Toronto Travel Blog

Apr 16, 2018 at 10:36 o\clock

Hockey Night in Canada’s original TV pitchman turns 100

Dressed as a gas station attendant, Murray Westgate performed in live 90-second commercials at the dawn of hockey broadcasting in the television.
Murray Westgate as the Esso man, circa 1960.
For almost two decades, he was part of Canada’s hockey heartbeat. On this day however, Murray Westgate is just trying to keep the beat to “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ ” in a musical therapy session at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

Here he is part of the chorus, but back when Canadians gathered on Saturday nights to watch hockey in flickering black and white on a newfangled gizmo called television, he was one of the first stars of Hockey Night in Canada.

Westgate was there for the start of television in Canada in 1952. Now he is celebrating a milestone of his own; Westgate turns 100 on Monday.

“I’m pretty old,” he says with a deep-throated chuckle. “Time wears on, you know.”

It will be a quiet celebration: a few gifts, cake and an eventual visit from a group of NHL old-timers — a worthy show of respect given Westgate’s historic place in broadcasting and the game.

“He was as popular, or maybe more so, than some of the players on the ice,” says hockey broadcaster, researcher and author Brian McFarlane.

With a welcoming smile, friendly eyes and soothing baritone, Westgate was the nation’s original TV pitchman. Dressed as a neighbourhood Esso station attendant, a look completed with a crisp black bow tie and peaked cap, he extolled the virtues of Imperial Oil in live 90-second commercials. He also introduced the Hot Stove League — the panel really did sit around a wood stove — and it wouldn’t have been viewed as unusual for him to become part of the hockey talk. He’d also do the sign off at the end of the night.

Those broadcasts had about two million viewers each Saturday, remarkable for a country of about 14.5 million at the time.
With his catchphrase, “Happy motoring,” Westgate was a fixture on HNIC until 1968.

It was hokey — there was never a smudge of grease to be seen — but viewers enjoyed the spots and they loved Westgate.

He was so folksy and trustworthy that strangers would stop him on the street to ask for help with their cars. They’d have to settle for an autograph. In truth, Westgate knew little about automobiles.

“People were convinced he owned a gas station, which was kind of amusing,” says his daughter, Linda Ayoung-Chee.

These days, Westgate’s memory flickers like those early TV shows. In conversation, he apologizes at times for his lack of recall on some topics. But he does clearly remember his good fortune at landing the HNIC job. He was a huge hockey fan listening to the games on radio as a kid in Regina.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It was amazing to then grow up and be on the Hot Stove. They were great guys. I really enjoyed it.” 

McFarlane believes Westgate could’ve been a bigger star if he’d packed up his family — his wife, actress Alice Hall, died in 1983 — and set out for Hollywood “but maybe it was the Esso gig that gave him pause and maybe he thought he’d be better staying in Canada.”

Although he remained in Toronto, his daughter says he was always seemed to have work.

“Ever since I can remember, he always had a script in his hand at home,” says Ayoung-Chee.

And while Canadians of a certain age identify Westgate as the Esso man, he did his fair share of serious acting.

Among his roles were the prime minister of Canada, the U.S. president and Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin. He was nominated for a Genie Award as best supporting actor in 1988 for Blue City Slammers and, in 1979, he won an ACTRA Award for a supporting role as a farmer in the CBC production Tyler. That earned him a personally signed letter from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that is framed on his bedroom wall at Sunnybrook.

Westgate also served six years in the Navy during the Second World War and still loves to tell the story of how he was “seasick as hell” when he began his stint as telegraphist. Despite that, one of his great passions in his life became sailing.

After the war, he left the Prairies for Vancouver, where he joined a professional company, Everyman Theatre, that toured the west. The next stop was the CBC in Vancouver, where he did radio dramas before moving to Toronto in 1949.

While he continued to do a lot of radio work for CBC, he also did promotional films for companies, including Imperial Oil. Then, in a perfect storm, TV got going in Canada and Imperial, which had sponsored radio games, jumped on board the new medium and HNIC. It knew Westgate and picked him to be its spokesperson.

“It did me all right,” says Westgate of the opportunity that paid him $75 a show that first season. “That was a good job.”

Imperial Oil resurrected Westgate as the Esso man in 1991 for two 30-second ads that ran during the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was 72 and came out of retirement to film those bits. That was his last acting job.

Meanwhile, at the music session, therapist Mike Brush has moved on to strumming Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “Hockey Song.” The perfect choice; it’s one of Westgate’s favourites. 
Read more about: Hockey Night In Canada
This article " Hockey Night in Canada’s original TV pitchman turns 100" was first publish in THE STAR by Paul Hunter, Feature Writer

Apr 13, 2018 at 08:56 o\clock

Lyft being watched closely by transit officials in Toronto following ride-hailing app's launch

Recent data from seven major U.S. cities shows ride-hailing services are used as a substitute for 'conventional' public transit, according to a new report

 A driver for Lyft shows his phone with an incoming ride request in front of his car.Patrick T. Fallon/The New York Times


TORONTO — The arrival of Lyft in Toronto has raised questions about the impact of such ride-hailing companies on the city’s public transit system, which governments are spending billions to expand.

The San Francisco-based company that operates in about 300 American cities launched in Toronto this week — its first market outside the United States. The decision was unsurprising to some observers who said Canada’s most populous city has been increasingly receptive to ride-sharing services in recent years.

“Toronto was a no-brainer for us when we decided to launch internationally,” said Daniel Moulton, a public relations official representing Lyft.

“It’s the fourth-largest city in North America, we think Lyft’s values align well with Toronto’s, and we know there’s demand — over 50,000 Torontonians have already downloaded the app this year because they’re so eager to try Lyft.”

The city was not always a welcoming destination for ride-hailing services, as the introduction of Uber to Toronto in 2012 ignited years of debate at city hall over business regulation, safety measures and competition with the taxi industry.

But a “vehicle-for-hire” bylaw introduced last year has made Toronto far more welcoming toward ride-hailing businesses, five of which — Uber, Lyft and the lesser-known Facedrive, Instaryde and RideIn — are now licensed with the city.

Mayor John Tory said the decision to license Lyft was made to give Torontonians more choice when moving around town.

Under Tory, Toronto has become one of the most ride-hailing-friendly cities in Canada, said Kevin Bryan, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

“Within Canada, Montreal and Vancouver (for example) are much more hostile to ride-sharing companies than Toronto is, particularly with John Tory as mayor,” he said. “Toronto is Canada’s biggest city, the mayor supports ride-sharing companies, it seems fairly straightforward that’s where you’d start.”

The relatively quick proliferation of ride-hailing services in the city has drawn the attention of the Toronto Transit Commission, whose executives are considering the future of transit ridership numbers.

“The TTC is closely monitoring (ride-hailing) services and their impact on public transit ridership,” said spokesman Brad Ross.

In its Ridership Growth Strategy for 2018-2022, the TTC noted that services like Uber, Lyft and the car sharing service Zipcar have “a direct negative effect” on public transit.

Recent data from seven major U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, shows ride-hailing services are used as a substitute for “conventional” public transit, said the report released Dec. 11.

In Toronto so far, transit ridership has continued to rise each year since Uber came to the city in 2012, but the rate of growth has slowed dramatically in the past two years.

There were 11 million more rides taken on the TTC from 2012 to 2013, and nine million more rides from 2013 to 2014, while 2015 saw an increase of just 3 million rides, and 2016 rides increased by only 1 million to 538 million.

Meanwhile, Uber data cited by TTC showed that about 40,000 Uber rides per month are taken to or from a TTC station or stop.

“(Uber) has expressed willingness to work with TTC staff so they and the TTC can gain further understanding of Toronto-specific digital ride-hailing trends,” the TTC said in the Growth Strategy.

“With Lyft, the other major North American digital-ride hailing provider, recently choosing Toronto as its first international city for expansion, the TTC will also engage with them in understanding mobility trends.”

Lyft’s chief rival, Uber, meanwhile said it welcomes the competition.

“Uber is proud to have paved the way for (ride-hailing) in Canada,” said Uber spokesperson Xavier Van Chau. “More options can help reduce congestion and pollution as consumers increasingly make the switch from driving their own car to using shared mobility services.”

The Canadian Press

This article " Lyft being watched closely by transit officials in Toronto following ride-hailing app's launch" was originally posted in FINANCIAL POST.

Oct 17, 2017 at 16:10 o\clock

3 Famous Superhero Films Shot in Toronto

Toronto has such a mixed or diverse landscape and architecture that some movies were filmed in the city. Its beautiful sceneries make it an excellent location for filming. There are probably more than a hundred movies shot in Toronto, and one of the typical genres shot here were superhero films.

Here are some of the famous superhero-based films shot in Toronto City with a little sneak peek of the movies’ plot:

Suicide Squad (2016)

According to a synopsis written by Amitash Balekar in

“It feels good to be bad...Assemble a team of the world's most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government's disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren't picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it's every man for himself? “

Full post seen here:


“Filming began on April 13, 2015. On April 26 and 27, filming was to take place at the Hy's Steakhouse. A "snowstorm" scene was filmed on April 29 on the Adelaide St. and in Ching Lane. On May 5, a few major scenes were filmed in downtown Toronto next to Yonge and Dundas Square.”

Read more:

Robocop (2014)

A synopsis from says:

“In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones are winning American wars around the globe and now they want to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable science of robotics to save Alex's life. He returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before.”

Original post seen here:


“Filming took place in Toronto, Vancouver and other parts of Ontario. Shooting locations within the city included the University of Toronto where a scene was filmed that appeared to be RoboCop being unveiled to the city of Detroit. Filming in Hamilton began on Monday, September 24, 2012 for five nights.

Read more:

X-Men (2000)

From written by FilmFan:

“In a world where both Mutants and Humans fear each other, Marie, better known as Rogue, runs away from home and hitches a ride with another mutant, known as Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. Charles Xavier, who owns a school for young mutants, sends Storm and Cyclops to bring them back before it is too late. Magneto, who believes a war is approaching, has an evil plan in mind, and needs young Rogue to help him.”

Post seen here:

According to Wikipedia:

“Filming took place from September 22, 1999, to March 3, 2000, in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario. Locations included Central Commerce Collegiate, Distillery District, and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Casa Loma, Roy Thomson Hall, and Metro Hall were used for X-Mansion interiors, while Parkwood Estate (located in Oshawa, east of Toronto) was chosen for exteriors. Spencer Smith Park (in Burlington, Ontario) doubled for Liberty Island.”

Read full article here:

Although not all scenes on these movies were shot in Toronto, being able to use some of the city's picturesque locations is one sure way to showcase the beauty of the city. Hoping for more future films in Toronto!

If you are within Toronto are, you might want to check out Dr. Amauri Caversan, a Naturopathic specialist/doctor offering various IV Vitamin Therapy treatments. For bookings and inquiries, call (416) 922-4114 now!

Sep 11, 2017 at 09:51 o\clock

Bathe On 3 of the Best Beaches in Toronto

Getting that sun-kissed skin that you desire is not as easy as you think it is. Visiting the unfamiliar territory of the city of Toronto means it's best beaches should never be missed. Given below are three of the most recommended beaches that ensures a fun visit even if it’s just for a day.

Woodbine Beach

If socializing is one of your interest, then heading to the most populated beach in Toronto, Ontario is perfect for tons of activities which will surely pave the way for you to expand your social circle. Here’s what the writer Robyn Urback has to say why Woodbine Beach, Toronto, Ontario should be in one of your checklists:

“A beach must be safe for swimming at least 80 per cent of the time to score a blue flag. Toronto's blue flag beaches are usually safe more than 90 per cent of the time.”

Read the original post here.


According to one guest contributor in BlogTo website, it portrays how the place in Toronto is a complete package: 

“Kew-Balmy is where dog-owners come to let their pets run free at the off-leash park, artists come to build rock sculptures on the sand, and where buskers line the boardwalk. The beach also serves as the ideal spot for canoers and kayakers put their boats into the water, and where Stand Up Paddle boarding is taking root in Toronto. The boardwalk is packed with people on weekends, just as it always was.”


Full post: BlogTo

Bluffers Park Marina Boat House Community

Let’s differ from the mainstream, if you want something different from the usual then Bluffers Park Marina boat house community in Toronto, Ontario will be the best fit for you. It’s a breath of fresh air out of all the popular beaches out there. You may stay in a boathouse! And what’s best is that it’s near Marina. Here’s a small information from Jeff Lee why this area in Toronto is a must visit. 

“Just east of the main entrance to the park, the bluffs have yet another surprise, Toronto’s cleanest and nicest beach."

Over a kilometer long, Bluffer’s Park Beach has clean white sand, and the water is always safe for swimming – this beach is seldom shut down even during the July August algae blooms.   In fact, this beach has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award several years in a row, and yet it’s usually deserted.


More info found here.

If you have set your eyes on visiting Toronto especially in the summer season, don’t forget to try one of its beaches to have a memorable fun-filled vacation.

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Sep 6, 2017 at 08:12 o\clock

My Top 6 Most Iconic Buildings In Toronto

Toronto, Ontario is home to some of the finest architectural designs you'll ever see. From old infrastructures to modern day infrastructure, they will surely leave you in awe. Here are my top 7 most iconic buildings in Toronto.

The CN Tower

- standing tall at 1,815.3 feet it was the world's tallest tower until 2009 when the Burj Khalifa overtook it. It is a communications and observation tower in downtown Toronto and the most defining landmark of the city.

Art Gallery of Ontario

"The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) (French: Musée des beaux-arts de l'Ontario) is an art museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its collection includes more than 80,000 works spanning the first century to the present day. The gallery has 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft) of physical space, making it one of the largest galleries in North America. Significant collections include the largest collection of Canadian art, an expansive body of works from the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, European art, African and Oceanic art, and a modern and contemporary collection."

Source: Wikipedia

Old City Hall

"Old City Hall, a showplace of history and exquisite craftsmanship, celebrated its centennial birthday in September 1999. During a week of festivities which included public tours, musical performances and the unveiling of a new time capsule, residents and visitors alike gained a new appreciation for this important city landmark."


Royal Ontario Museum

- if you're a fan world culture and natural history, this Toronto iconic building shouldn't be missed!

"The ROM is home to a world-class collection of more than six million objects and specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. Explore special exhibitions, as well as the Museum’s permanent collections of dinosaurs, South Asian art and culture, gems and minerals, ancient Egyptian treasures, biodiversity, and much more."


Gooderham Building

- referred to as “Toronto's Flatiron", this is a historic building located at 49 Wellington Street East in Toronto, Ontario. It is named after George Gooderham, eldest son of William Gooderham, the founder of a successful distilling company.

"The red-brick Gooderham Building at 49 Wellington Street East is located at the confluence of Wellington Street East, Front Street East, and Church Street, in the St. Lawrence Market area. The present-day building is the second structure that has existed on this small triangular piece of land. The original building on the site was constructed in 1845, and was smaller than the one that exists there today, it having only three-storeys. It was a part of the Wellington Hotel on nearby Church Street, and was referred to as the Coffin Block as the land on which it was built was similar to that of a coffin. The odd shape occurred because the streets of the early-day town of York (Toronto) had been laid-out on a grid pattern, but the straight lines were slanted to accommodate the curve of the shoreline of Lake Ontario."


Union Station

Chris Bateman of blogTO listed Union Station as 10 of the most important buildings in Toronto. He described it as:

"The busiest transportation hub in the country is also a National Historic Site of Canada. Completed in 1927 on land cleared by the city's second great fire, massive and imposing Beaux-Arts Union Station has been at the heart of Ontario's rail network for almost 90 years. Every GO rail line passes through its train shed, so too do Via Rail trains operating on the main line between Windsor and Quebec. A $800-million renovation that includes a new train shed and basement level is due to wrap up in 2015."

Original article found here.

These buildings are truly a sight to behold. If you're planing to visit Toronto soon, be sure to check up on these sites! What are your top iconic buildings in Toronto, Ontario?


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