Top 25

Top 25 Toronto Landmarks

With great trepidation, I moved from the safe confines of suburban Whitby to the booming metropolis of Toronto. That was 10 years ago.

You see, I grew up in a household that was anti-Toronto. The rhetoric against Hogtown has died down and I have grown more comfortable in the fact that, yes, I live in the city.

That still doesn’t mean I like being around lots of people. I’ve just acclimatized to life in Canada’s largest berg and I’m no longer afraid to call myself a Torontonian.

And I love being in Toronto. There is always something to see, something to do, something to experience.

To celebrate the milestone of surviving 10 years in Canada’s most hated geographical divot, here is my Top 25 Toronto Landmarks.

25. Riverdale Farm
Location: Cabbagetown, downtown Toronto
Why: It’s a popular destination to take the kids, partially because it’s free, and partially because there are common farmstead critters that pique the curiosity of my little ones.
24. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Location: Entertainment District, downtown Toronto
Why: Although I’ve been there only a handful of times, it’s a beacon for the international film festival that happens every September. I love movies and I appreciate the exhibitions that they’ve had in past.
23. Old Spaghetti Factory
Location: The Esplanade, downtown Toronto
Why: It seems to be the gathering place for when out-of-town family members visit. This is either our British relations or American friends of the family. The food’s good, BTW.
22. Timothy Eaton Memorial Church
Location: South Hill, midtown Toronto
Why: I married my wife here. When we were planning our nuptials, there was hesitation on getting married at the reception venue. I felt, if we going to get married in a church, it has to be a CHURCH. Stone. Bells. Age.
21. Hockey Hall of Fame
Location: Financial District, downtown Toronto
Why: It just wouldn’t be Canadian of me to not include our national sport’s building of history. I may be a Blackhawks fan, but I love hockey in general.
20. Old Mill Hotel
Location: Old Mill, Etobicoke
Why: I’ve always enjoyed pulling into the subway station and seeing the Old Mill Hotel from the windows. Plus the added image of the Humber River adds to the ambiance.
19. Burrito Boyz (Peter St.)
Location: Entertainment District, downtown Toronto
Why: While working at Toronto.com, an off-shoot of Torstar Digital, I would pay a visit to the old basement location that was on Peter Street. Now the location is on Adelaide, so be sure to pay it a visit.
18. Gibraltar Point
Location: Toronto Island
Why: It’s a location of legend. A murder. An alleged ghost. The ancient architecture and the wonderful history that it was once by the lake. I also dig lighthouses.
17. Yorkville
Location: Yorkville, midtown Toronto
Why: There’s musical history there. There’s rebellion saturated into the streets. Even though the boho-fashionista chic of the area is the aesthetic, there’s still a story under that makeup.
16. Movie Poster Warehouse
Location: Don Mills, North York
Why: My good friend moved from the suburban confines of Whitby to Toronto, during our high school years and upon learning about a movie poster warehouse, I went to visit him in his new ‘hood of Newtonbrook. We hitched out to Don Mills to look through the shop’s wares. I bought my Kill Bill, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fair GameGoldeneye and House on Haunted Hill posters from there.
15. BMV (On Bloor St. W.)
Location: The Annex, midtown Toronto
Why: Books are expensive. They shouldn’t be Indigo or U of T Bookstore expensive though. BMV provided a wellspring to my English literary needs while attending the University of Toronto
14. Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Location: Davisville/Moore Park, midtown Toronto
Why: It’s a relaxing walk, sauntering through rolling hills with granite, limestone and ornamental trees scattered about. I tend to get character names for stories from the tombstones. If you want to visit William Lyon Mackenzie King, go for it. Pay respects to the Eatons. Set sail. The best place to catch a glimpse of foxes or deer, in the city, is here.
13. The Skydome
Location: Entertainment District, downtown Toronto
Why: My family loves baseball. It’s the one sport we can all agree on. The Blue Jays’ home, which I still call the Skydome, partially out of spite and partially out of habit, is a favourite spot.
12. Silver Snail (Queen St. W.)
Location: Entertainment district, downtown Toronto
Why: Unfortunately, the building is no longer standing, and the comic book shop is now located above a Five Guys at Yonge and Dundas Square. However, the old building, with its comic book mural and two floors was a haunt of mine during university.
11. University College
Location: University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Why: It’s a haunt from my university days that drips history. From its near death from a fire in 1906 to its mason-love-triangle-feud to its architectural grandeur, this place is awesome.
10. Hemingway’s
Location: Yorkville, midtown Toronto
Why: Three floors dedicated to alcohol and post-work shenanigans. I’ve attended many meetings here, which seems to be a sore thumb in ritzy Yorkville.
9. Sonic Boom
Location: Formerly the Annex, now the Entertainment District, downtown Toronto
Why: One of the few big music stores still dotting the city’s landscape. There are others, but none with the expanse that this shop encompasses.
8. Ashbridges Bay
Location: The Beach (or Beaches), East York
Why: A great location to enjoy Lake Ontario, although my first experience at 13 was met with the squish of dog dirt. Still, between Kew Gardens and this, it’s a picturesque part of Toronto.
7. The Pilot
Location: Yorkville, midtown Toronto
Why: It’s my favourite bar in the city. I don’t know why, but the Noirish charm and aviator theme seems to permeate my interest.
6. The Phoenix
Location: Cabbagetown, downtown Toronto
Why: I’ve been to many a concert here, and it was another haunt of mine during university. I was always intrigued by the DJs who could make Offspring songs into dance-pop ditties.
5. Doc’s Leather
Location: Trinity-Bellwoods, downtown Toronto
Why: I’m not particular about leather goods, but if you venture deeper into the store, there are geological marvels and road trip artifacts that are up for grabs. It’s a beautiful little gem in the city.
4. Izzy Gallery
Location: Yorkville, midtown Toronto
Why: Izzy Sulejmani has cornered a market in the city by being the exclusive merchant to sell the work of celebrated fashion photographers, including Marco Glaviano and Ellen von Unwerth. It’s a must if you’re a photography fan.
3. Royal Ontario Museum
Location: University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Why: My undergrad at university was archaeology, so a lot of days were spent at the museum. It’s also a favourite spot to visit with the kids. I dig history. I dig the environment as well.
2. St. Lawrence Market
Location: The Esplanade, downtown Toronto
Why: On one of the few ventures into the city during my youth, St. Lawrence Market was one of them. During Grade 6 (around 1990), we took a class trip there. I loved the ability to buy food in bulk, including candy.
1. Casa Loma
Location: South Hill, midtown Toronto
Why: It’s an incredible piece of architecture, albeit an incomplete one. It’s got the legend of the Taj Mahal, combined with the Old World feel of castledom. I first went there on a class trip in Grade 2 (1986) and loved it. Especially the bat tower.

Photos courtesy Brian Baker, Google, Izzy Gallery and Yuko.

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