March 30, 2014
long before the white-man and long before the wheel
Frank and I went to Palm House, a Victorian conservatory in Allen Gardens in old Toronto. Outside the conservatory a mural surrounded a construction site. The first time I saw this type of art – images of native people and native themes in bold cartoon-like colors – was in the late 60’s. It looks like pop art – modern American art styles applied to Canadian history. And fifty years later, government agencies across the Commonwealth sponsor this art format in schools, in libraries, in community centers, on subway platforms, on construction murals.
What amazed me most on this trip, was the scale of the buildings in old Toronto and at the University of Toronto. (The modern city is littered with glass supra-structures whose panels still fog in the bitter temperatures.) Palm House and the various colleges that make up U of T are from a different time, from a different sensibility. The old buildings fit in their surroundings. They are of a human scale and walking through the common grounds is such a non-Canadian experience. (Modern Toronto and modern Canada are void of people-friendly environments. The city and country are designed for cars, for suburban landscapes. Southern Ontario is the Los Angeles of Canada.)