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TORONTO: An Overview

Exciting, vibrant and cosmopolitan, Toronto is Canada’s Downtown, the largest city and number one visitor destination.

“Toronto” is Huron Indian for “meeting place,” a word which aptly describes one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, with over 100 different cultures represented in its population of over 2.3 million. This diversity can be seen at the city’s many festivals, friendly neighbourhoods, and of course, its 9,000 restaurants.

The shopping experience includes everything from upscale boutiques to an underground city featuring 1,200 stores and services. Toronto also boasts more than 32,500 quality hotel rooms.

The city’s love for the arts has made it an important live theatre centre, and its museums are some of the most unique in North America.

This bold new city of glass towers and Victorian neighbourhoods even boasts parkland islands in its harbour. And it’s also within a few hours drive of the great Canadian outdoors and the breathtaking Niagara Falls.

When in Toronto, don’t miss:

Difficult to miss, the CN Tower stands at 1,815 feet, making it the Western Hemisphere’s tallest freestanding structure. Built at a cost of $63 million in 1976, the CN Tower weighs 130,000 tons! Ascending at a rate similar to that of a jet plane takeoff, the elevators will zoom you up to one of four observation decks including the world’s highest, The Sky Pod, that sits at 1,465’. Feeling brave? Step outside the observation area for the exhilarating EdgeWalk!

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is among the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures. Indeed, in combining a universal museum of cultures with that of natural history, the ROM offers an unusual breadth of experience to visitors and scholars from around the world. The stunning Michael Lee-Chin Crystal renovation is also worth the visit!

One of the top 10 art museums in North America, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) houses contemporary and historic Canadian and American art, works by Canada’s Native peoples, and the world’s largest collection of sculptures by Henry Moore. Be sure to visit The Grange, Toronto’s oldest brick building, a fine example of Georgian style built in 1817 or enjoy Sunday brunch amidst Rodin sculptures in AGORA.

Casa Loma is a true turn-of-the-century castle on a hill complete with 98 elegantly furnished rooms, towers, secret passageways and tunnels. Built in 1914 by financier and soldier Sir Henry Pellat at a cost of $3 million, the castle was eventually lost to the taxman just over 10 years later. Its architect, E.J. Lennox, also designed Old City Hall and The Omni King Edward Hotel. Stroll through the surrounding gardens and enjoy some of the best views of the city.

Head to Canada’s Wonderland for great family entertainment.

Rogers Centre is the world’s first stadium with a fully-retractable roof and home to the Toronto Blue Jays major league baseball team.

Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues in the heart of Toronto’s downtown waterfront.

For a different and relaxing pace, visit The Toronto Islands, 820 acres of parkland and waterways. Just a 10-minute ferry ride, the Islands offer a spectacular view of Toronto’s skyline.

Of course, one of the most unique aspects of Toronto is how we are a city of neighbourhoods. Home to more than 80 cultural and ethnic groups, Toronto truly is the world within the city:

  • Greektown on Danforth Avenue, between Chester and Pape Avenue
    Described as “taking a trip to Athens while staying in the heart of Toronto,” Greektown today is a thriving neighbourhood of restaurants and cafés, gourmet food shops, fashion boutiques and a vibrant street life.
  • Little Italy on College Street, between Palmerston Avenue and Shaw Street
    The Italians may have moved further north into surrounding suburbs, but with its fine dining spots, trattorias, pool halls and billiards, this neighbourhood is still seen as the heart of Little Italy. Overseeing it all is Italian legend, Johnny Lombardi, the patriarch of the CHIN Multicultural Radio and Television empire.
  • Little India on Gerrard Street East between Greenwood and Coxwell
    Take a College Street streetcar eastbound to Gerrard Street and into Little India. Enjoy the sights, smells and aromas of India.

Shop ’til you drop!

The Eaton Centre which, with its 300+ stores, stretches from Dundas Street to Queen Street or roam North America’s largest underground pedestrian system, PATH, that beckons with its four million square feet of retail space. For funky wares, there is Queen Street West.

And expensive baubles can be had in Yorkville. Home to international designers like Prada, Chanel, Tiffany’s and Armani, it is also home to Canadian success stories like ROOTS, MAC Cosmetics and Club Monaco.

The Toronto Zoo has more than 4,000 animals from around the world.

A shrine to Canada’s favourite sport (or religion!), Hockey Hall of Fame is a truly interactive modern museum portraying the history of Canada’s national game and home to the world’s largest collection of hockey memorabilia. From the original Stanley Cup in the Grand Hall and jerseys to a replica of the locker room of the Montreal Canadiens, it’s all here! An interesting note – unique architectural aspects of this former branch of Bank of Montreal that dates back to 1885 and was designed by Darling and Curry, have been retained.

A media favourite, The Bata Shoe Museum is a North American first. This unique attraction features selections from the fascinating collection of Sonja Bata that currently numbers in excess of 10,000 artifacts, including iron-spiked clogs used to crush chestnuts, Chinese slippers for bound feet, and Elton John’s silver-sequined platforms. This exceptional collection spans 4,500 years and explores the significance of footwear in life and in death, work, religion, and fashion.

Click here to learn more about what Toronto has to offer.

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