One day after my birthday, Daegan and I head out into the world. I’ve downloaded my proof of vaccination and put it in my phone. Daegan’s been out more so he’s all ready with his.
We head north, a little bit west of today’s library to the area around Sheppard and Yonge street, a major intersection for both cars and subways. I’m actually a bit familiar with this area because while much of my bicycle commute to work looks like this:
I do have to cross a few major streets, and Yonge just south of sheppard is one of them. The further outside the city you get, the more auto-centric the design becomes as you can see:
And it is in this spot that we stop for my birthday lunch.
After reading an article about Woodhouse BBQ, I’m intrigued. While on level it is familiar – you order BBQ and and grilled meat comes to your table. On the other hand, it’s Chinese style BBQ with different seasoning, often a bit spicy and no BBQ sauce to speak of. The menu also includes things like pork intestines, dim sum, and red bean pancakes, things an American-style BBQ restaurant wouldn’t have. But in a nod to those places, the music is all Country including Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood.
The flavours are excellent including grilled lamb skewers, one of our favourite things.
Though it was all advertised as spicy it was not that hot – just delightfully tingly. Even the spicy popcorn chicken with all of the chillies on it was relatively tame. But the chillies, dusted with BBQ spice were crispy and addictive and we both ate many.
In the end, as usual, the lamb skewers won out. Everything was delicious but those were at the top. We ended up ordering two rounds of food and even a couple of cokes. As I sat there I laughed to myself. Many years ago, on my 18th birthday my friends took me from our university in Vermont across the border to Montreal where the drinking age was 18, not 21. We had a bit of a wild night, lots of drinking, carousing, night clubs and lots of the sorts of nonsense boys that age can get up to. But here, many years later, having maybe a few too many skewers, and some sugary drinks with my son, I feel happier than I did at that over the top celebration. Life is an interesting journey.
We head back out and take the subway one stop to Bayview station and get out in an even more auto-centric place. So much space is devoted to them, storing them, moving them, and designing the streetscape in such a way to keep them moving as fast as possible.
Looking at the shopping centre in which the library sits we were both a bit unsure: Was this a 1960’s style or a 1990’s style?
Wikipedia to the rescue: It was built as an open air shopping centre in the 1960’s and was redeveloped in the late 90’s, gentrifying quite a bit as you can see.
Other stores include a Pusateri’s grocery store – one of the most upscale supermarkets in the city. It’s all very pretty and I’m embarrassed to say part of me feels attracted to the appearance of the area – the nice apartments, the fancy mall. But in the end, once you get outside the mall itself, the neighbourhood feels lifeless. While most people walk from place to place in our neighbourhood, even though we walk over a kilometre along the streets here, we hardly see any other people. The streets are packed with luxury cars, though.
You can find the library next door to Pusateri’s with a relatively uninviting facade.
Because of the library’s policy on photography I no longer take photos of the interior spaces but fortunately others have already done so including this one from 2018.
It’s strange to see people without masks and the counters lack the now ubiquitous plexiglas shielding. On the day we go there are probably half to one third as many people inside. This is good as now with the pandemic restrictions still in place, even browsing in the library has a little different feel.
As I went just now to renew some overdue books of mine online, I noticed one other positive aspect of what life is like during the pandemic from the library perspective:
The library itself is pretty small compared to many. At least I thought it was small until I thought about how big this would be as a store were it a retail space. It’d be on par with a Gap clothing store. That’s some expensive space. Still, from a browsing standpoint things were relatively limited from a browsing standpoint.
One interesting note on that subject is related to the layout. For me, most libraries (with a few notable exceptions) feel like they’re mostly devoted to the adult collection. There are sometimes entire floors of materials for grownups. The North York Central library has six stories, and about 1/3 of one story is for kids. This library, however, feels like it is almost equal. Where the Goldhawk branch felt like it tossed a children’s section in as an afterthought, this library feels very balanced. I’m curious as to how that choice is made. There did seem to be many people with kids here, were they here because there was a relatively large children’s section or was the children’s section larger because this is a very family-oriented neighbourhood.
In the end, even if certain fancy aspects of the neighbourhood attracted me, the library itself is a bit of a deal breaker: nearly impossible to cycle to, a big parking lot to wade across to walk to, and once there, not a whole lot of browsing. You may laugh, but library quality is a big part of the decision-making process when we look for apartments. For me, when I dream of fancy apartments, it’s not neighbourhoods like this that attract me, it’s the idea of a place next to the North York Central library: The idea of being able to take the elevator down from our apartment and make it to a huge library (or grocery store, or subway) without even wearing a coat is a dream I have. Of course I’ll never chase this one, we love our current apartment and our local library branch too much to even consider it.