Toronto is the largest city in the densely populated Canadian region located along the western shore of Lake Ontario. It is an international cultural center known for its distinctive architecture, museums and parks.
Things to do in Toronto
In the pre-colonial era, the Iroquois, Mississauga, Seneca lived around the Great Lakes. After the appearance of white people, the territory began to belong to the British Empire. In 1788, the British built settlements, on the site of which the city of York was formed, soon renamed Toronto. In the 19th century, the railway began operating here, which increased the number of immigrants and the growth of industry.
Now it is Canada’s leading tourist destination, attracting with its cultural attractions. Museums, art galleries, theaters and concert halls await guests.
Unfortunately, many historical buildings were destroyed by a fire that occurred in 1904. The old streets are built up with two-story houses of the 20th century and modern skyscrapers. The Casa Loma Palace, the Masonic Temple, Fort York and the television tower are of architectural value.
Toronto is famous for festivals and celebrations:
- In the first place is the autumn ten-day international film festival. The agenda of the event includes the demonstration of new tapes and the selection of the winner by audience voting.
- No less famous is the street festival, which hosts exhibitions of contemporary art, fairs, fireworks.
For an active pastime, parks, squares and picturesque surroundings of the city are suitable. Boat tours on Lake Ontario, fishing, excursions to Niagara Falls, and hiking are popular. Nearby there are ski resorts offering downhill skiing in winter and golf and cycling in summer.
Toronto has a zoo, an indoor aquarium, and amusement parks for adults and children. Travel agencies advertise sightseeing tours, interesting quests and gastronomic tours.
Nathan Phillips Square
The main square is named after the former mayor of the city. The rectangular area, finished with reinforced concrete slabs, is surrounded by government buildings. In the center is a monument to Winston Churchill and a Roman column.
In the southeast corner is a reflective pool, used as a skating rink in winter. On the south side, a Peace Garden was created in memory of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It consists of a pavilion, a fountain and flower beds.
Nathan Phillips Square hosts military parades, holidays, and sporting events.
The embankment stretches along Lake Ontario. In 2006, the mayor’s office announced a competition among designers to choose the best design for its central part. As a result, the coast was decorated with wooden decorative paths, similar to sea waves.
The surface of the wood is covered with special anti-slip components, steel railings are equipped for the elderly and the disabled. In the evening, the territory is illuminated by LED garlands and bright lanterns. Tourists come here to relax and take beautiful photos.
On the northern shore of Lake Ontario lies the Harborfront area. It is based on modern streets near the water. The harbor has a ferry terminal that transports people to Niagara Falls and the Toronto Islands.
A cultural center with art galleries, ceramics and textile workshops, conference rooms and theater stages has been opened in the Harbourfront. In winter, a free skating rink is poured on the streets. The area has several coastal parks with a good beach area and entertainment.
The square, erected at the intersection of the main city streets in 2002, is intended for official holidays, art exhibitions and mass celebrations.
Its central element is the fountains placed along the alley. They are an art installation in which the strength of the flow is constantly changing, creating beautiful water sculptures.
Dundas Square is located on the territory of the business center, therefore it is surrounded by giant billboards, banks, shops and offices of international companies.
In the 19th century, Toronto was the leader in the production of liquor in North America. Distilleries and distilleries worked in the city, around which the colorful district of Distillery was formed. Over time, businesses fell into decay, and the streets turned into an abandoned industrial area.
The situation was saved by filmmakers who filmed many Hollywood blockbusters in the area. Distillery became a bohemian center. The factories were repaired and opened in them jewelry workshops, art galleries, acting schools, dance classes.
The street, stretching from the waterfront of Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe, until 1999 was considered the longest in the world. This is one of the first streets in Toronto, and before the advent of the city, it was an Indian trail. Today it is an important artery of the metropolis, attracting tourists with bright neon signs, fashionable shops, high-end restaurants and nightclubs.
The wide pedestrian zone along the carriageway is always filled with people. They come to listen to street musicians, drink coffee in the fresh air, buy souvenirs, go to the Hockey Hall of Fame and see the equipment of Canadian athletes.
An exhibition center is equipped on the coastline of Ontario, accommodating shopping arcades, historic houses, sports facilities, and parks. The area is used all year round for fairs, concerts, celebrations.
In August, the Canadian National Exhibition dedicated to agriculture, arts and crafts, and trade starts here. Amusements are installed for guests, musical shows are shown, and fairs are organized.
In the exhibition center you can see interesting buildings and monuments: the Colosseum, the Cabin, the Queen Elizabeth Theater, the Gates of the Princes, the Memorial Temple of Peace.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the aristocrat Henry Pellat bought a plot of land to build a dream castle on it. After 3 years, the neo-Gothic mansion, which cost the owner $ 3.5 million, was ready. It included 98 rooms, a huge hall, a library, a front hall, a botanical garden with steam heating.
Due to financial problems, Sir Henry sold Casa Loma to the authorities. After much debate, the government decided to use the castle to attract tourists. Today it houses a museum displaying antique furniture, a collection of paintings and vintage cars.
In the city’s financial district is an office complex that is the headquarters of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. It consists of 6 towers and a pavilion finished with tinted glass. In buildings from 22 to 56 floors, which are raised by high-speed elevators.
Inside there are offices, trading floors, restaurants, exhibitions, conference centers. There is a gallery of Hindu art in the lobby. The permanent exhibition shows stone sculptures, musical instruments, national Indian costumes, and examples of painting.
In the 1920s, interest in cars grew significantly, so the authorities wanted to create additional space for displaying cars at the national fair. To do this, they erected an original two-story art deco building with columns and a mezzanine.
Inside there is a large exhibition hall and 20 spacious rooms for various events. The mansion in the exhibition center is a monument of Canadian architecture. In addition to the demonstration of cars, educational lectures, demonstrations of new equipment and spare parts are held in the premises.
The TV Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and is perfectly visible from all corners of Toronto. An elegant structure made of steel and concrete is a kind of symbol of the city. Its height, including the spire, is 553 meters, the number of floors is 147, all of which are served by 9 high-speed elevators.
At around 335 meters there is a revolving restaurant and an observation deck with a glass floor. A little higher is an astronomical observatory with powerful telescopes.
St. Paul’s Church
The Catholic Church of St. Paul was founded by the first settlers. Initially, the temple was erected from red brick and a parish school for Irish immigrants was opened under him. At the end of the 19th century, the number of parishioners increased, so a large-scale reconstruction was required.
After the restructuring, the church became larger and changed its appearance. She got a triangular pediment, a beautiful facade with arches and sculptures, a four-tiered bell tower. The architectural complex is surrounded by a park with lawns and benches.
At the intersection of Young Street and Davenport Road stands a four-story Neo-Renaissance house. It was built in 1919 at the direction of the Masonic order. The premises were intended for lodges, meetings of the Knights Templar and the council of Adoniram. In the middle of the last century, the Masons sold the property to the Canadian television channel CTV.
In 2006, the owner changed again. Now the Masonic temple belongs to the American satellite channel MTV. It hosts concerts, qualifying rounds of music shows, rehearsals and filming of celebrations.
Sri Swaminarayan Mandir
In 2005, construction began on a large Hindu temple in Toronto. The work was carried out with the involvement of Indian architects according to the canons of ancient temple architecture. Wood, marble, sandstone and limestone bricks were used as materials. After 2 years, the temple was consecrated and opened to believers.
This is a magnificent white palace with five domes. Its walls are decorated with skillful carvings depicting animals, birds, bunches of grapes, flowers, creepers. The interior is decorated with sacred figures of deities.
The temple has a heritage museum that introduces the Hindu religion and culture.
The Museum of Art and Natural History, which opened its doors in 1912, is the most visited museum in Canada. It consists of several buildings displaying more than 40 museum collections. Among them are samples of Canadian, Asian, Middle Eastern, African art, slate fossils, meteorites, minerals, dinosaur bones.
Exhibitions of ancient costumes and textiles, a gallery of Roman jewelry and statues, Egyptian mummies, Byzantine icons, artifacts of the indigenous peoples of Canada are especially popular.
Near the US border is Fort George, founded in the 18th century by the British. The bastion was damaged during the war of 1812 and was abandoned, but it was restored as a historical landmark. According to the drawings, specialists reconstructed wooden barracks, a powder warehouse, guardrooms.
Today there is a museum and a training camp for Canadian soldiers. Arriving tourists study the situation of the fort, look at old documents, uniforms, weapons and, if they are lucky, participate in a costumed representation of military battles.
The art museum covers an area of 45,000 m². It includes exhibition areas, studio premises, conference rooms, a workshop, a gift shop. The permanent collection includes 98 thousand works brought from different parts of the globe.
Among the exhibits are Renaissance portraits, landscape paintings by Canadian artists, Inuit works of art, modern works in the style of minimalism, modernism, pop art. Sculptures, photographs, pencil drawings and engravings are shown in separate rooms.
Museum of Ceramics
In 1984, a ceramics museum was opened on St. George’s campus. Its purpose is to collect and store works of pottery and arts and crafts. Visitors are presented with two permanent exhibitions:
- Faience collection, including objects from England, Italy, pre-colonial America;
- Exhibition of porcelain from Europe, China and Japan.
The museum has a library of scientific literature. Traveling exhibitions and educational programs on pottery are organized for schools and universities.
Hockey Hall of Fame
A hall dedicated to the history of hockey and the chronicle of playing victories occupies a beautiful building on Young Street. It performs the functions of a museum, a public organization and has 15 galleries that store sports paraphernalia, personal belongings of players, cups, awards, inventory.
The main hall is decorated with the Stanley Cup, which is replaced during the championships with a copy, and portraits of famous hockey players. Each year, the commission selects new members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Among the candidates are athletes, coaches and people who contribute to the development of the game. The inauguration ceremony is broadcast on Canadian television.
The exhibition center is decorated with a log cabin from 1794, considered the oldest house in Toronto. It was built by Devonshire immigrant John Scudding. The small house escaped fires and serious damage, so it was transferred to the local historical society.
The hut was dismantled and moved to the exhibition. Now there is a historical museum in it, demonstrating things from the time of the first settlers. Guests are shown a carved cradle, spinning wheels, candlesticks, ceramic dishes, bread baking molds.
The garrison in the western part of Toronto is a historical monument preserved from the time of the Battle of York. Once upon a time, bloody battles took place here between British and American soldiers who wanted to establish their dominance in Canada.
There is a museum in York Fortress that recreates the atmosphere of a military camp. Visitors can see the old barracks, a wine cellar, figures of soldiers dressed in the uniform of those years, cannons and small arms.
On Canadian national holidays, the fort hosts colorful military parades.
Village near the Black Creek
The village on the banks of the Black Creek River is a heritage museum. It recreates life in Ontario in the early 19th century and is ideal for families. There are about 40 houses in the fresh air, furnished with antique furniture.
Guests can see a mill with a water drive, a blacksmith shop, a school, a hotel, wooden huts of immigrants. The buildings have been moved to the village from various cities in Ontario and are historical monuments.
Nature and entertainment
Royal Botanic Garden
The largest botanical garden in Canada has been planted in the vicinity of Toronto. It was laid 100 years ago during the Great Depression for scientific and educational purposes.
The territory is divided into an arboretum, a rose garden, a lilac park by Katie Osborne, a rock garden. Among the trees, artificial ponds are equipped, paths are laid, flower beds with rare flowers are laid out. The park area is surrounded by a natural broad-leaved forest. It grows trees listed in the Red Book.
While vacationing in Toronto, it is worth visiting Niagara Falls on the border of Canada and the United States. It includes American, Horseshoe and Veil waterfalls. Their height is 53 meters, width — 792 meters. The foot is covered with picturesque stones of different shapes and sizes.
The roar of Niagara Falls can be heard for miles around and sounds frightening at night. Bright rainbows often form over the stream during the day. It is best to admire the natural attraction from the deck of a pleasure boat or from the cockpit of a helicopter.
Lake Ontario has a chain of 15 small islands. This is a popular tourist area, famous for its wide beaches, yacht clubs, and parks. People come here to kayak, canoe, raft, fish, sunbathe and swim.
On one of the islands there is a children’s amusement park Centreville with carousels and a miniature railway. You can get to the islands by using the services of a water taxi, or by taking a ferry, which departs regularly from the local harbor.
In 1974, the government allocated 287 hectares of land for the construction of a zoo. The huge complex is divided into geographical regions:
- Indian rhinos, orangutans, tigers, clouded leopards live in the Indo-Malaysian zone.
- Zebras, giraffes, white lions, river hippos walk in the African savannah.
- The Australian Pavilion features kangaroos, red-tailed black cockatoos, and long-haired wombats.
- Alligators, flamingos, jaguars, common monkeys, and otters live in the American District.
- The Canadian region introduces bison, elk, cougars, grizzly bears.
- Dolphins, killer whales, fur seals and seals live in the zoo’s pools.
Downtown Toronto boasts a large, modern building that houses a 12,500 m² public aquarium. The volume of its tanks reaches 5,700,000 liters. Aquariums form galleries showing the fauna of the Great Barrier Reef, the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic Ocean, Canadian rivers and lakes.
The central place is occupied by an underwater tunnel, past which tiger sharks, rays, barracudas, sawfish swim. Separate tanks are home to green turtles, dolphins and a giant Pacific octopus.
The theme park, located 25 kilometers from Toronto, was founded in 1981. Since then, it has remained the largest in Canada. The central point of the complex is the Mountain of Miracles with a lake and a waterfall. Wide alleys and flower beds depart from it. Traveling along the paths, you can explore different play areas and ride dizzying rides.
Tourists tickle their nerves on roller coasters, go on a river raft ride, visit a medieval fortress, plunge into the era of the gold rush at a themed exhibition. Canada’s Wonderland has playgrounds for young children, a water park, a musical theatre, a restaurant, a patisserie, and a gift shop.