by Liora Ipsum via blogTO
It's hard for anyone born this side of the 1950s to look upon an escalator with wonder, such is the ubiquity of the electric moving staircase. In Toronto, the TTC maintains more than 290 individual escalators, the largest collection in Canada. Practically every subway stairwell is fitted with an effort-free alternative to the stairs.
The first escalator in Toronto (and Canada), a wooden "traveling stair," was installed at the T. Eaton Co. store on Queen Street West 99 years ago next month. It was the first time shoppers could be automatically ferried between floors without having to ride an elevator.
The first working invention recognizable as an escalator was a novelty attraction at New York City's Coney Island. Designed and built by inventor Jesse Reno in 1891, riders straddled a moving belt and were pulled excitedly up the middle of a wooden flight of stairs. The machine didn't have any hand rails so there was a definite element of risk riding the machine, which moved a little under 1.5 km/h.
According to information cited by the Guinness Book of Records, the Reno escalator was to be ridden like a bicycle by men and side-saddle by women, though in the photo above it seems riders just chose the position they felt most comfortable with.
Reno patented his machine, but the kudos for inventing the first moving stairway belongs to an elusive figure named Nathan Ames. In 1859, the Michigan resident patented a set of stairs secured to a moving belt that he imagined would move in a triangular loop.
Ames never built his invention - the engine necessary to power the belt had yet to be invented - and he disappeared from records shortly after filing his application with the patent office.
Reno, however, managed to turn his novelty attraction into a viable product, and sold it to the Otis Elevator Company in 1899. Another escalator pioneer, George H. Wheeler, did the same thing and allowed Otis employee Charles D. Seeberger to buy the U.S. patent to his device.
The company's first Escalator - a brand name Seeberger invented by combining the Latin word "scala," meaning "steps," and "elevator" - was set up at its Yonkers works in New York in 1898.
In 1900, the device won first prize at the Paris Exposition Universelle. The opulent fair also gave more than 50 million people a first look at the Eiffel Tower, one of the great engineering marvels of the age, and movies with sound.
Four years later, the T. Eaton Co. bought Canada's first escalator, installing it directly opposite the main Yonge Street entrance of its sprawling store in advance of the Christmas crowds. "No waits for the elevator now; a customer simply steps on the 'escalator,' as it is called, and up he goes," wrote the Toronto Daily Star on its December unveiling.
The night before the big reveal, around 500 Eaton's staff spent hours riding the two parallel lanes of the escalator to the second floor and back. The narrow wooden structure rose 5 metres at an angle of 25 degrees and moved about 1.8 km/h, roughly the same speed most standard escalators travel today.
Power was provided by a seven horsepower electric motor and Otis claimed it could carry around 7,000 people per hour when operating at capacity. "There is no probability of being hurt, for a rail runs alongside the sliding stair," The Star assured nervous first-time passengers.
Though it was undoubtedly a novelty, the unveiling appeared to attract little attention in Toronto. The Star's writeup is buried on page 9 of its December 13 edition halfway down a column titled "Of Interest to Women," just beside an advertisement for "Dainty Hats for Dainty Women" at McKendry's clothes store.
Over the next two decades, Otis, having absorbed its only competitor, installed around 350 escalators in department stores and subway stations across North America.
Eaton's added several more moving stairways to its flagship store, including one between the second and third floors directly above the first, one at the Albert Street entrance, and another at its secondary Yonge Street entrance in 1915.
It's not clear what happened to Toronto's first escalators but there are some reports they remained at Eaton's downtown location until it was demolished to make way for the Eaton Centre in the 1970s. A narrow wooden model (shown above) lingered at the company's College Street store until the building was repurposed into College Park.
Today, the escalators at the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond and York Mills subway station are rivalled for the longest in the city.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
Image: City of Toronto Archives, Bob Whalen
Truth be told, comedy isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the holidays, but don't sleep on this awesome line-up that's about to descend upon us! Follow me as I walk you through This Week In Comedy...
SUN DEC 1 / LAUGHS FOR LIVES / SOUTHSIDE MUAY THAI / 2065 MIDLAND AVE #2 / 7PM / $15 ADV $20 DOOR
Ok, so this isn't exactly in Toronto, Toronto, but it's a show whose proceeds are going straight to those affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines. As your producer, Big Norm, so eloquently put it, "The people known for their caregiving are now in need of your care." Trixx, Nick Reynoldson, Keith Pedro, Chris Robinson...I could go on. This will definitely be one of the best shows of the month.
THURS DEC 5 / BRIAN REGAN / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 190 PRINCES' BLVD / 730PM / $62
I'm featuring this show on the off chance that there are still tickets left when this post is published. Quite simply, Brian Regan is one of the funniest clean-working comedians that I've ever seen. One of the things that I can't help but be amazed by is the way he seamlessly weaves in and out of his alter-ego. Take a look at the above clip and you'll see how subtly, but powerfully, he uses his character to act out his famous UPS bit.
SAT DEC 7 / SUPERSTARS OF COMEDY / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 930PM / $10 ADV $12 DOOR
Never heard of K. Trev? When Louis CK did JFL42 last year, he asked K. Trev, who was opening for him in the sold-out Sony Centre, to perform his Christmas mass joke. That's right: Louis CK remembered one of K. Trev's jokes, and asked him to do it in front of 3,000 of his most loyal fans. So yeah, K. Trev's a monster. I'd recommend also paying close attention to Ryan Horwood. The first time I saw him live, he had me laughing so hard that I couldn't even hear his follow-up punchlines!
SAT DEC 7 / MONKEY TOAST / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 8PM & 10PM / $10
The show that's one part talk show, one part improv, is back again with a doozie of a guest. Andrew Coyne, currently writing for the National Post, has had his works published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time freakin' Magazine. So yeah, you're pretty much guaranteed to witness a spellbinding chat between Andrew and your host, Ron Tite. Who's Ron? Well, not too long ago, he was named one of the Top 10 Creative Canadians by Marketing Magazine.
To give you an idea of the format of the show, Ron will interview his guests for 7-8 minutes, and then an improv troupe consisting of some of Canada's best players will act out a scene from the conversation. It's truly something magical to see live.
DEC 9 / BEN MINER'S 15 YEAR STAND-UP ANNIVERSARY / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 8PM / $5
The first time I caught Ben's act, it was in the basement of the Crown and Tiger at Bathurst and College. He won my heart over that night by skewering the audience member in the front row who was wearing those ridiculous-looking, funky-coloured striped socks (no offense to anyone who wears those outlandish stockings). Anyhoo, to commemorate his 15th year anniversary of doing stand-up, he's put together an absolutely stacked show, consisting of headliners like Dom Pare, Chris Locke, Alex Pavone, Casey Corbin...I could go on!
What's more, all of the proceeds from the evening will go towards The Jo-Anna Downey Fund. Jo's been a staple of the Toronto comedy scene for over 15 years, and has recently been stricken with ALS, which has left her unable to perform.
TUES DEC 10 / CHRIS LOCKE'S THE WORLD IS EMBARRASSING / 61 OSSINGTON / THE OSSINGTON / 9PM / $10
Whenever comics take a stab at producing their own show, there's a good chance Chris Locke is the one they call to headline - that's saying something. There are some comedians that, no matter what they do, you can't help but laugh, and Chris Locke's that guy. He's honed a child-like, transparent delivery over the past 10+ years that allows him to deliver material that most comedians would never be able to get a laugh from. Chris has reached the point that every new comedian dreams of: he's found his voice. On these nights, he's going to be recording his comedy album, so you know he's gonna bring the ruckus!
SAT DEC 14 / GOOD COP BAD COP / THE LOT / 100 OSSINGTON AVE / 730PM / $15 ADV $20 DOOR
Good Cop (Nitish Sakhuja) and Bad Cop (Josh Infald) sees two of the hardest working up-and-coming stand-ups in Toronto joining forces. Sakhuja has been gaining steam of late, steadily performing on more and more paid shows in and around the city. Infald is one of Toronto's most beloved comics, and has been tearing it up virtually from day one. Your MC, Mike Rita, probably hosts more shows than any comic at the request of his peers. Given that all parties involved are working their asses off to make this a big night, this might be the sleeper show of the month.
SUN DEC 16 / HADI & SAMAD 3RD ENCOUNTER / TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE ARTS / 5040 YONGE / 7PM / $41-91
Ok, I'll be honest: I don't speak Farsi, and therefore cannot comment on the comedic content of this show. However, Hadi Khorsandi, an Iranian poet and satirist, known for his open opposition to religious fundamentalism, is one half of the act. Damn that takes balls. Any writer can throw stones at Islam from North America, but a guy that does it while in Iran!? Jesus! His other half, Parviz Sayyad, is a veteran of Iranian cinema and has been mentioned in the International Film Guide and Film Comment Magazine.
SAT DEC 21 / MOSHE KASHER / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 8PM & 1030PM / $20
In 2009, iTunes named Moshe Best New Comic. The aspiring comedian in me loves him because he seems so comfortable during moments of complete silence. Case in point, check out the clip above. It takes many years and countless sets to stay calm and collected in the face of crickets, and Moshe is completely relaxed (or, perhaps, seems completely relaxed) as he sets up punchline after punchline. In a lot of ways, crowd work is a lost art, perhaps because everyone is trying to create a perfect five, seven, ten, and fifteen so they can make it big. It's refreshing to see someone throw caution to the wind and just have fun up there!
FRI DEC 27 / GERRY DEE / TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE ARTS / 5040 YONGE / 730PM / $56-66
There's a difference between comedians that only have strong material and comedians that are genuinely funny no matter what scenario you put them in. Watch Gerry Dee long enough, and you'll realize that he's a sincerely hilarious individual. In 2008, he was recognized with a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Stand-Up. His show on CBC, Mr. D, garnered 1.23M viewers in its first episode. But what I find most impressive is that he held his own in an interview with Charles Barkley, even to the point of cutting him off on a few occasions, which is no simple feat.
TUES DEC 31 / YUK'S NEW YEAR'S COMEDY EXTRAVAGANZA / MASSEY HALL / 730PM / $39-70
This is the show that all Yuk's comedians fight to get on. Your line-up includes Jessica Kirson, Mike MacDonald, John Hastings, Graham Kay, Dave Merheje, Darcy Michael, Alex Pavone, and Christina Walkinshaw. Now that's what I call a New Year's Eve show! It'll be interesting to see Mike MacDonald, who recently underwent a highly publicized bout with Hepatitis-C and a subsequent liver transplant, take the stage. What more can I say? You have a show of national and international headliners, one after another. Still not convinced? Check out who introduces Graham Kay in the clip above.
About the Author: This is Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third-person. My blog, Diary of a Stand-up Comedian, walks you through the up's and down's (they're mostly down's, really) in my quest to become a killer comic in Toronto.
Weekend events in Toronto is our guide to events happening this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here's what's happening in Toronto this November 29 - December 1, 2013.
Cavalcade of Lights
Tomorrow is a big day for lovers of all that's bright, shiny, and twinkling. The holidays officially start in Toronto (or so they say) Saturday at Nathan Phillips Square. The 47th annual Cavalcade of Lights will culminate with the illumination of Toronto's official Christmas tree and a fireworks show. At 7pm Cold Specks, Divine Brown and Carvin Winans will perform, then at Diamond Rings will perform before DJ Dopey spins over an open-air skating party. Bundle up and bring your skates. Saturday, November 30, Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West), 7pm, free.
Rosedale Main Street Cavalcade of Lights
The Rosedale Main Street BIA's annual Cavalcade of Lights Festival will peek with the lighting of the 50ft blue tree on top the CP bridge at Scrivener Square. A petting zoo will let you hang with pygmy goats, alpaca, mini horses, reindeer and more, plus there will be wagon and horseback rides, live music, face painting, photos with Santa, and $5 special menu eats. Shops on Yonge Street from Woodlawn Avenue to Crescent Road will have various special events planned. November 30th, Rosedale Main Street, Scrivener Square, 2pm - 6pm, free.
Artisan Tasting Fair
The Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair takes over the Artscape Wychwood Barns on Sunday. Admission is $35 for complimentary sampling from chefs, brewmasters and artisan vendors, and also includes an eco-friendly cotton shopping bag with a bamboo plate and fork plus $10 in coupons to spend. More than 40 carefully food and beverage makers from bakers to charcuterie butchers to craft brewers will be ready to try to impress your tastebuds. Sunday, December 1st, Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street), 11am - 4pm, $35 (includes $10 in coupons and a gift bag).
For more food events, check out our Toronto Food Events post.
The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918
Selected masterpieces from the Guggenheim will be on display starting tomorrow at the AGO. While the idea of a collection of World War One era abstract artworks may seem a dour contrast to the flamboyant David Bowie exhibit that's closing upstairs, the bold and symbolic, often psychedelic avant-garde works exploring the emotional turmoil of the age actually carry on the torch of colourful stimulation surprisingly well. See your old pals Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, Duchamp, Ernst, and many more all together in a room. No drama. Check out highlights from the exhibit here. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), Saturday November 30, 2013 - March 2, 2014, 10am - 5:30pm, $25.
Toronto's contemporary photography fans know Photorama is a can't miss exhibit of the year. Gallery TPW's annual fundraising exhibition will basically sustain them through 2014, and will feature over 80 artists including Edward Burtynsky, Sara Angelucci, Toni Hafkenscheid, Robert Burley, Diana Thorneycroft, Annie MacDonell, Carole Condé, and Karl Beveridge. You can hit up the artist run centre's opening party tonight, or stop by during the gallery hours. Gallery TPW (1256 Dundas Street West), Opening Reception Friday, November 29, 6 - 9pm, sale continues Saturday, November 30, Noon - 6pm & Tuesday, December 3 - Saturday, December 7, Noon - 6 pm, free.
This is your last chance to see the unbelievable world of Montreal's Seripop installed at YYZ in the 401 Richmond Building. Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum's solo exhibition looks like a psychedelic vision of a child's play fort, half in ruin but pulsing to the limits of imagination. It's more or less a miracle that two human beings were able to pull off something this magical - and anxiety inducing, much like their music with Aids Wolf (RIP). If you can't stand to be in a room this colourful for long, that's okay. Just pop in. The last day is Sunday, November 30th. YYZ Artists' Outlet (140-401 Richmond St. W), 11am-5pm, free.
The 7th Annual Brazil Film Fest
The Brazil Film Fest's timing during the last dregs of autumn might seem like a tease, but the heart of the matter is nothing's better in nippy weather than hiding out in a theatre for a couple of hours to take in a film made somewhere much, much warmer. The magic of film might actually be the next best thing to actually flying to a sun kissed destination. The 2013 is on now at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend with 11 films from passionate love stories to understated dramas. Read our preview here. November 28 - December 1, TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), various times and prices.
Blood in the Snow Horror Film Festival
The Blood in the Snow Horror Film Festival launched last year, and Toronto's scary movie fans will be glad to hear that as the frost clings to the pavement like so many scattered, mashed up pulled teeth and powdered human bones, the pre-holiday gore fest will back and better than every this weekend at Carlton Cinemas. For those whose loved ones share a passion for the darker side of life there will also be a Blood in the Snow Vendor Village in the front lobby for ticket buyers, plus parties and midnight screenings. The fest kicks off tonight. Any ticket holders will have access to the Vendor Village. Read our preview here. Friday, November 29th until Sunday, December 1st at Carlton Cinemas (20 Carlton Street), various showtimes.
Last chance to see this adaptation of the poems of Dennis Lee. Alligator Pie is an energetic and family-focused performance from collective creators Ins Choi, Raquel Duffy, Ken MacKenzie, Gregory Prest and Mike Ross. Of the 20 odd poems lively dramatized with music and props, some soar with creative energy, while others need a bit more time in the oven. But it's the cleverness of the presentation - an earnest approach to the material - that makes this an adaptation with a lot of potential. Check out our full review. Until December 1st, Soulpepper Theatre (50 Tank House Lane), various times, $23
Its remarkable success in 2007, taking home the Academy-Award for Best Original Song, ensured the stage adaptation of Once wasn't too far behind. After winning eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical, the stage version has proven to be just as popular with audiences and critics as was the film. An ensemble of performers, who simultaneously act and play their own instruments, chronicle the romance between a Dublin street musician and the woman who takes an interest in his songs. Until January 5, 2014, Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), various showtimes, $35-$100+.
For more events on stage, check out our This Week in Theatre post.
Punchclock Showcase & Print Sale
This one is a two parter. On Saturday night at Double Double Land (209 Augusta) you can catch Petra Glynt, Carl Didur, New Fries, and LLVK (a collab between Sook-Yin Lee, Adam Litovitz, Brandon Valdivia (Not the Wind Not the Flag, Mas Aya), and Benjamin Kamino). There will be stage decor, DJs, and neon. Then on Sunday from 1pm - 8pm you can go to Punchclock (251 Sorauren Avenue) for a studio sale of screenprinted and risographed art prints, t-shirts, sweaters, tote bags, stickers and more. Check the Facebook event for more info. Double Double Land & Punchclock, Saturday, November 30, 9pm-late & Sunday, December 1, 1pm-8pm, $5/$10
Steam Whistle's Unsigned Indie Music Concert
Steam Whistle's next Unsigned Indie Music Concert is tonight at and features Rituals, The Oooh Baby Gimme Mores and Fresh Snow. The Unsigned concert series is now in its sixth year running - it's featured over 70 independent Canadian acts and have raised over $70,000 for local artists. A $5 donation to the Artists' Health Alliance gets you in the door. Friday, November 29th, Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Blvd), $5.
Reclusive Hayden ends his fall tour with a hometown show at the Danforth Music Hall on Saturday, sharing his eclectic genre-bending sound and material from his latest release, Us Alone . The Toronto-based artist doesn't play live a whole lot (though he did perform at his label's Field Trip Festival this summer), so the chance to catch him at this venue is one that fans should cherish - it might be a long wait until he comes out of hiding again. Saturday, November 30, Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave), $32.50-$39.50.
Laughs for Lives
Ok, so this isn't exactly in Toronto, Toronto, but it's a show whose proceeds are going straight to those affected by the recent typhoon in the Philippines. As your producer, Big Norm, so eloquently put it, "The people known for their caregiving are now in need of your care." Trixx, Nick Reynoldson, Keith Pedro, Chris Robinson...I could go on. This will definitely be one of the best shows of the month. Sunday, December 1st, Southside Muay Thai (2065 Midland Ave #2), 7pm, $15
One Of A Kind Christmas Show & Sale
One of a Kind is like a craft fair mall experience (so, way nicer). Over 800 Canadian artisans from each and every province will be showing and selling handmade gifts at the Direct Energy Centre between Nov 28 - Dec 8. Caffeine up and power through this one, and you might just win the holidays. There will be a gift wrapping centre and, to keep this extra Canadian, daily figure skating performances. Check out our gallery of gift-worthy items here. Direct Energy Centre, (100 Princes' Blvd), November 28 - December 8, most weekdays and Saturdays 10am - 9pm, Thursday 10am - 11pm, Sunday 10am - 6pm. $12 adults, $7 seniors & students, kids free.
For more fashion listings, check out our This Week in Fashion post.
OCADU Book Arts Fair
Tomorrow OCAD University's printmaking department will host their 29th annual Book Arts Fair. A donation ($5 suggested) gets you in to browse the handcrafted works of book artists, printmakers, artists, small publishers, students, professional artists, papermakers and printmaking suppliers. Look out for live performances, poetry readings, and crafting activities too. Saturday, November 30th, OCAD University (100 McCaul St), 10am - 5pm, Suggested $5.
Toronto Christmas Market
The Toronto Christmas Market is back for its fourth year, and its expansive set up will (sort of) emulate a European Christmas Market in the Distillery District for the first two weeks of December. Local handcrafted products will be for sale from a variety of vendors. Entertainment will be provided by carollers, a Bavarian brass band, children's choirs and more, plus there will be beer and mulled wine gardens. Damn, mulled wine isn't a thing that happens often enough in Toronto. Distillery Historic District (55 Mill Street), Friday November 29 - Sunday December 15, Mon - Fri noon - 9pm & weekends 10am - 9pm.
For more holiday craft events, check out our Holiday craft shows in Toronto for 2013 post.
Toronto Gala Parté at the Kool Haus
End the long hard month of 'stache growing at Toronto's biggest Movember gala parté tonight. Come dressed to impress for your chance to win prizes. The judges will award Best Mo in Character, Team Mo, Man of Movember, and many other moustachey titles. November 29th, Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), 8pm, $20
For more Movember events, check out our Movember events in Toronto 2013 post.
Photo of Petra Glynt via Facebook, Brazil Film Fest still from Tiana, One of a Kind photo by Jesse Milnes
The best cafes in Toronto on the east side could be attributed with starting the city's third wave of coffee shop culture thanks to the likes of Mercury, Dark Horse and Merchants of Green. These early movers and shakers didn't just caffeinate the neighbourhood, they changed the way we understood the whole coffee experience, providing information, education, and relaxation for customers.
Now with a bevy of great cafes east of Yonge St. it's hard to choose where to go, but hop on a bike, zoom along on the streetcar, or hit the pavement and let the myriad of options dazzle your taste buds. You won't be sorry, just a little jittery?
Here are the best cafes in Toronto east of Yonge St.
The best cafes in Toronto (West Side)
The best late night cafes in Toronto
The best cafes for free WiFi in Toronto
The best Americano in Toronto
The best cappuccino in Toronto
The best cafe patios in Toronto
The best coffee roasters in Toronto
This new restaurant and snack bar ain't your typical Chinatown restaurant, with its industrial aesthetic and modern fusion menu. In addition to the mains, there's a soup and toast menu, smoothies, and a creative dessert menu. Perhaps a change is brewing in Chinatown?
Read my profile of Stay Cafeteria in the restaurants section