Little England in India

If only the bus were a little more red and a little less boxy, I could have sworn I was in South Kensington or Knightsbridge in London rather than in Mumbai. The double decker bus, the Victorian Gothic architecture — a common inheritance of the British empire that is at once familiar and strange. I […]

Posted in: Heritage and Preservation, South Asia, Transportation by Donal Hanley Comments Off on Little England in India , ,

Two Landmarks in Fading Light

The backside of Toronto’s City Hall, built in 1967 The CN Tower seen from Queen and McCaul

Posted in: Architecture, Canada by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Two Landmarks in Fading Light ,

Language in Toulouse

Toulouse is a large, cosmopolitan but relaxed and laid back southern French city. It feels like it has as much in common with nearby Spain as with northern France. The bilingual street signs here are a tantalising reminder of how the city’s history could have been different. Had Occitanie remained a distinct culture and society […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Europe, Society and Culture by Donal Hanley Comments Off on Language in Toulouse , , , ,

Queen and Bay

Queen and Bay is one of my favourite corners in Toronto. It offers a rare grand vista in a city that is more often tight-knit and intimate. On one side, Old City Hall staring down Bay Street; on the other, the spaceship City Hall and the vaguely Soviet Canada Life building.

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Ground Texture

Hanover Street in the North End Water meter on a North End sidestreet Parking lot on Washington Street

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The Evolving Landscape of the Ethnic Media

Chinese and English newspapers at a newsstand in Vancouver When Sept Days sent Montreal journalist Xian Hu to Afghanistan last December, the weekly Chinese newspaper was not only making a statement to its competitors in the community here, but to mainstream newspapers as well. “We want Montreal to know that the Chinese community wants to […]

Posted in: Canada, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf 3 Comments , ,

An Elegy for Griffintown

[youtube]XqxurfvV5bM[/youtube] There’s something remarkably honest about the United Steel Workers of Montreal. Far from being a contrivance, their country and bluegrass music feels earnest and appropriate, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the new video for their song “Émile Bertrand.” This elegy for the lost working-class life of Montreal’s southwest is named in […]

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Street Vendor Songs

Montreal did away with a big chunk of its cultural heritage when it started cracking down on street vendors in the 1960s. Food vendors were the first to go and, although City Hall has been easing its restrictions on street vending for a number of years, allowing people to sell art and crafts on Ste. […]

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Paharganj, or the Dregs of Delhi

Tooti Chowk, Paharganj, Delhi Paharganj is a mix of crowded makeshift homes, budget traveler hangouts, and the odd chunk of decaying heritage. It’s also an example of what happens when a section of town is left to its own devices with little consideration for urban planning. A few centuries back, Paharganj was a grain bazaar […]

Behind the Tower

I took the Calgary Tower for granted when I saw it every day. Now I realize what a remarkable monument to late-sixties kitsch it really was. Built in 1967 by Husky Oil to commemorate the centennial of Canada’s confederation, its has no purpose other than as a monument — a really big monument capped by […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada by Christopher DeWolf 1 Comment ,

City Golf

[youtube]Ph6PyGZnkOo[/youtube] Before there were flashmobs… there was Wayne and Shuster. In this segment from the CBC’s Wayne and Shuster show, which aired on September 19, 1971, the two comedians—Johnny Wayne (né Louis Weingarten) and Frank Shuster—play a game of golf in the streets of downtown Toronto. What better way to bring such a quintessentially suburban […]

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The Lives of Parking Lots

I’ve always thought of surface parking lots as dead spaces. They interrupt the streetscape, create a hostile environment for pedestrians and serve only to reinforce the hegemony of the automobile. That’s all true, but I’ve slowly come to realize that, like other urban spaces, parking lots have lives of their own — social and economic […]

Nei Deun Dou

Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui

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Shelter: Life in Habitat 67

Shelter is a weekly Montreal Gazette series that peeks into the lives of ordinary apartment-dwelling Montrealers. This installment looks at an apartment in Moshe Safdie’s iconic Habitat 67, inhabited by Margaret Somerville, the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. The apartment consists of four “cubes” covering 2,700 square feet, with […]