May 25, 2009 in Writing
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May 25, 2009 · Writing

A weekend of gallivanting around Toronto: Doors Open 2009

It was that time of year again — buildings all over the city opened up to the public as part of Doors Open Toronto.

It was that time of year again — buildings all over the city opened up to the public as part of Doors Open Toronto.

CBC building

We started our day with a trip to the heart of Canada’s liberal media elite: the CBC.

Doors Open Toronto

As we walked through the studios of Radio 2, a producer simultaneously told stories and appealed for more public funding.

Doors Open Toronto

Next up: the stomping ground of my “boyfriend” George Stroumboulopoulos (spotted earlier wearing a studded belt, skinny jeans, and a towering hiking backpack.) The studio looks much cleaner on TV.

Doors Open Toronto

Zeidler Partnership Architects

Doors Open Toronto

Zeidler designed many of the most iconic buildings in Toronto: The Eaton Centre, Ontario Place, and the Sick Children’s Hospital Atrium are just a few. Their office on Queen and John is a cavernous three-story space, hiding behind the storefronts. Perhaps the most interesting part of this tour was seeing the impressive collection of books lining the shelves of the offices.

I visited this office two years ago and much had changed; most prominently, the interior featured less foliage and shiny new furniture.

Interlude: A public space issue

On Queen East, a company had peppered the area’s bike locks with advertisements.

@goldsbie @matthewblackett check out this public space violat... on Twitpic

The Spacing Wire geeks — I use the word “geek” respectfully — did some legwork and figured out the marketing company behind it. Luckily, this particular sign was crushed by a mysterious stranger who happens to look suspiciously similar to RT.

@matthewblackett not to fear: the sign was crushed by someone... on Twitpic

Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library

Doors Open Toronto

I have no qualms about declaring my love for UofT’s unfairly unpopular Robarts Library. The Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library forms the “head” of the turkey and is one of the city’s hidden gems, housing an impressive collection of old books which line the inside walls of the tower.

Coach House Press

Doors Open Toronto

We ended our day with a visit to Coach House Press, a printing/publishing company that’s housed in shack in a laneway that’s named after one of the poets Coach House published.

Coach House has an intersection with the radical student movement of the 1960s. During this time, the Press moved north to its current location which happens to sit just behind what was then the notorious Rochdale College — hippy Ground Zero. They printed the College’s diplomas which were handed over to any student in exchange for $25 and the answer to a skill-testing question. The presses were also used to print the patterns on blotter paper used for distributing LSD.

Owner Stan Bevington demonstrated the art of printing on his ancient press and showed off the stack of typefaces.

Deeper in the building, other staff members gave a walkthrough of the various stages of printing a book.

Coach House is unique in that it both prints and publishes books; it’s supported some of the most innovative Canadian literature, including many books which celebrate Toronto.

“Come upstairs, there’s a book you’d like. It’s called Concrete Toronto,” a friend told me. “Pssh, I have photos in it,” I replied (very smuggly.)

I was honoured to walk away with a souvenir:

Best venue of #DoorsOpen: Coach House Press

Toronto Reference Library

Day Two.

Doors Open Toronto

After two false starts — the TTC’s Hillcrest Complex wasn’t participating this year and the Toronto Archives was closed on Sunday — we made it to our first stop: The Toronto Reference Library.

But even here, we were disappointed to find out that there wasn’t a behind-the-scenes tour as we originally thought. As someone who’s in the TRL all the time, a self guided tour wasn’t exactly an exciting prospect. On the other hand, it did give me an opportunity to blend in with the other tourists and take some photographs without appearing like a creepy pervert.

Arts & Letters Club

Doors Open Toronto

We travelled down Yonge to the Arts & Letters Club, a century-old private club for “people who love the arts” — and are suitably WASP-y apparently.

We arrived just in time to sit through a Q&A with member and Globe and Mail columnist Warren Clement. He once served on the Globe’s editorial board and gave a rundown of how an editorial is produced (including an explanation of the wonderful phrase: the “royal we”).

He’s also a language and grammar enthusiast — he’s responsible for the Globe’s style guide — and the discussion turned to evolutions in Canadian English. Clement seemed to have no qualms about accepting change but other members had gloomier outlooks and tried to goad him into launching generational warfare.

“Is there a course at Ryerson that students can take to learn how to speak properly?” asked one curmudgeon. Heads nodded when someone else railed on the abuse of the word “like” by kids these days.

Membership for those under 34 is only $300 per year — perhaps a coup is in order.

Regent Park

The day ended on a rather underwhelming note. Regent Park is undergoing a revitalization project (briefly covered earlier) but the Doors Open tour didn’t offer much beyond architectural renderings and a very restricted tour of one of the completed buildings.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stick around for the demonstration of the green energy components of the buildings but apparently I didn’t miss much.

The full set of photos


This entry was written by Andrew Louis on May 25, 2009 and posted in Writing. It's tagged with , , , .