King Edward Hotel

I have always loved the subject of history, which well includes architectural history.  It was an honor to be a part of a celebration at the King Edward Hotel.  The "King Eddy" as it has been known to local Torontonians for decades resides at 37 King Street East, on the south side, west of Church Street and occupies the entire second block east of Yonge Street.

It has lived here since the structure opened in 1903 and housed 400 rooms and several ballrooms as well as the grand lobby.  The King Edward Hotel was designed by two famous architects.  Chicago's Henry Ives Cobb and Toronto's E.J. Lennox and was granted his namesake by King Edward VII.  
Since then, there have been several revisions made to the original hotel which included 530 additional rooms and an 18 storey tower added to the original eight-storey structure to the east of the hotel.  In the late 50's the two top floors occupied the Crystal Ballroom, which since has been permanently closed due to stricter fire codes and was not included in the restoration project in the early 80's.  
Throughout the years, the hotel has seen a number of hands pass ownership, one of which in 2009 was retained by ' Le Meridien to manage it.  They closed the hotel to perform a major restoration which included 140 condominiums from the third to the fifth floors.  These floors have been unused for a number of years, and there have been rumours of 'hauntings'.  Historically, there are always rumours that emerge that involve the closure or ruins of historical places.  It alludes mystery.

Last year, in 2012 saw the most recent ownership from "Skyline Hotels" .  We were all happy to enjoy wonderful food, good music and dance to celebrate a successful year.  I hope that 2013 will finish off better than it has started.  This was a good way to begin.

The King Edward welcomes visitors to view and take pictures of many paintings and the historical architecture and furnishings that adorn the building.   You may even get a chance to visit the 4th floor...

Canterbury Falls- Hamilton

 It's been a very long two weeks after a crushing blow to the family.  I wept for my sons who lost their father both unexpectedly and much too young.   Alan Laine had left quite the legacy as over 200 people showed up for his funeral and I just had to sit back and smile during the reception afterwards to listen to the stories and laughter spread across the room filled with people who had something funny to tell about 'Big Al'.  During the eulogy there were stories shared of his strength and fellowship by his dearest friends and music played in honor for his life, which brought me and my sons to tears.

The service was respectful and not over-indulgent.  Just long enough to keep our attention and the visitation the day before brought me to tears as I had said my final goodbyes to the man I loved for his dedication to fatherhood.  He was a pillar of strength and will be missed by his co workers and friends and family.

My sons are taking this hard as his death was untimely for them, but the three of them were lucky enough to spend the last few years living together building and mending bonds.  My own husband has been patient and understanding through my grieving and allowing me all the time and space I need to be there for my family.  

Many times in life when we lose someone we care about, we turn to the church for support.  I may not attend church as much as others, but I never lost my faith and my hope in my spirituality.  Whatever God is to me, it lives wherever I do, and I am able to talk and listen to my own better judgement to which I can trust is the answers to anything I need to know.

The Canterbury Falls in Hamilton is owned by the Anglican Church of Canada.  The surrounding land is facilitated as a conference retreat, church and children's camp.  I hoped to spot some deer but it was just too frigid out for them I suppose.  These pictures were shot at dusk and the exposure was set high to get as much light as possible, but I was not very happy with the pictures.  The last time I saw Canterbury there was no water at all so was surprised to read that it has a year-round flow.  I will be pleased to finally take a fine shot and get down about 10 metres (32 feet) to get a good shot of the entire cascade.  The waterfall is a tributary of sulphur springs creek.

After a few hours of walking in the cold outdoors, I felt a little better, and the flow of the waterfalls reminds us all that life goes on...

Scarborough Historical Museum & Memorial Park

To discover more about the Scarborough Historical Museum you have to start back in 1796, when a Scotsman named David Thomson settled in Upper Canada and became the first permanent resident in Scarborough.  He was granted 400 acres and along with his brother, Andrew had built a log cabin on his property.   

Not long after other settlers joined them including David's brother Archibald.  As they were stone masons, they made their living by working on the first Parliament buildings in York (Toronto).  

A few years later a road had connected their settlement to York and a sawmill was built by each one of the brothers, David, Andrew and Archibald.  A Presbyterian church, built 20 years later became the core of the prospering Thomson Settlement.

The pale looking house (Cornell House) was inhabited for over 80 years by descendents of Wm. Cornell who came here from Rhode Island in 1799.  This home was considered a middle-class home, with spacious upper and lower floors equipped with pot-bellied stove, pantry, cold storage, eating area and living area.  The upper floor was for sleeping, which kept the family closely together, including infants sleeping in the same room as the mother.  This tradition has since changed :)

It was quite cold outside, and very unexpected that the museum was opened on this day, so you can imagine our surprise to peer into the window to see a face appear waving us in.  Upon opening the front doorway, we were greeted and given hot tea and home made oatmeal cookies! There was one other person who was equally happy to join in for some afternoon tea.  The ladies were dressed in the attire of the time, long cotton dress, with aprons and bonnets.

One of the volunteers had offered to show us inside the McCowan Log Cabin, which was locked upThe McCowan Log cabin was built in 1830 and was occupied by William McCowan from 1848 until his death in 1902. (1820-1902).    William came to Canada in 1833 with his parents and 4 brothers and 4 sisters where they settled near the Scarborough Bluffs near McCowan road.  

A year after emigrating to Canada, in one night, Williams' father and brother had died of cholera, after which William took care of his mother and brothers and sisters and remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.  

His nephew James McCowan took over after William passed on.  This cabin, although appearing quite small on the inside, could apparently house up to 10 people at one time and was considered quite large in its time.  The cabin was restored and carefully moved by the historical society to the Thomson Settlement in 1974.

The entire Thomson Settlement occupies a portion of the 'Thomson Memorial Park' at the corner of Brimley Road and Lawrence in Scarborough.

Highland Creek Watershed (Brimley Woods)

Recently passed by a small woodland lot at the corner of Finch and Brimley Road, called Brimley Woods (which incidentally is also another component of the Highland Creek watershed).  Brimley Woods is essential to the health of the watershed by absorbing air pollutants as well as to provide a habitat for plants and wildlife such as hawks and songbirds.  In the spring and summer the entire area is surrounded by wildflowers.

The "Highland" is an urban creek running over 85 kilometres through an area of about 100 square kilometres.  Although today, it's become the most developed watershed in all of Toronto, there are still remnant forests like this one, which are vital green space that contain trails of which can provide recreational opportunities all year round as well.

I remember when I was in high school, we had to meet up in the mornings at a local forest much like this one to do a recreational course as part of our phys ed class.  The signs indicate what exercise is required and the bars are permanently installed for exercise aids.  

Brimley Woods is an example of the conservation efforts and strategies between the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority with the City of Toronto and community organizations  all for the common good to improve health of the Highland and its neighbourhoods.   

The next time you explore your neighbourhood parks and trails, you can help by recycling your bottles and cans, or picking up any lose garbage that somehow doesn't make its way to the trash.  Keep active by joining or organizating neighbourhood nature walks, doing private tree planting, or establishing rain gardens in your own backyard.