Monday, May 30, 2016

Doors Open

We hopped around some downtown spots this past weekend, exploring Toronto during Doors Open. This year the annual festival provided rare access to 130 buildings across the city. We made it to about seven.

Green roof at City Hall
We managed a tour of the Steamwhistle Brewery (free samples) and rested our feet in the cool of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

City Hall is usually open to visitors, but once a year opens the Observation Deck. I didn’t even realize it had one! Great view of the surrounding territory from the 27th floor. We also checked out the Green Roof and Council Chambers.

Rescued Griffin
Across the road at Old City Hall, we admired Griffin that were sold for scrap and then rediscovered in an auction house in 1987. They have been returned to their 1899 sentry positions. The old court rooms, wrought iron, and tiled floors were familiar as I had walked these halls before.  

We wandered through Osgood Hall’s courts, library and restaurant.  The Benchers Quarters were open to view and the current Secretary was greeting visitors in Convocation Hall. 

Banking Hall in Commerce Court
We admired the Art Moderne of the Old Stock Exchange and Charles Comfort’s murals. We have a William Kurelek print showing the bustle of the brokers on a light trading day in the 1970’s.  The building opened for business in 1938, when Canada was still feeling the effects of the Great Depression. 

The cornerstone for the Canadian Bank of Commerce was laid just at the beginning of the Great Depression - just two days after the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Construction proceeded over the next two years, costing $8M. It remained the tallest building in the Dominion until 1962. The coffered ceilings in the Banking Hall are still spectacular.

Who knew we had an elephant sculpture in Toronto? Tembo, mother of elephants, now parades in the outdoor courtyard, on loan from the Odette Foundation. It was such a surprise to see her there, with her light-footed step and two baby elephants following close behind.

Tembo, mother of elephants

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