Annual International Jazz Festival

 The 'Beaches' section of the (Waterfront trail) is also known as the Martin Goodman trail.  I have previously covered portions of this trail before (see 'Martin Goodman' and 'Ashbridge Bay' in this blog) 

In the summertime, the Toronto beaches come alive with swimmers, sailors, sun-bathers and almost anything else you can think of that can be enjoyed in or near the water.  The Boardwalk runs along Beaches Park, Kew Gardens, Kew Beach, Woodbine Beach to Ashbridges Bay.  Unfortunately, the remaining 50% of the Beaches trail is all on-road. (approximately between Kingston and Silverbirch Avenue to Kingston and Birchmount in the east). 

Sunday July 29th, 2012 marked the last day of Toronto's 24th International Beaches Jazz Festival. I thought I’d include this as it was an important event in Exploring Toronto.  It ran from July 20th until the 29th, and had over 100 bands some old, some new who had their own flavour of Jazz.   

Around noon time, Kew Beach stage blasted out with an upbeat Romanian-Gypsy style of jazz music from a group called Lemon Buckets!  I was surprised to hear this kind of music in a jazz festival.  They are considered relatively new to the Jazz world, but they're young, energetic and extremely talented with their instruments!

South of Kew Gardens playing on the The Latin Stage near Woodbine Beach,  was the Latin Jazz Ensemble .  These gentlemen would be considered established.  Their stuff was kinda cool with that Latin-Salsa flair and very relaxing kind of music, but not really my cup of tea as far as music goes! :) Although, it was kind of neat to see a couple get up and dance to it.  

Not too far westward along the Beaches trail past the Kids park and Woodbine Beach swimming pool was the Big Band stage.  Far more dancing was seen here to the sounds of the Big Band era played by an established group called the Jazz Mechanics.  A couple of hours of jazz music is enough, and the day was still young.  Like any annual festival it brings in plenty of money to the hosting cities, and an opportunity for local business to market their wares, and a chance to get their names or products out in the world marketplace.  Even if you didn't get a chance to check out the Festival at all, you can mark your calendars for next year.  Be sure to check out Lemon Buckets, they really are a very unique and fun group!

Where there is any large group of people, there are always police officers standing by in case of any trouble, and being in a large city like Toronto, that's no surprise.  What I am puzzled about is, where does Spock fit into all of this?  Well he had his phaser on him, so guess that made us all safe.

Historic Fort York - Toronto

 In the mood for some historical exploration? Well, this year marks the Bicentennial Commemoration of the War of 1812, and what better place to visit than Historic Fort York in Toronto. The Fort is best to view and photograph on cloudier days. I guess it inspires the somber mood of the reason the fort was built in the first place, however I happened to be there right in the middle of a bright sunny afternoon! So I brought the cloudy day to my pictures, and did the entire album in black and white. I'll put in a few splashes of colour here then! Can you spot him ? I guess now you know why soon camouflage was invented!

But it's hardly the mood to inspire or reflect on the Historical buildings of Fort York of 1812. Lieutenant-governor John Graves Simcoe had ordered Fort York built as well as establishing a naval base in order to control Lake Ontario. He did this because of the scare of an oncoming war from the United States! That's a change, EH? At that time, we were under British rule and when Britain was at war, we were at war. (Of course that all stopped in 1867 when we became Canada). The British at that time became allies with the Native people who were fighting against the Americans to claim territories. So we were called for aid and Toronto was called York then, hence the name Fort York was established.

This year, other cities such as Mississauga, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls have had and will continue to have celebrations and exhibits of the Bi-centennial Commemoration of the war of 1812. Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle was built on the history of the War of 1812, so it's also worth seeing. As well as their Military Museum and Fieldcote Museum have exhibits. There is a world of history within reach.

However, Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and 1813 battle site is right in the centre of downtown Toronto. It’s open all year long. When I was there, they performed a firing drill and the flag lowering demonstration. It was quite the sight and sound to see with all the colors and pageantry of the Fort York Guard.

I actually really want to go back there to take more time to read all the showcases and paraphernalia. It closes at 5:00, and I think it was about 4:20, so not enough time to get all my photos in and read on the history as well. Just another site to see when you are Exploring Toronto!

Port Whitby (Waterfront Trail) & the Pumphouse

You know I think this weather has really made it difficult for me to discipline myself in keeping my posts up to date.  Here's another one long overdue!  Continuing eastbound on the waterfront trail (east of Lynde Shores) you will come to an off-road and paved part of the trail at Port Whitby for about 60 km.  This port has over 400 slips and is an award-winning docking facility.  A couple of weeks ago when I was there taking some pictures along the pier, I happened to notice a seagull perched on top of a sign looking as though it had a broken wing.  As I approached more closely, it was obvious that it had been badly injured by a fishing hook and fishing line (see more about this story in "A Seagull's Demise" in this blog).  Although this sight was pretty sad indeed, it was an otherwise beautiful day with many people beating the heat enjoying water activities, like sailing and swimming.
Lions Promenade

Port Whitby and Pier
Further up around the bend, you'll see the Lions Promenade, where people gather to meet and eat, or get shelter from the rain, which is sometimes necessary when a sudden rainstorm catches you by surprise!   The Rotary Sunrise Lake Park is directly east of the pier.  You will almost always see this park alive with people enjoying picnics, BBQs and family get-togethers because of its beachfront access, and lots of parking.

Rotary Park
The Pump House, circa 1904
Along the boardwalk, I noticed a ruin up ahead of some sort with a fence surrounding it.  I didn't let that stop me though, and I squeezed through an opening just wide enough to let me know that I wasn't the only one doing this!  I immediately began taking some pictures with the idea of doing some research later on to find out what exactly this place once was.  After no luck in my search, I decided to call the Town of Whitby's Parks & Recreation Department.  They knew exactly what I was describing and told me that it used to be the Waterworks Pump House, circa 1904.  They just refer to it as "the Pump House". I thought that was really neat.  I love history, especially structural history.

Ronald Deeth Park
Thickson's Point
Okay, so literally back on track here once again, continuing on foot.  Right after I edged out of the Pumphouse, I spot a sign which read, 'Welcome to Heydenshore Kiwanis Park"  They have these parks  named individually because the property is so expensive here, so this way the costs can fall under different municipalities or institutions, which seems like a good idea.  

Exiting woodland at Thornton Ave
Thickson Woods
There's an uncommon feature at the Kiwanis park, which isn't found in most other nature parks. Apparently, on June 23, 2012 the Rotary Club  teamed up with the Town of Whitby to unveil the first Outdoor Fitness park.  There are 10 pieces of equipment in all, and since it's a new commodity around here, don't be expecting to have your 'turn' anytime soon.  Personally, I'd rather just keep moving along the Waterfront trail.  Through Ronald Deeth park to Thickson's Point, you'll enjoy breathtaking and refreshing views along the water. You will soon find yourself coming to the paved ending of the trail at Thickson Road, which will force you northbound off the trail for another 10 minutes.  After that, you'll enter into some really pretty natural woodlands, called Thickson Woods.  There's a point of interest in the trail that I liked where you were given
the opportunity to learn more about what you were looking at.  First of all, there are optical binoculars (sort of resembled, 'Wall-e; remember that Walt Disney movie?) As well, they have an interactive audio sound-box that you can crank up to hear an audio voice speak a bit about the parks and marshes in the area.  For some reason, it brought memories back of the Ontario Science Centre when I was a child.  I really enjoyed walking through Thickson Woods and would recommend this portion of the trail for photographers, and nature lovers who enjoy open fields, wildflowers, butterflies, grasshoppers and multiple species of birds as I do.  

Advancing further on the Waterfront trail eastward, you will come to Intrepid Park.  Here you will see a war memorial from WWII, referred to as Camp X.  If you want to do some reading on that, you can find it here.

Thickson Woods
After almost 3 1/2 hours and 15 km of walking, believe me it was really catching up to me, especially from the heat.  As I was visiting in Oshawa for dinner, off the trail I went.  It was already close to 4:30!  The sun was high and hot in the sky, trekking along Park Road South.  Passed the nearly ghost-like GM plant in Oshawa.  The once "bread and butter" of this town was just a skeletal remnant of its glory days.  Took some side streets past some empty lots and a few boarded up homes before reaching a Mac's store to have the most delicious "slushie" ever! (well at least that's how it seemed at the time).

GM Plant @ Thornton Avenue

Finally arrived at 5:00 to the front doors.  Oh, the can decide whether or not it was worth the walk...:p

Bracebridge Waterfalls

Well I've been slow in posting these days.  So here's another entry for 'exploring waterfalls' If you're like me, you'll think the drive up North is always interesting and exciting.  You'll find as soon as you are north of Whitby, you start to notice more and more farmland.  Open fields as far as the eye can see is a welcoming change from the concrete buildings of the City from where I come from.   I love the golden wheat fields and the character of the old farm houses and dream of a life in them.  I often wonder if they are happy and couldn't imagine them not to be.

Pass through some small towns just north of the 'Highway of Heroes' (Hwy 401), like Brooklin for instance, which is a young and up and coming town.  It is the fastest growing place in the east right now and currently a highway entrance and exit is being built which will bring more economy and production to the area.  
More cottage shots

Beaverton (Trent Severn) is further north and in my hunger to photograph as much as I can in such a sort time today, I stop to smell the roses in a matter of speaking and photographed the Trent River.  The Trent flows from Rice Lake in Southeastern Ontario and empties into the Bay of Quinte.  Click here to read about the TrentSevern Waterway.  Stopped again to take a look at a good looking bridge but once discovered a little more closely it was nothing more than swampland.  I thought it was my imagination at first, but it appeared as though a giant toad was staring at me from the water top.   A closer look proved it! I laughed and laughed! Boy he must surely own this swamp for he is the biggest toad I've ever seen!

Farm fields / Severn Waterway
Now back in the car to continue north on Hwy 12 passing the farmlands of Brechin and made another stop in Gravenhurst.  The sun is high in the sky now and the rocks that have long ago been blasted through to create these roads on the Trans Canada highway are getting higher and higher.  Made a stop to take a look at some gear and kayaks in Muskoka Outfitters and left with the idea of buying on of the yellow ones, while thinking, well if something ever happens to me, at least my kayak will be found..!  There are quite a few waterfalls to see in Bracebridge.  It will certainly be worth your trip as there are at least 3 in one area alone.  An ideal way to enjoy the waterfalls on the South Muskoka River in Fraserburg is by canoeing this placid reach in late summer!

Ha! I think that's Shrek?
Trent River / Muskoka
Spending a day or two at a cottage north of here, but had to take some pictures of the waterfalls..was only able to capture Bracebridge Falls and sadly TOTALLY MISSED "High Falls" altogether!  I'm still so disappointed that I was so close and didn't realize it.  You see I thought this was High Falls!! Can you imagine missing the main event and learning later it was only 5 minutes away...well on a brighter note, at least they'll be something to look forward to when I come back again, only this time it will be in a canoe!   

Lynde Shores (Waterfront Trail)

This portion of the trail from  Lakeside Park in Ajax to Port Whitby was explored on a bike instead of walking.  When you first come through Lakeside Park in Ajax you'll have one of the nicest views of Lake Ontario on the Waterfront trail.  Located on the south east area of Ajax, Lakeside has plenty of wildlife to see because of its close proximity to Carruthers Marsh and Lake Ontario.  

Carruthers Creek Marsh area has no formal paths but it's  been traveled so many times through so many generations of nature lovers, you'll see numerous informal pathways.  It is considered a Provincially Significant Wetland (also known as Watershed) area and is accessible to hikers and walkers who want to visit here.  You'll see many sedges and rushes, and of course ducks, birds and fish that come to feed here.  I'm still working on capturing that 'awesome' fowl photo, but they keep flying :)

The trail goes north and you'll find yourself on and off-road paths but its a nice mix from stunning homes on Ortono Road, to rolling hills of farmland to the wooded scenery of Lynde Shores Conservation Area.

The Lynde Shores Conservation Area  is 156 hectares of land on Lake Ontario along Lynde Creek.  It includes parts of the Cranberry marshes, a natural habitat for marsh birds and wildlife in the area.  If you ever want to visit this place, you'll have to make sure to take a garbage bag with you because it's garbage-free which means anything you bring into Lynde Shores, you take out of Lynde Shores.  There are no picnic tables inside the C.A., but there are some near the parking lot off of Victoria Street, if you want to stop for something to eat before going in.

By the way, if you are coming here by car, you can park on the side Victoria street (east of Halls Rd).  Did not visit the Conservation area, but on this day opted to go down Halls Road instead and headed east on Victoria Street towards Port Whitby. Great run today, and will come back to visit the Conservation Area on foot.  Still in all, saw lots of beautiful scenery and took way too many pictures. 

One last thing...
If you are wondering about the butterfly...I found her on the soft shoulder on Victoria Street.  I stopped to pick her up off the pavement and put her on top of a wooden post, and gave her something to eat.