Toronto International Film Festival | Sept 5-15, 2019

by Denise Marie

Held annually in September, the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest cultural events in the Greater Toronto Area. This 11-day festival attracts nearly half a million visitors from all over the world. From Hollywood celebrities to independent filmmakers, the TIFF draws a diverse global crowd each year.

Toronto International Film Festival

TIFF – One of the most beloved cinematic events in the world

Background and History

Some of Canada’s most prominent film producers launched the Toronto Festival of Festivals in the middle of the 1970’s. In its first year, this event attracted approximately 35,000 visitors at the historic Windsor Arms Hotel. After 18 years of widespread growth, the event was officially renamed the Toronto International Film Festival.

Throughout the decades, this festival has screened thousands of productions from dozens of countries. Some of the movies that premiered at the TIFF were nominated for or claimed the Academy Awards, the most prestigious honors in the North American film industry.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the organizers of the event established the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Situated in the heart of Toronto, this state-of-the-art facility provides year-round opportunities for producers, actors and other professionals in the film industries worldwide. The TIFF Bell Lightbox is also the official headquarters of the TIFF.

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival is scheduled to start on September 5th, and the closing night will be on September 15th. The Regular Flex package can be purchased in increments of 10 tickets. If you buy the Premium Flex, you can view six red-carpet screenings.

Some of the most affordable ticket options are the Weekday Daytime and Back Half. The Curated Experiences include the Opening Night Film, Buzz List and Cloning Night Film plans. Individual tickets are also available depending on the screening venue in downtown Toronto. The Festival Programme Book is another popular item that’s available for sale during the 2019 TIFF.

Tickets for members begin in August while individual tickets go on sale to the public on Sept 2, 2019 at 10am.

Location and Getting Around

The festival is centered in the heart of the Entertainment District. Some of the city’s top performing arts venues host the film screenings for this popular event. For example, assigned seating is available for the Roy Thomson Hall and Princess of Wales Theatre. Unassigned seats are available for the Ryerson Theatre and Jackman Hall (AGO). TTC subway trains and streetcars stop within walking distance of nearly all screening venues in downtown Toronto.

Click to visit the TIFF official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

CN Tower | Toronto’s Iconic Landmark Standing Over 1,800 Feet Tall

by Denise Marie

Standing more than 1,800 feet tall in the heart of Toronto, the CN Tower is an engineering marvel that has become a top tourist destination. This famous structure has several signature observation decks and an upscale restaurant with a revolving platform. Commuter trains, streetcars and buses stop near this iconic landmark that’s visible from nearly every point in Toronto.

History

Built in 1976, the CN Tower has been one of Canada’s most notable architectural landmarks. It was the world’s tallest free-standing structure for more than three decades. Having one of the most powerful and largest antennas in Canada, the tower was initially designed for telecommunication purposes. Today, this commercialized structure is one of the most visited tourist sites in the nation.

CN Tower

Click for more on Canada’s architectural landmark – the CN Tower

Highlights

The 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower offers a gourmet dining experience with breathtaking urban views. Seafood, steak, salads and other modern dishes are served at this revolving restaurant that truly offers a 360-degree panoramic perspective of Toronto and Lake Ontario. More than 9,000 wine bottles are also stored at the on-site cellar that’s kept at optimum temperatures. Patrons can choose from more than 500 wine varieties that are imported from all over the world, including Canada’s top vineyards. VUE Bistros is a European-inspired eatery that also serves light fare for visitors on the observation levels.

If you’re just after great views of Toronto, get tickets to the LookOut area, which has floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Having a thickness of 2.5 inches, the Glass Floor offers unique downward views of the city’s streets. Located hundreds of feet above the LookOut, the SkyPod offers even better views of Toronto and the surrounding area. On a clear day, you might be able to see the Niagara Falls and Buffalo from this signature observation deck.

If you’d like to test your nerves, go to the EdgeWalk, which is consistently voted as one of the most extreme urban attractions in Canada. It takes approximately 30 minutes to navigate this outdoor catwalk-type platform that’s situated more than 1,100 feet above ground. All participants must take the basic safety session before getting on the EdgeWalk.

Location

The CN Tower stands a few blocks away from Toronto’s Union Station, which is served by commuter and long-distance trains. Several Toronto Transit Commission streetcars also stop near this iconic landmark that overlooks the city’s waterfront district. Additionally, the Gardiner Expressway has several exits that lead to the attraction. Car parking is available near the Rogers Centre and Roundhouse Park.

Click to visit the CN Tower official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Glory Hole Doughnuts | Fresh, Handmade, Gourmet Doughnuts

by Denise Marie

In business since 2012, Glory Hole Doughnuts offers gourmet doughnuts for Toronto’s residents and tourists. Using locally sourced ingredients with organic labels, this independent company strives to preserve authentic and delicious menus. Owned by a passionate pastry chef, the artisan-style establishment takes pride in contributing to the city’s rich culinary scene.

Glory Hole Doughnuts on Queen St. West

Glory Hole Doughnuts location at 1596 Queen St. West in the Parkdale neighbourhood

Delicious Doughnut Options

Glory Hole Doughnuts classifies all of its signature products into three distinct categories. Customers must choose from yeast, cake and vegan options. Yeast is the most important ingredient that’s used to create the delicious treats at this popular establishment. The yeast is allowed to ferment for up to 24 hours before it’s mixed, rolled and further manipulated into custom forms. A secondary fermentation process optimizes the proofing of the yeast. Finally, the raw doughnuts are fried in vegetable oil for the desirable texture.

If you want a fruity taste in your doughnuts, order the yeast types with lime coconut, mango Lassi or raspberry pistachio. The Ferrero Rocher and Chocolate Turtles Cheesecake items are known for their rich and creamy toppings. The Birthday Cake doughnut is made with sour cream mixed into the dough and features custom additions of sprinkles and frosting. Glazed with a lemon olive oil, the 3x Lemon Ricotta Holes are small bites that are part of the store’s cake-style doughnut.

Vegan options at Glory Hole Doughnuts include the Cinnamon Sugar and Hibiscus Glaze. You may eat your favorite desserts with a cup of Hale Coffee or Station Cold Brew. Additionally, the store serves the gourmet-style Boylan Soda in several flavors along with Sloane Tea.

Note that their menu is seasonal and can change two to three times a year so, some of the specific flavours we mentioned above may not always be available. One doughnut that is always on the menu and has been since day 1 is Toast & Butter.

When we’re in the area (and even when we’re not!), we always stop in for a delicious doughnut. Definitely give the Ferrero Rocher and the Rice Krispies doughnuts a try!

Ferrero Rocher & Rice Krispies Treat Doughnuts at Glory Hole Doughnuts

The Ferrero Rocher & Rice Krispies Treat doughnuts

Locations and How to Get There

Glory Hole Doughnuts has a prime location in the heart of Toronto’s Parkdale district, which is lined with authentic eateries and boutique shops. It’s at 1596 Queen St. West. The 301 and 501 Toronto Transit Commission streetcars stop near this popular doughnut store. You may also take the TTC 402 bus if you crave some sweet treats. All three transportation services make multiple stops on the busy Queen St. West.

Additionally, the company operates another store on Gerard Street near the city’s Little India district at 1505 Gerrard St. East. The 306 and 506 TTC streetcars will drop you off just steps away from the doughnut shop, which stands only a few blocks away from the city’s best public beaches along Lake Ontario. During the summer season, you can grab a dozen doughnuts and enjoy them at Woodbine Beach.

Click to visit the official website of the Glory Hole Doughnuts.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

The Canadian National Exhibition – Let’s go to The EX!

by Denise Marie

Held since the late 19th century, the Canadian National Exhibition is an agricultural fair that’s loaded with fun for the whole family. Lasting for just longer than two weeks, this annual event occupies the historic grounds of Exhibition Place near downtown Toronto. The 2019 CNE is from August 16th to September 2nd.

The CNE Midway

The CNE in downtown Toronto runs from Aug 16 to Sep 2, 2019

Attractions and Highlights

The Canadian International Air Show is one of the most spectacular events at the Canadian National Exhibition. Notable participants in this acrobatic airplane show include the Red Arrows from the Royal Air Force. From the Bandshell to the Midway Stage, there are plenty of music concerts at this major fair.

The Northern Comfort Saloon typically hosts country artists, and the Casino Patio & Stage is reserved for more intimate performances. Traditional music is also played during the Warriors’ Day Parade and Labour Day Parade.

Kids attending the Canadian National Exhibition will love the CNE Gaming Garage that includes pinball tournaments, trading card games and cooperative video games. Hundreds of consoles are available for play at this enormous gaming hub. Students of all ages could expand their knowledge of modern technology at the CNE Innovation Garage, which includes robotics displays. Youngsters are also encouraged to explore more than 140 barn animals at The Farm. Demonstrations involving cow milking and chicken egg laying are presented at this exhibit.

The Toronto Star Food Building offers unique culinary tastings at the Canadian National Exhibition. This hub serves a variety of regional and international dishes that are made by local restaurants. Dozens of vendors also sell delicious treats from food trucks that are visibly set up throughout the grounds. Additionally, adults will find plenty of alcoholic beverage options at the Craft Beer Fest. Some of the notable shopping venues at the CNE include pavilions that are dedicated to arts, crafts, hobbies, home and garden. Additional bargains are available at the Outdoor Marketplace and International Pavilion.

And let’s not forget The Midway! The outdoor rides and games are fun for the whole family. Classic rides include the Tilt-A-Whirl, the spectacular Ferris Wheel, the exhilarating Zipper, the incredibly fast Polar Express and lastly, The Sky Ride which slowly takes riders over The Midway from one end, to the other.

Location and Getting There

The Toronto Transit Commission offers direct rapid transit services to the Canadian National Exhibition. You can take the 501 and 509 streetcars to the Exhibition Loop at Exhibition Place. The 504B streetcar and 29 bus line stop at the Dufferin Gate Loop.

Managed by GO Transit, the Lakeshore commuter rail line serves the Exhibition station. Visitors driving to the CNE by car should use parking lots that are conveniently situated off Lake Shore Boulevard. Additionally, Exhibition Place is situated less than a mile away from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Click to visit the official website of the Canadian National Exhibition.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Explore the Unique Kensington Market in Downtown Toronto

by Denise Marie

Located just west of downtown Toronto, Kensington Market is a historic neighborhood that once had the city’s largest populations of European immigrants. Today, this gentrified district is lined with authentic dining establishments, boutiques and other businesses that essentially leave little space for commercial chains.

The historic district of Kensington Market

Click for more details on the historic district of Kensington Market

Shopping, Dining and Culture

Most of the dining venues in Kensington Market are concentrated along Augusta Avenue. From coffee shops and bistros to casual restaurants and takeout eateries, you’ll find plenty of authentic food options on this vibrant avenue. Many of these establishments offer patio-style and al fresco dining with great views of urban action.

Some of the top ethnic restaurants in the community specialize in Latin, Caribbean, Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Several of the grocery stores in Kensington Market carry a large selection of international items, and they also have traditional butcher shops.

Visitors could sign up for walking food tours that are guided by locals who have already tasted the best products on the streets. For example, By the Sidewalk Food Tours is a company that provides some background information on the history and architecture of the neighborhood.

From flowers and jewelry to fashionable attire and artwork, this chic neighborhood is home to dozens of boutiques and small stores that sell items at bargain prices.

The Toronto School of Burlesque seems like a perfect fit for the Bohemian-inspired Kensington Market. At this venue, ladies can master some erotic and seductive moves in a vintage setting. Visitors can also sign up for the Drop In sessions that offer behind-the-scenes views of the hot action on stages.

Centrally located in the district, Bellevue Square Park entertains crowds with great music and other shows. Additionally, the Festival of Lights is perhaps the biggest annual event in this trendy neighborhood. Celebrating the beginning of the winter season, this lively event usually culminates with live performances at the park.

Kensington Ave in downtown Toronto

Kensington Market in downtown Toronto

Location and Getting Around

Running along Spadina Avenue, the 310 and 510 streetcars of the Toronto Transit Commission will get you to the eastern side of Kensington Market. You should ride the 306 and 506 streetcars to reach the northern end of the district. Additionally, the 307 and 511 streetcars stop on Bathhurst Street that defines the neighborhood’s western end.

Located less than a quarter of a mile away from the neighborhood, the St. Patrick Station get service from the Yonge-University Subway of the TTC. Throughout the year, a section of this community is closed to vehicle traffic.

Click to visit the official website of Kensington Market.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Toronto Stock Exchange | Established by 12 Ambitious Businessmen in 1852

by Denise Marie

Nested in the Financial District, the Toronto Stock Exchange conducts some of the most important trades in Canada and North America. The TSX is currently based in the Exchange Tower, and the former headquarters is part of the Toronto-Dominion Centre.

Background and Interesting Features

The Toronto Stock Exchange was established as an ambitious venture by 12 businessmen in 1852. It took the traders nearly a decade to get official recognition for a stock exchange. After a successful meeting at the Masonic Hall, the brokers had the freedom to trade 18 stocks on the local market. By the early 1870’s, more than a dozen firms participated in the TSX.

More than 1 million shares were traded daily by the first decade of the 20th century. WWI temporarily disrupted Toronto’s stock market without causing any major losses. Surprisingly, the shocking downfall of Wall Street in 1929 had little impact on the Toronto Stock Exchange. As the United States suffered the Great Depression, the Canadian economy was relatively stable.

By the late 1970’s, the TSX pioneered the application of computer technology on the trade floor. Decimal trading in the 1990’s was another major innovation at this stock exchange. Various consolidations and corporate reconstructions ultimately gave the TMX Group control of this major financial entity in 2011.

Standing at the intersection of Bay Street and King Street, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s historic headquarters is marked by an Art Deco wall. The former home of the TSX is now occupied by the Design Museum, which celebrates Canadian industries. You may enter this specialty museum and admire some original decorative features that were made for the stock exchange. The current home of the TSX is situated inside the Exchange Tower, a 36-level skyscraper that opened in the early 1980’s.

Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)

Click for more details on the Toronto Stock Exchange

How to Get There

The Toronto Transit Commission will get you to the Toronto Stock Exchange. Featuring underground platforms, St. Andrew Station receives service from subway trains that follow Line 1. This busy rapid transit hub stands just one block away from the Exchange Tower. Running on King Street, several streetcar routes can drop you off near the stock exchange. A normal walk between this financial entity and Union Station takes less than 10 minutes. There are also dozens of parking garages in the Financial District, but metered parking on the street is limited.

Click to visit the Toronto Stock Exchange official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Art Gallery Of Ontario (AGO) | Explore Canadian & European Art

by Denise Marie

Centered in downtown Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of Canada’s most visited museums. From European paintings to Canadian drawings, this cultural venue owns more than 95,000 pieces of art. The building’s modern facade was designed by Frank Gehry, one of Canada’s most successful architects.

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Click for more details on the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Collection Highlights

The Main Level of the Art Gallery of Ontario (or AGO) houses an extensive collection of European artwork. As you browse the concourse section of the first floor, you’ll see masterpieces in the Baroque, Renaissance, Impressionist and other genres. A large section of the Main Level features galleries that present contemporary art, ranging from Cubism and Art Deco to Abstract Expressionism and Postmodernism. Additionally, prints and drawings are shown in several galleries on the first level. European etchings from the Middle Ages are some of the highlights of these exhibits.

The second level of the Art Gallery of Ontario is dominated by Canadian and indigenous art. More than a dozen galleries on this floor are dedicated to some of the nation’s most prolific artists. There’s a strong focus on paintings and drawings that were completed in Toronto and Ontario.

The indigenous galleries display traditional clothing, textiles, artifacts and other crafts that were made by Canada’s diverse native populations. A few halls on the second level are reserved for special exhibits that typically run on seasonal schedules.

At the Weston Family Learning Centre, visitors are encouraged to enrich their knowledge on art and culture. From hands-on seminars to music concerts, AGO also hosts exciting events each week.

Prints, jewelry, books and toys are some items that sit on the shelves of Shop AGO, the museum’s official retailer. Visitors can grab sandwiches, burgers and drinks at the contemporary AGO Bistro. Members have exclusive access to the Norma Ridley Lounge, a quiet setting for social gatherings.

Location and How To Get The AGO

As one of the most recognizable attractions on Dundas Street, the Art Gallery of Ontario is easily accessible by rapid transit. Located just three blocks away from the museum, St. Patrick Station receives frequent service from the Yonge-University Line. This TTC subway route connects all major points in downtown Toronto.

Heading eastbound and westbound on Dundas Street, the 505 bus line also provides convenient service near this cultural attraction. On-site parking isn’t available, but multiple municipal and private garages are accessible just around the corner.

Click to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario official website or to book your tickets.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Casa Loma | A Castle Rich with History | Toronto Attraction

by Denise Marie

Located just north of downtown Toronto, Casa Loma is a house museum with a rich history. This Gothic Revival landmark has dozens of rooms, a stable and beautiful gardens in an urban setting. Visitors will get a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of a local financier who built the castle for private use.

Beautiful Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada

Click for more details on the beautiful Casa Loma

History

One of Toronto’s wealthiest industrialists in the early 20th century, Sir Henry Pellatt built Casa Loma as his private residence. Considered one of the city’s best architects, E.J. Lennox designed the castle in the Gothic Revival form. It took three years to build this elegant mansion that was a symbol of Pellatt’s wealth and power.

Having nearly 100 rooms and sprawling gardens, the dwelling has been one of Canada’s most prominent residential landmarks. The Kiwanis Club managed the castle for nearly eight decades. In 2011, the city of Toronto acquired the building and invested more than $33 million for renovations.

Tours and Highlights

The terrace and gardens lead visitors to the Great Hall on the first level of Casa Loma. Having 60-foot ceilings with a vaulted design, this elegant hall is connected to the Library that has stunning oak woodwork for decorative and functional purposes. Once used by the original owner, Henry’s Study is located just across the classic-style library.

Some other notable features on the main floor of the castle include the Billiards Room and Serving Room. Covered in mahogany walnut, the walls of Sir Pellatt’s Suite are some of the most notable design highlights on the second level. The Guest Suite, Windsor Room and Round Room are also open for tours. The third floor of Casa Loma hosts museum-like exhibitions that are affiliated with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

The Stables and Potting Sheds also highlight the lavish lifestyle of Sir Henry Pellatt and his social circle. A garage with vintage cars is integrated into this complex. Additional highlights include the Carriage Room and Hunting Lodge. Of course, visitors are also encouraged to stroll the beautiful gardens that are maintained according to traditional European standards.

On-site dining is available at the Liberty Caffe, which serves light fare ranging from coffee to sandwiches. Selling books, toys, jewelry and other souvenirs, a gift shop is conveniently located near the modern eatery.

Location and Directions

Standing on scenic urban hills at the corner of Austin Terrace and Baldwin Steps, Casa Loma is easily accessible by public transit. The Dupont and St. Clair West stations of the TTC Subway are located just a few blocks away from this historic landmark. TTC streetcars also stop within walking distance of this charming property.

Click to visit the Casa Loma official website or to book your tickets.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Annual Casa Loma Easter Brunch | Sunday April 21st, 2019

by Denise Marie

Experience the splendor of Casa Loma this Easter Sunday. Their annual Brunch, served in the stately elegance of Toronto’s famous castle, is an event your family will long remember. After brunch, explore the castle at your leisure.  Special appearance by Detective Pikachu in the Great Hall for photos.

$75 per person

$55 per child (4-13 years old)

 

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

For reservations call 647-725-1832 or email reservations@casaloma.ca

Admission to Casa Loma is included.

Price does not include applicable taxes.

Casa Loma Easter Brunch 2019

Click for more details on Casa Loma Easter Brunch 2019

Visit www.casaloma.ca for menu details and additional information.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

The Bata Shoe Museum | A Unique Must-See When Visiting Toronto

by Denise Marie

The unique Bata Shoe Museum is considered an unusual attraction in Toronto, but one that definitely must be seen. This museum houses a collection of thousands of shoes from around the world, from the earliest time to modern footwear. Created out of the personal collection of Sonja Bata, the museum opened its doors to the public in 1995 in the stunning four story complex designed by architects Moriyama and Teshima. Click to book your BSM admission ticket.

History of Bata Shoe Museum

Sonja Bata has been involved in the global footwear industry for over half a century and is considered one of the premier experts in the world on the history of the shoe. Since the 1940’s, Bata has been traveling the world in search of interesting shoes to add to her personal collection of items that chronicle the history of the shoe and the way technology and lifestyle affects the design and even use of footwear.

In 1979, Sonja Bata founded the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation, partly in order to continue to cover academic studies and writings about the shoe throughout times, but also to find a home for the thousands of shoes that were part of her personal collection and needed a more permanent home. Finally, in 1995, the current museum in downtown Toronto was opened in the stunning 39,000 square foot building. The complex continues to attract people from all over the globe hoping to get a glimpse of the fascinating history of items that we take so much for granted in our everyday lives.

Bata Shoe Museum

Click to for more information on the unique Bata Shoe Museum

Bata Shoe Museum Exhibitions

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is made up of four different galleries, each one housing different exhibitions. One gallery is home to the semi permanent exhibition entitled “All About Shoes” which chronicles the fascinating history of footwear, while the other three have ever-changing exhibitions that are always presented in a unique and innovative manner.

The permanent collection is perhaps one of the most fascinating exhibitions in the world where the history of the shoe is displayed before one’s eyes. The intention of the exhibition is to chronicle how shoes appeared in cultures through different periods in time, from an ancient Roman sandal to footwear made from human hair. The exhibition has items dating back 4,500 years and showcases shoes from practically every country in the world. Click to book your Bata Shoe Museum admission ticket.

Highlights of the permanent collection include ballroom slippers worn by Queen Victoria, a 16th century velvet covered platform mule, Native American footwear and medieval footwear.

Shoes once belonging to famous people are also on display, including blue patent loafers worn by Elvis Presley and a boot worn by John Lennon.

Other shoe related items are also on display, including original paintings, medieval woodcuts and even snuff boxes.

The Architecture of the Bata Shoe Museum

The architecture of the BSM is so unique that it is worth a mention. Architects Moriyama and Teshima were commissioned to create what Sonja Bata called ‘a small gem of a museum’ and the results are truly stunning. Work only began on the museum after the perfect location was found in Midtown Toronto – after fifteen years of searching! – and Raymond Moriyama has been acclaimed for creating just the right complex for such a unique collection. A clever use of light – natural and artificial – is made throughout and the walls are made of a warm limestone material.

The roof of the complex has been designed to look like a roof opening off a shoe box, making the museum difficult to ignore from outside.

Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum is not ‘any old museum’. This complex is home to items that showcase brilliantly the way culture and events affect the design of shoes and the way they are made and worn. A strongly recommended destination when next visiting Toronto! Click for hotels in Midtown Toronto.

Location: 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Phone: 416-979-7799

Click to visit the Bata Shoe Museum official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.