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Archive for June, 2009

Get to Know Toronto – Take a Heritage Toronto Walk

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Heritage Toronto Walks is a fabulous program that operates FREE neighbourhood walking tours from April – October. The walking tours take place on the weekend and on the occasional weekday evening and you don’t have to make reservations to participate. The walks are led by volunteers from Heritage Toronto and from partner community organizations, museums and individuals who thoroughly research and design the walks. Depending on the walk, there could be as many as 80 people participating, but there is no minimum requirement.

Most of us don’t really know this fabulous city that we live in. We take great pains to learn about places that we travel to, but we tend to ignore what is in our own backyard. This is a chance to play tourist in your own city. Think of it as a mini-vacation without a passport and the costs associated with travel. Here is a list of the walks for the season. When you click on a walk it will give you the details on the start time and place, end time and place, what you can expect to see and learn, the focus of the walk - architectural, historical, archaeological, natural heritage, or a combination, and the degree of difficulty you can expect. Please wear comfortable shoes, even for the easier walks, bring along water, wear sunscreen and a hat, and dress appropriately for the weather. The walks go on rain or shine with the exception of thunder storms.

For up to the minute details on upcoming walks there is an information line 416-338-3886. The message changes weekly and includes full descriptions of the walks coming up that weekend.

The Mount Pleasant Cemetery is Offering a Free Summer Concert Series

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Every Sunday from July 5th – September 6th the Mount Pleasant Cemetery is hosting a FREE classical concert series. Concerts will take place from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM rain or shine under a tent east off the Mount Pleasant entrance . The concerts feature students from The Royal Conservatory performing in string quartets, brass quartets, and woodwind groups.

The Mount Pleasant Cemetery is one of the most beautiful spots in the city with 205 acres of greenery, large flower gardens, and a tree collection that is considered one of North America’s finest arboretums. It is also one of Canada’s most historic cemeteries and the final home of many famous Canadians including former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s first female surgeon Jennie Smillie-Robinson, and pianist Glenn Gould. You may not be aware but the Mount Pleasant cemetery has an impressive collection of artwork in the form of sculptures and other memorials created by artists. Long a favourite for walkers and joggers, the Mount Pleasant Cemetery is open from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM from April to September for early risers to get their exercise in before heading out to work. It’s nice to see that they are making the space available for Torontonians to enjoy.

The Mount Pleasant Cemetery is located at 375 Mount Pleasant Road. If you are taking public transit take the subway to the St. Clair Station and then take the # 74 Mount Pleasant bus. For more information call 416-822-2288

Toronto’s Fringe Festival is the Best Theatre Deal in Town!

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Where else can you see some really great live theatre for $10.00? The Toronto Fringe Festival of course. That’s less than the price of a movie! From July 1 – July 12, 150 shows – drama, musicals, comedy, dance, improv, and performance art - will be performed by over 800 Canadian and international artists at 30 venues and spaces throughout Toronto. The Fringe is Toronto’s largest theatre festival and some Fringe plays like the Drowsy Chaperone have gone on to become internationally recognized and Tony Award winners.

The Toronto Fringe Festival is for everyone. There is even a FringeKids! venue where eight plays exclusively for children and families will be performed. Adults will appreciate the beer tent, two outdoor patios. and a free nightly Cabaret. Let’s face it. We’re all trying to save a buck these days. With festivals like The Fringe you don’t have to stay home. Check out the complete list of plays venues and map and buy your tickets and passes today. For more information call 416-966-1062.

Like most festivals, The Fringe depends on volunteers who assist venue House Managers with ticket sales and ushering, assist at the box office, and provide assistance to patrons and volunteers. Why not become a volunteer? In exchange for volunteering you will have a great time, a stamp to see a Festival performance or a free show if you are on a shift and working Front of House, and a free poster. If you have some extra money and would like to support The Fringe, donations are most welcome and needed.

Where Can You Dump Your Garbage in Toronto?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The Toronto civic workers continue to strike and the garbage is piling up. There are now 19 temporary dump sites that are open from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM.

1. Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, 51 Beechgrove Dr.
2. Christie Pits off Crawford St. at Bloor at Christie Sts.
3. Moss Park, off Queen St. E. at Sherbourne St.
4. North York Centennial Centre, 580 Finch Ave. W.
5. George Bell Arena, 215 Ryding Ave.
6. Eglinton Flats, 101 Emmett Ave.
7. Eglinton Flats, off Jane St. at Eglinton Ave.
8. Sir Casmir Gzowski Park, south of Lake Shore Blvd.
9. Sunnyside Park, 1755 Lake Shore Blvd.
10. Earlscourt Park, on Landsdowne Ave., north of Davenport Rd.
11. Etienne Brule Park, Old Mill Rd. at Catherine St., on Humber River
12. Caledonia Park, 1135 Caledonia Rd.
13. North Toronto Memorial Arena, off Edith Dr.
14. York Mills Arena, 2539 Bayview Ave.
15. Villiers Street, between Saulter and Cherry Sts.
16. Taylor Creek Park, off Haldon Ave.
17. Ted Reeve Arena, 175 Main St.
18. Scarborough Arena, 75 Birchmount Rd.
19. Wishing Well Park, off Pharmacy Ave. and Sheppard Ave. E.

In addition, there are transfer stations:
A. Disco Transfer Station, 120 Disco Rd.
B. Dufferin Transfer Station, 35 Vanley Cres.
C. Scarborough Transfer Station, 1 Transfer Place
D. Victoria Park Transfer Station, 3350 Victoria Park Ave.
E. Commissioners Transfer Station, 400 Commissioners St.
F. Ingram Transfer Station, 50 Ingram Dr. (24 HOURS)
G. Bermondsey Transfer Station, 188 Bermondsey Rd. (24 HOURS)

What is to become of our parks which have now been turned into garbage dumps? Rats, raccoons, and insects are a certainty. What are the long term ramifications of these temporary garbage dumps and why should tax paying residents who live near these parks/garbage dumps have to tolerate vermin and stench? Since the city has closed all of its Green P parking lots, why weren’t they all simply designated as garbage dumps?

Blame Mayor Miller for Toronto’s Strikes

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

This reason for the latest strike in Toronto is an absolute insanity! There are now approximately 24,000 inside and outside city of Toronto workers out on strike. I know that you will find this hard to believe but these workers get 18 paid sick days per year. To put this into perspective, there are 20 work days in a month, so these workers get one month less 2 days in paid sick days per year. What genius signed off on this ludicrous benefit? Employees who are sick almost one month per year need short term or long term disability, not sick days. Until now the employees have been banking their sick days and getting paid for them when they retire. The city doesn’t have enough money to keep doing this and they now want to eliminate the ability of civic workers from banking their sick days and cashing out at retirement. And so, in these challenging economic times, the civic workers who are very well paid and have incredibly generous paid benefits are now out on strike so that they can retain their right to bank sick days and get paid for them when they retire.

Torontonians are just livid and considering the vitriol in the media, it is safe to assume that there is no sympathy for the striking civic workers. We can’t count on our illustrious Mayor to take action because he is in power and maintains his power base largely because of union support. As a result Toronto is left without:
•    Garbage, recycling and compost pickup
•    Toronto Island ferries
•    City-run daycare centres
•    City-run summer camps
•    Community centres
•    Green P parking lots
•    City-run golf courses
•    Swimming pools
•    Water and sewer work
•    City-run museums and galleries
•    All city-run Canada Day celebrations are canceled

Here is a complete list of city services and what services disruptions you can expect. What can be done? Once and for all we have to stop giving into the unions and pass laws that declare that those who provide essential services CANNOT STRIKE. The residents of Toronto must stop being held hostage by ruthless and power hungry unions who have lost their grip on reality.

Toronto’s Best Farmer’s Markets

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Stonegate Farmers’ Market  on Tuesdays 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM from June 23rd – October 6th at 194 Park Lawn Road, in the parking lot of the St. James’ Humber Bay Anglican Church (Queensway & Park Lawn Road)

Sherway Gardens Farmer’s Market on Fridays 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM from May 1st – October 9th at Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre, 25 The West Mall (The Queensway & Highway 427)

Metro Hall Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from May 28th – October 15th at
Metro Hall, 55 John Street (John Street & King Street)

Guildwood Village Farmers Market on Thursdays 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM from June 11th – October 22nd at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 121 Livingston Road (Livingston Road & Guildwood Parkway)

Birchcliff Village Farmers Market on Fridays from June 5th - October 23rd at St. Nicholas Church, 1512 Kingston Road (Kingston Road & Warden Avenue)

Sorauren Farmers’ Market from May 11th – October 26th at Sorauren Park, 260 Sorauren Avenue (Corner of Sorauren Avenue & Wabash Avenue)

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market on Tuesdays from May 12th - October 27th at Trinity Bellwoods Park, 1053 Dundas Street West (Shaw Street & Dundas Street West)

SickKids MyMarket  on Tuesdays 9: 00 AM – 2:00 PM from June 2nd – October 27th at SickKids Hospital, 555 University Avenue
(between Gerrard St. W & Elm St.)

MyMarket Bloor Borden Farmers Market (Annex)
Wednesdays 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM from June 1st – October 29th at 365 Lippincott Street (Bathurst & Bloor Streets)

North York Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from June 4th – October 29th at Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street (north of Sheppard Avenue)

My-Market East Lynn Park on Thursdays 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM from June 4th – October 29th at 1949 Danforth Avenue (west of Woodbine)

Withrow Park Farmers’ Market from May 23rd – October 31st at Withrow Park, 725 Logan Avenue (South of Danforth Avenue between Logan & Carlaw)

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market from May 23rd – October 31st at Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue (South of Bayview & Pottery Road)

Historical St. Andrews MyMarket on Saturdays 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM from June 6th – October 31st at the Parking Lot next to St. Andrews Playground (Northeast corner of Maude & Adelaide)

Liberty Village MyMarket on Sundays 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM from June 7th – November 1st at Green P Parking Lot, 34 Hanna Avenue (East Liberty Street & Hanna Avenue)

Toronto East York Farmers Market on Tuesdays 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM from May 19th – November 3rd at East York Civic Centre - Front Lawn, 850 Coxwell Avenue (Coxwell & Mortimer)

Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market on Thursdays 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM from January 8th – December 17th at Dufferin Grove Park (One block south of Bloor on the east side of Dufferin Street)

St. Lawrence Market - Saturday Farmers’ Market
on Saturdays all year at the St. Lawrence Market, 92 Front Street East (Front & Jarvis Streets)

Make Your Reservations for Summerlicious Now

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Summerlicious is one of Toronto’s tastiest special events. It’s a fantastic opportunity to try out some of Toronto’s best restaurants at a fraction of the cost of their regular menu and that’s great news in these trying economic times. Get out of a food rut and try someplace new. If you’ve never experienced Summerlicious before, this is your chance. This is how it works. From July 3 – 19, 150 of Toronto’s finest restaurants will offer prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Prix fixe sounds fancy but it is just a French term for a menu with a pre-set price. All meals are 3-courses with a choice of appetizer, main course, and dessert. Lunch menus will be $15, $20 or $30 and dinner menus will be offered for $25, $35 or $45. These prices do not include beverages, taxes, and gratuities.

Make your reservations as soon as possible. Here are our top 10 Summerlicious picks for dinner.
1.    Auberge du Pommier
2.    Bymark
3.    Conviction Restaurant
4.    Didier
5.    EPIC
6.    Mistura
7.    North 44 Restaurant
8.    Prime
9.    Sassafraz
10.    Vertical Restaurant

Here are our top 10 Summerlicious lunch picks.
1.    Bangkok Garden
2.    Biagio Ristorante
3.    Big Daddy’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar
4.    Canoe
5.    Drake Hotel
6.    Joy Bistro
7.    Midi Bistro
8.    Romagna Mia
9.    Rosewater Supper Club
10.    Toula Restaurant

Here is the complete list of participating restaurants with their menus. So many restaurants, so little time! What are your favourites?

The 10 Best Canada Day Events in Toronto

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

1.    Celebrate at Mel Lastman Square located at 5100 Yonge Street. There will be live musical performances from some great Canadian talent. The highlight of the evening will be the fabulous fireworks beginning at 10:15.

2.    The Toronto Zoo is hosting special Canada Day celebrations, where else but in the Canadian Domain. There will be fun for the whole family with free face painting for children 12 and under, busker activity, and birthday cake served at 2:00 PM.

3.    Toronto Ribfest,  will be held over the long weekend at Centennial Park in Etobicoke located at 256 Centennial Park Road. Over 100,000 visitors are expected to turn out to enjoy the delicious ribs, live music, and the beer tents. There will be fun for the whole family with pony rides and carnival rides for the kids. On Canada Day there will be a great fireworks display at dusk.

4.    Harbourfront Centre located at 235 Queens Quay West will be hosting fantastic Canada Day celebrations for the whole family – theatre, live music, film, food, shopping, great activities for the kids, and a super view of the fireworks.

5.    Canada’s Wonderland located at 9580 Jane Street is going to have one of the most spectacular Canada Day fireworks displays beginning at 10:00 PM. Spend the day on over 200 attractions and 66 rides before the fireworks begin.

6.    Downsview Park will be hosting its annual Canada Day Celebration beginning at 11:00 AM with activities for the whole family featuring free amusement park rides, face painting, a petting zoo, and the fireworks at 10:00 PM.

7.    The Ashbridge’s Bay Canada Day fireworks begin at 9:30 PM. Arrive early to find a good spot and don’t forget your blanket or chair.

8.    The 3rd annual Multicultural Canada Day at Yonge-Dundas Square features performances, visual arts, crafts, dancing, information, and foods representing cultures from around the globe. Main Stage performances start at 12:15 PM showcasing groups from Europe, Canada, South and Central America, Asia, and South East Asia.

9.    The Canada Dry Festival of Fire at Ontario Place is one of Toronto’s most anticipated events of the summer. The dazzling displays of pyrotechnics begin at 10:30 PM.

10.    Canada Day Celebrations at Black Creek go on from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM featuring crafts, games, and music – fun for the whole family.

Has Toronto’s New Plastic Bag Law Caused a Decline in Customer Service?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

There seems to be some confusion among retail staff as to what exactly the new plastic bag law means. Quite simply, it means that if a customer doesn’t bring his/her own bag then you charge 5 cents per bag. If a client brings their own bag, it does not absolve the retail staff of the obligation of putting the purchased merchandise in the bag.

I had an unpleasant experience in a store last week because of the new plastic bag law. I was shopping in a popular discount retail store in Yorkville that shall remain nameless – they carry clothing, accessories, and housewares. I went to the cash with my purchases and the cashier asked if I wanted to purchase a bag. I replied that I didn’t need one and took my bag out and placed it on the counter. I proceeded to complete my transaction via debit and the cashier walked away with my items still on the counter. I politely asked her to please put my items in the bag and in a very rude and arrogant tone she informed me that she didn’t have to. I decided to draw my line in the sand and asked for a supervisor. No response. In the meantime people were lining up. I asked again for a supervisor. No response. I repeated my request 5 times until the cashier finally called for a supervisor, not out of a desire to comply with my request, but because the line was very long and I was not going to budge. The supervisor arrived and asked what the problem was. I recounted the story and she turned many colours of anger. With great poise she turned to the cashier and informed her in a very subdued tone that whether a client brings a bag or purchases one, the cashier will place the purchases in the bag. She then apologized to me, put my items in the bag and informed me that she would deal with the cashier later.

Each time I recounted the story to one of my friends, they have each told me that they have had the same experience. Where on earth does someone get the idea that because you bring your own bag according to the new law that means self-serve when it comes to putting items in the bag? And, what happened to the basic concept of customer service? Have you found that Toronto’s new plastic bag law caused a decline in customer service?

It’s Almost Time for Toronto to Blow its Horn at the Jazz Festival

Monday, June 15th, 2009

From June 26 – July 5, the Toronto Jazz Festival will once again fill our streets and venues with the fantastic sounds of jazz. There will be over 1,500 musicians playing at over 40 venues all over the city. This is a great opportunity for jazz aficionados to see some of their favourite performers and for those of you who are newer to jazz to discover some favourites of your own. Toronto’s Jazz Festival has been running for more than 20 years now and it is estimated that over 6 million people have attended. This is a fantastic showcase for Canadian talent and over the years as it is estimated that 85% of all of the performers at the Toronto Jazz Festival have been Canadians.

This year the headliners are both legends - Tony Bennett and Sonny Rollins. The Toronto Jazz Festival is for everyone. You don’t have to know anything about jazz and you don’t need a large disposable income. There are plenty of free shows featuring great talent. Everyday at Nathan Phillips Square there will be a free Lunchtime Concert Series at noon and the Afterwork Concert Series beginning at 5:00 PM. The performer that you see at a free concert this year could very well be a headliner in years to come.

Here is the complete schedule of events and the venues map. For information on tickets and festival passes click here

Jazz is an experience and here is your chance to take in one of the best jazz festivals in Canada. Come down to Nathan Phillips Square for a free concert, drop into one of the many bars, clubs, and restaurants that are jazz venues or buy tickets for the headliners or mainstage shows. There is something for everyone.