Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hidden Toronto Part #1

I've really been enjoying coming across interesting neighbourhoods in Toronto while on the way to some new destination.  What seems to happen in Toronto is that small theatres are scattered all over the place (south of Bloor) in places that are still fairly accessible.  The Harbourfront theatre is perhaps less accessible (at least mentally) but now that the 509 streetcar is back up and running, it isn't that bad.  Actually, the Canadian Stage Berkeley stage and Alumnae Theatre are a bit out of the way, though they are quite easy for me to get to so long as I can bike.  This dispersion with decent access is similar to Chicago, though I found Vancouver was pretty miserable in that the main stages and small indy theatres all were hard to get to with only one or two exceptions.

At any rate, this leads me to taking the streetcar and exploring.  My favourite streetcar line is the Carlton/College/Gerrard line, which goes through Little India, a small Asian district, Cabbagetown, Little Italy and finally ends up at this weird island at the edge of High Park.  I'll have to take a photo of that some day.

In any case, last Saturday I went to a new venue (new to me anyway) called Bounce.  It is really a fully functioning bar, but they had a few tables set aside for the actors, then the rest for the audience.  Interesting, a fair number of the tables were elevated on a rise (perhaps because this place also has dancing?) which worked pretty well.  I was running just a bit late, then it turned out that the Spadina streetcar wasn't running and they had replacement buses but they were not running well and the number of people on the platform was kind of dangerous.  I decided to try to catch a cab the rest of the way, though I didn't see any at all.  In my whole trip down Spadina I think I only saw three occupied cabs.  I would think that the cabbies might keep an eye out for TTC disruptions and hang out in those areas, but they did not.  As it happened, the buses finally started arriving, and I did squeeze onto one.  I still had to force my way through the Chinatown crowds and run to Bounce (it's just off Dundas about halfway between Spadina and Bathurst).  I made it with about 5 minutes to spare.

I enjoyed the play, though I agree there isn't a whole lot of plot to it.  It's mostly concerned with artistic and scientific innovation.  Perhaps its greatest contribution is to portray a world where Cubism isn't old hat and there is still so much "new" to discover.

After the play I actually had to head over to Dundas and Bathurst, since it was the only library I was likely to have time to get to before closing.  I am not sure quite when it happened, but it appears that Chinatown has stretched down along Dundas to Bathurst and most of the stores were oriented towards a Chinese or Vietnamese clientele.  There were actually two vegetarian restaurants, and I ate a very delayed lunch at one.  I wasn't that crazy about the flavour though, and will try the other one the next time I am in the area.

The library sort of flowed into a community centre and then another official-looking building.  But what was particularly interesting is that there were little stores made out of shipping containers right in front.  It is more permanent than a food truck.  I suppose at least some of these stores had water hook-ups, but I can't imagine these are very comfortable places to work, probably quite cold and drafty in the winter and then hot in the summer.  But they were cool to look at, and I'll have a few pictures below.  I'm hoping that this summer, particularly weekends in June and then through July, I can take the family around to these various neighbourhoods and show them how fascinating Toronto can be.

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