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Owner wants to make the Waverly Hotel a student residence

Developer proposes to turn iconic building into 22-story high-rise

Owner wants to make the Waverly Hotel a student residence

The site of the iconic Hotel Waverly and of music venue The Silver Dollar Room has joined the growing list of proposed developments in the Spadina-College area. Development company and building owner The Wynn Group hope to revitalise the area with a 22-storey student residence.

Should the application to amend the zoning by-law on the site and building plans be accepted, the proposed 14,676 square metre building will include over 200 residential units for students in the upper 20 stories, the first two storeys will be mixed-use, including a newly re-built Silver Dollar Room on the first level and a “boutique” fitness centre also owned and run by The Wynn Group on the second. The new building would also include three levels of underground parking and 200 bicycle parking spaces.

Built in 1900, The Hotel Waverly is one of Toronto’s oldest running hotels and has stood on the corner of Spadina and College for more than 100 years. While it was once a place of luxury,  the reputation and upkeep of the building has declined dramatically over the years. Paul Wynn, who has owned the building with brother Jeff for over 20 years described the existing structure as, essentially, a “fire-trap,” saying that the current structure of the hotel is primarily made out of wood, with steel structures, such as the Silver Dollar Room, that have been added on over the years. Wynn says the new plans hope to cover one big area, sharing the same façade at the front. The Wynn Group have been looking at redeveloping the area for over 10 years, and have spent years negotiating with City Council and the neighbouring CIBC building. Now they think the time is right for a change.

Last year, a condominium project on 245 College Street, also aimed at students, was rejected by City Council following an outcry from community groups. The developer appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, where the issue is currently in mediation, with a hearing scheduled for July 1. The 245 College proposal is different, Wynn says, “The College Street condominium was over three times the size of our proposal. We know we cannot do a condominium high rise in the area, not next to the Scots Mission, so our only alternative is to do student housing.” By building a student residence, Wynn hopes to alleviate the shortage of student housing in the area. Although specifically intended for U of T students, Wynn aims to attract all students in the area, stating, “Toronto has a need for student housing and we’re not looking for a big change; the building will have the same, independent Silver Dollar Room, a small boutique fitness club…building student housing is a rational approach to the site. We’re not Riocan. We’re not bringing a Walmart to the neighbourhood.”

While there may be objections to losing another historic Toronto building, Wynn hopes that by incorporating elements of the current building into the new, people will see the proposal as a positive change. Wynn intends to keep the Waverly name for the building, and the Silver Dollar Room will stay in the building, with the iconic neon sign displayed in front. “We’re looking to create a nicer streetscape specifically for the first three or four levels…We’re hoping the city will allow us to think outside the box and let us use the same canopy as we have right now,” says Wynn. The proposal is still in its early stages, and City Council will have to approve any zoning changes. When asked to comment on the proposed timeline, Wynn said he did not have a “crystal ball” but “if Councillor Vaughn supports us publically and at council then I would anticipate two to three years, as judging from past experience with him I would wager on a longer period.”

 

Celebrating Canadian science

In this two-part feature, writers from The Varsity’s Science section spotlight some of Canada’s coolest inventions

Celebrating Canadian science

In anticipation of Canada Day, The Varsity’s Science writers selected neat Canadian inventions and writers. This article is part one of two, so check back on Thursday for more.

 

Sidney Altman

Sidney Altman was born to a working class immigrant family in Montreal’s west side in 1939.  With the financial support of his parents, he was able to pursue a B.Sc. in physics at MIT.  Although Altman began advanced studies at Columbia University, he was unhappy as a graduate student there and left after 18 months. He briefly explored careers such as editing for a publishing company, novel translation, and science writing, before deciding to instead change his research field to molecular biology. He finished a PhD in biophysics from the University of Colorado-Boulder and eventually found himself in the lab of Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) at the University of Cambridge. It was here that he began the work that led to his fundamental discovery of the catalytic properties of RNA. In 1989, along with American Thomas Cech, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  —Sri R. Chaudhuri

 

Canola Oil

DORAN WOO/THE VARSITY

Canola oil was invented and developed in the 1970s by two Canadian agricultural scientists, Keith Downey and Baldur Stefansson. Downey worked at Agriculture Canada, and Stefansson worked with the University of Manitoba. The pair of researchers started with the rapeseed plant, the oil of which contains sharp-tasting components called glucosinolates. Through selective breeding, they produced a plant with much lower glucosinolate content. This modification led to much smoother-tasting oil. The plant was eventually named “canola” which is a word-marriage of “Canada” and “ola” which means oil. The chief use of the canola seed is the oil, but canola meal also finds use as cattle feed, and canola has recently been used as a biofuel feedstock. Canola is grown all over the prairies, and it contributes over $15 billion a year to Canada’s economy. The innovation of Downey and Stefansson made what was bitter better, and Canada is richer and more delicious as a result.  —Trevor Janes

 

Best and Banting 

Canada has a long history of success in medicine, but some of the greatest scientists are actually U of T-associated. Charles Best and Frederick Banting are widely known for their discovery of insulin. Their discovery changed the face of diabetes treatment forever. The insulin hormone lowered blood sugar, creating a treatment for a feared disease. Banting and Best’s  discovery also won them their subsequent Nobel Prize in Medicine. Today, millions of people benefit from this miraculous discovery. Although insulin does not exactly cure diabetes, it is a famous Canadian invention that is crucial in the fight against the disease. —Andrew E. Johnson

 

The Telephone

DORAN WOO/THE VARSITY

Communication has progressed significantly over the past few centuries, but the telephone, despite its age, remains a crucial part of the communication landscape. It was Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish immigrant to Canada, who invented the telephone. His story is similar to that of many people who have flocked to Canada to find a better life, as the country provides its people with bountiful opportunities to thrive and succeed. When Bell first patented the idea in 1876, his invention consisted of a microphone and electromagnet. Since then, Bell’s invention has become well known across the globe. —AEJ

 

Julie Payette

Julie Payette is a Canadian that is literally out of this world. At the age of 49, she is one of Canada’s most celebrated astronauts, holding the title of Chief Astronaut in the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). As an engineer, she first studied at McGill University in Montreal, moving on to earn a MSc in computer engineering from U of T. Having spent more than 25 days in space on multiple flights, Payette is practically a fixture of the International Space Station, working with the robotics of the famous Canadarm. Julie has been awarded the Order of Canada, carried the Olympic flag in 2010, and has a school named after her to show Canada’s gratitude for her hard work in space. —AEJ

Uncovered: Daft Punk

Tracking the French duo’s foray from Paris’ underground house scene to the mainstream

Uncovered: Daft Punk

Daft Punk released their fourth studio album, Random Access Memories last month. Within the second week of the release, a new Spotify record had been broken. The French house duo has come a long way, froma small-name progressive house act to a groundbreaking pioneer of the new era of electronic dance music (EDM).

Best characterized by their signature ‘70s- styled droid suits, Daft Punk are easily one of the most recognizable and interesting acts in modern music. While it’s a simple to acknowledge and list their many accomplishments, just how much do we actually know about the faces behind the robotic façade and their early foray into the lucrative world of commercial music?

 

The Beginning

1995 was a time of globalization and interesting change — the collapse of communist regimes giving way to new nations, the birth of the Internet, and the death of Kurt Cobain the year before all marked the beginning of a new era. This was also when Daft Punk began to achieve new heights in their musical careers.

After the release of their first single on Scottish independent record label Soma Records, the duo became the focus of media frenzy, receiving attention from publications all over the world.

“We have received faxes from Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Japan, [and] New York … people are interested in this music everywhere,” a young, overly ecstatic Thomas Bangalter, one half of Daft Punk, told an interviewer on a French television program. In this early interview, he appears as a scruffy -haired teenager garbed in a casual démodé pale lime green button-down shirt — the silver chrome helmet is nowhere to be seen.

Then in the following year, Bangalter, and the other half of Daft Punk, Guy-Manuel de Honem-Christo, signed on to Virgin Records — a move that would bring them unparalleled success.

 

Homework (1997)

Daft Punk’s first record Homework, became a global sensation. Punk and different house styles innovatively meshed and deftly compressed into seventy-minutes worth of sonic experience was unheard of.

Music pundits gave the album five-star reviews. Record sales soared. Not only was it a career-changing achievement by the duo, it gave birth to an unprecedented generation of electronic artists in the next decade, from Joel Zimmerman’s Deadmau5 project to the likes of Baauer.

For the first time in their lives, Bangalter and De Honem-Christo were on the front lines of pop culture. But increasing fame and fortune shocked them.

Afraid of being consumed by this overwhelming wave of popularity, they sought to reinvent themselves. In 1999, the two remerged on the scene, in mecha-suits.

They donned the shiny robotic armour so as to maintain anonymity and counter hyped mass-commercialization. However, their plan ironically backfired.

The costumes had made them less human. They became immortalized. From game-changing pioneers, they were transformed into living icons featured on every magazine cover.

Almost everyone was oblivious to the faces behind the suits. Daft Punk had done the impossible — accruing fame and fortune without the cost of having their identities compromised. The world knew of Daft Punk, but remained largely ignorant of the names  “Thomas Bangalter” and “Guy-Manuel de Honem-Christo.” The pair had achieved the ideal aesthetic dream.

Whether the masks were an earnest attempt to retain artistic integrity or an ingenious mercantile tactic to improve record sales, it was obvious that Daft Punk had been ushered into the world of mainstream music.


Discovery (1999)

Daft Punk’s second record, Discovery, was a departure from their influential Chicago house sound. They left behind their original style in favour of high fidelity.

The duo’s sophomore effort was characterized by complex production techniques that emulated heavily auto-tuned vocals and high-pitch computerized guitar solos. It also frequently sampled classic hits from the late ‘70s. Discovery was a far cry from Homework.

Daft Punk’s sophomore album was, once again, was a success. Critics of all types greeted it with admiration, with only a few disdaining the radical shift in the group’s style. While Discovery did not upset a large portion of the EDM community, Daft Punk had undoubtedly alienated an overlooked fan base from their Homework days. Still, in their place would be a new generation of Daft Punk fans.

Suddenly, the duo’s apparent desire to be humble musicians who maintained their artistic license was put into question. Did the group sell out? Or were they keen on exploring new areas of music?

Whatever the answer, Bangalter and De Honem-Christo never took off their helmets. Daft Punk and their private lives would become mutually exclusive.

 

The Present: Random Access Memories (2013)

Now, flash forward to the present day, and the two tell Rolling Stone that on the metro no one pays them any mind. No autographs are signed. No fan photos are taken. Unsurprisingly, they’ve become invisible celebrities.

So while widespread achievement and renown meant producing more commercial works, Daft Punk can lead its own separate life while Bangalter and De Honem-Christo another.

For the love of cannoli

ELIZABETH BENN searches high and low for the perfect Toronto cannoli

For the love of cannoli

When I was younger, I would go to New York every summer to visit my mom’s side of the family. Every trip followed the same routine: seeing the New York Yankees, going to the Museum of Natural History — where I would eat a fluorescent blue cookie in the shape of Pluto — and eating other made-in-New-York-specialities such as bagels, pizzas, and cannoli.

However, upon returning to Toronto, none of this food tasted the same. Although Toronto does its own unique take on the bagels and the pizzas, I’ve experienced nothing but constant disappointment when it comes to cannoli.

Recently, I went on a trek to find a cannoli in Toronto that tastes similar to the New York cannoli. I tried cannoli from four different bakeries, and this is what I found:

 

Sicilian Sidewalk Café

Sicilian Sidewalk Café’s cannoli are made fresh to order and at $2.00 for one, they’re on the cheaper end of the cannoli spectrum. Compared to a New York cannoli, the filling was not as thick, but it did have a nice taste. The shell was bland, but due to the made-to-order nature of Sidewalk Café’s cannoli, it wasn’t soggy. In the end, the cannoli fell short and it clearly was not a sufficient replacement to my NY cannoli

Dolce Gelato

For $2.50, I purchased the smallest cannoli of the four. It had chocolate sauce drizzled on it — not traditional. The filling of the cannoli was thick, as the New York ones are, but it tasted like there was something artificial in there — something that did not belong in a cannoli. Since it was premade, the shell was on the softer side. Dolce Gelato’s would have been the closest thing Toronto had to a New York cannoli — if only it came without the chocolate drizzle and artificial taste.

Rivera Bakery

 The cannoli here was the most expensive at $3.00, and they were of average size. I believe the cannoli might have been left over from the day before because the middle was quite runny and the mixture was not very uniform. The shell, too, was disappointing; it was thick and quite hard. In short, it was my least favourite (and the most expensive) cannoli on the list.

Loblaws

I was not planning on buying cannoli at Loblaws but while I was there, I noticed that they sold freshly filled cannoli for $2.50. Like the Riviera cannoli, the middle was a bit runny; however, it tasted much better than the other cannoli I tried. Despite the thin and slightly oily shell, it was by far the best tasting one. Although the best, it was not the same as a New York cannoli.

 

Although none of the cannoli were the same as a New York one, what was most surprising was that the Little Italy cannoli was disappointing and that the best cannoli came from the Loblaws bakery.  It managed to do to cannoli what Toronto bagels and pizza do; it gave me a version of a cannoli very different from one from New York yet also quite delicious in its own right.