Hugging the cool banks of Lake Ontario is Toronto, a burgeoning metropolis with a commitment to quality food and public transportation. It’s a cultural stew, a collection of 140 languages and dialects, a welcome home for immigrants. Perhaps this is why it has more print, radio and television outlets than any other city in North America or why it has 1,000 festivals and events every year. The culture here is first generational and authentic, and it welcomes the arts. Considered “Hollywood North,” you can count up to 40 productions filming in Toronto each day. Its theatre competes with New York’s and London’s, and its ballet, opera and symphony scene is a delightful presence. Yes, Toronto has 125 museums and public archives, but the city itself holds enough beauty and living evidence to keep you intrigued.
Its streets are an ironic juxtaposition of new and old architecture, tremendously varied for a relatively young city. Its buildings tell stories. Honored by such guests as Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II, St. James’ Cathedral’s immense English Gothic structure was the first thing immigrants noticed when they stepped off the train at Union Station. The world’s tallest building, CN Tower, has stood as a symbol of Canadian strength and a solution for communications. The Royal Ontario Museum’s newest wing interlocks through prismatic structures with the historic buildings it embraces. With hardly a right angle anywhere, its sloping walls create unique interior spaces with soaring volumes and such distinctive details as the “Spirit House,” a void at the heart of the building that is traversed by criss-crossing ridges.
Toronto’s culture and architecture impress, but families will also find plenty of attractions to entertain. Casa Lama is North America’s only castle, and Ontario’s Science Center is highly interactive. The Toronto Zoo has a huge indoor gorilla exhibit and most recently added Giant Pandas. The newest attraction is a must-see: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has the continent’s largest underwater viewing tunnel. You also have the opportunity to touch sharks, horseshoe crabs and rays. And if it is water and fish that intrigue you, then you have only to set sail in Toronto’s backyard. The Great Lakes are a playground in and of themselves!