In a matter of days… Ray and myself talked about getting together downtown to hang out together and maybe take some pictures and catch up. We thought about where we could stay… from walking around all night, maybe getting 2 or 3 hours of shut eye sitting upright at Union Station or finding a really comfortable booth at one of Toronto’s Best 24 Hour Restaurants and have a mind snoozing meal that puts us into a coma and we slip the waitress $20 bucks to leave us be for the night. Ray thought it would be a good idea to get a hotel room to crash in. Looking back now… I agree… and part of me wanted to hang all night. Next time!
I went downtown and caught up with Ray at Union Station who was working at Yonge + Bloor. He finished at 2:30 and we caught each other a little after 3pm. It was great to see him. We didn’t know where to start… so we thought we would walk North up Yonge Street and head to the old Maple Leaf Gardens… which has been converted into Loblaws and part of the Athletic Facility of Ryerson University. They had old pictures and old seats from the Gardens you could sit on. The store was huge! They had a blue Maple Leaf made out of the old stadium seats. Pretty cool.
As we walked up Yonge towards the Gardens, it was nice to catch up and also play a little tour guide. I could tell him the places I worked and all the funny stories along those years.
Turning the corner on Carlton Street was very cool. I told Ray that my memories of Toronto when I was really small was from my Brother. (Ray’s Dad) Dave would take me each year downtown to a Globe Trotters Basketball game at Old Maple Leaf Gardens and it was that time where it was just the two of us. Where I could walk among the wackos of the world without having to hold someone’s hand. We were brothers. J-Walking was cool. Sure he kept me safe… but without me knowing. My eyes were open to the city and the people and the hustle and bustle.
We then walked south along the other side of Yonge towards Dundas and we then headed east towards the Hotel to check in. We unpacked our things and made our bags a bit lighter and got some warm clothes ready. Ray was a little but tired from working all day and getting up for work around 4am that morning. He was yawning like a kid in grade 6 History class. With a quick stop at Timmy’s for a bucket coffee… we decided to hit the Toronto Islands since the last time Ray went over to snap some pic’s… it was really cold and windy.
During our walk… we realized we were really lucky since the weather was quite warm for this time of the year. We walked down to the Westin Hotel where we could catch a ferry over to the Island. As we walked… it’s getting dark and we have not really took any pictures of anything. At the Lake we found out that we can only head over to Wards Island. It’s the first time… I have gone that way. For me… It’s always over to Centre Island with the kids. I’m excited to go somewhere new. There is locals with bikes and groceries heading over with us in the chilly night. Once on the other side we make our way down a road and cross a bridge and move through the houses towards the edge of the shore that looks back towards the city. The house are beautiful and the shadows of the overhanging trees that line the paths between the houses makes me want to come back in the summer and explore. It’s dark and you can see inside some homes that have beautiful kitchens and sitting rooms. It has a cozy cottage feel and it’s nice.
At the waters edge… we sit on a bench and continue to tell each other stores of us growing up… past relationships… our kids… and what’s going on in our current lives. Ray takes some great shots of the skyline using his tripod.
The air is cool… but it’s not cold. It’s not forcing us to give up and leave. As we talk… the planes are still landing here and there. The ducks are swimming by in the night. Below you can see the line of a Porter plane landing and the flash of it’s lights as it flickers on it’s landing path. Since Ray is shooting very long exposures… you can see this on the image below.
After a long time of sitting and talking and telling stories… we decide to walk back and jump on the Ferry back to the city. Once on the Ferry… we get to enjoy the skyline as it approaches and we watch everyone also take images of it as it gets closer.
Once on the other side… we decide it’s time to get some food and we head back to Front Street and go east on The Esplande towards The St. Lawrence Market. We grab a bite to eat and decide that we are going to walk to The Docks on Polson Street and go through the Distillery District on the way there. Along the way is one of my Basketball Courts that I would love to play at and next summer… that goal will come true.
I love the surface and the glass backboards. It’s a park where people sit on the side and ends and watch the action in the summer. It has a New York feel to it. It must be packed silly in the summer.
We then make our way though the Distillery and there is a couple of weddings inside the venues and art galleries. I show him the different buildings and what’s inside.
We then use our phone to get over to Cherry Street using the map and head towards The Docks. Once there… we set up again and sit and tell stories. I share some from when he was little of his Dad and his Mom… funny stuff that he can’t share with anyone. We laugh and share stories.
After a while… it’s after 1am and we start to pack up and head back into the city towards the Hotel. Back at Dundas Square there is still people walking around… but you can tell that the city is quiet compared to a couple of hours ago. You can see that they are getting ready for the Grey Cup as well as the Christmas lighting the following night and the Santa Claus parade on Sunday.
Back at the Hotel… we head up and truly feel how tired we are and how much we walked. After about lying down on the bed… we both stop talking and our eyes close for the night.
The next morning… we both make our way back to Union Station like two old men who can’t walk. Along the way… I mention about the King Edward Hotel and how there is a old Ballroom located at the top that is gutted and I’ve broken into it twice to shoot pictures of couples.
We decide we would sneak back up and see if we can get into it. We try and hide our camera bags and walk into the lobby and head for elevators. Below is a shot of what it looks like inside.
It’s on the 18th floor so I select the 16th floor (since I’m thinking that hitting 18 will alert security) and we get off the elevator and make our way down the hall towards to the stairwell. We walk up to the 18th floor and the door is locked. Bugger. Ray notices the stairs keep going so he starts to walk up them and for some reason there is a door open a crack with a brick holding it open. Inside this musty dingy stairway you can see that someone has had some personal parties. Behind the door we notice… It’s the Roof!
Not knowing if someone is on the Roof this morning… Ray does the “Hellllooo?” softly and no response is heard. So he steps outside into the morning light and we are on the Roof with just a open ledge and a cool sight-lines of the city. I see Ray walking over to the edge and all I’m thinking about is security guards, someone noticing the brick and closes the door locking us on the roof for days, cameras on the roof with the front desk calling the police and we are busted… thrown in Jail and I can’t take my kids swimming that afternoon in Ajax.
I tell Ray we should leave before we get caught and now looking back at it… we should have pulled our camera out of our bags and taken a couple shots without falling to our death on the sidewalk below.
We then make our way to Union Station and part ways and say we will do this soon. Really soon…
Yes… we need to do this again. In Toronto… and in KW at his stomping ground.