Had enough of old structures and buildings? Tired of visiting museums and historical places? Ever wanted to escape to someplace where you can walk in a glass floor, shop in a glass ceilinged structure, cruise in a beautiful luxury yacht and spend the night in a hotel just a few kilometers from a waterfall? Then now is your chance to visit Toronto, the capital city of Ontario, where modernity is at its best. With its iconic features mixed with contemporaneousness, no wonder a lot of people want to stay and spend their great escape in the city.
Being the most populated, Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is located in southern Ontario. Its history began in the 18th century when the British crown purchased the land from the Mississaugas of the New Credit; a Mississauga Ojibwa First Nation located near Brantford in south-central Ontario. The British established a settlement called the Town of York and made it the capital of Upper Canada. In 1834, it become a city and was renamed Toronto.
Although the city was damaged by fire in 1849 and 1904, over the years, it has risen into one of the world’s most diverse cities offering wide range of activities, spectacular sceneries and depicting progressive lifestyle. Sleek, mystifying and innovative. There’s always too much to say about Toronto but never enough words.
Great Shopping Destination
If shopping is what you’re looking for then Eaton Centre is the right place for you. Located at the heart of the city, it is a historical landmark originating from Timothy Eaton’s dream to change the Canadian retail industry. With more than 285 retailers, restaurants and services, it stands now as the third largest mall in Canada attracting approximately 50 million visitors annually.
Experience first class shopping that defines luxury living. The centre modeled after Milan, Italy’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is composed of six floors with a glass domed ceiling. Its gleaming state-of-the-art building system, urban ambiance and excellent amenities is unequalled by any other shopping centre in downtown Toronto. One of the attractions inside the place is the Centre Court’s famous fountain and Michael Snow’s sculpture of Canada geese entitled “Flight Stop”.
Although Eaton Centre is a place unlike any other, there is still another shopping destination that visitors from every walk of life should not miss. Extending along Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West, Toronto’s Chinatown is said to be one of North America’s largest Chinese district.
The place is home to a diversity of Asian culture from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. Take a stroll in the streets lined with barbecued pork, duck, steamed buns and other exotic food. And get a chance to eat authentic Chinese cuisines at a cheap price in the different Chinese restaurants around the area.
Toronto’s second Chinatown is located in the Gerrard Street East between Broadview Avenue and Carlaw Avenue while the others are located in the suburbs.
Sophisticated Political Buildings
Aside from shopping destinations, two of the most notable buildings in Toronto are its political structures. Toronto City Hall and Legislative Building are different in many forms, while the former is modernist in architectural style, the latter on the other hand is in Richardsonian Romanesque style.
A symbol of power and a progressing city, Toronto City Hall’s unusual design, consisting of a short round building surrounded by two semi-circular tall buildings, was pictured by its architect, Viljo Revell, as an eye; the center building as the pupil and the two tall buildings as the upper and lower eyelids. Residence of Toronto affectionately calls it ‘the UFO’ or “the burrito’.
The Hall of Memories, a scale model of the city showing its different attractions and forthcoming renovations, are found on the first floor of the main building. Also “metropolis”, a unique mural fashioned from nails, made by David Partridge is found in the building. In front of the City Hall is the Nathan Philips Square filled with flower gardens and fountains during the summer.
Far more different than the City Hall, Toronto’s Legislative Building is the fifth home of Ontario’s provincial parliament. Situated in Queen’s park, near the University of Toronto, it houses the vice regal suite of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly and offices for members of the provincial parliament.
Roam the Legislative Building’s front yard adorned with statues of Queen Victoria, King George V, John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, and John S. Macdonald.
Glistening Bodies of Water
If what you’re looking for is the pristine, blue bodies of water, Toronto also has one. The Humber Bay is where the Niagara Falls, the top tourist attraction to go to, is, as well as where the Humber Bay Arch Bridge lies.
With a total length of 139 meters, the Humber Bay Arch Bridge or the Gateway Bridge is a pedestrian and bicycle arch bridge built to protect the environmental integrity of the waterway. The bridge, with a foundation consisting of concrete-filled caissons which go down 98 feet below to the bedrock, was constructed with high-strength steel pipes, bent into twin arches that rise 70 feet above.
Interestingly, the bridge presents Masonic characteristics. On each of its four buttresses, hidden from the public, is a large metal inset portraying a serpent that is said to be a symbol in the ancient mystery religion associated in masonry. To the other side is Queen Elizabeth Way’s Monument, erected to commemorate the visit of the Queen and King George VI, who was a freemason, in Canada. The monument is said to be a large Masonic cult symbol.
While the Humber bay is located between Ontario Place on the east and Mimico Creek to the west, the Niagara Falls on the other hand serves as the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York.
Popular for its natural beauty and valuable source of hydroelectric power, Niagara Falls is a collective name for the three waterfalls namely; the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls is the largest and lies in the Canadian side while the American Falls, separated by Goat Island, and the Bridal Veil Falls, the smallest, lies on the American side.
Tour the fall on board the Maid of the Mist boat cruise and witness the beauty of the Niagara Falls from the best possible view. Get a chance to walk behind the falls in the Journey behind the fall tour. Visit the historic town on Niagara-on-the-lake and take a picture at the Niagara Falls Floral Clock.
In 1860, Charles Blondin, a French tightrope walker and acrobat, walked a tightrope across the Niagara Falls for the third time. Stopping midway, he cooked an omelet on a portable grill and asked a marksman from the Maid of the Mist boat to shoot a hole through his hat.
Heart of Toronto’s Waterfront
If you haven’t had enough of water, then your next stop is the Harbourfront, the heart of Toronto’s waterfront. Situated along the shores of Lake Ontario, the ten-acre centre offers limitless activities for its visitors. An excellent way to spend the day, from water related sights and activities to shopping and dining to the most elegant restaurants and shopping malls.
Visit and see the detailed production of sugar in the Redpath Sugar Museum located in the enormous Redpath Sugar Refinery. Be a musician in the Toronto Music Garden that represents the interpretation of Bach’s “First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello”. Witness the different modern dances and theater performances from around the world in the Premiere Dance Theater. Experience ice skating during the winter, at Canada’s largest artificially-cooled outdoor skating rink or ride a bicycle during the summer, at the Martin Goodman Trail.
Be a sports enthusiast at Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball team. Also known as the Sky dome, it has a retractable roof that allows playing games in all kinds of weather. If what you want is Hockey then visit the Air Canada Centre which hosts different games such as the Toronto Maple Leafs Homes games and the Toronto Raptors Basketball games. The arena also hosts Toronto’s large concerts.
Shop at the Queen’s Quay Terminal, a large shopping and condo development area located in a beautiful art deco warehouse. Dine and taste classic Canadian food in Sobey’s and Loblaws located inside the Queen’s Quay Terminal. Cruise in a private yacht in the Temptress Cruises. And spend the night in the Westin Harbour Castle and the Radisson Admiral Hotel offering indoor and outdoor pool, fitness centre, bars and restaurants.
The place is also buzzing with concerts and festivals during the summer.
If you’re someone who’s afraid of heights or any elevated places now is your time to conquer your fears. Known as the world’s fifth tallest free standing structure, the CN Tower is the envy of all architects from every part of the world. Literally the highlight of the city and possibly the highlight of every visitor’s journey to Toronto, CN Tower offers a breathtaking view as well an unforgettable experience to locals and tourists alike.
With a height of almost two thousand feet, it serves as a concrete observation, telecommunication and attraction site in downtown Toronto. It held the title for the world’s tallest free-standing structure and world’s tallest tower for 34 years until the completion of Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower in 2010. Its name CN stands for Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. In 1995, it was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Tower has basically three attractions; the sky pod, the glass floor and the lookout level. The glass floor is one of the visitors’ favorites. Here tourists can literally walk in a floor made up of more than 2 tons of glass. With the height of one thousand feet, you can see all the way down to street level. The lookout level, contains the IMAX, two flight stimulators, night club and a revolving restaurant. The last and the highest is the Sky Pod formerly known as the Space Deck, from here visitors can see all the way to the city of Rochester across Lake Ontario in the United Sates, the mist rising from the Niagara Falls and the shores of Lake Simcoe.
The CN Tower also shows a 15-minute documentary about the building entitled “To the Top”.
Another must-try for tourists and the best mode of transportation for locals is the Toronto Subway and RT. Operated by the Toronto Transit Commission, it is a rapid transit system consisting of an underground and elevated railway lines. The subway was Canada’s first completed subway system and up until today has expanded to become the country’s largest and busiest rapid transit rail network.
Not only is the subway a mode of transportation, it has also become a hidden art gallery. One of the art pieces found in the College Station is Charles Pachter’s “Hockey Knights in Canada”. In Yorkdale Station, a sculpture called “Arc-en-Ciel”, French for “Rainbow” is found but was now removed. At Bayview Station, “Trompe-l’œil”, depicting shadows of common objects such as apples and ladder,s are screened to the walls. In Museum Station, columns that resemble Osiris, First Nations house posts, Doric columns found in the Parthenon, China’s Forbidden City columns and Toltec warriors dominate the area.
When all the great things in life such as work, school and other activities become a burden to the point that you can’t find the fun in it or you have forgotten the reasons why you’re even interested in doing those things, then it’s just fine to escape, even for just a while. Be away; go to a place far more different from your usual surroundings. Have a day-off, relax and enjoy other things aside from your routinely activities.
Find new things that may interest you. But, when you’ve rested enough and have energized your boring life again, don’t ever forget to go back because at the end of the day the things that make your life difficult are the things you’ll miss the most.
Go find your great escape, just a little piece of advice: if what you’re looking for is a place for the brave hearted a place where you can appreciate and use your architectural prowess, and a place where you can be in touch with modernity then I know where exactly it is. I triple dare you to go find your great escape in Canada, in the province of Ontario, in the city of Toronto.