A Brief History Of Toronto (Video)

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This short video created for TEDx Toronto Conference last fall is a brief history of the culmination of our city Toronto.

The video starts from its early days going to today. As a proud citizen, not just a taxpayer, of Toronto it is great to see our diversity celebrated even if it is just for 150 seconds. If you don’t know where you came from, you will not know where you are going.

Enjoy,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Honest Ed’s

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Now I will be the first to admit that Honest Ed’s is not closed until Dec. 31st 2016 but it still is unfortunately on the way out and that Honest Ed’s handmade signs sale they had a few weeks conjured up some nostalgia for me. As I am sure Honest Ed’s provides nostalgic memories for many residents in the GTA.

Since its inception back in 1948, Honest Ed’s has been an indelible landmark in Toronto. Whether it was throwing over the top birthday parties for Honest Ed Mirvish filled with freebies for the crowd, giving away free turkeys around Christmas season or even the hand painted signage inside of the store Honest Ed’s is undoubtedly one of a kind. For plenty of people living in Toronto whether new to Canada or old to Canada if you wanted a deal Honest Ed’s was on your list of places to check out.

As the child of immigrant parents I can speak first-hand about the impact this store had for us. My mother waking my sister and me up on a weekend morning demanding we get dressed because we had to go. Keep in mind we lived in Scarborough and Honest Ed’s is located on Bathurst and Bloor we had a bit of distance to cover. Usually, when we were visiting family that lived in Parkdale an Honest Ed’s trip was virtually guaranteed. Taking the subway all the way there was a task in itself along with walking all over that store looking for stuff I didn’t want but my mother insisted we needed. Items such as: winter boots, undershirts, colouring books, touch lamps (you know you had one), Christmas decorations, frames, house slippers and so on were musts for my mom. If she knew it would be cheaper at Honest Ed’s rather than BiWay, Bargain Harold’s or Woolco (yes, I went there with you guys) we were going to be there a while! I swear if I didn’t get lost from my family at least once for each time we were there it would be a miracle.

I remember one Christmas season we went to Honest Ed’s and to this day when I think of Christmas I think of Boney M’s Christmas album because it was like etched into my memory from shopping and only hearing that album for like 3 hours straight.

I will admit the best part of going to Honest Ed’s would be when we were leaving to go home on the subway. Why? Simple, BEEF PATTIES at Bathurst Station! I do not care what anyone says the Beef Patties located at Bathurst and Warden Station are the BEST in Toronto. My mother recognized my struggles with keeping up with her so as a reward I would get a beef patty for my troubles. As you can tell, as a kid, bribing me was pretty easy.

Honest Ed’s is the quintessential family store created by a family for families of all types. It did not matter how much money or status you had or how well adapted to Toronto you were, you could always appreciate a good deal and a place filled with energy and the kind heart of Mr. Ed Mirvish. I was just there a week ago looking through records at Sonic Boom and it still gives me the same sense of awe as it did when I was kid. Only now it is because of what I gained from going there and how places like this are rare this day in age. The building may not last but the memories….those are forever!

Regards,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: World’s Biggest Bookstore

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Last Sunday was a milestone for many book lovers in Toronto as it marked the end of an era in which ‘World’s Biggest Bookstore’ existed. Whether the land will be converted into some big box store, or maybe a condo (because when it comes to condos, Toronto loves to build them) or who knows what else the memories of the 30+ years of Toronto’s book lovers going there to find their favourite titles will not be soon forgotten.

While I was growing up in the 90’s, most malls had Coles or WHSmith as your bookstore options keep in mind this was long before the era of Chapters and Indigo. Considering that World’s Biggest Bookstore was owned by the creators of Coles it just had a different kind of feel to it always that wasn’t totally like a Coles store. Not to mention literally miles of bookshelves covering almost too many genres. Back in the day, I used to like reading movie novels so I would spend time every now and then to go there and search for the books of the movies I had seen recently or planned on seeing in the near future.

I remember watching the movie remake of Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty I sought out some more Dick Tracy novels and just happened to have found one if my memory serves me correct at World’s Biggest Bookstore. It was a landmark achievement in my short life at the time and that was what I read over a summer.

As I got older, my love for reading kind of faded away but I would still check out the store for magazines, satirical books and comics. It still amazes me how big of a place it was and all the hopes and dreams of younger readers and students it carried. When you could not find a book at a mall bookstore World’s Biggest Bookstore was your go-to place because Amazon and EBay did not exist back then.

I find that is part of what people miss out on whether they want to admit it or not. The hunt and thrill of finding something you have been scouring for since nowadays most things are a Google search away. World’s Biggest Bookstore was one of kind and while the Guinness Book of World Records might not agree it will always be the World’s Biggest Bookstore to me! (That rhyme was totally coincidental, I promise!)

Regards,

Waynie

A Farewell to Legendary Stores in Toronto: Sears / Eaton’s

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As this Sunday passes, we bid a fond farewell to fabled and perhaps locally famous store at Yonge and Edward…The World’s Biggest Bookstore! Not only have we seen this one time giant fall but also we said goodbye to Sears (formerly Eaton’s) and in the near future Honest Ed’s.

To be perfectly clear this post is not to point out the politics or hardships that have led to the demise of these stores. I am just simply a fan that would like to pay tribute by sharing memories of what these places meant to me as a kid growing up in Toronto.

It was sheer irony that the week Sears finally closed its doors at the Eaton Centre, in February, coincided with Yorkdale Shopping Centre beginning to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A few days after Sears officially closed I snapped this picture. Hard to believe such an iconic brand was leaving us.

Maybe I’m showing my age but, I recall when this was Eaton’s not Sears. As a kid growing up in Scarborough, coming downtown to Eaton Centre was like a wonderland for me. The draw of these big stores, so many escalators, usually fast paced all the time, the two food courts, two McDonalds (yes I was easily impressed back then) and of course Eaton’s. Why does Eaton’s hold a special place for me personally you may ask?

Well, I had a family member who worked there. Visiting them was my excuse to go downtown and just be a kid with my eyes opened wide, especially at Christmas time with that Christmas tree dangling from the mall ceiling and the Santa with sled and reindeer. You could even sit on Santa’s lap, yes that’s right no Skype appointments! Eaton’s was that go to store when you wanted to be in style and it had a floor strictly dedicated to TOYS! Yes, Floor 7 a.k.a Toyland I remember you. The first time I ever saw a Nintendo or Sega Master System was on that toys floor.

Tell me you remember that shopping bag? That’s actually my Eaton’s bag I found it while rummaging through that closet most people have filled with bags and boxes that you haven’t checked in over a decade. When Eaton’s transitioned into Sears in the mid 90’s my family member sadly was no longer working at Eaton Centre and I did kind of resent Sears for a bit because of that. It didn’t matter what new Kenmore appliances they had on display I probably did not set foot into that Sears for like 2 years. Eventually, I caved and did shopping here and there but as I grew up I discovered other stores and I kind of lost touch with Sears unless I was seeking a fragrance or a watch perhaps.

When I heard Sears was closing its doors, my first reaction was ‘Hmmm will the Jays Store have awesome deals?” followed by the thought of that another piece of my childhood swept away. So for the last few months, while cutting through Sears, to either get to the rest of the mall or get to Yonge Street, I would kind of wander around and reminisce of those days but sadly I was blinded by the discount wholesaler vibe I was getting where literally everything was on sale even the fixtures and storage cases.

So I have lived through Eaton’s to Sears to now Nordstrom in 2016 wow where does the time go? While the ending for Eaton’s and Sears was kind of ugly to me I will hold on to that memory of the grade school version of me endlessly playing with the new toys in Toyland. Sometimes the simplest memories are the best ones.

Regards,

Waynie

6 Music Videos Filmed in #Toronto That I Love

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It’s no secret that when it comes to music, Toronto knows! Or maybe it is? Toronto has a rich history with music videos by local and international artists. Artists know when they come here to Toronto they will get an energetic and real reaction from the crowd. To be honest I am a bit of a concert fiend especially in the summer months myself.

With that in mind, I decided to compile a list of music videos filmed on the streets of Toronto. I am not saying these are the best music videos ever, but in my opinion these are simply music videos filmed in Toronto that I personally appreciate.

And in no particular order:

6. Drake – Headlines

From Drake’s second full length album ‘ Take Care’ in 2011, this was a video that used different parts of the city including the SkyDome (no never the Rogers Centre), the CN Tower and even the old Guild Inn in Scarborough. I remember when on the Gardiner Drake had a billboard for Take Care up. Getting to see the time-lapsed opening of the Dome is pretty cool on its own!

 

5. Stereo Love – Edward Maya & Mia Martina

When this version of the Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina smash-hit was covered by New Brunswick’s Mia Martina it was EVERYWHERE! It haunted your dreams and followed you to every club, restaurant and sometimes even Dollarama! When I watched this video for the first time back in 2010 it gave me a new appreciation for the song and Toronto. I can’t recall ever seeing Toronto being shot in that kind of way and it was impressive. Toronto looked European to me in this video.

 

4. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

The first time I ever heard this song was after the 2010 Grammy Awards one of my college classes. The professor was showing us some of the effects they used in their performance to create a ghost projector kind of effect. I liked the song so I got home looked for the music video and to my surprise it was filmed in Toronto! If I’m not mistaken this single, ‘Need You Now’ really made Lady Antebellum blow up! You can see King St East, The Patrician Grill, a Beck Taxi and The King Edward Hotel. Great song, great concept and great video.

 

3. Let Your Backbone Slide – Maestro Fresh Wes

The year was 1989, a young rapper by the name of Wesley Williams had the audacity to make a landmark song and video which finally put Canadian Hip-Hop on the map! You can see a TTC streetcar in the background which 25 years later is still what we use. Undeniably, ‘Let Your Backbone Slide’ breathed life into young Canadians who had dreams of being hip-hop artists. This video was played on MTV in the US and if I’m not mistaken is the Best Selling Canadian Hip-Hop Single of All-Time. Yes kids, there was someone before Drake.

2. The Anthem – Kardinal Offishall

If you are from Toronto and you don’t know Kardi you need to move right now! This video was released in 2011 and it literally should be a tourism video as it shows all the best-known and lesser known landmarks in Toronto. Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York also get some love too! What makes this video even better is that the actual lyrics are a love letter to Toronto. Kardi loves Toronto and Toronto loves you back.

1. Rise Up – The Parachute Club

While this song is a bit before my time you cannot deny the power of this song. ‘Rise Up’ to me is a song demanding equality for all. Toronto has always been in the forefront for equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBT community. The late great politician Jack Layton used this song in his last political campaign. This song was a call to action and people still to this day respond to ‘Rise Up’ all over the place, not just in Canada.

Hope you enjoyed my little list, might you have any favourites?

 

Waynie

A Winter Walk at Harbourfront Toronto…Or Harbour-frozen Pictures!

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I decided to go on a walk a week or so ago despite the cold temperature outside and the logic of why would I want to do such a thing in the midst of winter. Randomly, ended up at Harbourfront eventually and opted to take some pictures of Toronto’s Waterfront. Truthfully, there is quite a lot of construction happening along Queen’s Quay so I had to manoeuvre my way on the streets and lack of sidewalk to take a closer a look at the frozen version of Lake Ontario and I was quite happy with the effort! Not only did I get some cool shots, I also got a slight workout in the process. Proud to say I didn’t slip or fall once and my face didn’t freeze…well right away at least.

This was taken by the Spadina Wavedeck. It was awesome to see the visible chunks of ice with that haunting sky in the background that was good camera filtering!

HTO Park West in the summertime usually has kayakers and people enjoying the sand or laying in the sun. Winter time, not so much!

Along the pier, once you look past the ice and snow its really calm sunset.

The Natrel Skating Rink is one the coolest skating spots in Toronto. Especially, when you consider that you get to take in the view of the Waterfront while you’re skating.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and I feel this one speaks volumes. This picture perfectly describes what Toronto has to offer its citizens and anyone visiting us in just 3 words… More Than Enough!

 

Regards,

Waynie

 

 

 

 

Soca on Ice Takes Over Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

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It’s never too cold for SOCA MUSIC! Last month was proof of that as hundreds of people braved the frigid weather to take part in the 4th edition of ‘Soca on Ice’.

Since it’s inception in 2011, as a part of Harbourfront Centre’s DJ Skate Nights, this event has been a complete success bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds who want to feel the Power of Soca delivered by Dr. Jay, ‘De Soca Prince’ who has been a groundbreaking ambassador for soca music not only in Canada but worldwide.

It was a night to enjoy some nice island vibes, take a dance on the ice and come alive as people wave their rags and flags and show their national colours!

In case you weren’t able to attend or if you did attend and want to relive it here are a few video recaps of the night when Soca ‘Tun Ova’ the Waterfront!

The Official Dr Jay Recap:

Humber News Recap (Trevon Marsh):

 

Enjoy,

Waynie