Saturday, June 6, 2015


Cut from the same cloth, the staff at Toronto's Gibson House are passionate about history and preserving the story of David Gibson and his family. Gibson was a Scottish land surveyor who came to Canada and settled in Toronto. He was a land surveyor who helped map early Toronto. This beautiful Georgian-style farmhouse honours the life and dramatic times of the Gibson family and is a chance to step out of Canada's largest city and back in time.

Meredyth Schofield, a University of Toronto graduate who took history and media. Her interests are perfect for telling the historic story of the Gibson family in contemporary ways. She works part-time at Gibson as well as four other historic sites around the city. She sees herself continuing in the heritage field for her career.

When not in historic period costume, she can be found at science fiction conventions in quite different costumes! Her favourite costume is that of Superhoodie from the British TV show, Misfits!

Born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Claire Ricci has worked at Gibson house for almost 15 years. Blessed with the gift of youth, one would never know she also studied history, started her master degree in education, got her teaching degree, then went back to the masters - and she's still not done! 

Cooking, reading and playing the piano are some other interests that balance Claire's passion for heritage work at Gibson house. "I'm actually a really boring person" she says laughing while trying to think of other interests beyond her work at the House! Hardly!

Dorie Billich is the curator at Gibson House and was featured in the post prior to this one (please see her post for more details). She has worked at Gibson House for almost two years. Her interest in the Gibson family and the history of the House is evident in her enthusiasm as she speaks. Dorie oversees this site and the Zion Schoolhouse historic site a few kilometres away.

(Tomorrow: Gibson House costumed interpreter, Lauren McCallum)
In a city like Toronto, it is rare to find a place with ample parking and next to a subway station. Unplug and take a trip back in time at historic Gibson House: 
5172 Yonge Street. (North York Centre subway stop)


Friday, June 5, 2015


Pingponging back-and-forth from her home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Dorie Billich settled just north of Stouffville, Ontario, above Toronto. Venturing from home, Dorie attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario for her undergraduate degree, then returned to Winnipeg for her masters before returning to the Toronto area with her future husband.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines curator as: "One who has the care and superintendence of something; especially : one in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit". 

Ascending the lush grass rise of Gibson Park Dorie walks with a stride and confidence of someone in charge. Dorie is curator of the Toronto's historic site, Gibson House in North York. Spanning a great linear distance as if spanning time, is a bold new feature of the adjacent Gibson Park: a massive black granite wall, laser-etched with photographic images of life in rural north Toronto. A vision in black and white, Dorie is perfectly attired to stand next to the granite narrative.  

Presiding over a vibrant history, home and artifacts of Scottish land surveyor, David Gibson's house, Dorie has a staff of about 15, several of them, costumed interpreters. With an easy laugh and nurturing demeanour, she cares greatly for her staff and the history of this site. 

DORIE FUN FACT: In 1988, At a north Toronto, Canada Trust bank, Dorie worked behind the counter as a teller. A week after intensive robbery training, three armed balaclava-wearing robbers robbed the bank at gunpoint. She and others in the bank thought this was some sort of bank-sanctioned training drill. But no! Lucky for us, she is out of harms way in the comfort of Toronto's Gibson House!

(Tomorrow: Gibson House costumed interpreters)
In a city like Toronto, it is rare to find a place with ample parking and next to a subway station. Unplug and take a trip back in time at historic Gibson House: 
5172 Yonge Street. (North York Centre subway stop)


Thursday, June 4, 2015


Saying little, but constantly listening to Toronto's audio soundtrack, Matthew Piers Robertson quietly navigates the city on a different level.

Born just down the road at Women's College Hospital in 1974, Matthew lives and works in the city's core. Coincidentally, he lives almost across the street from the same hospital today!

After growing up in North York, Matthew finished school and worked in retail distribution before developing his interest in photography and audio. The two disciplines meld perfectly to create visual soundscapes of Toronto. He blends his photography with deeply mixed audio to give listeners an immersive experience of the mundane and overlooked sounds around us.

One of his first experiences listening to environmental sounds came when working for the Swatch Group in their distribution centre. He recalls the sounds of those tiny plastic ticking timepieces, " I'd be walking down the isles of the warehouse, surrounded by these plastic watches, each one of them ticking. When there are 60 in a box, and hundreds of boxes, you can hear them. They sound like little insects nibbling away, talking to each other. Individually you can't hear them, but as a group they are overwhelming." He recalls this as a spooky and haunting experience. It was this that lead him to his love of field audio.

Today Matthew is a member of the Aden Camera team, using his love of photography to guide new and returning customers to choose the right camera for their needs. Gentle, unassuming and knowledgable, he does not hard sell, but truly cares about matching the right camera to the purchaser's style.

MATTHEW FUN FACT: On the changing soundtrack of the Toronto, Matthew says, "As the city is changing the streetcars from the old ones to the new Bombardier Flexity cars, the sound of the city is going to change." He is documenting the changing sounds of Toronto, creating an audio roadmap of a city in transition.

You can check out a few of Matthew's soundscapes on his blog:


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


So packed with decorative accessories, gifts, furnishings, one feels they will be forever lost in the 3,000! Barbara Steward laughs and admits to sometimes loosing her way in her own shop, Adornments on Queen in downtown toronto.

A teenager dream was to be a poet living in a garret in Paris. The seeds of that dream live on in the undertones of a French-inspired theme. "I look at the Eiffel Tower and I go into dream world", she says wistfully, taking a deep breath.

At 64 years of age, Barbara's passions have converged in her shop and after five years she thinks it will be around for a long while still. Her love of travel and Europe have given way to romances that are the stuff of classic novels. In addition to having worked in the banking sector, and as a librarian, she also was very politically active which took her to Nicaragua for 14 years setting up bibliographic data bases for NGOs all through Central America.

Barbara moved to New York and worked for Sesame Street and the Children's Television Workshop. "Sesame Street was the most wonderful job I have ever had. Fantastic people, absolutely tops of creativity and kind & good people" she says of her time with Sesame Street. With the financial crisis of 2008, a third of the staff was let go. She had to sell her flat and move back to Toronto. 

Arriving in Toronto during the financial crisis, she made the bold move to go into retail and open a store, a business she knew nothing about! Having visited so many shops in Europe selling curios, she thought this would be the culmination of so many passions. It is truly evident when one walks - gently - through her store.

BARBARA FUN FACT: While working at Sesame Street, she fell in love with a man in England. Every couple of months one or the other would cross the Atlantic to spend time with each other in their storybook romance. "It didn't last, but it was great because it incorporated love and travel".


Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Born in Leeds, England, Shane Lewis-Stirling met a Canadian girl and followed her back to Canada where he now calls home. A sports enthusiast, Shane enjoys golf, anything to do with water and, no surprise, football "Stop calling it soccer, North America!" he fulminates, channeling all of the UK!

With a background in hospitality, Shane is no stranger to pubs, bars and restaurants. He has been managing Caffe Demetre's Etobicoke location for the last 3.5 years. An affable guy, Shane is at home and the perfect person to run a restaurant. In England, he once did an event for Prince Andrew as well as many sporting events including international rugby/football matches and the Grand National horse race.

Last year, Shane took on a new sport – boxing. He was part of the Fight To End Cancer 2014 gala for which he had to endure 6 months of rigorous and often brutal training. "I got involved with Fight To End Cancer because Andreas my boss, fought Virgil Barrow [trainer at Kingsway Boxing Club] in the first ever main event. He inspired me to try get the word out and help donate money for a great cause and to get back into shape. I was hooked".

This year, he attended as an observer and enjoyed taking in the gala, though he does say he misses the action.

SHANE FUN FACT: When he was younger he had an interest in clouds and wrote an independent school paper on them, earning his highest ever mark, an A! 

Shane Lewis-Stirling with his hands full at the 2015 Fight To End Cancer red carpet.

In the ring, during the 2014 gala event for the Fight To End Cancer

Shane during training at Kingsway Boxing Club

Monday, June 1, 2015


Keeping a brisk pace, Julian Stein wheels down Trinity Street in Toronto on his way to the Distillery District for a photo walk. No stranger to these meet-ups, he is one of the first inside The Maltings, the historic building where Fuji Canada is setting up for the walk. Asked where the ramp to the building is, "Its around the back of the building. At least they have one – it's sometimes difficult with these old buildings" he says, nodding to a door to the loading area.

Born and raised in Toronto, Julian works at the Royal Bank in the city as a resolution officer conducting investigations. He is part of a team working with American tax compliance regulations to identify U.S. clients. 

With the sleepless look of a new dad, Julian smiles broadly as he speaks of his 5-month old baby boy, Nathan, "He sleeps well, almost a whole night" he laughs with pride.

Julian is an avid photographer and is at the meet-up to test out some of the new offerings from Fuji. Positioned along the route are models and other subjects he and the other can shoot to test out some of the equipment. Julian is very happy to be using a morrorless camera today rather than the big heavy DSLRs he has used in the past.

An avid traveller, Julian has seen a lot of the world including Paris, London, Israel, Tunisia and a four-day tip into the Sahara Desert. 

JULIAN FUN FACT: He has one of the coolest Twitter names, Wheels. An early adopter of Twitter, he laughs and says that he is constantly being offered money to sell the name and many times he has had to aggressively protect it from being hacked!


Sunday, May 31, 2015


OK, I can hear you now, "Ahhhh, they're so sweet", and you'd be right! They are! This is an extended Hello featuring Heather Broster and Mathieu Gasquet. They originally appeared three days ago as part of a group Hello. They are visiting Canada to see friends and family. As well, they have dropped by to take a Fujifilm Cameras​ photo walk.

Heather and Mathieu are the two people behind the very popular MirrorLessons blog, Facebook page, and other social media platforms of the same name. Together they created MirrorLessons, out of the desire to test mirrorless camera technology and share the results through reviews and their artistic images online. They provide first-hand previews of how these cameras handle in both professional and amateur hands, while also providing comparisons between models, discussing their respective pros and cons.

Heather's wandering spirit has given her the opportunity to live in Canada, Japan, England, Italy and now Wales where she loves to capture the ever-changing landscapes of this wonderful country.

Mathieu, tall and willowy, is a soft-spoken man with an enchanting Italian accent mixed with hints of other regions. His background is French and Italian but he also enjoys a good cup of tea. Good thing since they now live in Wales. His interest in photography began when his parents gave him a Yashica FX-2000. Mathieu has been a pro video director and photographer for 10 years.

HEATHER FUN FACT: Aside from her passion for photography, Heather is almost as passionate about linguistics. She studied and speaks Japanese. A perfect person to bring for sushi night.

MATHIEU FUN FACT: With a discerning singular taste, Mathieu still eats the same cake for breakfast that he did as a child. A culinary oddity that Heather finds hilarious.