Opportunity and the curiosity to avail of that opportunity are pre-requisites for an interesting life. A 12-hour layover in Toronto from Cuba to Ireland with Air Canada provided the opportunity to discover the city. My curious nature saw me take a bus from Toronto Pearson Airport to Kipling Station where I transferred onto the subway for the eastbound journey into the city centre.
For a quicker transfer, the Union Pearson Express train runs from Pearson Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto. Further information on this service is available on the Toronto Pearson website.
THINGS TO SEE IN TORONTO
Armed with the map of Downtown Toronto from a copy of Where Toronto magazine I disembarked at St. George Station and found myself basking in glorious sunshine between the shadows of high-rise buildings.
I love meandering among old buildings admiring the product of builders and architects of by-gone eras. European urban areas excel in this respect but some Torontonians I met prior to my visit said I would be disappointed with their native city.
CHURCHES: All isn’t completely lost as a few architectural gems are still preserved such as the Church of the Redeemer at the intersection of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road, and St. Andrew’s Church on Simcoe Street, although both are dwarfed by boxy skyscrapers.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: I was told that many of the University of Toronto buildings would meet my architectural desires and the Old Department of Household Science Building didn’t disappoint. The Hilary and Galen Weston wing of the Royal Ontario Museum caught my eye not only for its design but also for the fact that Hilary regularly tops Ireland’s rich list.
QUEEN’S PARK AREA: I continued to Queen’s Park where a kaleidoscope of activities was taking place from bagpipe practice to tight-rope walking. I had the CN Tower in my sights and headed down University Avenue in its direction. More meandering led me to the WSIB Simcoe Workers Monument, a visit which led to the conclusion that every town and city should have some place which commemorates workers who lost their lives in the course of their work. I highly recommend this monument for its message and for its artistic value.
CN TOWER & HARBOUR: It wasn’t long before I reached the goal of my visit – the CN Tower – and chickened out ascending to the top as soon as I saw the glass elevator. My lack of enthusiasm for heights left time for a brief visit to the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre and a walk along the harbour front, an underrated pedestrian area of restaurants, bars and public art. It reminded me of Copenhagen, a comment Toronto should accept as a huge compliment. I loved the harbour area the minute I arrived and was disappointed that I didn’t have time to take one of the many boat tours of Lake Ontario
UNION STATION: I walked to Union Station to pick up the subway but once again the camera was whipped out to capture both the interior and exterior of the station’s striking neoclassical structure.
BAY/YONGE STREET: Despite tired legs the subway plan was abandoned in favour of more meandering along Bay Street and Yonge Street. The Old City Hall was possibly the final classical building I noticed on my route before I headed back to St. George station for the long trip home.
LAYOVER IN TORONTO: FINAL THOUGHTS
Canada has moved up quite a few places on my to-do list thanks to my brief skip around Toronto and the efficient friendliness which the city’s populace exuded, an efficient friendliness which began the minute I boarded the initial Air Canada flight in Dublin. The opportunity to see the city presented itself in an unlikely way and I seized the day, all twelve hours of it.