Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Friendship Tour - part two

My hometown

It's time for me to resume my story telling of the good times we experienced in 2016. To read the previous post about the tour, pease click: The Friendship Tour - part one. On May 26th we took a comfortable, four hour, VIA rail train trip from London to Toronto which was in an early season, smouldering heat wave. Disembarking, the lyrics "The old hometown looked the same as I stepped down form the train" were running through my mind.  

The Royal York Hotel on Front Street across from Union Station

Growing up in Toronto indelibly etched a finely tuned sense of 'getting around' and a lasting ability to navigate the streets and public transit system. It was a straight forward, single ride on the subway from Union Station to our host's address on Yonge Street at Summerhill.

Our generous hosts, Maggie and Gerhard, provided a quiet sanctuary and gentle companionship in the busy city

Always high on my list while in Toronto is visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario. This time I was specifically interested in re-immersing myself in the art of the Group of Seven.

Maggie at the AGO  

Bill admiring Group of Seven paintings
Canadian art in the salon style gallery taken from its mezzanine  

For years I have been madly in love with Franklin Carmichael's Autumn Hillside painting ...

Beside the Franklin Carmichael, Autumn Hillside, at last

To be right there with it, to see it in the flesh with the opportunity to study the glorious texture of the thickly applied paint (which cannot be appreciated in reproductions) was an absolute thrill. It was all I could do to keep myself from touching it ...

Detail of the incredible brushwork on Franklin Carmichael's Autumn Hillside

Bill and I were very pleased to have enjoyed the company of Judy over a delightfully long dinner ...

With my sister Judy Wilson 

A little family history; I'm the eldest, born in 1948. My next sister, Judy, was born in 1952 and then came Patsy in 1954. When I was ten our baby brother, Donny, was born. Sadly he took his own life at age 30. We were very poor but I was well nurtured. Things got rocky as I grew into a teen and there have been some sad and unpleasant events which culminated in my two sisters being estranged. As I see Judy, Patsy chooses not to interact with me. Although Patsy and I spoke on the phone, while we were in Toronto, a get together was not arranged. I wrote Patsy to advise her of my surgery and what I was facing. There has been no reply. Over the years, I have shed tears and mourned the loss of this sister but to avoid personal suffering I have chosen to accept and honour her choices and to send her only love.

Toronto's famed Casa Loma preparing for a wedding

Kara, daughter of my Claresholm friend, Judy Dahl, lives in Toronto. How wonderful that she took time out of her busy life to spend a couple of hours touring me through the amazing Casa Loma. I was likely a teenager the last time I visited this decadent castle ... 

Lunch with Kara after Casa Loma

One enormous highlight was the special tour of my alma mater, but I've already posted about that here.

It was uncannily special that we managed a rendezvous with Susan and Jim (of Canmore) who were on one of their month long stays in Toronto. It was terrific that they could join us for lunch at The Royal Ontario Museum ... 

I suppose, like the pyramid at the Louvre, I will eventually come to like this 'growth' on the Royal Ontario Museum!

A Saturday afternoon stop at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church resulted in a serendipitous visit to the chapel in which Bill and I were wed. I softly, but shamelessly, knocked on the main door of the church while a wedding was in progress. 

The main church entrance at Timothy Eaton Memorial

Fortunately, a most kind reverend answered and when, in whispers, I explained ourselves he offered to take us upstairs and into the East Chapel ...

Here we exchanged our wedding vows on September 13th, 1969

The door to the East Chapel

We walked the city streets seeking out old haunts and familiar places, something that gave me great pleasure ...

The Hospital I was born in
In 1987, we treated ourselves to a week at The Windsor Arms Hotel while in Toronto for my Father's 70th birthday 
The Colonnade on Bloor Street where I worked at The Florentine Shop (which no longer exists).
There I learned so much about display, pleasing arrangements and gift wrapping! 

I love that we call Alberta home, having lived here since 1972, but Toronto will always be a part of me. I've vowed to 'go home' again without waiting another decade to do it! 



  1. What a fabulous tour, Alice. But, let's be honest - you DID touch the Autumn Hillside painting, didn't you?! How could you resist? I have a mental image of your running your fingers over it while looking over your shoulder for approaching security. And I'm so glad you shamelessly worked yourself into the church where you were married - what a lovely pair of memories you have now! xo

  2. No, NO, I didn't touch it - honestly. Sometime I can restrain myself.
    Yes, it was wonderful to get in the chapel, inappropriately dressed as we were!