I had a coffee with a former Torontonian living in Vancouver the other day. And it was refreshing to hear her talk about how much she loves T.O.
I think I live in a fabulous, fabulous city. And I think it’s worth spouting off about now and then. So, with a nod to Drake’s recent callouts of Toronto as “The 6,” here are a half-dozen reasons to check out Ontario’s capital.
A GREAT WATERFRONT: Notwithstanding expensive pink umbrellas and over-priced washrooms, our waterfront has come a very long way in the past ten years. There are wonderful parks near Harbourfront and at places like Sugar Beach and lower Sherbourne St. Don’t forget the Islands, with great cafes on Wards Island and terrific swimming beaches. The beaches in the west end also are great, and don’t forget the beauty of Lake Ontario from the top of the Scarborough Bluffs (see photo above).
FABULOUS FOOD: From Susur Lee to Mark McEwan and beyond, this town has more than its share of top chefs. You can find everything from Argentinian empanadas (celebrate the World Cup!) to Chinese dumplings to souvlaki on the patio on the Danforth.
The Art Gallery of Ontario.
INCREDIBLE CULTURE: From the Toronto International Film Festival to Pride and Caribana and beyond, we have great festivals year-round. There also are world-class museums such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, with its cool Frank Gehry addition.
NATURAL BEAUTY: Okay, we don’t have the Rockies on our doorstep. But Toronto’s ravines are a hidden treasure; remarkable enclaves of quiet with gurgling streams, endless rows of tall maples and birch and great hiking and biking trails. You can’t really know Toronto until you’ve spent a Saturday soaking up the multicultural picnics in Sunnybrook Park or another of the city’s great valley parks.
GREAT COFFEE: Balzac’s in the Distillery District might be the coolest, prettiest coffee spot in Canada. The balcony seats overlooking the action are prime spots for people viewing. I also love DIneen on Yonge St., with its gleaming machinery, cool flooring and sunny patio.
KILLER MUSIC: I’m not into Drake’s music, personally. But I love that he embraces Toronto, home to my own favourite band, Blue Rodeo. You can hear excellent jazz at The Rex or great country or rock music at The Horseshoe. And don’t forget legendary Massey Hall, where on any given night you could hear former Toronto residents Neil Young or Gordon Lightfoot.