Monday, January 25, 2010

There's no such thing as Terrorism™ in Canada.

Only in Canada could 7 young men with backpacks jump a fence simultaneously into/out of one of the tallest construction sites in the entire city in a major traffic intersection without anyone even raising an eyebrow. Had this happened in the US, there would have been some ridiculously disproportionate response most likely involving the Department of Homeland Security. It really is kind of refreshing to be in a city/country that isn't completely paralyzed by fear and obsession over safety.

After walking the perimeter we found the site largely unwatched save for a single guard hanging out in a booth around the back side of the building. Up and over the fence we went, making our way into the building and starting on our way to the top. It ended up being a pretty brutal 60 stories of stairs with no functional elevator. At the top we were rewarded with a nice view of the city skyline, cold winds, and a boom crane for some of the more daring to play around on top of. After hanging around on the roof for a while, we eventually cooled down from our climb and actually started getting cold. We packed up and made our way back down, enjoying the graffiti scrawled on the stairway walls by the construction workers that called out the management for bad judgment calls on the worksite.

Of course this would not be enough for one night, so we decided to attempt to see the one abandoned metro station the city of Toronto had to offer. We had heard from locals that the station was now impossible to access because of new security cameras that had been installed to watch the tunnels that lead to it. It wasn't the first time we'd heard this sort of thing about a location, only to discover that all it would take is a bit of effort and determination to make it happen. We didn't come to Canada to give up so easily so after waiting for the appropriate timing between trains, we booked it down the tunnel towards our destination. This would be the first time in active train tunnels for a a few in the group, but for myself and a couple of others, it was actually quite reminiscent of the NY subway system. The layout of the tracks and electrified 3rd rail is stunningly similar as are the tunnel construction methods in the part of the system we were visiting.

In fact, one might confuse the abandoned station itself for a NYC subway station if you weren't familiar with the real thing. This particular station has been used countless times in film and TV productions as a stand in for a NYC subway station. Apparently it's often cheaper and easier to secure permits for filming in this station than it is to shut down an active station in NYC. After we finished having our way with the station photographically, we all waited behind a door to the active station above, timing our exit with an incoming train so that we could get right on it and be on our way. All in all, a good nights work doing something other than being tourists.