In the spirit of my current read, The Complete Tightwad Gazette (more to come on that later, I promise), I headed out for some free fun this past weekend on a visit to Toronto. It was Doors Open weekend!
(I am not sure if I need to explain this, since I am almost certain that everyone who reads this blog knows me, and is therefore likely to know about the greatness that is Doors Open)
The first stop was Campbell House, at Queen and University. I had never been inside, despite the fact that I am a huge Canadian history nerd, and this is one of the oldest houses in Toronto. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. By far the most interesting part was the basement kitchen, and the explanation of how to cook a roast dinner and bake pies in the big fireplace. There was also a demo of how to make 19th century lemonade, which made me thirsty, since it was about 30 degrees out!
Next, the Canada Life building just next door.
This building has been part of Doors Open Toronto for almost as long as the event has been running, and I would totally recommend a visit here next year. Visitors can ride the elevator to the top floor observation deck, which is very opulently decorated besides having a great view of downtown.
After we emerged from the elevators at ground level, and I recovered from the vertigo-inducing video of a repairman replacing a lightbulb on the building’s weather beacon/planned airship tether, I remembered a bookish connection.
If I remember correctly, a key scene in The Torontonians, by Phyllis Brett Young, takes place in the Canada Life building. The protagonist, a frustrated suburban housewife, has gone downtown to visit a neighbour about a mysterious cheque (wouldn’t want to give more than that away about the plot!). He stands in his office, looking out at the city spread before him, musing on his past in the slums of the The Ward, and looking towards the future at the lands being cleared for the new city hall.
I can’t find the book right now in my messy apartment, but if I could, I’d include a quote to convince you to read it! It’s gripping in a soapy kind of way, and I loved to read the descriptions of Toronto of the early 60s, when the Yonge Street subway (and resultant decrease in traffic) was still novel, and Leaside was considered the ‘burbs.