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Toronto - Around Town - Harbourfront & the Financial District (part 1)

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The streets of Harbourfront and the Financial District combine old and new in a vibrant mix. Along the shores of Lake Ontario, the origins of the city can be traced to the establishment of Fort York in 1793. As the town of York grew, spreading north from the lake, financial institutions settled around Bay and King streets. Today, modern skyscrapers, interspersed with historic buildings, dot the district, and historic vaudeville theaters, restored to their original splendor, anchor an exuberant entertainment scene.

Canada’s War Against the US

On June 18, 1812, the US declared war on Great Britain and, for months, battled at various border outposts such as Detroit and Queenston Heights. In April 1813, American troops invaded York (as Toronto was then called), occupying the town, burning the Parliament buildings, and destroying much of Fort York. Although the US won the Battle of York, they soon abandoned the town to fight battles in the Niagara Peninsula, with mixed results. The American war with Britain ended in stalemate on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.


Marina at Harbourfront


Sights
  1. Toronto Islands

    Recreational opportunities – from sunbathing to cycling to children’s amusement rides – abound on the car-free islands, Toronto’s summer playground for more than a century. Ferries depart regularly for the islands from the foot of Bay Street; the 10-minute trip across the harbor offers unparalleled views of downtown .

  2. Queen’s Quay Terminal

    In a grand 1926 building that looks like a layered cake, this retail complex is bursting with boutiques selling unusual gift items, Native art, crafts, clothing, kitchenware, toys, and chocolates. Many restaurants, several with patios overlooking the water, offer good fare. Harbor cruises depart alongside the terminal.

    • 207 Queens Quay W

    • 416 203 0510

    • Open 10am–6pm daily

    Queen’s Quay Terminal
  3. York Quay Centre

    This converted warehouse is the center for a diverse range of recreational and cultural activities, from exhibitions to performances to skating. Visitors can watch artisans create glass and clay pieces at the craft studio, check out the four galleries, and browse in the excellent shop selling handcrafted gifts. The Photo Passage exhibits contemporary Canadian photographic works; other venues regularly program author readings and theater performances. A café overlooking the pond, which becomes a popular skating rink in winter, serves light meals and snacks.

    • 235 Queens Quay W

    • 416 973 4000

    • Open 10am–9pm Tue–Sat

    Photo Passage, York Quay Centre
  4. Rogers Centre

    At the base of the CN Tower, this sports and large-events venue is home to the city’s baseball team, the Blue Jays, and football team, the Argonauts. When built in 1989, it had the world’s only fully retractable roof of its kind, which takes just 20 minutes to open or close. When teams are not in action, you can tour the facility and peek into players’ dressing rooms. Outside, on the northeast corner of the building, a frieze by Toronto artist Michael Snow depicts 14 spectators.

    • 1 Blue Jays Way

    • 416 341 1707

    Detail from The Audience, by Michael Snow, Rogers Centre
  5. Toronto-Dominion Centre

    This six-tower complex is one of the most important pieces of architecture in the city . The black steel I-beams of the 1968 Toronto Dominion Bank Tower are trademark Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), and perfectly reflect the architect’s modernist dictum that “Less is more.” In the plaza, a circular bronze sculpture, Al McWilliams’s Wall and Chairs, echoes the towers’ austerity. Below ground is a shopping mall, the only one van der Rohe ever designed.

    • 55 King St W

    Toronto-Dominion Centre
  6. CN Tower

    Soaring 1,815 ft (553 m) above downtown Toronto, this is the defining icon of the city’s skyline and the world’s tallest free-standing structure. On the mezzanine level, check out the exhibit on the tower’s construction before “bungee jumping” from the top at an interactive daredevil display. Then let a glass-fronted elevator zip you, in less than a minute, to one of four lookout levels. The extra fee for the highest lookout, Sky Pod, ensures fewer crowds. The revolving restaurant, 360, offers fine food in serene surroundings .

  7. Fort York

    This garrison, established by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793 to protect the growing city, is the site of the fierce Battle of York during the War of 1812, when the US invaded Upper Canada. Home to the country’s largest collection of War of 1812 buildings (brick structures that replaced the fort’s original wood cabins), the restored fort has fascinating displays of historic military artifacts. Guides in costume lead tours and give period music, musket, and drill demonstrations.

    • 100 Garrison Rd

    • Open Jan–May: 10am–4pm Mon–Fri, 10am–5pm Sat–Sun; Victoria Day–Labour Day: 10am–5pm daily

    • Adm

  8. Hockey Hall of Fame

    Hockey fans will be fascinated by the memorabilia on view at this museum dedicated to Canada’s favorite sport. Everything from masks personalized by goalies to hand-carved skates from the 1840s reflect the history of the game. Have your photo taken with the iconic Stanley Cup, then test your skill at the game at the interactive exhibits .

  9. Ontario Place

    This family-oriented, summertime amusement park built beside, around, and literally on top of Lake Ontario embraces its waterfront perch with enthusiasm. Water-fun options include giant waterslides and river rides. Visitors looking for more serene activities can paddle around the lagoon in a pedal boat. The Cinesphere IMAX theater, housed in a futuristic Triodetic dome, shows documentary films on subjects ranging from caves to rainforests to auto racing on its six-story screen.

    • 955 Lakeshore Blvd W

    • Open Victoria Day–Labour Day: 10:30am–8pm daily

    • Adm

    Cinesphere, Ontario Place
  10. Toronto Music Garden

    This playfully elegant garden, a collaboration between famed cellist Yo Yo Ma, landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy, and Toronto landscape architects, was inspired by J. S. Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. Each dance movement in the suite – allemande, courante, sarabande, menuett, and gigue – plus a prelude, is represented by the plantings in one of the six sections of the garden. Summer concerts are held in the grassy amphitheater.

    • 475 Queens Quay W

    Toronto Music Garden
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