Ripleys “You’d better Believe It” Aquarium

You’d better Believe It
Best Aquarium I have ever visited and I am an Aquarium “freak”
Costly at $39 for the entrance fee but worth every penny
Don’t miss the baby shark eggs hatching, the seahorses, the Travelator that wends its way under the enormous glass fish tank, and oh everything else.

Surreal Disney meets spa music playing on a loop enhances the feeling of being in an alternate reality!

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“Bowie Is”

Hot on the heels of a”Residency”
at London’s “Victoria and Albert” Museum and starring in an all-encompassing multi-media Exhibition at The Art Gallery of Ontario

UNTIL NOVEMBER 27……………

Bowie Is:

The most mind blowing exquisitely layered multi-media exhibition I’ve seen to date. Both a sonic and visual spectacle that immerses the “viewer” in surround-sound.

A sublime curation of a diverse body of work from probably one of the most underrated “Pop” icons of our time

An exhilarating reminder of how it’s possible to reinvent yourself over and over whilst constantly exploring all your aspects of creativity as a piece of a larger artistic picture.

A re-definition of “Art “in its broadest sense (and therefore a brave and forward thinking stance from the AGO)

A showcase for all the “behind-the-scenes” notes/drawings/doodles/sketches and designs that hallmarked his involvement with every part of the creative process whether it be on stage, in a video, or as a recording.

A celebration of the life and prolific output of a true trendsetter.”A glamorous pioneer of invented identities”

A comprehensive chronologically presented archive of the life of a man who is unafraid to express himself at every artistic level and to challenge the social boundaries of the various “ages” through which he has trail-blazed.a questioner of social norms and gender

Absolutely nothing to do with tabloid rubbish or his private persona

Exhibit Notes:
Get ready to experience the amazing directional viewing/listening concept delivered through your complimentary headset. The soundtrack and narration merge and fade in and out as you move from exhibit to exhibit.
First gallery:
Here we find the contextual pieces and the influences that framed his early life. Bowies own voice and memories accompany you through this gallery.
ie.
Born David Jones in Brixton UK in 1947
Began singing in various bands from the age of 16 – pootled around with acting roles and trained as a professional mime artist but until 1969 failed to make a significant commercial breakthrough.
Then came “Space Oddity” – which gets its own exhibit here. This incorporates memorabilia, notes, the video etc of the 1969 career-changing release of this iconic record just prior to the Apollo 12 moon landing.
A “Star Man” booth features costumes and a cosmic split screen kaleidoscope style video of a 1972 “Top of the Pops” appearance with the “too gorgeous” Mick Ronson. Amusing quote with the video, stating that Bowie “outraged and enthralled” viewers of the prime time music show with his alien appearance on colour television (remembering that colour tv was a new concept) and his homoerotic stage-play with Mick Ronson”!

One whole gallery is devoted to Bowie’s Andy Warhol influence/connection.

Up the spiral Gehry staircase to the second floor of the exhibition

Multi media on speed in here.
Where to look?
How to move around it?

Video cubes hang from the ceiling
Acrylic Display cases house masks, clothing and footwear and draft music/show design concepts.
Small TVs screen recordings and documentary pieces – notably some 1973 “Nationwide” archival footage capturing the public reaction to “Ziggyman”, with the very straight, very BBC Bernard Falk describing Bowie as follows:
“A bizarre self-constructed freak with a painted face and carefully adjusted lipstick. This 26 year old man earns about half million pounds a year and can afford to have a personal makeup artist to coat his nails in silver – features confused Newcastle pensioners who have been caught up in the crowds of screaming girls outside

On the walls, paper records, photos and artwork by the man himself

Turn one way and you hear “Gene Genie “
Turn another and “Star Man” blasts into your headset.
My favourite exhibit – a TV screen “looping” the amazing NBC Saturday night live video (1979) where he is carried on stage (because of the restrictive nature of his self-designed costume) backed by The cult German performer Klaus Nomi – who subsequently adopted this style and made it his own – singing “The Man who sold the World” Flanked by story boards detailing the avant garde cabaret influence of 1920’s Europe on his video, and the fact that Bowie’s costume designs and robotic movements were inspired by two specific pieces of Dadaist theatre – performance of Tristian Tzara’s “The Gas Heart with costume by Sonia Delaney and a 1916 recitation by Hugo Bell (he wore a similarly restrictive costume)

Also a small Booth with background info on his latest release “The Next Day”

Excellent “Boys keep swinging” exhibit – with all the costumes – plus his gender bending appearance as the three accompanying backing singers. At the end of the video two of these “characters” pose at the entrance of the catwalk, pause to camera, pull off the wig with attitude and dramatically wipe/smear off the lipstick revealing the gorgeous Bowie glowering onto the lens. Pretty intense confusing messaging for a 1970’s audience.

A separate screening area shows a montage of every film appearance including “The Prestige”, “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence”, “The man who fell to earth” etc

Move to a room with chequerboard tv monitors and chequerboard tiled floor. Stand on the tile that corresponds to the screen you are watching and hey presto – the soundtrack – stellar!

Look out for his art/cartoons and mime pieces here too.

The masterpiece for me however is the last gallery with its massive floor to ceiling screens playing a vast selection of Bowie’s music videos and stills
Leave at least 20 minutes for this gallery

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Continued – Take a Day Out – Unforgettably Unusual Days Out of Toronto

A Peter Witt streetcar in the 1921 livery of t...

A Peter Witt streetcar in the 1921 livery of the Toronto Transit Commission, at the Halton County Radial Railway museum. The rollsigns are set as they would be if the car was operating on the Bathurst route as far as St. Clair Avenue, once its northern terminus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing our day trips out of Toronto – here are 11 more unforgettably Unusual getaways to enjoy…….

#1 The Streetcar Museum – All aboard for a ride through history! Take a 2km scenic journey on a vintage streetcar or interurban rail car at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum. Recognize any of this museum’s exhibits? Many of these “trains” have “acted” as scene backdrops or “performed” in many a period movie. Go give then a standing ovation….. http://www.hcry.org/

#2 The First Tim Hortons – “Fresh for Fifty Years”. Tim Horton’s #1 features a small museum, a replica of the original 1964 sign and a bronze plaque commemorating one of the most iconic sites and best loved brands in Canada. Famous for its “namesake” association with one of Canada’s best loved hockey players (Tim Horton), it originally served only two products – coffee and donuts. Interesting factoid: the original donut selection included two that still remain the most popular today – the Apple Fritter and the Dutchie. http://www.forgottenbuffalo.com/forgottenontario/timhortons1.html

#3 Hamilton Museum of Steam Technology – Welcome to Canada’s Industrial Revolution. The oldest steam engines in Canada are here: housed in this 19th century architectural gem. These 70 ton steam engines pumped the first clean water to the city of Hamilton over 140 years ago. One of these old girls – now of pensionable age – is still operating demonstrations every day. Go marvel at her. http://www.hamilton.ca/CultureandRecreation/Arts_Culture_And_Museums/HamiltonCivicMuseums/SteamMuseum/

#4 Christkindl Market – Want to know what it feels like to shop in a traditional German Christmas Market – without getting on a plane. Every year for 4 days in the run up to Christmas, Kitchener’s City Hall is transformed into a magical authentic Christkindl Market. Vendors selling all those gorgeous folky traditional carved Christmas decorations (candle arches, table mobiles and carved tree decorations) compete with those hawking lederhosen, gluhwein, and delicious German delicacies. “Prost” http://www.christkindl.ca

#5 African lion safari – Go wild and take a “safari” Ontario style. Drive through the games reserves and get close to over 1,000 exotic birds and animals that roam freely in large reserve land drive through Game Reserves. Drive through in your own vehicle or take a Safari Tour Bus. www.lionsafari.com

#6 Discovery Harbour – The historic Home port ofof two replica tall ships : the HMS Bee and HMS Tecumseh, discover what life was like aboard a a rigged “Topsail schooner” in the early 1800’s and get a glimpse into the daily and working lives of all those who manned the original British naval and military base built here in Penetanguishene to protect upper Canada after the war if 1812. www.discoveryharbour.on.ca

#7 Sainte-Marie among the Hurons – Imagine what it would have been like as a pioneer settler in 1639 living in Ontario’s first European community totalling 66 people and representing one fifth of the entire population of “New France”. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people and survived as such until 1649 when the community was forced to flee burning their homes behind them. Find out why at the interpretive centre! www.saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca

#8 The Martyr’s Shrine – So after an immersion in pioneering Canadian style at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, extend that experience and make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of eight Jesuit Saints who lived worked and were martyred there (during warfare between the Iroquois and the Huron) in the mid 17 century. Pay homage to the relics of three of these which rest in the Shrine Church and learn a little more about the history and teachings of the Jesuit Mission. http://www.martyrs-shrine.com/

#9 Visit Peterborough lift lock Visitor Centre Lock 21 on the Trent-Severn Waterway Peterborough Lift Lock is a National Historic Site of Canada – Why? Because When it was completed in 1904, it was the highest hydraulic lift lock ever built, with a vertical lift of nearly 20 metres (65 feet) and was reputed to be the largest unreinforced concrete structure in the world. Even more amazing was the fact that at the time conventional locks usually only had a 2 m (7 ft) rise! www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/trentsevern/visit/visit6/lock21.aspx

#10 HMCS Haida – Explore the last surviving “Tribal Class” destroyer left on the planet…Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada this WW2 British built warship, was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943, and served in Korean and Cold War missions until she was decommissioned in 1963. http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/haida/activ.aspx

#11 Scenic Caves – Walk amongst the treetops on a canopy walk Glide on zip lines across the dramatic Niagara escarpment. Explore the Caverns and crevices that honeycomb the escarpments limestone cliffs Or do all three at Collingwood’s Eco adventure hotspot “Scenic Caves” www.sceniccaves.com

Update – new event at Downton Abbey at Spadina House

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Spadina House

English: Spadina House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


HOLD THE PRESSES
Downton Abbey Garden Party to be held on June 23 – dance the Charleston on the lawns of this historic house -see website below for details

A short and sweet post this week just to get this wonderful nugget of Toronto sightseeing “òut there“

For all die-hard Downton Abbey fans, this is a real treat.

On Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings until the end of June, historic Spadina House has joined forces with Vision TV (who run the Downton Abbey series) to present a Downton Abbey focussed event.
Just as the Downton Abbey series focused its start of season with the “goings-on on” “Downstairs” so this tour starts in the servant`s quarters of the newly opened 3rd floor and moves through the house giving fans the chance to compare the fictional world of the television drama and its characters with the real life stories of the Austin family who resided in Spadina House during the same period. There is plenty of time for discussion and Crawley- Austin family chat

Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. until the end of June.
http://www.toronto.ca/museum-events

And when you’ve had your Downton Abbey fix, you can explore other facets of this beautifully preserved manor and its gardens which were restored to reflect the art, decor and architecture styles from the 1860`s through to the 1930`s, This coincides with the occupation of the house by the Austin family with fine examples of the prevailing styles within that period namely Victorian, Edwardian, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Colonial Revival.

Enjoy

Over and Out

Mothers Day Treat

The following is a selection of Mother-friendly Toronto destinations that have been rigorously tried and tested by a member of this very important target audience – My Mother

Warning: You won’t get to do all of these in one day of course –
Perfect excuse to take her out again.
And again……

Breakfast:
No self respecting day out with your mother can even get off the ground without a decent breakfast.
Stratus at the top of the TD Waterhouse Building in The Toronto Athletic Club serves breakfast with a skyline view. Nestled amongst the gleaming towers of the city core, the restaurant is stylishly minimalist but good value with great breakfast choices overseen by chef David Ross (Auberge du Pommier), Open for weekday breakfast and lunch it’s best to make a reservation on 4168651924

Over in Toronto’s west end, a different style of breakfast option is available at “Nadege” The brainchild of fourth generation pastry chef Nadege Nourian, this patisserie is especially delightful from spring through fall when – after you’ve made your choice of scrumptious made-on-site filled croissants or agonised over the melt-in-your-mouth macaron selection – you can sit on the shaded patio overlooking the park.
http://www.nadege-patisserie.com

Museums
If museums could be given a gender then both “The Bata shoe museum” and The Gardiner museum would be female and on that basis perfect for our Mothers.
The Gardiner whilst small but perfectly formed is the only museum in Canada devoted exclusively to ceramics. A gleaming glass confection of beautifully displayed ceramics spanning 3 floors topped by the Jamie Kennedy restaurant. There are always has myriad temporary thought-provoking exhibitions passing through, in addition to genre related classes and talks, plus it hosts the exquisite Twelve Trees” exhibit at Christmas. Bonus: if your Mother fancies throwing a pot or two, herself, make sure you are in the lobby on Wednesday or Friday evenings a for first-come, first- serve access to the studio beginning at 6pm. They also run on Sundays at 1pm
http://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca

The Bata shoe Museum
Question: which fictitious secret agent had a telephone built into his shoe?
You can find out at this one-of-a-kind museum. If I were a shoe I’d leave instructions to be buried here. Shoe-heaven spanning 4.500 years over 4 floors in an award winning building. From chestnut-crushing clogs to celebrity shoes bequeathed by John Lennon, Marilyn Munroe and Madonna (to name but a few), oh and curiously a pair of Napolean Bonaparte’s silk socks.
http://www.batashoemuseum.ca

Spa experience
Nothing screams “Spoil Her” as much as a couple of hours of lounging and treatments at one of Toronto’s world class hotel spas.
Both these below are covered separately in previous blogs, so if you need more info scroll back through my posts.

Caudalie Miraj Hammam Spa at the Shangri-La – a wildly exotic experience where you can book a private hamman for just the two of you. What makes this a really special treat is the tented opulence of the Hammam lounge – all “Arabian nights” draped chiffon, Persian rugs and jewel colored raffia “pouffes” strewn with mags, and reeking decadence.
A nice touch after your treatment/s is the baklava, grapes and sweet mint tea served on brassware to your little “nook
http://www.mirajcaudaliespa.com

More down to earth but just a blissful in terms of treatment options (and price) is “The Aveda Concept spa” at the “Intercontinental” Hotel on Front Street.
The Spa area whilst lined with glass framed views of the Toronto skyline has an intimate ambiance and an inviting waiting area complete with Aveda tea, fresh fruit and infused waters on –tap. It always houses a decent sized pool (complete with tiny waterfall) fringed with cheerful and inviting reclining loungers, and a hot tub.
http://www.thespaintercontinental.com

Afternoon Tea
Forget all the formula high-teas of the high-end Hotels down town, your Mother will be charmed by an afternoon tea in any of the more unusually feminine offerings below:
First up the delightful and always surprising “Red Tea Box” that hides out on Queen Street West. One of Toronto’s best kept secrets comprising 2 indoor shabby-chic tea rooms sandwiching a “secret garden” summer patio shaded by pear trees and Indian

screens. Open the tiny door and your view is barred by the huge display of “trade secret” crazy -pretty cakes: iced to perfection and almost too beautiful to eat, these are light-as-a-feather sponge and cream delectations in wildly yummy flavors. Also available are imaginative sweet and savory Bento boxes, sandwiches and soups.
This is not a place to be rushing through – the service pace should be your guide. Closed Tuesdays – check for hours. 416 203 8882

MoRoCo – a lexicon: Mo for Montana, Ro for Rory and Co for Cocoa. Montana and Rory are the inspiration behind MoRoCo Chocolate’s delectable offering on Yorkville Avenue. The interior, with its enticing “come hither” chocolate aura is a striking marriage of tasteful Parisian boudoir and a hat box –dark paint, white moulded walls, chandeliers and plush seating. This is high tea with a twist; a chocolate twist plus a chance to sample the house-made chocolate finery. You must book ahead for “High Teas”www.morocochocolat.com

The Old Mill Hotel is a quaint and historic setting for afternoon tea – There has been a tea garden here since 1914. A restored black and white timber framed hotel in the leafy enclave of Old Mills West Toronto, its motto is “In the valley of the Humber, a bit of England, far from England”. And a taste of old England is exactly what you’ll get: dark beamed spaces; flagstone floors and the glorious smell of wood smoke from the wood burning fires dotted around the place. You will need to book ahead: Teas are served
Monday – Friday from 3:00 -5pm, 2-4pm on Saturdays and 3:30-5pm on Sundays. http://www.oldmilltoronto.com

Cocktails with a view:

Cocktails at the top of one of the world’s tallest structures, “The CN Tower” wins the prize here –either as part of a meal in the spectacular 360 revolving restaurant or just a twilight visit to the Horizon Restaurant Bar just below. Be sure to visit at twilight so you can watch the sun go down over the city around 350 metres below!

http://www.cntower.ca

“The Panorama lounge” in the Manu-Life Centre on Bloor – sit on the balcony 55 floors up for a no-holds-barred “Panoramic” view of the city and Lake. Though High-heel worthy, this chic venue is not so snotty as to turn its nose up at end-of-long-day smart casual.www.panoramalounge.com

http://www.pamoramalounge.com

In the heart of Toronto’s impressive glass and steel financial district and under the watchful eye of the CN Tower, Canoe is one of Toronto’s high end restaurants with a view. The prize stallion of the Oliver and Bonacini stable of restaurants, you don’t need a reservation if you are simply stopping by for a cocktail in the window lined bar. – Tel:4163640054

A night on the town
Toronto is the third largest theatre venue in the world after London and New York, so expect to be able to treat your Mother to a spectacular west end or Broadway show. It’s easy to pick up tickets for same day shows at the the Totix booth in Dundas Square. Or subscribe to mirvish.com to nab great deals on tickets in advance.
Look out for theatre events occurring in heritage properties such
as the faux gothic Casa Loma or the century old Montgomery’s Inn which frequently host imaginatively interpreted performances of Shakespeare, Bram stoker and Dickens plays adapted to make use of these amazing spaces. Check http://www.casaloma.org or
http://www.montgomerysinn.com
Can’t leave this category without mentioning the world class architecturally and acoustically advanced “Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts”, home of the
National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. Contact the centre at http://www.coc.ca

Jazz
With a phenomenal number of jazz and blues bars many of which are just that – bars hosting great talent, there are two that are a bit special:
The newly opened and Chicago-esque “Jazz Bistro” downtown on Victoria Street. Resurrected from the ashes of the “Top of the Senator” jazz club this has taken the business of jazz supper to new levels in Toronto. You need to reserve a dining slot in order to eat and watch the show as supper is served before the performer comes on. Not your average jazz club food here. More of a “Ronnie Scotts” in Londond or a “Birdland” New York experience.

http://www.jazzbistro.ca

“The Reservoir Lounge” on Front Street. Their tag line – “Cool Jazz. Hot Swing. Great People. Smart Cocktails. Good Eats” – just about sums this place up. A nice understated stone walled basement jazz club – There is usually a cover to be paid at the door http://www.reservoirlounge.com

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A Multi Sensory Tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario

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So once again the marvellous AGO has surprised me!
I stepped in for a member’s preview of the Patti Smith photography exhibit and ended up doing a wonderful guided “ Multi-sensory tour

Designed for sight impaired folk this tour gives you a chance to touch some of the sculpture noticeably two definitive Rodin pieces and partially “sense” a clay sculpture of Count Robert de Montesquieo-Fezensac by Prince Paolo Troubetsky.

We approach Rodin’s huge 7ft cast bronze figure of Adam.

Even as a sighted person closing your eyes to feel beneath your hands ; the creation ;that was Rodin’s original depiction of Adam is powerful stuff.-he full-onn touching experience only marginally reduced by thenecessity of wearing purple plastic gloves .

This is indeed a unique experience/privilege as ordinarily and obviously you are not anle to ;”touch” anything in the museum.

So with your eyes tightly shut, listen to the guide tell the stories behind these figures and rely upon your sense of touch to experience art in a whole new dimension.

;Is ;it cold or warm? – clue – it is bronze cast.

“Walk” your hands over the musculature of his arms – the attitude of each upper limb borrowed from Michelangelo art (see below) – both smooth and rough under your fingers, this dichotomy due to the fact that Rodin was not afraid to leave evidence of the bronze caste process AND
Rodin himself was visually challenged so the fine detail his present and fashionable in the sculptures of his contemporaries is not present – he was criticised heavily for this ;trait during his lifetime – ;but there is ;detail enough to be able to trace the human form simply by using the hands

Run your hands up the neck over the stretched and contorted sinews; if you can’t see, you would most certainly be able to feel the angst, the twisted contortion of Adam’s pose.

So to those arms!
The right Arm alludes to Micelangelo’s “The Creation of Man” in the Sistine Chapel fresco and
Left arm directly lifted from the dead Christ of the Pita in the Cathedral of Florence – Michelangelo..

So now a physical exercise: try putting yourself into that exact position. It’s a bit like trying to position yourself ;into ;the twisted, ;shoulders front, feet and head in profile stance of an ancient Egyptian figure in a tomb painting – virtually impossible. ; ;Rodin managed to conevy the whole passage of life in one sculpure – the figure has been ;framed by the beginning and end of life in.a pose that suggests a “shooting” upwards from the moment of birth with the torture of life in between and then the contorted ;agony of dying;

Now you need your eyes or your hands again ;- look at/feel feet and hands – huge and out of proportion- Rodin’s nod to depicting the humanity of his figures and a bit of a trademark.

Notice the green patina – this was often achieved by urinating on the freshly cast bronze!!!!

Over to a more modest size bronze also based on Adam.
Much smaller and famously known throughout the world as “the Thinker” but this was never the meaning attached by Rodin to the sculpture. He ;was commissioned by the Directorate of Fine Arts in Paris to create a massive scene of “Dante’s Inferno” which was to be the “welcoming” structure/gate for ;a new Decoratif ;Arts Museum. ;The museum never materialised. even though Rodin had worked on and off on pieces for it until his death. The product of his life’s work can be found in the Musee Rodin in Paris.

He had several variously sized casts made of this sculpture; one was for his tomb; one is in the Detroit Institure for the Arts and one in Paris

Back in the AGO we ere also treated to vivid and detailed descriptions of other artworks in the European Gallery (where the Rodins are situated) – so that if you were sight- impaired you could build a minds-eye view if what the docent was describing.

The “tour” then took us ; on a “through the ages” quest visiting connecting artworks -mainly depictions of Christ‘s Crucifixtion in order to explore the Church’s obsession – during the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance ages – with making the artistic allegorical connection between Christ and Adam in the artworks of the time.

Terrific….

Over and Ou

Sweet! The Redpath Sugar Museum

English: Redpath Sugar Refinery

English: Redpath Sugar Refinery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So on my way from the brand spanking new waterfront campus of George Brown college to Toronto Island Ferry dock, my planned day was self-sabotaged when as I passed by the enormous lakeside landmark that is “The Redpath Sugar Factory”, I glanced back and spotted a 70’s style blue sign “Redpath Museum”.

It was a gorgeous near-winters day; bramlea- apple crisp with a searing Lake Ontario wind and slanting dappled shards of a low angled sun piercing the mass of lakefront highrise condos. That’s the prose part over with!!
For a nano second I struggled with the luxury of choice…….
The factory is off my beaten track and there is no time like the present I reasoned so in I went…….

Waiting in the tiny workaday reception space, the Security guard calls the Museum “curator” – Richard Feltoe -who is just finishing off a college student tour/session.

He is busy; just on his way to take a photo of the CEO before going off to have his performance review.
I can’t come back to tag along on his 1pm tour and he can’t let me wander the exhibition alone. I tell him I’ll come back another day but he very graciously agrees to let me in to have a peek in the museum and gather blog info.

Although a smallish exhibition I start writing at the first exhibit. 10 minutes later I am still in the same spot scribbling away so Richard with enormous skill and diplomacy suggests I might be here all day if I was going to attempt to write stuff down. I told him I needed to capture a sense of what the museum was about at which point he leapt into “part” and gave me some extracts from his school tours complete with role playing/stories and anecdotes.

This museum has so much value on a variety of levels; whether you want to know about the history of sugar; industrialization of Upper Canada; business processes or pioneering history (John Redpath was without doubt an early industrial pioneer), it’s all here, captured in nice bite-sized segments amid the burgundy colored wall maze.

Potted Refinery history – and this is just the bare bones – rags to riches stories: social climbing; a man that became a fundamental cornerstone of Montreal’s industrialization, complicated inter-relationships – you’ll have to go visit to find out the twists and turns that are responsible for the current manifestation of Redpath Sugar.

John Redpath originally started in 1854 with just one factory in Montreal but towards the end of the 19th century ships had grown in size and the canal system and docks at the factory were no longer adequate. For 60 years sugar freighters docked well outside the canal and the sugar had to be decanted into shuttle coasters – each cargo needed 2 shuttles to unload which of course impacted cost.

Unable to compete with the giant low-cost producers in the United States, for the three years between 1876 and 1878 the company ceased operations. Following the tariff protections implemented under the National Policy by the government of Sir John A. Macdonald; the company reopened in 1879.
In 1930, the company merged with Canada Sugar Refining Company Limited of Chatham, Ontario.
In 1959, Redpath Industries Ltd. was acquired by the British company Tate & Lyle plc.

In the late 1950’s a second – and now only -Redpath Sugar Refinery was built on the Toronto waterfront to coincide with the completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Sugar trivia….
In the 17th century the wealthy and ostentatious showed off their enormous wealth through the use of sugar sculptures and decor called “Subtleties” – which were anything but “subtle” they screamed ” look how rich I am – I can afford to waste a precious commodity like sugar.
By the mid 18 century the cost of importing sugar and the subsequent production and refining processes had become so much less costly that sugar became a staple of the very poor, in that sugared tea or water was the only beverage they could afford to drink (coffee, tea and chocolate were beyond reach)

The process of refining remained same for 600 yrs until industrial revolution revolutionized the process.

Sugar used to be produced as “cones” from which lumps of sugar had to be chiseled off using special tools (hence the term sugar lumps)

Ground down lumps put in small shakers (casters) was always lumpy; only the very fine grains would pass through the punched holes of the lid – hence very fine sugar being called “Castor sugar”

Really this museum would be interesting in itself but with the effervescent enthusiastic and delightful Richard Feltoe, it becomes not just a visit but an experience. Make sure you phone in advance and book one of his group tours – even better tag on the end of a kids’ tour and watch history come alive before your eyes.

No surprise then to learn that Richard is a member of a living history group that goes around all the historic forts re- enacting battles from the 1812 war.
Sort of figures really!
Look out for Richard’s series of historic books on Upper Canada battles

Over and Out