One of the advantages of where I’m staying, aside from the opportunity to confront my fear of house mice, is that I’m right near High Park where much has been made of the Cherry Blossoms currently in bloom. With rain threatening to strip them of their flowers before the weekend, I decided to take advantage of my proximity, especially given how much I’d enjoyed the experience in New York.
I was surprised to be met by pure white cherry blossoms rather than pink I had been expecting. The rain I spoke of started to fall gently just as the little park people carrier turned up so I climbed on board and enjoyed the dry ride through spectacular park land bursting with the retina burning colours of spring. I got off at the main cherry blossom grove to stand in awe under the canopy of white dropping petals like snowflakes.
Nearby, I couldn’t resist the call of the hotdog stand – what had been a rare find in New York is universal here – every hotdog stand, of which there are hundreds, offers veggie dogs with all the trimmings. I love this country!
From the tranquility of nature, I headed to the most frenzied example of man, and I mean one man in particular – Honest Ed Mirvish! If the CN Tower had left me wanting for tack, Honest Ed’s World’s Greatest Discount Store met my demand for life! This store, emblazoned with such logo’s as “Don’t just stand there, buy something!” occupies an entire block with its garish, over the top signage and promises of all that is therein contained. I had found kitsch-nirvana!!!
Honest Ed Mirvish was a local personality (although by all accounts, that’s an understatement) who built his fortune from nothing into this discount emporium, the likes of which I have never seen. The inside of the store is as overwhelming and delightful as the outside and just as awesome as any cherry blossom grove only brighter and whiter! Every inch of wall space is covered with slogans assuring you of Ed’s honesty and the need to buy and also showbiz memorabilia and signed photos from an impossible array of stars of stage and screen. As incongruous as it seems, Honest Ed was also a philanthropist and patron of the arts, in fact he’s credited as having revitalised live theatre in Toronto with more than one of the major theatres bearing his name.
I was positively giddy in this place, I didn’t know where to look or how I could possibly take it all in – it was too much and yet I couldn’t get enough. Eventually, I just had to close my eyes and leave.
Already a day of stark contrasts, I headed up Bloor Street through the posh part of town past high end designer shops and galleries (including the Bata Shoe Museum) which just seemed pale and insipid compared to Honest Ed’s. I arrived at the Toronto Public Library where I had arranged to meet Dawn after work (she works at the library).
We headed to the Distillery District where we pressed play on the conversation at the Mill St Brewery. We took our time, 3 hours in fact, over dinner, several beers and a chocolate fondant cake to make up for the one I’d forgone yesterday.
Dawn stayed the night in my spare room – told you, this place is huge. Night 3 – no more mouse sitings.