Singer notes Black history content in songs of the 1960s and ’70s

Rich Pearson learns more and more about the music he performs, especially this time of year.

When he recently sang Paul McCartney’s lyrics, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these sunken eyes and learn to see; all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free,” he realized the song wasn’t about birds at all.

“(McCartney) was thinking about the civil rights movement at that time he wrote it; he wrote it at the 68,” Pearson said.

Toronto firm puts books in the hands of children with greatest need

The head of an agency promoting youth literacy says books in the hands of children can change the future.

On Feb. 10, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in partnership with First Book Canada, hosted a reading event at the First Nations School of Toronto. The event acknowledged Tata’s donation of 1,000 new books to the First Nations School of Toronto, just south of the Danforth. Wayne Cochrane, the director of operations for First Book Canada, explained the value of the gift.

“I think the biggest barrier to literacy is lack of access to books,” he said.

Six-alarm fire in midtown Toronto

A six-alarm fire devoured The Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue on Tuesday, closing one of the city’s busiest intersections, and forcing the evacuation of many residents from adjacent buildings.

Interim Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg declared the blaze a five-alarm fire around 10:30 a.m., but then upgraded it to a six-alarm fire at 11:30 a.m.

5-alarm fire now at St. Clair and Yonge

A thick cloud of grey smoke is wafting above the intersection of St. Clair Avenue at Yonge Street due to what Toronto Fire Services calls a 5 Alarm fire at 25 St. Clair Ave. W. That is the second highest level of emergency the department can possibly face. Fire officials have evacuated nearby buildings as a precaution. The fear is the building may collapse.

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LIVE: The 2016 ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup championship game

Follow our Toronto Observer team of reporters bringing you all the coverage Saturday live from the Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. From the media box to the sidelines, and from the stadium to the tailgate parties, follow the first-ever Toronto Observer coverage of this marquee event in Canadian collegiate sports.

Todmorden PA day celebrates animals of Chinese New Year

It’s a good thing Andrew McArten’s favourite animal is the dog. It came in handy recently when he needed to create an image associated with the Chinese New Year.

With some help from his mom, Andrew, created the image of a dog, in honour of the Year of the Dog, during a lunar craft day at Todmorden Mills Heritage Site.

Colleen McArten, a music teacher at an East York elementary school, decided to put other things aside that day so that she could bring her son Andrew and his sibling to the TDSB PA day at the Heritage Site.

Local artist wows with new gallery show

Liliana Vera’s interactive art exhibit will change and grow every day during its three-week life.

The artist, a student at Centennial College’s East York campus, says she will replace some works daily, and visitors can take some pieces home with them. The show, which she calls ‘Indelible’, is currently on display at the campus’s Corridor Arts Gallery.

Carmen and Suzanne Kirschling

Washington women’s march also a personal statement

Eva James may well have needed the march in Washington to prove that her mother Carmen Kirschling was right.

“I always believed women were the strength of a nation,” Kirschling said. “That’s how I was raised, and how I tried to raise my daughter.”

James, 34, said she was devastated when she learned that Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

“I started hearing what Donald Trump was saying about women and then I heard that other people were starting to accept what he said as the truth,” James said. “I didn’t want that for women, especially the younger girls who don’t know who they are just yet.”

Cadets carry on air force traditions at Danforth Tech

From the parade square at Danforth Tech, Alina Farrukh can see the loftiest of goals.

“You get to learn about clouds and stuff that I would not learn at home or with any other program,” Farrukh said.

Farrukh, 14, says her ultimate goal is to get her pilot licence through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and to pursue her dream to fly air force aircraft.

TTC pub crawl: unknown, but fun

TTC pub crawl — the concept is simple. There are bars, pubs and taverns close to every subway station along the TTC lines making it easy for commuters to hop off, grab a beer and jump back on the subway over to the next station where they can check out other watering holes and neighbourhoods. The trouble is that most people don’t know it exists.