The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 13

THE HORSE PALACE
by JONATHAN SILVER

ome places cannot be casually visited. You go sparingly, and when the time
is right. They have a potent effect on your being, which would be dulled
by regular visitation. Anyways, the benefits of going come in the days and
months afterward, as you digest and reflect on your experience. These
are special places.
The Horse Palace in Toronto is such a place to me.
Entering this building, you're hit with the strong odour of horse manure. But as your
nose acclimatizes, you notice the soft, sweet smell of hay and the clean scent of
wood shavings. You might even smell subtle notes of old musty wood, rusting metal
and peeling paint. This texture of smells permeates every square centimeter of the
two-storey, 30,304 m2 building. In certain places, you can almost taste it.
Breathing in deeply, your lungs and body fill with this air - the air of a bygone era
when horses were an ubiquitous part of urban life. You're not just looking back in
time; you're smelling back in time. These smells describe a world that is impossible
to articulate in words and images; the nose is a gateway into a different dimension of
reality, one that isn't reducible to the dimensions of sight and language.
As a designated historical site, the Horse Palace is a sort of museum - a bridge
to the past. But while most museums forge a bridge through our eyes - with objects
displayed behind glass, colourful artistic renderings and striking videos - the Horse
Palace forges it through our nose. Instead of just seeing what they saw, you are able
to smell what they smelled.
There is something curiously powerful and intimate about nasal experience. Perhaps
it is the idea that molecules in the air are entering our body. Perhaps it is that smell
is a primal sense faculty, capable of triggering primal areas of our brain. Or perhaps
it is simply that few places really affect our sense of smell so our noses have become
neglected and therefore hypersensitive to sensory stimulation.
Speculation aside, the Horse Palace is a powerful and intimate experiential link to
a past city, a city you can only get to through your nose.
While it is pleasurable in and of itself to sniff into the past, it is also important to do
so. Experiencing a starkly different version of Toronto reminds us that our city as it is
today will also change. Just as automobiles replaced horses, thereby replacing horse
excrement with vehicular exhaust, the smells of today will too one day be replaced.
The big question is how will Toronto smell in the future?
If we imagine a city free from noxious exhaust, and if
we then desire that city, we will have a carrot on a stick
that will lead us to make that vision a reality.
Wandering the Horse Palace, you find rows upon
rows of vacant, eight-by-eight-foot stalls. This emptiness gives the impression of an antiquated building,
rendered obsolete by the automobile. But this impression is gently called into question by the mysteriously
fresh wood chips lightly dusting the hard-to-reach
edges and corners all over - the residuals of a recent,
good-enough, barn-style sweeping.
The Horse Palace has 1,200 stalls that still today
house a variety of competition livestock during the
Annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which has been
running since 1922. Though agricultural fairs still

The nose is a
gateway into
a different
dimension of
reality, one
that isn't
reducible to
the dimensions
of sight and
language.

The Right Angle | Fall 2017 | 13



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017

Message from the Board
Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
Places
Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Places
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 18
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover4
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