Sunday, February 28, 2010

White evergreens

It snowed yesterday. But tomorrow it is the first of March. We can still expect more snow, sometimes a lot, but it no longer has much chance of lingering on roads, sidewalks, driveways or even evergreens. The spring sun is here. By late afternoon today, all roads in London were dry and most of my driveway was clear. The March sun is a warm sun in Southwestern Ontario.


Babies learn to swim early

The little six-month-old baby is with her parents in the shallow end of the London Aquatic Centre at a learn to swim class for babies Saturday.

Supposedly most babies like water and by six-months are old enough to take to the water. The only proviso is that the water must be warm enough. If it is too cold babies may not like it. Shivering, blue-lipped babies are not cool; They are cold!

The water was a little cold Saturday; Even mom was shivering. It is no wonder baby didn't like it.

Babies are born with the mammalian dive reflex, meaning they naturally hold their breath when submerged.

But many mothers have a protective, maternal reflex, like this mom. "Dunk my crying child under water? No way!" The little teary eyed baby left the water early, headed for a warm, plush car seat and some cotton flannel pj's.

And she wasn't dunked. Yet. There is always next week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Handsome? Yes! Restored? No!

The whole town, or at least everyone I know, is talking about the "stunning restoration of the Capitol Theatre and the Bowles Building." Could you tell at a glance which building was the theatre? No? If not, I am not surprised. The marquee is gone. And so is the lobby. Oh, and the auditorium has been demolished and rehabilitated into a parking lot.

The Bowles Building was known for years as the Bowles Lunch. It will be the Bowles Building from this point on. No more lunches are being served; The building now houses the City of London planning department.

Today I may be in trouble as my views are appearing in the Saturday paper as either an opinion piece or a letter to the editor. I fear a lot of folk won't like the truth.

Stay tuned...

Or if you're interested, here are two posts I wrote on the loss of the theatre.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Coyote Warnings in London, Ontario

It seems weird that trails beside the Thames River near the University of Western Ontario in the northwest of London have had warnings posted alerting those on foot to the sightings of one or more coyotes.

The Minisitry of Natural Resources suggests that it is best to stay off these paths between dusk and dawn.

For more on this story, see my Digital Journal post.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More JLC

The John Labatt Centre (JLC), shown from the outside two days ago, is a fine venue for entertainers. They like it and they come back. The JLC likes to brag "We've had the world at our doorstep." Any guess as to the identities of the world famous rockers being featured today?

The JLC is the largest multi-purpose facility in southwestern Ontario. The facility, when it comes to sports, is mainly used for hockey. In 2005, the Junior A hockey team, The London Knights, which call the JLC home , won the Memorial Cup. But basketball, wrestling,  and more are all held there as well. Concerts, theatre performances or even a monster truck shows also commonly fill the seats.

Opening in downtown London, Ontario, on October 11, 2002, it was hoped it would be a powerful catalyst in the redevelopment of London’s downtown. The facility seats 9,090 for hockey and ice events and holds more than 10,000 for concerts, family shows and other events.

Old folk, like me, and those in wheel chairs appreciate the accessibility --- there is accesible seating on every level. And everyone can appreciate the ample number of washrooms. The JLC exceeds code requirements for washrooms by 55 percent.

Audiologists raise money for scholarships

Tuesday evening the National Centre for Audiology at The University of Western Ontario (UWO) offered drivers a comfortable solution to the painful problem of ill-fitting earbuds on Bluetooth wireless systems, while at the same time raising money for scholarships at the London, Ontario, university.

Audiology students under the direct supervision of a college registered audiologist made accurate impressions of client's ear canals in order to make custom fitted ear pieces.

For the whole story see my piece posted in Digital Journal.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow! Finally!

The running pictures will have to wait. It snowed today in London and tonight it's still snowing.

We are expecting possibly 20cm of snow. To keep ahead of the storm, there were numerous men pushing snow blowers around the John Labatt Centre, known as the JLC. The JLC is the home of the London Knights, our OHL Junior A hockey team, but the JLC is a multi-use facility. Many entertainers, many famous, have performed there.

For instance, Cher has been there twice. The first time it was her farewell tour and the second time it was for whatever comes after a farewell tour. Who knows, may be someday we'll see her again. Cher just doesn't seem to be able to stay away.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's a Runners' Choice_2

I love shooting runners. They give me an excuse to run. And I love running. It was so much fun shooting the Runners' Choice runners that I'm going downtown Monday to see about joining a running group --- something for aging men who, over the past year, have spent too much time blogging and not enough time running.

One runner told me that many in the group were going to cover 18 miles Sunday. I'd be happy to run 5 km.

I understand that there were about 90 runners out enjoying the brisk morning air. As is clear from the picture, by the time the runners were at the southwest edge of the city, they were well dispersed. But even though some were faster than others, over the time that I was shooting pictures I didn't see one runner stop and start walking --- unless you count me.

It's a Runners' Choice

18 miles --- That's the distance many of the runners out pounding the pavement in the southwest of  London Ontario were running Sunday. About 90 long distance runners from Runners' Choice on Dundas Street in the southwestern Ontario city were out enjoying, I think I can say enjoying, the cool late-winter temperatures accompanied by a warm, spring-like sun.

It was a fruitful photo morning. More pictures from the run tomorrow and the day after.


Friday, February 19, 2010

...and the lion shall lie down with the lamb

It is not exactly a lion; It's a tiger. And the tiger, sculpted out of snow, is lying beside the driveway of Peter Lam, no 'b', a well respected London Ontario artist.

. . . and the tiger shall lie down with the lam. Close enough.

Every year to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Peter Lam sculpts the appropriate work of art from a block of snow placed in front of his west London home. This year, 2010, is the Year of the Tiger.

The tiger had been on display for sometime when I discovered it. The warm February sun can be hard on snow tigers, the ones actually made from snow. To see Lam's creation when it was still fresh, check out his flickr page.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The telephone: invented in Canada

I know, I know, the Yanks brag the telephone was invented in Boston. In fact, there's a marker in Boston commemorating the birthplace of the telephone.

But Canadians also have bragging rights when it comes to the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell himself once stated Brantford, Ontario, was where he invented the telephone. He developed the concept at his family's Southwestern Ontario homestead.

Scotland, not to be outdone, also claims the invention of the telephone with pride; Bell, the inventor, was born in Edinburgh Scotland in 1847.

But one thing unites Boston, Brantford and Edinburgh - they all agree that in 2002 the U.S. Congress made a big error recognizing Antonio Meucci, an Italian immigrant to the States, as the true inventor of the telephone. 113 years after Meucci's death, the American Congress re-wrote history and declared the little-known mechanical genius the father of modern communications.

No one argues about the yellow pages, they were created in 1886 by Reuben Donnelly, a printer in Cheyenne Wyoming, when he ran out of white paper and used yellow instead.

At one time London, Ontario, had a strong connection to the telephone business. A massive Northern Telecom (Nortel) plant employing more than a thousand area workers was located beside highway 401 immediately to the south of the city. Today Nortel, the former stock market high-flyer, is gone, bankrupt, its shares dropped from a high of about $124 to a bit more than a nickle when trading stopped.

In our home we still use a Bell landline telephone. It is electronic but it emulates a dial phone. Our phone does not work on the touch-tone system. Alexander Graham Bell would be comfortable using our phone - not too high-tech.

In London it is only possible to have a dial phone if you've always had one. No new dial numbers are being assigned. A lot of folk have stayed on the dial phone system as it is costs less than the touch-tone one.When Bell tried dropping the service a few years ago, more than a 100 thousand customers complained to the CRTC and Bell dropped the plan.

For finding telephone numbers, we still use a phone book with both white and yellow pages. And it appears the yellow pages also taste quite good, at least if you're five-months-old. A moment after this picture was snapped, mom took notice and removed the tasty morsel from the fingers of our budding telephone book connoisseur. She isn't allowed to have solid foods, yet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


How a child can lose a glove when the weather has been below zero for the past week is a puzzle. I can see a kid slipping off a glove while possibly feeding the ducks wintering in the pond at Storybook Gardens, but to walk away and leave it is curious.

Maybe someone chanced by and the kid had to make quick tracks; Feeding the ducks is frowned upon by those in charge of the park.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Merry-go-round in winter

I've noticed that many of the other pictures posted by photographers around the world as part of the daily photo movement are very artistic images. Some of these shooters set a very high standard. Shooting in London, Ontario, and not London, England, I've got to work just a little harder.

There is a merry-go-round in Springbank Park. I ran a picture last year shortly after the carousel horses were reinstalled in the spring. At dusk this evening I noticed that the framework of the ride made an interesting image with the fading blue sky, the clouds and the colours of the coming sunset.


Monday, February 15, 2010

St. George Parish

The present St. George Parish is the second church standing on the corner of Commissioners Road at Lynden Crescent. The original house of worship was a modern, for the time, 1950s A-frame structure.

By 1992 --- less than four decades after opening --- deterioration in the wood beams supporting the space for worship was noted. It was determined that repairing the structure would not be economical when everything involved was taken into account.

The original building was not equipped for the physically challenged, there was a definite lack of meeting space in the aging building and the growing population in the Byron suburb of London meant the church should be larger.

Clearly a new building was demanded. The last service in original church was held in January 1998. By April 1999 the first service was held in the present, much larger and much more traditional looking structure.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter in Canada means hot soup

In the middle of a Southwestern Ontario summer, one rarely thinks of steaming, hot soup. But in the middle of winter, in February, often the coldest month of the year, hot, homemade soup is just the ticket. This homemade potato and chedder cheese soup makes a perfect Canadian winter lunch when teamed with slices of avocado. The soup supplies instant warmth and the avocado fuels the body's furnace with its ample supply of heart healthy vegetable fat. After this lunch one's ready to finish digging out the driveway.


How much is five pounds of fat

Dietitian Jennifer-Anne Meneray holds five pounds "fat."

Did you ever wonder what five pounds of fat looks like? No? I'm not surprised.

February is international 'Heart Month'. A public education event was held at London Health Sciences Centre on Wednesday. It offered valuable information to those living with heart failure or seeking information on how to avoid this all-to-common disease.

Dietitian Jennifer-Anne Meneray showed the audience how much fat a person losing five pounds strips from their body. It's a lot, eh? Meneray said losing about fifteen pounds in a year is all a sensible person should lose in 12 months. Just think, fifteen pounds is three times the size of the simulated fat Meneray is holding.

If you drink a lot of soft drinks, cut one out a day. If you don't replace the calories with something else, and you make this a permanent lifestyle change — not just a dieting move — you will not only lose fifteen pounds in a year but you will keep those pounds off.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Keep on Plowing

City sidewalks can be almost impassable after a Southwestern Ontario snow storm, and to hear a lot of Londoners tell it they are.

I don't recall sidewalk snowplows at all from my youth. I do recall sidewalks, especially those passing parks or vacant lots, being downright impossible to trudge through. For the most part, this doesn't happen today.

I don't expect instant service. I know I may have to contend with the reality of a bit of snow for awhile. Hey, that's winter in Canada. But, I appreciate the sidewalks being cleared, sometimes all in good time, by the city's little snowplows.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

London District Energy

The building carries the simple name "London District Energy." But there is a rich story behind the simple name. This is a company with roots going back 130 years to 1880 when Canada's first district heating system was born.

Centralized steam plants with giant boilers providing steam to nearby commercial buildings were very popular in most major North American cities at the beginning of the twentieth century. The steam plants bought fuel, coal, at a discount unavailable to individual building owners. The savings were passed onto the steam plant customers. 

The introduction of inexpensive natural gas, spelled the end of many of the centralized systems as customers installed their own individual gas-fired heating systems.

Today, as the world explores ways to reduce our environmental footprint and improve energy efficiencies, centralized systems like London's still thriving historic gem are leading the way into the 21st century.

Originally a family-owned business, Cities Heating was located right in the city core. Time took its toll and the aging steam supply facility outgrew its usefulness a little more than a decade ago. The business was sold and a company known as Trigen Energy Corp. replaced Cities Heating in 1996. The plant was moved to the corner of Bathurst and Colborne Streets and modernized.

The plant was sold again and is now under the guidance of Fort Chicago. It has benefited from $38-million of improvements, including a 15,000-square-foot expansion. Generating traditional steam and chilled water, electricity has been added to the mix. The plant has a total thermal generating capacity of about 100MW, producing approximately 245,000 lbs/hour of steam and 4,200 tons of chilled water and adding about 18 megawatts of electricity to the Ontario power grid.

Many buildings in London are both heated and cooled by London District Energy thanks to an extensive and still growing distribution system; A new pipeline will add St. Joseph's Health Care to a system already serving
The London Free Press, the London Convention Centre, Hilton London, Citi Plaza, City Hall and London Health Sciences Centre among many others.

Now you know why clouds of steam, especially in the cold of winter, are sometimes seen escaping from maintenance covers and road grates in London Ontario. A minor leak in the miles of underground piping can cause quite the cloud of water vapour.

And, if you are wondering what happened to the old Cities Heating Building, well, it sat derelict for years. In 2007 the London Ontario Live Arts Festival incorporated one wall of the building into a work of art. Currently, the building is being converted into apartments.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

London District Energy

The picture is a bit of a bore but there is an interesting story here. This may stay up for two days as I gather information. First, don't panic at what appears to be smoke. It's not; It's steam.

This city heating business has roots going back to about 1880 in London, Ontario. This picture deserves more than just a simple post.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stained glass windows

As a boy, I grew up in an area with very few stained glass windows. When my parents drove through London, as we did a number of times a year --- highway 401 was still to be carved through the southwestern Ontario farmland --- I always admired the many stained glass windows decorating homes in London.

It would be fun to do some research into stained glass windows. Were they expensive to install a hundred years ago? How many skilled craftspeople would have been involved in the creation of so many stained glass windows? Or did just a few artists work long hours decorating the older city homes?

This stained glass window is in an older home in the core. It's an area under constant threat of demolition to make way for apartment blocks or even parking lots.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Once an Ontario Cottage?

This area in downtown London was a wonderful residential neighbourhood a century ago. This business appears to be located in what was once a lovely Ontario Cottage. It is sad to see a neighbourhood so abused. This is not to slight the present business. The building is obviously well maintained but it is a lot like making a dune buggie out of a working antique VW beetle. No matter how well it is done, it is a sad end.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Marlboro

I don't know much about the Marlboro, an 8 unit apartment building, other than I bet it was quite nice when new. They knew more about building apartments in the past. Look at the big, dull apartment building that went up next to the Marlboro.

I wonder what occupied that site originally. From the look of the neighbourhood, I bet there were a number of lovely, and quite impressive, structures built of brick, wood and dreams that were demolished to make way for the white, dull monolith.

It appears the Marlboro is enjoying a better fate than its neighbours. The building is being gutted and will probably be rebuilt with more modern units, possibly fewer in number but with more floor space.

East Leningrad architecture? - maybe not

I recall when these apartment buildings were built. The London Free Press Homes section did a big take on these luxury buildings. It was quite the glowing feature. But what I recall best is the response the article elicited. My favourite letter to the editor said the paper didn't recognize east Leningrad architecture when confronted by it.

So, what do apartments in Leningrad look like? I couldn't find any pictures I could use from the '80s but I did find this picture of an apartment block in Leningrad, the Soviet name for St. Petersburg. I confess; I like it. To see more, check out Leningrad/St. Petersburg Architecture on Flickr.

Copyright: Richard Anderson

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winner Best Commercial Renovation

The Citi Plaza, formerly Galleria London, won the Don Smith Commercial Building Award for best commercial renovation. The award is one of five categories in what is to be an annual competition established by the London-St. Thomas Association of Realtors and named for the the well-respected contractor and co-founder of giant EllisDon.

This blog is essentially a place to find pictures taken in London with a new picture posted every day. It is not for a lot of editorial comment. But this award needs to be discussed. The entire Galleria London is such an interesting story and the changes made to the downtown mall in recent years merit some critical inspection.

Today, let's leave it at this, many of the changes to the mall have been for the better. The London Central Library, now located in the mall, was brilliantly conceived and executed. The changing of the focus of the mall has been successful and has brought new life to an important downtown property.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

David's Bistro

The welcoming entrance to David’s Bistro reminds one that owner David Chapman was chef, and then chef owner, of Anthony’s Seafood Bistro in this location for for 18 years.

Then Chapman widened his horizons and opened David's Bistro, a traditional style French bistro with a daily prix fixe menu, as well as a regular menu, and daily features.

According to the website, if you stop by the Bistro you will find either Chapman or his daughter Natalie acting as your host. Tonight dad was working and he was a very gracious host.

The lobster bisque followed by a seared pickerel entree was delicious and the California chardonnay was a good choice for the evening. When it was time for dessert, Chapman brought my wife one dessert and me another so that we could share.

David's Bistro on Richmond Street in downtown London Ontario was an excellent choice as a place to celebrate a nineteenth wedding anniversary.

Reaching for the Sky

The Sky was Saturn's answer to the very popular Mazda Miata. The Miata, it is said, was inspired by the English roadsters of the '50s and '60s. The Sky, to me, seemed inspired by fierce American muscle cars. I was never fond of the Sky but I can understand why some might be attracted to the little roadster.

Of course, the Sky was really a reworked Pontiac Solstice; A Sky was a Solstice with attitude. The following link won't work for long, I'm sure, but the Solstice coupe may be a car which will attract interest in the future. Not many were made and its looks got many positive reviews.

Someday, I'm going to look at the bad business decisions that big companies like GM have made and how these decisions have harmed communities and even countries. The Astra had potential. It is sad to see it, and the dealers that sold it, fading into the past.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saturn sign gone

I've driven two Saturns, and contrary to what you may have read, they were good cars. By good I mean they were inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to keep on the road and the London dealer gave first rate service. And I loved the no-haggle experience. Could the cars have been better? Yes, but what car couldn't be better?

You can still buy a Saturn. I believe the London dealer still has an Astra or two on the lot. The red vehicle in the foreground is the Saturn VUE hybrid. The Astra seemed to be a good car. The worst thing about it seemed to be a paucity of coffee holders. It really was a handsome automobile and won a number of important automotive awards. Sadly, it did not win many hearts. Maybe some coffee holders and some decent advertising would have helped.

This dealer was a fine dealer for GM and today they are moving the last of the Saturns and the Saabs off their lot. I wondered what assistance GM was giving them. I thought there might be a great deal from GM to help their former dealers. It doesn't appear so.

The GM site asks, "Looking for the Saturn VUE? Maybe it's time you considered a Chevrolet."

I'm in no hurry to buy another GM car. I didn't like their attitude. I don't like the way they are not even authorizing their former dealers to continue to service the cars that they sold. Well, my car isn't under warranty and so tomorrow I'm taking my car in to the former Saturn dealer for an oil change.

I'm changing my oil but not my dealer.