Old and New.
It’s not often we get the opportunity to stay in a brand new hotel. The Four Seasons in Toronto is exactly that and has only been open for five weeks. As the new flagship hotel for the Toronto based Four Seasons chain, its construction has been eagerly anticipated for many years not least by us. The old tower block that contained the previous version is now being slowly and systematically dismantled and will eventually become condominiums. Walking past it today brought back many memories of our stays in the Yorkville area going way back to the Dire Straits tours of the 1980’s, the corner balconies being the launch site for many a hotel paper aeroplane.
Toronto is a very big city. Originally built on the former lake bed of Lake Iroquois, this large flat expanse presents few natural limits to growth, and throughout its history, Toronto which was originally named ‘The Town of York’ (after the British Crown purchased the land from the Indian reserve, Mississaugas of the New Credit) has sprawled outward and today has a ring of suburbs that spans hundreds of square kilometers. At 1,896 km in length, Toronto’s Yonge Street is heralded as the longest in the world although clearly it extends beyond the city boundaries. A quick look at Google maps at the city will give you some idea of its vastness. Architecture here is a real mix of old and new but mostly old…from the 60’s and 70’s. Yorkville would appear to have suffered a building boom during these times and is still very much a place to congregate outside of the downtown area. The Royal Ontario Museum building is typical of an architectural blend of old and new. In this case it’s 1912 and 2007.
Being the flagship hotel, the staff here are very keen to listen to criticisms and to ensure our stay is as near-perfect as possible. On leaving the hotel for the venue this morning, our management boys were deep in conversation with their guest relations team, most of whom worked at the old hotel, over possible improvement in the promptness of this morning’s breakfast. My particular breakfasting experience was a far cry from some of our recent hotels in the American midwest. It was near perfection. Worthy of particular note was the coffee. I would rate it as the best of the tour so far and that includes ‘Pete’s’ coffee in Santa Monica, many times the past champion. The juice of the day was Tangerine and was heavenly. Also the Ziegler coffee cups are worth a mention, perspex and with an ingenious double shell….
Jason took us in his bus to the venue, the relatively new Air Canada Center right in the heart of downtown. There was traffic, actually, there was a LOT of traffic and pretty soon we realized why. A large pane of glass had fallen from the 38th floor of the newly built Trump Tower and was in a million pieces on the street below. Amazingly, and thankfully, no-one was hurt.
An official hotel statement saying that a worker had ‘dropped’ it. A worker had dropped it? Police are investigating. Once we arrived at the venue and found our way inside, it was the usual catering run and a wait for Bob and his band to vacate the stage for our sound-check which we completed in ten minutes on a fabulous stage (sonically).
The arena which since 1999 has been the home of the NHL Maple Leafs (and the Toronto Raptors for Basketball) is another vast multi purpose venue which can hold up to 19,800 in concert configuration. By the time we took to the stage for our set, it seemed pretty full and the atmosphere inside was electric. With the sad end of this remarkable tour in sight now, tonight’s show was one to be relished and with yet another day off tomorrow in Toronto, in the dressing room we raised our glasses once more to a wonderful trip.