I was originally going to go on to Madison, but decided after talking
to various people that I would need to spend more time in Canada. This
necessitated some alteration to my pre-booked air ticket I suggested
to the nice man at the booking counter that he look on it as a challenge,
and various other 'airline employees hung about watching him flounder.
(When I got home' Robin Johnson looked at my ticket and informed me
that I was $80 in credit which I successfully claimed).
You know when you have arrived in Canada because all the signs
are bilingual. The Customs man had a most charming French accent, and
the Immigration people did not appear to be harbouring suspicions that
I might decide to stay forever. Mike Glicksohn and Victoria Vayne picked
me up and we went straight to a party at Jennifer Bankier's apartment,
where I feasted on rasperry icecream. Arrangements mere made for my
welfare, and Jennifer very kindly agreed to lend her car to Phil Payne
so that he could show me around Toronto. Somewhat to my surprise I found
that North American fans are no more likely to own cars than Australian
fans. All those television shows we watched as kids lead to the idea that
all Americans own at least one car. Still, wherever I went the local fans
always found a way of transporting me, even if it meant the virtual
commandeering of the nearest set of wheels.
Toronto feels very much like Melbourne. It is apparently the money
capital of Canada, doesn't appear to have any heavy industry within sight
of the city centre (where lots of old buildings are being pulled down and
replaced with skyscrapers) and it is very cosmopolitan. Phil wished a Chinese
lollypop lady goodmorning in Chinese as we crossed the street. I was being
pushed in the wheelchair, which was just as well because I kept looking
the wrong way before crossing and would surely have been skittled had
I been on foot. Probably Toronto's most attractive feature is the park and
square in the centre of the city. The square is dominated by a Henry Moore
sculpture, and the rectangular pond freezes over in the winter and is used
for skating. Needless to say the benches in the square are centrally heated!
At the edge of the square the park is patrolled by a Mountie in a white
pith helmet. I really regretted giving up on taking photographs.
In the afternoon we drove out of town. At least in the direction we
travelled in, Toronto seemed to stop quite suddenly - big buildings (a
university campus I thought) on one side of the highway, and farmland
on the other, Out in the countryside we passed a most odd-looking mob
of people, who turned out to be history students from Chicago re-enacting
the journey of the Voyageurs from Montreal to St. Louis. We had struck
them in the middle of a very long portage!
The purpose of the trip was to visit the McMichael Canadian Collection.
The art gallery is in the most beautiful setting; an extension of a (pretty
large) private home it is built onto a hillside, and constructed of stone
and weathered wood. It even has an indoor waterfall! The collection is
composed of Eskimo and Indian art, and paintings by a group of artists
alive in the 1930's and known as the "Group of 7". By this time I was
very impressed with Eskimo sculpture. The figures, usually animals, seem
to have grown out of the stone. Unfortunately sculptures, even small ones,
are expensive and heavy, and I never did purchase anything. At the gallery
I contented myself with buying a couple of clay concretions, little freeform