News & Opinion

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

This month at the galleries

In At the galleries, Coming events on May 14, 2011 at 9:00 PM

By West Annex News | Another rainy weekend, perfect for checking out the new shows at the galleries in and around the West Annex. Three of the galleries are participating in or presenting shows to compliment Contact, the largest photography festival in the world, which is held annually throughout the month of May across the Greater Toronto Area.

Our local gallery district is centred around Bathurst Street, from Dupont Street south to Harbord  Street. Starting from the north end and working south, here’s what’s on:


Image credit La Parete Gallery

La Parete Gallery, 1086 Bathurst Street, gallery Hours Monday to Saturday 10AM to 6PM.

Carl Beam is one of Canada’s most important artists, and the first of native ancestry to have his work purchased by the National Gallery of Canada as contemporary art. He worked in various photographic mediums, mixed media, oil, acrylic, spontaneously scripted text on canvas, works on paper, Plexiglas, stone, cement, wood, handmade ceramic pottery, and found objects, in addition to etching, lithography, and screen process.

Beam’s Columbus Suite will be on display at La Parete, a multimedia work made to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in North America in 1992.


Ray Mead, Untitled, 1991 | Image courtesy of Barbara Edwards Contemporary

Barbara Edwards Contemporary, 1069 Bathurst Street, gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday 11AM to 6PM.

Ray Mead was a prominent member of the Painters 11, a group of Canadian artists formed in 1953 and dedicated to abstract art. While Mead’s work came to prominence in the 50s and 60s, this show focus on the prolific last decade of the artist’s life bringing together canvases, works on paper and drawings dating from 1985 – 1996.

The show continues to June 18, 2011.


Continuing at Ideasincorporated, 1081 Bathurst Street, Mixed Context by Max and Oliver Heinrich, gallery hours: Wednesday 12 to 3PM, Thursday to Sunday 12 to 5PM.


Photo credit Steve Sherman

Gallery 918, 918 Bathurst Street, gallery hours: Sunday noon to 5pm

Hurry to see Steve Sherman’s  “A Landscape Seen” which ends tomorrow, Sunday May 15th. Sherman works with large format sheet film cameras in traditional silver gelatin, silver chloride and the occasional platinum palladium processes to create works exclusively in black and white. He uses no digital means to enhance or otherwise produce his hand-made photographs which have been described as “absolutely breathtaking with clarity and depth indescribable”.


Images courtesy of Erin Baubacher and Communication Art Gallery

Communication Art Gallery, 209 Harbord Street, gallery hours: Monday to Friday 12 to 8PM, Saturday and Sunday 12 to 6PM.

Erin Brubacher’s Map Making arises from the artist’s homecoming after a 13-year absence from Toronto in which she lived in 10 different cities. Called “the chronicles of a decade of nomadic living” the images are positioned in relation to one another based on both formal connections and nuances of content/context to honor the artist’s personal memory of the particular time and place.

The show continues to June 1, 2011.


View West Annex gallery walk for May 2011 in a larger map



Our guide to Annex area Jane’s Walks on Saturday May 7 and Sunday May 8, 2011

In Coming events on May 5, 2011 at 12:05 AM

By West Annex News | Still can’t believe Rob Ford’s our mayor? Harper’s majority got you blue?  Here’s the antidote: Jane’s Walk, the annual celebration of the ideas and legacy of Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk has a simple goal: to get people out walking, exploring their neighbourhoods, and meeting their neighbours. It’s a reminder that cities are what real people–not politicians–make of them.

Since 2007, Jane’s Walk has taken place on the first weekend of May to coincide with Jane Jacobs’ May 4th birthday. This year there are more than 170 volunteer-led walks on offer in Toronto, the complete list of which is here. We list below a few of the walks in an around the West Annex. For more details about each walk, click on the web page image below the description.

Remember, all walks are free, and no reservation is necessary to take part. Just show up at the designated time, and join in.


Self guided walks: download the instructions from the Jane’s Walk website, and take these tours any time:

Lanes and alleys of the West Annex” including a graffiti alley walk, guided by us here at the West Annex News, starting from Bathurst Street subway station, 30 minutes duration.

Click on the image below for the map and step-by-step instructions, to bring them with you on the walk or to follow on your smart phone.

Jane Jacobs Audio Tour, guided by the voices of Jane Jacobs and friends, starting from Spadina subway station, 1 hours duration. Download the map and MP3  from the website by clicking on the image below.

Saturday, May 7

10:00AM: Pit People Parade, a tour of Christie Pits and environs guided by Monica Gupta, starting from Christie subway station, duration 1 hour.

10:30AM: Jane’s Club at UTS, a tour through parts of the Annex and U of T, guided by UTS students & teacher Josh Fullan, starting from the steps of University of Toronto School at 371 Bloor Street West, 1.5 hours duration. 

4:00PM: Brunswick Avenue–Its Literary and Built Form guided by Mark Jull, starting from the north-west corner of Jean Sibelius Square, Brunswick Avenue and Bernard Avenue, 1.5 hours duration.


Sunday, May 8

10:00AM: Creative reuses of old buildings for live performances guided by Janet Langdon, starting from Palmerston Library, 560 Palmerston Ave in Seaton Village, 1.5 hours duration.

10:00AM: Labour History Walking Tour guided by Maureen Hynes,  starting from the front of the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, 2 hours duration.

11:00AM: A sense of Spadina guided by Ontario Jewish Archives starting from the steps of the Anshei Minsk Synagogue, 10 St. Andrew Street in Kensington Market. 1.5 hours duration.

Remembering Jane Jacobs

In uncategorized on May 4, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Remembering Jane Jacobs is a film by Jim Epstein.

Trinity-Spadina 2011 federal election results: Chow crushes opposition

In uncategorized on May 3, 2011 at 5:50 AM

By West Annex News | From Elections Canada, with 317 of 317 polls reporting:

NDP Olivia Chow: 35,493 – 54.1% of votes cast

Liberal Christine Innes: 15,218 – 23.2%

Conservative Gin Siow: 10, 938 – 16.7%

Green Rachel Barney: 3,279 – 5.0%

Libertarian Chester Brown: 454 – 0.7%

Marxist-Leninist Nick Lin: 178 – 0.3%

Total number of valid votes cast: 65,560 out of 95,363 registered voters – 68.7% voter turn-out.

How my parents met

In The Maven on May 1, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Toronto, 1948

By The Maven | My father was born in December 1919 in an industrial town in southern Poland called Radom. His father was a tailor and my father, his two sisters and brother were raised in the apartment at the back of the tailor shop.

At the time of the German invasion of Poland my father had married and was studying to be a denturist. Some time after WWII broke out, my father, his new wife and their families were sent to the Radom Ghetto. Over the next two years in the ghetto, each of my father’s parents, his two older sisters and his wife were taken from the ghetto and sent to their deaths;  he never saw them again. For my father, the next three years saw him sent all across eastern and central Europe from concentration camp to labour camp and back.

On May 5, 1945 my father was in the Gleben concentration camp in Germany. The Nazi guards had left four or five days earlier with the news that the Red Army was advancing. Fearing retribution from the Russians who had so recently suffered under German brutality, the guards had headed west, preferring to surrender to the British or Americans. Two Russian officers rode into the camp on motorbikes. They told the inmates they were liberated, and that they must flee immediately as the Germans were organizing a counter-offensive.

Many did not have the strength to leave and were left behind. My father and several friends left the camp on foot. During his years of imprisonment and starvation, my father had nursed a craving for sour cream.  He came upon a farm house and found a large vat of sour creme being fermented. He gorged on it. He then fell violently ill; his body couldn’t handle so much food.

When he recovered, my father began to wander eastward back to his native Poland to look for surviving relatives. But Poles did not want Jews back, and pogroms against returning Jews were violent and spreading. Ironically, my father escaped west to Germany for safety, ending up in Stuttgart.

My mother was born in June 1920 and grew up with four older brothers in Warka, a village 30 kilometers south of Warsaw. Her father owned a leather tanning factory. Following the German invasion in 1939, after their home and the factory were seized, my mother and her family headed to Radom to be interred in the ghetto there, as her father thought would be safer than the Warsaw Ghetto. There my mother married. Over the next 18 months, each of her husband, her four brothers, and her parents were transported to their deaths. My mother was eventually sent to Auschwitz in Poland.

In 1945, to evade advancing Russian forces, my mother and other prisoners well enough to walk were force-marched by their Nazi captors to Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany.

On April 15, 1945, British and Canadian troops reached Bergen-Belsen and liberated it. One of the first acts of the liberators was to try to get the rampant disease among the survivors under control.  The British were overwhelmed by the poor condition of the survivors and didn’t have adequate resources to transfer and treat them elsewhere, and so they established a hospital and displaced persons camp right at Bergen-Belsen, and brought in supplies.

My mother was ill with typhus, a disease spread by lice. To kill the lice that covered her, the British doused my mother  in DDT .

When my mother recovered sufficiently, she left the camp with her close friend and bunk mate from Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and began, as did most survivors, to search for surviving family members, friends–anyone. She heard there was a growing survivor community in Stuttgart and so made her way there.

In the American sector in Stuttgart in Displaced Persons accommodation, my father was making a little money buying scarves and re-selling them to Allied servicemen to send home to their wives and girlfriends. One day he looked out the window and saw two woman walking by, one of whom he knew from Radom. He called out, offering both women free scarves, which they accepted. The other woman was my mother.

My parents married in 1946 while waiting in Stuttgart for one of the countries to which they had applied to immigrate to accept them.

The Canadian Garment Workers Union was then a largely Jewish organization that was active in trying to rescue Jewish refugees in Europe after the war. They convinced the Canadian government that Canada needed more tailors. Union representatives traveled to Stuttgart seeking tailors among the refugees. My father,  hearing of this, changed his occupation on his application for immigration to tailor; after all, his father had been one and who would doubt a Jewish tailor?

Though Israel had been their destination of choice, Britain was still denying Jewish immigration there. My parents were tired from their constant struggle for survival over the past eight years, and they agreed that they would not raise children in Europe. They were happy when they learned, after three years of waiting, that Canada had accepted them.

In spring 1948 my mother and father disembarked at Halifax on their way to Toronto to begin a new life, having between them lost their first spouses, two sisters and four brothers, both sets of parents, and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. They spoke no English and had no education beyond high school. They were 28 years old and had been incarcerated in one form or another for eight years.


The author’s parents, pictured with his older sister above, are now 91 years old and are living independently in their home in Toronto.

Read more of The Maven’s blog at

For other articles by this author on the West Annex News, visit The Maven archive.