and respect for this man was clearly on display everywhere in the Square that evening:


Jack Layton’s ashes were scattered in three places: Cote St. Charles United Church in Hudson, Quebec where he was raised; on Toronto Island, where he was married; and at the Toronto Necropolis, near where he lived.

Here is Jack’s bronze bust atop a red granite pillar at the Toronto Necropolis:

Leaving A Legacy

For those interested, here is a CBC timeline of Jack Layton’s accomplishments

Panorama India 2023

Panorama India 2023, with the support of the Consulate General of India, celebrated India’s 76th anniversary of Indian Independence Day on August 20th, 2023 at Nathan Phillips Square.

The Panorama India Parade

The Panorama India event celebrated the vibrant culture, art and heritage of India. The event started with the Grand Parade down Bay Street, across King Street West, up University Avenue, then back to Nathan Phillips Square on Queen Street West. There, Nathan Phillips Square was transformed into a lively place with the sites, sounds, and flavors of India.

These two gentlemen on Queen Street West were preparing for the Panorama India Parade, which was gathering at Nathan Phillips Square
On Queen Street West, arriving back at Nathan Phillips Square

Panorama India Celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square

As the parade wound down the crowd returned to Nathan Phillips Square. There was plenty of food, entertainment and dancing for the rest of the day:

At Nathan Phillips Square
Henna application
Dancers from the Tamil Nadu Cultural Society Of Canada

TOcityscapes is One Year Old!

That’s right – I started this blog on July 31, 2022. Happy First Birthday!

Thank you to all my loyal subscribers for sticking with me all this time. There’s still a lot more TOcityscapes to come!

If you’d like to take a look back at the year that was, I’ve created an Archives page where you can select and view any post from the past year.

As a bit of a retrospective, here are links to a few of the posts that generated the most viewer response or comments from the past year. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for a whole lot more to come…

International Pillow Fight Day!

Say what?

That’s right… across the world today – April 1, 2023 – it’s International Pillow Fight Day. What’s it all about you may ask? Today, massive public pillow fights took place in cities around the world including London, New York, Rotterdam, Seattle… and Toronto, of course!

The first World Pillow Fight day took place in March 2008, and since then the movement has grown with pillow fighting flash mobs fighting it out in more and more cities every year, all just in the name of fun. It’s simply a good way to relieve stress and have some fun; much needed these days.

The rules are fairly simple:

  • Swing lightly
  • Do not swing at people without pillows
  • Do not swing at people with cameras (hello!)
  • Soft pillows only!
  • Bring a bag to help with clean up after the event

International Pillow Fight Day has been on hiatus a long time in Toronto but has finally returned, post-COVID. This year I literally stumbled upon it as I passed through Nathan Phillips Square on my weekend photowalk. I grabbed some shots of the fun, and also caught a couple of gentle clouts to the head from a badly aimed rogue pillow.

Here’s how it all went down:

And… a few shots (literally):

Safe to say, a good time was had by all…

Holiday Fair & Cavalcade of Lights

This year Holiday Fair joined together with the annual Cavalcade of Lights event at Nathan Phillips Square. I checked things out this past weekend at the heavily-attended event.

Games & Midway for the Kids…

Lots Of Lights…

This year’s naturally grown spruce tree (55 ft. high) came from Baldwin, Ontario and is decorated with more than 300,000 energy-efficient lights and 500 ornaments. It will remain on display throughout the holiday season and will then be recycled into mulch for tree planting in the spring. The Christmas tree lighting is sponsored by Toronto Hydro-Electric System.

The Cavalcade of Lights will run until January 7, showcasing light displays and festive decor alongside public skating on Nathan Phillips Square. This year the event takes inspiration from light festivals and cultural celebrations around the world and features elements from a variety of holiday traditions associated with light, lantern and fire for new lighting installations.

The skaters returned to the ice after the Zamboni run-through…

Lots Of Vendors…

Mobile ATMs conveniently on hand beside the vendor tents


And of course, no event is complete without BeaverTails <so good…>

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