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Sunday Supplement: Toronto's secret public spaces, bed bugs merge with book worms, and Empress Hotel facts

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 23, 2012

toronto red squirrelThe city of Toronto has been negotiating new public parks and open spaces with condo and office tower developers for years, they just haven't been telling anyone about it. According to a motion adopted by city council, there could be hundreds of small parks open to the public that simply lack an inviting time. City staff are currently compiling a list of these spaces, and the one's they've found so far are listed and mapped below.

Also this week: a closer, grosser look at Toronto's bed bugs, a list of useless facts about the lost Empress Hotel at Yonge and Gould, and an example of what wedded bliss looked like in 1926.

TOP OF THE POPStoronto POPSAs I discussed in a post earlier this week and mentioned above, Toronto has potentially hundreds of privately-owned public spaces, or POPS, scattered from Etobicoke, through downtown, to Scarborough. Though many are still in construction, these parks, gardens, and plazas are basically no different to city-owned parks. Anyone is welcome to enjoy them for free. The only problem is the POPS are rare signposted, something councillor Josh Matlow wants to change.

The city doesn't know precisely how many POPS it has - most were built by developers looking to score extra density under Section 37 agreements - but a staff report is in progress that hopes to provide an overview of the current situation.

Here is a working list of a few Toronto POPS:

  • Four Seasons Hotel - Rose Garden
  • Ritz-Carlton - pedestrian walkways
  • CityPlace - multiple courtyards
  • 300 Front Street West - street level park
  • Minto Midtown - Anne Johnston Courtyard
  • U Condos - expanded portions of Bay Cloverhill Park
  • One Bedford - The Garden Courtyard
  • Radio City Condo - Courtyard
  • Bay Adelaide Centre - Arnell Plaza
  • Met Condos - pedestrian connections
  • VU Condos - pedestrian connections
  • 33 Bay Street - public courtyard on Harbour Street

Some under construction:

  • King Blue Condominiums - under-construction courtyard
  • Fly Condos - under-construction pedestrian connection
  • Liberty Village - various under-construction spaces
  • Neptune Condos - under-construction park

BED BUGStoronto bed bugsToronto, like just about every urban centre, has a pest problem. This week, bed bugs were found infesting a library book by the wife of a Toronto Star photographer, which, as I'm sure you appreciate, is not their normal environment.

Bed bugs prefer the cosy warmth of sleeping quarters, usually the folds of blankets, under mattresses, and inside soft furnishings, but they've also been known to lurk under floorboards, behind wall hangings, and behind loose plaster.

Thanks to Toronto Public Health, here are some other creepy places the parasitic little creatures like to hide:

  • Behind wallpaper
  • Inside clocks
  • Inside telephones
  • On luggage
  • Behind electrical plates
  • In drawers
  • Along pipes

Severe infestation may give rise to a sweet smell. Sure-fire ways to tell if you've been bitten include: a series of localized, itchy lesions, large welts, or spots of blood on the blanket. The city recommends calling a pest controller immediately if you suspect you may have an infestation.

In the summer the city voted unanimously to re-instate bed bug control funding that had recently expired. The vote also asked the province to match funds the city invests in fighting infestation.

EMPRESS HOTELtoronto empress hotelThe arsonist who burned the former Empress Hotel building was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for his part in lighting numerous fires in Toronto. The hotel, used as a retail outlet in its later years, was open from 1880 until the mid-70s. In 2010, part of the building collapsed onto Gould Street. The next year, Stewart Poirer finished it off.

Here are some random facts about the building:

  • The business was listed in Toronto's first phone book published in 1879
  • Jacob Gaudaur, a world-champion sculler, stayed at the hotel in 1901
  • The hotel boasted steam heating
  • The served Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey - "The World's Greatest Medicine."
  • Operated as the Edison Hotel music venue until its closure

MARITAL BLISStoronto star married couplesFinally, here are four happily married couples who were featured in a Christmas week edition of the Toronto Star in 1926, several years before the invention of smiling. The wedded men and women were chosen because they all "celebrated" anniversaries this week. Mr. and Mrs. John Craven (bottom left) were married 65 years when the photo was taken.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: "I need a hug" by Oleksiy & Tetyana from the blogTO Flickr pool, Tridel, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.



John / December 23, 2012 at 10:04 am
Books are, in fact, one of their natural environments. They live anywhere that's close to their host, be it a bed frame, inside the clock radio next to the bed, dressers, and even a book if it's near the bed or part of a severe infestation where they'll get into absolutely everything due to their rate of reproduction and need to find new hiding spaces when populations get too high in established hiding spots.

So basically, this isn't even news, but this is:
Sam Bryks / December 23, 2012 at 01:46 pm
Regarding Bed Bugs:

the main place bed bugs like to be is:::
THE BED...!!!!
that's why they are called BED bugs..
actually, they like to be near where people are sleeping... so that includes the bed, sofa, bedframe, night tables..
- They can be anywhere once they have become well established, and if they have been dispersed by trying to spray using off the shelf aerosols..
The risk in libraries is VERY VERY LOW.. in spite of the stories hitting the paper... Great sensatational story for Toronto Star... but it doesn't reflect the reality of actual risk. Books are NOT a natural environment for bed bugs.. that is an incorrect description.. but it is correct if the books are on a night table, then of course the risk of them getting into the books increases.. because they are near where the bed bugs will be hanging out. They could have got into the books right in the Star Photographer's home. but of course, we don't know this factually...
Libraries are very sensitive to this, and spending lots of money trying to ensure their environment is clean.
Hotel furniture / December 24, 2012 at 01:43 am
This blog is very informative and enhance my knowledge a lot. Thanks fr sharing..
Hotel furniture
Nathan Ng / December 24, 2012 at 02:35 am
"The hotel, used as a retail outlet in its later years, was open from 1880 until the mid-70s. "
"The business was listed in Toronto's first phone book published in 1879"

Given the context of the article, I feel these two statements confuse the historical record of the Empress Hotel a tiny bit. The statements are true about the BUSINESS, but might be misinterpreted as being about the BUILDING.

The business known as the 'Empress Hotel' was originally started as the White Heart Hotel in 1876 -- across the street at 338 Yonge (on the West side). This business was renamed the Empress Hotel in 1878. By 1888 Richard Dissette was the proprietor. In 1889 Dissette moved the business across the street to the new structure -- known as the William Reynolds Block, constructed in 1888 -- on the East side at Gould.

(for proof, compare the Polk city directories for up to 1888 vs 1889.)

What I mean to say is, that building in the photo wasn't built until 1888.
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