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Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Best Indoor Swimming Pools in Toronto

indoor pools torontoThe best indoor pools in Toronto allow you to splish-splash all year round, whether you're opting to keep fit with some lane swimming or would rather just frolic with friends and family. While some of you may choose to just drop in on one of the public pools where leisurely swims are usually free (and lane swimming tends to be $3.50), others may wish purchase a membership at a club to receive additional services - whatever floats your boat.

Here are the best indoor pools in Toronto.


Regent Park Aquatic Centre

The Regent Park Aquatic Centre is a stand-alone (and standout) swimming facility that has earned rave reviews since opening in 2012. The ultra-bright and modern facility features a lap pool, leisure pool and warm water pool as well as a Tarzan rope, diving board and water slide - all for free! With non-gendered change rooms, this centre is definitely forward-thinking.

Etobicoke Olympium

As the name would suggest, the Etobicoke Olympium contains is an Olympic-size pool (50 metres to be exact) with a number of diving boards. The facility was recently renovated for the 2015 Pan Am games, you'll feel like a pro swimmer as you do your laps. If 50 metres is a little intimidating, there's also a smaller leisure pool.

Trinity Community Recreation Centre

With lots of light (and, of course, an amazing park location) the pool at Trinity Bellwoods is a great option if you're lucky enough to live in this 'hood. At only $3.50 to drop in to do some laps (or get a membership to use the rest of the facilities), the pool is about half the size of an Olympic pool (25 metres).

Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre

North York's Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre boasts an Olympic size pool as well as a whirlpool for therapy and general chill-axing. Drop in leisure swims and Aquafit classes are free - perfect for staying fit on a budget all year round.

Birchmount Community Centre

The Birchmount Community Centre in Scarborough is great for people of all ages. With a 25-meter pool, a warm conversation pool with jets and a shallow pool for kids, this is definitely the place for the whole family (and a great place to get your kids into swimming lessons). Leisure swims are free, while lane swimming is (again, the magic number) $3.50. There's also a sauna if you want to sweat it out after.

Centennial Recreation Centre

The second Scarborough pool to make the list is the just-shy-of-25-metre pool at the Centennial Recreation Centre. This centre is truly multi-functional and you could really spend the whole day here swimming, working out, or even going for a skate!

Jimmie Simpson

The Jimmie Simpson pool in Leslieville/Riverside offers plenty of swim programs in their 25-metre pool, like Aquafit, swim lessons, and of course, lane and leisure swims. There's also a wading pool for toddlers.

North Toronto Memorial Community Centre

The North Toronto Memorial Community Centre located in Eglinton Park (near Eglinton and Yonge) actually has two pools (though one is outdoors - not winter friendly). When the cold weather rolls around the outdoor swimmers can come indoors to the 25-metre pool for free swims and other varied water-based programs.

Leaside Memorial Gardens Pool

Opening almost 60 years ago, the Leaside Memorial Gardens has a number of different recreational activities, including an indoor pool. The three-lane, 25-yard pool is great for an open swim, private swimming lessons and AquaFit classes.

Wallace-Emerson Community Centre

This 25-metre warm water pool (because who wants cold water?), located inside the Wallace-Emerson Community Centre at Dupont and Dufferin, is free to drop in for a leisurely swim. (It should be noted that the pool has closed for the 2015 year for repairs.)


Granite Club

There's a lot to say about the pools at the Granite Club in North York. With floor to ceiling and beyond windows, the space is clean, white and bright. There are two six-lane 25-metre pools, a Tad pool and an activity pool for kids. The roof above the pool is retractable so you can get the best of the outdoors in the summer, and stay warm in the winter.

U of T Athletic Centre

There are two swimming pools within the U of T Athletic Centre: a smaller 25-metre pool as well as a large 50-metre pool, located on two different floors of the very large building. Both are available for drop in lane swims if you're a member; membership fees vary greatly depending on if you're an alumni, live with a student, or are part of the general community.

Miles Nadal JCC

There's a reason the pool at the Miles Nadal JCC in the Annex is so high on the list - it's a salt water pool! In addition to the 23-metre pool, you can also kick back in their whirlpool and steam rooms. An adult membership to the centre (which includes the fitness center and more) is $80 a month plus an enrollment fee.

Central YMCA

A great thing about the YMCA is that they offer membership assistance programs in case you have trouble affording the membership fees. If you're a member at the Central YMCA on Grosvenor, you get to take advantage of the two 25-metre pools. Daily drop in fees vary from $7-$15.

Harbour View Estates Superclub

If you're fortunate enough to live in these estates near Spadina and Bremner (or know someone who does), you can enjoy their 25-metre pool and hot tub, as well as steam rooms in the change rooms.

YMCA West End

Another YMCA with strong swimming amenities is the west end location on College St. The pool is smaller than most, at just 18.5 metres, but it's often open for lane swimming with a couple of hours blocked off for AquaFit classes and swim lessons. Daily drop in fees vary from $7-$15.

Toronto Athletic Club

This fancy-schmancy club in the heart of downtown has an equally fancy pool located on the 38th floor penthouse (I feel rich just saying that). To swim here, you have to purchase a membership, which will set you back about $184 a month plus an enrollment fee.

The Toronto Cricket and Curling Club

This indoor pool has a retractable glass roof and walls - who doesn't love bringing the outdoors in when it's a lovely summer day? With a membership to the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club at Wilson and Avenue Rd, you can enjoy the 25-metre pool, in addition to dozens of other fitness options.

Sheraton Centre

The interesting thing about the pool at the Sheraton hotel near Osgoode Station is that it's half indoors and half outdoors - divided by a glass wall. The heated pool is obviously enjoyed by hotel guests, but you can purchase a day pass for $35.

Fitness Institute

At just under 25 metres and only wide enough for four lanes, this salt-water pool may not be the biggest on the list, but if you want to take a dip after your workout at North York's Fitness Institute, this pool does the job. Memberships start at $99 for you to use the facilities.

Photo of Central YMCA by Jesse Milns.

by Chynna Wilson via blogTO

The top concerts in Toronto for March 2015

concerts march torontoThe top concerts in Toronto this March begin with Sleater-Kinney (this is not a dream) playing the pre-reno Sound Academy (this is not a nightmare) and cap off with Shad - not too shabby for a month that will undoubtedly be going through a slushy and gross identity crisis. In between are ample top shelf yet rent-saving local shows plus Italian noise, crowdfunded Kpop, and punk labels celebrating birth and death.

Don't forget Anamai is playing a free show tonight (March 1) at June Records. Then at Lee's Palace there's Gang Of Four (March 9) and Benjamin Booker (March 31), while Cancer Bats are at the Phoenix (March 12). Meanwhile the Decemberists and Alvvays will unite at Massey Hall (March 30).

As for love? Apparently you all looked too bundled up and depressed to catch anyone's eye at a concert last month, but Alvvays is still helping Toronto make IRL connections. Bless you, Alvvays.

Here are my picks for live music in Toronto this month.

Sleater-Kinney (March 2, Sound Academy)

In things I've been desperately hoping to say for the past decade: Sleater-Kinney have reunited. The much-loved riot grrrls are about to release their first album in 10 years and have just announced a major tour that thankfully includes one precious date in Toronto. The only downside is the venue, which I think we're all in agreement about. SK

St. Vincent (March 3, 4, Danforth Music Hall)

If you didn't get a chance to see Annie Clark headline NXNE this summer (either because you didn't go, or because you did go but the sight-lines at Yonge-Dundas Square are the worst), you'll get two more shots in March. She'll play back-to-back shows to continue her massive Digital Witness Tour. SK

Fresh & Future (March 5, Bassline)

The new Fresh & Future weirdo electronic music series is back on Bloor at Bassline. On this month's line up are Sexy Merlin, Zoo Owl, Kovacevic, and Baalam x S/ck F/sh. It's a steal - before 11pm both drinks and cover are $5.

Feast in the East (March 7, Jam Factory)

Speaking of deals, here's the show that feeds you and your ears for a mere $8 in advance. Feast in the East this month will bring HSY (Buzz Records), Shrines, Retired, and We Are Not Who We Are to the east end, with a Southern American dinner by Stephanie Fielding & Heather Rule.

TOPS (March 8, Smiling Buddha)

More great deals - Montreal synthpop band TOPS will be in town, performing along with local spine-tingling psych folk group Tasseomancy. Should be a dreamy $8 night.

Lust for Youth (March 9, Bambi's)

The first Toronto appearance of Sacred Bones artists Lust for Youth will be at Bambi's on Dundas West. Queen of trash Bile Sister and her band will open up. Capacity is limited, so get there early for the DJ prowess of two Toronto Josh's.

Unite the Mic (March 20, Massey Hall)

Before May's Toronto Kpop Convention, fans here have won the year's first KrowdPop event, which isn't a tweenie bopper krautrock program but rather an international site that allows fans to vote for and then crowdfund Kpop concerts. Ailee, Jay Park, and San E will perform in Toronto. Read more here.

Father Murphy (March 20, Dance Cave)

Father Murphy are bringing the doom and gloom back to Toronto - did you miss out on that "two one-sided 10" containing two movements each, meant to be played simultaneously - or maybe not"? Pick it up at Dance Cave this month and experience the screams and minimalism of one of the best goth duos Italy has to offer.

BA Johnston (March 20, Bovine Sex Club)

If Kpop and Euro-noise aren't your thing, maybe some kitschy Canadiana grime rock is. This show will be a funeral of sorts for Toronto label Mammoth Cave, whose last release will be B.A. Johnston's Shit Sucks LP.

The Holy Gasp (March 21, Silver Dollar)

Rules are as one DIY label dies, another rises, and NO LOVE will celebrate their second tape release with the official party for The Holy Gasp's The Last Generation of Love . The must-see local jazz-influenced outfit exploring territory as strange and original as BADBADNOTGOOD will be joined by Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People.

Shad (March 27, Massey Hall)

Drake may be the spotlight (and our) darling, but Toronto never fails to show love to Shad. Massey Hall's large yet intimate-feeling elegance will be a perfect match, and it will be a chance to experience one of the city's best venues before its upcoming makeover (opposite of Sound Academy, right?).

What did we miss? Leave the concerts you survived the winter for in the comments.

Contributions by Shazia Khan. Photo of St Vincent by Matt Forsythe

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

The top 5 free events in Toronto: March 2 - 8 2015

Free events TorontoFree events in Toronto this week will let you tour the city's newest art museum, the Aga Khan, for free. Then you can share your sexiest exploits for public judgement, drink, drink, drink and be ill to hours of the saddest music known to Earth, dance it away among pink flamingos, and edit Wikipedia at the Art Gallery.

Here's how to hang out in style in Toronto this week if you haven't got a stitch to wear.

1. Aga Khan Museum Free Wednesdays Initiative (March 4, Aga Khan)

Big news for art lovers: the brand new Aga Khan Museum for Islamic art has launched Free Wednesdays Initiative: admission is free between 4-8pm.Check out our photo gallery here.

2. Tell Me Something Good: March Sexy Storytelling (March 4, Gladstone)

It's an exciting time for Toronto's erotic story telling monthly at the Gladstone, Tell Me Something Good: last month they launched their first podcast. Your tantalizing and/or hilarious sexy stories will be rated by a panel of judges - finally.

3. Smiths is Dead (March 4, Unlovable)

Stuff sucks, hey? Lean in to the winter. Tuck your head into Unlovable on Dundas West to hear all Morrissey, all night. Toronto has some fucked up monthlies, but this mad journey into Smiths territory might top the list. It's free, because no one would pay for this kind of misery. Or would they...

4. Summer Fling (March 6, The Steady)

Recover from your dive into every seemingly Smiths song ever on Friday night at Miami themed Steady on Bloor by dancing with the Summer Fling DJs, who are obsessed not with Moz but with the letter B - "from Bowie to Black Lips, Blondie to Broken Social Scene." Drink specials will add to the pink flamingo wall paper's summer heat.

5. Art Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon (March 8, AGO)

On Sunday, the AGO will host a Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon for International Women's Day. All you need is a Wikipedia account (free). The AGO's list of artists and staff on site includes an amazing line up: Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell, Rosamond Ivey, and Special Collections Archivist Amy Furness.

Also check out these regular free events

Elvis Mondays (Mondays, The Drake)

Toronto's longest running indie showcase, William New's free show has put thousands of bands on stage. It's at the Drake Underground every Monday.

Free Nights at the Horseshoe (Monday/Tuesday, The Horseshoe)

The Legendary Horseshoe has a storied history, and hosts free indie rock shows in the early week with Shoeless Mondays and Dave Bookman's Nu Music Night on Tuesdays.

Free Evening (Wednesday, AGO)

The Art Gallery of Ontario's free evening runs from 6-8:30pm. It can be a little crowded, but sometimes the people watching is as good as the art (sometimes).

CINSSU's Free Friday Films (Fridays)

Though the Innis Town Hall is still under construction, you can follow the Cinema Studies Student Union for reliable Friday night movies and solid picks at Isabel Bader Theatre and/or Alumni Hall 100.

Canadian Opera Company (Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre)

September through to early June, catch free classical shows at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts "most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30 p.m."

MOCCA (Tuesday - Sunday)

While nearly all art galleries in the city are free to enter, it's worth noting The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) is always PWYC.

Have a free event you'd like to plug? Submit it using this form.

Photo of the Aga Khan by Andrew Williamson

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

Bake shop does cookie sandwiches and salty-sweet bars

petal dust bake shop torontoThis little shop, with its wide menu of sweet treats, aims to be Richmond Hill's friendly neighbourhood bakery. But they've got a few tricks up their sleeve that give plenty of GTA bakeries a run for their money, including their signature "salty millionaire" bars, cookie-and-icing sandwiches, and a rich variety of cupcake flavours.

Read my profile of Petal Dust Bake Shop in the bakeries section.

by Staff via blogTO

The top 10 stores for windows and doors in Toronto

doors windows torontoThe top stores for windows and doors in Toronto can help you upgrade your home when the time comes to invest in some energy-efficient, stylish portals to the outside world. Whether you choose to refurbish what you already have, bring home some architectural salvage or get brand new customized pieces, it helps to know where to shop and who to talk to.

Here are my picks for the top places to buy windows and doors in Toronto.

Six Penny

Regan Brunette and his business partner Aaron McGill have been restoring, repairing and manufacturing specialty doors and windows out of the junction. If it's a replica you seek, or have a neat idea, its nice to know there is an option out there for homeowners who seek to reuse architectural items that just need a bit of love.

Fieldstone Windows and Doors Ltd.

Since 1997, Fieldstone windows and Doors have been helping people outfit their spaces with quality items. With a reputation for excellent customer service as well as a portfolio that includes finishes in wood, vinyl and fiber glass. I think Fieldstone Windows and Doors is a solid one-stop shop when it comes to doors and windows.

Chateau Windows & Door Systems

If you are looking for some ultra-cool steel framed windows for your home, Chateau can help. Though the cost may be prohibitive for some you can also opt for a wood frame window painted out to look like steel. As a supplier of some of North America's most reputable manufacturers, Chateau can provide and install some amazing products.

Clera Windows and Doors

As a manufacturer and installer, Clera is able to provide quality windows and doors with a lifetime warranty. As a family run business since 1978, they stand behind what they make and have a great reputation for providing homeowners with exceptional workmanship.

Delco Windows and Doors

Offering excellent warranties on their products Delco is another solid option when shopping for windows in Toronto. Specializing in the replacement and installation of vinyl windows, steel, fiberglass, patio and storm doors as well as porch enclosures since 1989, has earned them a great reputation.

The Door Store Ltd.

In the early 1970's, Sam Mirshak established The Door Store as a place where architectural items removed during home renovations went to be saved from the dump. It has since become a staple in Toronto for design junkies as a treasure trove of salvaged doors, hardware and a vast array of antiquities.

Brock Doors and Windows

Brock Doors and Windows have been providing solutions to Toronto and the surrounding area residents for almost 25 years. In that time they have earned themselves a reputation as a solid company who can meet the needs of its clients. From the smallest casement window to the biggest porch enclosure, Brock can help you out.

The Window and Door Specialist

With a large array of products at their disposal, the "specialists" can probably get you whatever it is you seek. Unlike most window and door outlets, the Window and Door Specialist carries shutters, steel doors as well as lock systems. Check out their virtual showroom tour if you want to take a peek at their wares without getting in the car.

Encore Home Improvements

In business since 1987, Encore specializes in energy efficient window and door replacements. As well, they also can provide customers with sound and noise reduction windows. With a good reputation in the industry, I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with Encore Home Improvements.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

As a non profit home builder for low income families, Habitat For Humanity raises funds from its nine retail locations throughout Toronto. If used windows and doors will work for your project, you must visit a ReStore. You can score some amazing donated stuff and the cause - as well as the price - will make you feel great.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite place to buy doors and windows in Toronto in the comments.

Photo of the Door Store by Jesse Milns.

by Shayne Fox via blogTO

Snow pattern

March 4, 2015: York Region Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) MeetUp

Begins: 4 March 2015 at 8:00 AM Ends: 4 March 2015 at 10:30 AM Where: 7271 Warden Ave Organized by: ventureLAB

by via Toronto Networking Events

Guerrilla tardy passes appear on the TTC

TTC tardy pass TorontoA mystery TTC hater (/lover - this looks like love to me) has been dishing out grab-n-go Tardy Passes on the TTC - a sign if there ever was one that this winter has included one too many bad commutes. And it's not just the nightmarish, Winnipegian snow days that have led the TTC to bail on our dreams of arriving early enough to work to grab a coffee: a little ice here, a little signal problem there, and it seems the whole system crumbles like a biodegradable trip-based transfer in the pocket of your parka.

So, with a fare hike set to hit tomorrow, asking for some accountability from the TTC doesn't seem untoward. The tardy slip allows TTC officials or sentient vehicles to check off anxiety-triggering boxes such as "Fire investigation," "Short turn," "Flooding," "Passenger alarm activated," and, more humourously, "Stalled politicians" and "Waited for Scarborough subway - never came."

Who is behind these mystery excuse notes? One thing is for sure: come Monday, Brad Ross will be dumping them into the tunnel.

(We love you, Brad Ross.)

Lead image: Gordon Yarley on (‏@masteractor)

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

After Work at Turf

Begins: 11 March 2015 at 5:30 PM Ends: 11 March 2015 at 9:00 PM Where: 330 Bay Street Organized by: Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto (YIPT)

by via Toronto Networking Events

The best Indian restaurants in Toronto

The best Indian restaurants in Toronto

Best Indian Restaurants in Toronto

We roundup some of the best Indian restaurants in Toronto.

by torontodotcom via torontodotcom's Facebook Wall

The top 5 bartending schools in Toronto

bartending schools torontoThe top bartending schools in Toronto might not replace the years of experience required to truly learn the art of cocktail-making, but they can be a fun way to up your skills in a hurry. While I'm not a fan of non-accredited certification, for those who have no experience working with cocktails, it's great that there are places you can go to have some fun and learn about some of the essential drinks and ingredients.

Here are the best places in Toronto to go and pick up some bartending skills.

Toronto Institute of Bartending

Adjacent to the affiliated Spirit House at Adelaide and Portland, the Institute of Bartending also features Chicago and Montreal branches. Founded in 2001, Len Fragomeni's program has benefited immensely from the opening of Spirit House, granting participants access to one of the best bartending playgrounds you could find anywhere. Programs from $399.

Bartender One

Like the Institute of Bartending, Gavin MacMillan's Bartender One has programs in a number of locations outside T.O., including Mississauga, Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver and Montreal. Toronto classes are held at either King West's Repeal, or College Street Bar. There's a range of packages, from $299 right up to the $799 ten day course, teaching a range of spirits, as well as molecular mixology techniques like spherification and fatwashing.

Bartending School of Ontario

The oldest bartending school on this list, BSO has been around for over 40 years. The popular program focuses on some skills beyond the drinks, such as cash register handling and customer service. Intro courses start at $125 for a 5 hour class, and you can bundle Smart Serve certification or even wine training in with the program.

BareBones Bartending

The newest school on this list, BareBones teaches largely out of the Madison in the Annex, and offers two tiers, at what must be the most affordable rates in the city. $99 is a one day class for those who just want to have some fun learning about cocktails, while $199 sets you up with a two-day crash course taught over a weekend.

George Brown

Less of a stand-alone course, and more of an element of the Hospitality Management diploma offered as part of George Brown's restaurant and catering-focused division, this course gives you 28 hours of class time spread out over three months for the price of $292. Being within an accredited college lends an air of authority, and each student has a proper well station with a sink to work out of.

Photo of Spirt House

by Jen Hunter via blogTO

Gorilla tardy passes appear on the TTC

TTC tardy pass TorontoA mystery TTC hater (/lover - this looks like love to me) has been dishing out grab-n-go Tardy Passes on the TTC - a sign if there ever was one that this winter has included one too many bad commutes. And it's not just the nightmarish, Winnipegian snow days that have led the TTC to bail on our dreams of arriving early enough to work to grab a coffee: a little ice here, a little signal problem there, and it seems the whole system crumbles like a biodegradable trip-based transfer in the pocket of your parka.

So, with a fare hike set to hit tomorrow, asking for some accountability from the TTC doesn't seem untoward. The tardy slip allows TTC officials or sentient vehicles to check off anxiety-triggering boxes such as "Fire investigation," "Short turn," "Flooding," "Passenger alarm activated," and, more humourously, "Stalled politicians" and "Waited for Scarborough subway - never came."

Who is behind these mystery excuse notes? One thing is for sure: come Monday, Brad Ross will be dumping them into the tunnel.

(We love you, Brad Ross.)

Lead image: Gordon Yarley on (‏@masteractor)

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO