Sunday, July 1, 2012

Days 82 - 83: Parkdale, Toronto with Lee and Craig!

After a great night at Sandbanks, it was time to visit our last major Canadian city,
and we saved the biggest for last...

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario, was capital of Canada (twice) in the 1800's, and is Canada's largest city with 2.6 million residents and a metro population of 5.8 million.  It actually used to be called York and was plundered and burned by American expansionists in the War of 1812. The British retaliated by burning Washington, D.C.!  Anyway, we drove in on Friday afternoon and got to experience some big city traffic.  Haven't missed this but it really wasn't all that bad.  Most of the drivers were surprisingly calm and polite. We didn't even hear any honking.

The first thing you notice is the CN Tower, a communications and observation tower.

Next thing we noticed were these "Squeeze Left" signs which are probably our favorite road signs of the trip.
So much more polite than "MERGE!".

Unlike our recent major urban Canadian experiences, we actually had a place to stay in the city with some locals, which was really exciting!  For the first time we wouldn't have to worry about parking, what to do with Kipper, and we'd have some guidance about the cool stuff to see!  So we worked our way across the city to...

Lee and Craig's!

We met Lee and Craig out in California when we were visiting Yosemite last October.  We only talked to them for 30 minutes, at the most, and by the end we were exchanging info and they'd invited us to visit them in Toronto!

Their neighborhood, Parkdale, is in the heart of the city, with a pretty interesting history and is now going thru a renaissance.  East Austin would be our nearest equivalent but Parkdale is much more diverse, probably more similar to a place like Brooklyn.
Their house is the blue one in the center.

And it's dog friendly!  After a tour of the house we headed to a bar to have some refreshments on the patio and Kipper met a distant cousin, "Max"... who tried to hump him.

And we finally got to try poutine, an absolutely sinful combination of fries, cheese curd, and gravy. 

Lee and Craig already had plans to attend a screening of some short films and let us tag along.  The screening was held in part of a restored hotel and included a variety of animated, documentary, and other short films.  It was packed!  We never would have gotten to do this on our own.

Lee and Craig love their neighborhood and showed us all their favorite galleries, bars, restaurants, and other one of a kind treasures only found in Parkdale.

We just happened upon this classic VW camper bus towing a mirrored sculpture!  The artist, Randall Anderson, calls it "Seed Engine".  There are 4 cameras mounted around this mirrored object. Randall and his assistant are travelling across the Trans Canada Highway and the US Route 66, filming the reflections of everything they drive by and all the people who check out the sculpture and then editing it and posting the images online. Cool!

Then we went to a bar!

Not just any bar, the Red Light, where their favorite bartender, Chris, works.  Unfortunately, I didn't get his photo, but we had a great conversation and he's got our card so hopefully he'll visit Austin and we can repay some of his hospitality.
Chris, we meant it, you're welcome anytime.

We love bars and aren't afraid to admit it.  This is something that's been sorely lacking on this trip, especially in Canada, so this was a treat.

We finally got our timing right with Toronto.  We've been early or late for almost everything since we got into Canada.  But the following morning (after Craig's gourmet pancakes), we stepped out into the street and their block was closed to traffic and had been transformed into a block party!

What's that?

It's this! Apparently, a Toronto food....Canadian bacon wrapped in peameal, making a crispy crust on the edge. Yum.

I could have eaten a dozen of these...

We spent the better part of the afternoon alternating between wandering the street and hanging on the front porch drinking beer.  Heaven.

Lee was prepping new works for an art show she has coming up so she couldn't be totally irresponsible, like the rest of us.  Lee, we hope the show is a big success!

Meanwhile, this jazz 4-piece was smokin'...

as was the fire juggler...

A lot of the neighbors were having yard sales and I picked up this little souvenir for 6 bucks.
Can you tell what it is?

Only the coolest salt and pepper shakers ever made!
They stick together with magnets.

Craig was inspired to grill steaks and we weren't about to argue so we headed to the local butcher.  No car required, everything is within walking distance. Also heaven.

I'd already taken a bite before I remembered to get a photo!
What a fabulous dinner.

We dined al fresco on Lee and Craig's garden patio.
They have an alley gate so LeTigre was snug as a bug...

Next morning, we biked over to their favorite brunch spot...

3 Speed

I went classic Eggs Benedict with peameal bacon...

Not to be outdone, Angie got eggs with chili on top!  Trust me, there are eggs under there. 

And the icing on the cake, we got to meet Mike, another great friend of Lee and Craig's.

We had a fantastic time in Toronto!
We didn't visit any museums, see any sights, do anything remotely touristy, or even drive anywhere for two days!
Thanks so much to Lee and Craig and everyone we met thru them in Toronto for such an unforgettable visit.
You're all invited to Austin!

Next up: not to be outdone, Erin fattens us up for our last nights in Canada.....


  1. Love it! Can't wait to see Austin. Happy Canada Day Greg and & Angie. You guys are honorary Canadians now.

  2. So glad you made it to Toronto when you did - it really was a great weekend. And it was nice, too, to actually have the time to really get to know you all. Safe travels back to Austin

  3. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. Toronto Party Bus