A dear friend always referred to Toronto as The Big Smoke. I believe he meant ‘thought to be something special by those within and beyond’. Toronto is all that and more, and the CN Tower is the very first thing I look for as I fly into Toronto to confirm that I have indeed arrived once more in The Big Smoke.
I first set foot in Toronto in 1967 en route to Expo 67 in Montreal, and then again a couple of years later in 1969, as a guest of the T Eaton Company. Earlier that year, my sewing and modeling skills won me the opportunity to represent Saskatchewan at Eaton’s 100th anniversary sewing competition.
We stayed at the Royal York Hotel across from Union Station; and were wined and dined and toured in style. Most memorable to me was our evening of folk music at the Riverboat Coffee House, a famous hippie hangout in Yorkville. At the end of the week, all ten competitors strutted their stuff on the fashion show runway at Eaton’s flagship store on Queen Street.
Over the years, I have made many visits to and through Ontario both to Toronto and elsewhere in the province. Here are a few of my memorable Ontario moments:
• Tenting and swimming at Rushing River Park on Dogtooth Lake
• Cooling off on a very hot summer day scooting across Lake Of The Woods in bumper boats
• The long scenic drive across the top side of Lake Superior
• Celebrating human perseverance at the Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay
• An evening of theatre at the Shaw Festival on beautiful Niagara On The Lake
• The spray of Niagara Falls on my face, and its beauty in the colored lights at night
• Seeing paintings by the Group of Seven at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg
• Dinner at Honest Ed’s Restaurant followed by a play at the Royal Alexandra Theatre
• Seeing Harry Belafonte live in concert at the O’Keefe Centre
• Watching the Santa Clause parade out the window of our room in the Park Plaza Hotel
• Exploring two of Canada’s largest fairs: The Canadian National Exhibition in August and the Royal Winter Fair in November.
• Browsing the Farmer’s Market at the Don Valley Brickworks
• Late night adventures at the downtown TO art instillations during Nuit Blanche
• Sketching around TO during a plein air watercolor workshop: Lakeshore Boulevard, Queen’s Park, Botanical Gardens, and Riverdale Farm
• Admiring the grandeur of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and sipping tea at the National Gallery overlooking the Ottawa River
September 12th, 2017
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