A shoe museum? Yes! It sounds corny but in fact was one of the places I enjoyed most in Toronto, remembering that Toronto can’t really lay claim to Niagara Falls as they’re a couple of hours south. The Bata Shoe Museum is in a purpose-built building and narrates the history of humankind in general, with a special interest in Aboriginal Canadians, through what people have put on their feet. Or what they did to their feet in the case of those crippled Chinese women who had their feet bound from infancy. Some centuries-old examples even looked remarkably like some of the more unflattering shoes of today – think platforms!
Casa Loma is another enjoyable oddity, a palatial home built by a man with an ego as big as his bank balance. The latter was only temporary and the family lived there for about 10 years until boom turned to bust. It was under threat then, as it apparently is now. Since the family left, the Kiwanis Club have run it as a fundraising venture and their method of running is different to any other place I’ve ever visited. Where in most places you see a selection of rooms, here you could see just about everything – I climbed up, among joists and beams, to the underside of the conical top on one of the towers! Also, there was very little that was “hands-off”. I wonder if that, and an air of shabbiness in parts, is accounted for by running the ‘House on the Hill’ primarily as a money-making concern rather than preserving it for the future. Of course, I don’t know. It could be lack of funds rather than lack of curatorial wherewithall that is the main problem. On the other hand, the small gardens are beautifully maintained.
I got as far as the welcome desk of Barnicke Gallery and then simply couldn’t do it. Not more modern ‘art’. I already knew Canadians could do it as awfully as anyone else. I moved on and discovered …
– St Patrick’s Church, home of the German community in Toronto. Yes, German!
– The Art Gallery of Ontario which has a large Henry Moore collection. [Henry Moore and Rene Magritte are the inexplicable exceptions to my anti-modern-art bias.] Annoyingly, in this gallery you could take photos of the visiting exhibition but not of the permanent collection. Weird. So sadly there is no photo of The Warrior in Toronto. The Warrior in Florence will have to suffice. And I’ll refain from asking how many warriors there are!
I liked the sea/lake/sky paintings of the Canadian “Group of Seven”, their cool, sharp blue/green/white colourings, but those of land and trees in fall/autumn tonings were far too orange for me.
There was bellringing as well. I fitted in quite well to learners’ practice at St James Cathedral. I rang my first method in nearly three years, Grandsire Doubles. Getting back into the basics!!
It was farewell to Toronto and to Pamela at dinner, the venue of which we had to change because we couldn’t get near our first choice because of Woofstock, a doggie day when people brought their dogs into town and certain streets were closed off for the event. I was warned: watch where you step!
At this second choice we sat at one of the best tables in the house, in the window. The meal was pleasant but not as good as dinner on my first night in Toronto at The Ceili Cottage, an Irish pub (but ‘pub-looking’ neither to English Pamela nor Aussie me) recommended by my BnB host. Worth the short trip from town centre if ever you’re there.