Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Phantom of the Opera (House)

 On the left is the 1895 London Music Hall on Dundas Street today. Below is artist Fred Harrison's depiction of the hall painted on a wall outside the Rainbow Theatre complex in the former Galleria London.

From londonhistory.org we learn that, "In 1895, the London Mechanics’ Institute, located on 229-231 Dundas Street, closed down and the theatre in this building became the London Music Hall.

The opening performance in the new London Music Hall was given by 'J. L. Clark and his excellent company of actors, singers, dancers and comedians.' For 10, 20, or 30 cents, the public could watch the presentation that was described by the Boston Globe as 'Black Face Farces' in the London Music Hall.

"The London Music Hall was later overhauled, electricity was installed, and it became a temporary theatre space for the New London Opera House.
"In 1905, the building was taken over by Charles W. Bennett, and renamed the London Vaudeville Theatre (also popularly known as Bennett’s). This theatre enjoyed exceptional success until Bennett retired in 1909. After Bennett’s was closed down, the building became the Majestic Theatre."

When I moved to London I believe the ground floor of this building was a men's clothing store and the upstairs was office space. I have heard rumours that at the very top of the building there are still clues to its opera house past.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Windmill Fan

Before we get to the facts, just look at this windmill. It's beautiful but extremely controversial. I may dig deeper into the issues on my other blog, rockinon.wordpress.com. But here, let's just enjoy the beauty. Saturday was a gorgeous day in London and the surrounding countryside. A perfect day for a french fries run to Port Burwell in the Morgan.

Now, let's get to some facts. The road from Port Bruce to Port Burwell goes right through the Erie Shores Wind Farm, a 99 MW wind farm developed by Erie Shores Wind Farm Limited Partnership. In commercial operation since May 24, 2006, the wind farm utilizes 66 GE wind turbines with each having a rated capacity of 1,500 kilowatts. They are dispersed over 25 kilometres of shoreline and extend up to approximately three kilometres back from the shoreline. Over 5,260 hectares of farmland is optioned for future wind power development in the townships.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good Cause Causes Parking Lot Brawl

Boxers from the King Street School of Boxing duked it out Thursday in a Clarence St. parking lot. Each punch struck a blow for the Heart and Stroke Foundation as the $10 ticket price, plus donations, went to the well respected charity. The admission price also included a heart-healthy box lunch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Art for AIDS International

Art for AIDS International is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for those most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, specifically the women and children of sub-Saharan Africa. Art for AIDS organizes simultaneous workshops at schools across Africa and around the world. A number of collages from each workshop are made into signed and numbered limited edition prints. Thursday, volunteers displayed some of the prints in front of the Art for AIDS International Gallery located on the Lower Level of 242 Dundas Street in downtown London.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

There was a severe thunderstorm watch Thursday afternoon, just before dinner time. If you were caught while heading home, you watched the severe weather though the windshield of your car. This is assuming that you could see at all. The rain was being dumped onto London faster than many windshield wipers could clear it away.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Gaggle of Londoners

What the Toronto Star says our American neighbours are just now learning, that Canada geese are pests, London, Ontario, has known for years. According to an article in the Star, "In the U.S., Canada geese have gone from nasty nuisance to avian terrorist. Forensic evidence – smashed feathers and gooey bits – nailed them as the culprits that forced a US Airways plane to ditch in the Hudson River in January. Now New York City is waging war, already killing several hundred of the squawkers as security risks and aiming for a total of 2,000 over the next few weeks."

London, being a Canadian city, doesn't gas the pests, as they do in New York. We toss bread crumbs at them and hope they will die from malnutrition. Adaptable creatures they seem to thrive on fortified, tasteless, white fluff. It seems to be building stronger bird bodies seven ways. And anyway, the little golden goslings are just so darn cute.

Photo Tip: When shooting animals, getting down on eye level with your subjects will often result in stronger images.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Death in the Family:

Kodak Kills Kodachrome

Kodak has announced the end of an era; Kodachrome film is being discontinued. By the end of 2010 the last plant processing this unique film will shut down. Kodak is running a slide show, click on the following link:
Tribute to Kodachrome
. See how many of the images you recall.

My first lily of the year

I am not a gardener. I plant 'em; I kill 'em; I plant 'em agin'. Juanita, a lady with whom I worked at the paper, encouraged me to plant lilies. One of the best suggestions I have every been given. If you live in London, check out the Horner Lilies Internet site. Located northeast of the city, Horner Lilies has over a hundred different lily hybrids in numerous flower beds. I bought some day lilies and some Asiatic varieties, too. Come back next week and I will post some of the other lilies as they open. Lilies add a great splash of colour to any garden, I have them at the front of my home. And, they seem rugged. Gotta luv 'em.

Photo tip: Many digital cameras have trouble accurately recording hot colours, like reds and oranges. Try to underexpose slightly, maybe half a stop, and do not over-enhance. Even setting a highlight on the main flower can be quite damaging to the image.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Misty London Morning

This horse is a Londoner living in a southwestern suburb of London, but not, as you might expect, on the edge of the city. Heading south by car, it takes me ten minutes to get out of London, and this horse and others are but a short walk from my home. The way they draw the city boundary on maps today gives a whole new perspective on urban sprawl.

Spectacular! Take a bow, London.

The wide, long, straight sidewalk is bordered by two parallel roads and a multitude of trees planted in neat rows to border everything. The spectacular bower on the former London Psychiatric Hospital grounds leads to the present Regional Mental Health Care London, part of St. Joseph's Health Care London.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Deer London . . .

London is one large city on a map. In reality, a lot of that land is undeveloped. You see, a few years ago London annexed a big chunk of the surrounding countryside. That is why today there are many areas on the edge of the city where deer can be regularly sighted.

Photo Tip: I don't have a telephoto lens, which is so important for pictures like this. Limited by my wide angle lens, I framed the deer with the small pond, the trees and the fence. And yes, I did frame the deer--this picture did not just happen. When I spotted the deer, I was down the road in a different location. I moved quickly and quietly to this new vantage point in hopes of getting the picture before the deer bounded off. Work with the equipment you have and not against it.

Cheers, Rockinon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Earth Tones

When I was in art school, we were taught about earth tones. I balked at the concept. (No surprise there; I balk at everything.) But in this case, I discovered that my wife, a very agreeable sort who also attended an art school, found the earth tone label a misnomer. Like me, she saw the world as filled with colour. Have you ever been to Georgia, or even the badlands north of Toronto on the escarpment? Then you know how very red earth can be.

Photo tip: On strongly lit sunny days, it is the bright highlights and deep, strong shadows that define things. On overcast days, it is rich colours that define the world. Shadows open up, colours are oh-so-vibrant and, if the cloud cover isn't too thick, the soft, directional light will create diffused shadows gently giving shape and volume to the world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

London's Jet d'Eau

The Walter J. Blackburn Memorial Fountain at the forks of the Thames shoots recycled river water from six stainless steel jets and one larger jet daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Financed by a $450,000 donation from the Blackburn estate, the fountain was the realization of a decades-old dream of the late Walter and Marjorie Blackburn. They were inspired by the 'jet d'eau' in Geneva, Switzerland, but the London fountain is not a copy of the Swiss one. Google the Geneva jet d'eau and you will appreciate the fine design of the London installation.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pedal Pushers

The slope may be gentle but it's lengthy. Having pedalled some distance through London's large Springbank Park, and having struggled up some far steeper hills, this little girl is getting a little tuckered and appreciates a little helping hand from dad.

Behind the Fence

At first, I eliminated this picture. Why? The fence. Then, I took a second look and decided to share this photo with you. Why? The fence.
Cheers, (Off for a hike and maybe take a picture or two),

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's location, location, location...

One of the best things about living in London is how quickly one can get out of London. The other day my wife and I had to drive to Burlington in our four decades old British roadster. When necessary we take the Morgan on 401 but we much prefer older highways, like the former King's highway 2, and so does our little car. We can travel from our home in southwest London to Burlington through some of the lushest countryside in the world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Death of Downtown, the sequel

London's downtown was no different than hundreds of others across North America. As London's suburban malls grew, the city's downtown shrank. Like so many other places, London suffered from the doughnut blight — a healthy city surrounded an empty core. Today many of those magnificent suburban malls, credited with killing the downtowns in their respective cities, are themselves facing extinction.

This is the second floor of London's Westmount Shopping Centre on Wonderland Road. The mall opened in 1971 with 15 stores and expanded in 1973, adding about 50 new retailers. By 1989 the mall, expanded yet again, offering underground parking and more than 160 retailers in two wings on two floors.

But big box retailers are doing to the malls what the malls did to the downtowns — hollowing them out, gutting them of retailers. Westmount Mall's second floor sits almost deserted today. With retailers gone, the mall is hoping to convert the second floor into office space.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Giving new meaning to Cruise In

The big pond on Steve Plunkett's Fleetwood Farms, on the far west end of London, had more than ducks floating in it this past Saturday. It was the 2009 edition of the Fleetwood Country Cruise In and Plunkett allowed the Amphicars to use his pond. They took to the water just like the ducks except the Amphicars carried passengers, attendees patient enough to queue up for a ride in the rare car/boat creation. It's been reported that more than 12,000 people, plus more than 3,000 classic cars, were at this year's event.