Monday, May 31, 2004

doors open 2004

After missing it for a couple of years, took advantage of the first non-miserable weekend of the spring to take in the annual Doors Open event.

Day 1 -Commerce Court/King Edward Hotel/St. James Church/Canadian Opera Company (Tanenbaum Centre)
Started off above King station, at Commerce Court North, once the tallest building in the British Commonwealth and currently home to CIBC private banking services (and a handy ATM). Stayed around for a brief description of the ornate ceiling and expensive floor, then headed to the Crystal Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel, the closest equivalent Toronto has to Detroit-style ruins (not the hotel, just the ballroom). Enough was left that it wasn't difficult to imagine what the room looked like in its heyday.

Faded glory

Great views of the city from the ballroom, including this one of the next stop - St. James Anglican Church.

Slowly circled around the church, staring at the stained glass and pipe organ (pictures taken of both for future stock photo use).

It's...The Bishop! (Strachan, that is...)

While in the neighbourhood, made a quick pit stop at St. Lawrence Market, surprised to still find vendors in the north hall at 2:30. Stuffed the backpack with veggies, then walked east along Front to see what was open. Ended up on a tour of the Tanenbaum Opera Centre over on Berkley, rehearsal home of the Canadian Opera Company. Thorough tour of the complex (except for the prop shop), which had previously been a Consumers Gas plant and a maraschino cherry factory.

Where opera chairs retire.

The tour included a hands-on segment, where the group was allowed to play with props and masks, most incorporating's the company's most valuable raw material, hockey tape. Didn't get my hand up fast enough to vent any latent rage by smashing a sugar plate against a door

Even the perogies have hockey tape in 'em.

Nearing 4, decided to head over to Queen West for a quick look around. The feet needed a rest, which called for a trip on the King streetcar. If it ever came...

It would have taken less time to attempt to hotwire this car than it took for the streetcar to arrive

Bounced around town for the rest of the day - Queen West, Danforth, finally a long walk along Queen East from Broadview to the end of the Beaches. Somehow the feet recovered in time for Day 2.

Day 2 - George Brown House/OCAD/Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (temp)/Canada Life Building
Decided that shut-eye was better than waking up early, so it wasn't until 2:30 that round two of Doors Open began at the George Brown House (Baldwin & Beverley).

To the occupant of this house I owe one of my morning papers and Paul Martin his political party.

On Baldwin St, heard a faint chanting - a religious group out soaking up the sun while in meditation? Nope, just a couple of kids pitching lemonade from a red wagon, chanting in monotone "lemonade...25 cents...lemonade...25 cents...lemonade...). Turned south on McCaul and shot the cityscape. You've the CN Tower and a checkered box propped up in mid-air - OCAD's new addition.

"Look for the flying rectangle..."

So far, it's sterile inside the box-in-the-sky, all white concrete with different bold-coloured doors and window frames. Good views of the neighbourhood...perhaps too good, as you could spy at the activities in Village by the Grange (lots of sunbathers).

Next was the temporary location of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. While its home on Queen's Park is being expanded, a cramped exhibit and gift shop has been set up south of OCAD. Still room for oddball pieces, like this one:

With the countdown to 4pm on, headed over to the Canada Life building on university. The line to the 17th floor observation area was cut off, but one was free to wander the ground floor, with its ornate office doors.

If only my cubbyhole had an entrance like this...

10 minutes left to go in the hour. Dashed over to Old City Hall, but the doors were locked. End of Doors Open for another year.

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