Friday, September 4, 2015

The ABC of walking... with kids (Take 2)

What's Victor up to?

In June 2012, I noticed a large ornate letter R painted on the sidewalk in front of Red Rocket Coffee (1364 Danforth). I asked the owner if he had hired someone to do this.

Turned out a sidewalk artist, Victor Fraser, had taken on him to paint the alphabet over 2 kms along the north side of Danforth. He called them "Love Letters", hence the little hearts on some of the letters. According to the artist, the painted letters would last at least a year.

Fast forward to February 2014, we could still see the fading outline of some of his letters. It really saddened me because I had spoken with the artist in 2012 and knew that Victor was dealing with a form of severe arthritis (A.S. or ankalosing spondalitis) which makes every effort painful and for which, much like multiple sclerosis, there's a time limit...
He does it again!
This week, I was dropping boots at my favourite shoe repair shop (FYI: Fine Shoe Sales and Repair at 845 Danforth) when I noticed a large blue letter A on the north side of the sidewalk, painted in Victor's trademark Celtic style! I followed the trail and went through the whole alphabet, up to Woodbine Subway Station. 

His letters are even prettier than before, with the addition of a 3D effect and sparkling paint shining under the sun. (The photo on the left was the letter O as he painted it in 2012 and the one you can see now.)

Social media at the service of street art
This time, the artist got more marketing savvy! He created the hashtag #WhatsVictorUpTo (which many people already put to good use on Twitter)... 

Then he created a page on, a user-friendly (and secure) donation platform which allows anyone to create a fundraising campaign. On his page, I found a cool YouTube link to Victor in action.

Let's encourage artists like Victor Fraser to enhance our urban walks! I really think all the Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) should promote this kind of fundraising to support an Alphabet Walk in their neighbourhood and create cool family walks throughout Toronto.  

That's one af the good ways to improve a city's walkability! 
Another cool way it Danny's Urban Fairies, also along Danforth.


I Spy the letter A

When standing by the letter A (just east of Eaton Street), I counted no less than 25 capital letter As! 

Here's your chance to take the kids on a fun I-Spy game which could make them walk 4 km without even realizing it as you walk your way up and down the alphabet. 

I suggest you stop at some letters (such as the first letter of their name) and ask your kids to spy all the signs bearing that specific letter. When he had the option, the artist chose to match a letter with the first letter of a business name: O by the One and Only café, R by Red Rocket café, S by the restaurant Sauce...

While you're there
Use the excuse of the Alphabet Walk to check out a few places along the Danforth!

Reaching the end of the alphabet is very rewarding! Between the letters Y and Z, you'll find: Carter's Ice Cream (a favourite among the locals at 3 Woodmount, just north of Danforth), across the street, just south of Danforth, you'll find East Lynn Park, the cutest little park nested in a pit, with original playground structure and a lovely wading pool (open until Labour Day Sunday), and the super art supplies store DeSerres (2056 Danforth, just west of Woodbine Subway Station). 

Other points of interest:
Around O: the One and Only Café (972 Danforth), so whimsical outside and so funky inside. 
Around R: the Red Rocket Coffee (1364 Danforth) usually feature fun sidewalk signs (indoor fireplace to warm up the cold days). 
Around T: the hidden little Danforth Bowling (1554 Danforth)
Around U: the Bus Terminal Diner (1606 Danforth) set in the 50s and filled with fun things to look at. 
Around W: on the south side of Danforth, check out the very cool little robots (1847 Danforth). 
Around X: Wheels & Wings Hobbies, a very well stocked reduced model shop (1880 Danforth).

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