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Toronto? Grotesque!
by Terry Murray

Editor's note: When reader Terry Murray wrote to say that she was a Toronto gargoyle/ grotesque spotter, our first reaction was... Toronto? (Did she mean Quebec?). But it turns out, like those in New York, stone beasties are just waiting to be discovered in the Canadian city of steel and glass. Of course, it helps if you know where to look (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

Toronto grotesque carving"The first one is from Toronto's Old City Hall. The front entrance is adorned with caricatures of city councillors of the late 19th century, of which this is one. Carver Arthur Tennison also included a stone carving of the building's architect, E.J. Lennox.

"The second is from the campus of the University of Toronto. It's one of a set of six hidden in the corners of an archway, and not one of the oft-photographed University of Toronto figures. I view this guy and his pals as my ownstone carving at University of Toronto personal discoveries. They're only about 12 feet up, but no one seems to notice them.

"I've been to photograph them several times - I needed several tries because the light is low - and invariably people who walk by and look up to see what I'm shooting comment on the figures. Each time one or two people have said to me, 'You know, I walk through here every day and I've never seen these before...'

"I've developed the habit of looking up, especially when I'm in another city. That earned me this prize when I was in Washington, D.C. last month. Washington DC grotesquesFrom the street, I noticed what looked like several Atlases on the roof of a 1920s apartment building in the Dupont Circle area. They seemed to be holding the earth over their heads. But when I looked through my 300mm lens, I saw that they had horns!

"The building manager let me go to the roof to get a closer look, where I shot two rolls of film. She also showed me the building's entry in "Best Addresses: A Century of Washington's Distinguished Apartment Houses," which described the figures as 'demons getting ready to drop boulders on intruders...' "

Terry Murray is Clinical Editor for The Medical Post in Toronto, Canada. All photos © Terry Murray 2002.


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