Friday, March 30, 2007


8:25 AM, a westbound bus unloading passengers on Eglinton at Yonge. A teenage male who blared thrash metal tunes loudly through his earphones while standing in the crowded bus was one of the first passengers off. Once off the bus, he yelled at everyone else disembarking:

Don't anybody push me again! I'll f***in' knock your heads off!

Somebody needed Muzak piped into their iPod. - JB

Thursday, March 29, 2007

one fine evening at ikea

Entering IKEA
Spent some time at the Ikea in North York earlier this week, helping my friends Paul and Sheila take home a new coffee table and other goodies for their place, while I pondered future additions for my apartment.

This Chair Ain't Got No Alibi
One of the first items we saw was this lovely fold-out chair. Makes one look like the honoree at a funeral. Other items were much better for diving into.

Fine Swedish Literature
A little known fact: the shelving department is home to one of the area's finest selections of high-quality Scandanavian literature. Can anyone provide a translation of the title of this fascinating book?

Do The Most Important People in the World Deserve The World's Slowest Slide? The Conference Table
Left: Checking out the VIP kiddie slide, which provides a very slow descent for adults. Hard to resist the cool kids stuff they have, including wall lamps I've seen in more than a few adult dwellings.

Right: a quick conference to assess the state of what to look for downstairs.

Good Night Octy
Before heading down, we put little Octy to bed. When we saw him attempt to perfect his Alien facehugger imitation by jumping from one customer's head to another in the office department, we knew it was time for the kid to call it a night.

Shining Light on 99 Cent Round Things
Another little-known fact: Ikea is ideal for odd Halloween costume ideas, especially when they're 99 cent wall funnels. It's never too early to start planning! Fashion designers may also wish to take note.

Taking It Easy In The Self-Serve Section
After a busy evening of shopping, time to take it easy with the patio furniture in the self-serve area. On the way out, we nabbed the last two hot dogs of the evening, leaving last-minute tube steak connoisseurs out of luck.

I accomplished a major achievement that astonished the others: I walked out of Ikea with empty hands. Not that I wasn't tempted, but I figure any major purchases can be put off until later this summer, since I figure it will take that long to either conduct a CD purge or finish unpacking the remaining boxes in my kitchen (I want to place either shelving or a second prep area where junk now sits).

We managed to fit coffee table and passengers into the official Warehouse vehicle, even it the backseat occupant had a higher-than-normal view.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Before driving back to TO last weekend, I decided to check out the progress on the ongoing demolition of White Woods Mall. Quite a bit had changed since Christmas...

Moving In... RBC Coming Soon
In the back, two new rows of retail are nearing completion. A couple of businesses, such as First Choice and Eye on Video, have already moved into the north set, even if their storefronts are incomplete. The white storefront on the right will be the new home of the Royal Bank.

Entrance Still Standing...But For How Long? Back Boxes
The northwest mall entrance still stands, though you can see there's little to its left, as the old movie theatre/bingo space has been cleared. On the right is the west row of new stores. My grandmother lived in the brown apartment building in the rear in the late 1980s - she was on the top floor, with a great view of town and Boblo Island.

Stop! In The Name of Garbage
A sign of businesses still in the mall cleaning up.

Who's Left?
Over on the front side of the mall, a sign indicating that a few businesses are still operating.

Note the "Road Closed" sign. There is a good reason for this...

Send In The Cranes Rubble at the Front
The southeast side of the mall appears to be at the heart of the current demolition. The rubble and skeletal remains in these pictures were once the drugstore space and parts of The Met/SAAN.

Purple Arches
I'm not sure what the purple arch was for. Anyone?

Are The Boards Being Liquidated? More Like 0 For 1
Are the boards and tarps included in the liquidation sale? Both shots from the north corridor, which I was surprised to see open. The west corridor is only other section that remains intact.

Sunlight on SAAN
A lonely tree next to SAAN, relocated to the other main "bargain retailer" spot in the mall (Big Top, Bargain Harold's. BiWay, etc).

The Pothole Store
I doubt these GTA-sized craters in the parking lot will be fixed until the Bentonville Behemoth moves in.

The Wreckers Await...
A trio of cranes slumber, awaiting the call to continue their mission to tear White Woods down.

Full set of pictures. - JB

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Would You Like a Pizza With Your Chequing Account?
"Hmm, what do I want on my pizza...tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, anchovies and a fixed-rate mortgage."

This would be a fairly old bank building, as the Standard Bank of Canada was absorbed by the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1928, one of the many bank mergers that led to today's CIBC.

Photo taken on Hwy 12, Brechin, Ontario, March 11, 2007 - JB

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Vintage Ad #188 - Canned Meat Trio
Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present to the public the exciting new fall 1948 Burns tinned meat fall lineup!

First the tender goodness of Burns Meat Balls, so special we have the can under wraps until we come up with a design that does these regal treats justice. Housewives note that Burns Meat Balls are the perfect accompaniment to those rice and pea rings pictured in every general purpose cookbook!

Second comes Burns Bologna, a space-age wonder that provides versatile convenience. Place it between your favourite bread and vegetables for an elegant sandwich. Cut into long round sticks for Baloney Dogs children will love. Serve with pickles as shown here to make you stand out as a sophisticated host at your next party. You'll need more than two cans - try Burns Bologna in triplicate!

Finally, you will be a smiling chef too when you open a can of Burns Pan Fried Hamburgers. It takes a monster pan to provide you with these economic edibles. Why risk food poisoning from poorly butchered fresh ground meat when Burns provides the 100% sanitary alternative? Did we mention it's economical?

Don't forget our satisfying standbys - Spork and Speef!

The fall 1948 Burns tinned meat lineup - stock up your pantry today!

Source: National Home Monthly, September 1948 - JB

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The House of Weird Weekends #1,128
(artwork cribbed from Tower of Shadows Special #1, December 1971, art by John Romita)

St. Patrick's Day, the day before Amy's birthday. Time for a shopping trip to Motown!

We took the tunnel wound up in a slow lane. I expected an interrogator, until I remembered we were in Detroit, not Niagara. The border guard was chatty as he punched in our info, talking about the shopping area we were headed to and how his daughter noticed a downturn in local business.

For Amy's birthday lunch, we headed up to the Bangkok Cafe in Ferndale. The waitress kept joking about the gender flip in the dishes we ordered - I had Princess Pork, Amy had Prince Chicken.

St. Patrick's Day in Ferndale
A festive window in Fashionable Ferndale. Loud speakers blared Irish music, but nobody appeared to be dancing a jig. We also didn't notice any early lineups outside bars, unlike the last St. Patty's Day we spent in the States (though I surprised the linked entry doesn't member the bar a block or two from our hotel on Lexington, which had a steady line waiting outside all day).

After spending the afternoon shopping, we settled on Red Lobster at 12 Mile and John R for dinner, figuring it would suit Amy's current diet. We had to wait for a seat, so we glanced at the bar ads in the Metro Times and Real Detroit (the latter's are much cheesier and sleazier). After being seated, it took another 15 minutes before we corralled a spaced-out waitress to take our order. Various items failed to show up at our table (no cheese biscuits!), resulting in a discount on our bill. On the bright side, Amy may seek out mahi mahi next time she goes to the fish counter and I got free gumbo.

I left Amy's just after 1:30 AM and drove back to Amherstburg along the Detroit River. When I hit town, I decided to continue along the river, rather than continue along the main road (Sandwich St). A cop saw me turn on Alma and decided to follow me. When I reached Richmond St, the lights went on. After asking for my license, the cop wondered what somebody from Toronto was doing in Amherstburg. When I told him where I was headed, he asked why I decided not to drive straight along Sandwich, as following the river seemed an odd way to head to Mom's (I come by this habit naturally, as Dad often followed the river). This was followed by questions about drugs and alcohol, then a request for my vehicle registration and insurance...then I was let go.

I never got a chance to ask what was up, though I have two guesses:

1) There may have been a RIDE check further along on Sandwich, which the cop thought I was trying to dodge.

2) Since it was St. Patrick's Day, they were out patrolling for any leftover drunks. There were few signs of life in town, so they had to check somebody.

I joked afterwards that I had encountered a town cop who never had Dad as a teacher. - JB

Message for Mishy
King St E, March 15, 2007 - JB

Monday, March 19, 2007


The House of Weird Weekends #1,126
(tweaked version of House of Mystery #174, May-June 1968. Art by Joe Orlando and George Roussos)

Ready for today's yelp yarn, kiddies? Sit back and shiver at the tribulations of going home to celebrate a sibling's 30th birthday!

Things started calmly enough. After a busy day at the office, I went home to wrap up a few items before hitting the highway, including my latest Torontoist piece. By the time I finished my work (and played a few minutes of video games), it was 8:30. Time to hit the road.

I looked out the window and saw winter was back.

Flipping on the radio, the weather forecast indicated intermittent light snow - all of the usual "death storm" warnings were for Niagara, eastern Ontario and the east coast. I also figured this would only last the night and the next two days would be perfectly fine.

At least I was right about that part.

The first part of the drive was fine. Snow started to accumulate on 401 in Toronto, but drivers were acting cautiously, with reduced speeds and more respect to other vehicles than usual. When I hit Mississauga, gentility went out the window. The road was slippery and I could feel the car slide. That was the cue for my hands to clutch the wheel tight and every nerve in my body to fray.

I considered turning around, but the weather forecast indicated that Kitchener/Waterloo was under clear skies. I got off at Mavis and headed west along Britannia. I wasn't sure how much I believed that when the snow picked up in Streetsville. I continued along backroads of varying conditions, rarely going more than 60, until I hooked back up with 401 west of Cambridge.

Bad idea.

Crazy truckers, one nearly lane-changing into me. The slipperiest surface of the trip. Constricted shoulders due to construction barriers. Drivers that flashed their high beams at everyone else. Intermittent heavy snow. My heart was ready to jump out of my body, my nerves ready to burst. Memories of skidding off 401 filled my head, as well as thoughts of how skittish a winter driver I have become. 18 km of torture.

I scurried off at Drumbo and drove the rest of the way along Hwy 2. Except for 20 km either side of London, road conditions were mostly murky until I hit Comber. My nerves calmed a little as I drove long stretches without seeing other vehicles. Having a full case of CDs didn't hurt, ranging from Stravinsky to Shadowy Men, from Flatt & Scruggs to Lily Allen.

What should have been a four-hour trip turned into a seven-and-a-half hour trek, as it was 4 am before I finally stumbled through the front door.

Next: Sunny skies, rotten service, great bargains and where not to drive in Amherstburg early in the morning - JB

Friday, March 16, 2007


Hmm, Can I Park Here?
Keele St, north of Dundas, March 10, 2007 - JB

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Vintage Ad #187 - The Revenge of Spork and Speef

Don't say I didn't warn you...

A salad plate consisting of chips, slaw (depending on what was in the dressing - surprised there's no bacon), mayo-topped aspic and Spork...not sure if this strikes the right nutritional note 60 years on.

We move on to a scrumptious plate of tinned sausage with "deep fat" mashed potato balls rolled in cornflakes. I guess the "Campfire" name makes sense, in that they wouldn't go rotten during a long sojourn in the wild.

Finally, Speef gets to strut its stuff after a fleeting appearance last week. Very odd presentation, like a low-end roast beef given the trimmings usually associated with baked ham (glazed and studded with cloves?). The Burns chef couldn't get pork off their mind. Anyone else think the "sweet potatoes" look like neon-dyed pear halves?

Source: National Home Monthly, May 1948 - JB

Lonely Bus Stop on Lake Dalrymple Rd (2)

Lonely Bus Stop on Lake Dalrymple Rd (1)

Photos taken between Lake Dalrymple and Sebright, March 11, 2007 - JB

Monday, March 12, 2007


I like it when the library surprises me.

Yes, I could look for books in the catalogue, but there's something to be said for the thrill of the hunt, for hitting the stacks with a vague notion of what you're looking for and being amused or amazed by what you find in different branches.

Recently, I stumbled upon found a 1970 textbook about our region, Graham Lamont's Toronto and York County: A Sample Study. Written by Graham Lamont, it appears to be a textbook aimed at upper elementary or high school students. It includes many period pictures of the city, including this one of Bloor east of Avenue, just as high-rise building was kicking in.

Bloor St, Late 1960s

Tell-tale sign this is a textbook? The margins are full of questions to ponder.
Several don't have answers any clearer than they were nearly 40 years ago(i.e., "what in your opinion is the best use for this waterfront land?").

Here are a dozen for you to answer. You choose whether to answer from a modern standpoint or with 1970 blinkers on. Spelling and grammar have not been edited.


1) Using a map of York County and Metropolitan Toronto, list as many place names as you can find containing the word Mill or Mills.

2) What is another name for a barrel maker? (yes, this is a vital question in the history of the settlement of Toronto!)

3) What in your opinion is the best part of the city for high-rise apartment blocks? Why?

4) Write a description of Metro as you imagine it will be in the year 2000.

5) Why is a single-storey building better for a suburban light industry than a multi-storey building?

6) What man-made features seem to have determined the limits of the Central Business District?

7) What would be the disadvantages of locating (a) a sporting goods store, (b) a book and gift store in a neighbourhood business street?

8) If both the Yorkdale Plaza (Mall) and the Central Business District were the same distance from your home, in which would you choose to do your Christmas shopping? Why?

9) The CBC in Toronto has a downtown location while the private TV station (Ed Note: this refers to CFTO, located at McCowan and 401) is on the edge of the city. Which do you think is the more advantageously situated? Why?

10) Do you think that the citizens of Toronto suffer from having too many governments? Give your reasons.

11) Would it better to have one single municipal government for Metro?

12) Why cannot the lakeshore in Scarborough be used for recreational purposes? - JB

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Zasty Market
Discovered this prime candidate for Not Fooling Anybody while driving through Unionville today. Is "Zasty" a compromise between "Hasty" and "Zesty"?

Picture taken at Kennedy Rd at Bridle Trail, Unionville - JB

Programming Dept: I should also note that the Music Annex of the Warehouse is going out of business, with one final song to offer up...though I wonder how long it will remain watchable.

Friday, March 09, 2007

1,120: (insert your own title in Italian-style gibberish)

Recent death to report: Italian cartoonist Osvaldo Cavandoli. Name doesn't ring a bell? There's a good chance that somewhere along the line, you may have caught a La Linea cartoon such as these two...

I recall seeing La Linea in a number of spots around the dial, mostly on Sunday mornings on TVOntario or on The Great Space Coaster. - JB


Unrelated Note: Latest post is up on Torontoist, featuring a celebration of the Wild West in Don Mills, complete with "Red Indians"!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Vintage Ad #186 - Spork and Speef
Ever since soldiers on the battlefield and rationers on the homefront were hooked on Spam during World War II, tinned processed meats have provided inspiration for advertising artists, cookbook editors and comedy writers. With their compact shape and long shelf life, Spam and its many imitators offered convenience for harried homes.

Kam. Klik. Prem. Treet. Spork. The names cemented tinned meat's comedy potential

My eyes popped when I noticed Spork's "companion meat" - Speef! Is it "spiced beef"? Dog food brought up to human standards? Pressure-cooked meat loaf?

Trust me folks, this ad is only the tip of the tinned meat iceberg...

Links: A guide to Spam and its knockoffs. Also found a site with tons of info about Spam, even if it hasn't been updated since 1996.

Source: National Home Monthly, June 1947 - JB

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


A recent list of items people were looking for when they stumbled upon this site:

  • show me the picture of basement houses in milton(canada)

  • ojos de brujo mohawk

  • andy griffith bucket purse

  • mcgruff crime dog users losers

  • toga goat warehouse

  • ring tones king of kensington theme song

  • how can i get ride of unwanted hair forever

  • If you can imagine any scenarios where somebody would be looking for a "toga goat warehouse" or "Andy Griffith bucket purse", we'll take your ideas. - JB

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007


    ...that almost wasn't.

    Despite the storm on Thursday, the roads were in good shape and the sun was shining as I prepared to hit the road on Friday to visit fellow Arts House alum Jennifer in Kitchener. Once I hit the highway, the weather fell into a pattern of 20 minutes of sun, 5 minutes of whiteout. My knuckles matched the snow when I hit my first whiteout on 401 near Winston Churchill. Seeing a driver or two ahead of me slide had me heading off the highway at the first opportunity. When the snow stopped as soon as I was off the ramp, I figured it was a freak incident and pressed on.

    We spent Friday night at the Registry Theatre for a few hours of instrumental music featuring the Tallboys, whose percussionist had lived in our residence back in first year (a preview of show from the Guelph Mercury. Oddly, the cover story of this entertainment section's cover focused on another former residence mate of ours).

    Glazed Over (2) Glazed Over (1)
    On the way back to the car, I snapped some pics of glazed-over trees surrounding the parking area.

    No Eating Today
    Obviously too snowy to grab a bite.

    Take Your Parking Ticket With You Your Kitchener Market (1)
    Saturday morning began with a trip to the new location of Kitchener Market, or "Your Kitchener Market" as it prefers to be known. I hadn't visited its old site during its final years in one of Eaton's disasterous 70s-era downtown malls (it seemed to be half-empty whenever I went) and had only visited the new site once before (due to my habit of waking up late on Saturdays). There was a surprising amount of produce, including large amounts of asparagus. I wound up buying a basket of nice-looking baby eggplants, which I haven't decided the fate of yet - simmer with tomatoes or mashed into a curry are the likely means of execution.

    Scarved Heads
    A lineup of scarf-wrapped heads on the second floor.

    Box of Birdies
    Next stop was Sittler's Home Baking, a Mennonite bakery located in Conestogo. Anyone I've ever introduced to their goodies has become addicted. Among this weekend's offerings were a tray of birds.

    We attempted to go to the markets near St. Jacobs, but the power was out. The lack of cars in the parking lot made me suspicious. Next door showed a sign of things to come: a SmartCentre is on its way, which usually means a new location for the Bentonville Behemoth. When I got home, my suspicions were confirmed.

    The trip home was smooth, with no weather problems and some great discoveries for future posts while doing some research in Guelph. - JB

    Monday, March 05, 2007


    Seeing If It's Safe To Cross

    Do You We Should Lead the Flock Across the Road?

    Canada Goose Crossing
    One of those times it pays to bring my camera whenever I hop in the car. The middle picture reminds me of a baseball pitcher/manager conference, with the geese debating if they should guide their flock across the road.

    Water Street, Port Whitby, March 4, 2007 - JB

    Friday, March 02, 2007


    Today, bits and pieces from the 1980s...

    First up, a program intro from Detroit's PBS affiliate, WTVS 56, complete with quirky tune for whichever company underwrote the program. Builders Square was K-Mart's venture into home improvement warehouses, which lasted from the mid-1980s through late 1990s. I've probably passed by the Sterling Heights and Detroit locations.

    Amy and I read OWL magazine, and its younger sibling Chickadee, in our pre-teens. It wasn't a big surprise we watched OWL TV when it hit the airwaves in 1985. Many elements of the magazine carried over, including thr adventures of the Mighty Mites (kids who shrank to learn more about animals) and Dr. Zed (who demonstrated simple scientific experiments). The theme music screams 1980s, as if it should have been used for a sitcom.

    While only introduced to Ontario recently, Loblaws has used their Real Canadian Superstore banner in the west for years, as seen in this ad for the 1985 Christmas edition of the Insider's Report. It is not certain how much stuffing is left in Teddy, given Loblaws' recent woes. - JB