Posts tagged “ontario”

Out and About: Steve in Kitchener-Waterloo

I was recently in Kitchener-Waterloo (for the first time in over 20 years) to speak at the marvelous Fluxible conference. I had a little bit of time to walk around and take some pictures. Here are my favorites.

Lots and lots of tea

Oh noooooooo!

Downtown beautification.

Bathroom paper towel dispenser no longer has rubbish below, instead has a badly worn note pointing you to the new solution.

Someone in this area is scent-sitive.

Out and About: Steve in Ottawa

Last week I was in Ottawa speaking at Carleton University as well as delivering the closing keynote for UXcamp Ottawa. Here are some photographic highlights of my time there. Look for the rest of my pictures on Flickr.

Joseph Henri Maurice “The Rocket” Richard

Suzy Q Donuts.

The Canada Hall in the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Depicting 1000 years of history, this was an outstanding exhibit. In addition to the familiar elements of contemporary museum design, it had just enough realism, sort of the heightened-fakery from a movie studio backlot. The open-ended design enabled an immersive stroll through recreations of the past. As you wandered you could go in and poke around stores, schools, mills, airports, and so on. It was almost like being in a holodeck, strolling through time (and from east to west).

Building environmental control module or splash screen for circa 1974 television news magazine?

Recreation of the Robert Frank image used on the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street cover.

Stickers stuck to poles outside of the National Gallery. I took the picture without knowing what the heck I was looking at, though. It was only when I got my ticket for the National Gallery and was asked to put the same sticker on my clothing did I realize how those poles ended up like that.

That about covers it.

Pictures from our trip to Toronto

You can see all of my Toronto pics here, with a few selected below. They’re all kinda shrunk down to fit on this page, so click on any of them to see them larger.

Trompe l’oiel
Famous building in downtown Toronto that makes appearances in movies every now and again.

The city awakens
Coming downtown, via the 427 from the airport at 6:45 am. I think the monochrome image with the red flag is pretty damn cool. No Photoshop effect – it just came out like that.

Yung Sing Pastry Shop
This little place in the Baldwin Village is right near U of T as well as the (former) Northern Telecom office on University Ave. I used to go to this place and get Chinese buns – with a million different fillings – fried rice, coconut-bean-something, barbecue pork or beef, chicken, etc. It was the first place I had ever experienced this particular type of Chinese food and I really loved it. I decided to take a quick walk up there the other day while in town and see if it was still around. It was fun to go back – the food was pretty good, but not stunning. Has it changed, or have I?

Several Canadian soldiers were killed the other week in Afghanistan, and the Prime Minister is going through some Bush-esque steps – barring photographers from the arriving bodies, and not ordering flags at half-mast to honor them. (I may have the story only partially correct?).
I suspected this business had their flag at half-mast as a deliberate note of honor despite the government’s lack of action in that direction.

When I see large Canadian flags, especially ones waving politically, I can’t help but wonder about evolving Canadian nationalism. When I lived in Toronto during the first Gulf War, I would often drive to New York State and would be very struck upon crossing the border to see many many huge huge flags proclaiming support. I felt that was in contrast to the under-patriotic tone in Canada. It seems like Canada has moved up a notch after decades of self-deprecation – I like to believe it came from the I Am Canadian rants of the late 90s, but I don’t know if anyone else would support that notion.

Smart Car
We saw quite a few Smart Cars driving around Burlington/Oakville. Here’s a working Smart Car, all made up to be a messenger vehicle.

Dessert Faves
clockwise, Nanaimo Bars, Vanilla Slice, Butter Tart.
I’ve only ever seen Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts in Canada, so I try to make sure to get some every time I’m home. They are just damn good.

Many days on the way home from high school we’d stop in and get one of those Vanilla Slices- very very good – seems like they are traditionally from Australia. The same bakery from high school is still there and still sells ’em.

Falun Gong protest march
We were in the Spadina Garden restaurant (now located on Dundas) when this parade of Falun Gong protesters came by. When the owner came to take our order we made a comment about it and he went into a serious (if somewhat unintelligible) rant about these crooks and how we shouldn’t look at the parade. It was a bit of a bummer moment – I don’t understand the politics or other aspects of the issue and no doubt its highly contentious, but I didn’t really want his opinion when I was trying to eat his food and look at his window.

These signs are quite common in Toronto – you call the number on the sign, punch in the code (even though this one was worn away) and hear some details about where you are standing.

If we didn’t have to pay international roaming charges on our cell, we would have tried it to see what they had to say. Kind of a drag, then. You can hear the info online as well at

Spadina Station
Waiting on the platform for the Bloor trains at Spadina Station. The famous (from the Shuffle Demons) Spadina bus (either 77A or 77B) are long gone, replaced by the LRT that now emanates from a gaping maw in Spadina Road, just south of Bloor.

There are other TTC stations that have attached bus/streetcar stations, but do others have the icons next to the station name? I didn’t think so.

Dining Lounge – Dancing
A shuttered restaurant (The Blue Moon Saloon?) on Bloor St. in the Annex.

The Tap – DJ, Moe Berg
TPOH frontman Moe Berg is the DJ at the Tap on Bloor St., Saturday nights. He was there when we went in, too. Kinda noisy to hear anything, but always fun to drop into the Tap anyway.

Parking Lot Fruit Stand
When this place opened, it seemed like it was in the parking lot attendant booth, with a tray out in front. It didn’t even seem like a legal business; more like someone was squatting with fresh fruit in a highly commercial area.

But more than 15 years later it’s still there; it’s grown into a little building but it still looks pretty damn haphazard.

Senator David A. Croll Apts.
Location of the infamous Rochdale experiment.

Liebeskind with new glasses
“I believe there is no longer an argument as the role and importance of museums in shaping civic, regional and national identity, giving scale to aspirations and opening new horizons.”

Daniel Liebeskind has designed “The Crystal” as part of the expansion of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the whole thing is called the ROM Renaissance. Yet another of a super-modern building laying on top of a very traditional building. I’m not so sure I like it, but it will certainly be dramatic when completed.

We Kill
I guess it’s some sort of public art guerilla collaborative. This location is was up on their site along with many others.

Eat Fish…Live Longer!
Sign in the window at Buster’s Sea Cove in St. Lawrence Market

Bloor Cinema
The Bloor Cinema, where I first saw indie films such as Roadkill. Or various bizarre animation festivals (early Bill Pympton stuff). We were walking by there during this last trip, and the HotDocs film festival was going on, and they were inviting people in at 11:30 pm for a free screening, so we went in.

This was free, remember.

They introduce the movie and thank the sponsor for the film and talk to the director and then roll it. We get the usual film festival promo trailer, and acknowledgments screens, and then an ad for Cadillac.

And the audience begins to boo.

I don’t normally do this but I shouted out against the booing “You’re seeing a FREE MOVIE so shut the f*** up!” It was a big flashback to my days living in the Annex with all the hipster posing that went on. I remember people laughing too hard at strange indie films and feeling like that was how they felt they were supposed to react, rather than anything sincere or heartfelt (or backed up by actual thoughts). I almost had forgotten that feeling from my time in Toronto and having this strong reaction to the anti-advertising booing (at a FREE MOVIE) brought it all back, and I realized that in many ways, I was very glad not to be living in Toronto any more.

Site of the former J.J. Muggs
Remember when restaurants had clever names like J.J. Muggs? This place was so 80s, green marble everywhere, waiters that would crouch down and call you buddy with a slap on the shoulder. This was where I first learned to drink (and I was never that much into it) – Long Island Iced Tea, and something that was like a fake root beer made of many different alcohols. Good stuff. Pitchers!

They had an incredible all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet that featured half-lobsters (a whole lobster, cut lengthwise). I remember going and staying so long, eating lobster (and King Crab and everything else) that I just waited out being full until I was hungry again.

Hockey on Yonge St.
They closed down Yonge St. and there were a million teams of kids playing road hockey (aka street hockey). Only in Canada!


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