Sunday 24 November 2019

Blog Post - 24 November 2019

Somewhere on this planet...there is a public building that used to be a vibrant part of its community. In its 150+ year history, it welcomed thousands of people through its doors. And, in an oddly tenacious way, it still does, but in radically altered circumstances. You see, this once-elegant building now stands abandoned. Only its stone walls stubbornly remain. Efforts to repurpose it failed. Fire ravaged its interior. It now is a refuge for those seeking shelter and human connection. A place free of judgement and moralizing. A place to shoot up away from prying eyes. A place to sleep under an improvised roof. A place to make a fire and stay warm. A place to cook a meagre meal. A place to love, make love, and be loved. A place to decorate and rage against injustice. 

Even a place to read.

A parallel humanity. 

It sits on the hard-scrabble edges of a wealthy city. It puts lie to all society’s pious claims of equality and justice. 

It resembles a war zone. 

It IS a war zone. 

It is an indictment.

And it is a community.

I hope these images do it justice. 

While The Soul Slumbers: Linda Goodman's Star Signs

Madelyn...or Mad Elyn?

Sunday 17 November 2019

Blog Post - 17 November 2019 - Remembrance Day

 Attending Remembrance Day Services on November 11 has been a Tayler family tradition since 1919. As a youngster in the early 1950s, I was taught about the role played by both sides of my family during World Wars One and Two. In World War One, my grandfather Tayler was a captain in the forestry corps that shored up trench walls along the Western Front. In World War Two, my paternal uncle was killed off the coast of Sierra Leone while ferrying a fighter bomber to the Far East. My paternal aunt served in the women’s division of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). That’s where she met her future husband, who was an aircraft mechanic in the RCAF. My father, who experienced a serious back injury just before the war, was unable to serve overseas, but he did serve in an army unit on Canadian soil that worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a subject he rarely talked about. My maternal uncle was an RCAF Spitfire pilot who specialized in divebombing Nazi freight trains. He met and married his Scottish wife while stationed in England. My mother organized Red Cross activities, including preparing medical supplies, in a tent on our front yard. There was nothing unusual in any of this. That’s what everyone was expected to do during wartime. After the war, you got on with your life. And – an important ‘and’ – every year at 11 am on November 11, everyone attended a Remembrance Day service to – well – remember. The first Remembrance Day service that I took part in was in 1955 when I marched with my Cub Scout troupe to the Cenotaph in Wellington. I still recall the absolute silence of the occasion, broken only by the sound of boots marching on pavement and the wind blowing off Lake Ontario. 

Attendance at Remembrance Day services is part of my genetic inheritence. 

And I honour that inheritance, but not uncritically– my reading of history convinces me that much of the armed conflict in this world is rooted in the unchecked egos and greed of small elites who gleefully send others into battle to bolster their own political and financial agendas. When I attend a Remembrance Day service, I don’t honour the privileged elites. Instead, I honour my grandfather, my father, my mother, my aunt, my uncles and all the other people who serve their country.

And, thus, on Monday, November 11, 2019, I made my annual pilgrimage to a Remembrance Day service. I hope these photos of that service honour those who serve. Thank you.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Blog Post - 10 November 2019

 This week’s photoblog features a wide variety of images from Belleville, Trenton, Wellington, Adolphustown, and Kingston. There’s no thematic arc connecting them, at least not one that I can find. (Please let me know if you find one, dear reader!) The photos do, however, highlight the visual quirkiness of the place I call home. I hope you enjoy the photos and my accompanying thoughts.

Belleville: I’m not the first photographer is say that some of our best images come from happy accidents. Such is the case with this photo. I was walking through Belleville’s Victoria Park, near the parallel highway and railway bridges. This photo shows an eastbound Canadian Pacific Railway freight train in front of an eastbound transport trailer on the highway bridge. I love how the girl is peeking through the freight cars. If I had tried to plan that photo, I likely would have failed. But when the image presents itself...well, you just seize the moment. It’s not so much luck as it is an opportunity. To paraphrase Pierre Trudeau, there’s no such thing as luck – just the intersection of opportunity and preparation.

Belleville: There are actually two bridges in this photo – the rusty one at the front is the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge across the Moira River. Hiding behind it is the Dundas Street West/Highway 2 bridge. I was having a pleasant wander through nearby Victoria Park when I spotted these two school buses crossing the highway bridge but looking like they were on the railway bridge. Moral: always check out the context of a photo before assuming you know what you’re looking at! Looming behind the buses and the bridges is the ungainly Quinte Consolidated Court House. Why do so many contemporary public buildings have to be mind-numbingly ugly?

Belleville: Another view from Victoria Park. I like the juxtaposition of the “Johnnys on the Spot” on the right with the gentleman who has clearly found his spot in the glorious sunlight in the middle. The litter container on the left adds to the lines and textures of this photo.

Trenton/Quinte West: Roy Bonisteel’s hand, detail of a sculpture of the late Mr. Bonisteel by Brett Davis. The sculpture literally sits in Trenton's Bayshore Park and is a tribute to one of the city's best-loved citizens. Similar to many other Canadians of my vintage, I have fond memories of Mr. Bonisteel and his long-running CBC Television program Man Alive, a program that focused on faith and spirituality. Roy Bonisteel helped me appreciate that we are all spiritual beings, each on our own journey. I hope this photo honours his memory.

Wellington: I have such respect for clowns, especially those that serve their community with grace, kindness, and humour. For a number of years, I was a therapeutic clown in Toronto, with a particular interest in working with hospitalized children. My clown’s name was ‘Dougie’, named after my loving father, Douglas Tayler. When I saw this clown in Wellington Park during the recent Pumpkinfest, my heart melted. It was clear that he loved what he was doing, but there was also a sadness about him – pure interpretation on my part, of course. Bless the very special people who transform the lives of others by being so vulnerable. 

Wellington: What would be more appropriate than a shiny orange Subaru driven by someone wearing an orange jacket on Wellington’s Main Street during Pumpkinfest? I love the vivid colours and lines in this photo.

Adolphustown: Mailboxes adjacent to the Glenora Ferry docks on the way to Picton. Such wonderful whimsy! What’s missing from the photo is the mailbox labelled “Air Mail” high up on an adjacent hydro pole. There’s a song that says “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Well, I’m convinced that the world also needs a lot of whimsy!

Near Picton: Such a study in grey! This is the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant. I photographed it on a wonderfully blustery autumn day from the Glenora Ferry docks at Adolphustown. Beautiful, it is not. But impressive, it certainly is!

Prince Edward County in all its autumn splendour. From the Glenora Ferry docks at Adolphustown.

Belleville: Such a sad image. This is a once-vibrant  mural on the south wall of the much-neglected Intelligencer building in downtown Belleville. The newspaper’s distant corporate owners abandoned the building years ago. It sits empty – and unloved. Personally, I think it should be demolished and replaced by a municipal park to add grace and beauty to Belleville’s downtown. The mural features a reproduction of the Intelligencer’s front page the day the last Canadian National Railway train ran down adjacent Pinnacle Street, June 22, 1964.

Kingston: A study in lines and shapes! I found this hydro worker at the west end of Kingston on Highway 2. The dynamic contrasts and textures keep me intrigued. One of the joys of photography is happening upon such visually engaging scenes. 

 Kingston: You’ve got to love a motel that offers a bridal suit! A delightful sign on Kingston’s Princess Street/Highway 2. Make your reservations now! All kidding aside, I’ll bet the walls of that motel could tell many, many stories!

Sunday 3 November 2019

Blog Post - 3 November 2019

 As I mentioned last week, I’m making changes to my blog. Regular readers who had become accustomed to the previous design will immediately notice the difference. Instead of an interior photograph of our old washing machine...

...the new design features a photograph selected from the collection I’m featuring that week. The background colour is now black, to better showcase the photographs. There will often be more photographs than before, and they'll be larger for easier viewing. The theory is – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that these changes are compatible with desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and smart phones. 

There will be fewer essays and more comments about individual photos. Sometimes there will be a theme, but not always. I intend to push both myself and my photography more. The new blog format will undoubtedly morph in the weeks ahead, which is good – as long as it doesn’t get stale. Your feedback, as always, is appreciated.

This week’s photographs come from a recent visit to Toronto. Regular readers already know that I am a huge fan of Toronto. I have loved the city since I was a kid and have vivid memories of the thirty years I spent living, working, and thriving there. 

I hope you enjoy the photos.

I have no idea what is going on here. I recorded it in Nathan Phillips Square. It was part of an installation for this year’s Nuit Blanche. Nothing indicated who the artist is.

The secret life of Queen’s Park? Glimpsed outside the Whitney Block, Queen’s Park Crescent East. Love the colour contrasts and lines.

On the patio near the entrance to the Gardiner Museum, east side of Queen's Park, south of Bloor Street West. The water drops are so clearly defined.

Two beautiful Muskoka chairs outside a coffee shop on St. Clair Avenue West near Deer Park Crescent

 “Toronto Man” by Stephan Balkenhol, outside a condo project on St. Clair Avenue West near Avenue Road. I love the cheekiness of this sculpture – it was at least four meters tall. Apparently, not all the neighbours are happy with it.

Once again, I have no idea what’s going on here. It’s a series of children’s inflatable water toys, attached to the wall of a Shoppers Drug Mart on Yonge Street, north of St. Clair. I love the gentle energy of the dapper gentleman walking in front of them.

 The precise choreography of a professional window washer on the east side of Yonge Street, just north of Eglinton Avenue.

Stacked outdoor chairs at Harbourfront Centre. The hand adds a dose of humanity - or perhaps creepiness - to the image.

I call this “Creepy Spy Guy” on the boardwalk in front of Harbourfront Centre. Pure interpretation on my part, of course. For all I know, he could earn his living singing lullabies. But he WAS staring intently at everyone walking by.

I was told this is a delegation of Chinese business people visiting Toronto. They’re walking along the Harbourfront boardwalk. And, yes, creepy spy guy was staring at them. Or singing them lullabies...

 Such a beautiful couple! They were so affectionate with each other – and totally oblivious to everything going on around them. Near the pond in front of Harbourfront Centre.

A cascade of condos. Harbourfront/Queen’s Quay West.

Best sweat shirt ever. Sitting on a bench by the Harbourfront boardwalk.

In search of the perfect selfie. Love the colours.

Such a face! I love its contours and hard-earned lines. Location: Harbourfront near Queen’s Quay Terminal at the foot of York Street.