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Monday, July 07, 2008

Canada Day and the Fifth of July

I've been doing too many things at once, including misremembering my telephone number. I don't know why I do, but I do. I'll send out another message to my friends with the right number, since everyone I've talked to got a 6 in place of the first two.
Senior moment.

I've been exploring Toronto and having a great time. I thought it would be nice to visit Ward's Island on the fifth of July. This is one of the islands in the Harbour with a theme park, a zoo, and many funky little houses in an artist's colony. Unfortunately about ten thousand people decided to do the same thing since this was the first weekend without thunderstorms in a month. I waited for a new friend to show up and was increasingly discomfited when I saw more than a thousand people walk past me to the three open ticket booths. Eventually the sea of humanity completely filled the area to the right of the monolithic Westin Hotel on the Queen's Quay.
This is what Ward's Island looks like, and I despaired of being able to get there.
I am meeting locals through 'toronto linkup' and a Russian girl who'd lived her fourteen years showed me how to get past the ten thousand other people trying to take the ferry to the islands and take a smaller club boat for three bucks. We walked all over the place, and had dinner in Chinatown afterward. I can walk around for long periods and though I have some blisters under my big toes as a result I can counter this problem by wrapping said toes in band aids before leaving, and wearing bamboo socks. These are not only comfortable, they are bactericidal, so said feet don't stink at the end of the day. Not that they ever did. My veggie diet has eliminated body odor and done wonders for my teeth and skin....

I loved the little houses and think that I will have some better photos when I get them developed. I still have Dad's old Contarex, it appears to still work, and people still come up to me and ask me about it. Though I notice that the people are invariably men and they are getting older and older...

Canada Day is celebrated on July 1. It celebrates Confederation in 1867, when they actually became a nation. (apparently Confederation was a direct reaction to the American Civil War; Irish vets were coming to Canada and making trouble with the recent immigrants. They probably chose July 1 to be ahead of us. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October for the same reason. When I once asked animator Shane Doyle why they have a Canadian thanksgiving, he said "We give thanks that we're not Americans!" (joke, but mostly true.)
Before 1867 Canada was, of course, a British colony. They got their Constitution in 1982! And they are still a constitutional monarchy. The practical result is this: The Queen of England is head of State. The Prime Minister is the head of Government. They are not combined in the same person, as they are in our President. This is actually not a bad idea at all.

I have to say that I do think 'what might have been' after having lived in Australia and Canada. The two countries share many similarities, the most obvious of which appears to be a concern for the greater good of the most people, and not quite as much emphasis on 'individual' rights, though of course they do defend them. They don't appear to think that the purpose of life is to make as much money as possible and to hell with the public good. Though the Australians and Canadians love their personal independence, they do observe the rule of law, or did until recently. Had America remained a British colony it might have resembled either one of these countries. And sorry, I think it would have been an improvement over what has developed, particularly in the last fifty or so years. MeMeMe gets really irritating after a while; I like public transport, public places, and don't want to be all by myself all the time.

I spent Canada Day at a gorgeous local estate called Erchless (irk-less) named after an Irish castle that the mayor of Oakville's family once owned.
It's a nice, middle class mansion. The Chisolm family still exists ( a local street near my house is named for them.) But they donated the house to the state since they had prohibitive upkeep expenses and now it is the town museum. The grounds are on a bluff overlooking a charming pier with a lighthouse. I will try to upload pictures, it's absolutely gorgeous.

I told my father that he made a serious mistake not moving to Toronto when he had a chance to do so ten or so years ago. He got erroneous information on the temperatures in the winter; I was here in their worst blizzard since 1939 and it was NOT fourteen below zero! (Someone told him it was like that, and he didn't get a second opinion.) Rochester's weather is usually worse due to something called the Lake Effect.
Then again, some of the venues on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario had seven foot thick ice last winter when the winds blew surf onto the ground. Yes, that's right. It's not recommended to live too close to the lake. This is Bronte Harbour, (bron-tay: not named after the authors) which is actually part of Oakville. The snow is manageable in this photo but that's where the thick ice was seen this past winter.

Erchless had a very moving multimedia installation on the Underground Railway, which actually ended here in Oakville. The local sea captains had fake decks in their ships, and runaway slaves would be carried across the lake from Rochester and brought to Oakville and freedom. Things got worse after 1850 when the Fugitive Slave Act or "Compromise of 1850" was passed by (deservedly forgotten) President Millard Fillmore's administration. Basically, even Northern states weren't safe after that horrible Act. Any black man or woman--even a freeborn one--could be caught by any other American citizen and sold in the South. Some of the bastards even went to Canada to drag people back South. This horrible law absolutely guaranteed a Civil War. It's a sad bit of American history and I really was humbled watching this documentary.
Sadly, Oakville is very whitebread now...though I do know a Black woman who moved here from the Caribbean in the sixties. Canada wasn't good to her then. "I still have the scar on my shoulder where someone came up to me on Yonge Street and burnt me with a cigarette." (She was a child. Yonge Street is like 42nd street, only cleaner.)
"No one came to help me."

Canada had extremely racist immigration policies toward all groups except British and Irish within living memory, but now it revels in its tolerance--at least Toronto does. It's a real smorgasbord of a city and I'm having a great time exploring it. Sadly the pollution is as impressive as L.A.s sometimes. Yesterday I saw this brown cloud with the CN tower projecting out of it. This isn't quite what I saw (think of a brown belt with that tall tower sticking out of it like a toothpick, viewed from about 20 miles away) but after I retrieved my jawbone I took a picture. We'll see what I get.

Gizmo was sick for four days,which is another reason I haven't been posting much. Then I got sick. Both of us are fine now.

I am doing interviews with other Sheridan profs to find out what I can do in my classes to coordinate with their assignments...Mark Mayerson is very helpful, since he has been here long enough to tell me how things work. I will be teaching one storyboard course per semester, with five sections, one lecture, and 125 students in all. What a change...the storyboard class is required, and the students take it BEFORE they actually start making films!

It has been lovely here for a few days but sometimes this wet sock humidity comes down and makes me want to peel my skin off. The dehumidifier helps.

So that's all for now.


Steve sculpts critters said...

Oh my!
I draw storyboards too (for advertising), and I recently finished a sculpture called 'senior moment'.
Just had to tell you about it.

Nancy said...

Hello Steve,

I think that a sculpture called 'senior moment' might have bits missing from it, or have some stuff back to front, or be unfinished...well, you get the idea. Where can I see a picture of it?

Steve sculpts critters said...

Yes, I learned more from him in the first half dozen life drawing classes I took (of about 30 altogether) than I learned in the 4 previous yrs of college. Seems art colleges didn't hire teachers who could demonstrate or teach by example.
Just offer enthusiastic encouragement and nebulous suggestions. I don't know if it's any better now.
I was always floored when I would pop over to the pointy hat bldg at disney and check out the whole floor (4th?) decked out with John's development paintings for Tarzan or the Mayan stuff, or whatever it happened to be.
They should have made a book of his Tarzan paintings. They were really something special. Danton Burroughs asked them to, but they declined since they aren't about promoting individual talent, and just sit on hundreds of unbelievable paintings forever instead.
Oh well.
Some folks, eh?
Oh, check out my website there's some pics of the clay, but I'll put up better pics of the bronze when I get pics of it (it's at the foundry for another couple of weeks).

Nancy said...

The story department at Disney's was and is on the third floor...there is no fourth floor of the hat building.
I worked up there for a while and loved it.