Sunday, November 02, 2008

Toronto, Timmy's and Travel

Toronto's CN Tower from the Harbourfront

We live 100 km from downtown Toronto (about 60 miles), a trip that takes about an hour at 3 AM. Yes, I have travelled to the airport more than once at that hour. I had to go to the big city during business hours twice last week and the travel time was multiplied significantly during the morning rush. Many people commute daily from our region and the hours spent on the road add up week after week.

My family has had close connections with Toronto for many years. Grandma Devins used to live on Toronto Island and took the ferry to the mainland frequently. She and Grandad attended the University of Toronto and her father worked at the Ontario Legislature. (Toronto is the provincial capital) My father's parents immigrated to the city separately before they met and married in the 1920's. I lived there for a few years until I was 16 years old.

Tim Hortons is an iconic Canadian restaurant. The original donut and coffee menu now includes soup, sandwiches, bagels and other baked goods. It is a traveller's refuge where a clean washroom and inexpensive meal is always available.

On a beautiful but cold day, I sat on a bench at Queen's Quay looking across Lake Ontario as I had my veggie sandwich, pumpkin donut and some hot tea. One expectant pigeon hopped on the bench beside me and would fly down only to shoo off any other bird that dared approach me. The signs say, "Do not feed the pigeons, seagulls or geese" so I did my best to ignore my guest. Before I knew it the bird was on my knee trying to charm me with its gentle manners. It reminded me of our dog waiting patiently for something to drop from the dinner table.

Well, I did share my donut with this city-smart bird. I enjoyed its company more than that of the cars sharing the busy highways with me. I always have a small bag of sunflower seed in my car and filled my empty Timmy's cup with some when I was done. The ever friendly Chickadees were quick to come close for a treat.

I don't think I am the only person who breaks the rules at this bench!


  1. Very cute.The birds always win.

  2. I LOVE feeding birds--well, maybe not seagulls, but definitely pigeons and chickadees. Probably because they're less noisy.

  3. Pigeons evolved to where they are today eating donuts. They are the city slickers of the bird family. (I wonder what pigeons eat if people don't feed them??)

  4. Who knew a pigeon could be so endearing? Who knew anyone who traveled with bird seed in their car? I guess I do. Wish I'd had a bit of that pumpkin doughnut!

  5. Lovely pictures and your mention of Toronto Island brings back memories of going there with our children. We lived in Toronto for a year in the 80's while my husband was on sabbatical leave and attended OISE (U of T) and our three children attended public school there.I was the tour guide for the year and we explored the city from one end to the other.

    Your Pigeon pictures are lovely!! And your mention of traffic is not my favourite topic. Today we are leaving for Montreal and I do not anticipate with pleasure the drive through the city, but my senses adapt to acceptable as soon as I adjust to the city traffic there.

  6. I love the last photo Ruth! Only you would think to always have some seed nearby! Bravo!

  7. I also love your chickadee photo! I never thought of keeping bird seed in the car for chance encounters. You are a rare "bird." :-)

  8. Anonymous6:51 am GMT-5

    At times I find Kitchener streets to busy to travel on. I can much appreciated it's "calmness" now as I travel to downtown Toronto yesterday. I found it scary and feared for my life. I too would have preferred the company of the pigeon and chickadee then the crazy drivers.

    I don't think that you are the only one that ignored the do not feed sign. That pigeon has been feed many times. He is one smart cookie. Lucky you made a new friend and lucky him walked away with a full belly - and a pumpkin muffin at that - YUMMY!

  9. Ruth- They win with me anyway :-)

    Hushed- I think we all do, but most cities have to discourage people from feeding the birds for good reasons. I just broke the rules a little...

    Robert- Birds like pigeons are so successful that I think they would adapt again if we left the cities. I see many of them along the river and they are common on over head wires in the country too.

    FMDoc- It is often surprising how endearing one can be if there is a suitable reward! The pumpkin donuts, an October feature, were far too good.

    Ann- Interesting. You likely have seen more of Toronto than I have. I do enjoy visiting the big city and as far as big cities go, this is a nice one. There are many green areas in unlikely places.

    Jayne- I started carrying a ziplock bag of seed in the car last winter. It is quite easy to attract chipmunks, squirrels and birds with a little treat.

    Kathleen- Thanks!

  10. Cheryl- Yesterday was Sunday, lol! You should go to Toronto today if you want to see real traffic. Actually, you travel so slowly in the weekday rush hour that it is not as crazy. And I think Toronto drivers are better than most in our city!

  11. You can always count on the chickadee to be the first in line at a new feeder, Timmy's cup or other.

  12. Chickadees are the absolute cutest little things,

  13. I visited Toronto many years ago...and went to the top of the CN tower....I was is a beautiful place. For me the little chickadee taking seeds from the cup is wonderful.....I have broken the rules about feeding birds on many occasions.............

  14. Whew--at first I thought the chickadee was sipping coffee!

  15. Ruth,

    This is beautiful. The chickadees enjoying their very own Timmies. lol That is such a cute photo and I'm glad you fed them a bit of birdseed. I don't know why Toronto has this specific bylaw, but am glad that my city doesn't.

    Glad you enjoyed your time in the big city. I haven't been to Toronto for a couple of years now and probably won't anytime soon.


  16. That Chickadee photo is PRICELESS!!!!!

    Pigeons are comical but very expensive to feed. Ugh. :o)

  17. Oh Ruth..can I tell you of the lovely times we've had going to the island and around Toronto...It's been a while, but I really would like to go back up...

  18. NCMW- Chickadees do lead the troops, so to say, and check things out first.

    AC- I must say they are my favourite bird for their cheerfulness, curiosity and friendliness.

    Cheryl- So you have crossed "the big pond"! I have never been in or up the tower and haven't had an interest in paying for a ride to the top. This day was clear and beautiful, but I preferred walking the harbour front. I do find streets more interesting than towers.

    KGMom- I don't even sip coffee...

    Mary (ON)- I can see that they don't want people carrying bags of bread or seed and throwing it out for the birds. These birds as so messy. I watched a man dump a whole bad of puffed wheat on the beach for the birds, then he left. What a soggy mess that became. Rules have to be made for people who do not think.

    Mary- I have never attracted a pigeon to my feeders, only a few doves. But once the word gets out...

    RW- I could have waved to you across the lake! Especially if I had gone up the CN Tower ;-)

  19. Toronto is a huge city, isn't it?
    That picture of the pigeon on your knee is amazing--he's pretty bold! The hungry chickadee was pretty bold too--hope it appreciated those sunflower seeds!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.