Author: Lorne Opler

Lorne Opler

Toronto born and raised, but with my roots solidly planted in Western New York, I have been visiting Buffalo and enamored with Buffalo ever since I was a kid. I love writing for BRO but equally enjoy writing about Buffalo for Southern Ontario audiences to introduce them to all the great things happening in the renaissance city. When I'm not writing, I'm teaching fitness and health promotion at a community college in Toronto and running my own personal training business. Visit my website at www.lorneopler.com

One of my favorite words in the English language is “portmanteau,” defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, as “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog).”   There are many portmanteaus that are common in our language; a favorite Sunday morning meal at Betty’s is brunch (breakfast and lunch); on sale in the fruit and vegetable section at the beautiful new downtown Braymiller Market are pluots (plums and apricots);  and as a kid, the place where my family would stay during our visits to Buffalo – the intersection…

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Nothing demonstrates the glaring difference between Toronto and Buffalo than the sad fate of one of Toronto’s most beloved discount stores – Honest Ed’s.   If anyone from Western New York has ever visited this Toronto institution, you’ll know it was a one-of-a-kind experience – from its kitschy sale signs to its corny slogans; from its Las Vegas-eque honky-tonk exterior, to its dizzying array of household products to its ridiculously cheap prices.   Honest Ed’s was one of those rare landmarks that made Toronto unique since its founder Ed Mirvish, opened it in 1948 until its untimely and unfortunate closing…

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This story begins all the way back in 2007 when I had just moved into the Elmwood Village, on Ashland near Bird after relocating from Toronto.  I passed this Elmwood Avenue building all the time.  It was an enigma to me, something that struck me as so out of place for Elmwood Avenue.  The sign on the front read, “Congregation Beth Abraham,” but I thought to myself, “this could not be an active synagogue. Buffalo’s Jewish community is in the Northtowns, not along Elmwood.”   I surmised that this building was probably a thriving congregation at least half a century…

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The message cannot be louder, stronger, and can’t be repeated often enough.  Three simple, straightforward words.  Stay. At. Home.  By now, we already know that unless it’s unavoidable and of necessity, vigilance, social distancing, and self-restraint must become our “new normal”.  And now that new normal includes the way we grocery shop and finding ways how to do it.  Staying at home for as much as we humanely, possibly can, is one of the most effective ways to address the pandemic, which is why online shopping has taken off – so much so that it stores are not able to…

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A family get together this weekend brought me back to my beloved city where I spent time with expat relatives visiting from out-of-town – relatives, who like so many Buffalonians in the 70’s and 80’s witnessed the city’s steep decline, and like so many Buffalonians of that era, packed up and headed south. The weekend in Buffalo gave me a chance to not only catch up with my uncle and aunt, but to visit the Queen City again and explore the downtown that I have not seen in at least a couple of years. And what I saw for the…

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A city is only as healthy as the health of its most vulnerable citizens. And that includes not only people, but the city’s animals too.  While there are many social service agencies in Buffalo caring for the men and women in our community who are in need, who is taking care of Buffalo’s critters who are also in need? That would be the “Friends of the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter,” a small, unsung and often unrecognized organization that does great things to promote a great cause. Functioning on a shoe-string budget with little publicity and advertising, Friends is an…

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“Hey it’s good to be back home, again.”                                                       -John Denver Fitting that a quote from one of my favorite singers of the 70’s is also an expression of my pleasure to be “back home again” on BRO.   It’s been well over a year since I wrote for Buffalo Rising, and just like it’s good to be back here again, so too am I reminded how much I’ve missed it. And boy, do I miss it. So, why the absence? As a Canamerican living north of the border, in full confession I had a difficult time processing the results of…

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Some people pump their fists when the Sabres win or the Bisons win or the Bills win.   Some people pump their fists when they get good news, like a job promotion,  admission to their first choice for schools,  or when they win the lottery.  Me, I pumped my fist this morning for something quite different. It may not sound exciting to many people.  Ok….it may not sound exciting to anybody perhaps….hardly enough to warrant a fist pump.  In fact, it may leave people asking, “Is this guy serious?   This is what he pumps his fist over?  “Opler, you need to…

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Happy Anniversary Granite Works!.  It was just over 10 years ago (Sept 21, 2006 to be exact) that BRO announced the ribbon cutting for the highly anticipated opening of the Granite Works apartments on the 800 block of Main Street. This was, as Bernie Sanders would say…huuuuuuge.   Not only did First Amherst Development Group save some of downtown’s most at risk historic buildings, turning them into highly desirable upscale living spaces, but this meticulous rehab project joins with First Amherst’s other groundbreaking project, the Lofts @ Elk Terminal, along with Ellicott Development’s 2004 rebirth of L.L.Berger’s into the Belesario,…

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With the completion of the new $43 million, 40,000 sq’ train station Niagara Falls Amtrak Station, a new museum inside the depot scheduled to open in the summer of 2017, will bring to life the vital role Niagara Falls played in shaping and defining an important piece of American history. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center will pay homage to the role that Niagara Falls has played in creating a safe passage to Canada for African American slaves seeking freedom and liberty, while also chronicling the struggles and challenges of the freed slaves as they made their way north to Niagara.…

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