The MumRevised Tour of Toronto
I did not grow up in Toronto but I feel like I did. My mother lived here so my brother and I spent a month of every summer doing all that a tourist wants to do. The CN Tower, SkyDome (now Rogers Centre), Centre Island, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Science Centre, High Park, St Lawrence Market, and so much more. We spent summers anywhere a car could take us. By visiting the tourist attractions, we got a sense of the pulse of the city. We spent time in Little Portugal, China Town, Little Italy, Greek Town, and everywhere in between to understand the global feel of this truly multi-cultural metropolis. What we didn’t notice though was what might be considered off the beaten track.
If you want to follow along on our obscure tour of Toronto or plan one of your own, we started in the west and headed east. I have been noticing more of Toronto since I started the planning and some items were not on the tour with my friends (in italics), but part of Open Doors Toronto, or just stopped me in my tracks when I was driving or walking around. When you pause to take notice of your city, any city, it has so much to offer with so many stories to share. Come to visit us here, we are more than just failing sports teams 🙂 You can always find something new and exciting to do here and the food is amazing! I just love our city and was very excited to be a Tourist in My Own Town for a day, but now it has spawned a lifetime of curiosity. This is just the start!
#1 BaoBao The Elephant, 2404 Bloor St. (In the backyard)
Imported from China and named after the restaurant who owns her, legend has it she comes to life if you feed her a banana.
#2 Little House, 128 Day Ave.
The family home of contractor Arthur Weeden and his wife for 20 years measures about 7′ wide, 47′ deep, with a total of less than 300 square feet of living space inside.
#3 The Greek House, 1016 Shaw St.
In a multi-cultural city, it is not that surprising to see a homage to the homeland. The Parashos family leave no doubt where they call home.
#4 Sally the Elephant, 77 Yarmouth Ave.
Originally an art project, Sally sits behind a cherry tree on James Lawson’s front yard. She still makes him laugh and amuses dozens of passerby’s a day.
#5 The Wood (aka The Cork House), 475 Clinton St.
After an accident, owner Albino Carreira started decorating his garden with corks, coin, chopped pool cues, and critters. It is a beautiful art piece and a welcoming garden in one.
#6 Graffiti Alley on Rush Lane
More art than graffiti, one kilometre of vibrant colours, unique creative pieces and it is all legal. The property owners fought to keep the art after a graffiti bylaw told them they had to paint over it. In the end, art won over.
#7 The Monkey’s Paw and the Biblio-Mat, 1267 Bloor St W.
This antique bookstore has a custom-made vending machine called the Biblio-Mat made from a teacher’s locker. For only $3 you receive a randomly selected vintage volume of your own.
#8 VOG Vault Gravity Room in Fluevog, 686 Queen St W.
The shoes are impressive, but what they did with the old bank vault makes the photos impressive too. The gravity room in the back of Fluevog makes for a great Instagram post.
#9 Toronto’s Half House, 54 1/2 St Patrick St.
This is what happens when you don’t want to sell your row home to a builder. Meticulously removed from its five attached neighbours, is Toronto’s half house.
#10 The 3D Toronto Sign, 100 Queen St W.
Not obscure, but it is in danger. This now iconic sign was meant to be temporary for the PanAm Games in 2015. Plans are underway to make this a permanent fixture with over 120 million pictures of it on social media happening in the month of June 2016 alone!
#11 The City’s Largest Labyrinth, 19 Trinity Square
There are labyrinths scattered all over the city, but unless you notice the pattern in the ground, you might just use it as a walkway. Labyrinths are meant for quiet contemplation and have no dead ends so you just follow the path and it will lead you to the centre.
#12 Secret Subway Station at Bay (used mainly for filming), Bay Street Station
There is an entire subway station under our existing Bay Street station. It is used for filming and track diversion and is usually closed to the public.
#13 The Film Café and Eative for gold ice cream, 230 Augusta
Bringing the Japanese treat of gold-covered ice cream from Kanasawa (the gold-leaf capital of the world) to Toronto.
#14 The Garden Car “Carden”, Augusta Ave. & Oxford St.
The Parking Authority gives this car a pass. For only $200 and a group of local artists and a dedicated garden keeper, the #gardencar is a summertime fixture in Kensington Market.
#15 Otto’s Berlin Bierhalle for the Disco Bathroom, 256 Augusta Ave.
The beer was refreshing, but it was that big red (or blue) button on the bathroom wall that made me choose this location.
#16 Cube House, 104 Eastern Ave.
Another structure in danger inspired by homes in Rotterdam, this ‘tree’ has been the centre of legal battles for years. It is too young to be considered a heritage home and it sits amongst concrete in limbo, for now.
#17 The Doll House, 37 Bertmount Ave.
Owner Shirley, loves her collection of dolls and plastic critters so much, she has been sharing them in her front garden for over 20 years.
#18 Rainbow Crosswalks at College and Alexandra St
Celebrate Pride with colourful walks as a permanent reminder that all are welcome in Toronto.
Random Street Fun is a bonus!
Tell me your secret city finds? What have you recently noticed that has been there forever?
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