Another long spring walk in Toronto


Bleecker Street Housing Co-Operative

Wellesley-Magill Park

Wellesley-Magill Park

Steam Plant Lofts (part of the former Wellesley-Princess Margaret Hospitals)

Verve condominiums at Wellesley and Homewood

Public art on a utility box near Jarvis and Gloucester Streets (one of many in the area)

One of the former Gooderham residences, this one at Jarvis and Cawhtra Square

Magnolias on Cawthra Square

Toronto AIDS Memorial at Cawthra Square Park, behind the 519 Church Street Community Centre

519 Church Street Community Centre (“The 519″)

Former Oddfellows Hall (1891) at College and Yonge Streets

College Park, the former Eaton’s Store at Yonge and College Streets

A notorious Bay Street dive emerging as a boutique hotel

Walking the labyrinth at Bell Trinity Square

Osgoode Hall, Law Society of Upper Canada

Canada Life

Campbell House, the oldest remaining home from the original site of the Town of York, was built by Upper Canada Chief Justice Sir William Campbell and his wife Hannah in 1822.

OCAD University’s (Ontario College of Art and Design) Sharp Centre for Design, Will Alsop, archt. with Robbie/Young + Wright Architects Inc., is a box four storeys above ground supported by colourful pillars; it is often described as a tabletop.

The spire of St. George the Martyr Anglican Church near The Grange

The Grange (1817) behind the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and now part of it, was built for D’Arcy Boulton (1785–1846).

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Victoria University, University of Toronto

“Crucified Woman” (1976) by Almuth Lutkenhaus at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto

Victoria University reflected in the Isabel Bader Theatre

Church of the Redeemer (Anglican)

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

The Royal Conservatory of Music

Queen Alexandra Gateway, at the Bloor Street end of Philosopher’s Walk, next to the Royal Conservatory of Music, was built “To commemorate the visit of TRH the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall & York Oct. 10th 1901.” The Duke and Duchess later became King George V & Queen Mary.

The entrance to the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall

The richness of life with friends


It was, as I said on my facebook page, an amazing night of remembering, crying and healing at the 25th Annual Candlelight AIDS Vigil. A true sign of the richness of my life is that I didn’t get the chance to hug everybody that I knew there.

Maybe it was the fact that it was the 25th annual vigil or the fact that it’s been 20 years since I’ve known definitively that I have HIV/AIDS – and have lived to tell about it. I don’t need to know why tonight’s ceremony was extra special.

But as I fill in the details you’ll get the picture.

I sat mere steps away from the AIDS Memorial with a group of friends who have steadfastly supported me in my return to the recovery fold. Later, after several of them held me as I completely shuddered with tears, a total stranger introduced herself, asked if she could also hug me, and quickly became a found soul-mate – a friend I hadn’t met yet – as we began to share about people we both knew.

The evening started with the reading of a message from Cleve Jones, particularly to mark the 25th anniversary. The significance was lost on no one who had seen “Milk” in the past year or so, or those of us who know of him as one of the founders of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Three co-hosts masterfully presided over the ceremonies – multiple-Juno Award winner Billy Newton-Davis, himself a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS, another long-timer Shari Margolese, and 16-year old Quinn Johnston, Shari’s completely healthy son – the first time a mother and child had shared these ceremonial duties at the vigil.

The music throughout the hour was fantastic. I know these vigils have always touched me but there was something about the music and the stories tonight that really hit home. Several references to long-term survivors (and I’d be in that group) were also very meaningful.

25 more names were added to the memorial, bringing the total to something over 2600. Candles were lit, the light passing from person to person, until the entire crowd was bathed in the glow.

I cried plenty of tears during the live music which included Nathalie Nadon singing “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf, a song – “Can You See Me” – commissioned for this 25th anniversary composed and sung by Glenn Marais, and the nineteen voices of “Guys Like Us” singing “I Believe”. As we placed our candles around the site the Regent Park School of Music String Ensemble performed the always evocative Pachelbel Canon.

That’s when the silence was broken as we hugged and cried, and cried and hugged, met old friends, made new ones and just tried to take in the gratitude we felt for such a touching community event in the early hours of Pride weekend.

A huge thank you to all who were responsible for such an important evening.