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Toronto - Around Town - Greater Toronto (part 1)

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The area surrounding the city proper has expanded rapidly in the last few decades, with suburban bedroom communities popping up around the urban fringe, engulfing fertile farmland. While highway development ensures convenient access to the many sites outside the city, roads can be extremely crowded at rush hour, and it is a good idea to plan excursions for off-peak times. Many delightful parks and natural areas lie just outside the city, along with spacious beaches. Toronto Zoo, set in the huge wilderness area of Rouge Park on the eastern edge of the city, is a delightful place to spend a day, as is, for family thrills, Canada’s Wonderland. Several historic attractions, such as Black Creek Pioneer Village, where costumed guides demonstrate pioneer life, or Bradley Museum, a restored farmhouse, provide a glimpse into mid-19th-century country life. Art lovers are drawn due north to the renowned McMichael Canadian Art Collection in the charming village of Kleinburg.

R. C. Harris Filtration Plant

Built in the late 1930s, in an era when public works buildings were grand statements – expressions of engineering mastery – this filtration plant has been dubbed the “palace of purification.” Monumentally perched atop a gentle hill, this Art Deco structure holds the machines that treat the city’s drinking water, which is pumped into the facility from a pipe that begins 1.5 miles (3 km) offshore, in Lake Ontario. Close to 200 million gallons (757 million litres) of water are processed daily, supplying about half of Toronto’s needs.



Sights
  1. McMichael Canadian Art Collection

    Located in Kleinburg, 18 miles (30 km) from downtown Toronto, this outstanding gallery features a stellar display of works by the seminal Group of Seven painters, their contemporaries such as Tom Thomson and Emily Carr, and the artists they inspired. The gallery also exhibits an impressive collection of First Nations and Inuit artists.

    • 10365 Islington Ave, Kleinburg

    • 905 893 1121

    • Open May–Oct: 10am–5pm daily; Nov–Apr: 10am–4pm

    • Adm

    White Pine, McMichael Collection
  2. Toronto Zoo

    You will want a full day to explore this 710-acre (287-ha) zoo and its some 5,000 animals representing about 450 species. Roaming freely within outdoor enclosures, large creatures such as African elephants can be seen along 6 miles (10 km) of trails. Also along the trails are four tropical pavilions, each representing a distinct geographic habitat.

    • 361A Old Finch Ave

    • 416 392 5929

    • Open Mar–Apr & Sep–Oct: 9am–6pm daily; May–Aug: 9am–7:30pm daily; Oct–Mar: 9:30am–4:30pm daily

    • Adm

    Polar bear, Toronto Zoo
  3. The Beach

    This is one area of the city that takes full advantage of its lakeside setting, with an atmosphere that feels more like a small resort town. In summer especially, crowds throng to the white sand beaches, stroll the 2.5-mile (4-km) boardwalk, picnic in Kew Gardens, a turn-of-the-19-century park, and shop along Queen Street (see A Day at the Beach). The area is at its busiest best in late July, during the Beaches international jazz festival.

    Ashbridges Bay Park, The Beach
  4. Canada’s Wonderland

    This theme park north of Toronto draws crowds with its more than 50 rides, huge water park, and live entertainment. Thrills abound, the biggest pleasers being the roller coasters.

    • 9580 Jane St, Vaughan

    • 905 832 8131

    • Open May 1–Victoria Day: 10am–8pm Sat–Sun; Victoria Day–Labour Day: 10am–10pm daily; Labour Day–Thanksgiving: 10am–8pm Sat–Sun

    • Adm

    Canada’s Wonderland
  5. Ontario Science Centre

    Exhibits in this museum are interactive and geared toward youngsters, all in the name of making science education fun. Eleven themed areas cover a diverse range of topics, including Earth’s ecosystems, space, sport, communication, energy, and the human body.

    • 770 Don Mills Rd

    • 416 696 1000

    • Open 10am–5pm daily

    • Adm

    Ontario Science Centre
  6. Black Creek Pioneer Village

    For an authentic taste of early settler life, visit this re-creation of a 19th-century rural Ontario community. Among the dozens of buildings – a handful original to the site, the rest moved here and restored – are a school, a church, village shops, houses, and barns. The grounds include an orchard, millpond, restored gardens, and grazing livestock. Costumed staff demonstrate pioneer crafts and carry out tasks such as tinsmithing and milling flour (the flour is available for sale). Free wagon rides are popular with the kids.

    • 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy, Downsview

    • 416 736 1733

    • Open May–Jun: 9:30am–4:30pm Mon–Fri, 11am–5pm Sat–Sun; Jul–Labour Day: 10am–5pm Mon–Fri, 11am–5pm Sat–Sun; Labour Day–Dec 31: 9:30am–4pm Mon–Fri, 11am–4:30pm Sat–Sun

    • Adm

    Black Creek Pioneer Village
  7. Gibson House Museum

    While North York is a relentlessly modern part of the city, it is also home to this historic gem – an elegant Georgian farmhouse built in 1851. The original owner, land surveyor and mapper David Gibson, was a leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837 who was forced to flee to the US when the uprising failed. Following his pardon, Gibson returned and built this home for his wife and seven children. The museum hosts guided tours and also holds classes in such forgotten arts as hearth-cooking.

    • 5172 Yonge St

    • 416 395 7432

    • Open Oct–Aug: noon–5pm Tue–Sun

    • Adm

  8. Colborne Lodge

    This 1837 house was the residence of land surveyor John Howard and his wife, Jemima. Howard deeded the estate to the city, thereby forming the basis for High Park. Located at the south end of the park, the Regency-style house, with its gorgeous circular verandah, has been fully restored and includes many of the Howards’ original belongings, including John Howard’s original watercolors of early Toronto scenes. Costumed guides lead tours. Don’t miss the garden, planted with kitchen herbs and flowers. Seasonal celebrations, such as the Harvest Festival and the lamplit processions at Christmastime, are particularly popular.

    • Colborne Lodge Dr

    • 416 392 6916

    • Open Jan–Apr: noon–4pm Sat–Sun; May–Sep: noon–5pm Tue–Sun; Oct–Dec: noon–4pm Tue–Sun

    • Adm

  9. Bradley Museum

    This collection of early-19th-century buildings offers a window on the past. The 1830 farmhouse was built by Lewis and Elizabeth Bradley, United Empire Loyalists who left the US and settled in Ontario, raising seven children. The restored house features period artifacts. The Anchorage, also on the grounds, is a Regency-style cottage originally home to Royal Navy officer John Skynner. It offers rotating exhibitions and, the last Sunday of the month, afternoon tea.

    • 1620 Orr Rd, Mississauga

    • 905 615 4860

    • Open 1–5pm Sun; Jul–Aug: 1–5pm Wed–Sun

    • Adm

    • Bradley House not wheelchair accessible

  10. Toronto Aerospace Museum

    Housed in the 1929 de Havilland Aircraft of Canada building on the grounds of the former Downsview Airport – an air-force base now being converted to a public park – this museum celebrates Canada’s aviation history. Along with archival photos, it exhibits artifacts and full-sized aircraft, such as the 1950s jet trainer and an anti-submarine aircraft built for the Royal Canadian Navy. Particularly unusual are the exhibits of flight-training simulators used for pilot instruction in the 1940s and 1950s.

    • 65 Carl Hall Rd

    • 416 638 6078

    • Open 10am–4pm Thu–Sat, noon–4pm Sun

    • Adm

    Toronto Aerospace Museum
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