Sunday, May 29, 2016

Doors Open Walk - Industry and Internment in Liberty Village

Teena and I have missed the past couple of years of the Doors Open weekend in Toronto.

The 17th annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf returns on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, 2016, offering free and rare access to more than 130 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city.

The Doors Open Toronto 2016 theme of Re-used, Re-visited and Revised will explore the adaptive re-use of buildings throughout Toronto's architectural history.

Today we corrected that by going on a free walking tour led by Richard Fiennes-Clinton of Muddy York Walking Tours. We have gone on many tours with Richard, who always leads an interesting and informative walk. Today's walk was on Industry and Internment in Liberty Village.

We met across at Hanna and Liberty St, across from the old Brunswick building. Here are Richard's volunteers who assisted with the walk.

Our first stop was by Lamport Stadium. It was an extremely hot day and Richard found the shady spots to stop for a talk.

I never knew but Lamport Stadium was built on the site of Mercer Reformatory for Woman, the very first women's only prison in Canada. Built in 1872, it was finally shut down in the 1960s due to mistreatment of the inmates and the inhumane conditions that they were forced to live in.

The Liberty Market was our next stop. It was a rail stop for the unloading and storage of parts and equipment.

The east side of the original building (to the right), and the maze of condos in behind.

Next up was the last existing building from the men's prison, that stood on the Liberty grounds, the prison chapel which was built in 1877.

Richard told us the history of the prison and how the chapel was used for storage by Inglis, while they had their factories on the site.

You can still tell it was part of a jail.

The west side of the chapel. You can still kind of see the Inglis sign over the door to the left.

The west side of the chapel.

A view of Toronto as we came up over a hill on Liberty near Strachan.

Our final stop was at the Massey-Harris offices. I've always been pleased that although turned into condos, the outside was kept in its original form. Richard told us of the history of the Massey family and business. I never knew that Raymond Massey, a famous actor from the forties and fifties, was the son of the wealthy Massey family.

The Massey Harris symbol, which sits on top of the plaque to the right of Richard, dedicated to those Massey employees who lost their life fighting in the first world war.

Cool window on the east side of the building

The east side of the building

The plaque out front.

The north and west side of the building

The creative Massey Harris molding on top of the north side.

Looking closely at the west side, you can see two extensions were added to the original offices.

The Massey Harris building sits in nicely with the newer buildings of today.

It was an enjoyable and informative walk, as Richard's walks always are and I learned a little more of the neighborhood where Teena and I live.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review - Ice Diaries by Jean McNeil

I have read a few books about travels to the Arctic but never one about the Antarctic. When I heard about Ice Diaries, by Jean McNeil, a writer from Nova Scotia, who was selected to travel to the Antarctic with a British scientific team, I knew I had to give it a read.

A decade ago, novelist and short story writer Jean McNeil spent a year as writer-in-residence with the British Antarctic Survey, and four months on the world’s most enigmatic continent — Antarctica. Access to the Antarctic remains largely reserved for scientists, and it is the only piece of earth that is nobody’s country. Ice Diaries is the story of McNeil’s years spent in ice, not only in the Antarctic but her subsequent travels to Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard, culminating in a strange event in Cape Town, South Africa, where she journeyed to make what was to be her final trip to the southernmost continent.

In the spirit of the diaries of Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, McNeil mixes travelogue, popular science, and memoir to examine the history of our fascination with ice. In entering this world, McNeil unexpectedly finds herself confronting her own upbringing in the Maritimes, the lifelong effects of growing up in a cold place, and how the climates of childhood frame our emotional thermodynamics for life. Ice Diaries is a haunting story of the relationship between beauty and terror, loss and abandonment, transformation and triumph.

The book was very interesting but more eloquently written than I expected. At first I thought it would take away from the adventure of the story but as I read on found, the eloquence actually added to it.

McNeil not only tells the story of being in the Antarctic but of the voyage and the personalities involved getting there. In most chapters, she also tells the story of her growing up in poverty and abuse in Cape Breton. I was wondering how this related to her trip to the Antarctic but it all ties together in the end.

There are many types of ice. Who knew! Each chapter starts off with the name and description of an ice type. The pictures are so breathtaking. Just for that reason, I wish that I had read Ice Diaries in book form rather than on a Kobo.

Part travel diary, part biography, part a study on global warming, part adventure, Ice Diaries is a book worth reading.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My May 2016 Canada Craft Club Delivery

My May Canada Craft Club delivery came today complete with two tasty sounding beers. I really enjoy opening up the box and finding just inside sitting on top of the beers, two tasting cards, giving the history of each brewery and the story about the beer. It makes me salivate a little just reading about them.

The two 650 ml bottles are each tucked into a protective Styrofoam tube to prevent breakage. One of the bottles is a Phaedra Belgium Rye IPA from Four Winds Brewing from Delta, BC, and the other is a Grapefruit Weekday IPA from a San Diego company, Rough Draft Brewing.

I'm looking forward to trying both.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beer of the Week - PEI Brewing Black Banks Cascadian Dark Ale

Teena was in New Brunswick last week and brought me back some craft beer from the east coast and included one from PEI Brewing Company, their Blank Banks Cascadian Dark Ale.

I have written about the Gahan House before. Wait, you think I've gone off topic but really I haven't.

Kevin Murphy started up a brewpub called the Gahan House in Charlottetown in November 2000. It was quite successful. My friends, Alfred and Christine, have eaten there and said the food is great. I know their beer is.

In 2011, Kevin teamed up with another businessman, Jeff Squires, to establish the PEI Brewing company, which opened up its doors in 2012.

So, how is the beer?

First of all, it is good to know what Cascadian dark ale is. The style uses toasted malt and hops that come from the Cascade Mountain Range which runs through British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, western Idaho and northern California.

Black Banks pours black in colour with a brown head. Nice lacings line the glass as I sip. The aroma has some coffee in it.

When I sip, I find the Black Banks starts with a little bitter chocolate, before the hops work their way into the flavour, with some nice piney tones. My sip finishes with a nice little bite. This is a very nice ale that I would have again next time I'm down east and find it on tap.

I'm glad Teena brought me back a couple. I'll surely enjoy the next one too.

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 315
Breweries 283
Countries 45

Spring Leaves on KC's Tree

I went to see The Nice Guys this afternoon (great funny movie) and on my walk home I stopped in to see KC's tree. It was May 6 when I was last there and the buds were out.

It's a gorgeous day and the park was jammed.

The leaves on KC's tree are full and healthy.

On the way out I took a picture of this on top of a Queen Street building by the park. Many will not know what it is but it is an air raid siren that would have been installed in the late fifties/early sixties, around the city during the cold war.

It was great to see KC's tree so healthy and people around it enjoying its shade.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review - The Ontario Craft Beer Guide

The Ontario Craft Beer Guide, written by noted beer experts, Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John came out very recently and I have had a chance to read it.

The renaissance of craft beer that has swept North America over the past thirty years has transformed the Ontario landscape, leaving over two hundred breweries, both great and humble, dotting the province. The diversity of craft beers we now enjoy is unprecedented in history and dazzling to behold. For the growing number of people who find their interest piqued, the sheer selection of brews can be intimidating. 

The Ontario Craft Beer Guide gives readers, whether bright-eyed beginners or aficionados of the highest calibre, a dependable field guide to the beers of Ontario. Noted experts Jordan St. John (Lost Breweries of Toronto) and Robin LeBlanc (The Thirsty Wench) tell the stories of some of Ontario’s most notable breweries and provide expert ratings for nearly a thousand beers.

I found it to be very well-researched and written. The book starts with the top ten craft breweries in Ontario (excluding contract brewers) and follows this with history of brewing beer in Ontario.In side boxes in the history section, LeBlanc and St. John list each list their top five favorites for various beer styles, (ales, lagers, porters, saisons, etc.).

The next chapter is about the history of buying beer in Ontario and where beer can be purchased now, giving the pluses and minuses of each.

This is where the research comes in. LeBlanc and St John have written a short history of nearly every craft brewery, bricks and mortar and contract in Ontario, followed by a rating of their top selling beers. I found the short histories to be very interesting.

There is also a chapter on recommended craft brew pubs listing so many places I would like to try.

I found this book to be very interesting and a handy guide for the future. If you enjoy craft beer, you will enjoy this book.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Beer of the Week - Soeur Catherine from Petit-Sault Brewers

Teena was in New Brunswick last week and brought me back a couple of bottles of Soeur Catherine from Petit-Sault Brewers, who brew out an old police station in Edmundston, New Brunswick.

The brewery officially opened its doors on July 27, 2014 by tapping its inaugural keg outside the doors of the brewery. Although it is André Léger, Mychèle Poitras and André Morneault who run the brewery, they do have the support of 80 local investors. Now that's community spirit!

Petit-Sault Brewers wanted to do more than just brew beer. They also wanted to tell local stories. For instance, Soeur Catherine is named after a real teacher from the area, Sister Catherine. According to a September 13, 2015, article from The Guardian, "People that had her as a teacher remember her as a very bitter person," said Leger. "Having an IPA named after her was very natural."

And how is the IPA?

First off, I like the stubby bottle and the label. They're both fun.

When I snapped the cap off outside, I found the aroma leaped out into my nose. It was quite citrusy. The beer poured amber in colour with a white head. Lots of lacings line the inside of the glass as I slowly make the beer disappear.

This IPA has a very nice bitterness. Although it was bitter citrus that greeted my nose, the hop bite in this is quite piney ... and extremely enjoyable! It starts with a hop bite that increases in intensity right into the very long finish. This is an extremely well-done ale that I am quite enjoying.

I'm glad Teena brought me back two. Going to have the second while I BBQ.

Thanks Honey!

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 314
Breweries 282
Countries 45

Friday, May 13, 2016

Email. Snail Mail. How About Beer Mail!

Teena spent the last two weeks in New Brunswick on business. In her travels, she found some interesting beer to pick up and bring home for me. The problem was it wouldn't fit in her suitcase along with two weeks worth of clothes.

So what did she do?  She wrapped them up, boxed them and mailed them home. The package arrived at our door today, beating Teena home by a couple of hours.

So, what did I get?

There was one can of Blueberry Ale from Gahan House in Charlottetown P.E.I, two Maybee Brewery IPAs, two Black Banks Cascadian Dark Ales plus two Reanimator Dopplebocks from P.E.I. Brewing, and finally two Soeur Catherine IPA from Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault Inc.

Teena arrived home as I was writing up this post and had in her suitcase a 750ml bottle of North Shore Regiment Barley Wine from Distillerie Fils du Roy Inc.

Thanks, Honey! So many great beers to try!