25 February 2013

My Birthday,

Yippee.  Another year closer to death than I was this time last year, which is about the only upside of birthdays.

To stave off the inevitable depression that comes around on this day, I took the day off and headed downtown with my camera, hoping to see... something.  I don't really know what.  I ended up going over some of the old places, some of which I should have avoided like poison.

I wound up stomping around the old U of T area.  Not my alma mater, but I spent a fair amount of time in the area during my post graduate work, as their libraries were superior to the ones at my university.  When you see the old buildings, you can tell that most of the old colleges were founded by pastors, parsons and bishops, as the buildings often look like old churches.

Emmanuel college.
The college is touted as the home of theological studies at the university.  There is supposed to be a chapel in there somewhere.  I thought it would have been in the wing sticking out towards the camera, but that turned out to be a common room.  Somewhere nearby is an ugly statue called "the crucified woman." It's there because... well, just because.

 Victoria College.  Nice place.  Obviously Victorian.  Less church-like than the others.   It resembles nearby Queen's Park (our provincial legislature). There is another chapel inside this one, but the door was locked and I could not get in.

Here's part of the Catholic contribution to the University of Toronto.

More and Fisher house, the residence of St Michael's college, and home of the pontifical medieval studies institute, built on land donated by Sir John Elmsley.  As I recall from the guys I used to know who lived there, the guys living here try and honour the memory of the martyrs for whom the residence was named and the gift of the man who gave of his treasure to bring this place into being by convincing as many coeds as possible to come into their rooms where they may shag them rotten.  Well done, men of St Michael's college.

As a sign of the education, this was on the door of St Michael's college- as series of upcoming talks at nearby St Basil's.  Christ the Clown, Christ the Rebel, Christ the Woman, everything but Christ, Son of God, Lord and Saviour. 

Another sign of the times, photographed through the door:

I don't know if they are seriously asking the question, or if they are asking a rhetorical question, suggesting that there is nothing wrong with it.  The line underneath the question could be read either way, but if they are asking a serious question, I could give them plenty of answers.  One of the things I do not miss after I dropped post graduate studies is smiling through gritted teeth and nodding as some radical feminist spewed whatever nonsense was in vogue at the moment, and having to agree with them, or risked getting charged with sexism and sexual harassment.  "Yes, I see your point and I completely agree.  All f***ing men should have their f***ing balls cut off.  In fact, I insist you cut mine off right now.  Shall I get you some scissors?"

More colleges with chapels.

 Wycliffe Colllege Chapel.  Couldn't get in.

 Trinity College Chapel.  I could get in, which was pleasant, as I consider it the most beautiful chapel in Toronto, Anglican or not.  I wish I was a better photographer.

Entrance to Trinity.  I like the sad and happy faces that flank the door.  I didn't take pictures of the inside, except for the chapel, as I did not want to risk disturbing any classes, or drawing attention to the fact that I really didn't belong there.  But everything inside screams quality and money.  This is where the more genteel Torontonians of yore sent their sons to be educated

The chapel.  It is a combination of starkness and elegance.  Wonderful.  What the picture cannot show is the acoustics.  This place has the best acoustics I know of anywhere in Toronto.  Gregorian chant sounds magnificent in here.  I, ahem, tried it out.  A little.  My voice is not really well suited for chant, unfortunately.  If I were ever to record an album, I would do it here.

 One of the curious things about the chapel is that it has a side chapel within.  This is the Lady's Chapel, used for smaller and more intimate gatherings.

This is the positive organ within the Lady's chapel.  It is small, has only one manual and no pedals.  The three knobs on the top are stop knobs, so this is actually a fairly substantial organ for its size.  The small box on the right houses the blower.

A close up shot of their sanctuary.  The forward table serves as a reminder to me that Catholic churches were not the only ones that suffered unfortunate renovations in the seventies and eighties.

The rear of the chapel.  In the upper shadows one can make out the main organ and the choir loft.  Impressive for such a small space.  As I said: money.

Throughout the U of T are many buildings that look like they were once chapels, but are so no more.  For instance, the two below, one of which is now a bookstore.

 But as I said, so much of the old campus looks ecclesiastical, it is hard to tell.  There is one building that bears a strong resemblance to a cathedral, but it's just a cafeteria.  Then there is this structure near the centre of campus.

It looks like the bell tower of a church, but that is only half right. It is a bell tower- it houses a carillon- but it was raised as a memorial to the students and alumni of the University who died in the wars.

These are the names of the ones who died in the first.

An inscription nearby tries to give meaning and glory to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I suspect these words were not written by a veteran, or, at least not a front line veteran.  No one who had seen the slaughter on the Western Front thought it a glorious thing to die so. Most of the men who went there came back and never spoke of what they saw.  There is another inscription opposite this one, which was written by a veteran: John McRae.

It's Flanders Fields, if you can't read it.  It's images are calmer and more subdued: sleep and dreams of peace, duty, the passing of the torch, and a fear of betrayal.  Sadly, the man of the First World War were betrayed, not by those who took their place, but by those who sat in command over them  With their blood the young men gave the world a chance to be made anew, but instead, the old men decided to make the old world all over again.  The result was another war, fought by the sons of the men who made it home.  Their names are under the tower itself.

Some on the right.
Some on the left.

As far as I know, the carillon in the tower is now silent.

 I went on to check out one more chapel:  The one at Knox college,

In some ways, it is similar to the Trinity chapel, but the windows were either yellow to begin with, or have gone yellow, and the result is that the chapel is rather dark and dingy inside. 

Like the Trinity chapel, it has a chapel within the chapel, but it was so dark the photo did not turn out at all.  It also has a large organ.  I suppose the Presbyterians had money, too.

By now, I'd had enough of University.  Too many bad associations.  I was young once, and a scholar, among the best of my school.  However, as is so often the case for me, I may be talented, but not talented enough.  I worked hard, but not hard enough.  I walked among these young kids, their lives in front of them, and it just drove home how poorly I have used my talents, and how little I achieved with them.  It was once my place among such as these, but now I was invisible.  If they noticed me at all, they may have thought I was a janitor, or perhaps a hobo who had wandered on to their campus by mistake.  My time had pased.  The university belonged to them, now.  I was an intruder. It was time to leave.

One thing those of you who don't live here should know about Toronto:  this stupid building follows you where ever you go.

So does war.  This was just down the road on University Avenue.

It is a cenotaph raised to dead from the First World War.  The symbolism is important.  The three lions represent the British Empire.  The sleeping lion is the Empire at peace, but the two wakeful lions are the Empire ever vigilant, ready for danger.  The position of the soldier sends the same message: at rest, but gun ready.

He is shown wearing his great coat.  The men often abandoned their great coats when going over the top, as they often became waterlogged and heavy, and weighed the men down.  Generally, they only wore them in the trenches, thus giving them their more common name: trench coats.

I moved on.

 I have no idea what a beer academy is, but I approve.

Here is a statue of St Michael over one of the entrances to St Michael's Hospital.  It think it is interesting to compare it to the new statue placed over the entrance to the Cathedral.

Speaking of the Cathedral, and because I always end up back there, sooner or later, I saw that the new statue of Michael is not the only statue they have raised.

 St Patrick on the right, obviously, and St Joseph, I believe.

 And Sts Peter and Paul, I think.  Paul certainly.  I think that is Peter holding keys.

And St Michael in his new niche.  Really, while this isn't my preferred style of statue, it could have been so very much worse, I will not complain about it.

While at the Cathedral, I took advantage of Confession before Mass, and cleansed my soul of old sins.  Starting off another year is bad enough, no need to do it with the old baggage.  I stayed for Mass. 

I wandered around town some more before turning round and heading home.  I thought about seeing a movie, but there is nothing out there I want to see.  I probably wouldn't enjoyed anything anyway. I could have taken more pictures, but I didn't feel like it anymore.

Another great year underway.  Hoo rah. 

1 comment:

Patience said...

I spent 5 years at U of T. One night at a Catholic Social Teaching course at Carr Hall; one of the double hung windows spontaneously raised itself up with a snap. (that place is full of ghosts! LOL) Lots of history around the campus. I got a degree in religious studies with a focus on social justice and Liberation Theology. (What? I was the times) Personal knowledge of Catholicism learned there: zero; except that everything before Vatican II was bad and all books/people supporting it should be burned. Um yeah well I was young and impressionable. I know better now. Got rid of all my feminist religious studies books. (didnt' burn them; gave them to VV; maybe shoulda burned them?)
But don't feel like the campus belongs only to the young; I'm back at school now (not U of T) and it's been fun fun fun. Just sayin. Liked your pictures.