I mentioned a couple weeks back that I was going to a Travel Blog Exchange conference in Toronto. After a whirlwind week of nonstop touring, learning, and networking (to be written about in subsequent posts), I got back to Vancouver just in time for a mini-interview with Webjet.com and fellow blogger Katie to review the TBEX event.
Today I had my first pre-TBEX tour – The First Timer’s Special: All About Toronto, and it was a whirlwind!
From the entertainment district to St. Lawrence Market, the financial district to Queen’s Park, Forest Hill through to Chinatown – there was quite a lot of information to fit into three hours!
That said, since the tour was full of facts and figures about the city, I thought I’d share the top ten fun facts (some impressive, some geeky) that I learned.
Top Ten Fun Facts About Toronto
10. Toronto has approximately 200 cultures! 200!
9. Toronto’s PATH is the world’s largest underground complex. Linking offices, attractions and shopping arcades, it’s got to be big – it has 29 kilometers worth of walkways!
8. The hospitals concentrated on University Avenue are all actually linked by a tunnel 20ft underground in case a patient needs to be moved.
7. The new City Hall is designed by a fella from Sweden – when viewed from above, the Council Chamber is supposed to look like an eye between two sets of lashes.
6. Toronto’s Island Park is actually a 900-acre floating sandbag. It’s also where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run.
5. Casa Loma’s original inhabitant was able to build the lavish castle because of the money he made providing electricity to the city. He started losing money when Sir Alex Beck’s generation system was set up on Niagara Falls.
4. Front Street is called as such because it used to be the front of the harbour. The few blocks between the current harbour and where the water used to come up to on Front Street are actually all landfill.
3. Toronto was originally established in 1793 as York by Governor John Graves Simcoe who thought the location was a less vulnerable than the previous capital of Newark to an attack by ‘evil Americans’.
2. Toronto has more condominium and high rise buildings than any other place in North America. And has many more permits for the upcoming years!
1. When the City Hall moved into what was called “The Ward” – the Jewish neighborhood between College, University, Queen and Yonge streets – the Jewish community moved to where employment could be found, specifically in the textile hub of Kensington Market. Times have changed – this is now better known as Chinatown.
Fake islands and harbours, underground passages and an intense turnover in cultures. Cool, huh?
Do you know any other cool facts about Toronto?? Add them in the comments!!
I used to live about 30km from Toronto (in Mississauga) but was too young to fully experience or appreciate the culture and history that it had to offer, and have been wanting to go back for years.
TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange. It’s an organization run to help new media travel writers network and learn, and each year they hold a couple of conferences around the world to get people from the industry together. This year, one of these is being held in Toronto.
Like I said: ECSTATIC.
And now, they’ve come up with a bunch of guided tours and workshops pre- and post- the conference for those attending, effectively lengthening my visit from a jam packed weekend to an even more jam packed week.
So, what’s on my list?
Toronto Tours I’ve Signed Up For
The first tour out of an impossible millions that I decided to sign up for was the one “All About Toronto” so that I can get an overview of the whole city.
We’ll be visiting the financial district, home to the CN Tower (the fifth tallest free-standing structure in the world), and then onto Chinatown, Little Italy, Cabbagetown, Forest Hill, Harbourfront, Queens Park, and a bunch of other places I haven’t heard of, just to name a few.
Did you know Toronto is one of the ten most photographed cities in the world? Well, apparently it is according to Flickr, and I’ve been drooling for weeks at the thought of photographing it.
On this photography-focused tour, we’ll be taking in all the various architectural styles of the city – perfect since I’m usually lacking creativity in that department.
Toronto the Green
Well, Vancouver’s apparently the greenest city in Canada but Toronto has a few tricks up its sleeve. Since my knowledge of “green” urban planning is fairly foggy, I’m pretty excited about what I’ll learn on this tour – all about alternative lake usage, mandatory (!!) green roofs, and a ‘Living Wall’?? You’ll definitely be hearing more from me about this later on.
A Walk through Time
The newly-born history geek in me is most excited for this last tour, the theme being a Walk through Time. I love (LOVE) learning about stories from the past that shape a location and its culture, but are so rarely thought about, and this tour includes everything from Prohibition gangsters to Irish refugees and will touch on various historically significant places from St. Lawrence Market through the Historic Distillery District to Corktown.
And What’s This? A Solo Tour?
I’ve allowed myself another day and a half for some more exploring – and I can’t choose!
As much as I’ve been wanting to visit Toronto for years, the kid in me has been dreaming about returning to Canada’s Wonderland forever – 16 rollercoasters?! That’s the second most in the world!!
Then there’s Marineland, whose song I can’t get out of my head for months if I accidentally hear it (you’re welcome). Apparently it’s also a giant theme park, and I want it all.
But what’s bigger than Marineland and right around the corner from it? Niagra Falls! And I’m planning on doing the whole “Falls Experience” this time – boats, walks, observation decks – I’m all in.
Have you been to Toronto? What places would you recommend visiting?