Sunday, December 20, 2009

Downtown Adventures

I was born and raised in downtown Toronto. My father came to this great country in hopes of a better life than he had in China, in 1949 at the young age of 18 with not much more than a few dollars in his pocket . He worked in a laundromat and learned English at night, practising at every given opportunity. His next door neighbour, Mel Flowers and family, down at the Toronto beaches on Queen Street had a store and he would visit and help them stock their shelves in exchange for the chance to practice is English in the evenings after work. From a very young age, I remember paying them a visit every Christmas, a chance to say "hello" and express his gratitude for making him feel welcome. He continued to visit the Flowers Family even after Mr. Flowers past.

A few years ago, my husband and I started a tradition of spending a day in December before Christmas, downtown just visiting the old neighbourhood, having lunch at my favourite little pizza joint, Bitondo's Pizzeria and shopping at the Toronto Eaton Centre and enjoying the Christmas windows. This time of year is wonderful! A lot of fond memories are rekindled for me this time of year. As a young child, my parents (a field trip with our class some years) took us to see the windows down at Eaton's at College and Yonge and Simpson's at Yonge and Queen. A lot has changed. There are now only about 5 windows that are dressed up at The Bay (renamed from the old Simpson's) but the feeling of the season is still eminent in the air.

At the New City Hall (Nathan's Phillip Square), they have the huge beautiful Christmas tree. If I remember correctly, this tree is donated to the city annually. As a matter of fact, I learned how to skate here (without a helmet!) with my older siblings, and along with friends each Friday and Saturday as a teenager, would hang out and play tag on the converted outdoor water fountain display. What else was there to do? Although the rink is huge, it seem REALLY HUGE back then. I haven't donned a pair of skates on that ice rink in years (although I REALLY have an urge to, but my kids aren't really interested in even coming downtown with us, it probably won't happen too soon. One day, I will again though. Perhaps sooner than I think.

When I think of The Toronto Eaton Centre, this scene comes to mind - The array of beautiful flying geese suspended in the middle of this atrium.

My favourite pizzeria which brings back a lot of childhood memories. We visit almost every chance we get and it's always as good as I remember.A gigantic veal sandwich is amongst my favourite things on the menu! This is really huge!

This artery clogging giant deep fried ponzo is filled with nothing but homemade tomato sauce and cheese. Hmmmmmm....Harry's Store, where we got our milk and penny candy from (I don't think I really knew the real name of the corner store) is now a Starbucks! We lived 8 houses up from it.
This century home (circa 1887 or so), is the house that I was raised in from the time I was 6 months old. My parents sold it about 12 years ago. It was a ugly yellow colour back then. Now it's a spooky gray colour.
This building, located up the street and two short blocks over had me running or avoiding that route home for years. When I was a kid, I was SO spooked by this building. Why? Back then, it was surrounded with a hedge where the black iron fencing is now. I never asked and I wish I had but I learned later, that it was a synagogue. See the Stars of David on the windows? I thought it was the sign of Satan!!! LOL!Interesting space suits these two ladies had on - like they were from ABBA!This is the New City Hall. I learned to skate on this rink! I have lots of fond memories of this place with my friends.
The Christmas tree at The New City Hall (aka Nathan Phillip's Square).Santa's sleigh with his reindeer at Toronto Eaton Centre.
The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - lots and lots of yummy treats.Bad parents that we are, we "forgot" to go back for one of these treats!
Christmas windows at downtown The Bay on Queen Street. Sadly, the display seems to be getting smaller and smaller each year.

Down at the Toronto Eaton Centre in front of the beautiful Swarovski crystal tree.


  1. Just loved your "Downtown Adventure" Lauren must have loved it as much as you did.

    I remember that we went to your favorite pizza place with Grace and
    had the veal homemade sandwich. It was really good.

    Keep it up, I just love it.


  2. Beautiful and festive! Yeah, and thanks a LOT! (sarcastic) for teasing me with the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Trying to shed some holiday pounds here ... :) Have you tried their chocolate-covered apples?

    Looks like Little Miss-Chief has been forgiven for her crime. She's all smiles and looking adorable as usual.

    Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family!

  3. Leela,

    Oh, don't worry about Rocky Mountain CF, it's horrible chocolate so don't think you're missing out on anything! ;D (wink, wink)

    I've tried their chocolates on many occasions and different varieties but when it comes to apples, I stick to the classic candied ones. Don't want to be disappointed.

    Happy New Year to you and yours as well!