Thursday, February 29, 2024

Throwback Thursday - Craigdorroch Castle

September 2017 - Victoria BC

While in Victoria we decided to walk to Craigdorroch Castle, don't let anyone tell you that it is a lovely walk from downtown, it is uphill and a long walk.

Craigdarroch Castle is a definitively Victorian experience. It is a shining example of a “bonanza castle” — massive houses built for entrepreneurs who became wealthy during the industrial age. In this case, the industrialist was Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal.

This legendary Victorian mansion, built between 1887 and 1890 on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria, announced to the world that Robert Dunsmuir was the richest and most important man in Western Canada.

Robert and Joan had two sons and eight daughters plus one child who died in infancy. As the Dunsmuir fortune grew, the family eventually moved from Nanaimo to Victoria and took up residence in 1885 in a house named Fairview situated near the Legislative Buildings. Robert at this point had been elected and was serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nanaimo.

Thirty two of the forty-seven original art glass windows are still in place. The studio responsible for them remains a mystery. An 1890 newspaper account states that the order for interior woodwork from A.H. Andrews & Co. of Chicago included “windows.”

Sometime after Joan Dunsmuir’s death, several art windows disappeared from the Castle. The largest of these windows were removed from the dining room, the sitting room, as well as a bathroom. The Castle Society plans to install reproductions of all the missing stained and art glass windows at Craigdarroch, which will involve careful study of historic photographs.

James, the elder son, took charge of the mining operations in Nanaimo, and Alexander, the younger son, lived in San Francisco and managed the sales and shipping office. Dunsmuir coal now moved to market on Dunsmuir rail and in Dunsmuir ships and the business empire also included: collieries; an iron works; a saw mill; a quarry (the source of the sandstone for the exterior of Craigdarroch); a dyking company; a theatre; and extensive real estate.

In 1887, two years after the last spike had been driven on the E&N railway, and five years after he started accumulating 28 acres of property, Robert Dunsmuir gave the orders to start building Craigdarroch. There were still three Dunsmuir daughters who were not married and the mansion would be the perfect venue to launch them into married life.

Unfortunately, he died in April 1889 before the house was completed. After Robert’s death, Joan spent some time travelling in Europe. Her sons oversaw the completion of the construction while she was in Europe and Joan, with her three unmarried daughters and two orphaned grandchildren, took up residence in 1890.

Robert’s death brought strife to the family. Contrary to oral promises made to his sons, he left his entire Estate and business holdings to his wife, Joan. This was a blow to both James and Alex (then in their thirties) who had worked in the family business all their lives. It took seven years of negotiations with Joan before she would give her sons title to the San Francisco company. It took another three years before she agreed to their terms to purchase the Wellington Colliery. With this settlement, Alex Dunsmuir felt secure enough in his financial future to marry Josephine, a divorced woman that he had been living with as man and wife for close to twenty years. Their married life only lasted six weeks; Alex passed away on January 31, 1900 while they were in New York on their honeymoon.

After the death of Alex, a costly quarrel over his Will again divided the family, setting Joan and her daughters against James. This quarrel triggered a lawsuit that went all the way to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London (in those days equivalent to the Supreme Court of Canada). James, who was Premier of British Columbia at the time the action was announced, was very much in the public eye. A story in the New York Times announced: “Premier sued by his Mother”. As a result of the legal action, Joan and James did not speak for years. When she died in 1908 having lived in Craigdarroch for 18 years, the local newspaper reported that James (then serving as Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia) was not expected to attend her funeral. At the last minute he changed his mind and did attend. During the service, he broke down and wept.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Monday Mural

 I'm linking up at Monday Mural

February 2024 - Toronto ON

Pearl St. 

Painted by Jarus.

The only information I could find was this RFP (request for proposal). Obviously Jarus won the assignment.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

One Word Sunday

One Word Sunday



 Linking up with Marg at The Intrepid Reader

 February 2024

June 2023 - Distillery District

Saturday I had a reminder email from NEXUS to renew my card. NEXUS is designed to speed up border crossings into Canada and the United States (U.S.) for low-risk, pre-approved travellers. It is jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Of course, they changed their online website and forms. As I am navigating through it John is questioning where his card is. Searched the house, he went down to the car, nada. So he starts the lost card process...
I then, smugly say mine is in my wallet, eh, no, it isn't....
After some searching, I think, hmmm, did we take them with us when we were going to the Yukon in August as we had thought we might go into Alaska??? I checked the purse I used (last time I used it) and sure enough it was in there.
That made John check his drawer again, he found it in his old wallet.

Then I was going to make my Guinness lamb shanks, oh, we don't have any dark beer!!! AHA I found one lonely Guinness.

We ended up decluttering the travel box, why did we had a gazillion American grocery loyalty cards? And why did we keep a bazillion foreign SIM cards? Decluttered!
 Guinness declutter
Sunday we rotated our mattress (exciting days!), well, John did as it is heavy. Why can't we flip mattresses anymore? If a mattress cannot be flipped then the manufacturer can save money by putting less expensive cushions, covering and quilting on the bottom side.
I wanted to put a new mattress cover on so it was a good time to rotate.

I had a very productive day for a holiday Monday. I repotted some plants which led to dirt everywhere that had to be cleaned up, refilled by spice jars, also makes a mess and made a pumpkin cheesecake. I had just finished lecturing on the proper way to bake, reading the recipe etc. and I put an extra egg in the cheesecake! I had three in my head because I was thinking of making creme brulee. It turned out fine.

I opened this can first, expiry date 2025, I threw it out as I didn't like that black spot.

I usually order John's gluten free bread from Promise but they no longer offer free shipping over $100. I checked prices on Amazon and can do better with no shipping fees and it arrives the next day. Also the Schar's baguettes are a much better price.

I used my last gluten free graham crust in the pumpkin pie. I looked at Amazon and found I could get a dozen at a unit price of $4.40. My best price at a grocery store is $6.49.

It must be spring! The pigeons are back looking for nesting sites. This causes a lot of bad language here.

Tuesday we headed to an early dinner at Libretto's pizza. We still had a $50 gift card.

We went to the 7:30 performance but I took this photo last week.

We waited in this little lounge off the lobby.

Excellent production, no intermission just 80 minutes of pure energy.
SIX is a new original musical with book, music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. It is a modern retelling of the six wives of Henry VIII presented as a pop concert, as the Queens take turns singing and telling their stories to see who suffered the most due to Henry and should, therefore, become the group’s lead singer. But not everything goes according to plan and along the way they discover something even more valuable, reclaiming their own narrative and remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power!

We Uber'd home.

Wednesday I did some wandering before getting my hair trimmed.

When an opportunity presented itself for Liberty to open a fine dining spot in Toronto’s business district, the two metaphorically grabbed the bull by the horns. They are now at the helm of the Blue Bovine Steak and Sushi House, situated in the newly revitalized Union Station.
The massive bull at the entrance of the restaurant, Nadia Di Donato said the bull weighs around 1,500 lbs., was meticulously hand-sculpted under her supervision, and is set to serve as “Toronto’s own rendition” of Wall Street’s famed Charging Bull.

The steps of the former Commercial/ Merchant/ Bank of Montreal and now RBC Dominion Securities building inside Brookfield Place.

Built around the crystal cathedral of Brookfield Place and around all the modern new buildings is the façade of little bank. The building was built in 1845 by William Thomas who also designed St. Mike’s Cathedral, St. Lawrence Hall and the Don Jail. The building first housed the Commercial bank which was based out of Kingston Ontario. The bank did not survive and the building became the home of the Merchant Bank of Canada in 1868. However that bank also did not survive and then the building housed the Bank Of Montreal. It is unknown when the bank left the building, but one report suggests around World War Two, when Clarkson, Gordon and Dilworth moved into the building until 1969. Afterwards the history of this building seems to be lost.

Eventually the building was restored to its former glory. Now the building is not where it was before. In fact it sat on 13-15 Wellington Street. The façade was taken apart and relocated to where it is today inside Brookfield Place.

Walking up Yonge St.

And this is what I was looking for! 36 Toronto St.

Excelsior Life Building / Millichamps Building

Millichamp address was 39 Adelaide and the Excelsior Life Building is 36 Toronto St. 

In 1986-1987, the 1914 Lennox Building and the 1874 Millichamp Building were added to with a new structure which included an atrium between the two of them. This property’s contribution lies in its historic role in the establishment of Toronto Street as a corporate and financial hub in the late 19th and early 20th century, and its historic association with prominent early 20th century Toronto architect E.J. Lennox. The structures contribute to the physical character of the District through their Italianate architectural detailing and the transition they provide between the contemporary Financial District and the St. Lawrence neighbourhood.

The source for these two photos is the Toronto Heritage Registrar.

With the atrium the building now has the address of 36 Toronto St. although it is really on Adelaide. 

This 11-storey building, designed by prominent Toronto architect E. J. Lennox, was the tallest building on the block at the time of construction. It was named after the Excelsior Life Insurance Company, whose offices were located within. It replaced the Union Block, a Second Empire-style office building that stood here from 1873 to 1914. Its exterior is constructed of terracotta stone with a granite base and is designed in the Classical Italianate style, with decorative columns near the top. A reconstruction project by Strong Associates in 1987 connected it to the Millichamp Building via a glass atrium.

Suspended Stairway 1986 by Joshua Kalfa.

Spanning across the expansive atrium of 36 Toronto Street, the work of art depicts giant bronze women climbing the staircase (also bronze) suspended in air.

Corporate career ladder? Glass ceiling for women? Or take the stairs??

Kalfa, a Toronto-based artist, works with steel to create his works, often depicting animals or mundane human scenes (a man on a bench, clothes drying on a line) through his unique artistic eye.

And directly across the street is this building.

This building was the headquarters of the Consumers’ Gas Company for 125 years. It was built in stages between 1852 and 1899 on what was one of Toronto’s principal financial streets. Architect Joseph Sheard designed the first building at 17 Toronto Street and 24 years later, architect David Brash Dick designed an addition at 19 Toronto Street. In 1899, Dick unified the appearance of the buildings with a Renaissance Revival-style façade that included Corinthian pilasters, ornate windows, and columns made of granite from the Bay of Fundy. The ground-floor hall, decorated with an intricate mosaic floor and brass teller’s cages, was a customer service area. Offices were located on the upper floors. The Consumers’ Gas Company initially provided Toronto with street lighting; in 1879, it expanded to serve homes and businesses as well. After the Consumers’ Gas Company moved in 1977, the structure deteriorated. In 1983, it was renovated by the architecture firm Stone & Kohn.

The building currently houses Don Alfonso 1890 Italian Restaurant; and Rosewater Room the award-winning event venue by Liberty Entertainment Group, the same group as mentioned above with the bull!

Thursday we had a maintenance appointment for the air coil system (controls heat and air conditioning) with a window  of 9-1 and they came at 12:30. Yeah, he also fixed to temperature to Celsius.
Then we both ran some errands.

Friday we decided to go to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) as it was 8C and sunny. We have had an incredible February. However, when we got there it too busy so we went for coffee instead.

Walking down St. Patrick, we don't usually. We both remembered driving here during the pandemic when we were looking at weird houses, that the half house was on this street. Click here to see that weird house.

This week's coffee spot, Hotblack Coffee on Queen St. W.

The barista suggested the Ethiopian ethically sourced beans, in a latte and a cappuccino. They were good, very smooth.

Hollywood Hi cannabis shop.

Saving the facade of an old bank building.

This photo of the CIBC on the northwest corner of Simcoe and Queen Street West was taken on August 23, 1931.
The impressive building was completed in 1930, a year after the great Wall Street crash. However, the designs for it were created prior to the economic crisis, its restrained but rich architecture a testament to the prosperous decade of the 1920s. It was constructed on the site of the Harris Hotel, an unpretentious hostelry that was demolished to provide a site for the bank.

We cut through the lobby of the very swanky Shangri-La Hotel.

WTF? It was beautiful out today but coming home the winds picked up and we now have a 
this from the management office. It is expected to feel like -20C with the wind chill.
Cold Weather Alert
Dear Residents

Cold Weather Alert – Please be advised that environment Canada forecasts indicate that we will experience temperatures below minus 12 degrees Celsius, tonight. 

So -12C then Tuesday's forecast is 12C, a 24 degree difference!

Saturday slow cooker lamb shanks in Guinness with mashed potatoes and carrots/turnips
Shrimp and egg-free Caesar salad dressing. These shrimp were cleaned and cooked from Longo's and were delicious. I even made a shrimp salad sandwich (like a lobster roll) for lunch. Then I remembered I should have made it like a UK prawn sandwich.

I did make a soda bread that was uneatable, I didn't have enough milk and read that I could substitute heavy (whipping) cream and water in equal parts, I don't think this worked. But I also had used a new gluten free flour I had ordered so....  
Monday chicken divan to use up the broccoli
Tuesday dinner out pizza Libretto image above
Wednesday shake and bake pork chops ($2.50 10 ounce chop Metro) mashed potatoes and broccoli
Friday stuffed flank steak (delicious) with roasted potatoes and broccolini

The Woman in the Wall  is a six-part mystery drama created by Joe Murtagh and starring Ruth Wilson (a favourite of mine) and Daryl McCormack.
Lorna (Wilson) wakes up to find the dead body of a woman in her house. Lorna has a long history of trauma-based sleepwalking that stretches back to her time spent in Ireland’s controversial Magdalene laundries.
I finished episode 5 and went WTF??? Then discovered that episode 6 doesn't air until next week.
John binge watched and then we watched the last episode together.

Giant Little Ones 2018 pretty solid movie about friendship, parenting, and social acceptance of ''atypical'' sexuality people are avoiding to talk about or deal with in real life.
No Hard Feelings

Locked Down is a 2021 American romantic comedy heist film. The film stars Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, with Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Claes Bang, Ben Stiller, and Ben Kingsley in supporting roles. Locked Down follows a couple who plan to execute a jewelry heist. It was written, financed, and filmed entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic. I don't know why this didn't get better reviews, we really enjoyed it.

Medusa Deluxe 2022 A murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing contest. Extravagance and excess collide, as the death of a contestant sows seeds of division in a community whose passion for hair verges on obsession.

Nothing Compares 2022 following the career of singer Sinéad O'Connor through her rise to fame and how her iconoclastic personality led to her exile from the pop mainstream.

We started the series True Detective: Night Country Jodie Foster and professional boxer Kali Reis are at the helm of the series, which centres on an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of eight men from a research station in Alaska.

WOO HOO Law & Order Toronto:Criminal Intent premieres!!! Click here for a good recap of the first episode.


I tried reading The Irishman's Daughter but couldn't get very far, I found the writing to be very uninspired and boring.

I started Tom Lake and thought why did everyone love this book?? But I stuck with it and it did grew on me although not to a 5 star rating, more like a 3. I do find Ann Patchett's writing a little dry. The main reason I stuck with the book was the link to the play Our Town. Our Town was the first play I ever saw (high school production) and it gave me my love of theatre.