Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Hummingbird and the Jackhammer

"And curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you."         ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Many of us are probably familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert's speech on The Flight of the Hummingbird and Passion versus Curiosity. Finally, somebody was saying that is was ok to not have a burning passion for one thing, it was ok to be interested in lots of things, it was ok to be curious and to follow that curiosity, much like the flight of a hummingbird flitting from one flower to the next, in the end cross-pollenating everywhere it goes.  

Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga

My husband, largely due to his job, is a "have one focus, one destination and get there as quick as possible" kind of guy, a jackhammer. Opposites do attract.

In Toronto I think we balanced out hummingbird and jackhammer personalities very well. I was in charge of the wanderings and curiosity during the day, and he was in charge of the  research and destination for our breakfasts and suppers. 

Monday, our first full day in Toronto, he steered us to Over Easy, a diner around the corner from our hotel, delightful omelettes. Over breakfast I unfolded our downtown Toronto street map, and picked a road for us to start our hummingbird flight on. 

Shortly into our walk I spied the above church tower through a break in the buildings. I knew my curiosity would lead us there, and what a marvelous turning of the head it was. St. James Cathedral and it was open for self-guided tours. 

I felt something move inside me in that church, looking at the exquisite stained glass windows, touching the wooden pews, worn from generations of hands passing along the wood. These details are lost in today's modern buildings. Awe-struck wonder is what I felt.  I don't fully understand my fascination with old buildings, and may never, but that feeling of awe is enough. 

The Distillery Historic District

My curiosity led us to The Distillery District, with only one directional hiccup, that caused a bit of a debate and to which I will admit I was wrong. This is the only time you will see those words printed on this blog.

Our family has a wonderful relationship with the distillery at home, so we were excited to try some Canadian spirits. Unfortunately, there are no distilleries in the Distillery District. Although the area is very touristy, I loved it. The old buildings were delightful to photograph. Artist studios were located in one of the buildings. I was particularly drawn to the work of artist, Jodi Wheeler. I had an engaging and informative conversation with her about her photo transfer process. 

We had lunch here. I would highly recommend the bratwursts. We were too early for the tour.

St. Lawrence Market

I saw a photograph of the outside of the main St. Lawrence Market building when I was doing that tiny bit of internet research on Toronto before we left, I knew we would have to go there.

Unfortunately the first day we tried to go they were closed - Closed Mondays.

So we went back on Wednesday. 120 vendors of every imaginable edible delicacy, including ostrich thighs. We were there early, shortly after they opened, so it wasn't busy yet. I can only imagine later in the day what a zoo it probably is.

I am the only olive lover in my family, I was swooning with delight at all these and would have liked to sample every one, but I doubt they would have mixed very well with the pancakes I had for breakfast.

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres

The best slight turn of my head happened Tuesday night after dinner at Oliver & Bonacini Cafe'. My husband had heard about the restaurant from a fellow that he works with, like I said, always doing research. We decided to take a walk along Yonge street to see the sights at night and people watch. We approached a beautifully preserved theatre and I had to stop and take a few shots with my phone.

Then I noticed this sign on one of the windows. I knew what we would be doing Thursday at 5 p.m.

Lobby off of Yonge Street
The history of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is a long and fascinating one, spanning nearly 100 years. It not only chronicles the magnificent design, architectural and entertainment highlights of an era, it also reflects the evolution and growth of our heritage and culture.

Winter Garden Theatre

Built in 1913, the complex was the Canadian flagship of Marcus Loew's legendary theatre chain. Designed by Thomas Lamb as a "double-decker" theatre complex, it contained the Winter Garden Theatre, constructed seven stories above the Elgin Theatre.

Elgin Theatre

The two theaters were of distinctly different personality: the Elgin was all gold leaf and rich fabrics, a formal theatre of plaster cherubs and ornate opera boxes. The Winter Garden was a botanical fantasy, its walls hand-painted to resemble a garden, its ceiling a mass of real beech boughs and twinkling lanterns. 

Winter Garden Theatre

With the decline of vaudeville, the Winter Garden closed in 1928. It remained closed for more than half a century, becoming a time capsule of a bygone era. The Elgin, with its grand domed ceiling, continued as a movie house, gradually slipping into disrepair with the passing of each decade.

Winter Garden Theatre

What a restoration treasure these two theatres are now. To read more about the history and restoration work click here. This hour and a half tour was the best $12 I have ever spent. If you love old buildings and history, and find yourself in Toronto, you must go on this tour. 

After the tour, the hummingbird and the jackhammer walked hand-in-hand back to the hotel to get ready for one last magical night in Toronto. 


  1. You found places in Toronto that residents haven't found yet. ;) Toronto Mayor John Tory would be proud of your posting today.

  2. Delightful post . . .
    Loved the "Hummingbird and Jackhammer!"
    Well said . . .
    The stained glass, wooden pews photo was stunning sacredness . . .
    Oh my . . .

  3. We love Toronto & haven't been for many years. We just. At be beading back again, sooner rather than later, afterfollkwing your journey.

  4. You two seem to have found a good balance over the years, working as a team that benefits from each of your strengths. Opposites but not opposing. That is admirable!

  5. I especially enjoyed the Winter Garden and Elgin theatres. You sound so organized and managing to see all the things you know you will love!

  6. To continue to rub sand in proverbial wound... Did she actually say she was wrong?? Can someone confirm please? (LOL)

    Beautiful post. Love the allusionary (is that a word?) wordology (is that a word?) of jackhammer and hummingbird


  7. Interesting to note that your husband carries a camera...mine does also..although less these days...the I-phone has won out, for the most part...
    The photo's of that theater are sad it has been closed so long...and the food shots...can I say and perhaps you didn't even notice, but it caught my eye right away...Date Squares...2.20 a favorite of mine and my Mother's...a little trip down memory lane there...
    It looks like a wonderful trip...glad you both enjoyed it...

  8. You had such a wonderful trip. I love how you and Jackhammer work together! The cathedral and theaters are breathtaking! Old buildings have such unique beauty that we don't see in modern architecture.

  9. The images of the Winter Garden Theater took my breath away. How beautiful! My husband is a jackhammer too...I feel your pain.

  10. Looks like a wonderful trip! The theater is gorgeous, the light on the church pews is beautiful, the market looks like it has some delicious treats...but no distilleries in the Distillery District? :) Thank you for reminding me today it is ok to be a 'hummingbird'.

  11. Well, they don't make them like this anymore, do they? I love old buildings and theaters can be the most amazing: often plain on the outside, and spectacular on the inside. There's a lesson there, I think!


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)