We had planned to go to a knife show in Toronto on a recent Saturday. The son’s medical emergency on the Friday afternoon seemed to put that in jeopardy, but when he survived the Attack of the Killer Kidney Stone, we decided to proceed, with the grandson and fiancée, and him well medicated.
The regular Canadian Knifemakers Guild spring show has been suffering, so, this year, they decided to do something different. They waited till mid-summer, moved it downtown, to an upscale hotel, and made it an invitational Art Knife Show.
This show had as many makers as the usual one, but instead of tables with 50 or 100 hunters, skinners, or steak knives, each maker displayed only 1 or 2, or a few, but worth what a whole table of those others were. Prices started in the high hundreds of dollars. The most expensive single knife I saw went for $14,500.
There were makers from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as France, Germany, Austria, Brazil and South Africa. Most shipped their knives ahead, some using the Post Office, others by courier. One guy packed his two knives with his socks and underwear, and checked his baggage with the airline. TSA will X-ray it, but only worry if there are firearms or an explosive device.
Almost all of these knives were decorated with gold, silver, various jewels, ivory or titanium. One maker also does his own beautiful scrimshaw. I have read about the South African maker in my knife trade magazines for years. Many of these makers can afford to make such expensive knives because they already have prestigious jobs. They do it for the satisfaction, the creativity, and the bragging rights.
The top Canadian maker is a Nuclear Physicist, somewhat more than a Homer Simpson. The fellow from South Africa displayed a folder with exquisitely carved hippo-tooth ivory. It’s easy for him. He’s the country’s best dentist. Another, with a price tag of $4500, was made of 4.5 Billion year-old meteorite-based steel.
Despite any decoration, or price, he insists that all of his creations are working knives. A lady asked him if “the meteorite” was sharp. He picked up a scrap of paper, and shaved a couple of strips off it. The knives in the teaser photo at the top are his. For those interested, return tomorrow when I will publish a mostly photo post, with shots I took at the show.
After we had sated our eyeballs, it was time to think about our stomachs. I was willing to try either of the hamburger/French fry wagons across the street. We couldn’t afford to eat in this hotel. The grandson has a friend with Toronto relatives, who has treated him to downtown tours. He insisted that we walk a couple of blocks over to the Eaton Center, and he treated us to a lunch at an upscale burger joint in the lower level. We got to see the impressive old 1850 sandstone City Hall, framed against the new monstrosity, which looks like a flying saucer coming in for a landing in a bay of the Mother Ship.
Watching TV out of British Columbia recently, I saw an ad for Mucho Burrito Grill. My regulars know my fascination for Tex/Mex food, 🌯 so I researched the chain online, and tried to find out where they were. The “locate restaurants” button didn’t locate anything for me. Instead, it asked me where I was, and offered to show nearby outlets.
I specified a 500 kilometer range, and asked about Vancouver. The map showed several in Washington State, and a covey in B.C. Similar queries showed a bunch, centered on Edmonton, Alberta, and also Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. There were only two in Manitoba, both in Winnipeg. I could find nothing in Ontario or further east.
Big Smoke Burgers’ burgers are served on actual plates, with metal cutlery, and their fountain drinks in glass glasses, a refreshing change from the usual food-court cardboard and Styrofoam. As I sat, inhaling their gourmet creation, with mushroom gravy, and spicy cole-slaw dressings, I looked up across the huge eating area, and my eyes fell on a Mucho Burrito Grill.
Since it sat in the direction of the washrooms, when I was finished eating and wanted to wash up, I stopped over to investigate. Mostly, it was as much of a disappointment as the Del Taco restaurant in Detroit. I could get as good or better at Taco Bell….all except for a plate of nachos a customer carried away, that actually looked as good as the advertising picture – perhaps if we do this again next year.
Since it had begun raining outside, we decided to make our way back the few blocks to the subway through the warren of underground tunnels and shopping areas beneath the streets and buildings. Fiancée works at Starbucks, and needed a coffee fix. She used her employee discount card, and stopped at a Starbucks beneath one bank building. We walked to the next building – and there was another Starbucks. We turned, and walked under the street to the next building – and there, was another Starbucks.
Starbucks makes good coffee, and runs a nice corporation, but I regard them as pretentious. These outlets were all in the financial district, beneath big banks and investment houses. You decide.
All in all, a most enjoyable and educational day. Pics, or it didn’t happen, so remember to come back tomorrow for photographic proof.