Posts

Showing posts from November, 2008

Pacific Yachting Magazine story by Stephen Weir about the St Maarten's 12 Metre Challenge

Image
St. Maarten’s 12 metre Challenge. It’s the 1987 America’s Cup over and over again…


Tired old racehorses are put out to pasture. Over-the-hill greyhounds become family pets. And retired 12-metre racing yachts? For five veterans of the extended 1987 America’s Cup campaign, the Golden Years are spent forever rerunning that famous series of races in the warm waters off St Maartens in the Caribbean Sea.
Now that America’s Cup has switched to the International America's Cup Class size, the 12-metre has begun to fall out of favour with competitive racers. Although not dead yet (there still a few key 12-metre races being held) in terms of the Big Show, the once mighty 12-metre class seems destined for marine museum collections.
But wait, in St Maartens, Canadian businessman Colin Percy has rescued five of the greatest 12 metre yachts ever sailed and brought them to the Dutch/French island of St Maarten. Three to four times a day visitors can now participate in a mini-America's Cup rac…

St Maarten sailing story Sidebar

Image
Sidebar: And try the Aussie challenge!
Cutline: size chart. 12-metre boat vs car

Can’t get enough of the 12-metre Challenge experience? The next time you are in Australia visit the Melbourne 12-metre Challenge experience.

The Aussie 12 Metre Challenge provides a day of America's Cup Style Racing on board the prestigious "Kookaburra" and "Kiwi” and caters for groups from 10 to 120 people.

The Kookaburra I (KA II) is a high profile 12 Metre Yacht, known for its participation in the 1987 America's Cup Defense in Perth. Kookaburra defeated the Bond Group's Australia IV to defend the Cup for Australia. She also appeared as the feature yacht in the movie "Wind".

The Kiwi (New Zealand - KZ3) also campaigned in the 1987 America's Cup. It was nicknamed the "Plastic Fantastic" for being the first fiberglass boat ever built. Kiwi was sold to the Japanese Syndicate and called "Nippon", before being brought back to Australia in 1998.

They…

Feeding Sharks - posting of older National Post article at the request of a reader

Image
Underwater encounters off St. Maartens
The sharks’ bad table manners leave bloody bits of
half-eaten mackerel in spectators’ hair

By Stephen Weir

Underwater, a mile off shore from the island of St. Maartens, surrounded by a pack of hungry 10 foot sharks I learned an important life lesson. Always look an incoming shark in the eye and stare ‘em down … and if that shark’s nictitating membrane suddenly drops over the eye you are glaring at, put your hands under your armpits and pray!
“Show fear?” said shark trainer Estanda Koblasa. “You can’t even think fear. They will know and they will be on you like a pack of dogs chasing a mailman.”
Three afternoons a week Estanda is the centre of attention at an underwater sushi party for sharks. While the Czech diver dishes out hunks of raw meat to the sleek gray fish a dozen paying customers sit on the ocean floor and watch this high voltage dinner.
“There are shark feeds in a couple of other Caribbean islands, ” said Estanda. “Here in St. Maarten’s we…

Sidebar - Five things you shouldn't do when feeding sharks

Image
cutline - food falling out of shark's mouth at St Maarten's underwater feeding. Photo by Stephen Weir

5 things to avoid doing during a shark dive and their consequences if you do

1. Don’t pet the sharks.
They may nip at your hand thinking you are another shark trying to steal their food. Because of the sharp nature of those teeth, even a small nip requires immediate medical attention. If still have to stroke a shark, wear gloves, their skin is sandpaper rough.
2. Don’t pick up discarded meat and hand feed the sharks yourself.
Sharks rip, they don’t chew. When the meat is grabbed the shark will immediately shake its head back and forth with enough force to dislocate you shoulder (if you don’t let go).
3. Don’t point! These sharks aren’t interested in you, but, if you offer finger food ….
If you aren’t holding a camera, and hanging on to a cement block the experts advise you to put your hands under your armpits.
4. Don’t use an external power source for your underwater flash.
Sharks a…

Metro picks up Toronto Star story about College Park

Image
cutine: artist's drawing of an Aura condo suite

College Park condo set to top Eaton’s vision
Stephen Weir, for Metro Canada
13 November 2008 01:31

(The subway newspaper Metro - owned in part by the Star - picked up my College Park story from the Star, edited and added a couple of sidebars that they found on this website.) The article had two pictures.

College Park is on the upswing of a roller-coaster ride of boom, bust and boom all over again.
A revitalized Eaton’s College Park building, with its iconic, five-star Carlu Hall, has reignited an economic fascination for one of downtown Toronto’s most prestigious and historic blocks, bounded by College, Gerrard, Bay and Yonge streets.
Canderel Stoneridge is poised to begin construction of Aura, a 75-storey condominium tower just south of College Park at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard. The residential skyscraper will cover the last street level parking lot along Yonge Street downtown. It will create a vertical community of close to 3,000 p…

The rebirth of a Depression-era dream

Image
An artist's rendering shows Eaton’s original plan in the 1920s for a tower at College and Yonge Sts. On a block once meant to be Toronto's retail epicentre, a 75-storey condo is poised to rise

November 08, 2008
Toronto Daily Star. Saturday Condo Section. 3-page Cover Story
Stephen Weir
Special to the Star


College Park is on the upswing of a roller-coaster ride of boom, bust and boom all over again.
A revitalized Eaton's College Park building, with its iconic, five-star Carlu Hall, has reignited an economic fascination for one of downtown Toronto's most prestigious and historic blocks, bounded by College, Gerrard, Bay and Yonge Sts.
Canderel Stoneridge is poised to begin construction of Aura, a 75-storey condominium tower just south of College Park at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard. The residential skyscraper will cover the last street level parking lot along Yonge St. downtown. It will create a vertical community of close to 3,000 people on a block that was once supposed …

Tallest Condo Buildings in the British Empire - sidebar that didn't make it in my Toronto Star feature story

Image
Cutline: Otis Elevator's artist rendition of the Burj Dubai (currently under construction in Dubai) - soon to be the world's tallest residential towers.

On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. There was no room to place the attached sidebar. The actual article appears above (scroll up)

Tallest Residential Building in the Empire

• The tallest residential building in the Empire and the world is the Eureka Tower. The 12-year old building is a 300-metre (984 ft) 91-storey skyscraper located in Melbourne, Australia.
• The 78-storey Q1 Apartment Tower, also in Australia, claims that it is the tallest residential building in the world when measured to the top of its spire, which reaches a height of 322.5m (1,058 ft).
• The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat note that there are several residential (condominium) towers being built…

#5 College Park Story - Sidebars that didn't make it into print

Image
On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. The actual article appears above (scroll up)

Historian, author and broadcaster Mike Filey remembers the great Eaton College Park store

• It is part of the city’s history, it is part of our fabric
• My Dad worked there … in the men’s wear. That is where my mother met him
• Building showed the status of the Eaton firm, to be able to build that big during the Depression.
• “flagship of the Eaton Empire”, but soil conditions and the Depression caused the company to scale back the size of the building
• A Grey Coach bus would take shoppers from the Queen Street Eaton’s to College Park. They even had their own transit ticket.
• I used to get my car serviced at the BA Gas Station at Eaton College Park’s Automotive Centre off Hayter Street
• Building was designed by the same firm that designed Maple Leaf Garde…

#4 College Park Story - Sidebars that didn't make it into print

On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. There was no room for this and several other sidebars. The actual article appears above (scroll up)


Lawyers. Guns and Money

30 minutes in Court Room 2 – College Park, Ontario Provincial Criminal Court:
• A Boston Pizza waitress tells the court that she has found new friends, changed her lifestyle and will go back to school. She was stopped by RIDE on Eglinton Avenue during the summer. She is fined $600
• A translator is needed to help a man plead guilty to drunk driving after he too was caught by RIDE on Eglinton. He is fined $1,000 and prohibited from driving for a year.
• A 19 –year old is lead into court handcuffed. He is sentenced to a few days in jail for missing court dates and for stealing a lap top computer. The judge is told that the man – a professional DJ - went to an apartment to apologiz…

#3 College Park Story - Sidebars that didn't make it into print

Image
On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. There was no room to place the attached sidebar. The actual article appears above (scroll up)

Cutline: artist's drawing of an Aura condo living room

Three new levels of government will be created when the Aura is built!

Condo unit owners of almost 1,000 suites and the owners of the Podium retail floors must belong to self-governing condominium associations:

• Three condo associations based on floor location will be created
• One condo association for the retail floors up to the 4th floor
• Second condo association for floors 5 to 55
• Third condo association for floors 56 and up.

#2 College Park Story - Sidebars that didn't make it into print

Image
On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. There was no room to place the attached sidebar.The actual article appears above (scroll up)

777 Bay Street Dollarrama. University of Ryerson students ‘08 version of an Eaton’s department store.

What you can buy there for a dollar:
• Individual plates, cups, glasses and cutlery
• 3 movies on 1 DVD including Peter Lorre in Mr. Moto’s Last Warning
• Pregnancy test kit
• Deluxe can of Vienna Sausages
• Bendable pen in the shape of a dolphin
• 100 sheets of paper
• Squeezy container of bright yellow paint
• CD album case covered in poodle pictures
• Energy star light bulb
• Box of Uncle Ben’s rice

#1 College Park Story - Sidebars that didn't make it into print

*

On Saturday November 8th, the Toronto Star ran a major feature I wrote about the downtown Toronto city block of College Park. The 3-page story appeared on the cover of the Condo section. There was no room to place the attached sidebar. The actual article appears above (scroll up)

7 Things To Do At the College Park Block

• Renew your driver’s license in the giant ServiceOntario Centre -- basement of 777 Bay
• Witness people loose their driver’s licenses in provincial criminal court. Justice system at work on the 2nd Floor College Park
• Photograph the Three Watchmen Totem Poles carved by Haida artist Robert Davidson in 1984 to mark the city’s Sesquicentennial year. The work is made up a 50 foot and two 30 foot totem poles – center mall 777 Bay Street
• Do something nice – dig deep and take in a charity event at Carlu
• Get off the subway buy dinner in the College Park Dominion Store (soon to be Metro store) and get onto the College streetcar before your transfer times out
• Dangle y…

#6 - Sidebar that didn't make it into print in Toronto Star Story about College Park

*
Rent a Piece of the Block

In addition to the condos already built on College Park, there are over 400 apartments available for rent in the old Eaton building. Great Western Life’s College Park Suites has bachelor, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units for rent.

• Two bedroom apartment rent starts at $2,250 a month
• Parking for residents is $85 per month.
• 24-hour surveillance and monitoring
• When residents take the subway late at night, they can have a security guard meet them at the station and escort them to their suite.

Last Missing Sidebar from Toronto Star's article on College Block

*
Who Lives Where

777 Bay Street

• Retail, service and office building, built in 1983
• 30 floors. 898,060 sq. ft.

College Park

• Built between 1928 and 1930
• 7 floors of offices, Provincial Courts, retail stores, rental apartments
• linked to College Park subway station
• 1979 – reconstruction completed, 210 rental apartments added Approximately 400 residents

Residences of College Park

• Two buildings -- 51 and 46 storeys high
• 10-parkside townhouses.
• Approximately 2,600 residents

The Liberties

• The complex has two 20-storey towers and one 19-storey tower.
• Two towers are on Bay (711 and 717) and the third is on Gerrard.
• Approximately 1,000 residents.

Similar Sized Communities

There are an estimated 4,000 people living in the College Park Block. When the Aura skyscrapper is completed the Block population will be an estimated 7,000 people. According to StatsCan, Ontario towns with similar population include:
• Alymer 7,126
• Crystal Beach 6,686
• Essex 7,002
• Kincardine 6,410
• Lively 6,70…

Books Across The Ocean

Image
Noreen Taylor and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction help
promote Canadian books in the United Kingdom


The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
is giving the nation's book industry assistance in marketing Canadian
literature to the people of the United Kingdom. At the International Festival
Of Authors (IFOA), held in Toronto over the past two weeks, Noreen Taylor, the
founder of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, donated nearly
140 non-fiction books to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade (DFAIT), to be used by the Canada High Commission in London, England.
The books, all non-fiction titles, were entered for the 2008 Charles
Taylor Prize. On stage at IFOA Ms Taylor presented a signed copy of the
winning book, Richard Gwyn's "John A.: The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times
of John A. MacDonald, Volume One: 1815-1867 to John Bonar of DFAIT. Pictured
left to right are: Authors Lewis Desoto and Richard Gwyn (seated), Noreen