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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Kingsway/Baby Point/Swansea/Lambton Mills/Humber Valley/Stonegate ( Sunnylea) Now Completed !!!!!!

I officially completed the The Kingsway/Baby Point/Swansea/Lambton Mills/Humber Valley/ Stonegate (Sunnylea) Mandala on November 16, 2012.
It encompasses quite a large area and I tried my best to incorporate most of the important buildings and other icons. I have written in many historical notes, ie., Hurricane Hazel ( 1954 ), Fort Toronto, the original
Baby Point aboriginal settlement, the mills up and down the Humber , to mention only a few.
The mandala is chock full of the rich past and present of that area.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to go on hikes with my Girl Guide group # 151 and we sang as we walked along during the more rustic days of the Humber , before Hurricane Hazel changed the whole look of its banks and eventually led to the forming of The Metropolitan Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
Those were the days, my friend.
But it' s never too late ! Now at the end of the Baby Point Peninsula is a long staircase leading down to a trail along the Humber, I hope you are able to take a walk along it some day soon and enjoy the beautiful nature of that area of Toronto.

I will be adding more about this mandala next week.

So moving forward, I will be working on The West Lakeshore mandala which will include Humber Bay, Mimico, New Toronto, Long Branch, and Port Credit.  My goal is to have it completed by December 20, 2012.
( I haven't forgotten Fort York....hopefully done by end of February, 2013 )

By the way, I have also completed a New York City mandala, which took me 120 hours to complete.
It is bursting with the adrenalin and hugeness of that great city !!!!
Besides Toronto mandalas, I have so many requests for other areas of the country and the world...Kleinberg definitely for the 2013 Binder Twine Festival next September !!!!

I am now also beginning a Montreal mandala.

If you wish to contact me about any of these mandalas, my email is :

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fort York/War of 1812 Mandala Delayed

I haven' t completed this mandala yet and now have set a new goal and hope to have it done by October 1st.

I am still also working on the Baby Point/Kingsway/Swansea/Humber Valley mandala.

However, after 200 hours work, I am very happy to announce that 2 weeks ago, I completed a New York City mandala for a special request. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fort York/War of 1812 In My Mandalas

Fort York and The War of 1812 has been illustrated in 3 of my mandalas :

King Street West

Downtown Toronto

Olde, Olde Toronto New

On September 1, 2012 I will release my Fort York Mandala .

The Baby Point/Kingsway/Humber Valley Mandala Is Taking Form !!!

This mandala is jam-packed with rich details of its aboriginal past.
I am trying my best to carefully examine the strata as far back as has been recorded.
I am being careful not to omit significant information in that area which has changed the course of history for Toronto.
What was happening there during the War of 1812 ?
That relationship will be illustrated via my mandala.
Little did I know as a child , when I was a Girl Guide, that as I walked along the Humber riverside looking at nature, I was walking over thousands and thousands of years of footsteps.
What a deep, magic carpet lays below us in Toronto !

For further info :

Dave LeBlanc , The Globe and Mail's Architourist, wrote about my mandalas in this article :

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mount Dennis/Keelesdale/Silverthorn AND Baby Point/The Kingsway/Humber Valley and Sunnylea mandalas are on their way !

I have prepared the background for 2 new mandalas, each of which will depict the areas in the title above.

I have been out and about sketching here and there and am really excited about working on them.

These 2 will be numbers 32 and 33....and I hope to have them done by the end of July.

Please check every now and then for my comments as I go along, and see if you can guess what the centres of each will be.

Toronto was a place buzzing with building activity 200 years ago and it seems that it hasn' t stopped even up until this day !

Over 50 years has passed since my Girl Guide Troop # 151 spent a day along the Humber River near
Etienne Brule park.  There were no cement embankments then, as hurricane Hazel hadn' t yet passed through.
We would bring a frying pan, a pork chop and a can of pork and beans in our packs.
Then our captain taught us how to build a campfire on rocks ( to be safe, of course ) and cook our food.  We would tie a string to a rock and around the neck of our pop bottle and put it into the cool gurgling waters of the Humber until we were ready to drink it.
Oh, what fun we had looking for clues as we followed a path to our destination !

So, the Humber River will remain forever in my heart and memory for those wonderful perfect days
and I shall salute it deservedly in my mandala.

( By the way, The Humber is already well represented in the Weston and Etobicoke mandalas. )

For further info, please contact me at :

Dave LeBlanc, The Globe and Mail 's Architourist wrote about my mandalas in this article on
October 1, 2010 :


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CNE Mandala Completed Today !

At 5:30 pm today, I completed the CNE Mandala.  After over 100 hours of research, painting ( watercolors, gouache and acrylic ) and editing, I am happy to say that I have accomplished what I set out to do.

I began working on this mandala at the beginning of January of this year and it has been a trip back down memory lane.  I have included many historical and nostalgic bits of information, and also recent happenings.
Upon asking many people ( varied according to age ) what was their favourite thing at The Ex, I was so happy to note that everyone had something to say.  And so I incorporated some of them.
In a world so hectic with work and technology, it is enlightening for me to learn that most people seem to find their own little corner sanctuary.   And for some, it is a spot in The Ex.
For example, one person loves to spend the whole day in the Horse Palace to
escape daily life and  just be.

For further information, please contact me at :

Monday, April 16, 2012

CNE Mandala : Details, Details, Details !

I have had to attend to so many little details on this mandala because it is a record of over 100 years of history.  Of course, not all is contained in this little ball of energy.  So I have had to pick and choose carefully and finally have almost completed this piece of work.
There are the greeters at the Princes' Gates, and the usual suspects at the Coliseum and Horse Palace entrance.
Can you guess who these might be at each location ?  I don' t want to spoil the surprise before I present this mandala on April 22, 2012.
And oh, yes, there is an RN from St. Joseph's Hospital/Health Care Centre on duty at the First Aid tent if anyone needs a band aid or other minor medical assistance during his/her trip to the Ex.
Please do not forget where to meet your friends at the centre of the mandala.
You will be reminded where this is by the song written in hearts all around.
What a place, where we can look at everything through rose-colored glasses, just like the lady with the quilted hairdo who surmises the whole scene from atop, right near Marilyn Bell Park !

Friday, March 23, 2012

The CNE Mandala Miniature Memories

Many sample items were given out at the Ex in miniature form and I , and some people I have spoken with , remember them specifically.  I have composed a list of what I have found thus far.  Do you recall them or any others ?
  • Fry's Cocoa cans
  • Coca Cola bottles in a case
  • Coca Cola bottles
  • hot dogs for eating
  • Tiny Tom Donuts ( yes, once we got a free sample )
  • packages of cereal
I' m sure there were a lot more and I will continue to search for them.
For me, there is something intriguing about seeing and holding a miniature replica.
I believe it is an innate human trait wherein , in order to learn and internalize a concept, we have to actually
hold it as a toy, so to speak.
Board gamers use miniatures.  Throughout art history, one sees miniatures used in charms and toggles, etc. We always see architects, theatre stage designers, jewellers, clothing designers and those in many in other creative fields create a prototype and work with it until the final product is on paper and then eventually completed in life-size reality.
My mandalas are visual miniatures enclosed in a circle, a kind of microscopic overview with abstract and realistic features.
I wonder if the distribution of these miniatures at the Ex had any influence on any child' s future.   Especially a child who never had any toys back then.

For further info, please contact me at :

Friday, March 16, 2012

The CNE Mandala : A MicroCity in Itself

Looking at my CNE Mandala as it becomes more full day by day, I see the makings of a microcity within the GTA : fountains, a firehall and ambulance, entertainment, floral displays, Childrens' Lost and Found, history galore, and so on and so on.
People of all walks of life come to the fair mostly in their garb of choice.  Cowboy hats and boots adorn the stable hands and farmers in the Coliseum.
Young couples sometimes are in their Sunday best, no doubt to impress on an evening date.  Cameras in hand, people are  posing everywhere for that momentous perfect shot.
The difference between the GTA and this Microcity are the smiles on everyone' s face ( unless it is the first sunny day for a while in the GTA ).  It is a specimen city viewed under the microscope for all of us to examine, to take stock and remember how all the cogs are turning to make it work....for us.  This city is a gift created by our ancestors.  Try to remember all the ones who worked so hard to get it going in 1879.
I have added  in all the shapes and sounds and scents and how they melt together in harmony - the ferris wheel, the bandshell, the water spraying in the fountains, the symmetrical Princes' Gates, the prestigious older buildings, the corn-on-the-cob, the candy floss, the candy apples, the carillion many circles, which all in all are mandalas and they sweetly capture our hearts as we stroll along.

Can you guess what I have chosen as the centre of the CNE Mandala ?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ex is the Centre of the Universe !

No matter where you are coming from, it seems that all roads ( and sidewalks, for that matter ) lead to the
Ex ; for example :  GO Trains, TTC streetcars and buses, taxis, boats, bicycles, skateboards and motorbikes.
When the Ex is on , people come ( came ) in droves by foot and on every form of transportation.

In its 2 week or so duration, to many, the Ex is the Centre of the Universe.
It is a nostalgic trip for those like myself.  Even when some sites don' t exist anymore, we walk around recalling " how it used to be ".  Pretty sad, eh ?
Pretty sad how so many things aren' t there anymore.  I propose that the CNE bring back some of the old days.

(  And please, Mr. Tory, please don' t agree to demolish the Cinesphere.  I know it' s not exactly in the Ex, but  it's very near to it. We have lost so many town halls, and other important buildings around the city to developers.  For example, in Yorkville sits a parkette with a picture story map and legend where The Yorkville Town Hall used to be.  Thank goodness the original facade of the original Mount Sinai Hospital was saved at 100 Yorkville where an historical plaque also stands.  At least we are not standing there staring at a parkette where it used to be.  Couldn' t they at least have built a mini version of it ?  These and other lost buildings could be displayed in model form and created by students of architecture as an assignment.  I would love to see the opera house that once existed on the south east corner of  Bay and Adelaide, where Opera Lane scarcely peeks out at you as you walk by.  Please don't blink or you might miss it. )

Torontonians  love that jewel-by-the lake, that landmark filled ( pun unintended ) with so many memories of of lining up for movies seen on the huge screen. It is an architectural delight and should come with a blueprint for each child who visits it, so that a mini-geodesic dome could be built with his/her parents at home.
It' s very simple : dowels, plastic tubing, screws.  Buckminster Fuller would be so proud and I' m sure many a tear would be shed by him watching it being torn down, triangle by triangle.
The mini-version could be be easily dismanteled,  used as a tent, decorated, etc.,  and be part of the child' s daily routine, re: the responsibility of taking care of a home.  I saw one version in a school yard recently at Dundas and Denison Avenues in Toronto.  I'm sure the children enjoy it immensely, and at the same time they are so close to functional architecture.)

Pretty sad how so many sites and events aren' t there anymore.  I propose that the CNE bring some of the old days back.
How about :

a miniature walk- through garden of buildings which are extinct ; it could be a competition for florists and landscapers of Toronto, or students of the former and latter ?

a Marilyn Bell Theatre where we can watch footage of her swimming the lake and a short swimming safety film can be shown after with safety rule pamphlets distributed on the way out ; ( as a kid we followed the swim on the radio with a corn syrup company as the sponsor and my mom made it so exciting for us as it went onto the finish....we were so proud of Marilyn ! )  It would be wonderful if we had a Marilyn Bell Day to honor her and maybe she could be invited to drop by ?

Elsie the Cow and her son Beauregard in their boudoir ?

a History Lesson Tent with volunteer teachers, professors, instructors, or just plain folks presenting archival slides of historical memorable moments at the Ex since 1879 ?  asking  Torontonians to send in photos of past visits to the Ex ?

Honeydew drinks?

a dress-up day.....creating a costume that someone would wear in certain decades at the Ex with prizes?

more $1 and $ 2 samples of  food?

the water-ski show on the lake with the clowns and the champions skiing off the ramp ? ( Oh, how it made us laugh our heads off !!!! )

and the Bathtub and Pooch Races ?

Let' s put " exhibit " back in Exhibition.

Just brainstorming here.  Please add any of your ideas.
Remember, eople together bring endless possibilities !

My mandala has about a third of the way to go.  I have recently added a kewpie doll on a stick; a reminder of the Baby Contest that used to be; a carny at the ferris wheel and a hockey puck, stick and skate to represent the Hockey Hall of Fame ( now relocated to Front and Yonge Streets, Toronto ).  A part of this building was saved as the entrance to the Blizzard soccer stadium across from the Food Building.

Going to the Hockey Hall of Fame at the Ex and seeing the Stanley Cup and famous players' photos and equipment was a super duper amazing experience for my family and I , as we lined up ( for I can' t remember how long ), to get inside !
But we forgot how long we waited , as we faithfully all looked up in awe at " The Cup " !

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bathtub and so many other Races at the Ex over the years, do dah, do dah !

The Bathtub Races at the Ex began in 1969 and continued until 1986.  Why ? I have no idea.  : (
There was a Mayor' s Bathtub Race in1983 and it was a sporting event with Mayors Denison, Lastman and others.  It would be fun to have one this year with mayors from all over Canada participating , don' t you think.
There was also the Dog Swim and many marathon swimming races.
I' ve included symbolic representation of these three in my CNE Mandala which is progressing very well.
I' ll be adding an update presently.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CNE Mandala : My grandparents signed up for WW1 at the Coliseum

Way back in 1916, both of my grandfathers signed up for WW1 at the Coliseum in Toronto.
Off to war they went for 4 years, leaving loved ones behind.  Thank goodness they both returned, but never talked about the war.  I imagine that every time they went to the CNE and went into the Coliseum, they recalled that very day when they enlisted.
For many years after, my paternal grandad sold his eyeglass cleaner and aluminum silver cleaner at the Ex , the Sportsman Show, and The Royal Winter Fair. ( I remember seein my grandad filling the little gold-labelled white jars with the reddish cream right from the bathtub which was half full of the stuff. )
 Every year when we went to the Ex and the other shows, we would always stop by his booth, watch his amazing,  magical ( to us kids at the time ) demonstrations and and then receive an orange and a dollar to spend.
My Auntie Doris was always at the end of the booth with her lovely little lace bags of lavender for sale.
I can still see it all now !

 My CNE mandala will salute all the vendors/entrepreneurs who have worked so passionately over the century, hoping that their new ideas would  make a mark and make people happy with their new products .
  I know my grandfather' s did !!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scadding House and Fort Rouille on the CNE Mandala CNE

The oldest building on the CNE grounds is Scadding House, located at 25 British Columbia Road which is near the Bandshell.  It was built  in 1794 by the Queen' s Rangers for John Scadding , a clerk to John Graves Simcoe, a surveyor, who was the first Governor of Ontario.
The house was originally on the east side of the Don River and was moved by the York Pioneer Historical Society to the CNE site as a museum in 1879.

Fort Rouille was originally located right near the Bandshell ( Art Deco, 1936 by Craig & Madell )
and was built under the orders of the Marquis de la Jonquierre , the governor of New France.  It existed from 1750 to 1759. I have painted the memorial sculpture into the mandala.

There are many different styles of architecture at the CNE, including :

Baroque Classical
Art Deco
Romantic Classicism
Beaux Arts

and others which I will add on at a later time.
 Many of the older buildings are gone now, and I have painted some them into the mandala ; for example:

The Crystal Palace; and the  1st and 2nd Dufferin Gates ; the Manufacturers Building and the Shell Tower.
( When the Shell Tower was built , we thought it was so fantastic and loved climbing the stairs to the top, where we could view the whole Ex ! )

I feel immense appreciation when I stroll through the grounds and imagine and recall the times I and thousands of others who, over the last 132 years, walked through the buildings, present and past.
My spirit is raised due to all the architectural delights which are a symbol of success and a reflection of who we were, and are.
I have been filling in the details of these buildings and the mandala is beginning to come alive.

For further info about this and my other 30 mandalas, please contact :

Sunday, February 19, 2012

CNE mandala is moving along...

As Marilyn Bell swims by the CNE shoreline, with Gus Ryder rowing nearby, crowds cheer as they look on.
Soldiers line up at the Collossium to sign up for WW1.
At the same time on the mandala, a carnie wails "Dawwwwwgee........ Dawwwwgee ", as thousands serpentine through the midway games with that chant echoing on the deep canyons of their tiny ear parts.
I still hear it now, and that was muchos anos ago.
Oh, what fun it will be to surf around this mandala, with so many sites to see and enjoy discovering !

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Elsie the Cow in the CNE mandala !

I was searching high and low for Elsie...we couldn' t wait to see her and her offspring when we had our day at the Ex !  We didn' t care how long we had to spend in line in order to see her boudoir ( sponsored by
Borden' s Milk Company ).  How delightful they made it for little children back then, something like a dreamy Christmas window downtown.  Most of us had never been to a farm, and so this presentation was a most welcome sight, especially the crib and all !  And so I found a spot for Elsie' s Boudoir in my mandala last night wearing her big daisy-chain necklace.  I wonder if that is why I love daisies so much and have put one or more in most of the last 30 mandalas...hmmmmm.

For further info please contact me at :

Friday, February 3, 2012

CNE/Ontario Place Mandalas Are On Their Way !

I have been working on this mandala for the last few weeks and have so far sketched in the buildings old and new, the Flyer ( extinct ), the Cinesphere, the Giant Ferris wheel, Fort Rouille, Scadding House, and much more.
Who can forget the waffles, sno-cones, corn-on-the-cob, Honeydew cone cups and decanter, coconut marshmallows, fudge, licorice, chocolate bars, and a myriad of other delights found in the Pure Food Building and down the midway ?
We always packed a lunch and used our saved up spending money for the treats along the way.
There were free samples galore, including : rulers, pencils, book covers, Lola drinks, soups, Fry's Cocoa in miniature tins, tiny Coke bottles.....oy. oy, oy......never ending stuff to fill our bags.  It was wonderful !!!!
And those gas mask prizes at the fish pond....I guess they were army surplus.  We kind of  thought it was a weird prize, what with the rubbery smell when you put it on your face.  I think they ended up in the cellar after we got home.
I mean, we were just little kids and were so elated when we got stuff for nothing...the joy of it all !
And we appreciated every little gift for sure, for sure.

And who hasn' t used the Princess Margaret Fountain as a meeting place ?

Or climbed up the stairs of the Shell Tower ?  Wow ! It was like the Empire State Building to us !

We would go home at the end of the day with our kewpie dolls or monkeys on a painted bamboo cane and have Sweet Dreams of " Our Day at the Ex ".

I have a long list of other events and foods and activities and memorable moments that I will be mentioning as I go along as well as incorporating into my mandala.

Please stand by for more posts as I make this mandala come alive with all the fun and excitement enjoyed at the Ex and Ontario Place throughout the years from 1879 to 2011.