It has been a busy weekend, with little time available to write, do housework, or much of anything else. It was glorious.
On Sunday, Erin and I got a lift from Kim Jernigan down to the Eden Mills Writers Festival. Though Erin wasn't set to read this time, we felt that the gathering of small presses, independent bookstores, and high calibre writers was simply too good to miss, so we went. Erin spent a fair chunk of the day helping out at the New Quarterly table, and I got some good ideas that I hope to apply when I man the table for Alternatives Journal at the Kitchener Word on the Street (September 28).
The highlight of the day was meeting the good folks at Wolsak and Wynn, and seeing Erin's book, Ghost Maps, hot off the presses. The publishers had previously thought that they couldn't have the book ready for the festival, so this was a most pleasant surprise. Erin was overjoyed, in fact.
The event was very well attended, and it was an excellent (if sunburned) day. The New Quarterly sold out all of the copies of the latest issue it had on hand (Bad Men Who Love Jesus), and all of the supplied copies of Ghost Maps had also sold out by the time the day was over. Erin had more than a few people approach her to sign copies.
Erin has been feeling a little stressed about her writing, of late, questioning her writing talent -- sort of how I felt after finishing Fathom Five. To say that this day was a shot in the arm would be something of an understatement.
We're looking forward all the more for the Toronto debut at the Art Bar, and Erin's November trip to the Maritime provinces.
The Dixie Outlet Mall is one of those malls that staved off a greyfield fate by taking on the characteristics of the big box stores (build them big, sell them cheap). Here I would have to say that the move has been a resounding success. There were crowds of people in the stores, picking over the many deals there were to be had. At the same time, the outlet mall retained some of the better characteristics of a true shopping centre, with plenty of places to sit, even if you were expected to buy a coffee or something in order to justify your seat.
I could complain about the huge parking lot that we had to cross in order to get to the store, or the traffic we faced on the way out, but I won't. The area itself has built up nicely, with trees filling in the gaps. And the store did boast a bus terminal, which had crowds of people waiting for two of the lesser Mississauga Transit routes that came calling.
After the Dixie Outlet Mall, Dan took us into Downtown Toronto, where we walked a lot, perused the World's Biggest Bookstore, Sam the Record Man and HMV, before strolling past the newly opened Dundas Square (which, believe it or not, has its own web site).
Again, judging by the crowds, this site has to be considered a resounding success. There was a bazaar going on when we arrived, and loads of people taking in the deals. The fountains attracted a lot of attention, and the whole place had that vital buzz common to all healthy squares. I did, however, hate the long canopy that ran the northern edge of the square along Dundas Street. Its presence was intrusive, and I felt like I was standing next to a miniature version of the Gardiner Expressway.
After walking around some more and having dinner, we headed back to our car, after diverting up Yonge Street and along Wellesley. I noticed something interesting enroute: Yonge Street, especially north of College, has retained much of its original character, with few of its stores and buildings rising above the three storey level. Bay Street, one block over, might as well have been on a different planet. With huge office towers and condominiums going up, it's taking on the appearance of a canyon, even at Wellesley Street (Bay has always been a canyon south of Queen).
The new condominiums are a good thing, and will feed the stores and restaurants of Yonge Street with new customers for years to come, but which is the street that has the character, the life, the buzz? You guessed it: Yonge Street.
Wellesley Street just gets a little colder as you head west, taking in the grand architecture of power that is Queen's Park and its collected office buildings, before vanishing entirely in the University of Toronto grounds.
Here are some pictures of our Saturday trip:
Sprinklers going at the Whitney Block at the corner of Wellesley and Queen's Park Circle.
The back door at Queen's Park.
The Wellesley Street underpass beneath Queen's Park Circle at the University of Toronto, where painters have conspired to make this drab space much more interesting.
The spooky King's College at sunset.
King's College Road, looking south towards College Street and the CN Tower.