For some years now Toronto has had a do at the end of May called Doors Open, where the public is invited in to various buildings that, well, the public is often allowed into, but often not. And I've vaguely thought of going occasionally except that Why Bother? usually speaks louder than inclination, and also because the interesting stuff is out in the boonies by infrequent transit. However, I'm trying to fight Why Bother, and the local early music society was offering a concert at a venue I know and have never been in, the Campbell House, dating to 1822. So I biked down. Get to see a house of approx. Jane Austen vintage. Hear some music. Fine.
House was built when Chief Justice and Mrs Campbell's progeny were grown, hence only one bedroom. Across the hall is the ballroom. Ballroom would allow about ten couples to dance in close proximity. The rooms seem large for a place that has to be heated by fires only. My modern sensibilities still say 'a good size but not excessive.' aka I'd live there.
Concert was in the ballroom and the audience, when I arrived, consisted of the inevitable WASPy middle-aged and up, which is one reason I don't go to these things. No objection to the middle-aged and elderly, who are often more conversible than younger folk; but Anglo Toronto has a vague umm mustiness to it, as of past glories and different ways of living. Fortunately, in short order, a Chinese family with two sons and a daughter sat down to my left and in front of me; two Indian women sat down on my right, and behind me settled a quartet of Korean-by-the-sound-of-it young women, and the fantoddy sense of time-warp to the 50s faded.
Concert was a single Bach concerto on a single cello, but nice for all that. I wandered out into the green yard, observed Osgoode Hall across the street from me, remembered that it too was Doors Open, and finally after how many years? worked my way through the black iron cow-forestalling gates and into the grounds themselves.
Osgoode Hall is split between a bunch of Ontario upper courts and the Law Society's offices; the latter is in the original building, dating to 1829, and linked to the later court building by a central section. It was also, until the late 60s, a law school as well, and at one point the students used to live in the building. What this means is that the inside is labyrinthine. Very nicely laid out-- rotundas and grand staircases (the best of which one must not go up) and so on; but with a bunch of twisting back hallways and jinking corridors leading from one wing to the other most confusingly. And at one point in my rotunda and archway viewing I had a happy satori on the lines of I haven't felt like this since my days at the Ueno National Museum. After which I got all teary over the Ueno Nat.Mus.
Queen and University is a hop, skip and jump from the Art Gallery of Ontario neighbourhood. I hadn't been thinking to have lunch just yet, but bicycling narrow roads to the deep north I discovered I was in back of Village by the Grange, unvisited for a good ten years and for that reason still carrying happy associations of early Saiyuki fandom and translations of Channel 5 for Greer and Harle. (It still kerblonxes me that I haven't been there since the fall of 2000. *How*?) So I stopped for satay at what's really afood court. Village by the Grange had notions of up-scaleness, but its street floor market area never made it past a cafeteria for the OCA kids.
Then proceeding ever north, found Bloor St blocked by a bike parade demanding bike lanes on Bloor. Which I think a dumb idea: Bloor gridlocks at the drop of a hat with just cars. It gridlocks even with no parking after 5. It hasn't got room for bike lanes. But I joined the procession for a couple of blocks until I could zoom up Spadina, and discovered what I had always suspected-- I prefer to be we few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Because otherwise it's like bicycling in Beijing: slow and fraught with peril.
I was headed to the one place I've always actually wanted to visit: Moriyama and Teshima's green and shady architects' office near Davenport and Yonge. They're the guys designed the Canadian consulate in Tokyo, and the Buddhist church that I'd love to go to if it weren't an hour and two busses away.
I bike the Davenport route over to Yonge often enough and their office always looks so inviting. It looked rather less inviting today because the neighbouring lot, once an auto dealership or something and a bunch of forgettable buildings on Davenport, is a level lot with cranes and the inevitable 'we're putting up a building we're gonna grab one laneway of your street as well.' Another godless condo building in the works, nittering can we make it 25 storeys can we can we can we huh huh huh??? at the Municipal Board. The OMB has yet to say yes, but they're gonna build anyway. And after fighting the project at great expense for five years, Moriyama and Teshima are going to move elsewhere. This is sad, as everyone agrees (all the partners and a bunch of the juniors were there to greet and direct) but they also acknowledge that, lovely as the space is and was for working, with 61 architects in the firm it's just not big enough any more.
So farewell the koi pond in the front foyer (site was once a garage and pond was once the oil pit.) And another partner was saying that back of the building-- where now is nothing but rubble-- there used to be a street of small Victorian houses and one was a daycare and staff would drop their kids off and come in to work, and at Christmas the daycare kids would come to the office to sing carols and get candy. Farewell that too. Oh, the things that have happened to Bay St since my uni days. Makes me sad, it does.