Right after I asked about visiting Niagara region wineries, I saw a story in The Star on the Niagara Wine Festival, going on now through October 1st.

We're planning to go out there a few days after the festival ends. Does anyone know if wineries are still good to visit that time of year? Will everything still be open? I'm also going to call to see if their "passport" - one-price admission to all the wineries - will be honoured when the festival is over.

* * * *

A few days ago we had some business in Etobicoke, the western edge of Toronto. Instead of taking the QEW and Gardiner, we drove down Lakeshore.

Lakeshore was once Highway 2, the Hamilton-to-Toronto highway, the main artery into Toronto. Heading west on Lakeshore (alternately called Lakeshore Boulevard and Lakeshore Road) from Toronto, you pass through a string of neighbourhoods that are truly anachronisms. It's clear they were once the main streets of little towns, now pockets of mom-and-pop stores, holding on for dear life.

Some, like Mimico, Lakeview, and Long Branch, look pretty run-down. It's astonishing to me that these areas, so close to both Toronto and to the Lake, haven't been developed and gentrified yet, but I imagine it's only a matter of time.

Slightly further west, in our own Port Credit, gentrification threatens to overwhelm, and the village struggles between identities. West of us, Clarkson is still a town, but by the time you get to Oakville, you're back in suburban sprawl.

Driving on Lakeshore in Etobicoke, we passed a string of old motels, so clearly from another era that it's like driving through a movie set.

The following day, serendipitously, the Toronto Star ran a feature on Motel Strip. Indeed, it turns out that some of these motels do survive by being rented out as movie sets.
Well over 100 films, big-screen and TV, have shot scenes at the Hillcrest and North American motels, side-by-side on Lake Shore Blvd. W.

They have that classic era-spanning, on-the-road look that turns Etobicoke into Anyplace, U.S.A. Even the wallpaper in the office has a Route-66 motif.

"You see ABC's 'movie of the week' and there's a battered woman running from her husband or a drug dealer being chased by the cops ... there's a good chance they shot it here," says Dave Gadzala, who runs the motels with his father Ed.

. . .

Back in the '50s, there were about 30 motels on this stretch. Now there are five. Before the QEW, "this was the only way into Toronto," says Ed. "Like a funnel ... a captive audience."
Just north of where I grew up, in New York State's Catskill region, there was a similar strip on Route 17. These were the resorts once known as "the Borscht Belt" for their Jewish clientele. When the New York State Thruway was built, Rt. 17 became irrelevant, and the resorts lost much of their sparkle. A few still hang on; several have reincarnated as Buddhist monasteries.

Here's a good photo that shows the motel strip, along with the condo towers that are replacing them. This is a nice photo of a motel sign at night.

I've also learned that this section of the Waterfront Trail is called the Motel Strip.

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