Part 1 of Toronto tour

No-one told me before moving to Toronto was how many revolving doors they have.  You may laugh, but it is certainly no laughing matter when fifty people want to get out of the cold into a giant shopping centre and you’re trying to build the momentum to throw yourself into something that, in my opinion, seems to revolve extraordinarily fast!

Now you know how my mornings start. As they say, practice makes perfect and there is no doubt I am getting better!!

This morning was a late start due to positive reasons (hopefully !) as I was on the phone with an insurance broker’s “talent acquisition” team for a while.  When I did get out of the house it was about midday. I took myself down to Yonge-Dundas Square and jumped on a City Sightseeing Hop On, Hop off Bus.  It was fantastic! I tried to sit on the top deck which was an open top, but I didn’t last longer than five minutes. It was freezing and quite windy!

We headed North on Yonge Street, which I learned is EXTREMELY long and would take a day to drive in its’ entirety. Apparently it used to be known as the longest street in the World at 1,896km; however, it was decided this was incorrect as it morphs into Highway 11. Therefore, the street itself is only 86km long.  I also learned that it divides the East and West of Toronto.

I hadn’t been to this area before and I thought it seemed betty pretty. It turns out this is one of the most expensive areas of Toronto… typical! I can’t hello having expensive taste.

Back in the day, Yorkville wanted to remain independent and it was rumoured that in order to reach the 1,000 signatures required for the village to qualify for self-government, the names of several “petitioners” were actually copied of grave markers in nearby Potter’s Field. Ingenious!

When we passes the Firehall (they call it that) I noticed an interesting coat of arms on display, which turned out to be that of Yorkville back in the day. It was originally installed at the Town Hall and it shows symbols that represent the occupations of the first councillors in the village:
a brewer, a bricklayer, a carpenter, a blacksmith, and a butcher. The letters below each symbol stand for the last initial of the respective councillor. The Beaver is the official animal of Canada and has been used on coats-of-arms since the 1600s.

The most expensive condominium sold in Toronto is in this area, at the Four Season Hotel. It sold for CAD$28m and the buyers made the real-estate agents sign a Non-Disclosure agreement, so no-one knew who lived there. That was until now, as the couple is going through a divorce and selling the condo for $36m. Insane!

The owner of the apartment is (well, was…before he had an affair and lost millions. Silly man!) Robert Oesterlund, a Finnish businessman who made a fortune on internet ads and browser toolbars.

The Hazelton Hotel in Yorkville is rather upper class. Apparently, quite a few famous people have stayed there, including Le Bron James and Justin Bieber. Mark Wahlberg owns the penthouse. In the basement gift store they have a Rolex and Maserati store!

Read more about Yorkville here:,_Toronto

Yorkville firehall
Yorkville firehall

We were told there was a history of music in this area –  jazz bars were popular here and the guide specifically mentioned one that was called The Purple Onion.

We passed the Royal Conservatory of Music, which is known as being a leader in education. It was formed in 1886 and some of its’ alumni include:

Diana Krall (singer/pianist)
Paul Shaffer (musical director)
Kim Cattrall (actor)
Bruce Cockburn (singer/songwriter/guitarist)
Carly Rae Jepsen (singer/songwriter)
Sarah McLachlan (singer)
Ryan Reynolds (actor)
Shania Twain (singer)
…and the list goes on

Next up we passed the University Toronto Varsity Blues football ground.  It is worth mentioning this because on October 13, 2007, they set the record for the longest losing streak in Canadian university history, at 49 losses in a row!!! This losing streak was snapped on September 1, 2008 when they defeated the Waterloo Warriors 18-17 for their first win in almost seven years. After this win, they were so excited that they took to the streets and held an impromptu parade!

The Annex
European settlement of this area began in the 1790s when surveyors laid out York Township. The area east of Brunswick Avenue became part of the village of Yorkville, while the region west of Brunswick was part of Seaton Village. In 1883, Yorkville agreed to annexation with the City of Toronto. In 1886, Simeon Janes, a developer, created a subdivision which he called the Toronto Annex. The Annex area became part of Toronto in 1887 and Seaton Village joined Toronto in 1888.

The northern Annex (north of Bloor Street) was home to many members of Toronto’s Eaton family, Baldwin, Ross, and Simpson families until the mid-twentieth century. Timothy Eaton had his home at the corner of Lowther Avenue and Walmer Road, and the Baldwin family built three homes on the northern side of Lowther near Bedford Road.

Admiral Road in the Annex is home to the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood.

Will Smith allegedly resides here whilst Suicide Squad was being filmed, even jumping on the tour bus! Unfortunately, no-one exciting was on board at the same time as me.

The Castle
No, the “King of Canada” does not live here, although apparently, people do ask this.. stupid ones, if you ask me!

Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House) is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens in midtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that is now a museum and landmark.

It was built as a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Casa Loma was constructed from 1911 to 1914. He budgeted $1m for the build, but the actual cost ended up being $3.5!

History of Casa Loma:

“In 1903, financier Henry Pellatt (investor in Toronto Electric Light Company) purchased 25 lots from developers Kertland and Rolf. Pellatt commissioned architect E. J. Lennox to design Casa Loma with construction beginning in 1911, starting with the massive stables, potting shed and Hunting Lodge (a.k.a. coach-house) a few hundred feet north of the main building. The Hunting Lodge is a two-storey 4,380-square-foot (407 m2) house with servants’ quarters. As soon as the stable complex was completed, Sir Henry sold his summer house in Scarborough to his son and moved to the Hunting Lodge. The stables were used as a construction site for the castle (and also served as the quarters for the male servants), with some of the machinery still remaining in the rooms under the stables.
The house cost about $3.5 million and took 300 workers three years to build. Due to the start of World War I, construction was halted. At 98 rooms covering 64,700 square feet (6,011 m2), it was the largest private residence in Canada. Notable amenities included an elevator, an oven large enough to cook an ox, two vertical passages for pipe organs, a central vacuum, two secret passages in Pellatt’s ground-floor office, a pool, and three bowling alleys in the basement (the last two were never completed).
Most of the third floor was left unfinished, and today serves as the Regimental Museum for The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Pellatt joined the Regiment as a Rifleman and rose through the ranks to become the Commanding Officer. He was knighted for his dedication to the Regiment. Pellatt later served as the Honorary Colonel and was promoted to Major-General upon retirement.
During the depression that followed the war, the City of Toronto increased Casa Loma’s property taxes from $600 per year to $1,000 a month, and Pellatt, already experiencing financial difficulties, auctioned off $1.5 million in art and $250,000 in furnishings. Pellatt was able to enjoy life in the castle for less than ten years, leaving in 1923.
In the late 1920s, investors operated Casa Loma for a short time as a luxury hotel. During Prohibition it became a popular nightspot for wealthy Americans. The Orange Blossoms, later known as Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, played there for eight months in 1927–1928. Shortly thereafter, they went on a tour of North America and became a major swing era dance band.
The city seized Casa Loma in 1933 for $27,303 in back taxes. The castle was extremely run down and the city was moving for the castle to be demolished. In 1937, however, it was leased by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto, later the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma (KCCL), which began operating the castle under a sole-source contract as a tourist destination.
During World War II, the stables were used to conceal research and production of sonar, and for construction of sonar devices (known as ASDIC) for U-boat detection, according to a book about the “castle”. The area was closed, behind an “Under Repairs” sign. The suggestion that the stables were under renovation allowed workers of the secret facility to come and go without suspicion. Casa Loma is often claimed to be the location of Station M that manufactured covert devices for agents, claiming that the book Inside Camp X provides this information.[7] In 2015, however, author Lynn Philip Hodgson rejected this in an interview with the Toronto Star. “Nobody knows where Station M was. You won’t read where it was in any book.”
Casa Loma is a popular location for use in film and television. It has served as a location for movies such as X-Men, Strange Brew, Chicago, The Tuxedo, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Warehouse 13, Desendants, Twitches Too, and The Pacifier. Comic books and children’s novels that have used it include the Scott Pilgrim series and Eric Wilson’s murder mystery, The Lost Treasure of Casa Loma. It was also temporarily transformed into Hogwarts for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well as The Beasts Castle for Disney’s 2017 live action Beauty and The Beast. In the CBC Television show Being Erica, the episode “Mi Casa, Su Casa Loma” features Casa Loma prominently as the place where main character Erica Strange works.
It also served in the movie adaption of R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps (TV series)” A Night In Terror Tower. Casa Loma also features prominently in the biography-documentary of Sir Henry Pellatt, The Pellatt Newsreel: the Man who Built Casa Loma and was nominated for a 2009 Gemini for Best Biography Documentary]. TV show Hemlock Grove was also filmed there as well as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and related Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instuments
Exterior shots of the building were used in the Gothic TV Show, Strange Paradise.
It is also the filming location of the TV movie “re-imagining,” The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, where scenes that take place at Dr. Frank N. Furter’s castle and the movie theatre where the audience participation and Ivy Levan’s performance of “Science Fiction Double Feature” take place were filmed (a movie theatre marquee was placed at the front entrance of the castle for filming).”


Bata Shoe Museum
The collection which became the Bata Shoe Museum was started by Sonja Bata in the 1940s. As she travelled the world on business with her husband, Thomas J. Bata of the Bata Shoe Company, she gradually built up a collection of traditional footwear from the areas she was visiting. Apparently she was asked to give up collecting shoes or her husband would leave, so somehow they must have instead agreed to start a museum!

In 2008 a pair of gold and gem-encrusted shoes were stolen. The criminal was a bit stupid and took photos of his loot and proceeded to take photos, then have them developed, which resulted in his arrest.

University of Toronto
Founded in 1827 (as King’s College), this is the oldest university in Canada. The university was the birthplace of insulin (1921) and stem cell research and was the site of the first practical electron microscope, the development of multi-touch technology, the identification of the first black hole Cygnus X-1, and the development of the theory of NP-completeness.

Goodwill Hunting and The Incredible Hulk are a couple of the movies filmed here.

University of Toronto

The hospitals in Toronto are connected by an underground system of tunnels to ensure patients receive the best possible care:

Toronto General Hospital
Princess Margaret Hospital
Mount Sinai Hospital
Sick Kids hospital

Window cleaners at Sick Kids Hospital have it written into their contract that they agree to dress up as superheroes when they do their window cleaning! The hospital also has a deal with Disney, whereby children’s films are shown there before they are officially released.

There are 45 translators on staff at Mt Sinai Hospital, as they believe language should not be a barrier. If anyone arrives at the hospital and they do not have a translator for that particular language, they will specifically hire one.

In 2009 Mount Sinai Hospital became the first hospital in Canada to perform surgery on a foetus whilst in the womb. Incredible story linked here:

The Rogers Dome (opened 1989) is a multi-purpose stadium with a capacity of approx 53,000. It also has a retractable dome, which is a great feature.  has

The roof was ceremonially “opened” by Ontario Premier David Peterson with a laser pen, however, they neglected to check the weather forecast. The roof’s opening exposed the crowd to a downpour of rain. Despite audible chants of “close the roof”, Magwood insisted that the roof remain fully open (it takes 20 minutes to fully open/close and cannot be changed mid-way. There is a website dedicated to the dome:

The following have had concerts here:
– Bruce Springsteen
– ‎The Rolling Stones
– ‎U2
– ‎Guns N’ Roses

Other random facts:

  • The Toronto Metro Convention Centre is 8 storeys underground
  • Toronto is one of only three cities in North America that still uses street cars. The others are San Francisco and New Orleans.
  • There are royal suites in the Fairmont Hotel that go for $2,000/night. If you choose to stay there you have to sign a contract agreeing to vacate post-haste should a royal show up (Prince Harry and his Torontonian girlfriend, perhaps…)
  • The CN Tower (built 1976) is the 9th tallest free-standing structure in the world (553.3m) and the tallest in the Western Hemisphere
  • ‎CF Eaton Centre is so large that it spans two subway stations

Part 2 to follow….

CN tower
Scotia Bank
Hudson Bay Christmas decorations
Hudson Bay Christmas decorations
Hudson Bay Christmas decorations

This made me laugh. Loblaws grocery store.

2 thoughts on “Part 1 of Toronto tour

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