I am currently in Toronto for GoMedia. This will have me spending time with tourism bodies and resort properties tomorrow and Wednesday in the hopes of sorting out local travel stories and great Canadian adventures.
As a part of the conference, media have been invited on an assortment of tours around Toronto. This morning’s selections were everything from Green Toronto, Insiderâ€™s Shopping, Art & Design, Streetcar, On Set, and the one that I chose — History.
Our guide was Bruce Bell, a very active local historian that not only leads tours but keeps the city on its toes when it comes to recognizing the historic significance of its communities and buildings.
Our tour began at the Fairmont Royal York and looped around to the Harbourfront, St. Lawrence (Old Town), and the Financial District.
After laying vacant and closed to the public for years, Toronto revitalized its roundhouse and celebrated a grand opening in the summer of 2009. It’s strikingly similar to Vancouver’s roundhouse in Yaletown however instead of housing a community centre, the John Street Roundhouse is home to a museum, furniture store, and Steam Whistle Brewing.
From the Roundhouse we walked over to the waterfront and looked over at Toronto Island. Bruce called it “Toronto’s Central Park” as it’s their own urban oasis complete with beaches, forest, an amusement park, and even a regional airport.
We continued our 3-hour tour through the financial district and learned quite a bit about the city’s modern and classic architecture. Over the years colonial and second empire-style buildings have been replaced with towering cement, stone, and glass behemoths across the skyline. In some instances you can catch restored facades or renovations that mix old York with new Toronto.
Bruce told us that Toronto is based on the Mohawk “Tkaronto” that means “where there are trees standing in the water”. Under dominion rule, the area was called York however after the rebellion against the British and conflicts with our neighbours to the South (who had a place called New York) the name Toronto was restored.
As a side note, I spotted this giant cookie in Union Station. At first I only took the photo because it was a giant cookie in a train station however upon closer inspection I realized that it would be rather fitting on CakeWrecks.
Another stop was St James Cathedral. This particular building was built in the 1850s but the site has been home to five St James Cathedrals over the centuries.
We looped back around, bordering the Distillery District, which I have been told is a great village to explore.
Old and new blend in the city as stone and concrete are being replaced with shimmering glass. We only explored a small slice of Toronto today but around every corner we learned about a little bit more the region’s (and Canada’s) past.
You can browse the rest of my photos from the walk on Flickr.