Archive for the ‘Best Of’ Category

Spring Has Sprung

Well, I could write about the TTC, about how the union wants the Mayor or the TTC Chair to take over negotiations, which they would of course because the union can easily pound them into flat meat and get a “yes, whatever you want” from either of them, thus guaranteeing another fare hike. Or I could vent about the new ginormous blue boxes, whose blight on the urban landscape is easily discernible to anyone driving from east to west, from blight to friendly, and whose sizes makes one pause about how serious Toronto is about reducing waste production — just because it’s recyclable doesn’t make it more virtuous than trash that gets landfilled or, more enlightened, made useful by being turned into electricity (now that’s high-tech recycling for you!). All waste comes from consumption; all waste requires power and materials to be manufactured in the first place, and recyclables need power again to be turned into something else that will then again be put into the waste bin.

Instead, I’ll just show you the best part of spring.

Open Post (New Years)

Does anyone have any suggestions for New Years Eve?

Stories of places one should avoid?
Something you just have to experience?

This is an open post so go ahead and tell Toronto your story!

Toronto’s 7th Gift to the World


Millions around the world owe their lives to this discovery by two Canadian scientists named Sir Frederick Grant Banting and Dr. Charles Herbert Best. Discovered in the unusually hot summer of 1921 at the University of Toronto, insulin has prolonged the life of countless individuals worldwide.

Though not a cure, it gives diabetics hope for a longer life. Before the discovery of insulin, individuals with diabetes died within months of diagnosis. Today, with proper diet along with regular exercise and proper use of insulin, those living with diabetes could live decades after being diagnosed.

Though Banting and Best are best known for this discovery, it was a team effort. Dr. Bertram Collip and John J. R. MacLeod joined Banting and Best during the refining process, after the initial discovery. Their contributions allowed for the extraction of a purer form of insulin from the pancreas of calfs. Tests were initially performed on dogs until this purer form was found.

In a cold day in January of 1922, a sickly Toronto teenager named Leonard Thompson became the first documented person to receive a shot insulin. From that first day, insulin spread all around the world with the help of its discovers and the University, who licensed it to pharmaceutical companies, royalty-free.

In the following year, 1923, Banting and and MacLeod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Since then, these men have been honoured many times over, having numerous buildings and foundations named after them–from the U of T’s own Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, to the The Sir Frederick Banting Foundation, and even to a tiny Toronto elemenatary school not a five minute walk away from where this was written:

Banting and Best Public School

Banting and Best Public School

Sources and More Info:

Toronto’s 6th Gift to the World


It’s 1933. Look up, waaaayyy up above the Royal York Hotel and the Canadian Bank of Commerce tower, the tallest buildings in the British Commonwealth, and what do you see? A bird? A plane? No, a red and blue-clad comic hero leaping out of the minds of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.

Shuster, cousin to one-half of Canada’s most famed comedy duo Frank Shuster, drew Superman, while Siegel wrote the comic strip. Although an American creation, Superman and Metropolis rose out of a Canadian city. Shuster may’ve left Toronto at the age of 10 to move with his family to Cleveland, Ohio, where he met Siegel, but his hometown and birthplace drove his ideas.

While still a child, he delivered newspapers for the Toronto Daily Star (now named the Toronto Star), and as anyone who has ever delivered papers for that venerable broadsheet knows, once a paper carrier, always a loyal fan. And so Clark Kent’s Daily Star newspaper was named after the Toronto Daily Star, and Metropolis’ cityscape was Toronto.

What a super gift our old hometown boy gave to the world.

Toronto’s 5th Gift to the World

Since November 26, Metroblogging sites around the globe have been unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Toronto was a bit late starting but are hoping to accelerate our sharing of this week’s topic. David Markland over at the Los Angeles metblog site has put up an ongoing guide for all the posts on this subject.

The United Nations declared Toronto the most multicultural city in the world, and in a 2003 document on Canada, reiterated that Canada’s largest city remains one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Toronto is a living embodiment of what it means to live in concord.

According to folklore, Toronto is named after the Huron word for place of meetings or meeting place. Although that’s not the name’s real origin, it reflects how Toronto has become a place that gathers in people from every corner, nook, and cranny of Earth and shows them the possiblities and opportunities that erupt when people live in harmony and not in strife. This 641 sq. km of land, encompassing 2.48 million people, is a mecca for people who want to live in peace. Here, it’s common to see co-workers of every skin colour, creed, culture, and language working amicably with each other, sitting and laughing together on the subway ride home, praising the Lord side by side, organizing a game of pick-up hockey, and relaxing over Canadian beer in the darkening hours of the early evening.

We are a city that comprises over 100 languages and dialects (I’ve noticed Russian recently gaining ground in the panoply of languages on the subway), over 1 million visible minorities, over 11,000 aboriginals, over half a million new immigrants since 1991, virtually very cultural group known to exist, and 79 ethnic publications. Plus we have four competing mainstream newspapers, who between them cover every political viewpoint. We show the world that peace and harmony between diverse people is possible; it’s not just a pipe dream nor a tourism brochure’s exaggerated claim. The proof? We are the safest large metropolitan area in North America according to Places Rated Almanac. We invite you to come and see our 5th gift to the world.

Sources and More Info:
Toronto Facts
Toronto Geography
UN PDF Document on Canada
Toronto on Wikipedia

Toronto’s 3rd Gift to the World

At 553m or 1,815ft, the CN Tower is the world’s tallest free-standing tower. It was originally conceived of as three communication towers, but then Canadian National Railway and the architects got ambitious. Why not build the tallest tower in the world, they mused? And so they did!

The CN Tower opened to great fanfare to the public on 26 June 1976. Since then Canadian National Railway sold it to Canada Lands Company, and “CN Tower” now stands for Canada’s National Tower. Although its main function is as a communications tower, designed to boost broadcast signals, its known for its fantastic views and its vertigo-inducing Sky Pod, accessible only on non-windy or light wind days. On a clear day, you can see right across Lake Ontario to the American shores. In the 1970s, its rotating high-flying disco bar was the place to sneak into as an underaged kid. Its restaurant, 360, is still a destination of choice for celebratory dinners. Its glass floor wows visitors and instills fear into the height-challenged.

Many have talked of challenging this Tower’s Guinness World Record, and the day may come soon when the challenger will be successful, but for now the CN Tower continues to define our city and to be the main place to see for any visitor to Toronto.

Toronto’s First Gift to the World: Green AC

Since November 26, Metroblogging sites around the globe have been unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Toronto was a bit late starting but are hoping to accelerate our sharing of this weeks topic. David Markland over at the Los Angeles metblog site has put up an ongoing guide for all the posts on this subject.

Toronto presents the world our deep lake water cooling system. (see previous post on this subject). A clean and sustainable technology which made it’s home in Toronto as the first downtown core to be cooled this way. There are other places that use this technology like the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and one at Cornell University but have yet to be expanded. Stockholm and Dubai are implementing this and the Makai Ocean Engineering firm in Hawaii is hoping to bring this to the masses as well.

So, such a system is only great if it is utilised as much as possible. Toronto hopes to continue to expand it’s usage of this system by getting businesses interested in both the advertising (“Hey! We’re a ‘green’ company!”) and cost savings over time. (Example: Tridel [a condominium developer] used it as a sales factor.)

This won’t save the world, but it is a seemingly nice start.


Maybe it isn’t magnificent but we do have a pretty interesting city, especially as seen driving along the Gardiner. I’m eastbound, heading past the downtown core, and every time I pass the Fairmont Royal York I look left and marvel at the play of light on the windows. As things get illuminated and hidden quickly. I love the viewing vantage point that this highway offers.

But, before I got to that section, as I left the Old Mill I took Riverside Drive south instead of S. Kingsway by accident. Try it one day and take it all the way til you hit S. Kingsway towards The Queensway. It’s just a nicer drive full of hills, nice old houses, big trees and a few historical markers along the way. Plus the Humber River marshes are visible too and are nicer to look at than any southern part of the Don River!


Summerlicious is just around the corner. Personally, I haven’t gone to any restaurant during Summerlicious (or Winterlicious for that matter), but I hear very good things from a variety of people. If you’re a gormand on a budget, July 7-23, 2006 is the time for you to go hog-wild on the fantastic food the city has to offer. At $15-$35 for lunch or dinner, it’s not that cheap, but it’s reasonable.

The only places on the listing I’ve been to are EDO and Flow. EDO was okay; I’ve had better. Flow was fantastic. They had lamb that was juicy and flavourful. It’s not on the Summerlicious menu but I highly recommend it.

Check it out at

Thank You


Thank you to CBC for The Current which has helped make my two hour long commute into a painless, educational and commercial free experience.

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