Eastern Canada 2019

Exploring Aurora: Past, Present and Future

We spent the day out and about with Ian and Sue as our tour guides… definitely the best tour of my life! Thank you so very much, Ian and Sue, for all of the following.

  • A hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon with me slipping only the tiniest tid-bits to both Winston, the dog, and Black Jackie, the cat.
  • Visit to the McMichael Gallery in nearby Kleinburg to see the amazing Group of Seven collection along with many other well known Canadian artists (some of our favs and some new). A small gallery in comparrison to others but none the less incredible and so diverse in artistic representation. I’ve only included a few pics in the days photos and mostly of the beautiful property and some people shots, but if you are interested, click to see all the pics of The McMichael Gallery
  • Back to Ian and Sue’s for a yummy lunch of cold meat sandwiches and a cold glass of sangria 😄
  • Off again to visit one of the region’s managed woodlots and tour the “Living” conference and educational workshop building located there (a green “Leeds Certified” building and the only one in North America to achieve the “living” status). Ian’s title is the Manager of Natural Heritage and Forestry Environmental Promotion and Protection for the Regional Municipality of York, and he takes great pride in his legacy of reforestation and green space development. Ian told us the story of the devestation of the land here in the 1800s due to deforestation and the government’s current efforts and successes in returning it to its natural state. We strolled nearly 3 kms of the many well-maintained public trails looking for birds (saw and heard lots) and enjoy the trilliums (thousands of them, red and white).
  • Back to their house again to relax on the patio before preparing a scrumptious home-cooked dinner of chicken fettuccine alfredo. It was a wonderful evening of food and laughs and sharing memories over the old photo albums of our time together in Black’s Harbour, 30 years ago! What a happy emotional moment and the cresendo finish to our road-trip!
  • Tomorrow we will head East, following the Great Lake waters down the St. Lawrence toward the Atlantic and then down the Saint John toward home.

Here are the photo highlights of Exploring Aurora

Eastern Canada 2019

Toronto to Aurora – a special day indeed

This day is definitely a highlight for me on this trip.

  • Mon and I were up and on the Go Train at 9 am to downtown Toronto. At Union Station, I had arranged to meet up with an old university chum, Sheila Sky. We hadn’t seen each other for 40 years! It was wonderful to see her and catch up on our lives. Alas, the time went so quickly and we had to leave but I will have the photo of us forever.
  • Back on the Go Train to Mississauga, into our car, and drove 15 minutes to Oakville on the shore of Lake Ontario. Here is located Appleby College. Marg’s grandson, Jack, attends this school and was participating on this day in a world expo school project. Mon and I met up with Marg and her daughter, Sandra, and headed to the gymnasium to enjoy all the students’ projects. Jack presented Singapore and really knew his facts.
  • Also on this campus, is the John Bell Chapel with several lovely stained glass windows, particularly the Kenojuak Ashevak window with the owl and arctic char. Stunning!
  • Mon and I said final goodbyes to Marg and Sandra and headed north to Aurora, stopping for quick bite at Chucks Roadhouse Grill.
  • We arrived in Aurora at 3 pm and found our destination. Ian and Sue Buchanan were our friends in Black’s Harbour back in the late 80’s. Ian and I worked together at Heritage Salmon and the four of us bonded, all of us being “from out of town”. Moving on, as people do, we lost touch for many years. It was incredible to see them again and catch up on lives. We would be their guests for two nights.

Here are to photo highlights of Toronto to Aurora – a special day indeed

Eastern Canada 2019

Toronto – 7 churches and the AGO

Monica’s navigation skills are superb. She took us into East-end Toronto amid bumper to bumper lunch time traffic on the 401 and the Don Valley Parkway. It baffled me how the traffic continuously went from 130 km/hr to zero and then back up again. Here is the chronological list of events over the next two days:

  • We stopped for a moment in the Don Mills neighborhood to visit St. Brigid’s church. Lucky to get in as carpenters were working there getting ready for the church’s 100th anniversary. Guido Nincheri windows!
  • Through downtown Toronto white-knuckled on the Gardiner Expressway (!!!)
  • Stop in Port Credit for a quick bite. Cute town with lots of shops and restaurants.
  • Arrived at Monica’s sister’s house mid-afternoon. Marg and Gary welcomed us and we enjoyed a warm sunny afternoon on the back patio.
  • Marg and Gary’s entire family came to dinner (her two children with their spouses and children plus the family dog). Thirteen in total, we had a delicious home-cooked ham dinner. So great to see everyone and very appreciative they would all take the time to come and see us.
  • The next morning, Mon and I hopped the Go Train to downtown Toronto. The day’s agenda was packed as follows:
  • St. James Cathedral – gothic, dark, tall narrow windows.  Interesting note: this was my 200th church that I have officially documented the stained glass! That was a happy mile stone for me 😁
  • Metropolitan United Cathedral- neo-gothic, less ornate, we had it all to ourselves. The east window was not illuminated on this day. The church is looking like it needs some sprucing up.
  • St. Michael’s Basilica- dark, wonderful stained glass, blue/red rose window.
  • Church of the Holy Trinity – nestled in a courtyard amid towering skyscrapers, small and simple, very old, lucky to get in as they were just about to start a music concert. Folks were seating as I quickly snapped my pics.
  • Lunch at The Village Idiot Pub (Village Idiot salad with tuna and anchovies)
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral- stunning windows, lots of tourists there just like me.
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario where we spent two hours admiring the collections: Inuit sculpture and Group of Seven paintings (Lawren Harris is my fav) were the highlights for me. Great views of downtown and the CN Tower from the 5th floor.
  • St. Andrews Presbyterian – had it all to ourselves, lovely windows and wrap-around second level pews.
  • Back to Marg’s house to relax, share stories of the day and blog.

Here are the photo highlights of Toronto – 7 churches and the AGO

Eastern Canada 2019

Kingston and Prince Edward County

We left Arnprior very well fed around 9:30 am. Doug and Nancy deserve 5 stars for their hospitality and culinary prowess. It was nice to see them again and we were grateful for such a laid-back and refreshing stop over on this road trip.

  • We headed south toward Kingston on the shore of Lake Ontario, stopping along the way to snap a pic of Five Arches Bridge.
  • Into Kingston around noon. First stop at St. Mary’s Cathedral to marvel at the wonderful illumination in this church. Very gothic in design with huge double high windows on each side of the nave. There are more than 100 individual panels telling the entire story of Christianity.
  • Attached to the cathedral is St. James Chapel with its own stunning windows including a rose! It is truly an artistic heritage in Canada. For all photos, see Gallery/World Windows/Kingston, Ont – St. Mary’s
  • We checked in early at the Confederation Place Hotel and then enjoyed 2 hours of street strolling. The sun shone brightly and lots of pedestrians were out enjoying it.
  • A late lunch was at Montes. Irish cuisine curbside under an umbrella. Great fun people watching. Great lamb burger!
  • We strolled along the water front to settle lunch and enjoy the many historic landmarks and monuments. Kingston goes back to the Loyalists and is famous for too many things to write here, not to mention its beautiful waterfront promenade.
  • The next day we headed West along the shore of Lake Ontario to visit some wineries in Pince Edward County. We stopped at a couple of our old favorites (Sandbanks and Clossen Chase) and discovered a couple of new ones (Black Prince and Broken Stone). Wonderful memories of this place.
  • In the afternoon, we arrived in Bowmanville at our friend’s house. We’ve known Peter Lappalanein for sbout 30 years. He is a master on the BBQ and we enjoyed a fantastic home cooked meal of steak and potatos. It was good to see him again and his 15 year old cats, Paris and Peaches.

Here are the photo highlights of Kingston and Prince Edward County

Eastern Canada 2019

The National Gallery of Canada

The day dawned with sunshine 😀

  • We checked out of our hotel, got in the car and headed to the Byward Market before 9am. There, we parked the car for the next four hours and set out on foot. Since the art gallery does not open until 10am, we had a calculated hour to fill in.
  • First visit was to Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica to see the stained glass by Guido Nincheri. We’ve seen alot of his work on this trip and are starting to see some repeat patterns but always something new as well. This church is exquisite with its starry-sky blue ceiling.
  • We strolled through Byward Market as the flower venders were just setting up their tables. The sunshine had everyone smiling.
  • We strolled through Major’s Hill Park for some postcard shots of Parlament Hill and to enjoy the tulips. They were smiling also with the sunshine.
  • Finally we spent 3 hours in the National Art Gallery perusing the collections, seeing work by many of our favorite artists and discovering some new ones. Fascinating! I took many photos for studying later.
  • By 1pm we were driving away from Ottawa toward Arnprior on the shores of the Ottawa River. There has been devastating flooding here this spring and the water is still disturbingly high.
  • We arrived at our friends, Doug and Nancy York, and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon chatting and enjoying the many bird species coming to their feeders. The Baltimore Orioles put on the brightest show with close competition from the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks.
  • Doug and Nancy prepared a savory meal of barbequed filet mingnon, baked potatoes and asperagus followed by limoncello mousse. We were totally spoiled and very appreciative for a home-cooked meal!
  • Bedtime was with the windows open. No big city sounds, just the wood frogs peeping. I love that!

Here are the day’s photos: The National Gallery of Canada

Eastern Canada 2019

The Canadian War Museum

Todays agenda simply had two items:

First, The Canadian War Museum.

  • Monica and I were up early to do laundry and enjoy the sauna and pool at our hotel.
  • We walked the 2 kms along Sparks Street, pausing to enjoy the street sculptures and a light snack at Bridgehead Cafe.
  • On arriving at the museum site, the first visit is to the National Holocaust Memorial where we fell silent for a few minutes.
  • Then we entered the War Museum along with several bus loads of school children. They were more or less well behaved throughout.
  • What an immaculate, complete and provocative museum. It took us three hours to see it. I left with my head bowed knowing my grandfather, Spurgeon Keith, survived the trenches after being shot and then silently carried the horror of it for the next 50 years of his life. I never heard him speak of it.

Second, dinner with an old friend (as in from 40 years ago)

  • Monica and I went to Mount Allison University with Donna Porter from River Hebert, Nova Scotia. She roomed right across the hall from Monica in the dormitory.
  • Mon and I walked 20 minutes to the Byward Market neighborhood across the Rideau Canal… snapping some Canon G16 moments along the way.
  • Donna and her husband, Bob, met us at Tucker’s Market, a popular and packed buffet restaurant with 20 different mains to choose from and just as many desserts!
  • It was wonderful catching up on each others’ lives. Donna looks just the same as 40 years ago! How is that possible?
  • The walk back to the hotel was illuminated with city lights and a full moon.

Here are the days photos: The Canadian War Museum

Eastern Canada 2019

The Canadian Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival was the original catalyst for this trip. Monica and I both love tulips but cannot have them at home beacuse of marauding neighborhood deer. The Tulip Festival in Ottawa is such a historic and favorite Canadian celebration. In 1940 (WWII), Canada welcomed Queen Wihelmina of the Netherlands and her royal family who fled Europe and sought refruge here. The queen’s daughter, Princess Juliana, gave birth to her third child in Ottawa. When she returned home after the war, Princess Juliana sent a gift of a hundred thousand tulip bulbs to Canada as thanks for the hospitality. Ever since 1953, the city plants 1 million bulbs which, in the spring, draw tourists from far and wide to see the spectacle.

  • The forcast called for sun, we got clouds, at least it didn’t rain and the sun did peek out once or twice.
  • We did a 14 km walk today in a big circle around the city to find and photograph tulips.
  • Parliament Hill had a few nice red ones but it has been such a cold and wet spring that many of the tulips are still in bud. I was so desperate to see them!
  • We stopped into St. Andrews Presbyterian to see the windows. This is the church where Princess Juliana’s baby was christened.
  • We also stopped into Christ Church Cathedral. Modern gothic in design, the Memorial West Window is astounding!
  • We walked Sommerset Street and entered the gate to Chinatown. The sidewalk has painted inlays of the chinese zodiac.
  • We walked along vibrant Preston Street into Little Italy and found a quaint coffee shop for a short rest.
  • We visited St. Anthony’s Church on Gladstone Avenue to marvel at the frescoes and stained glass by Guido Nincheri. All beauiful, of course, but the window of St. Patrick is especially alluring as it depicts Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland.
  • We arrived at Commissioner’s Park on the shore of Dow’s Lake for the largest concentration of tulips… over 500,000 located here. Some of the flower beds were in full bloom while others were still thinking about it. Over all, it was truly something to see!
  • Lunch from a Thai food truck did the trick. We people-watched as we ate on a park bench looking out at the lake.
  • We walked back to the hotel (14km total) and kicked back for an afternoon repose.
  • Dinner was right around the corner at one of Ottawa’s top Japanese restaurants, Genji. What a great meal and so totally different from other sushi we have had at home… topped off perfectly with the tempura banana.

Here are the day’s photos: The Canadian Tulip Festival

Eastern Canada 2019

Montreal to Ottawa

Before we left Montreal for the 2-hr drive to Ottawa, there was just one final item on the checklist – a church… and not just any church!

  • We checked out of the hotel at 8:30, loaded the bags in the car and left it in the parking garage for the next hour or so. Then we hopped the subway back into the Westmount neighborhood to see the church that was closed on our first day arriving (Monday).
  • Saint Leon de Westmount is widely considered to be Guido Nincheri’s finest masterpiece… and I would have to agree. Not a huge church compared to others we have seen here but making up for it with magnificence. I almost went to the floor when we walked in. And we had it all to ourselves at 9 o’clock in the morning. The glass! The murals!! I was so thankful to see this. Nincheri also painted himself (self portrait) as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: famine.
  • Subway back to get the car and away we went. Monica navigated us safely out of Montreal and into Ottawa to our hotel Cartier Place Suites Hotel.
  • We arrived before check-in time so we parked the car and strolled the downtown sector for a couple of hours.
  • First stop was to see Saint Patrick’s Basilica. Gorgeous stained glass throughout, some of it by Nincheri including the rose window.
  • Lunch at 3 Brewers on Sparks Street. The sushi bowl is excellent!
  • We strolled past Parliament Hill as a light rain drizzled down and then headed back to the hotel to check in, enjoying the street art and other interesting spectacles along the way.
  • The rest of the day was spent relaxing, bloging and enjoying a nice Cabernet Franc. Dinner was left-overs that we brought with us from Montreal 😃 complimented with Pinot Grigio 😀.

Here are the day’s photos: Montreal to Ottawa

Eastern Canada 2019

Montreal Street Art

It rained all day. We walked, we enjoyed great street art, ate amazing food and saw a church or two.

  • This cute little hotel we are staying at offers a continental breakfast in a wicker basket hanging on your room door knob… how fun is that!
  • We were away by 8am and caught the subway/bus north to Little Italy to see a church that I didn’t see yesterday… a church I just had to see… St. Michael and St. Anthony, designed and decorated by Guido Nincheri. Alas, we missed the morning mass and it was closed! But I called the office and got info on the evening mass schedule. We would return later in the afternoon on our way to dinner.
  • We walked south the length of Rue St. Laurent admiring the fantastic street art murals painted on the sides of buldings at almost every intersection. What a vibrant art culture in this city!
  • At the bottom of R. St. Laurent, we walked through the gates of Chinatown and made our way to St. Patrick’s Basilica. Huge, dark and solemn, it is a very majestic church.
  • A snack refresher at Crew Cafe in the old Royal Bank building on Rue St. Jacques. Excellent salad and coffee in such a grand setting.
  • Back to the hotel to dry out for the afternoon
  • On the bus again at 5pm to head back to Outremont neighborhood to see two more churches:
  • Saint Viateur: what a surprise to find this church complete with several Nincheri frescoes. 5 o’clock mass was just starting so Monica and I sat at the back and enjoyed the music. The stained glass is phenomenal but it’s the elaborate carvings of the alter and reredos that draw the eye.
  • Finally, St. Michael and St. Anthony: Guido Nincheri’s painted all the frescoes here and they are beautiful. Hard to imagine him laying on scaffolding for hours some 80 feet off the floor as he painted. And the huge stained glass fan windows are spell binding with their bright orange splashes of color.
  • Dinner was at Main on Rue St. Laurent for some famous Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. They are everything and more they claim to be… huge and delicious. I couldn’t finish mine!

Here are the day’s photos: Montreal Street Art

Eastern Canada 2019

Montreal arriving

We were up and away from Trois Rivieres at 5:30 in a calculated effort to beat the morning rush traffic into Montreal.

  • We arrived at our hotel at 7:15 and parked the car for the next two days.
  • Hotel check-in time was not until 3pm so we set out on foot to see some sights
  • Within 10 minutes, we had our subway passes and headed toward the Westmount neighborhood, stoping a couple of times to see the artfully decorated subway stations at Place des Arts and McGill
  • Our first short walk was to see the church Saint Leon de Westmont, widely considered Guido Nincheri’s masterpiece of stained glass. Sadly, it was closed today (Monday) … oh, I’ll be back!
  • Next, we stopped at Mount Royal to see the basilica Oratory of St. Joseph. Relatively new (1960’s), the glass and decor are very contemporary. However, the crypt under the basilica has some lovely traditional glass.
  • We continued to the Outremont neighborhood to visit Sainte Madeleine d’Outrement church. It was also closed today but the care takers were setting up for a mid-week bizzarre and they let us in. We had it all to ourselves. Beautiful windows. Quiet and serene, we whispered even though we were the only ones there.
  • We carried onward to the Little Italy neighborhood to visit Notre Dame de la Defense. A funeral procession was just arriving so we had to scurry in ahead of them, get the shots and get out. Before WWII, Guido Nincheri was commissioned to design and decorate this church from the ground up. Against his wishes, the Italian community insisted he include an image of Mussolini on a horse in the mural over the alter. Following the war, the Canadian government arrested and sentenced Nincheri to four months in jail for treason. After his release, he left Canada and settled in Rhode Island.
  • Lunch at Pizza Napoletana, a truly happening spot with great food. The wine list is “Bring Your Own” so Monica had to scoot across the street to buy a bottle and bring it back the restaurant. Different and fun!
  • We strolled through the large and colorful Jean-Talon market, sampling the pasteries… approved!
  • Back to the hotel to check in and a rest before dinner. Auberge le Pomerol… a small, cute hotel and right above a subway station.
  • Monica’s nephew, Brent Taylor, picked us up at 6:30 and toured us through the largely Hasidic Jewish neighborhood of Outremont. Brent’s wife, Helene, met us at one of their favorite restaurants, Rumi, a blend of North African and Persian food. What a fantastic meal and so great to catch up with family. Thank you Helene and Brent for a wonderful evening!

Here are the day’s photos: Montreal Arriving


Eastern Canada 2019

Trois Cathedrals in Trois Rivieres

A beautiful sunrise had us up early and ready to go. The destination today was just a 1.5 hour drive to the city of Trois Rivieres to see three amazing churches. I have posted just a sample of each in today’s photo gallery. For all photos, see Gallery/World Windows:

  • St. Jean Baptist Cathedral in the town of Nicolet just across the river from Trois Rivieres. Here we saw the gigantic and breathtaking window of St. Jean B. designed by local Nicolet artist, Jean-Paul Charland, and crafted at the Max Ingrand studios in France.
  • Sanctuary (basilica) Notre Dame du Cap on the eastern skirts of the city and set on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. We arrived just as 10 o’clock mass was starting so we spent the hour strolling around the park-like grounds. Inside, my jaw fell to the floor staring at the five large windows. My photos cannot possibly capture the grandeur. As the crowd dispersed, the deacons turned off the lights which allowed the windows to glow even brighter.
  • Cathedral of the Assumption in the downtown sector. Perhaps the most exquisite of the three churches today, it is filled with 125 Guido Nincheri windows of unsurpassed beauty. His work is so intricate and his figures have a fluid livliness. The nuns were just setting out the Eucharistic for the aternoon mass. Otherwise, we had the church all to ourselves.
  • Lunch was at O’Centro Pub and Grill. As we were waiting for food, Ryan called to wish his mother a Happy Mother’s Day and Sarah sent a text wishing the same. 😊 Good children!
  • Then to our hotel to relax and blog. It was a stellar day!

Here are the day’s photos: Trois Cathedrals in Trois Rivieres

Eastern Canada 2019

Exploring Old Quebec

The day dawned with the hope of sunshine. It tried really hard the rest of the day and almost made it through a few times. Very cold and breezy though. Then, at the end of the day as we strolled home after dessert, the sun burst through and lit up the city before us.

  • Monica and I took an early morning drive north of the city to Lac Beauport to find the hotel where we stayed on our honeymoon 35 years ago. Such wonderful memories!
  • Back to our hotel before 9am and set out on foot to explore the old city quarter
  • Watched as 20,000 marathon runners streamed noisily through the streets
  • Visit to the City Market (just opening and not busy during our visit)
  • Breakfast at Buffet de Antiquaire for yummy crepes
  • Stroll along quaint Rue Petit Champlain, oldest street in Canada.
  • Visit Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica- oldest church in Canada and has the only Holy Door in the Americas (opened once every 25 years)
  • Visit Chapelle des Urselines with its lovely guilded wood altar and colorful rose window
  • Strolled the Plains of Abraham back to our hotel for afternoon siesta
  • Dinner right next door to our hotel at La Cepas Spanish restaurant. So good! Wonderful ambiance.
  • After dinner stroll around the block to find dessert. We found it at Les Cousins on Rue Cartier. To die for… and I think we just might if we keep on eating like this.

Here are the day’s photos: Exploring Old Quebec

Eastern Canada 2019

Quebec City in the rain

Even though the forecast was for rain all day, Monica and I did get some walking exercise between the showers.

  • A hearty breakfast at JaJa restaurant (in our hotel).
  • Visit the Plains of Abraham museum just down the street from our hotel. This is a meticulously curated and maintained museum… and so humbling to retrace Canada’s monumental battle between the French and English.
  • Visit Eglise Saint Dominique: beautiful contemporary windows.
  • Visit Eglise Saint Roche: we arrived just as a funeral was finishing. Again, stunning windows… especially the “Seeing Eye” in the West over the pipe organ.
  • Retreat to our hotel for an afternoon lounge in the pool and hot tub.
  • Dinner was a short walk in a light rain to Pub Galway on Rue Cartier. Excellent food, service and ambiance. The short walk home, however, was in the pouring rain. Nevertheless, our spirits were not dampened after this fun day.

Here are the day’s photo highlights: Quebec City in the rain

Eastern Canada 2019

The Road Awaits

This spring, Monica and I are on a much anticipated road trip through Eastern Canada. We are planning five or six major stops between Saint John and Toronto to see the sights and experience the cultural glories of each city. We are also hopeful to connect with some family and friends along the way, some of whom we have not seen in nearly 40 years!

Each day, I will highlight our activities in bullet form followed by the day’s photo gallery.

Day 1:

  • Away at 7am with a breakfast pit stop in Woodstock
  • First stop: Edmundson at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception to see the stained glass by Italian/Canadian Guido Nincheri (dubbed the Canadian Michaelangelo) and his apprentice Matteo Martirano. I was so excited to see these. More from Nincheri later.
  • Next, to the town of Beaupre on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River and lunch at the Beau Pre micro-brewery.
  • After lunch, to the beautiful Sainte Anne de Beaupre Basilica. The interior is covered with glass mosaics and filled with 250 stained glass windows by Frenchman Auguste Labouret (I have done work inspired by him… see “Art Deco Disconze”. A pilgrimage site in North America, this church’s most notable relic is the arm bone of Saint Anne.
  • Into Quebec City to find our Hotel le Concorde on Grand Allee. Great view from 20th floor room over the Plains of Abraham and Chateau Frontenac
  • Stroll through Old Quebec. Found some street art that Monica couldn’t pass-by. Also in search of food and wine, we found both at a little convenience store. Enjoyed both in our room as we watch the city lights twinkle below.

Here are today’s photos: Quebec City Arriving