Archive for June 4th, 2011

Doors Open,Minds Closed

June 4, 2011

Doors Open is an annual cultural feast in the city Canada loves to hate: Toronto. Close to 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance open their doors to the public and the top of the list for us on May 29 was the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant at the east end of Queen Street. We lived right across from it (1969-71) and often walked around it, took our daughter on walks, read on the side of the hill behind the plant.

Then in 1987 came the greatest novel ever written about Toronto, Michael Ondatje’s The Skin of the Lion.As many know the climax of the book comes when the plant becomes a target for demolition.

Then came 2001 and the panic set in. Nobody had access to this extraordinary art deco beauty dubbed The Palace of Purification. The plant produces up to 950 million litres of water per day and is a tribute to public servants who insure us that the elixir of life reaches us without contamination.

Marble and bronze are featured throughout this gorgeous site which of course could never be built today because of the obtuse thinking of mayors like Lastman and Ford, philistines with no sense of beauty at all.Doors Open but minds closed.

‘What was moving about the day was the the constant stream of Torontonians who desperately wanted to see this jewel-10-20,00 as one guide estimated. Public servants now denigrated by the visionless right wing as “the bureaucracy” and probably deserving of less money, patiently took the public through the whole purification process.there were panel discussions, artists etc.

One good reason to live in this magnificent city.