Monday, March 12, 2007

Heaven comes on Saturday

Saturday was a day with a perfect gold nugget at the centre of it, large and pure. It was one of those days when time seems to stand still for a little while and you know you’ll drift back to it from time to time the rest of your life.

Last week, P-Doug and I made arrangements to go downtown on Saturday. I made it to East York about 11:30 and we walked to Main Station and caught the subway. Interestingly enough, they’re working on the line so the trains are currently routed through the long-abandoned Bay-Yorkville station. We passed slowly through it without stopping, everyone peering out at a station almost never seen by the public, a kind of ghost platform that shouldn’t exist but does.

Most TTC patrons in Toronto never get to see this. It's an "abandoned" station on the Bloor line. I gather the original idea was to loop the subway back downtown using this station, but I'm told it was abandoned a few months after the line opened in the 60s. Maintenance work is going on on the line currently, so for the moment, the line is routing through (but, as you can tell from the quality of the shot, not stopping at) the lower Bay-Yorkville station. These days, it's mostly used for training purposes, and movie shoots.(Don't Say a Word, Johnny Mnemonic, and Mimic).

When this church was built in the 1870s, it was at the edge of town. Today, it's downtown. I've always been slightly fascinated by this church and I've photographed it a few times. It's the way the other building (a Hyatt hotel, if I'm not mistaken) wraps around it that gives it its presence. This is the Church of the Redeemer, one of Toronto's Anglican churches, and one of those on the forefront of the fight for the recognition of gay and lesbian rights. This church is on the north side of Bloor Street, at the east corner of Avenue Road.

Our destination was the Anglican Bookstore just south of Bloor at the very end of Hayden Street. I’ve only been there a few times, but it’s one of those places that really seems to soothe my spirit. I love being down there, among the books, peering into moral verities and the political tie-ins. President Carter’s new book suggesting the United States has lost its way in the world was on display, and I came close to buying it, but $30 plus tax was a little more than I wanted to spend… I’ll grab it when it comes out in paperback.

Taken on the way down the stairs to the Anglican Bookstore. "Your church name here!!!" I think this is funny. :D

We were there for perhaps an hour and a half… I lost track of time. I didn’t buy anything myself but P-Doug picked up a raft of CDs that were on sale. We left, walking along Hayden St. to Church St., where we’d noticed an intriguing pub on our arrival. It was called The Bishop and the Belcher…

It sounds kind of crazy to say it, but all my life I’ve wanted to find the “perfect” pub. Most of the ones I know have big screen TVs in your face showing the game, and/or they play music so loud you can’t hear yourself think let alone carry on a conversation, and/or they let drunks get their hands on the mike in that pure abomination called karaoke (people really should be ticketed for that)… they’re dark, noisy, the staff either won’t leave you alone or they’ll drop off a beer and then wait till your bones are bleaching before they ask if you want the bill…

The Bishop and the Belcher was none of that.

The Bishop and the Belcher
Originally uploaded by Lone Primate.
Taken on the way to the Anglican Bookstore. We ended up sitting in this window a couple of hours later.

We sat in the window, arranged at a 45 degree angle at Church and Hayden. It was overcast, having rained in the morning. We watched the world go by in the cool grey of winter traversing to spring, the people just coming out into the world again to reclaim it. There were board games on a shelf near us. Every table had a box of Trivial Pursuit cards, and P-Doug and I spent the time popping questions at one another while we ate curried meals and sampled a half dozen beers between us. Agreeable... highly agreeable music at a listenable level frequently interrupted our conversation… but only because we had to stop ourselves and pause to listen. The place was frequented but not busy; had presence but was not obnoxious. I found myself wishing the place were nearer my home… but then, it would have lost its sense of location down there at the edge of the downtown if it moved. So I found myself wishing I lived there instead. I’ve always been a 905er at heart, but there’s still a part of me that would love to live the downtown, walk-to-work, I don’t-need-a-car existence possible in a few cities in North America, like Toronto (although just barely in our case). And it’s for reasons like that; places like The Bishop and the Belcher.

Not exactly a perfect panorama, but AutoStitch choked on the four-shot spread, so I roughed it in Photoshop. And I do mean rough. But the idea here it to convey the quiet, simple loveliness of the scene, rather than make it look perfect. Besides, every once in a while, I think it's kind of cool to go with the traditional pano look. :)

Look at all the charming schmaltz from the British Isles (including the admonishments to suck down the Guinness in massive quantities next week). Ah, the Old Country. :)

Canadian money is pretty. :)

The cash is P-Doug's. I paid my $35 using my bank card via Interac.

When I settled the bill (and yes, they took Interac), I told the staff that, for what it was worth, I thought they had the best pub in the city. It was just one of those perfect moments that lives forever in your heart and your mind.

Isn't this what Iraq's been treated to for the past four years or so? :)

This is underground at, or near (hard to tell exactly) the Yonge-Bloor subway station.

But hey... don't take my word for it...


chumly said...

That was a great tour. I never new Toronto had Subways.

Polt said...

I love the Rocket! I get on it at College, right near our hotel and just ride. I get off when i feel like it and walk back, just taking in all the sights along the way.

And yes, Canadian money is pretty. Kinda like Monopoly money. :)


loneprimate said...

I love the Rocket! I get on it at College, right near our hotel and just ride. I get off when i feel like it and walk back, just taking in all the sights along the way.

I hope we're not talking, like, Downsview Station here. :D

And yes, Canadian money is pretty. Kinda like Monopoly money. :)

Well... it is monopoly money! A federal monopoly. :)

L-girl said...

What a great day!

I also am always looking for the Perfect Pub. Always. And it's the thing I miss most - and like least - about living in the suburbs. I miss strolling to places like this.

I also love "ghost" subway stations. We had some cool experiences in NYC like that.

Great post, thank you for sharing your lovely day.

And p.s. great observation about the "backrub". :)