Toronto Through My Lens

Tag: QueenStE

“The Watchers”

At the corner of Queen Street East and Victoria Street sits a sculpture by artist Peter von Tiesenhausen. Entitled The Watchers, the sculpture was established in 2002 and is made from cast iron and granite.

The iron figures in The Watchers are direct casts of five wood originals which were carved and blackened in a fire on the Canadian prairies. From there began a journey that took them 35,000 kilometres through every province and around every territory. From Newfoundland they navigated the Northwest Passage to Tuktoyaktuk. Down the Arctic ice road, through the mountains of the Yukon and the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, The Watchers returned to the prairies five years later. Having nearly traced the geographical boundaries of Canada, they had come full circle.

If you’d like to read more about their story, click here.

A Walk Through Leslieville

It was a sunny day for my Leslieville photowalk. I started my ramblings on the corner of Dundas Street East and Broadview Avenue, then slowly worked my way further east, then south, to Queen Street East. I called it a day when I reached Leslie Street then caught the streetcar home.

Leslieville is great for photography and offers so many quirky opportunities. I know I certainly enjoyed the day.

Mini Mural
Corner of Dundas Street East and Broadview Avenue
On the side of SEED Alternative Secondary School, 885 Dundas Street East
House With Character
948 Dundas Street East
Under the Railroad Tracks
Dundas Street East, near Logan Avenue
Can I give you a hand?
Seen in someone’s front yard on Dundas Street East
“The Giant Storybook Project”
Created by the artist Herakut in 2012. Located at 1135 Dundas Street East.
“The Signature Marker” by Pierre Poussin
Located in Carlaw Dundas Park, on the corner of Dundas Street East and Carlaw Avenue. Pierre Poussin’s Brick Obelisk is a three-sided pyramid which responds to the shape of the Carlaw Dundas Park where it is erected. It is 9.2 metres high, ensuring that all traffic – pedestrian, bicycle or car – will be able to see it as they enter and explore the neighbourhood. The obelisk is made with corten steel onto which historic maps of the neighbourhood, spanning from 1851 to 2016, are etched. The structure is illuminated from within by LED lights so that details of the etched steel are visible at night.
Building the Railroad Bridge
Enlarged photo in Carlaw Dundas Park, on corner of Dundas Street East and Carlaw Avenue
Welcome to Leslieville
1130 Queen Street East
1137 Queen Street East
“Leslieville Is Beautiful”
Queen Street East
“Leslieville” Mural
Mural by Elicser and Sight, 2016. Corner of Queen Street East and Jones Avenue.
Utility Box
Northeast corner of Queen Street East and Jones Avenue, Leslieville
Vintage Stove
Reggie’s Queen East Appliance Centre, 1180 Queen Street East
The Duke
1225 Queen Street East
Mural on side of The Duke
1225 Queen Street East
Nice Schnozz
Gio Rana’s Really, Really Nice Restaurant, 1220 Queen Street East
Dave’s Hot Chicken
1130 Queen Street East, corner of Bertmount Avenue and Queen Street East
Kristapsons Smoked Salmon
1095 Queen Street East
Anvil Jewellery
Nice paint job! 1015 Queen Street East.
Mural on side of Cask Music
1054 Queen Street East, corner of Queen Street East and Pape Avenue
Queen Street East Presbyterian Church
947 Queen Street East
Dr. R.J. Black, D.V.S.
923 Queen Street East
“Life Is Sweet”
Northeast corner of Logan Avenue and Queen Street East. This interactive mural is a creative placemaking collaboration between Contemporary Canadian Artist Benny Bing, Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony, Craig’s Cookies and 908QSE Inc., integrating arts and culture in community development and rejuvenating the Queen Street East and Logan Avenue streetscape.
Mural on the side of Cannoe Cannabis
698 Queen Street East, corner of Boulton Avenue
Queen Garden Centre
771 Queen Street East
Cool storefront on “Civilian House of Cannabis”
745 Queen Street East
Paper Mache Bunny
Queen Street East

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.

Magic on Sumach Street

Walking down Queen Street East this past weekend on my way to photograph Riverside, I passed Sumach Street; the colour of these interesting pieces caught my eye and drew me in.

At 60 Sumach Street sits The Magic Building. I’m not sure exactly what goes on at said building, and I couldn’t find much on the Web, so I guess it’s open to interpretation:

Above the door an annoyed-looking witch casts a weary eye on any interlopers…

… while a figure not unlike Metallica’s James Hetfield broods quietly on each side of the door…

Elicser on the Magic Building

BUT!… the best part of this location is the massive, impressive canvas by Elicser, wrapping around the corner of the Magic Building:

On the other side of Sumach Street at the corner of Queen Street East, is this utility box – unmistakably Elicser:

Elicser is one of Toronto’s best street artists who has helped define our cityscape. In photographing Toronto over the years, I’ve encountered a lot of Elicser’s work, all of it impressive and distinctive. You can read more about him here and here.

Here’s a short video on the man himself:

Leaving the magic behind and heading a little further east across Queen Street, I encountered these in an alley beside a building at 533 Queen Street East:

Quite good, actually. The only identification on the mural was a little inscription on the one side: Not Art by @ITSMAHYAR. After some minor Googling, I found a little bit more here about the Not Art Gallery and the artist Mahyar Amir.

I’m not sure if this mural on the opposite wall was by Mahyar Amir as well, but I thought the scales of justice were particularly well rendered.

So, all in all, it was an interesting little diversion that day on Queen Street East.

St. Paul’s Basilica

St. Paul’s Basilica is the oldest Roman Catholic congregation in Toronto. It is located at 83 Power Street in the Corktown neighbourhood, near the intersection of Queen and Parliament Streets. Created by architect Joseph Connolly in the Romanesque Revival style, it opened in 1889.

For the following text I’ve borrowed heavily from the History section of the Church’s website:

Established in 1822, St. Paul’s is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Toronto. The first St. Paul’s, of red brick and Gothic style, was completed in 1824. After the diocese was created in 1841, Bishop Michael Power used St. Paul’s as his cathedral until the completion of the construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral in 1848. In 1847, a typhus epidemic raged through the city, killing 850 people, including Bishop Power. Many were buried on the grounds of St. Paul’s Church and School, though the majority were moved to St. Michael’s Cemetery at Yonge and St. Clair Avenue West.

In 1880, Bishop Thomas Timothy O’Mahony was appointed Pastor. He had served in his native Ireland and Australia and was a man of great vision and energy. The old St. Paul’s had to be replaced in order to accommodate the rapidly growing Catholic population of Toronto. Bishop O’Mahony soon began planning a new church with architect Joseph Connolly. They designed a large structure in Italian Romanesque style, which was rather extraordinary in a city of Gothic churches. The cornerstone was blessed in 1887 by Elzear-Alexandre Cardinal Taschereau, Archbishop of Quebec. The first Mass was celebrated just before Christmas of 1889. The statue of St. Paul was placed above the centre door in 1899.

To the memory of the Irish immigrants who were buried in the adjacent ground during the year of 1847, and in honour of the Right Reverend Michael Power, First Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto, who laid down his life for the fever stricken members of his flock, this monument is devoutly dedicated.
Untitled sculpture in churchyard

Dean John Lawrence Hand was appointed Pastor of St. Paul’s in 1892 and served to 1936. If Connolly designed St. Paul’s and Bishop O’Mahony built it, Dean Hand completed the church and made it the work of beauty one sees today. He was responsible for commissioning most of the artwork inside St. Paul’s. The four major paintings in the sanctuary and the side apses were finished in 1893. The all-wood organ was installed in 1898 by R.S. Williams & Son, Toronto, and is the only one of its kind in North America. The stained glass windows were installed a year later, and the Stations of the Cross in 1901. The campanile (bell tower) with the bell from the original church was erected in 1905.

Scenes for the life of St. Paul were painted on canvas in 1911. The angels behind the altar were created with the same technique in the 1920s. The bronze Pieta on the front lawn was erected in 1933 as a memorial to Bishop Michael Power and hundreds of parishioners who died during the typhus epidemic of 1847. A plaque at the front entrance bears the names of 81 members of the congregation who died during World War I. Beside the front steps is the grave of Bishop Thomas Timothy O’Mahony.

In 1998, Father Tom Day began the process of restoring the church to its original splendour. This continued under Monsignor Brad Massman in collaboration with the architect Charles Hazell.

On August 3, 1999, Pope John Paul II elevated St. Paul’s to the rank of Minor Basilica by an Apostolic Decree. To be given this Papal honour, a church must be a centre of liturgical and pastoral life in the diocese and renowned for its antiquity, beauty, canonical significance or devotional popularity. Minor Basilicas receive special concessions such as the privilege of granting plenary indulgence on certain days in a year. The insignia of a Minor Basilica include the Ombrellino or Pavilion (a red and yellow umbrella) and the Tintinnabulum (a processional bell). St. Paul’s is the twentieth church in Canada to receive this honorific title.

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

For today’s post, let’s take a little trip to the east end of the city.

The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant is an absolute masterpiece of Art Deco, located on the shore of Lake Ontario at 2701 Queen Street East in Toronto. The plant was designed in 1929 and built from 1932 to 1937. It opened in 1941 and was later expanded from 1955 to 1958. The plant is named after Roland Caldwell Harris, who was the Commissioner of Works from 1912 until his death in 1945.

The R.C. Harris Filtration Plant
2701 Queen Street East, Toronto

The structure looks like a museum, but is actually a water treatment plant. Surprisingly, the inside of the building is similarly elegant, with cavernous halls and marble passages, all full of filtration equipment. This opulence has earned the building the nickname “Palace of Purification.”

There are three buildings comprising the plant: the Filter Building, the Service Building and the Pumping Station. Together they represent the largest example of Art Deco in the entire city. The use of marble, bronze and carved limestone is prevalent throughout and typical of the Art Deco architectural style.

The Filter Building

Filter Operating Galleries, Filter Building
South Entrance Lobby, Filter Building
South Entrance Lobby, Filter Building
Entrance Hall, Filter Building
Signal Pylon in Rotunda, Filter Building
The signal pylon indicates time and filter backwash conditions
Signal Pylon in Rotunda, Filter Building
The signal pylon indicates time and filter backwash conditions
Filter Operating Galleries, Filter Building
Each gallery is over 110m long and provides access to 20 filters
Controls in Filter Operating Galleries, Filter Building
Fountain Outside Filter Building
Filter Building

The Service Building

The Pumping Station

Pumping Station
High-Lift Room, Pumping Station
High-Lift Room, Pumping Station
This signal panel indicates which pumps are operating
Pumping Station & Filter Building

The water treatment plant is the largest one in Toronto. It produces 30% of Toronto’s drinking water and can potentially produce 950 million litres daily.

The R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant has been used in dozens of films and television series as a prison, clinic or headquarters.

Lake Ontario Beside The Plant
The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant 2701 Queen Street East, Toronto

A beautiful place to enjoy.

Condo Crazy

As everyone knows, Toronto remains condo-crazy. I saw continued evidence of this as I walked around a part of the downtown core today.

So Long, Esso
The Esso gas station/Circle K (with a Tim Horton’s inside) on the NE corner of Church Street and Dundas Street East has closed to make way for more new condos. Interesting blogTO link here.
New condos in progress
SE corner of Church Street and Dundas Street East
Corner of Shuter Street and Church Street, looking east
This area used to be an urban wasteland until recently
More new developments
Queen Street East, across from Downtown Camera (89 Queen St. E.)
“Coming Soon”: More New Condos On The Way
NE corner of Queen Street East and Church Street
Shawarma’s King is still around… for now
60 Queen Street East
Crane Mania
NE corner of Queen Street East and Church Street

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