enSEMble – May 2023 Issue

Sakura Hanami | Cherry Blossom Viewing

Called sakura in Japan, cherry blossoms are cherished by many Japanese people and consider sakura as an important part of their identity and culture. As part of their long tradition of hanami (flower viewing), the entire country looks forward to the Sakura Hanami annual event.  

In Toronto, the cherry blossom trees bloom into white and pink flowers around the end of April to early May. Depending on the temperature, what normally takes several weeks, took less than a week due to the warmer weather this year. Due to the short lifespan of the blooms many wait eagerly to view the special and beautiful sight.  

How did this now Toronto iconic event start? Well, it began as an idea to establish a “Japanese garden” in a Toronto park. Japanese-Canadians and community members came up with this idea as a way to show support to the Japanese who faced discrimination post-WWII. To bring the “garden idea to life”, 2000 trees were gifted to Toronto from Tokyo in 1959. The first 100 trees were planted in High Park. As the sakura is highly regarded by the people of Japan, they were a symbolic gesture of goodwill, friendship, and gratitude for accepting displaced Japanese-Canadians after the war. 

These days there are 16 sites home to cherry blossom trees scattered across Toronto including 50 trees in front of the Humanities Wing at UTSC and 70 along the path at Robarts Library at UTSG. 

Fun Fact: Life expectancy of the Sakura is only 30 or 40 years, but by prudent pruning of dead limbs, some have been extended into their 60s. 

Missed seeing the cherry blossom trees bloom?

Here are some photos taken by Zareena Khan at Robarts Library and Cara Crowley at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Tulip Festival

Since 1953, nearly one million tulips bloom in Ottawa and Gatineau during April and May each year. With 100 variety of tulips across 30 sites including along the Rideau Canal, around the National War Memorial, downtown Gatineau, Parliament Hill, and of course Commissioners Park – where it all started. 

In post-WWII 1945, the Netherlands gifted 100,000 tulip bulbs (among other things) to Canada as a thanks to Ottawa and the Canadian people for sheltering Princess Juliana during the war and recognizing Canada’s part in helping to liberate her country from the Nazi Invasion. These bulbs are planted in Commissioners Park, and the Dutch royal family continue to send tulips for the annual festival as a tribute to the lasting friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. 

This year the Tulip Festival runs from May 12 to 22 in Ottawa. Explore Tulips at Night, tulip trails, and the festival markets. 

If Ottawa is not an option, check out:  

Doors Open Toronto – City of Sound

On the May 27 and 28 weekend, explore Toronto through the waves of sound.

Stroll through over 140 Toronto building and sites that you would rarely have access to and take in how the influence and impact of music and sound has shaped the city. This is a free event and for all ages.

After Dark

From May 18 to June 1, discover your perfect dark chocolate with the exclusive “After Dark” menu, presented by Lindt Chocolate and Gia Restaurant. Curated by Chef Matthew Ravenscroft, Culinary Director at Gia, take your taste buds through a flavour-filled journey with sweet and savoury dishes featuring Lindt chocolates.  

Gia Restaurant is recognized and recommended by the Michelin Guide

Book your seat through Gia’s website or through Open Table

New Horizons Speaker Series – A Conversation with Sarah Polley

Dr. Danielle Martin, Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, chats with Canadian writer, filmmaker, and Academy Award winner Sarah Polley about how the arts can help family doctors become more thoughtful and empathic practitioners. 

  • Date: June 9, 2023 
  • Time: 8am – 9am 
  • Location: Zoom – link will be provided once registered

Register for this online event

The first 50 people will receive a copy of Sarah’s book Run Towards the Danger