Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kirstin and Rob's Excellent Adventure

Last Saturday, Kirstin Morrell was in town from Calgary. She's the managing editor of Red Deer Press, the company that publishes my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. I took her on a whirlwind tour of Toronto's sites, with an emphasis on those of interest to an SF fan (which Kirstin most assuredly is: she's also the chair of Con-Version, Calgary's SF convention, for 2007).

For starters, we went up the CN Tower. I was shocked to find it's now $25 a head to go up all the way to the SkyPod, and that a good chunk of the observation deck is now taken up by a cafe that you're supposed to buy something in if you want to look out the windows. Excuse me! We just paid 25 bucks to look out the windows -- this is a total ripoff, and CN management should be ashamed.

Next stop was the museum at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, national headquarters of the CBC. Since a visit there figures in my novel Rollback, I'll just quote the description from that book:
The broadcasting museum was tiny, and tucked off to one side, clearly an afterthought in designing the building. Some of the stuff predated Don. The kiddie program Uncle Chichimus was before his time, and This Hour Has Seven Days and Front Page Challenge were shows his parents had watched. He was old enough to remember Wayne and Shuster, but not old enough to have ever thought they were funny. But he'd learned his first French from Chez Hélène, and had spent many happy hours with Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant. Don took a minute to look at the model of Friendly's castle, and the puppets of Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe. He read the placard that explained that Jerome's bizarre color scheme of purple and orange had been selected in the days of black-and-white TV because it had good contrast, and had been left intact when the program switched to color in 1966, giving him a psychedelic look, an unintentional reflection of the times.

Don had forgotten that Mister Rogers had gotten his start here, but there it was, the original miniature trolley from that show, back when it had been called Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood, the last word notably sporting a U.

Then it was off to lunch at the Duke of Argyle pub, followed by a trip to the three most interesting stores on Queen Street West: Active Surplus, where you can buy all sorts of electronic and computer components; the giant comic-book and action-figure emporium known as the Silver Snail; and, of course, Bakka-Phoenix, the world's oldest SF specialty store. We were lucky: Michelle Sagara West (who writes novels for DAW and reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) happened to be in, as did former store owner John Rose.

Then it was off to the Art Gallery of Ontario for the special Ansel Adams exhibition. After that, we hustled up to The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, where they rolled out the red carpet for Kirstin, giving us the VIP back-in-the-private-stacks tour, showing us such gems as a first edition copy of Dracula, the first issue of Amazing Stories, and the manuscript for Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars.

We then walked around the Royal Ontario Museum building, looking at the fascinating exterior renovations in progress (embedding part of the old Victoria building inside a funky crystalline shell, making it look like the Borg are assimilating the old building), and we walked through Queen's Park and looked at the Ontario parliament buildings. A lot to cram into one day, but it was great fun!

(For those interested in a more elaborate tour of Toronto, I wrote up this guide for visitors to the city; it was published in one of the progress reports for the 2003 World Science Fiction Convention.)


At December 21, 2006 3:33 PM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Thank you again for very kindly taking me on such a wonderful tour of your city!

And yeah, I do understand that you're in Mississauga, but with your knowledge of and ties to Toronto, that city belongs to you. :)

At December 22, 2006 8:30 AM , Anonymous don said...

It looks like things are going well for you. Well earned, you deserve it. I hope 2007 is even better for you.



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