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Toronto’s Financial district
The CN Tower dominates downtown Toronto

We woke today to bright, clear skies for the first time in many days and decided to head back up to the CN Tower to enjoy the views in the sunshine. We stopped along the way at the Eaton Centre to do a spot of shopping before working our way through the Financial District. Here we walked past the Stock Exchange which has a small visitors centre so in we went to have a look.

There is a short film explaining the development of the exchange. Founded in the mid 1800’s it initially traded once a day and had just 18 stocks listed. The session usually took only half an hour. Over the years it has expanded and grown and has been at the forefront of new technology. The Toronto exchange was one of the first to convert to electronic trading systems and is now a virtual trading floor. They had interactive booths that you could use to get more information but unfortunately the parts we wanted to see had not yet been installed. I did pretty well at their quiz though.

Next to the visitors centre is the studio they use for television broadcasts from the exchange. A big curved wall has all the Reuters screens with the latest market information being shown. There were a couple of lecterns for the presenters to stand at and that was pretty much it. You could go up to a small gallery to see the broadcasts in action which Stef did but it was over before I realised where he had gone. It was funny again to see all the workers buzzing around their office block all in dress down gear for Friday.

Back at the CN Tower it was much busier than earlier this week, although still not busy. What we did notice was that there were more children around and that pretty much everyone was talking with a UK accent, the half term holidays have obviously started. Back up in the Sky Lab the views in the sunshine were more stunning than earlier this week. We spent a while just standing and watching and saying “oooh” and “aaah”. Our plans for an afternoon diary writing up in the tower café were foiled though as it was shut for a private party. Our consolation was that the wind was lower today so we were able to go outside and walk around the observation deck without thick reinforced glass between us and the outside (there was just a metal grille fence here instead!).

We found a corner back in town to rest our weary feet and to catch up a bit on diaries and other bits and pieces before heading down to the waterfront for our evenings entertainment. To get there we took the subway to Union and then changed onto the streetcar along the harbour. Although it is really just a tram it somehow seemed much more fun to go on it here than the tram at home. Perhaps it is because it looks and feels much older than ours and because we had no fixed notion of where we had to get off.

At the Harbourfront Centre Theatre there was a performance by Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe, an African dancer and choreographer who is now based in Paris. It was a one man show with him performing his own works. The theatre is small, similar to the theatre in Kilburn in north London, seating just a few hundred people. It was an ideal setting for this performance. I cannot say I was convince by it but Stef enjoyed it. There were two separate works. The stage for the first was just wooden poles which Stef had earlier joked about and asked if he was going to spin plates like they do in the circus. The piece opened with the performer walking slowly around the stage in a crouched position, first forwards, then backwards. After what felt like ten minutes of this I decided he was taking the mickey somewhat. I had not been keen on coming to start with and this was just reinforcing my expectations of the performance from the reviews we had read.

It did pick up and he is clearly a very talented performer. He had the ability to leap high into the air choosing whether his landing would be totally quiet or a loud thump. The dance was set to different pieces of commentary and music all strung together. His influences include martial arts, tai chi as well as different forms of dance and this was all evident in the work. The piece was about personal reflection and was called “Ndaa” (meaning “awakening of self”). To me it seemed to be telling the story of a day from sunrise when the world was waking up, through normal daily routines, a bit of strife and then winding down at sunset. The second piece called “Ntu” (meaning “nothing”) did not do much for me either and I left wishing in part that I had had someone interpreting the dance for me and in part wishing I had not spent the money on the ticket at all. Stef enjoyed it and would probably go to see it again but also found it frustrating that he could not understand the story behind the dance. Perhaps there was none.