Photo of the week: a winter wonderland

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This is the time of year when I’m usually sunning in some tropical paradise. But this year, my winter escape is delayed, which leaves me to spend January here in Toronto. It’s a city that often doesn’t get much of a winter. But this week, a weather system sweeping up from the United States turned it into a winter wonderland.

What do you do with a winter wonderland? As the song says, you go walking in it. So the other morning I took a walk in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, one of the city’s oldest districts. This is where Toronto began, where its first market square and first city hall were located. And I stood in one of my favourite spots, in front of the wonderful St. Lawrence Market, and looked down Front Street to see the neighbourhood cloaked in a white shroud of snow.

The sight of the famous Flatiron Building and the other 19th-century buildings enveloped in this winter wonderland was magical. And it transported me back for a moment to the 1800s, when horse-drawn carts would have crunched their way through this snow to bring the bounty of the fields and forests to the market. In those days, haunches of venison hung from the vendors’ stalls, and farmers drove cattle to market through these streets.

Today the traffic is driven by motors and computers, but some of the magic still remains. And the snow seems to accentuate it, turning the street into a snow-dome vignette. For all its discomfort, there’s no denying that winter has its own beauty, transforming everyday scenes into picture postcards — even if only for a moment. Not 12 hours after I took this photo, the weather changed again, and our winter wonderland was washed away in a balmy night of rain.

It’s these moments of magic that make travel such a great experience. So it’s worth remembering to look for them in our own towns and cities, too. Every season has its beauty, and in these months, there’s always the chance we’ll wake up to a winter wonderland.

Hint: click on the photo to see it full-size

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About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

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