Island In The Sun

For most of the last 4 years, Helen and I have met once a week to spend a day on a trail – either near or far. We’re either chipping away on a big project – like our current Trans-Canada journey – or occasionally we will *play hookey* and go off on an unrelated adventure.

That’s exactly what we did this week.

Georgian Island NP 2

There are 5 National Parks in Ontario*, and in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, I have a goal to visit 4 of them.  Each of these 4 parks are within a reasonable drive from Toronto while the 5th is at least a 2-day drive away.

Last month, Helen and I visited Point Pelee and this week it was Georgian Bay Islands – the smallest of Canada’s National Parks.

It was a beautiful day for the 2-hour drive and the 15-minute boat ride from the mainland to Beausoleil Island** which is the largest of the 63 islands that make up the park.

These are some of the pictures from this week’s excursion.

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At the dock to catch the DayTripper boat (on the left)

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On Beausoleil Island

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The rock terrain on the island is typical of the Great Canadian Shield – the world’s largest area of exposed Pre-Cambrian rock, which is 2.5 to 4 billion years old.

I’m completely baffled as to why I find this stuff so interesting now, when it bored me to tears as a teenager. Who can even wrap their head around a billion years anyway?

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Helen strolling across the smooth Pre-Cambrian rock

The mosquitoes were fierce and we had plenty of bites to show for our outing, but we also saw birds diving into the water to catch fish, turtles and snakes.

Now, snakes will never be on my must-see list, but surprisingly one snake sighting proved to be the highlight of my day.  He was a big guy (by my standards – anything bigger than a worm is a large snake) and swimming just off shore.

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He had caught a fat bloodsucker in the weeds and proceeded to lunch on it on the edge of the shore.  I was too terrified that it was going to come out of the water for me to get close enough for a reasonably clear photo … but it gave me joy to see an arch-enemy destroying another arch-enemy.

Please don’t judge me.

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* There is actually a 6th National Park in Ontario with last year’s creation of the new Rouge Urban National Park on the eastern edge of Toronto.  I visit the Rouge on a regular basis so I’m not counting it.

** Beau Soleil means “good sun” in French.  It’s pronounced bow (as in bow tie) so-lay.

Post title was taken from the song of that name by Weezer

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Things I Like, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 89 Comments

butterfly ways

I don’t often re-blog a post, but I’d like to make an exception with Mary’s post about butterfly doors.

Mary is a Toronto blogger and her view of our city is always a bit different and definitely interesting.

This post about a neighbourhood that recently painted their garage doors with murals of a butterfly theme is clearly one of those posts that’s both different and interesting.

Since today is Thursday Doors, it seemed like a perfect time to profile Mary and her blog. I hope you enjoy.

as I walk Toronto

street art on a low retaining wall that says butterflyways in bright pink letters

Garrison Creek park is a small strip of green between the railway tracks an alley of garages. Many of the garage doors were painted last weekend with murals all on the theme of butterflies.  There are about 30 paintings and they are the work of a number of different street artists.   The project was curated by Nick Sweetman and it is part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway project; StreetARToronto was also involved.

If you don’t like pictures of butterfly murals, I suggest that you skip this post because I’m sharing photos of a lot of the garage doors!  In no particular order here they are:

mural of an orange and blue snake loosely tied in a knot around a purple tree, blue butterfly hovers in front of snake's face, mural by Cruz 1 Artist: Cruz1

Three black line drawings of a butterfly, with details and shadowing, very realistic looking, on a fence Artist: unknown (by me)

Artist: blackburn

many whimsical butterflies and caterpillars Artist: J. McKie

pink water lily painted on a black background Artist: C Mazzulla

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a possum and a butterfly by wales Artist: wales

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a person's face in profile, with a butterfly spread over the back part of the head Artist: 2US & XYZ (not positive about that)

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterfly ways project - very stylized abstract picture of a butterfly and a flower Artist: XYZ & MAC

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is by mska and is a brown butterfly and mushrooms. on the right is an hibiscus flower by horus taffytats Artist: (left) mska, (right) horus, tuffytats

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is a monarch butterfly landing on pink flowers, on the right is a riot of blues and greens Artist: (left) braes, (right) C. Perez

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a pink and purple butterfly that looks like a face, with daisies Artist: @anyamielniczek

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a black butterfly with orange and blue highlights, on a green leaf Artist: P.S

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Saving The Water Works

Our recent travels on the Trans-Canada Trail took us to Penetanguishene – pronounced Pen-ah-tang-gwish-een – where we made a rather interesting find.

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It was a cute old building with the windows and doors replaced with large photographs – I’m assuming from this town’s past.

The entrance to the Water Works shows the iconic view from the top of the hill on Main Street looking down to the harbour below.

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What little history I could find about this structure, indicated that it used to be a water pumping station for the developing town.  It was operated manually and required an attendant onsite 24 hours a day.  A small room with a cot and stove for heat was built in the pumping house for the comfort of the attendant on duty.

As recently as 6 years ago, the building was being considered for heritage status, but there were concerns that it had become too derelict and couldn’t be salvaged without considerable cost.  The foundation was crumbling and vandals had broken most of the original windows.

water works building Penetanguishene

An undated photo found on waymarking.com

Obviously the building has since been rescued, but I could find no information about the restoration.  Based on some research I’ve done, it appears that the photos gracing the sides of the building are of local athletes who gained international recognition in their field of sport.

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An interesting and unexpected find in a pretty little town!

This post is brought to you by Thursday Doors,  is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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Beware! Nature Ahead

What do you do on a gray rainy day when you’re feeling dark and gloomy?

Well, if you’re like I was yesterday, you’d spend it overdosing on jelly beans while watching CraveTV.  I preferred not to have a repeat of yesterday, so today in an attempt to evict the pity-party that had moved in, I forced myself to go outside and face the unpromising day.

My target destination was an inner city ravine called Glen Stewart that I had read about but really didn’t know the area.  What could be a better mood booster than getting outdoors and walking in nature? – rain or no rain!

Glen Stewart Ravine2

The gods were smiling upon me because not only did the rain stop when I approached my destination, but I actually found street parking directly in front of the entrance.

This day was starting to look up.

I discovered a richly verdant valley and the only noise I could hear was from the many birds arguing up in the trees … at least from the volume, I assumed they were arguing.

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Squirrels, birds, and the sounds of burbling water was all I could hear.  The self-absorbed pout I had felt since yesterday was starting to slide off my shoulders as I ventured further into the deep green city forest.

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However, as I stopped to take numerous photos, I suddenly noticed something that made my skin crawl.  Was that what I thought it was?!!

OMG!!  Wormy things!  Hundreds and thousands of tiny crawling black wormy things EVERYWHERE!!

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I did a quick mental check to confirm I hadn’t actually touched anything, and then firmly instructed myself to stay away from the railings.  I’ll respect my distance, and I expected them to respect their’s.

I continued – although with considerably more caution now.

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It was still good.

Humidity hung in the air and everything was such an impossible intensity of green. If it wasn’t for the vegetation, I could almost imagine myself in a rain forest near the equator.

I was starting to feel a little warm and loosened up the scarf around my neck.

Wait! What’s this?!!

GAAAAAAHHHHH!!!  There were wormy things on my scarf!!

Trying to pretend I was an adult and NOT panic, I started to strip off my sweater and scarf while maintaining a minimum level of decorum.  I think.

In my current state of ALMOST-not-panic, I couldn’t be entirely sure I was successful.

Glen Stewart Ravine9

As I’m frantically trying to brush all the little cling-ons off my sweater and scarf, I notice them on my legs.  Holy-Crap-On-A-Stick!!

Obviously they were falling out of the trees onto me.  In self-defense, I opened my umbrella and practically sprinted back to the car.  My suspicions were confirmed when I subsequently found more cling-ons on my umbrella.

I threw everything into the trunk of my car and then – trying to appear reasonably sane – I approached a nearby couple and asked if there were any wormy things on my back or in my hair that I couldn’t see.  By this point my hair was doing an Einstein impression caused by me frantically trying to brush imagined wormy things off my head.

With a smile they assured me I was ok, but they both laughed with the comment ‘they’re so much smaller than you are’.

My mother would have said that.  So would my husband.

But I don’t know why anyone would say that, because I doubt it’s ever made anyone feel better.

Glen Stewart Ravine7 As I’m driving away, I happened to look down and OMG! there was one on my arm … and I nearly drove into oncoming traffic trying to get it off me.

Nature 1.  City Girl 0.

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It’s All About The Hair

I think most women would agree that they have a love-hate relationship with their hair. I’m not any different and would argue that perhaps my relationship is even more complicated.

You see, I’m an adventurous person, and not surprisingly, I have the same attitude about my hair. My philosophy has always been that hair is temporary.  Everything can eventually be fixed and so I’ve recklessly tried experiments with perms and hair styles.

1985

1985 sporting a perm and all my natural hair colour.  Those were the days!

Then about a dozen years ago I met a Master Colourist by the name of Naz. She was a refugee from Iran and she knew hair.

By this point, I was frustrated with my fine hair that stubbornly would not be what I wanted it to be.  With 4 siblings, how was it that I could be the only one without curly hair?

My relationship with Naz started off innocently enough.  I gave her carte blanche to suggest new things to do with my hair and I rarely resisted her ideas.  She worked her magic and I was happy.

We reached a critical point the day I asked her to buzz all my hair off. I was about to head out to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro and the thought of unwashed greasy hair for 7 days on the trail filled me with dread.  I’d rather have no hair than dirty hair.

After careful negotiation, we agreed to leave *some* hair and she buzzed my head.

2009 Serengetti

2009 Tanzania – I found out later that Naz had been reprimanded by the owner of the salon for agreeing to cut all my hair off.

From that point on however, Naz became bolder and edgier in her suggestions.

Electric blue streaks, white bangs against my dark brunette, feathers, extensions, and eventually blonde.  I did them all.

Did you know that to take a brunette to blonde, the colour needs to be stripped from the hair to its *base* tone under the hair’s pigment?

My first *oh dear* moment occurred during that process.  We discovered to my horror that my base colour was orange.  That explained all those years of fighting a copper undertone in my hair.

… but Naz was always in control and knew what to do.

I did not transition easily from being a brunette to a blonde.  There was an involuntary cringe every time I caught my reflection in a mirror.  It just wasn’t *me*, so after 2 years as a blonde, I decided to embrace my natural colour again for the first time in over 15 years.

The truth was I didn’t really know what my colour was anymore.

It turns out I was gray.  Very, very gray.

2015

2015 – gray with a dash of summer humidity frizz “just for fun”

About a year ago, tired of seeing mostly gray hair every time I looked in a mirror, I challenged the lovely Naz once again to give me a new look.  We agreed on reintroducing enough brown to my hair to reduce the gray to about 40%.  I was happy again.

However, since then Naz has been getting restless and yesterday when I walked in for my regular appointment, she was practically vibrating with excitement.

“Let’s do something different today”, she said hopefully.

I asked her what she had in mind.

“Red”.

“Negatory on the red, Naz.  Nay.  Niet.  Nein.  Nope.  Not a chance.”

I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next.

We agreed on *plum* highlights combined with my usual brunette lowlights … however it went very, very wrong.

My gray picked up ALL of the red and NONE of the brown.

It wasn’t pretty.  All that bright blood-red in my hair looked like I was bleeding from my scalp.

I was my second “oh dear” moment, but I wasn’t panicking – yet.  It’s just hair and it can be fixed.  Right?

The fix however obliterated virtually all of my gray … and the *plum*?  Well, let’s say I’m getting used to being a red head.

Red

 

 

 

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Miscellaneous Bits

I thought I might be overdue for another review of the photo library looking for random finds that haven’t been shared.  I found a few.

I wish that I had the creative gene to image a unique outer *door* like this one.  It’s like wearing a pretty necklace over a simple unadorned dress.

Queen St

Not far down the street was this lovely gate.  I think I was equally attracted to the cart behind it which was sporting an eclectic little garden.  I couldn’t tell if it was a random collection of plants or not, but decided it was too pretty to be unintentional.

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I’ve walked up and down the streets of the financial district at least a million times over the years, but I’d never noticed this side door to the CIBC building (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce).

The doors themselves are ordinary, but they are dressed in a most spectacular way.

Random - CIBC

In case you’re wondering about the main entrance, the doors there are also ordinary, but they too are decked out in finery.

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I think I’ve found the perfect little retirement cottage near the lake.  It even has a perfect little cottage door.

I love everything about it, from its baby turret and wraparound veranda, to its location on the edge of Kew Gardens.   Too bad it’s being used as a local museum.

Kew House 2

1902 Kew Williams Cottage

This has been another episode of Thursday Doors – a weekly photo feature directed by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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Jail Time

No, I didn’t break the 11th Commandment of “Thou Shalt Not Get Caught”.

This past weekend was Doors Open Toronto, a popular event when participating organizations open their doors to the public for tours.  I had time to visit only one location this weekend, so I chose the former Don Jail.

The Don Jail is one of the most popular destinations during the Doors Open event and visitors are allowed only 30 minutes inside for a self-guided tour.  Although I arrived shortly after it opened, there was already a line-up waiting outside.

Before entering the building, each visitor was given a sticker to be worn with the stated time they had to leave.  I used each of my precious minutes.

Don Jail 2

The Don Jail was opened in 1864 and in its final years (dare I say, decades?) of operation, it was considered an embarrassment for its overcrowding and “deplorable” conditions. It was famously noted by one judge in 2003 “that the prison failed to meet the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners set by the United Nations”.

After a significant refurbishment, today the historic Don Jail serves as administrative offices for the next door Bridgepoint Health Centre.

Don Jail

The Don Jail was a “holding tank” for defendants waiting for trail, some of whom could be held in the facility for months.

Volumes have been written over the years about the jail.  It’s not my intention to dwell on its history or various horror stories, but I think the pictures speak volumes on their own.

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This section of cells was boarded up and the doors removed

Each cell was barely more than the width of the door and could accommodate only a single cot, or usually a double bunk.  With no toilet facilities, the inmates had only a bucket during night lockup.  During the day, they were kept in common areas.

I should mention that this building is the historic “old” Don Jail, which was closed in 1977. The newer section of the jail was built at the end of the 1950s and didn’t close until 2014.  The new section at least had toilet facilities within the cells.  In spite of that, it was said that there was a perpetual smell of sweat and human waste which permeated the jail.

The 1864 building has some interesting details.  Like the wrought-iron supports under the wooden balconies.  Each support is either a serpent or a dragon.

Don Jail-2

I can only guess what the intention was to incorporate serpents and dragons into the interior.  Dramatic impact, perhaps?

Don Jail 3

Sorry for some of the terrible images – it was sometimes quite difficult to take photos with the crowds and poor lighting.

Don Jail 2-5

Then there is the Gallows.  It is one area of the old jail which remains largely unchanged by the renovations that occurred.

Over thirty people have been executed at the Don Jail since it opened.  The final two hangings in Canada occurred here in 1962, and capital punishment was ultimately abolished in 1976.

All that remains is a shadow on each of the walls which supported the platform and the large overhead beam.  A railing protects the visitor today from the drop to the floor below.

Don Jail-3

Witnesses to an execution descended to the floor beneath the scaffold using a staircase off to the left of the Gallows.  We were not allowed to go downstairs.

I simply don’t understand the purpose of the door *floating* to the left of the staircase.  It leads to the outer corridor.

Don Jail 2-4

Over the years I have managed to visit several prisons in different countries.  It would be quite accurate to suggest I have a fascination with them, but one thing remains absolutely clear … I don’t ever want to spend time in one, except as a visitor.

Don Jail 2-2

 

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Behind Closed Doors

I was downtown recently and since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to pop into Old City Hall.  I wrote about this 1899 heritage building back in February 2016, but I hadn’t gone inside and considered that a serious omission.

Rumours about redevelopment of this building have been swirling for a while, and one of the stories has it being reincarnated as a shopping mall … because, you know … we apparently don’t have enough of them now.

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Photo taken in 2016

In spite of being called Old City Hall, it is actually a provincial court house and I wondered whether I would even be allowed to go inside and just walk around.

I had my doubts, but I decided to give it a try.  Obviously who would resist a blogger with a mission?

Old City Hall - May

My optimism was short-lived.

As soon as I walked in the front doors, I was greeted by a security guard and a screening system similar to airport security – complete with an x-ray machine and metal detector.

Old City Hall - May-3

The security guard was a very friendly guy … but no.  I could not take any photos.  I could walk around and look at the building all I wanted.  But no.  No camera.  No photos.

Well, hell.

Then I had the brilliant idea of returning to Old City Hall this weekend for the Open Doors Toronto event.  This is a special weekend once a year when buildings of interest around the city open their doors to the public for free and provide tours.

Surely they would allow photos to be taken during this event when the courts were not in session.

Well, hell.  The answer was still no.

Old City Hall - May-2

Just for the record, the inside of the building was stunning.  It broke my heart not to be able to take even one little photo of the massive stained glass window lighting up the centre lobby.

The tiniest peak inside can be glimpsed through the window of the door above.

However, as a consolation prize, I managed to take photos of every single door in the main entrance before entering the building … and surprisingly, there were many.  No expense was spared in putting doors on this place!

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I even got a rare selfie.

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It took me a long time to figure it out, but the letters on these doors actually spell *Push*

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

Posted in Around Toronto, history, photography, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 102 Comments

Changing Seasons: Where’s The Warm Weather?

What is it about the month of May?

Suddenly EVERYTHING seems to be happening at the same time and demanding attention – yard work, family events, and a score of distracting activities that are infinitely more entertaining than chores around the house.

Twin Rivers

Twyn Rivers Road, Scarborough

Add to the whole frantic mess a Canadian spring that just doesn’t seem to understand the expected weather rules.

It’s been a very wet spring and flooding continues to be a problem.  I reported earlier this month about high water levels and in some areas, like along Lake Ontario, the water continues to rise.

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A cool, foggy morning at Rouge Park. On the left is a pathway … under water.

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Blanketed in thick fog, Lake Ontario is overflowing its banks

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Erosion along the Morningside Trail.  This section of the trail has been closed because of the unsafe conditions.

It hasn’t all been rainy and gray cloudy skies though.  It just feels that way.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to get outdoors, go cycling, and explore the Trans-Canada Trail.  There have been many interesting sights along the way … all it showing that spring can be really beautiful.

Point Pelee

Point Pelee National Park

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More Mitchell’s Bay

Chatham

In some areas, the farmers are late into the fields because its been too wet.

Just a reminder, it’s our birthday this year and we’re having a party.

Canada 150

… and has been my practice each month this year, I’m ending with a photo of Theo, for no particular reason other than he’s my fur-baby.

Theo

Changing Seasons is a monthly photo feature hosted by Max at Cardinal Guzman.

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, photography, The Changing Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 74 Comments

More To Chew On

For the second week in a row, I’m doing a Thursday Doors sequel.  This time I’m taking you back to the WM Wrigley Jr building I featured at the end of March.

Wrigley

As bloggers, we often comment on this amazing community we belong to.  It connects us with like-minded individuals, increases our awareness of the world around us, and opens up opportunities we might not otherwise encounter.

A variation of that happened with my March post.

Somehow that post captured the attention of a financial software company operating out of the WM Wrigley Jr building.  In fact, their office is on the top floor of the building featured in the above photo.

The company is called waveapps.com and Rob Maurin, their Vice-President of Communications wrote a comment on my blog, and then tossed out the most incredible offer.  “Would I like to have a tour?”

Are you kidding me?!!  It took all of a nanosecond to answer that question.

Last week Rob Maurin played host and tour guide for me in their Lesleyville office.

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I was delighted to find that the original industrial features of the building had been preserved and incorporated into the office layout … the concrete floors, massive support columns, overhead vents and wiring.

Amid all of this architectural history was a bustling high-energy fintech company at work.

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… and the doors!!!  All the original elevator doors to the loading bays below were still in place.

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Even better, they still worked.

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On the roof of the building is another door which leads to another elevator … its purpose unknown to even my host.  I’ve seen these on other buildings to provide access to the industrial heating and air conditioning units on the roof.  This building however had none of those.

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The perpetual child in me is attracted to a door that requires a ladder to reach it!

At some point in the distant past, a partial sixth floor had been built, reportedly to serve as executive offices when the chewing gum giant still occupied the factory. Since the additional floor doesn’t cover the entire top of the building, it can’t be seen from the street.  In fact I didn’t even known it existed until Rob had mentioned it in our email exchange.

Wave’s growth in business required them to expand beyond their 5th floor footprint and they recently took over that 6th floor.

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I really like the little ‘flower’ details along the top and bottom of this elevator door

The sixth floor not only gives them more space, but an outdoor patio for use in warm weather and a great view of downtown.

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Evidence of our gray and rainy spring

The office was everything I would expect from a young software company – lounging couches, pinball machine, television, and an open, relaxed atmosphere to inspire collaboration … or simply to take a mental break.

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Many thanks to Rob Maurin for his kind invitation, and the fascinating tour of this heritage building.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

Posted in Around Toronto, history, photography, Random Stuff, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 97 Comments