Although it’s the largest city in Canada, Toronto, the capital of Ontario, gets less attention from visitors than other big draws such as Vancouver or Montreal. It has plenty of charms though, and more than enough entertaining cultural visits to sustain a pleasant holiday.
You could almost call it Canada’s New York – there’s a very cosmopolitan atmosphere to the place, because the population are so diverse – nearly half the residents are non-native. Here’s a rough guide to the best Toronto has to offer the visitor.
Hockey Hall of Fame
Ice Hockey is the national sport of Canada, and a more visceral, thrilling sight you are unlikely to see. Pucks get smashed through the air like speeding bullets towards intrepid keepers wrapped up like the Michelin Man for protection; fights break out with alarming regularity, and the crowds go absolutely nuts. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s hard not to get excited at a game, so make a point of seeking one out while you’re here. The Hall of Fame celebrates the history of the sport, and carries many interesting exhibits such as the mask worn by legendary Terry Sawchuk.
Bata Shoe Museum
In downtown Toronto, a very unique building showcases more than 10,000 pairs of footwear across cultures and generations. From Egyptian sandals to a pair of socks worn by Napoleon, Dutch clogs to Marilyn Monroe’s bright red high heels – the collection is vast. Perhaps you may think the subject of shoes not particularly interesting, but the Bata Museum does a great job of interpreting how what people from different parts of the world choose to wear on their feet ties in with their sense of national identity. Fascinating, and not at all smelly.
For the Kids
This is a wonderful little amusement park located on an island just off the coast. Particularly suited to smaller children, there’s a wide range of fun rides including log flumes, an antique carousel and teacups to keep them having fun all day long. There’s also a charming farm-cum-petting zoo to explore, and the deli cafe on site affords fantastic views of Toronto.
For All the Family
Probably the essential visit in Toronto, the CN Tower was, until 2010, the tallest building in the world, and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. You can take a meal in the revolving restaurant of this architectural marvel, and on a clear day see for miles. And for the brave-hearted, why not experience a walk around the edge, outside, connected to the building only by bungee cord. Ulp!
As previously mentioned, the Toronto community is very diverse. This is nowhere better illustrated than the Kensington Market district, where you can find a massive array of stalls, cafes and shops selling unusual foodstuffs, arts n crafts and more. Now a National Historic Site, holidays to Canada online often feature Kensington Market as a must-visit. It’s reputed to be Toronto’s most photographed place, and an afternoon whiled away here is well-spent.
One of the most pleasurable ways to spend a day in Toronto is taking the ferry over to one of the little islands off the coast, and hire some bikes to explore. Well-maintained paths enable you to cover plenty of distance. There are also a lot of events taking place throughout the year such as sailing festivals. And if you pass the Gibraltar Point lighthouse, listen out for moans – it’s supposed to be haunted.
Rob lived in Toronto for three years, and still holidays there from time to time.