Billy Bulletin July 6-12: Toronto Floods, Chicago Pinballs, Ottawa Apologizes (Sort of)

The Billy Bulletin appears every Thursday with news about travel and the cities we cover, to help our readers and passengers navigate the week ahead.

Here’s what’s going on around Billy-land this week …


Now that the giant rubber duck is gone, are we facing a deflated summer for the Toronto islands? They have been flooded out for weeks and there’s no telling when that will change. Visits are restricted; the ferries to Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point are on hiatus. On the other hand, Ward’s Island is open – but local business owners say they’ve been hurt by the false perception that the island is off-limits to non-residents. If you don’t live here (and you probably don’t), you might not be able to board a ferry unless you say you have a reservation at one of the island’s restaurants, the Island Café or the Rectory Café. So why not make one?

Meanwhile in Toronto, one of the most fun weeks of the year is here: The Fringe Festival, a motley group of 160 stage productions that were chosen for inclusion not by merit but by lottery. Until the reviews start coming in – Now magazine has tackled this huge task in past years – buying a ticket is obviously hit-or-miss, and that’s part of the fun.

New York

If you’re like us, you’ve probably grabbed street food in New York and been grateful for its convenient existence. As Grub Street notes, “New York City’s street food would be a bunch of overly chewy pretzels and meh-tasting hot dogs if not for the vibrant community of immigrant vendors running the carts.” Artist Michelle Hessel pays tribute to some of the best vendors with a multimedia mini-installation called Hidden in Plain Sight, which uses interactive 3-D models that would fit into the palm of your hand in order to tell a few vendors’ stories.


Michelle Hessel


The installation Hive opens Thursday July 6 at the National Building Museum, filling the atrium with a structure reaching up 18 metres (60 feet) and consisting of 2,700 paper tubes. The work of Studio Gang, a New York/Chicago design firm headed up by Jeanne Gang, Hive is said to be an homage to the world’s great domes and arches, including Cameroon’s mud huts and Brunelleschi’s dome at the Florence cathedral.


National Building Museum


Perhaps you’ve noticed the resurgence of video game and pinball machines in bars – notably at Barcade, a chain with locations in a number of U.S. cities. Well, it turns out our quest for high scores is a bonus for American manufacturing. The Chicago Tribune has an interesting little story here about the resurgence for a pinball machine factory located in Elk Grove Village.


Revellers queued for up to five hours to clear security and take part in Canada Day celebrations at Parliament Hill last week. We can probably all agree that this was too long, including the city’s chief of police. So is he ready to do the right (and Canadian) thing and say sorry? Hmm, well … maybe don’t follow this link if you were one of the people in line.


Ottawa Tourism

Thunder Bay

The city is still reeling from the death of Barbara Kentner, a First Nations woman who passed away July 4 several months after being hit in the face by a trailer hitch thrown from a passing vehicle. Incidents of racism are a familiar problem in this northwestern Ontario city, and there’s a new reporting service for people who believe they have experienced or witnessed one. While there is hope that some of the calls will lead directly to police action, one of the initiative’s leaders admitted to the CBC: “In many cases, there’s not really any action that can be taken, but we feel it validates things for people if they can actually say, ‘This happened to me.’ ”

Billy Bulletin July 6-12: Toronto Floods, Chicago Pinballs, Ottawa Apologizes (Sort of)
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