Life and Times

Life and Times from 2019

Life and Times from 2018

Life and Times from 2017

Life and Times from 2016

Life and Times from 2015

Life and Times from 2014

Life and Times from 2013

Life and Times from 2012

Life and Times from 2011

Life and Times from 2010

Life and Times from 2009

Life and Times from 2008

Life and Times from 2007

Life and Times from 2006

Life and Times from 2005

Life and Times from 2004

Life and Times from 2003

Life and Times from 2002

Life and Times from 2000

Toronto 2019

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7

Part 2

On Thursday, I was determined to hit the ground running.  A lot of filming locations for Today’s Special were located fairly close to each other, and so the plan was to walk.  I also got some good news: while I was having breakfast, Elyse figured out why we hadn’t gotten any data service on our phones.  As it would turn out, data roaming was turned off by default in our phone settings.  Once we turned that on, our data returned.  Such a simple fix.


That morning, we also found Woomy, a stuffed octopus who came with us on this trip, guarding the six-pack of non-alcoholic beer.  Though knowing what a curmudgeon Woomy is, I suspect that he didn't like it.

That morning, we also found Woomy, a stuffed octopus who came with us on this trip, guarding the six-pack of non-alcoholic beer.  Though knowing what a curmudgeon Woomy is, I suspect that he didn’t like it.


Our first stop was a Rexall store.  The purpose of the stop was for me to get cash back at a point of sale using my debit card, so that I could have a $20 in cash in my wallet like I do at home.  Unfortunately, I failed at this task.  I asked the lady at the register about how to do cash back with my debit card, I did this, but because my card has a Visa logo on it, it processed as credit, and I did not get any cash back.  That was disappointing, but it still worked out.  Elyse had Canadian cash, and so if I needed it, she could help.


I loved this sign on the counter at the Rexall.  It's a friendly reminder to keep it civil and professional with the people who are charged with helping you with your shopping.

I loved this sign on the counter at the Rexall.  It’s a friendly reminder to keep it civil and professional with the people who are charged with helping you with your shopping.


After this, we went over to the Banting Institute at the University of Toronto.  There, Elyse knew of a vintage elevator that she wanted to film.  There was also a urinal with a tank in the men’s room.


We spotted our first streetcars on the way to the Banting Instutute.  These two CLRVs are running the 506 on College Street.

We spotted our first streetcars on the way to the Banting Instutute.  These two CLRVs are running the 506 on College Street.

We spotted our first streetcars on the way to the Banting Instutute.  These two CLRVs are running the 506 on College Street.


Turnbull buttons on the elevators at the Banting Institute.  Turnbull buttons on the elevators at the Banting Institute.

Turnbull buttons on the elevators at the Banting Institute.


Floor-length urinal in the men's room at the Banting Institute.  This urinal flushes automatically whenever the tank fills up, with no input required from the user.  All the user has to do is finish their business and then walk away.

Floor-length urinal in the men’s room at the Banting Institute.  This urinal flushes automatically whenever the tank fills up, with no input required from the user.  All the user has to do is finish their business and then walk away.


We then visited our first Today’s Special filming location: Toronto General Hospital.  Sam and Jodie visited the neonatal ward there in “Family” as part of an effort by Sam to cheer Jodie up because she had to miss her family reunion on account of work.  The hospital is completely different on the inside compared to how it was on the show, so we did not explore much inside.  The assumption was that the neonatal ward that we saw on Today’s Special has probably long since been renovated out of existence.


The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital.


This photo was intended to replicate the establishing shot seen on Today's Special.  While the building's exterior is mostly the same, the area around it certainly has changed in 38 years!

This photo was intended to replicate the establishing shot seen on Today’s Special.  While the building’s exterior is mostly the same, the area around it certainly has changed in 38 years!


After that, it was a quick walk across the street to The Hospital for Sick Children, which now brands itself as “SickKids”.  That was where Muffy had her tonsils taken out in “Hospitals“.  All of the Muffy scenes were filmed on a soundstage, however, there were some scenes with Sam and Jodie that were filmed at the hospital itself.  The hospital was credited with a “special thanks” line next to Simpsons Limited.


University Avenue facade for The Hospital for Sick Children.

University Avenue facade for The Hospital for Sick Children.


But first, Elyse was hungry, so she stopped to get something to eat.  We ended up going to a nearby hot dog vendor.  This was a surprisingly quality product.  The guy grilled the hot dog right there on his cart, and he also toasted the bun on his grill.  Then Elyse put her toppings on, and she was all set.  She described it as the best street hot dog that she had ever had.


Elyse puts corn relish on her hot dog.

Elyse puts corn relish on her hot dog.


The completed hot dog, with toasted bun and toppings.

The completed hot dog, with toasted bun and toppings.


At SickKids, we entered via the ground floor, and quickly encountered a small Shoppers Drug Mart inside.  We were surprised that they sold condoms at this location.  In a children’s hospital.  Go figure, I suppose.  Otherwise, Elyse corrected an oversight in her wardrobe: she was wearing shorts on a day when it was cold and snowing.  So she bought a pair of sweatpants from a nearby vendor in the hospital.


Elyse also filmed some of the elevators.


We also checked out the gift shop at SickKids.

We also checked out the gift shop at SickKids.


Elyse and I got some photos off of a hallway mirror on our way out.  Elyse and I got some photos off of a hallway mirror on our way out.

Elyse and I got some photos off of a hallway mirror on our way out.


Fire alarm pull station at SickKids.

Fire alarm pull station at SickKids.  This pull station works with two-stage systems.  Pulling the station puts the system into a pre-alarm state, which allows staff time to verify an alarm before the system signals building occupants to evacuate.  A turn of the key at the top of the station sounds the general alarm.  This pull station was unusual because of the addition of the sign in the back of the station providing instructions on how to activate the general alarm.


Our next stop was Toronto Police Service‘s 52 Division, which Sam and Jodie visited in “Police“.  That was a relatively quick in and out.  I got a few photos, and we said hello.  Our walk was starting to take its toll on Elyse at this point (she walks using braces due to a medical condition), and so we took a rest here for a few minutes.  One of the more amusing things that we heard while here was an officer talking to a person, telling them that it doesn’t work like you see on TV, where everyone jumps into their cars and rushes off the moment that the police receive a tip.


Toronto Police's 52 Division.  The facility has been extensively renovated since it appeared on Today's Special.  Toronto Police's 52 Division.  The facility has been extensively renovated since it appeared on Today's Special.

Toronto Police’s 52 Division.  The facility has been extensively renovated since it appeared on Today’s Special.


We then migrated over to a nearby Tim Hortons, where Elyse called a cab for us to go to our next destination: Malabar Limited.  Sam and Jodie visited Malabar in “Costumes“, and tried on a number of different costumes while there.


The exterior of Malabar, as seen from McCaul Street.

The exterior of Malabar, as seen from McCaul Street.


The entrance that Sam and Jodie used when they visited.

The entrance that Sam and Jodie used when they visited.


Malabar was one of the more fun places that we visited.  While the retail side of the store was not very exciting, selling mostly dancewear and fairly generic costumes, the rental side of the store was far more interesting.  One look at this side of the store, and it was clear that this was the side that we saw on Today’s Special.  So many ornate costumes on racks.  It was so much fun, as I looked around to see what all was there.


The interior of Malabar, which looks exactly the same as it did on Today's Special.  The interior of Malabar, which looks exactly the same as it did on Today's Special.

The interior of Malabar, which looks exactly the same as it did on Today’s Special.

The interior of Malabar, which looks exactly the same as it did on Today's Special.  The interior of Malabar, which looks exactly the same as it did on Today's Special.


Elyse had me try on a red sea creature head, to much amusement all around.

Elyse had me try on a red sea creature head, to much amusement all around.

Elyse had me try on a red sea creature head, to much amusement all around.


Elyse inquired about the Malabar labels that were on all of the costumes.  As it turned out, they had a box full of them, which made Elyse's day.  The staff even let Elyse have a handful of them, which really made her day.  Elyse inquired about the Malabar labels that were on all of the costumes.  As it turned out, they had a box full of them, which made Elyse's day.  The staff even let Elyse have a handful of them, which really made her day.

Elyse inquired about the Malabar labels that were on all of the costumes.  As it turned out, they had a box full of them, which made Elyse’s day.  The staff even let Elyse have a handful of them, which really made her day.


The staff was familiar with Today’s Special, but didn’t realize that the show had filmed in their store.  When I showed them some screenshots of the Malabar visit, imagine my surprise to find out that they still had the crown and the beefeater hat that Sam wore!  So the question becomes, who wore it better: Sam, Elyse, or me?


The hats!  The crown looked a little worse for wear after so many years, but the beefeater hat was in great shape.

The hats!  The crown looked a little worse for wear after so many years, but the beefeater hat was in great shape.


"Now, hold it right there, ma'am!  You're going to have to make up your mind, you know!  You can't go as everything!"

“Now, hold it right there, ma’am!  You’re going to have to make up your mind, you know!  You can’t go as everything!”

"Now, hold it right there, ma'am!  You're going to have to make up your mind, you know!  You can't go as everything!"  "Now, hold it right there, ma'am!  You're going to have to make up your mind, you know!  You can't go as everything!"


"I hereby declare this to be a wonderful store!"

“I hereby declare this to be a wonderful store!”

"I hereby declare this to be a wonderful store!"  "I hereby declare this to be a wonderful store!"


Leaving Malabar, we caught the 501 streetcar to the store.  That was my only streetcar ride on this trip, and we deliberately passed up a Flexity in order to get a CLRV.


Toronto streetcar 4189, which took us from John Street to the store.  Toronto streetcar 4189, which took us from John Street to the store.

Toronto streetcar 4189, which took us from John Street to the store.


An historical marker on the store, new since my last visit in 1999.

An historical marker on the store, new since my last visit in 1999.


At the store, we entered through the door underneath the skywalk.  There, if you went left, you went into the Saks Fifth Avenue section of the store, which extends up as far as the third floor.  Going right, you would go into the Hudson’s Bay part of the store.  Regardless of the different branding, though, functionally, it’s still all one store.  It also settles a question that I had about the creation of the Saks section.  With its still being one contiguous store, it’s clear that Jeff’s hat would still work in the Saks section of the store.


Elyse presses the button for the sixth floor on the elevator.  While the elevators were still original when I visited in 1999, they have since been upgraded a few times.

Elyse presses the button for the sixth floor on the elevator.  While the elevators were still original when I visited in 1999, they have since been upgraded a few times.


Original floor indicator in the elevators, containing a store directory.

Original floor indicator in the elevators, containing a store directory.  This used to light up one by one as you reached each floor when I visited in 1999, but now it’s always illuminated, as the floor indicator is now on a side panel.


We eventually made our way to the men’s department, now located on the fifth floor, since Elyse was looking for a jacket.  By sheer coincidence, we were there when the store was having a “Guys’ Night Out” event.  As part of that event, they were giving away cups of beer, wine, and liquor to participants.

This completely blew my mind.  After all, I had grown up with the notion that drinking alcohol was not allowed in the store from “Phil’s Visit“.  According to Sam, it was a store policy.  Now, I realize that what happened in Today’s Special was fictional, but with nothing else to go on, I guess I sort of assumed that was also the case in real life, and my experience in 1999 did nothing to disabuse me of that notion.  And now, here I was, at the store, and everyone is drinking all around me – including Elyse.  All I could think of was “Phil’s Visit”, and the whole thing was making my head spin.

I left Elyse to enjoy the event on the fifth floor, while I went to photograph a few more things in the area.  There were three things that I wanted to see near the store: Old City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, and the Sheraton Centre.


I exited the store via the skywalk, which landed me at the Toronto Eaton Centre.  The Eaton Centre looked much the same as it did in 1999.

I exited the store via the skywalk, which landed me at the Toronto Eaton Centre.  The Eaton Centre looked much the same as it did in 1999.


Exiting the store via the skywalk and going through the Eaton Centre put me on the correct side of the street for my next stop: Old City Hall.  Old City Hall was not featured in Today’s Special directly, but rather, it was the subject of a photo of an historic plaque that Jodie held up in the Children’s Department during “Our Story Part 1“.  It was used to explain that, “A long time ago, when they used to build stores and houses, they’d put the date on a plaque like this one.  See?  1899.  That’s the year it was built.  Most old buildings have them.”  I photographed two plaques at Old City Hall: the dedication plaque near the entrance, and the historical marker on the grounds in front of the building.


The historical marker for Old City Hall.

The historical marker for Old City Hall.


The dedication plaque for Old City Hall.  I suspect that this plaque is the one that the photograph seen in "Our Story" is based on.

The dedication plaque for Old City Hall.  I suspect that this plaque is the one that the photograph seen in “Our Story” is based on.


Looking upward at Old City Hall.

Looking upward at Old City Hall.


Before leaving Old City Hall, I got a photo of the Simpson Tower, which is attached to the store, and was receiving new exterior cladding at the time of my visit.

Before leaving Old City Hall, I got a photo of the Simpson Tower, which is attached to the store, and was receiving new exterior cladding at the time of my visit.


A streetcar, doing the 501 to Humber, passes by the store.  Jodie boarded 4016, another CLRV, just up the street from this location in "Our Story Part 2".

A streetcar, doing the 501 to Humber, passes by the store.  Jodie boarded 4016, another CLRV, just up the street from this location in “Our Story Part 2“.


Nathan Phillips Square was the location of a short scene in "Our Story Part 1" during Muffy's search for a new home.

Nathan Phillips Square was the location of a short scene in “Our Story Part 1” during Muffy’s search for a new home.  She traveled east on the north side of Queen Street as everyone got out of her way, singing about how she hoped that her new home would not have a cat in it.

Nathan Phillips Square was the location of a short scene in "Our Story Part 1" during Muffy's search for a new home.

Nathan Phillips Square was the location of a short scene in "Our Story Part 1" during Muffy's search for a new home.


Finally, I stopped by the Sheraton Centre.  The Sheraton Centre was used for a flashback in “Travel” where Sam told Jeff about his weekend trip to a downtown hotel via a sequence of still images.  I photographed the exterior, rode the elevator up to the 43rd floor, and also photographed the swimming pool, since Sam spent some time having his lunch there and lounging there.


The Sheraton Centre, as seen from Nathan Phillips Square.  The Sheraton Centre, as seen from Nathan Phillips Square.

The Sheraton Centre, as seen from Nathan Phillips Square.


The sign, appearing the same as on Today's Special, viewed from across the street.

The sign, appearing the same as on Today’s Special, viewed from across the street.


Another angle of the sign, viewed from the same side of the street.

Another angle of the sign, viewed from the same side of the street.


I was surprised to see that the pool was half indoors and half outdoors, and that despite the winter-like temperatures outside, the outdoor portion of the pool was completely open, and one could swim between the indoor and outdoor sections.  I was surprised to see that the pool was half indoors and half outdoors, and that despite the winter-like temperatures outside, the outdoor portion of the pool was completely open, and one could swim between the indoor and outdoor sections.

I was surprised to see that the pool was half indoors and half outdoors, and that despite the winter-like temperatures outside, the outdoor portion of the pool was completely open, and one could swim between the indoor and outdoor sections.  I believe that Sam had his lunch “right beside the swimming pool” in the outdoor part of the pool area, and that the photo of Sam sitting in a lounge chair at the end of the sequence was taken in the indoor part of the pool area.


When I finished up at the Sheraton Centre, I headed back to the store, going in through the revolving door that was used as the main entrance in a number of episodes.


The revolving doors on the Queen Street side.

The revolving doors on the Queen Street side.


Fire alarms at the store.  The store currently has a Simplex system, with two-stage T-bar pull stations, and ceiling-mounted bilingual SpectrAlert Advance speaker/strobes.  Fire alarms at the store.  The store currently has a Simplex system, with two-stage T-bar pull stations, and ceiling-mounted bilingual SpectrAlert Advance speaker/strobes.

Fire alarms at the store.  The store currently has a Simplex system, with two-stage T-bar pull stations, and ceiling-mounted bilingual SpectrAlert Advance speaker/strobes.


I then took the escalator back up to the fifth floor, where Elyse was a little bit tipsy from the free booze that she had been sampling.  All the while, I was thinking, “When you want a photo, who should you call there?  Muffy and Flanny, photogra… Flanny… did I say Flanny?” and jokingly referred to Elyse as “Phil”.

We then toured the store.  For those of you who remember the store from Today’s Special, you might be a bit disappointed.  The store has been thoroughly renovated since the show ended, and the interior is, for the most part, no longer recognizable from what we saw on Today’s Special, though the exterior is still familiar.  When I visited in 1999, a lot was still recognizable, but not anymore.  Renovations have closed off some areas to the public and opened up others.  For one, the window that we saw at the end of “Wishes“, which I located in 1999, is now in a back room and inaccessible to customers, while another similar window has been opened up and made part of the retail space.  Likewise, the cosmetics department, which we saw from above in “Moods“, is no longer double-height, as the opening was filled in to make more floor space.  However, the window that Jeff was standing in during “Wheels” is still intact, and that area looks better than ever.


This rounded window, facing Bay Street, is similar to a window on the Richmond Street side that Jeff stood next to at the end of "Wishes".  The window that appeared in the show is no longer accessible from the salesfloor.

This rounded window, facing Bay Street, is similar to a window on the Richmond Street side that Jeff stood next to at the end of “Wishes“.  The window that appeared in the show is no longer accessible from the salesfloor.


Fan window on the second floor, located next to the skywalk to the Eaton Centre, which Jeff stood in at the beginning of the "In the night, there's magic" segment in "Wheels".

Fan window on the second floor, located next to the skywalk to the Eaton Centre, which Jeff stood in at the beginning of the “In the night, there’s magic” segment in “Wheels“.  This area has certainly been opened up and improved quite a bit compared to how it appeared back in 1999.  I could definitely see Jeff dancing through this area as it appears today.  The 1999 setup, not so much.


The children's department, meanwhile, is now on the sixth floor, and it was a bit underwhelming.  Here it is, seen in its entirety.

The children’s department, meanwhile, is now on the sixth floor, and it was a bit underwhelming.  Here it is, seen in its entirety.  It’s just a small strip of floor space in what is otherwise the furniture department.  In 1999, it was on the fifth floor, and took up at least a third of the floor space on that level.


We had the most fun on the seventh floor, which was mostly a bridal shop called Kleinfeld.  In the area leading up to the bridal shop, they had a small ball pit, as well as some very colorful and festive displays leading up to the bridal shop entrance.  The ball pit contained several iPads for customers to work on bridal registry stuff.  Elyse took full advantage of that ball pit while I photographed her.


Elyse plays in the ball pit.  Elyse plays in the ball pit.

Elyse plays in the ball pit.  Elyse plays in the ball pit.

Elyse plays in the ball pit.  Elyse plays in the ball pit.


I also got photos of Elyse with some of the displays.

I also got photos of Elyse with some of the displays.

I also got photos of Elyse with some of the displays.


Other displays in this area.  I remarked that Jodie really outdid herself with these.  Other displays in this area.  I remarked that Jodie really outdid herself with these.

Other displays in this area.  I remarked that Jodie really outdid herself with these.

Other displays in this area.  I remarked that Jodie really outdid herself with these.


From here, we went down to the bottom floor, where Elyse bought a box of Lindt chocolate carrots.  We eventually made our way up to the second floor, where Elyse bought a baby blanket with a wolf’s head and arms on it.  It became one of her “critters”, and, fittingly, we named it Jeff.  We named it Jeff for two reasons: the obvious one was that until we bought it, this blanket lived in the store.  Also, Jeff was the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood in “A Runaway Spell“.  This blanket’s being a wolf, it only made sense.  Elyse plans to sew one of the Malabar labels that we got onto Jeff.


On the way out, I got a photo of the escalator that Sam, Jodie, and Jeff (as a mannequin) ride in the show's opening.

On the way out, I got a photo of the escalator that Sam, Jodie, and Jeff (as a mannequin) ride in the show’s opening.


We left the store right around closing time, which seemed fitting.  We then took the subway from Queen to College to get back to our hotel.


Our train arrives at Queen station.


Our train departs College station.


All in all, I’d say that we had a fun first day.

Comments are closed.

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7

Part 2