SUE ETTMAYR tucks into the poutine in Toronto!
A furore about lovemaking within the three O’s had died down by the time I arrived in Toronto. The 3-D Toronto sign was erected at the Nathan Phillips Square in 2015. The large colourful lettering has the new City Hall in the background with The Archer, a sculpture by Henry Moore, and the old City Hall on the right.
Toronto offers a mix of nations and cultures. After being helped up onto one of the O’s by a young Jamaican tourist, we sat giggling about the fun young lovers must have in the O’s.
During the hour’s flight on Air Canada from Newark in New Jersey to Toronto Pearson airport in Ontario, I had a screaming baby one side and a woman who coughed non-stop, claiming to be allergic to my perfume, on the other.
Classified as one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1995, the top of the CN Tower affords a view of the city layout, including the Roger Centre with its closed dome. Later that evening I saw my first baseball game featuring the Toronto Blue Jays. When the rain stopped, the dome was opened to reveal a blue sky and the CN Tower.
The Bata Shoe Museum will enthrall anyone with a shoe fetish. The three floors contain more than 13,000 pairs of shoes spanning 4,500 years. Roger Federer donated his takkies, about a size 14. The Dalai Lama’s beige flip-flops are there as well as the dainty high heels of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Fascinating are the intricate beaded shoes, soles included, of the Native North Americans referred to as the First Nation.
Graffiti plays a huge role in Toronto art and a section of the city has graffiti on either side of the alleyways. New graffiti is painted over the old.
The main station, Union Station, has a piano with the words ‘Play Me’ inscribed on the side. Pavement pianos are a common sight. The town of Collingwood had four pianos chained to railings or columns where passersby simply sit down and play.
No visit to Ontario is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls – made up of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the other two waterfalls on the American side. They are indeed majestic. A short drive away, the up-market town of Niagara-On-The-Lake is home to Edward Spera, one of the top wild life artists in the world. His art gallery and studio in the main street is the only place where one can view and buy his work. The artist works in acrylics and takes his own photographs, sometimes with dangerous wildlife encounters. He was doodling on a napkin one day, his wife saw it, told him he should rather be an artist and now he and Lisa travel the world and photograph wildlife.
Whilst viewing his lifelike and detailed works, the tallest man I’ve ever seen walked into the gallery. I realized it was Edward Spera himself. He dropped off something with his saleslady and hurried to his car across the road. I ran across the road, calling his name. He stopped and turned toward this daft grey-haired woman. I got on tiptoes to hug him and compliment him on his work. He hugged me back and humbly thanked me. I am smitten with Edward Spera’s wildlife art.
I met Penny Barr at Bluffer’s Park Marina on Lake Ontario. She’s a retired graphic designer for Canada’s national newspaper, Globe and Mail. She and her husband live in their two-storey floating home and she works from her made-in-Canada Dutch style riverboat, called Drawn Aboard. Her studio had sprung a leak so it was put on a travel lift and brought on land for winter repairs.
The last weekend was spent some 90km from Toronto at the village of Washburn on Lake Scugog, a shallow fishing lake. The silver insulated small ice hut, in the garden, is taken onto the frozen lake from January to March. Two holes in the floor are used to cut the ice and the men spend their days in the hut fishing and drinking Goldschläger.
Chip trucks or diners are all over Ontario. The best fast food is poutine, a Canadian dish that originated in Quebec. It’s made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce. I could get very fat on delicious poutine!