Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Heritage: Faces on Places II
Heritage Toronto's "Faces on Places" walk gathered in front of Ryerson University's South Kerr Hall and its Dora de Pédery-Hunt bas-relief art on 22-August-2010
TORONTO, ONTARIO - Terry Murray has become a bit of a celebrity around Toronto for her book, Faces on Places: A Grotesque Tour of Toronto. I was first introduced to Murray when she gave a Heritage Toronto walk past some of those faces in the downtown area in 2008, and this blog previously addressed her appearance at the Swansea Historical Society. When a revised Heritage Toronto "Faces on Places" walk was announced for this year, I had to be there.
Ivy was partially obscuring this Elizabeth Wyn Wood bas-relief of a figure skater on Ryerson University's Recreation and Athletic Centre in West Kerr Hall on 22-August-2010
The previous walk had been criticized for having its key objects too far from the ground and thus difficult to see. This walk featured faces and art much closer to pedestrian level. The early stages of the tour focused on Kerr Hall at Ryerson University. While Murray was able to point out and talk about a variety of controversial pieces, ivy had obscured others, a fact she has already lamented on her web page.
Terry Murray talked about the faces on Kerr Hall at the Ryerson University campus in Toronto, Ontario on 22-August-2010
The champion for this walk in sheer density of faces came at the 1848-era Oakham House, located on the Church Street periphery of Ryerson University, with twelve heads hanging off the building. Of those, the identities of only original owner William Thomas and his wife Martha were known.
A bowed head stood atop the seventh story of the Toronto Hydro building at 14 Carlton Street on 22-August-2010
One set of faces was well off the ground--up on the seventh story of the Toronto Hydro building on 14 Carlton Street. Murray claimed to have walked by the building for twenty years before noticing the bowed heads on top of building--since she had them in the walk guide, they were readily noticed by the approaching group. Sometimes, that's all the reason one needs to go on a Heritage Toronto walk. Interestingly, the building was originally intended to be much larger, so these faces would not have been on top of the building.
John Lyle, known as an advocate for Canadian content in architecture, included this farmer on a tractor on what had been a Dominion Bank and was an Elephant and Castle restaurant on 22-August-2010
The walk ended with a real gem, the one-time Dominion Bank at 380 Yonge Street which is presently an Elephant and Castle. Its architect, John Lyle, was a strong proponent of Canadian themes, and it featured both Canadian wildlife and medallions with the images of France's King Louis XIV and Britain's Queen Victoria--which I had never noticed in all my walks down Yonge Street. The mix of low-level faces that most people had likely also overlooked was a recipe for a very interesting Heritage Toronto walk.