CanadaHe drives a van covered in plastic bugs. And he’s made Toronto’s most eccentric garden his life’s work
Holland's Keukenhof Gardens—the Largest Flower Garden in the World—Is the Perfect Spring Destination
A 45-minute train ride from Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands is home to millions of flowers, including the tulips the region is known for.
There’s a method to the madness of 473 Clinton St.
Old toys and unwanted knick-knacks decorate the lawn, forming a pathway to the front door. Small coins and wooden plates are arranged in a series of patterns along the exterior walls. A van covered in tiny plastic bugs sits parked outside.
For most people, the semi-detached home is a two-second stop on a walk through Seaton Village. For Albino Carreira, however, it’s a life’s work.
In wake of otter-pocalypse, koi to return to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens
More than six months after a hungry otter devastated the koi population of Vancouver's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens, the surviving fish are set to return. The Vancouver Park Board is planning a koi release Thursday morning to re-stock the pond at the popular park. READ MORE: 50-year-old koi ‘Madonna’ killed by otter in Vancouver’s Chinese garden The otter, which took up residence in the garden for about two weeks in November, ate 11 of the gardens' 14 koi, including a prized 50-year-old fish named Madonna. WATCH: Coverage of Sun Yat Sen Gardens otter on Globalnews.
The 74-year-old Portuguese immigrant has been building out his “Eccentric Garden” ever since a workplace injury left him permanently disabled and jobless 26 years ago.
He’s become, over those years, something of a neighbourhood enigma: that guy who drives around Koreatown in the Bug Van. That guy who schoolchildren whisper about as they pass his home after class.
But for passersby brave enough to ring the doorbell, Carreira provides a brief walking tour and thorough explanation. The garden, he says, is more than just a garden. It’s an antidote to a devastating injury. A much-needed distraction during years of intense physical discomfort.
'OK, it's alive': Vancouver woman finds scorpion on kitchen floor
At first, Gail Hammond thought it was a fridge magnet. Then it scuttled under her fridge.
“It’s what I do now to pass the time,” he says.
Carreira was born and raised in Ourem, Portugal, north of Lisbon, in 1945. He’s the fourth of six siblings, most of whom entered the workforce as stonecutters and craftsmen in the mid-1960s.
A young man growing up in a period of political turbulence and economic stagnation, Carreira discovered the limits to prosperity in Portugal after a brief stint as the head salesman of a department store in the late ’60s and moved to Toronto with his wife, Maria, in 1972. He assumed they’d return to Ourem eventually, but within two years the couple had developed a routine that neither wanted to abandon.
He began work in construction for a company contracted to help build the CN Tower. They bought a semi-detached home in a relatively Portuguese neighbourhood and had their first child, Steven, in 1982.
The Portuguese diaspora in Toronto was fairly established by this time, says Gilberto Fernandes, a York University historian and director of the Portuguese Canadian History Project. Hundreds of thousands of people left Portugal in the early 1960s — consisting particularly of draft dodgers and families with young boys of military age avoiding the Portuguese colonial wars in Africa. Between 1958 and 1967, nearly 50,000 Portuguese immigrants settled in Canada, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
How a dogged pursuit of driving got this chow chow pulled over
Dolly the dog has a pretty good life — apart from when she’s getting her owner pulled over by the police, or bellowed at by passing motorists in her Nova Scotia neighbourhood. The seven-year-old chow chow enjoys getting her haircut — like a lion or teddy bear, depending on the weather — and she loves going for drives. Her owner, Joyce Lappin, said those long drives cause a stir. "It's shocking for most people. They do a double take thinking I might have a bear or a lion with me. Especially little kids. Their eyes pop out of their heads," she said. The big dog hangs out of the window to catch all the sunshine and smells.
Carreira “would have arrived to a community that was quite lively and growing, with lots of clubs, associations, Portuguese media and businesses,” says Fernandes. “He wouldn’t have been one of the pioneers, but he certainly would have arrived at a point when there’s a lot of community formation going on.”
Carreira remembers settling in nicely: “The job was good. The money was good. So we thought, forget about Portugal! We’re in Canada now.”
But the Carreiras’ routine came to an end on June 16, 1993, while Albino was working on a major addition and refurbishment of St. Helen Catholic School on College St., near Dufferin.
He remembers coming to work early that Monday morning. His boss, he recalls, wanted him to help take down the scaffolding, so he scaled the side of the building until he was about eight metres above ground and began the dismantlement process. It was there that he lost his balance on a wobbly wooden platform inside the scaffolding rig, tipped sideways, and fell off the edge of the structure toward the concrete below.
In his research, Fernandes said he found records of more than 241 construction-related deaths in Toronto between 1960 and 1990 — a “very conservative estimate,” he notes. The human cost of building Toronto was tremendous.
Ariel Winter lashes out at trolls over plastic surgery rumours
The 21-year-old actress said that her followers tend to "feel like they know people" like her because they watch her on TV. “They don’t know people, they know them as a persona onscreen that they see,” she continued. “On Instagram, people see a photo every once in a while or they see something that a paparazzi took — they don’t know that person. It can get really frustrating when you see things that are untrue or things that are hurtful or even some things that private things that don’t need to be out there.
Carreira awoke from his injury-induced coma in a hospital bed several days later, his skull fractured, his neck broken and his spine shattered into bits. The doctors performed extensive surgery to reconstruct his mutilated torso and gave him a neck brace and head cast to wear for the next few years. They inserted six screws and two metal plates in his back. He could walk, but he’d need a cane, at least for a while.
He was provided with a permanent disability pension through his union and told never to work again.
Carreira “became really agitated because of the injury,” remembers Steven, now 37, a gardener working in Toronto. “He had to take meds all the time. I remember him always in pain, always up in the middle of the night … He needed something to take his mind off everything.”
His symptoms seemed endless. A brutal concussion left him dazed and confused. An inability to sleep longer than three hours and an inability to stay awake throughout the day turned his life into a cycle of intermittent naps.
The garden, he explained, became a way to keep busy in the hours he felt healthy enough to work.
He began with a few decorations to his mailbox and then some creative touches to the inner walls of the front porch. He completed a few puzzles, about 5,000 pieces each, and framed them outside. Before long he had decked out the porch with hundreds of small wooden plates — he calls them “woodcakes” — each screwed into place as a rather sobering metaphor for the screws put into his back to uphold the structural integrity of his upper half.
Drake Fires Back After DJ Carnage Suggests His Six-Pack Abs Are The Result Of Plastic Surgery
Throw shade at Drake and he’s likely to throw even more your way. That’s the lesson a DJ Carnage learned after making a snide comment about the “Hotline Bling” rapper when he posted a shirtless pic of himself on social media.
Maria thought the newfound project was obsessive, says Steven. “It’s his business. I don’t get involved,” she told the Star when asked, and declined to comment further.
Others on the street — notably those who didn’t live inside the house — found the project entertaining, if a little strange.
In the absence of any discernible artistic genre, Helen Lasthiotakis, a longtime neighbour, labelled the garden’s style “Baroque-o-loco.” She regularly donates the trimmed branches of her cherry trees to his garden.
“It’s kind of crazy, but I’ve never had a problem with it, personally,” she says, standing across the street. “I think it’s fantastic. I could never do something like that.”
Peter Wong, who lives a few houses north, offers to help with the garden from time to time. Carreira is popular among the neighbours, he says. His inability to sleep for long periods of time means he’s usually up early in the morning, salting the sidewalks in the winter and clearing leaves in the fall.
“He’s kind of the guardian of the neighbourhood,” says Lasthiotakis. “He’s always out doing things on the street. He’ll knock on your door (to warn you) if you’re parked illegally.”
The project expanded in small increments in the years following the injury. The porch was done by 1994, and a layer of toys covered the front garden by 1996.
The injury also prevented him from driving a vehicle for a few years after the accident. When he finally became healthy enough to get back in his van, he decorated it in plastic insects he bought from the dollar store — much to the surprise of his family, who, at the time of the vehicle’s makeover, was visiting relatives in Portugal.
Child in life-threatening condition, 3 injured after crash in Toronto’s east end
Emergency crews were called to the Pharmacy Avenue and Huntingwood Drive area, north of Sheppard Avenue East, at around 5:50 p.m. Police said the vehicles collided and one of those vehicles was forced into a light pole. Two children in the vehicle that hit the pole were injured. READ MORE: Driver critically injured after car crashes into pole, bursts into flames in downtown Toronto A Toronto Paramedics spokesperson told Global News a pediatric patient was taken to the Hospital for Sick Children in serious condition. Three other people were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.
Steven says he thought it was “weird art” at first, but adjusted over time. He and his friends, then attending middle school, loved riding in the Bug Van with his father as pedestrians stared and pointed.
“This was his therapy,” he says. “It took his mind off his pain and suffering from the accident, and as long as he didn’t steal my toys for his projects, it was fine.”
Then came publicity.
A film crew arrived at Carreira’s house in 1997 to shoot an episode of Weird Homes. A local Chinese-language newspaper profiled Carreira and put his face on the front page. Members of the broader community and local businesses picked up on the project, and soon Carreira became the treasurer to their trash as well.
Some of Steven’s friends offered their old toy figurines. A billiards company donated their excess pool cues to the cause. In 1998, then-Mayor Barbara Hall dubbed it the city’s Best Eccentric Garden and wrote the Carreira family a letter to say as much.
“It is a pleasure to congratulate you on your front garden being judged as one of the loveliest in the city,” she wrote in a letter of recognition. “Our community is truly fortunate to have people like you whose hard work and dedication enhance our surroundings.”
The garden now extends to the backyard, where an old church bell sits atop the back porch. (He doesn’t ring it, to “keep the neighbours happy.”) He estimates there are about 220,000 screws and 5,000 pool cues in the garden.
“I’ve stopped doing as much now,” he says, speaking of recent years. “I need to be careful, because if I fall again, I’m finished.”
The family has grown used to strangers stopping in front of the house. Carreira regularly offers informal tours of the home to passersby, which he says happens on a weekly basis. He walks them around the house, recites the backstory, and then returns inside for a nap.
In recent years, Carreira has limited his garden work to minor decorations, and has turned his attention to making wooden pens out of the remaining pool cues in his garage.
What will happen to the house when he’s no longer there?
“Who knows,” sighs Steven, contemplating his father’s legacy. “Maybe someone will turn it into a tiny museum. Or maybe it’ll all be taken down. I have no idea what I would do with it, to be honest. But it’s not up to me.”
Albino says he doesn’t know either — but until he decides, the garden will continue to grow.
Jacob Lorinc is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter:
Three people charged in alleged abuse of 17 children on Manitoba First Nation.
GARDEN HILL FIRST NATION, Man. — Two men and a foster mother have been charged after an investigation found at least 17 children were abused on a Manitoba First Nation.
No Weed More Rice
Rice Dragon is a weeding tool innovated by women farmers to reduce weeds in the rice paddy. In Cambodia, a majority of small-scale farmers has a total of a ...
#Рост_мышц и боль. Биохимия роста мышц, дома, питание, на турнике, галилео без жира
https://www.instagram.com/prometei.tech/ screamed liter favoring traction wondered reconsider realizing plow nap brain's ebb manifests CVD HDL minutiae ...
Monday, 14 october 2019
Bunkhouses ridden with bedbugs and rats. Bathrooms leaking fecal matter. Broken promises, bribes and sometimes beatings. These are among the thousands of concerns raised by Mexican migrants working on Canadian farms under conditions marked by health risks, extreme isolation and even […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
According to eight Nova Scotia landlords, Nadav Even-Har owes them thousands of dollars in rent, but he says he's committed to mending his ways. "All I can do from this moment on is start being a better person," says Nadav Even-Har of Cole Harbour in a phone interview with CBC […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
A Winnipeg woman with a terminal illness is using her last days to urge Canadians to vote.Maddison Yetman, 18, was unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only days to […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
Kimberley Marin, a student at Montreal's École de technologie supérieure, was awarded the money four years after a group of men removed her skirt at a frosh party, leaving her half-naked in front of a roomful of people.Kimberley Marin, who was a student at École de technologie […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
During a campaign stop in a New Brunswick park on Oct. 15, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau met a crying baby who he jokingly said is "jealous" of his eyebrows, but promised that one day the infant would also have great […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
Mountie files lawsuit against RCMP alleging 'malicious prosecution' after being cleared of misconductCpl. Tammy Hollingsworth, the daughter of an RCMP officer, can barely speak and her eyes fill up with tears as she tries to explain why she feels so hurt and betrayed by her […]
Tuesday, 15 october 2019
Joe Chatlain became obsessed with tracking the fraudster down all thanks to a fax machine.More than twenty years ago, Joe Chatlain began receiving unusual faxes at the Lafarge Construction Materials offices in Courtenay, […]
Monday, 14 october 2019
Heather Mallick: Alberta, Ontario vote against common sense in favour of a dangerous doctrine“Spare us from government oversight of meticulous truck driver training and licensing!” Crash victims do not cry this out as they sit in their own blood in the eerie silence post-smash on the flat […]