A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘university of toronto

[URBAN NOTE] Four notes about change, architectural and waterfront and demographic, in Toronto

  • blogTO notes a pretty significant expansion of the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library.
  • Spacing Toronto’s John Lorinc argues that the plan for waterfront revitalization could be a gamechanger for Toronto as a city.
  • The Toronto Star‘s Laurie Monsebraaten notes that the number of young children in downtown Toronto is spiking.
  • VICE notes that Toronto housing has become as unaffordable as it ever has been.

[PHOTO] Nine photos of 1 Spadina Crescent on Doors Open

1 Spadina Crescent, an address located on a roundabout in Spadina Avenue just north of College, is a handsome Gothic Revival building now home to the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture. On the final day of Doors Open, the newly renovated building’s doors were opened to the public to tour, through galleries and up stairs and towards all of the spectacular vistas this building’s locations provide.

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Written by Randy McDonald

May 31, 2017 at 9:00 am

[URBAN NOTE] “U of T assistant prof reviving Mohawk language”

The Toronto Star‘s Jesse Winter reports on how linguist Ryan DeCaire, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, is taking part in an ambitious revival of the Mohawk language.

When Ryan DeCaire was a kid, he couldn’t speak his own language.

Growing up in the Wahta Mohawk Territory near Bala, Ont., he’d often hear his elders speaking the mysterious tongue, but he never knew what they were saying.

“You’d hear it spoken sometimes, and you always wonder ‘oh, that’s my language but I can’t speak it,’ ” he says.

Now 29, DeCaire has not only learned to speak Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — but he’s leading a revival of it in the heart of downtown Toronto.

In July, DeCaire joined the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and the linguistics department as an assistant professor. He’s teaching the first-ever Mohawk language classes at the university, and helping to revive a language that eight years ago he feared might die out forever.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto city staff want to see Victoria University pay property tax on Yorkville land”

Mike Smee of CBC News reports on the latest regarding Victoria University’s holding of extensive amounts of Bloor Street West retail property while paying few taxes.

The head of Victoria University tried to convince Toronto councillors the school can come to a deal with the city — without involving the province — about the controversial tax-free status of the land the institution owns in an upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.

William Robins appeared before the government management committee Tuesday to answer questions as city staff want the school to pay taxes on a parcel of land it owns on the so-called mink mile; the school’s tenants include names like Prada, Cartier, and Michael Kors.

“You can understand, I’m sure, that on the face of it, it looks as if some of the city’s most successful and lucrative retailers are potentially getting a break while we are struggling with our revenues at the city,” Coun. Janet Davis said.

While the school — better known as the University of Toronto’s Victoria College — does not pay property taxes on the land, it’s unclear whether it does on the buildings themselves.

“The lease arrangements are complicated,” Robins told the government management committee. “But this is very much part of the ongoing negotiations with city staff, I can assure you that.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “How six undergrads saved U of T’s rare books”

The Toronto Star‘s Ellen Brait reports on how first-year engineering students at the University of Toronto came up with a solution to save the books of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

When 750,000 volumes of rare books are imperiled by condensation, it’s time to think outside the building.

Since at least 2004, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – which houses books including all four of Shakespeare’s folios and a papyrus from the time of Christ – has had a condensation problem. The insulation inside the library has been slowly degrading and condensation has been building up, according to Loryl MacDonald, interim director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. This also resulted in fluctuations in the temperature, something that can be detrimental to books that need climate controlled environments.

“Over time with those types of conditions mould can grow and affect some of the rare books,” said MacDonald.

The library consulted numerous architecture firms and was told the same thing again and again: construction had to be done in the interior. This would require the books, some of which are in fragile condition, to be moved and the library to be temporarily closed.

Desperate for a different solution, John Toyonaga, manager of the Bindery for the library, saw an ad for a first year problem-solving engineering class and decided to throw the library’s problem into the mix.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “U of T students flock to ancient language Ge’ez course, funded in part by The Weeknd”

NOW Toronto‘s David Silverberg takes a look at the course in Ge’ez, a liturgical language of Ethiopia, newly offered by the University of Toronto thanks to funding by Ethiopian-Canadian rapper The Weeknd.

How does someone teach a language when we have no idea what it might actually sound like?

That’s one of the questions for U of T’s Robert Holmsted, who’s teaching the university’s course on the liturgical Ethiopian language Ge’ez.

In its first semester at U of T, his class has five undergraduates and five graduate students enrolled, and several more students auditing the class. They all realize that deciphering ancient languages can help us learn about a country’s ancient past.

Manuscripts in the language, which hasn’t been spoken in 1,000 years, date from as far back as the sixth century BCE. In fact, contemporary scholars of such ancient languages may not be able to ascertain the true sound of the language at all.

Holmstedt agrees that no one can truly know how centuries-old languages were pronounced, but we can get some clues from other Semitic tongues.

“Without recordings, we have to do our best to reconstruct the sound from Semitic languages,” he says. “We make an approximation and can never know for sure.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Victoria College pays no property taxes on pricey Bloor land”

David Rider writes at the Toronto Star about how Victoria University, a component of the University of Toronto, owns a Bloor Street West address but pays no property tax owing to mid-20th century legislation. This is news to a lot of people.

The owner of top-dollar land under a swanky Yorkville mall pays zero property taxes to the city — a multimillion-dollar anomaly that infuriated councillors fighting over “scraps” to fund vital services.

Victoria University, a federated college of the University of Toronto, owns 131 Bloor St. W. in the heart of the posh “Mink Mile” shopping strip. Revenue Properties leases the land and owns The Colonnade — 71,156 square feet of apartments plus luxury shops, including Cartier, Chanel and Escada — atop it.

The 1951 Victoria University Act exempts all the college’s land but not commercial buildings. The U of T enjoys the same exemption but voluntarily pays the city about $240,000 a year in lieu of taxes for a few small commercial properties.

City staff estimate the Victoria exemption cost taxpayers $12.2 million between 2009 and 2015.

“This (tax-exempt) designation was meant for property used for education — not to have a profit centre,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the local councillor.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 8:15 pm