Left to decay, the Toronto Coach Terminal offers a fading glimmer of the glory days of travel

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Toronto has never been kind to its architecture. This is a city, don’t forget, that has happily allowed countless heritage buildings to be demolished or reduced to empty facades that hide the modern mediocrities that replace them. Such is progress in this busy conurbation.

No surprise then that a town that once contemplated tearing down two of its most important landmarks — Old City Hall and Union Station — would stand by while the Toronto Coach Terminal at 610 Bay St. slowly falls apart. The stylish Art Deco facility, which opened in December 1931, could have done double duty as a nightclub. It was the kind of place where one imagines elegant women in long gowns making their entrance on a grand stairwell.

The Toronto Coach Terminal was designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also designed Toronto’s General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre.
The Toronto Coach Terminal was designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also designed Toronto’s General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre.  (Lucas Oleniuk / The Toronto Star)

The stairwell is still there, but today it serves no purpose. The second floor and the restaurant that was once there are closed. Designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also gave Toronto the General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre, and the Consumer’s Gas Showroom on 2532 Yonge St. north of Eglinton Ave., the terminal is a remnant of a more optimistic age.

Though Canada was in the midst of the Great Depression, which devastated the country — at one point the unemployment rate was fully 33 per cent — Toronto somehow managed to build a bus terminal that had limestone cladding, stained glass windows, hand-painted faux stone walls and an interior illuminated by a cluster of crystalline chandeliers. Clearly, these were different times — attitudes to public architecture, let alone public transport, weren’t what they are today. Mobility was something to be celebrated, even glamourized. Men wouldn’t have thought of entering the terminal without a jacket and tie. Women wore hats and gloves.

Toronto's motor coach terminal at Bay and Edward Sts., North Mezzanine, looking west, on Dec, 19, 1931.
Toronto’s motor coach terminal at Bay and Edward Sts., North Mezzanine, looking west, on Dec, 19, 1931.  (Alfred J. Pearson)

Ninety-odd years later, people definitely do not dress up for travel. Whether by bus, boat, train or plane, getting around is something to be endured not enjoyed. Travellers today are better off dressing for comfort. Buses aren’t as uncomfortable and unhealthy as airplanes, but at a time when the car rules, they are considered the lowest form of public transportation, abandoned to those who can’t afford anything better. Even on the TTC, they rate well below subways and streetcars. Maybe that’s why the commission cares so little for those unfortunates consigned to ride the bus.

The GO bus terminal at Union Station confirms the lowly status of the vehicles it serves. Little more than a series of bays, it offers benches and a simple glass enclosure to shelter passengers. It’s so basic it seems more a structure than a building, engineered rather than designed. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course. As long as it’s not raining, snowing or freezing cold, it’s as comfortable as one would expect a loading dock to be.

If it represents anything, it is the triumph of austerity. We applaud the new terminal because it was constructed cheaply. The materials — steel, glass and concrete — are industrial. No limestone here. And don’t expect chandeliers. That would have been not just excessive, a waste of money and an affront to hard-working taxpayers, it would have been laughably — wildly — inappropriate.

The grandeur of Union Station across the road feels anachronistic, even ironic. With its massive stone columns, enormous arched windows and vaulted ceiling, its Great Hall was designed to impress those arriving in the Big City. Hearts raced and mouths gaped at the sheer scale, the spectacle and opulence of the space. The experience of Union Station was not quickly forgotten. But by the 1970s, trains and buses were in decline; people preferred to drive. Travellers gave way to commuters, and with the ongoing transformation of Union Station into a shopping mall, commuters are now being turned into consumers. Airports have met a similar fate.

Passengers arrive at the Toronto Coach Terminal through the Bay St. entrance.
Passengers arrive at the Toronto Coach Terminal through the Bay St. entrance.  (Lucas Oleniuk)

Meanwhile, the Toronto Coach Terminal, that relic of a lost world, has never felt so lonely and isolated. Through all the changes, however, the remakes and neglect, the building retains a glimmer of its former glory. The attentive user will be rewarded with the odd glimpse of a city that could afford to be optimistic even during the worst of times. By comparison, contemporary optimism feels forced, even false. It is merely rhetorical.

Overwhelmed by demand, drowning in expectations, poorly run and bullied by its provincial masters, modern-day Toronto simply can’t cope. It does what it can but it’s never enough. The past isn’t just a foreign country; it’s also a foreign city.

Christopher Hume is a former Star reporter who is a current freelance columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @HumeChristopher

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Trudeau offers ‘Canada’s continued support’ in call with Venezuela opposition’s Guaido

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says he has spoken with the man Canada and many of its allies consider the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trudeau’s office says he spoke with Juan Guaido about the need for countries to send a clear message about what the PMO calls « the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime. »

A statement from the PMO says the two also discussed the need to respect Venezuela’s constitution and to have free and fair presidential elections.

« The prime minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support, » the statement read.

The call comes a day before Canada and its allies in the so-called Lima Group are set to meet in Ottawa.

The gathering of more than a dozen of Canada’s Western Hemisphere allies is meant to find new ways to support the Venezuelan opposition and ease the refugee crisis in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia

The agenda was still being finalized on Friday, in part because of the speed at which the Venezuelan crisis is unfolding.

Watch: Power Panel on Canada and the Venezuela crisis

The Power Panel – Jen Gerson, Martin Patriquin, Paul Wells and John Paul Tasker discuss the ongoing political crisis gripping Venezuela and Canada’s role in attempting to resolve it. 11:17

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Montreal Shabat dinner offers blend of cultures to kick off Muslim Awareness Week – Montreal

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The Muslim community is reaching out to Quebecers.

Montrealers are being given the chance to learn more about Islam through a series of activities planned in the city this week.

One such event brought Muslims and Jews together Friday night for a vegetarian Shabat dinner at the Emanu El-Beth Sholom Temple in Westmount.

“I think when people break bread together, it shifts relationships. When people bake bread together, all the more so,” said Rabbi Lisa Grushkow.

Watch below: Montreal’s Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah with giant latke






The event is part of Muslim Awareness Week, an initiative inspired by the community in the wake of the Quebec City Mosque shooting.

Nearly two years ago, a gunman stormed into a mosque killing six people for the simple reason that they were Muslim.


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The meal was prepared by The Wandering Chew, a group of caterers specializing in Jewish meals and The Syrian Kitchen, a mother-daughter catering duo who were sponsored to come to Canada by the congregation.

Traditional foods from both the Syrian and Jewish culture were served.

Watch below: Montreal catering company hiring Syrian refugees






“I feel very privileged to have been able to come into their culture a bit and learn,” said Ronna Miller, a member of the congregation.

“It’s a chance to build bridges between two different religious communities,” explained Jonathan Goldbloom.

Following the meal, Montrealers of the Muslim faith spoke at the event.

“I think it’s very important to make sure that people are familiarized with us and to remove the negative connotation around Islam,” said 19 year-old Amani Shakhtour, one of the speakers.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Peterborough family drop-in centre offers New Year’s celebration for kids – Peterborough

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Peterborough’s Baby Cafe is a place where parents can bring their babies and young children for family activities, crafts and events in a welcoming, child-friendly atmosphere.

For local parents, meanwhile, it’s also something of an oasis.

“It’s hard to get out and go places where your baby can be a baby,” said Baby Cafe patron Beth Pink. “Sometimes they cry, sometimes they spit up. They’re not always the most polite, so this is the kind of place where that kind of thing is accepted and is OK.”


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Three years ago, owner Sarah Susnar decided to have a child-friendly New Year’s celebration, but knew holding it at midnight would not be reasonable.

Then, she thought, if kids couldn’t stay up until 12 a.m., about celebrating it 12 hours earlier at noon?

“There’s not a lot to do for young kids on New Year’s and I wanted  them to participate in a countdown, so I thought a countdown to noon would be the perfect way to do it,” Susnar said.


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Susnar says this year’s event sold out quickly and she intends to continue with other child-oriented activities.

WATCH: Peterborough Petes put the fun in holiday kids’ hockey camp






 

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Ottawa offers $1.6B backstop for energy sector as political tensions with Alberta fester

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The federal government is promising more than $1.6 billion — most of it in commercial loans —  to support the ailing energy sector, as political tensions in the Ottawa-Alberta relationship simmer.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr made the announcement in Edmonton this morning.

The bulk of the money, $1 billion in commercial support, comes from Export Development Canada’s coffers, the national export credit agency. It’s meant for oil and gas exporters who want to invest in new technologies and diversify their markets.

The funding package also includes $500 million over three years from the Business Development Bank of Canada, a Crown corporation, to help smaller companies increase operational and environmental efficiency, buy new technology and equipment or expand into new markets.

The government first made an official request to the EDC and BDC about making targeted money available this fall, said a senior government source.

An additional $150 million is pegged for clean growth and infrastructure projects — $50 million of it coming from Natural Resources Canada’s current Clean Growth Program, a $155 million investment fund for clean technology research and development.

Sohi said the money will be available immediately.

Concerned oil field workers watch as Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr, left, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi, centre and Randy Boissonnault, Edmonton M.P. speak during press conference to announce support for Canada’s oil and gas sector, in Edmonton on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

The price for Alberta’s crude tumbled to $11 a barrel in late November, inciting panic among industry players and politicians.

« When Alberta hurts, so does Canada, » said Sohi. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who was not on hand for today’s announcement, has called on Ottawa to help the province buy new rail cars to ship two additional tanker trains full of Alberta crude out of the province every day.

Today’s funding announcement didn’t mention rail cars.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney called the investment « too little, too late. » In a news release, Alberta’s opposition leader said if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was serious about helping Alberta energy workers, it would nix Bill C-69 — legislation overhauling Canada’s energy project assessment system — and Bill C-48, which would ban oil tankers from the northern B.C. coast.

« Alberta’s NDP government made a critical mistake in putting all their faith in their alliance with the Trudeau Liberal government, and today Albertans are facing the consequences, » said Kenney.

Watch Sohi speak about aid for the energy industry

Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Tuesday 2:55

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‘Rewrite the trauma’: Calgary clinic offers free tattoos for breast cancer survivors – Calgary

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NOTE: The following story contains images of a sensitive nature.

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Jacalyn Swindlehurst was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 after finding a lump. Her older sister was also diagnosed with the disease.

“There were more tumors there than what showed up in the mammogram, so we had to go in for a mastectomy, just for survival rates,” she said.

In 2002, Swindlehurst went to get tested for a BRCA mutation and, after testing positive, she chose to have her other breast removed. She was left with scars from reconstruction surgery and radiation burns.


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Tattoo artist Stacie Rae tattooed 3D nipples on Swindlehurst a couple years ago, but now she wants a larger design to cover the scars.

“Instead of me having flowers or jewels, I really like to downhill ski and winter sports so we’re going to have some snowflakes in there,” Swindlehurst said of the design.

WATCH: The truth about breast cancer screening






The tattoos can vary, from a realistic areola to a more cosmetic design. Swindlehurst called it a big boost for body confidence.

“I have no problem going swimming,” she said. “We own a boat, I have multiple swimsuits and stuff like that. But it would be nice to look in the mirror and have it have more symmetry and not have the scars showing.”

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Blake Lough/Global News

Weir has been tattooing since she was a teenager and has been full-time at it since 1996. After 15 years of regular tattooing, she started doing more specialized work.

“It makes such a difference in people’s lives,” Weir said. “It’s really fulfilling and rewarding work.”


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“The breast cancer journey can take away so much from a survivor,” she said. “It can chip away their confidence in little ways that they don’t even recognize. Tattooing can be a great way to rewrite the trauma. You can rewrite the experience.”

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Blake Lough/Global News

Jody Stoski, owner of the Cinnamon Girl Clinic, is offering the free tattoos to a select number of applicants for Pink Day. In the community, it’s a respected procedure, Stoski said.

“For our community and the people that we work with, it’s very well known,” she said. “It’s a very respected art to have put on your body that’s safe and okay and is not going to interfere with your healing or anything related to cancer.”

 

— With files from Blake Lough

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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