Sunday, December 6, 2009

Margin Notes: Displays, Subway Trees, H0H 0H0

The Toronto Railway Historical Association's former Canadian National GP7 displayed red and green lights for the holidays on 28-November-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Between the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and the CBC Sounds of the Season, I am finally starting to feel like it is the holiday season. Holiday decorations are spreading; the CN Tower is displaying only red and green in its top-of-the-hour light shows at night, and the Alex Ling fountain is covered with a tree in my neighbourhood. Even the Toronto Railway Historical Association got into the act, mounting red and green lights on a locomotive displayed outside the roundhouse. Unfortunately, the scene shown above lasted only a few minutes, as some of the solar-charged lights rapidly quit shining.

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Canadian Christmases are apparently rather austere, if the store windows like this one at The Bay in downtown Toronto, Ontario were any indication on 5-December-2009

The recession seems to be the excuse for a lot of repeat holiday decorations at many retailers, so I have yet to find any store windows that really impressed me. Especially disappointing are the windows along Yonge Street at the Hudson's Bay Company (The Bay) downtown store, the location of some quite creative displays over the years. This year, while there are some rather different Christmas trees made from antler-shaped materials, these windows are mostly just mannequins wearing winter clothing that could pass for a February display. They even dropped the corner toy display with G-scale trains that had been a regular scene for several years. If you come to downtown to see window displays, don't count on being impressed at The Bay this year.

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Some people hop on the subway in Toronto not to visit store windows, but to get a Christmas tree. Despite living in cities with many transit-dependent residents for more than a decade, it was not until this year that I noticed people carrying trees on the subway. There seems to be an unwritten rule on the TTC that the trees are treated like bicycles, and only allowed during off-peak hours. In addition, I saw someone wheeling a tree home using a small grocery cart down Dundas Street West last week. Not having a car is no excuse not to have a tree here.

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There's no excuse not to write Santa Claus here, either, as Canada Post will deliver letters to the North Pole. For some reason, I had not noticed the postal code that Canada Post uses for the North Pole until this year--H0H 0H0. If I understand the Canadian system correctly, this means that the North Pole's ho-ho-ho code places it somewhere in the outskirts of Montreal, Quebec--not exactly where I thought the North Pole was located!

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At least there's been snow on the ground around Montreal this year. Toronto did not receive snow the entire month of November for the first time since records started being kept at the airport in 1937. I'm not complaining--especially since all the long-term forecasts still call for a very snowy winter and winter doesn't officially start for two more weeks.

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