An Icy Morning In Toronto

Toronto and Brampton, Ontario (Map)

Winter 2013-14.


Heading home for Christmas, there was a flight that would send me to Detroit in the afternoon with a stopover in morning time Toronto. As I can easily amuse myself in Ontario's capital, this was more than acceptable.

It was a windy, frigid day where sensible people stayed inside, as I took the subway to walk along the ice-coated streets, making my way to the neat, aged restaurant I had looked up beforehand.

While The Senator doesn't have the look of a house today, the property records date back to it being a home from 1860 through 1929. It was then converted into a restaurant, the Busy Bee Diner, before becoming The Senator in 1948.

Walking inside and passing the long diner bar because those stools hurt my back, I found a booth amongst the mishmash of irregularly placed seating, tucked in with my carry-on and my winter parka. Subsequently ordering and consuming delicious food, it was clear that The Senator wasn't just a one-trick historic pony.

Pleased with how well breakfast turned out, I set off with my sights on Ryerson's new hockey arena.

I'm sure no one would question if I went out of my way to check out a random university arena, but this one is special as this is the old Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens, with Ryerson's new arena 3 floors up and a Dominion Grocery Store below it.

Ever since I heard that Ryerson built a rink "up here in the rafters" of Maple Leaf Gardens (MLG), I knew I had to see it. Seeing other people's pictures only increased that desire.

It looked like there was an open skate going on, but unfortunately I was relegated to the wide, modern concourses with my ice skates being left back home. Criticizing these concourses, the best part of Ryerson's rink was easily the old roof of MLG.

Having previously tried doors and peered inside on a handful of trips to Toronto, the abandoned rink of 10+ years was finally infiltrated now that they renovated it & anyone could walk in at will.

Lastly, I must admit that they did a better job than Montreal did with the Forum (and obviously, Boston with the Gahhhden, Chicago with the Madhouse on Madison and Detroit with Olympia).

I planned to follow up MLG with finally visiting the Toronto Islands, but after just missing the ferry, my already tight schedule wasn't going to allow me to wait two hours for the next one.

I went for a walk near Old City Hall and Osgoode Hall.

Deciding to play it safe and get back to the airport, my tired feet were also a factor.

As my schedule wasn't all that tight, it was time to finally get this abandoned dojo I've passed for the last 5 years on connections through Toronto.

An old car repair shop? Those garage doors on the side, the larger door to the front, the big space inside - my best guest would an old mechanic's shop.

The two items of interest were the Argentinean Football graffiti ("Messi Rules") and this little homeless haven above the main entryway.

As this dojo is located along a busy Toronto street near an equally busy bus station, I watched life pass by in the wintry scene for a while. Eventually going back down and leaving out of the front door this time, I found this method to be much better than slipping on the slush on all fours under the garage door earlier.

Returning to the airport, this was the first time I was ever going to fly from Toronto to Detroit, which would pay incredible dividends this day. Taking my luggage off the customs carousel, I then waited by the monitor and was told to see an agent. The ice storm that made walking a tad bit slippery downtown, had apparently threw off everything in other areas of the GTA. Everyone in line was going to various American cities and all of their flights were cancelled. There would be vouchers and rescheduling, but upon hearing that the wait was 3 hours to see a different agent, I waited a moment.

Seeing as I had my luggage in hand instead of with Air Canada, it was time to work the phone. It didn't take very long to find someone driving between Toronto & Windsor today, someone who had to wait a couple of hours to get off work.

Returning downtown, these friends comically lived in the same exact apartment complex that Andy used to live in, except their side had a bit more of the road view. Relaxing and kicking it, this was so much nicer than waiting in lines and being around the general public at Pearson International Airport.

We had one brief stop to make in Brampton, where the ice storm cancellations suddenly made much more sense. No longer was this a storm pushing down a few leaves in Toronto, this was breaking sizable trees and bending others into the ground.

We would have Hockey Sushi afterwards, which yes, is a horrible naming gimmick geared towards Canadians, but even through the awful sushi, the jokes were worth the price of admission.

"I just picture it being rolled up, cut with ice skates and launched at the customers like a puck." - Shadows & Rust

I'd actually always prefer to drive this last leg - I'd probably drive from Corner Brook if I had the free time - so everything was great after Hockey Sushi. The snow and ice went away in Kent County and the more familiar towns started to come as I would soon get dropped off for Christmas holidays.

Thanks Ashley & Will :)


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