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Category Archives: Toronto art

Paintings of Toronto “"in the good old summer time”

Toronto in the “good old summer time” usually included a trip to the Toronto Islands. On a hot summer day when I was a child, my mother, brother and I often boarded a ferry to cross the harbour to spend a day beside the cool water of the lake. My mother always chose a place at the water’s edge, a short distance to the east of the Centre Island ferry dock. After my father finished work, he joined us and we all had supper on a picnic table under the shade of the leafy willows. Potato salad, green salad, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and cooked ham were our usual fare. My brother and I always pleaded to delay our departure until the “next” ferry. We rarely succeeded, but they were glorious days! 

6.  16x20 -- 1989  Toronto Skyline

View of the Toronto skyline from the small beach where I paddled in the water as a child. The painting was completed in 1989, the skyline having changed greatly in the ensuing years. Acrylic, 16” by 20,” on stretched canvas.

DSCN8104

Returning from Centre Island on a hot July evening in 1994. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” by 10”.  Collection of V. Eggertson.

1. 8 x10-2002- Baldwin Street -

A summer day in the Kensington Market, on Baldwin Street, in 1982. The Seven Seas Fish Company no longer exists. When I was a child, the market contained chickens in wire cages and wooden crates where long-necked geese poked out their heads. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” by 10.”

212.  24x36  1979  Dundas West and Huron St.

View gazing west along Dundas Street from Huron Street in 1979. The church in the distance, on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina is where the Dragon City Mall is now located. The Garden Place Restaurant served the best chicken and shrimp lo mein that I have ever tasted. Painting is 24” by 36” on stretched canvas.

                    51.  8x10  1998 Eglinton Flats, poplars

Poplar trees and shadows on a July evening in 1998, on Eglinton Flats near Jane Street and Eglinton Avenue West. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” by 10.” 

10.  16x20  1990  Humber River

View gazing south on the nature trail on the east bank of the Humber River in 1990, a short distance north of the bridge on Eglinton Avenue. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20”.

17.  18x24 - 1998 Humbewr Valley Wild Flowers

A jungle of wild flowers in the Humber Valley in 1998. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 18” by 24.”

52.  11x14  1989  Humer River

Humber Valley in 1989, gazing toward the west bank, a short distance north of Eglinton Avenue. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 11” by 14.”

60.  12x16  1992  house 535 Lauder Avenue

My boyhood home at 535 Lauder Avenue, as it appeared in the 1940s. Lauder Avenue is north of Rogers Road and west of Oakwood Avenue. Our house is to the left of the grocery store. Painted in 1992, acrylic on stretched canvas, 12” by 16.” 

110.  18x24  1991  Cayuga going thru Eastern Gap

The “Cayuga” in the 1940s, steaming through the Eastern Gap on its way across Lake Ontario to Port Dalhousie. This painting was created from archival photos. At least once during the summer, my family went across the lake on the ship. Painted in 1991, acrylic on stretched canvas, 18” by 24.”

115.  8x10  1992 Houses, Ward's Island, south side

Cottages on the south side of Ward’s Island. I spent a July day in 1992 over at the Islands and returned on the ferry with the completed painting, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” by 10.” 

117.  16x20  1999 Humber Valley

Two boys fishing in the Humber River in 1999. View is from the east bank, north of the bridge on Eglinton Avenue. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.”

                  116.  16x20  June evening in 1993, St. James, King East,

Taking advantage of the long evenings during the first week of July in 1993, I sat in the park to the east of St. James Cathedral and painted the view before me. The bandstand in the park created the foreground. The details on the tower were completed the following day. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.” 

169.  16x20  1981

View from Harbourfront in 1981, acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.”

168.  16x20  1994

View of Woodbine Beach in 1994, acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.”

172  16x20  1983

View of the St. Lawrence Hall from Front Street in 1983, acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.”

                     185  16x20  1993  St. James Cathedral

View of St. James Cathedral in 1993, from the alley between King East and Front Streets. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” by 20.” 

150.  18x24  1989 Spadina Ave, west side, south of Dundas

Gazing south on Spadina Avenue, south of Dundas Street in 1989. Acrylic on Stretched canvas, 18” by 24.”

145.  16x20  massonite  2005 Spadina and King W.

View gazing west along King Street from Spadina Avenue in 2005. The Backpackers’ Hotel is the building painted blue. The building is now (2015) being restored and will reopened at prestigious office spaces, with a restaurant on the ground floor. Acrylic on Masonite, 20” by 24.” 

209  16x20  July 1, 1994  Bloor and Runnymede

View gazing west on Bloor Street at Runnymede Road in the Bloor West Village on July 1, 1994.

250  8x10  2001  Queen and Spadina

Gazing east along Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue in 2001, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” by 10.”

               175  16x20  2006  massonite

Gazing south on McCaul Street from near Dundas Street in 2006, acrylic on Masonite, 16” by 20.” 

71.  20x24  2011 Queen and Spadina

View of the southeast corner of Spadina and Queen West in 2011, acrylic on stretched canvas, 20” by 24.”

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Paintings of spring in Toronto’s Humber Valley

Creating paintings of the Humber River Valley has interested me for many years. Watching the river meander through Toronto toward its destiny in Lake Ontario always inspires me. Though the valley is beautiful in all seasons, I believe spring provides the most dramatic vistas, as its ever-increasing rays provide unique lighting conditions that change daily. Along the banks of the river, the dazzling early-season sun illuminates the rich carpet of plants sprouting beneath the bare limbs of the trees, which have not yet burst into leaf. The foliage possesses endless shades of green, supporting delicate spring flowers of light pastel hues. Plants that eventually will wither as the heat of the season advances, bloom in all their restrained glory. Spring is the most highly anticipated season for most Canadians and being of a short duration, its warmth and blossoms are deeply treasured.

For many years I lived within walking distance of the valley and enjoyed strolling along its man-made trails and natural muddy paths. On warm spring days, I discovered a few advantageous locations where I could set up an easel to sketch. I then employed acrylic onto stretched canvas to create a finished work. Scenes away the well-trodden paths, where snow-white trilliums bloomed, were always a delight, as were the arrays of daffodils and tulips in the manicured flower beds of James Gardens. Later, the irises of many varieties and colours provided inspiration for paintings.

Each spring, I feel fortunate to enjoy the Humber Valley and capture a small part of its beauty on canvas.  Each painting is a memory of a special day.

84.  8x10   

“Tulips in James Gardens, Toronto,” painted in 1991, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” x 10.” This scene was painted near the parking lot that is entered by Edenbridge Drive, where each spring the colourful beds of tulips spread as far as the eye can see.

174.  16x20  1992

“Tulips—James Gardens, Humber Valley,” painted in 1992, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” x 10.” For this painting, I chose a small group of tulips in one of the flower beds. I depicted the plants as nature first produced them, untamed by man’s centuries of hybridization.

106  11x14  1984. Humber spring

“Trilliums Beside a Rotted Tree Trunk, Humber Valley,” painted in 1984, acrylic on stretched canvas, 11”x 14.” Wandering off the asphalt path, I discovered this patch of trilliums, the display of flowers extending into the background. However, the contrasting light and shadows were the focus of the work. Unfortunately, trilliums no longer bloom in the valley in such abundance as bicycle trails now scar the landscape. 

86.  8x10  2007 Trilliums, Humber Valley

“Humber Valley Trilliums,” painted in 2002, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8” x 10.” This small group of trilliums was one of the last that I ever encountered. It is now difficult to find Ontario’s official flower, except for a rare plant surviving in a hidden location.

187.  16x20  1992  Humber Valley

“Light and Shadow, Humber Valley Spring.” This is another study of lighting contrasts, painted in 1992. It is acrylic on stretched canvas, 11” x 14.” It is one of those amazing scenes only discovered by wandering off the beaten path.

12.  16x20  1998  St. James gardens

“Daffodils, James Gardens, Humber Valley,” painted in  1998, acrylic on stretched canvas, 16” x 20.” These are my favourite spring flowers, ones that I consider the most welcomed harbinger of the new season.

182.  16x20  1994

“Irises in James Gardens, Humber Valley,” painted in 1994, acrylic on Masonite, 16” x 20.” This painting was done in June, after the tulips had disappeared. The pungent scent of the irises never failed to enchant.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto, Press Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Capturing a Toronto winter on canvas

                       179.  16x20  2006

Capturing a Toronto winter on canvas is a daunting task. I prefer to sketch directly onto the bare canvas, placing an easel on the sidewalk, but this is not possible for winter scenes. For these paintings, only quick sketches were completed on site, the scenes then transferred to canvas and finished in my studio. Photos were employed to provide details. Many Canadians dread winter, but it also has its beautiful side, especially when the sun bursts forth in a clear blue sky following a snow storm. Even storms have a beauty, when the city is hushed and the noise of traffic dimmed.

Painted in 2006, the above view gazes toward the southeast corner of Spadina Avenue and King Street West. The painting is 16” x 20”, acrylic on stretched canvas. This is one of the scenes that has now disappeared. The car rental company on the southeast corner of the intersection, on the north side of the Winners Store, now contains an LCBO outlet. It is soon to be demolished to construct a high-rise condominium. The assortment of buildings to the right of the CN Tower has also changed greatly, with many more structures having been added to the skyline. When I painted this canvas, I had no idea that the view would disappear so quickly. I merely considered it a dramatic view of the CN Tower that I wished to preserve.  

                         144.  16x20 massonite 2008  looking south toward King W.

Painted in 2008, this scene is a view gazing south on Simcoe Street, from a short distance north of King Street West. The CN Tower and Ritz Carlton Hotel are evident in the background, behind the Roy Thomson Hall. The painting is 16”x 20”, on Masonite board.

157.  16x20  1991 Cecil St.

View of Cecil Street in the College and Spadina area. Painted in 1991, it depicts a man hauling home a Christmas tree. A young child bubbles with excitement at the sight of the tree. The painting is 16” x 20”, acrylic on stretched canvas. 

    73.  8x10  canvasboard  1975 McKenzie House, Bond St.     269.  11x14  2000  Mckenzie House

Mackenzie House on Bond Street, the home of Toronto’s first mayor. It is now an heritage property and operates as a museum, furnished in the style of the 1860s when the Mackenzie family lived in it. The left-hand painting is acrylic on canvas board, 8” x 10”, painted in 1975. The right-hand painting is 11”x14” on stretched canvas, painted in 2000.

                      206  24x36  2005 Queen West and John St.

  A streetcar travelling east on Queen Street West, the view gazing south on John Street. In the background, a partial view of the Chapters Book Store at John and Richmond is visible. The store closed in 2014. The painting is 24” x 36”, on Masonite, painted in 2005.

219.  8x10  2003  Queen &Spadina

This blustery winter scene gazes east on Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue. The tower of the Canada Life Building on University Avenue can be seen in the distance through the swirling snow. The Letteiri Restaurant on the southeast corner of the intersection is now gone and a Hero Hamburger outlet is on the site. Painted in 2003, it is 8” x 10” on stretched canvas. 

5. 16x20 --2003  View fro, Penthouse 4, 50 Camden St.

These snow-laden roof tops were on the north side of Adelaide Street West, between Brant Street and Spadina Avenue. View is from an apartment building on Camden Street, one block north of Adelaide. In the distance a westbound streetcar can be seen on King Street West. Almost all these buildings have been demolished to create the condominium, Brant Park. Painting is 16” x 20 “ on stretched canvas, painted in 2003.

261.  8x10  2002  Houses, Bellevue St.

View of houses on Bellevue Street, opposite Denison Square, in the Kensington Market. The Toronto Western Hospital is evident through the alleyway between the houses. Painted in 2002, the canvas is 8” x 10”, on stretched canvas.

262.  8x10  2004  Kensington Avenue

View gazing north on Kensington Avenue following a heavy snow fall in 2004. European Meats is evident at the head of the street, on Baldwin Avenue. Since this painting was completed, the European Meat Market has departed the scene. Painting is 8” x 10” on stretched canvas.

254  8x10  1999  High Park

   Sledding in High Park in 1999. Canvas is 8” x 10” on stretched canvas.

280.  8x10  2001

View of the Grange from Grange Park, 8”x 10”, on stretched canvas, painted in 2002.

In a previous post, I shared paintings that stimulated memories of my boyhood. For a link to this post:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/capturing-torontos-past-through-paintings/

For a link to paintings of the Kensington Market: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/capturing-torontos-kensington-market-in-art/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Capturing Toronto’s Kensington Market in art

147.  20x24  2003  Kensington amd Baldwin

The Kensington Market is the subject of the above painting. Entitled, “Early morning—the corner of Kensington Avenue and Baldwin Street—Kensington Market,” it is 20” x 24” on stretched canvas, painted in 2003. The European Meat Market, on the right-hand side of the picture, vanished from the market several years ago. In the background, the Western Hospital is visible. The painting depicts a large delivery truck blocking the street, its cargo of boxes and crates strewn across the roadway. The painting depicts a typical scene in Toronto’s Kensington Market.

During the summer of 2005, I spent the summer painting in the Kensington Market, preserving on canvas images of my favourite shops. Only a few of these stores remain in existence. In some instances, the shops still exist, but the store-fronts and signage have been altered. The canvases were sketched and painted on location, setting up an easel on the sidewalk. I met some very unique and interesting people who chatted with me as I painted. The canvases recreate memories of a summer that has passed into the depths of time, recalling a market that in some ways no longer exists. 

The paintings contain vivid colours, created in a hurried, rough style, almost appearing unfinished. Unsophisticated, they reflect a naive, simple quality that suits the subject. Kensington is indeed a fast-moving collage of of colour, activity and eccentricity. To paraphrase Ed Mirvish (Honest Ed), the Kensington is a place that may imitated, but never duplicated.

 

136.  20x24  2005 Moon Bean, St. Andrew's Ave.

The Moonbean Coffee shop on St. Andrew’s Street is contained within one of the oldest houses in the market, built in 1873. When completed, Thomas Peters, a labourer, moved into the house, likely as a renter. The painting captures a little of the diversity of people in the market—a punker, young children, housewives and shoppers.  

1. 8 x10-2002- Baldwin Street -

This small painting, 8” x 10” on stretched canvas, captures the bright signage and colourful awnings that were a hallmark of Market, the two fish stores being excellent examples. Many of the flamboyant signs on the fronts of the stores have since disappeared. This is a pity, as some of them were works of art. The Seven Seas Fish Company is now (2015) a clothing store. The Coral Sea fish market still exists, but its signage is no longer as bright and colourful, having been faded by the summer sun. 

137.  20x24 2005 Max ans Son, Balwin St.

The building where this shop was located was constructed in 1930.Max and Son” was one of the last of the Jewish businesses to survive from the earlier days of Kensington, when it was primarily a Jewish market. Max Stern’s son, Saul (Solly) came to work in his father’s meat market in the 1950s, after he graduated from high school at 16 years of age. He spent his entire working life in the store, retiring from the shop in 2009. I always purchased my Christmas and Thanksgiving turkeys from Sol. The only times that Sol’s wife assisted in the store were the last few days before the 25th of December. I often chatted with Sol when I shopped for my daily needs throughout the year. He was an interesting and intelligent man, with an understated sense of humour.  

The painting was created on a sunny July afternoon, the shadows betraying that the shopping hours were drawing to a close. The heat of the late-day sun bathes the buildings, awnings and sidewalk in golden light, the summer sun baking the concrete.     

139.  20x24  2005  Mt Market Bakery, original location, Baldwin St.

In 2006, this bakery contained one of the most colourful signs in the market. The painting is 16”x20”, acrylic on stretched canvas. It depicts the shop when it was located  at 172 Baldwin Street, prior to it relocating further west along the street to 184 Baldwin Street. Fortunately, the sign was relocated along with the business. The “My Market Bakery” closed in 2014 and another bakery now occupies the premises. Fortunately, the colourful sign was retained, although it is now badly faded. The building is an example of a store being constructed at the front of a residence. In 1921, it was the home of Mr. S. Libowitz, who later operated a dry goods store on the premises.

The location of the above scene is the north side of Baldwin Street, early on a July morning. A hint of the forthcoming heat is already evident on the morning breezes. Two women sit on a bench to chat and enjoy an ice cream, considering it too hot to indulge in coffee. A corpulent man passes them, silently lamenting that the cool treat is not included in the diet his doctor has imposed. A cyclist, her bicycle not included in the scene, rests before continuing her daily exercise. Only one person walks in the sun. Lost in thought, she seems unaware of the cooler path in the shade of the buildings, the woman with the umbrellas also ignoring the shade. 

141.  20x24  2005 St. Andrew's and Kensington Ave.

The Kensington Fruit Market is on the northeast corner of Kensington and St. Andrew’s Avenues. It is where I shop regularly for my fresh fruit and vegetables. I usually shop early in the day, before the market becomes crowded. The painting reflects this habit, the shadows revealing the time of day. A young boy, on his way to summer school, chooses an apple to consume later in the day. The worker in the shop surveys the scene, knowing that as the day progresses, he will not have the time to pause and reflect.

142.  20x24  2005 Akram's, Balwin St. origina building

This scene of Akram’s Shop, which specializes in Middle-Eastern delicacies, no longer exists. When attempting to add a third floor to the structure, the building collapsed. Prior to this tragedy, the signage on the shop was a colourful display that added much character and delight to the market scene. The store was rebuilt and remains a thriving business, but alas, the colourful signage was never restored. However, the hummus, baba ghanoush and other treats remain as delicious as ever. 

In the painting, a shopper departs the store, the only other person visible a punker on his way to Denison Square to enjoy the morning’s indulgence of a shared “joint.”   

135.  20x24  2005  New Seaway, Balwin St.

The New Seaway Fish Market is another shop that has departed the scene. Theodore, a Greek by birth, laboured many years in the Kensington Market. He finally sold the business and retired to the land of his birth, in the Greek Islands of the Aegean Sea. This was my favourite fish market when I first relocated to within walking distance of the market in 2000, until the New Seaway closed in 2011. The painting depicts one of Theodore’s employees holding the door for a customer, while a small boy strolls past, talking on a cell phone.  

138.  20x24  2005  Europen Meats, Baldwin St.     l

In 1959, “European Meats” arrived in the Kensington Market, but only occupied the premises at 178 Baldwin Street. In 1985 the business expanded into the other shops (#176, #174). The famous meat market was then contained within two of the old row houses, and the original site (#178) was used as the cutting and preparation room.

When this painting was completed in 2005, the store’s methods of operations had changed little from the earlier days of the Kensington Market. Transactions were conducted in metric and in Imperial measure. It required three members of staff to complete a transaction. Customers took a number from a dispenser located on the right hand side, near the door. They carried it to the counter and handed it to an employee, who lined-up the number sequentially on the top of the counter, and then, shouted the numbers in the order in which they were to be served. When a customer’s number was called, it was then handed to another employee, who filled the order. When completed, the customer walked to the front of the store to the cashier, who accepted the money and placed the meat in a plastic bag. The transaction was then completed.

This system was a part of the Europe of earlier days, but was amazingly efficient. Sign language was often employed by the customers to denote the number of pounds, or a half pound, as on a busy day the store was so crowded that it was impossible to be heard above the clamour of voices.

The store had excellent strip-loin steaks. The back-bacon, hams, and cold cuts were truly great. People came from all over the city to purchase meat there. On a Saturday it was jammed, and at Christmas time the crowds were unbelievable. Shopping there was an experience to be savoured, not a chore to be endured.

After the European Meat Market closed in 2013, Sanagan’s Meat Locker occupied the site. I must admit that I miss the bright-red sign that is evident in the painting. It is the loss of bright colours that I miss most from the Market that existed in the early years of the 21st century.

 

133.  18x24  2005  Kensington and St. Andrew's

The view gazes north on Kensington Avenue from St. Andrew’s Street. At the north end of Kensington Avenue is Baldwin Avenue. It is early morning and the fruit and vegetable stalls are being stocked and arranged for the day. A small boy pleads with his father to visit the ice cream shop on Baldwin Street, despite having finished his breakfast only an hour earlier. 

146.  18x24  2005 Kiever Synagogue, Ken. Market

On the northeast corner of Denison Square Avenue and Bellevue Avenue is the Kiever Synagogue. It was constructed as a place of worship by Jewish immigrants who fled to Canada to escape religious persecution in the Ukraine. Many of them settled in Toronto in “The Ward,” a district to the east of University Avenue. In 1912, they commenced worshipping in a house. In 1917, they relocated to the Kensington Market, on the present-day site of the Kiever Synagogue, where at the time there was a small house.

In 1927, they demolished the house and constructed the synagogue that exists there today. Designed by Benjamin Swantz, the Kiever Synagogue combines Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. It has two domed towers on the front, and another at the northwest corner, each topped with a Star of David. No tower was built on the northeast corner of the building, as this corner was not visible from either of the streets that surround the synagogue. Four different styles of windows grace the facade, and though they vary in size, all have Romanesque arches over them. There are separate doors for men and women, which lead to separate seating areas inside the sanctuary, which in the traditional manner, faces Jerusalem.

The painting depicts a Saturday afternoon, when the streets surrounding the market are crammed with the cars and vans of the shoppers that descend on the market on weekends.  

                      143.  20x24  2005  Sea Kings, Balwin St.

The Sea King’s Fish Market at 195 Baldwin Street, had one of the most colourful signs in the market. The sign that replaced it is considerably less colourful. After the New Seaway Market closed, I commenced purchasing my seafood here. In the painting, a young couple converse intimately in a shaded spot in the left-hand corner of the picture, while a woman and her grandson sit in the shade to rest. The boy’s dog barks to inform them that it is time to move on.

148.  20x24  2004 Augusta and Nassau

This busy scene is the intersection of Augusta Avenue and Nassau Street.

149.  8x10  2001 Nassau and Augusta

A close-up view of the shoppers at the market, on the southeast corner of Nassau and Augusta.

The appearance in 2015 of a few of the shops captured on canvas in 2005.

DSCN6388  DSCN6394

Sanagan’s, where European Meats was located (Left), and the Coral Sea fish shop on Baldwin Street (right).

DSCN6396

Shop where “Max and Son Meat Market” was located, which is now a fish market—”Hooked.” 

DSCN6392   DSCN6393

Sea Kings Fish Market in 2015 (left) and Akram’s Shoppe the same year (right)

                                     * * *

The Kensington Market has a fascinating history. In the 1790s, the site where today’s Market exists was within two parcels of land granted by Governor Simcoe to influential friends. The grants were referred to as “Park Lots,” Alexander Grant owning one of them and the other owned by Major E.B. Littlehayes. The name Littlehayes survives to this day in the name of a small laneway that extends north from Baldwin Street, east of Augusta Avenue.

The story of Kensington begins with George Denison, who in 1806 purchased a large parcel of land in the area and constructed a grand home, which he named Bell Vue. Bellevue Avenue was named after this dwelling. When the home was built, the Denisons were the only people living in the area. Their home was surrounded by dense forests, among the trees a few open meadows where in summer months wild flowers grew in abundance.

Bell Vue was on the site that the Kiever Synagogue occupies today, near the northwest corner of Bellevue Square Park. Denison ordered that the land in front of Belle Vue be cleared of trees to create an open square where his family could stroll. The promenade also provided an impressive setting for the home. Because Denison was a colonel in the militia, the square was employed occasionally for drilling troops or staging military parades.

In the ensuing years, the Denisons sold much of the land they owned to raise money for living expenses. Soon, streets were carved out of the wilderness and residential development followed. Because the land was located to the northwest of the downtown area, it was ideal for housing as it was within easy reach of the shops in the core of the city, but away from the city’s busy traffic and noise. Torontonians, mostly of British origins, purchased the houses.  

As the 19th century progressed, newer residential districts opened to the north and west of the KensingtonBy the dawn of the 20th century, the British immigrants who resided in the home surrounding the area where the Denisons had lived, relocated to the newer districts, on streets such as Palmerston and Euclid Avenues. Belle Vue was sold in 1889 and demolished the following year. The descendants of George Denison donated the square in front of their home to the city and today it exists as Bellevue Square Park. It is in the heart of the modern-day Kensington Market, and is the scene of many community events. 

Though there were Jewish families living in Toronto before the turn of the twentieth century, they were relatively few in number. After 1900, this slowly changed as Jewish immigrants from Europe increased in numbers. Many were from Poland and Russia. Most arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs, their meagre possessions contained within a few suitcases. In this decade, Toronto’s population was predominately of British, Protestant origins. It was an era when religious and ethnic tolerance was not a well-developed concept in society. As a result the Jews were mostly excluded from the mainstream institutions of the city, and thus marginalized.

Securing employment in the factories and shops of Toronto was not easy for Jews. To maintain a job in a Gentile workplace, it was necessary to labour on Saturdays. If they took time off work to worship on their Sabbath, they would lose a day’s income, though not necessarily their source of livelihood. Thus the Jewish immigrants preferred to earn a living in a manner in which they were independent.

In the second decade of the twentieth century, when Anglos moved out of the homes in the Kensington area, Jewish immigrants purchased the properties. Kensington was close to the garment shops on Spadina, where many of the Jewish immigrants had found employment. The small homes of the area, built on narrow streets, were inexpensive compared to other areas. To garner extra income, they constructed extensions on the rear of the houses and rented the space to other immigrants. Single-family homes were often subdivided to provide space for several families, thus providing assistance with the mortgage.

For many Jewish immigrants, the first method of starting a business was to sell goods from a knapsack on their backs, walking the streets to reach customers. When funds were available, a push-cart was acquired, allowing larger amounts of merchandise to be carried. Many chose the “rag trade,” because it was considered by others to be a difficult way to earn a living, so there was not much competition. Others earned cash by gathering bottles, cleaning them, and reselling them to factories. Others collected old sewing machines, repaired them, and resold them. They collected anything of value available and disposed of it for whatever price they could obtain. Some sold fruit and vegetables from their carts. All these enterprises required almost no capital to commence, and allowed the vendors to be free to worship on the Sabbath.

When they possessed the funds, some built stalls at the front of their small homes. Others opened stores in a front room in their house. While the men pushed their carts through the streets, in weather that was often inclement, the women sold goods from the make-shift shops and stalls to earn extra income for the family.

Eventually modest extensions were constructed on the front of the homes to create small stores, replacing the temporary stalls and shops. The Kensington Market was born. Merchants and their families lived above the stores or in rooms located behind them. Slowly, the district was transformed from a quiet residential community into a vibrant shopping area with a European “shtetle” atmosphere. Despite its similarity to ethnic or economic enclaves in other cities, such as the Lower East Side in New York, or London’s Whitechapel, Kensington was unique, “one of a kind,” and it remains that way.

Today, in the Market, many Victorian homes remain behind the storefronts. They can be seen if a person gazes upward at the peaked roofs and ornate trim of the old houses that still exist, though many have been severely altered. Augusta Avenue, Baldwin Street, St. Andrew’s Avenue, and Kensington Avenue all contain examples of storefronts that extend from the front of the houses to the edge of the sidewalks.

Today, the Jewish market has disappeared and the small shops of yesteryear have become ethnic stores—West Indian, Asian, Latino, Caribbean, East Indian, and Portuguese. There are also many “cool” shops that specialize in “twice-loved” (second-hand) clothing.

Note: much of the information for this post was derived from the book “The Villages Within.” It was published in 2010, but due to the rapid changes in the market, it is now in need of updating. Details of this book are available on the Home Page for this blog.

In a previous post, I shared paintings that stimulated memories of my boyhood. For a link to this post:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/capturing-torontos-past-through-paintings/

For a link to paintings of the Kensington Market: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/capturing-torontos-kensington-market-in-art/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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