When last we left off in the travelogue (torturously long ago-I’m simultaneously having trouble getting into a school year routine as well as having too many things to do during the day), we’d just gotten in the car to drive up to Toronto. After an uneventful drive (*our listening pleasure on the entire trip was The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw, read by Bronson Pinchot. This is the 3rd and final book and we’ve listened to the previous titles on previous long car trips. Bronson Pinchot is an amazing audiobook reader. It’s like being entertained by a one-man show and really quite incredible. Though to tell the truth, I was tuned out on this stretch of drive as I was so engrossed in the middle ages, reading the end of The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.) we found our hotel and checked in. And now began the fun (and very new-to-the-kids) of staying in a city. The last time I was in Toronto Paul and I were there for the ALA Annual Conference, and we had just gotten engaged the night before! So yes, I remembered it with a rosy glow. Our hotel was in a terrific location-a bustling area, on the edge of not-Chinatown (maybe a new area developing into a new Chinatown?), easy access to subway stops, and the underground shopping centers. Since we were in such an Asian area we took the opportunity to take the kids out for their first dim sum. The food was great and afterwards we went to a bubble tea place. Paul loves bubble tea, but doesn’t come across it very often, so he was pretty delighted that there an entire place that was just that.
After all that we made use of the hotel’s terrific family pool.
The next day we ate breakfast out and then headed downtown (via subway) to go to the CN Tower. We were thrilled to realize that a comic con was starting at the convention center (which is right next to the CN Tower), so the people watching the whole time we were there was fantastic as there were hundreds of people dressed in costume on the subway, on the sidewalk, in the coffee shops, etc. The CN Tower is rather like the Space Needle-a tremendously tall spire that you can go up.
We ascended and then there is an observation deck and also a cool glass floor, which is unnerving to walk on.
Here’s the stadium the Blue Jays play in way down beloooooow..
The views were amazing-Lake Ontario is humongous and beautiful, and you can really see how big a waterfront city Toronto is.
After the CN Tower we had a little Canadian snack at Second Cup (a coffee chain that we fondly recalled and couldn’t wait to enjoy a frozen hot chocolate at.)
We walked along the street to enjoy a marvelous memorial which is tragic, but also funny (a match factory seems ripe for a fire.) Called “100 workers” it is a gallery of plaques, one for each year 1900-1999, commemorating someone who died in a workplace accident.
The descriptions are rather uneven-many early ones gruesome and detailed(“died from blood poisoning from a circular saw cut”), with many later ones vague or abrupt (emphysema). It is well worth 10 minutes of your time to check this out. Then we took the subway up to Casa Loma. We were really excited to check this place out, which is called a castle, which was somewhat misleading to Clark who was hoping for oubliettes and suits of armor. In fact, it’s a huge historical mansion (castle).
And if there’s one thing I love it’s touring historical mansions and imagining the life of a robber baron. Or, as a friend commented, “I can practically see the gilded hummingbirds from here!” Exactly. Casa Loma is frequently used for filming movies, which was also kind of neat to see. And for Paul and I, a nice surprise was that there was an exhibit in one of the rooms of Group of Seven paintings. Now, the Group of Seven was a Canadian art movement/collective back in the 1920s (I think that’s when, and I can’t be bothered to go fact check in our beautiful coffee table book about it.) The impetus for this trip was to see the band The Rheostatics, who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of an album that was music inspired by the Group of Seven, with a rare performance of said music. So, it was cool to see the paintings right there. After thoroughly exploring Casa Loma everyone was hot and tired. We needed desperately to just go relax in the hotel pool, which we did. Followed by a lovely dinner out at a pub, and then some much desired time at Indigo, a wonderful huge bookstore.
And, to Tabby’s everlasting excitement, the new home of an American Girl doll store. She was truly in heaven, having never seen one before. It is the source of her beautiful smile in this photo:
For our final day in Toronto we visited the Royal Ontario Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame. And did a little shopping at Roots. ROM was a terrific museum, not humongous, with a nice variety of collections. I think there was something there that each of us really enjoyed. Tabby seemed captivated by the First Peoples exhibit, while Clark liked the Ancient Chinese and Japanese things, I liked the Staircase of Wonders and biodiversity exhibit, and despite himself Paul was fascinated by the Mexican textiles. And we were all delighted that the subway stop for the museum has cool pillars and sculptures, instead of ordinary poles. Next up, hockey. The Hockey Hall of Fame houses the Stanley Cup in a beautiful domed room with a ceiling made of gorgeous stained glass.
It’s resplendent and an appropriately lavish setting.
That was our first stop in the museum, which was filled with interesting things like old uniforms that look very quaint and insufficient.
We especially enjoyed the interactive exhibits and all took turns trying out the NHL shootout where you try to score goals against and animated goalie. (I scored 2!)
And finally, the trip wrapped up that evening with the concert at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO.) We are wishing we were able to explore the art gallery because it looked pretty cool, but it was closed for the evening. The event was held in an open room, and there were just 500 tickets sold for this sold out event.
We stood very close to the stage and it was really quite an incredible, intimate experience. Paul is the Rheostatics fan, and so I leave him to tell you in detail about this special concert and why it was so rare. For the record, they didn’t play the one song I hoped they would, but that’s ok because I did enjoy it. Also, this was an incredible blend of sound and sight, as there were projections on the walls of the gallery space that were integral to the whole thing. It was quite moving. Here we are outside:
And up early in the morning for one last swim and then a stop in a science museum (but there were no photos because there was a lot of crankiness) and then heading home, which turned into an endless trip–12 hours!! due to all kinds of traffic nonsense. Boy, were we tired when we got home at 1am.
All in all, a great trip to our neighbor to the North!!