OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Napoleon's socks, Madonna, cabbage and Diana Canada round-up

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-04-07T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Napoleon's socks, Madonna, cabbage and Diana Canada round-upBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

There were plenty of fun finds and interesting discoveries from my weekend visit to Toronto. Here's a Monday wrap-up of what's got Canada chattering, beside Toronto teeth, as they endure the last of what's also been an especially long winter stretch.

Feet fete

It was May 6, 1995 that the Bata Shoe Museum of North America opened at 327 Bloor St. West in downtown Toronto. The dream of Swiss socialite Sonja Bata, wealthy widow of shoe baron Thomas J. Bata, who died at age 93 in 2008, the museum is housed in a modern, four level 39,000 square foot space. It was Thomas' father Tomas Bata, a Czech entrepreneur, who died young at age 56 in 1932 and founded Bata Shoe Company. Today, at age 90, Sonja continues to foster her passion for collecting rare and historic footwear from around the world. From Ancient Egyptian sandals to a pair of papal red velvet Italian slippers worn in 1922 by Pope Benedict XV, the museum collection is vast. There is also a "celebrity footwear" wing, featuring General Napoleon's black silk socks (acquired from his personal surgeon) to Queen Victoria's white slippers (size 3). Elizabeth Taylor's silver strap heels (size 8) are autographed on the insole and displayed next to Marilyn Monroe's red pumps (size 7). Actor Jimmy Stewart's wing-tips are displayed not far from Elvis Presley's loafers and Elton John's platform shoes propped near his feud friend Madonna's star-adorned ankle boots. FYI: batashoemuseum.ca

More on Madge

Madonna, 55, was just in Toronto on Feb. 11 to cut the ribbon on her latest Hard Candy Fitness, the global luxury fitness brand in partnership with New Evolution Ventures. The stunning 42,000 square foot club is in the heart of Toronto, in the Aura Building at College Park (382 Yonge St.) and is the brand's largest, and only club in Canada and the United States. FYI: hardcandyfitness.com

Another Di goodbye

The Princess of Wales Theatre, the beautiful 2,000-seat theatre located at 300 King St. West in the heart of Toronto's Entertainment District in the downtown area, is slated to be torn down, to make way for condos and business development. The theatre's name honors Diana, Princess of Wales, with whose consent the theater was constructed by her Toronto theater philanthropist friend Ed Mirvish, with the guidance of his son David Mirvish. Diana, who died at age 36 in August 1997, came to Toronto in October 1991 to herald the construction for the performance space prior to its opening May 26, 1993, which showcased a production run of the megamusical "Miss Saigon." Mirvish died at age 92 in 2007.

Cabbage Patch Pullman?

While we have the historic Pullman Neighborhood near our readership region, in Toronto, the parallel parcel of land boasting rows of Victorian homes is called Cabbagetown. After years of blight, because of gentrification (the process of money investing neighborhood rehab and new settlement), this is now a trendy Toronto address to sport. The area's name comes from the Irish immigrants who built the neighborhood in the late 1840s, after arriving to North American during the Great Potato Famine of Ireland. The immigrants didn't waste their home's small front yard spaces on landscapes. Instead, they did just want they had been doing in their home country for survival: planting rows for cabbage in every available soil space in place of dying potato crops due to a disease.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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