Walking in Toronto

Here are 20 pictures from my wandering through downtown Toronto with Shelagh, and a couple of memories called up in the wandering. This was the view last night from up on the canyon wall.

42nd floor

Forty-two flights down the elevator shaft, we set out this morning. A broadsheet page tumbled by. The wind did what it seems to do to western Canadians with a cold smugness to them, which is to send them back to the hotel for another layer.

Newspaper blows by
The wind also moved Shelagh into a walkway over York St, just up the street from Air Canada Centre. This part of downtown was hollow on a Saturday morning. It was built for the business crowd, and it waited for Monday.

Shelagh in walkway

The needle on top of the CN Tower looked like it could pop the saggy balloon clouds.

Above Union Station 

Along Front Street we looked into the window of the Hockey Hall of Fame. From the street, I could see the plaques of Rogie Vachon (who I operated on my Coleco table hockey set in games against Brucey Straka. There were tiny red and green plastic lights inserted in tiny vertical tubes behind the nets. When a puck went in the cage, it tumbled with a gurgle onto a plastic flap that pushed up a rod topped by the red light, indicating a goal) and Pat Quinn (who I met at a Pacific 66 gas station on 82 St in an age when men still held cigars next to the faces of young boys while other men wore red and white pants.)

Still visible: Quinn, Vachon

See boy, sister, cigar and red-and-white pants, below:

From the archives

Shelagh found an urban cove. She was a hockey mom for a lot of years. As I took Shelagh's pic, Skip Kerr came into view. We met Skip when our boys played minor hockey. Skip was as enthusiastic as the boys, plus he knew enough about organized sports to know which parents weren't the idiots. He was a guide and a friend, and I could talk to him. Last week, Monday, we were at his memorial memorial service. I feel bad about losing touch. At the service, I had checked my emails and found the last one from Skip.
Shelagh, standing

His last advice to me was to get to a great 3.2 bar outside Minneapolis. Some day, I hope to. It strikes me that email is a kind of niche of incomplete conversations. 


Back on Yonge, a man seen through the window held up a newspaper as he read a story about Trump. 


Farther up the street, we turned in to the Victoria Hotel, hauled its front door open and found our way back to the diner, Over Easy. I ate a corned beef hash with poached eggs. Shelagh had the English breakfast. She left one and half sausages for me. Here was the table as we prepared to leave.

Apres breakfast

Two pink balloons spun down Yonge Street.

Balloons on Yonge

A pigeon and a sparrow picked at a piece of fast food breakfast bread left in the gutter. A small stream of water had frozen, crunchy even to birds' feet, next to the curb. 


An empty paper cup rolled in a half-circle pattern back and forth in front of this sleeping man. He lay in fetal position, his left hand cradling his head. His body was twisted into a ball small enough that all of it received whatever heat escaped through the metal grate from the subway system below.
Fetal position

In the window of the Ted Baker store in Eaton's Centre, a goose under glass stared up at geese making their escape.

Stuck on earth

A woman found a cove in the shopping centre.

Plugged out

James Harden screamed for Adidas.

Rockets science

At Nordstrom, a mannequin communicated.

Communication, after a fashion

Shelagh walked through steam at Ryerson.

On campus
We walked by a skating rink, shook the locked door of the campus bookstore, and then went into Balzac's for hot drinks (me, cappuccino, Shelagh, warm almond milk in a bowl) and a muffin. I read a page of Knausgaard. I read with a pencil to keep track of the times and places the author used the word meaning.

Karl Ove on the table

Outside, a bicycle rider locked his bike to a stand. A pile of dirty snow stood like a kind of miniature mountain over a plain of leafy debris from autumn. A black squirrel bounded into the scene, froze, twisted its head, and then scurried across the road.

Bicycle rider, squirrel

Back in the coffee shop, the reflection in the countertop espresso machine captured the scene of people reading. The man with his back to the machine was reading a book called The Brain. Every fifth or sixth page had a yellow sticky note attached to it.


Then, it was down the steps into the subway station at Yonge Dundas square, while the city spun its scenes above.



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