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Toronto - So Much To Discover So Little Time
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Toronto - So Much to Discover so Little Time

I can hop on a bus anytime and be in Toronto in about 1-½ hours (depending on traffic). This day early in June turned hot as I make my way to a walking tour. Unlike the documentary of “I hate Toronto!” I happen to love Toronto!

University Ave./Queen’s Park

Born in Larder Lake (northern Ontario), my first home was Toronto Sick Kids Hospital. This was my first visit (how embarrassing) since then. On this day the grounds were covered with white tents with the media present.. It was Herbie’s Day (each year these event days named after a patient). Herbie’s hometown in the United States raised money for his medical bills. Even some staff volunteered hours. I choked back the tears. Beside Sick Kids is Toronto General and across the street is Princess Margaret, both well-established hospitals with long history.

Making my way toward Queens Park, I stopped at Ontario Firefighters Memorial opened June 2005 and paid tribute looking at the statue of a full uniformed firefighter carrying a baby.

The pink sandstone Ontario Legislative Building dates back from the 1890s. It wasn’t the first but the fourth for the province of Ontario. It may not be as elegant as other buildings but it’s heavy and solid. There were plenty of trees to take a bit of refuge from the scorching sun.

Across the street on Queens Park Crescent is the impressive Whitney Block, opened in 1928, named after James Whitney, premier of Ontario from 1905-1914. Most of this structure is grey sandstone that I consider a nice change from the modern glass slapped together eye-sore. The design is a series of wings so natural light shines in every office. Gee what a concept! I wonder if anybody will ever do that again. What we do today, work under artificial lights all day with no windows to open. Ah, keep dreaming.

Bloor St. W.

Continuing on Queen’s Park Crescent turned into Avenue Rd. heading toward Bloor St. W. I walked into the lobby of Hyatt Park Hotel, took the elevator to the 18th floor. The welcoming hostess thought I was attending whatever functioning that was happening. Shaking my head, I headed to the restaurant and stood outside the balcony for a stunning but hazy view of Toronto at my feet.

After soaking in the view, I walked back in and asked the hostess where I could get a coffee. “Don’t say Starbucks or Timmy’s,” I told her.

“Try Mercury or mercurio something like that”, she jotted the directions in my notebook. “It’ll remind you of Paris.”

The Express Mercurio Bar did remind me of Paris. At the bar, I ordered and paid for a toasted baguette and a cappuccino. “This is like a fancy McDonald’s” The waitress said as she offered to refilled my water bottle. Sitting outside I watched the people pass by.

I headed back past the hotel and took a quick photo of the Church of Redeemers, an Anglican church founded in 1871. The impressive neo-classical Department of Household Science (1912) where a woman named Clara Benson continued her research in food science. Now it houses Club Monaco and Ontario’s Ombudsman.

Finding my way, I walked down Bay St. The walk was longer than I expected. Maybe I needed to hop on a bus or streetcar but then I would have never found St. Basil’s R.C. Collegiate Church (1856) on Bay & Joseph streets. I wanted to go in but time was ticking (now disappointed I didn’t take the time when I saw pictures of the inside on the Internet).

Front St.

Finally at the Eaton’s Centre, I could no longer walk and decided to take a short $2.75 subway ride to Union Station. Walking through underground, I reached the Royal York Hotel (now Fairmount Royal York Hotel). Opened in 1929, it’s hard to believe the 25-storey hotel once stood the tallest now dwarfed by huge office skyscrapers. Across the hotel is the main entrance of Union Station (opened 1927) and its amazing neoclassical column. The interior main hall has coffered and tiled ceilings of a unique style.

After a quick bathroom stop, I exited on Front St, turned left and made my way to BCE Place. I found the water fountain at the Younge St. exit at the Marche Restaurant (new name change Raintree). With some time to spare before I met a friend for lunch, I stepped outside on Younge St. and took some photos of old great architect including the Irish Embassy Restaurant.

After lunch, I said goodbye to my friend and headed to the CN Tower, 1815 feet high (553m) stretching toward the sky is the city’s landmark like the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. For 30 years the tower held the tallest free standing structure in Guinness Book of World Records before a building in Dubai took that honours in 2006.

I attended a Book Expo for a few hours at the Metro Convention Centre, about a ten-minute walk on Front St. from Union Station. It was my first visit to the Book Expo and was bit overwhelmed. I picked up some travel book information and decided I’d had enough by about 12:30 and needed food.

Harbourfront

About a 15-20 minute walk, I wanted to have lunch and people watch at the Harbourfront. It was bustling with crowds on this sunny but cool Sunday, a big change from two days ago hot weather so I grabbed a quick bite to eat indoors. I wanted to walk more around the Harbourfront, watching people enjoying this beautiful spring day but I had to catch my bus for home plus I had a heavy load from picking up items at the expo.

Bay St.

Making my way back to the Royal York Hotel for a rest stop, I walked along Bay St. toward the Old City Hall passing my a few historic buildings such as the Bank of Montreal est. 1817.

The beautiful red, brown and grey stonework of the Old City Hall (1899) is impressive with hits clock tower. Across the road is New City Hall (1965). Nathan Phillips Square (named Toronto’s mayor 1955-1962) is a gathering place from summer concerts to the winter, as the pool becomes a skating rink. The Freedom Arches over the pool is dedicated to those who gained and defended freedom and to those who suffered and died for the lack of it.

Heading toward the bus depot, I saw this yellow sign with the word ``Discovery`` and a finger pointing for across the street. Here was Trinity Square, with a Church of the Holy Trinity (1847) with two turrets instead of towers like found on castles. Thankfully they didn’t demolish the church like they had planned when making a proposal of the Eaton Centre in the mid 1960s. The interior has no columns with large and colourful stained windows. I looked at my watch. I honestly didn’t want to go home. Heck I’ll grab the 4:30 bus. I sat outside at the City Grill, next to the church, and enjoyed a glass of wine in this peaceful surrounding in the middle of a hustle and bustle city.

You can indulge in the frenzied of bustling city life or you can find that peaceful spot among the hidden nooks and crannies or maybe enjoyed one of the many fine parks. Ah Toronto, it’s yours to enjoy.


Street Talk

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