So you’re going to Toronto, eh

A brief introduction

Toronto is a frenetic metropolis with the most ethnically diverse population in the world. Its innumerable condominiums stretch out across Lake Ontario – indeed thanks to the unprecedented demand for housing, the city is quite literally expanding onto the lake. The iconic CN tower dominates the skyline, as proudly erect as Drake’s penis, were you to mention the name ‘Drake’ to him.

If you happen to find yourself on Canada’s East coast, you should unquestionably pay it a visit. At its best, the city seamlessly blends together plethora of cultures in a mish mash of neighbourhoods that showcase their societal and culinary values. However, as is the case with most large cities, it is all too easy to become mired in soulless tourist traps. A carefree weekend away could turn into the drudgery of queuing for an inane selfie at the CN tower, followed by an encounter by one of the famously charming locals in a bar by the finance district.

“Bro, you spilt my henessey”.

Try taking fiscal responsibility, bro.

This article will provide you with a brief overview of the places you should visit and the ones you should avoid.

The Don’ts

The CN Tower

But it’s the second largest free-standing tower in the world. Yeah, but that’s just a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? By all means, take a picture of the CN tower. I’m merely advising that you don’t undertake a pilgrimage to the foot of the structure or pay $53 to go up it. You can view it from literally anywhere in the city, without hurting your wallet or neck so much. Also, with regards to the view at the top, the CN tower is the only recognisable skyscraper in an otherwise unremarkable skyline. If you stand at the top of it, guess what you are not going to see?

The Distillery district

The distillery district was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988. It’s actually an incredibly beautiful part of town, full of Victorian warehouses which retain most of their stunning features. In days gone by, this area distilled over 2 million litres of whiskey, which was then distributed all over the world from the ports on Lake Ontario. Some of the companies settled here have paid homage to this by continuing to brew whiskey and beer; they set up the skeletal apparatus around the bar for you to view when you are drinking. Most companies, however, have ruined it by opening insultingly homogenous boutiques which sell overpriced pieces of driftwood and mundane cushions with “Live, love, laugh” stitched into them. If you visit, you will undoubtedly photobomb irritating wedding party posing under the large ‘Love’ sign, which has the obligatory padlocks attached to it. Around 38% of Canadian marriages end in divorce, so chances are you’ll inadvertently end up on the mantelpiece of a feuding couple from Manitoba.

The Toronto Bluejays

It’s a baseball stadium, where baseball is played, this requires no further explanation.

The Do’s

Richmond 401

Richmond 401 serves as a haven and cultural hub for the artistic community. It is a former industrial building which has been converted to serve as studios for more than 140 artists. Whilst upper floors serve as work spaces, the ground floor is mostly devoted to showcasing exhibitions, which the public are allowed to view free of charge. In a city where property tax is hotly contested as a means of depriving small businesses of landholdings in order to benefit large corporations, Richmond 401 has thrown many artists a lifeline. The gallery frequently showcases exhibitions which explore the identity of members of the First Nation (Native Americans) through their own words and highlights the decimation of Canada’s natural resources. Well worth a visit.

 

Chinatown

If you’re in the centre of Toronto and peckish, head west and you’ll find yourself in Chinatown.  You’ll be greeted by clamouring neon signs which leap of from the shop windows and converge onto the street. Greased ducks aplenty hang from the windows, and vibrant open air markets sell a variety of cuisine, from trendy Korean fusions through to more conventional Pho and Dim Sum. The street signs are naturally in Chinese. This is undoubtedly the best place to come if you want lunch and a stroll.

Kensington Market

Crammed into the space of four blocks, Kensington is a bohemian neighbourhood that makes no apologies for its gentrification or high hipster to human ratio. If you can look past obnoxiously high socks and the irritation of watching people who have perfect eyesight don heavy  framed glasses, then Kensington will win you over. It boasts hundreds of independently run cafes, bars and thrift shops that you can lose yourself in for the afternoon.. Maybe avoid the army surplus stores, there’s a hell of a lot of stained Khaki in there.