A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for February 2017

[PHOTO] Looking west, Exhibition Place

Looking west, Exhibition Place

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm

[PHOTO] Bank of Montreal Head Office, night

Bank of Montreal Head Office, night

The Bank of Montreal Head Office on the northern edge of Place d’Armes is lovely.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Strike Against Hitlerism”

In this weekend’s Historicist feature, David Wencer describes for Torontoist an early protest in Toronto against Nazi anti-Semitism and fascism.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 11, 1933, people began gathering in the park at Wellington and Bathurst Streets. Most of the men and women in attendance were labourers, and many were there to represent Toronto’s predominantly Jewish garment industry unions. Some were there to represent various left-wing Toronto political organizations, which were ideologically opposed to Adolf Hitler’s fascist policies and treatment of German workers. Others were motivated to protest by local newspaper reports of pogroms in Hitler’s Germany. Carrying signs and banners reflecting a variety of interests and causes, the crowd paraded up Spadina to Dundas, then east to University Avenue, and finally up University to Queen’s Park, where thousands of others joined. The protest brought together Torontonians of many affiliations, united in their determined opposition to “Hitlerism” and the events unfolding in Germany.

In the early months of 1933, the Toronto press reported regularly on the developments which were taking place in Germany following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. These articles ran not just in the Yiddish-language Der Yiddisher Zhurnal and in radical leftist newspapers, such as Young Worker, but also in the four mainstream Toronto dailies. They described the increasingly restrictive conditions in Germany, and included reports of concentration camps and attacks on Jews in the streets. In their book Riot at Christie Pits, Cyril H. Levitt and William Shaffir write that Toronto’s newspapers “carried horrifying front-page reports of the atrocities against Jews during the first months of Hitler’s rule…In fact, because of the censorship of the media by the Hitler regime, Torontonians probably knew more about what was occurring to Jews in Germany during those fateful months than did most Berliners.”

A Jewish market on Kensington Avenue, January 14, 1932. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 26172.
A Jewish market on Kensington Avenue, January 14, 1932. City of Toronto Archives, fonds 1266, item 26172.

April of 1933 saw the formation of a new Toronto group, the League for the Defence of Jewish Rights (not to be confused with today’s Jewish Defence League), whose leaders included Rabbi Samuel Sachs and Shmuel Meir Shapiro, editor of Der Yiddisher Zhurnal. The League soon emerged as Toronto’s leading Jewish protest group, and co-organized a massive meeting at Massey Hall on April 2. This meeting, which drew the support of numerous non-Jewish politicians and organizations, included the development of a strategy for countering local antisemitic sentiment, and the organization of a local boycott of German goods. The League was also instrumental in the formation of a new incarnation of a national-level Jewish organization, the Canadian Jewish Congress.

In 1933, Toronto’s Jewish population numbered around 46,000, and was heavily concentrated downtown, near the city’s many clothing factories. In her 1992 book Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Jewish Labour Movement of Toronto 1900–1939, Ruth A. Frager writes that, by 1931, approximately one-third of Toronto’s gainfully employed Jewish population worked in the needle trades, and that “Jews constituted roughly 46 per cent of the people employed in this sector in this city.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[LINK] “Giant Tiger and other discounters in expansion mode”

The strength of discount retailers like Giant Tiger and Dollarama, as described by the CBC’s Dianne Buckner, reflects underlying weaknesses in the Canadian economy including falling wages.

Whenever Anna Maria Afable travels from British Columbia to visit her friends in Ontario, she makes a point to stop in at a Giant Tiger store.

“We don’t have it in B.C.,” says Afable, as she browses through the fashion section at a location in Barrie, Ont, the newest of the discount chain’s 200 stores across the country. “When we see a Giant Tiger, we drop by and see the price. They have very good prices, very low, affordable for middle-class people.”

Ian Ferguson lives in Barrie and is a Giant Tiger regular. “The prices are awesome,” he enthuses.

Shoppers like Afable and Ferguson are driving a boom in discount retail. Giant Tiger — better known in rural and suburban Canada than it is in big cities — will add 10 to 15 stores this year, with more to come. Meanwhile, Costco is midway through a seven-store expansion. And the biggest of them all, Dollarama, is adding 60 to 70 new locations this year to its 1,000-store national network.

“At Christmastime you’re going to put gold balls on your Christmas tree. Does it matter if they’re Ralph Lauren, or the ones you get from Dollarama?” asks Marvin Ryder, a professor of business at Hamilton’s McMaster University. “They both look the same.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “High rent could make Toronto a ‘generational ghost town'”

CBC News’ Kate McGillivray wrote about the risk of high rents driving young pepe out of Toronto.

Young people across the income spectrum who would like to build lives in Toronto are choosing to leave rather than pay the city’s ever-increasing rents.

For 27-year-old Arthur Gallant, that’s meant moving from Etobicoke, to Burlington, to Hamilton in search of an affordable apartment for himself and his mother.

“You can only move so far west until you hit water and there’s nowhere left to live,” he said in an interview with CBC Toronto.

Gallant is one of hundreds of people who reached out to CBC Toronto as part of our No Fixed Address series, which explores the city’s rental housing market.

Among the stories that have poured in, many are from native Torontonians like him, who would like to live in Toronto but find that apartments cost more than they are willing or able to pay.

“It’s a code-red, sirens-blaring kind of issue because we need to recognize the degree to which the standard of living is in free fall for younger demographics,” said Paul Kershaw, a University of British Columbia professor and the founder of Generation Squeeze, a campaign that raises awareness about the economic pressure faced by younger Canadians.

“Housing prices are squeezing younger people out.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto is getting an Anishinaabe restaurant”

Natalia Manzocco writes for NOW Toronto about how Bloor Street West is going to soon host a First Nations restaurant.

When Tacos el Asador vacated their perpetually-packed corner unit on Bloor for roomier digs across the street earlier this year, it turns out they were making space for a cuisine that’s hugely underrepresented in Toronto: First Nations eats. The new tenant at 607 Bloor West is NishDish, a cafe focused on Anishinaabe recipes, as well as products from First Nations and Metis producers.

At the helm of the new cafe is Anishinaabe chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who’s been catering under the NishDish banner for some time, offering dishes like wild duck and hominy corn soups, venison stew, buffalo chili, baked bannock and wild rice. Ringuette promises the “marketeria” will include “Indigenous sourced coffee, quick meals, or check out a vast selection of goods and food products sourced from First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Finally – free WiFi in Toronto is coming to Queen West”

Michelle Da Silva’s brief article in NOW Toronto notes that Queen Street West in Toronto will finally get some free public WiFi–indeed, already has it. Now for the rest of Toronto to follow suit!

Accessing free WiFi in Toronto can often mean ducking into a McDonalds, Starbucks or other fastfood chains. In “world class” cities, such as Tel Aviv, New York City, Seoul, Barcelona, Bangalore and Osaka, free Internet access is readily available everywhere.

The neighbourhood of West Queen West is hoping to change that. Starting February 23, anyone walking along Queen West between Niagara and Markham streets will be able to access free WiFi by logging onto FREE WQW WI-FI.

The service is being offered by the West Queen West BIA and Besify, a Markham-based Internet firm. This stretch of Queen West marks the first phase of a project. Rob Sysak, executive director of the WQW BIA, says that phase two of the project, which includes Queen West between Gladstone and Dovercourt, will launch in March.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 5:45 pm