Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category
After reading Ann Hui and Jill Mahoney’s article in The Globe and Mail, I want the Ford brothers’ bluffs to be called. In spades. Live.
Mayor Rob Ford slammed Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Thursday, accusing the chief of playing politics and saying “if he’s gonna arrest me, arrest me.”
Mr. Ford’s remarks come after a war of words this week between the police chief and the Ford family. On Wednesday, Chief Blair accused the mayor’s friend, alleged drug dealer Alessandro Lisi, of levelling threats against him, and told reporters he was “deeply offended” by a video that shows the mayor using explicit language to describe him. Mayor Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, fought back by calling on the chief to step down, after submitting a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
“He’s embarrassed? How about embarrassing my family, my kids, my community, my friends, following me around for five months, spending millions of dollars using taxpayers’ money, coming into my office trying to politicize things and making announcements,” Mr. Ford said Thursday. “If anyone owes an apology, he owes an apology to the taxpayers for not telling people how much he spent.”
Mr. Ford’s comments are a reference to an ongoing Toronto Police investigation into the mayor, dubbed Project Brazen 2. That investigation has already netted the arrest of Mr. Lisi for drug trafficking and extortion related to a video that shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine. The Fords and Chief Blair have been at odds ever since the chief revealed in a news conference in October that Toronto Police have a copy of that video – telling reporters that he was “disappointed” – and said that police were investigating Mr. Ford.
“If he’s gonna arrest me, arrest me,” Mr. Ford said, before accusing Chief Blair of playing politics.
[. . .]
Councillor Ford, who is Mayor Ford’s election campaign manager and often speaks for his brother, said Chief Blair violated the Police Act by saying Mayor Ford’s friend, alleged drug dealer Alessandro Lisi, warned officers that “your guy is going to get his” after his arrest on an extortion charge last fall. Police interpreted the remark as an apparent threat that foreshadowed a complaint the councillor later filed against the chief.
“He kept saying, ‘I don’t speak on ongoing investigations,’ but when it comes to Rob Ford there’s two rules: ‘I’ll speak all day long.’ And he just keeps breaking the law. And who holds this character accountable?” Councillor Ford said on AM640 radio on Thursday, later saying he has never spoken to Mr. Lisi and calling the chief’s comments “a lie.”
Facing south at Queen and Lisgar, a minor intersection east of Queen and Dufferin, and looking past the old Canada Post office slated to become a theatre centre, you can see a rising nest of condos that won’t be shown on Google Maps’ street view. They didn’t exist when Google last went through town.
In today’s Toronto Star, fashion journalist Jeanne Beker celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, one of the largest malls in Canada and at the time one of the most forward-thinking. Jeanne Beker has fond memories of her youth.
For the record, Yorkdale is also aging and in need of revitalization. On this theme, see also my 2005 reflection on Yorkdale as an arcology and my 2009 imagining of Yorkdale as an artifact of a future that didn’t quite happen.
With the first section of the Spadina Expressway construction underway just a couple of minutes from my house, Yorkdale became our new shopping mecca, and while my mom went for groceries at the big “jet-age” Dominion store, (which boasted an underground conveyor belt that carried your purchases to a pick-up station in the southwest parking lot) I’d window shop, exhilarated by all the sparkling new stores and thrilled that, finally, Eaton’s and Simpson’s — those two downtown institutions — were both practically in my own backyard.
Then there was the fact that Yorkdale actually housed cinemas! Famous Players’ Yorkdale Theatres was the first dual auditorium facility of its kind, and the first cinema in Canada to be located in a shopping centre. Heading out to Yorkdale in our 1959 Chrysler Imperial for a movie and shopping on a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon brought new meaning to weekends, and provided welcome new oomph to my previously drab suburban world.
In many ways, Yorkdale helped define the ’60s for me, and I had at least a few “coming-of-age” experiences there. Watching Beach Blanket Bingo in 1965, the year I officially became a teenager, felt like a rite of passage. And then there was the afternoon I went shopping for my first bra, at a store called Young Canada. The coveted undergarment was dubbed a “training bra,” and was comprised of a flat band of jersey in the front, attached to those very grown-up bra straps I yearned to show off under my white shirts. After the life-changing purchase, I cruised through the glorious corridors of Yorkdale, proudly clutching my Young Canada bag, and feeling as though I’d finally arrived.
Within a couple of years, my girlfriends and I were organizing group outings to the shopping centre, thanks to the Dufferin bus. If we weren’t taking in a movie, or ordering “Kishka à la Tony”— described on the menu as “stuffed derma with brown gravy” and priced at 45 cents — at the Noshery Encore restaurant, the lure of all the costume jewelry and cosmetic counters at our beloved Yorkdale provided us with hours of entertainment.
All I’ll say is that successful bookstores–or at least surviving bookstores–are ones that have diversified beyond selling only books. For a generation, the World’s Biggest Bookstore filled a niche until that niche disappeared, something not aided by the very large floorspace of the bookstore in the Yonge and Dundas area where rents have been rising. Blaming the company for not supporting a store that wasn’t likely to make money no matter what was done when–in fact–the company did support the store for quite some time is nonsensical to me.
Rumours circulated the entire time I worked there about the future of the store. Rumour always had it that Indigo’s CEO, Heather Reisman, wouldn’t agree to renew the lease for the store. The former Coles flagship store, the property was owned by the Cole family who make a tidy sum charging rent for the massive downtown location. However, running a bookstore (especially one of that size) is a losing venture in today’s world of eBooks and digital magazines and the Cole family was wise to sell off the property.
I’m guessing the trouble really started when eBooks starting becoming a big thing. People were enamoured with the new technology and the ease of carrying around a library of books without the weight, but that meant that brick and mortar stores were becoming obsolete. While the United States saw the closing of Borders bookstores across the country, Canada fared better with many of the large format Chapters and Indigo stores remaining open. Reisman’s attempts at diversification of products sold have thus far kept most of the stores in the chain from succumbing to the same fate. However, in the process, she has partially abandoned books.
While we had an impressive selection of books, magazines and DVDs, we couldn’t say the same for our gift merchandise. In fact, when I started there we had no gift merchandise, but rather a clearance section where all the unsellable gift items from other Indigo stores came to die. This clearance section was the bane of everyone’s existence because it was hell to keep tidy and there would always been customers who were dissatisfied with the heavy discount they were already getting and demand more.
When Reisman brought in more gift items to keep brick and mortar stores going, we started getting first hand merchandise as well as an attempt to prove to everyone that we could survive as a book and gift store. But the truth was, we couldn’t.
[. . .]
To be honest, I never actually suspected that the company would decide to close the store down, regardless of the trouble we had keeping up. I always, naively, suspected that the company would finally realize that we were unlike their other cookie-cutter stores and would hold us to different, fairer standards. At the same time, having been under their regime for five years, I knew in my heart of hearts that the store would never be given the same love and attention as the other stores. We were the black sheep of the Indigo family, the odd man out. We were an embarrassment and it seemed like the company was going out of its way to make us fail just so they’d have a reason to shut us down.
Torontoist’s Jamie Bradburn explains how the Toronto Public Library responds to requests that particular books be withdrawn from circulations. (Apparently Canada’s better than the United States, owing to the protection given library collections by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the strong opposition of professional library associations to censorship.)
Since 2000, around 100 requests for reconsideration have been filed—and only nine items have been removed. The most recent title to be pulled, Date Rape: A Violation of Trust, was withdrawn from the video collection in 2012 because it, “while well-intentioned, reinforces stereotypes and lacks diversity and is, therefore, not appropriate as an educational tool in Toronto’s multiracial and multicultural environment.” Other titles have vanished for reasons including libel threats, unreliable accounts of Romanian history, bad advice on passing business accreditation exams, outdated information on dairy farming—and being poorly produced knockoffs of Pixar films made by the highly esteemed Video Brinquedo studio (What’s Up: Balloon to the Rescue).
Other reconsidered titles find new homes within the library system. Tintin in the Congo, for example, which features controversial depictions of Africans, was moved from the children’s collection to the adult graphic novel section in 2010. Not all suggestions from complainants can be acted upon: one 2003 complaint about eye weekly urged the library to provide copies sans escort ads. And in 2006, a patron requested that a rabbi review the content of Sarah Silverman’s film Jesus is Magic.
The most popular requests for consideration between 2000 and 2013? It’s a tie between Maxim magazine (2005 and 2006; one request suggested users be IDed lest it fall into the hands of innocent youth) and Robert Kaplow’s The Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun, a raunchy parody of The Cat Who… mystery series (2005 and 2007).
Library staff have not noticed trends in the complaints, and are proud of how few requests for reconsideration come in. Vickery Bowles, director of Collections Management and City-Wide Services, feels this reflects Torontonians’ “appreciation for the breadth and depth of our collections and the fact we are living in a large urban setting.” She believes that the public senses that “intellectual freedom in the public library setting is very important” and that the widest variety of available materials should be offered.
Yesterday, Language Hat featured some Canadian Content.
A Wordorigins post on the Mohawk origin of the toponym Toronto, deriving it from “tkaronto, meaning ‘trees standing in the water,’” led me to ask for an explanation of the morphology of tkaronto, i.e., how exactly it means ‘trees standing in the water.’ Since Dave Wilton didn’t know, I thought I’d see if any of my readers do.
I was the first in the comments, linking to a 2013 Torontoist post by Patrick Metzger.
[I]t’s virtually certain that the name “Toronto” is rooted in the Mohawk language and in a location about 130 kilometres north of the present city. Historical evidence tells us that the term is from the Mohawk “Tkaranto,” meaning “where there are trees standing in the water.” It originally referred to the Narrows at Orillia, where Lake Simcoe empties into Lake Couchiching and where natives had for centuries placed saplings in the water to trap fish.
Around 1680, Lake Simcoe appeared on a French map as “Lac de Taronto.” From there the name migrated southward, with the water route from Lake Simcoe to Ontario becoming the Passage de Toronto and the present Humber River, picking up the appellation Rivière Taronto. In the mid-18th century, the French updated the spelling and doubled down on their commitment to the word by changing the name of the fort at the foot of the Humber from Fort Rouillé to Fort Toronto.
Another commenter linked to an article going into greater length. about the origins of the word
After about an hour’s drive, one reaches the city of Barrie on the northwest arm of Lake Simcoe. At over 280 square miles, this large lake is somewhat dwarfed by the Great Lakes that lie to the north, south, and west. Driving another half hour northeast, passing through the town of Orillia, one reaches the northern tip of the lake where the waters of Lake Couchiching pour into Lake Simcoe.
Now known as the Atherly Narrows, these rapids are an ideal place for fishing and have been the site of a fish weir for three or four thousand years. Several native peoples have controlled this area. When the French missionaries arrived, it was Huron land. These missionaries recorded and fell victim to the war in which the Iroquois defeated the Hurons in the seventeenth century. The Mohawks, a member nation of the Iroquois confederacy, then moved north into the area for a time until the Ojibway, in their turn, pushed them back south.
While the Mohawks were still in residence, and before the English arrived, a French cartographer adopted the Mohawk name for the fish weir at the north end of the lake. The Mohawks simply referred to the weir as “where there are trees standing in water.” Their word for poles or trees is ront, and the ancient structure was called tkaronto. The cartographer decided to adapt the name for the entire lake, so in a French map published in 1680, the large body of water was labeled Lac Toronteau.
Other comments at Language Hat were interesting, trying to provide a full etymological breakdown of the word (apparently Iroquoian languages are complex that way), wondering whether the word was originally Huron not Iroquois, and speculating as to how the word lost its “k”. Great stuff.
Incidentally, a quick Googling suggests that “Tkaronto” gave its name to a 2007 feature film about two people of First Nations background living in Toronto and to a 2011 work of street art. It still evokes the past in a community still quite young.
The posts date from July of last year, but their issues remain relevant.
- The first describes an effort by residents of Kensington Market to crowdfund studies and activism opposing new condo and shopping developments in their area.
- The second, published after news of the eventual sale of the Honest Ed’s building, celebrates the aging megadiscount store’s history.
- The third takes a look at the Hotel Waverly, a hotel at Spadina and College that has served as something like Toronto’s version of New York City’s Chelsea Hotel.