Building a New Life

When my husband Peter and I were thinking of moving to a smaller house we had to choose a location. What would it be – village, town, or city? Every time we head downtown on the Red Rocket to explore a new building, we know we made the right choice.

One place that attracts Peter is the Skydome, aka Rogers Centre. I have to tell you that Peter is a bit of a jock. He still has his 1969 football jacket, for heavens sake. But he was willing to give up Varsity Stadium where he even played once, as long as we could replace it with the Skydome and the main tenants, the Blue Jays. The Skydome is a one-of-a-kind venue. The temperature is always perfect, you can grab the waves as you watch them come around, and your nachos never get rained on.

We also used to visit the Skydome when Peter was aching for a football fix. The building can be repurposed as a football field in just 10-12 hours. It can be rearranged as a concert venue too. Back a few years ago, when I was working on bonding with my youngish daughter, Jennifer,I took her there to see Elton John and Billy Joel from way up high. They were like tiny musical ants down on the stage, but we had binoculars and we knew all the words by heart. I think I earned some “brownie points” with Jennifer that day.

Another building we love visiting is the Royal Alexandra Theatre. When we moved into the city we brought our seasons tickets with us, and now we can get to the shows in jig time and even have lunch first. The Royal Alex, originally built in 1907 with that striking red velvet interior, was bought in 1963 by Ed Mirvish, designated a heritage site in 1986, and refurbished just a couple of years ago. It now has enough leg room for even our knees to fit. Another interesting feature is that there are no elevators or escalators – only stairs. Yes! Stairs!! A chance for exercise and culture at the same time.

Everyone over 65 remembers the Royal Alex because this is where we all went to see Hair! in 1970. Well mostly we went to see nude hippies. Ontsage. Imagine. We’ve seen lots of other well-known works there, such as our very own Canadian superstar, Come From Away. One time a couple of years ago we saw Strictly Ballroom. Following intermission, the actors left the stage to recruit “dancers” from the audience. Well Peter, who happened to be sitting on the aisle, was soon dancing onstage. He spent days afterwards dreaming of a new career. There may be more elaborate theatres in our city, but the Royal Alex holds a special place in our hearts.

Some other buildings that draw our attention are those connected to lifelong learning. Since our university, Queen’s, is 3 hours away by car, we don’t go there very often. But we sometimes have a reason to wander around other university campuses and last week we stumbled upon Victoria College. What a magnificent structure that is! It was built in 1892 in the Romanesque Revival style. Just so you aren’t too impressed, I had to look that up. Then I went back to take a picture.

Another place that interests us is the new (2009) Ryerson Student Learning Centre right on Yonge St. It boasts floors with theme décor. For example, The Garden has furniture all done in shades of greens. The Beach has a sand-coloured floor, turquoise-blue carpets, and chairs like beach lounges. Who wouldn’t want to study there? Or, if you’re older, you can sit down to catch your afternoon nap without contemporaries around to report on you.

There are hundreds more buildings of note in this great city, If you have a special favourite, write a comment below and share your building with other readers.


2 thoughts on “Building a New Life

  1. Hi Sue,
    I’ve always loved the CNE building, which also hosts the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair. Years ago, my family made the trek up from Quebec and I was so impressed by the structure and size. I thought it was huge. But I guess everything is relative, because as I aged and moved here…it seems smaller. Although still a fabulous piece of Toronto architecture and history! Xo Cindy


  2. Toronto’s first post office built in 1834 is in the middle of the Ryerson U campus on Adelaide St and is still operating. It’s a gem to see. Also the Flatiron Building on Front St – I think – is beautiful.


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