Multi-color sign near the Toronto City Hall.

Rush to Toronto



I was asked, "Could you go to Toronto and teach a Linux server course?" Of course!

I was doing a similar course in the Washington D.C. area the week before. The training company was handling the travel. One multi-city version of the trip would be cheaper than flying back home then right back out a day or two later.

So, I flew straight from Washington to Toronto on Friday night, giving me the weekend and most of Monday free in Toronto.

And, I've seen plenty of Herndon and Reston, Virginia, overpriced bland surburbs with Washington D.C. two hours away by bus and train.

I flew into YYZ and was booked in room 2112 at the DoubleTree hotel. It was turning into a Rush-themed trip.

Rush: 2112
Amazon B00QR7ZNFW
Checking into room 2112.
Hostels at

It was a very nice room with a view of downtown, looking toward the lake and the CN tower. But I wasn't in the room very much.

I got settled in, then headed right back out again.

View of Toronto from room 2112.

Distillery District

The Distillery District has the largest collection of preserved Victorian industrial architecture in North America.

The Gooderham and Worts Distillery was founded in 1832. By 1860s it had become the world's largest whisky factory. Toronto became the largest alcohol distillation center in North America. Gooderham and Worts was producing over 7.6 million liters of whisky per year, most of it for export.

Distillery District of Toronto.

A father-and-son team, both named David Roberts, designed and oversaw the construction of all the 19th century buildings you see today. The father had built over 30 mills in Ireland and England before emigrating to Canada in 1844. He and his son built a number of buildings here in 1858-1895.

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the mist
Catch the myth
Catch the mystery
Catch the drift

Distillery District of Toronto.

The harbor was nearby, bringing in grain and sugar. Expanding Canadian National Railway and port facilities brought in coal from Pennsylvania.

Distillery District of Toronto.

The Ontario Temperance Act was passed in 1916, prohibiting alcohol in Ontario. Whisky distilled here was exported or sold to Quebec, from which a sizable percentage returned.

The temperance act was overturned in 1927, when government-run stores could sell liquor. But drinking in public establishments in Ontario remained illegal until 1934.

Meanwhile, the U.S. had had its own experiment with prohibition from 1920 to 1933, providing another guaranteed outlet for Canadian liquor.

Hiram Walker Company merged with Gooderham and Worts in 1926. Hiran Walker and Sons is still in operation, owned now by Pernod Ricard, a French company.

Distillery District of Toronto.

The area became less industrial, and the distillery operation here was being gradually shut down. The last distillery operations ended in 1990.

Now it's an arts and entertainment district.

Distillery District of Toronto.

Old Town

The Old Town area is on the way back from the Distillery District to downtown.

Old Town area of Toronto.
Old Town area of Toronto.

Entertainment District

There is some interesting architecture in Toronto.

Entertainment District of Toronto.
Entertainment District of Toronto.

The Toronto Transit Commission operates the largest and busiest streetcar system in North America.

Street car tracks and cables in the Entertainment District of Toronto.

Toronto's system of subways, buses, and streetcars is the third busiest transit system by ridership in North America, after Mexico City and New York City.

Street car in the Entertainment District of Toronto.

Unlike in the better vanished time before the Motor Law, people no longer hide a brilliant red Barchetta in which to ride around the city.

Street car in the Entertainment District of Toronto.

Toronto Hydro has been providing electricity to the city since 1911.

Toronto Hydro-Electric System Substation D in the Entertainment District of Toronto.
Entertainment District of Toronto.

Back to 2112

Nathan Phillips Square is the city's main square. The reflecting pool is, of course, converted into an ice rink during winter.

The curved towers and dome are the Toronto City Hall.

Multi-color sign near the Toronto City Hall.
View of Toronto from room 2112.

Back to my room for the night, more tourism tomorrow.

To the Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America.

Its large wood and glass northern façade faces Dundas Street.

Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

There was a special exhibit of works by Lawren Harris, a member of the "Group of Seven" or "Algonquin School", a group of landscape painters credited with creating a uniquely Canadian painting style in the early 20th century.

Harris came to specialize in stark landscapes of the Canadian north and Arctic.

Lawren Harris paintings in 'The Idea of North' special exhibit in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
Lawren Harris paintings in 'The Idea of North' special exhibit in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

The exhibition began with a few of his earlier paintings, and then a documentary film about his career.

The documentary was good, its erudite curator was very knowledgeable about Harris' work and its relationship to the history of Canada and of art.

Lawren Harris paintings in 'The Idea of North' special exhibit in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
Lawren Harris paintings in 'The Idea of North' special exhibit in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

But it was very distracting. I couldn't help but wonder how often this academic must be interrupted by people asking if he had ever been told that he strongly resembled Steve Martin.

Then the credits finally rolled. Ah.

Steve Martin is an enthusiastic and deeply knowledgeable collector of Harris' art. OK, let me watch that documentary again without being so distracted this time.

Steve Martin curated 'The Idea of North' special exhibit of Lawren Harris paintings in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Through Chinatown

On several evenings I walked through Chinatown on the way to Kensington Market.

Walking through Chinatown in Toronto.

It's just a totally normal Chinese moose. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Chinese moose in Chinatown in Toronto.

Kensington Market

Kensington Market is an older neighborhood, one of Toronto's most famous. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2006.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

It's roughly bounded by College and Dundas Streets on the north and south, and Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue on the west and east.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

Houses were built here in the 1880s for Irish and Scottish immigrant laborers moving into Toronto. It still contains some of Toronto's Victorian-era bay-and-gable houses.

Kensington Market in Toronto.
Jewish History on the Lower East Side

Eastern European Jewish immigrants along with some Italians moved in during the early 20th century.

The area became known as "the Jewish Market", as it was filled with small shops.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

About 60,000 Jews lived in this area in the 1920s and 1930s. Obligated to live within walking distance, to avoid riding a vehicle on the Sabbath, they worshiped at over 30 local synagogues.

Kensington Market in Toronto.
Kensington Market in Toronto.

The Jewish population mostly moved out after World War II. A large number of immigrants from the Azores arrived during the 1950s, fleeing political conflict in their home country.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

Then immigrants from the Caribbean and East Asia followed.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

Immigrants from global trouble spots arrived in the 1980s and 1990s — Central America, Iran, Vietnam, Chile, and the Horn of Africa.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

Kensington is protected by policies aimed to preserve and enhance the neighborhood's atmosphere.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

New developments are limited to low-scale buildings with retail at street level, minimal set-backs, and open-air display of their goods.

Kensington Market in Toronto.

The extensions built onto the fronts of many structures would violate architectural by-laws in other places.

Kensington Market in Toronto.
Kensington Market in Toronto.
Kensington Market in Toronto.
Kensington Market in Toronto.
Kensington Market in Toronto.

Teaching the Class

The class was at the corner of Yonge and Dundas, Toronto's equivalent to Times Square in New York or Picadilly Circus in London.

There I was, every day, standing in front of a group of people explaining how to build enterprise-scale Linux servers.

Living on a lighted stage approaches the unreal.

Here I'm looking north up Yonge from a few blocks south of Dundas.

Looking north up Yonge Street in Toronto.

It was a walk of about three blocks east along Dundas to the course site.

Walking to work along Dundas Street in Toronto in the morning.

Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact

Walking to work along Dundas Street in Toronto in the morning.

All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience
Outside the gilded cage

Walking to work along Dundas Street in Toronto in the morning.

Then each evening I would return to the hotel along Dundas.

Returning to the hotel along Dundas Street in Toronto in the evening.

Street Scenes and Food

Canada Post has colorful post boxes.

Post boxes in Toronto.
Newspaper boxes in Toronto.

A historical placard across the side street from my hotel explained some local electrical engineering history that happened where the hotel now sits.


In the early 1920s, radio receivers were powered by direct current from batteries that were awkward to use and needed frequent recharging. Edward S. "Ted" Rogers, Sr., a Toronto radio engineer, recognized the commercial potential of a radio that could use alternating current (AC) from a household electrical system. Working in a factory across the street from here, he invented an effective AC tube, then designed around it the world's first batteryless radio receiver. Following its debut in August 1925, the Rogers Batteryless Radio was quickly copied by American and European manufacturers. The convenience and improved performance of a plug-in receiver contributed significantly to the booming popularity of radio as home entertainment.

Historical sign for radio design in Toronto.

Downtown has a "walk of fame", stars in the sidewalk for prominent Canadians like William Shatner and Rush.

William Shatner on the walk of stars in Toronto.
Rush on the walk of stars in Toronto.
LSD talk in Toronto.

Breakfast could be from the Canadian powerhouse Tim Horton's.

Tim Horton's breakfast in Toronto.

And, of course, poutine.

Poutine in Toronto.
Poutine in Toronto.

By Train to the Airport

The class ended on Friday, I stayed one more night in room 2112 and then had to leave at mid-day on Saturday.

The Union Pearson Express provides a direct link between Union Station and Toronto's international Airport. I walked from my hotel to the station.

Union Station is Canada's largest railway station. Via Rail and Amtrak both operate out of here. The is the center of Via Rail's busiest section, "the Corridor" extending from Windsor to Quebec City. Amtrak loops around the west end of Lake Ontario with service between Toronto and New York City.

Map of western Lake Ontario

Union Station is the busiest public transportation structure in Canada, including airports. It handles an average of 200,000 passengers per day.

Union Station in Toronto.
Hotel Fairmont facing Union Station in Toronto.

The Fairmont Royal York hotel is directly across the street. It's one of Canada's grand railway hotels, built by the Canadian National Railway. When it opened in 1929, it was briefly the tallest building not just in Canada, but in the entire British Empire.

Everything is running a l'heure, nothing is en retard.

Union Station in Toronto.

YYZ or Toronto Pearson International Airport is well to the west of downtown. It's large and busy, the world's 15th busiest airport by flights in recent years.

The Union Pearson Express connects Union Station to the airport. It runs every 15 minutes and takes just 25 minutes. Its downtown terminus is connected to the main hall of Union Station.

Union Station in Toronto.