On my quest to explore all the major cities in North America, Toronto, Canada was the next in line. After spending a week in Detroit, Michigan with Brad, we spent a fun-filled weekend exploring downtown Toronto (crossing the bridge into Ontario, Canada).
The U.S. side.
The Canadian side.
Driving into downtown Toronto.
The famous CN Tower.
Canada's largest city square, Nathan Phillips Square, includes a 3D sign of Toronto (that flashes multiple color schemes) with New City Hall as the backdrop.
In the Winter, the water becomes an ice-skating rink.
View of the other side of Nathan Phillips Square, but this time with Old City Hall as the backdrop.
View of Old City Hall's Clock-tower.
Summertime brings many art vendors to the Square.
Brad and I enjoyed looking at all the different types of art.
Some of our favs were the brain exhibit,
and food exhibit, created with stone and mineral compounds.
(We thought Aubrey would especially like the pizza exhibit - too bad a slice of pizza was $500 dollars!).
Our hotel was centrally located across from Nathan Phillips Square.
Views of the city from our hotel room...
zoomed-in picture of Nathan Phillips Square,
picture of Holy Trinity Church located directly behind our hotel,
view of the Square at dusk,
and view of the Square at night.
The interior of our hotel was just as exquisite:
breakfast serving and eating areas
indoor pool & hot tub,
and weight room, all with amazing views.
After touring the city our first evening, we decided to eat at "The Taste of Toronto",
which was an outdoor market show casing some of Toronto's most authentic and popular restaurants.
I went for Mediterranean food,
and Brad chose Spicy Thai food.
For dessert, we walked miles to find the only Gelato place in the city! It was good, but once you've had the real deal from Italy, nothing else quite compares.
The next day, while exploring King Street (known for it's bars and original restaurants), we just had to stop for "Toronto's best ice-cream" Sweet Jesus.
From everything we heard, we decided it was worth standing in the long line.
We chose their signature Sweet Jesus flavor with caramel soft-serve ice-cream (that tasted more like custard) covered in chocolate pieces, nuts, and chocolate sauce. Again, it was pretty good, but nothing like Gelato from Italy!
Also on the food front was a stop at St. Lawrence Market.
This market is famous for its vast amounts of really inexpensive, yet high quality food and produce. Farmers, ranchers, bakers etc. bring their goods to sell everyday. But, you need to get there early before all the best deals are gone!
The red meat section would blow-your-mind with all its variety. Other sections included breads of all types,
cheeses of every kind,
fish and sea food, in all varieties,
and pastries galore! The basement even included a bunch of gift shops with both perishable and non-perishable items.
There were even musicians entertaining everyone outside of the market.
Map of downtown, Toronto.
Selfie with the skyscrapers (and CN Tower) behind us.
Pretty much anywhere you went in the city, you could see the CN Tower.
The CN Tower is a concrete communications and observation tower that is the world's third tallest tower, and tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. It is a signature icon of Toronto's skyline and attracts more than two million international visitors a year.
We enjoyed touring the city by bus and on foot,
but we'll have to try it by bike the next time we come.
Four Seasons Hotel
Unique L Tower building in the distance.
Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM, which it is most commonly referred to.
Ontario College of Art & Design - the building was made to look like a pencil box turned upside down.
Some random building with a car exploding out of it.
Scotiabank Theatre - The Rubik's Cube sits at the top of a huge escalator.
Ryerson University Student Learning Center.
The Gooderham Building - Also known as the Flatiron Building. It is a historic office building on the edge of the city's Financial District (notice the modern Financial District skyscrapers in the background).
Young-Dundas Square - Similar to NYC Time Square. It is in the center of the city's entertainment and shopping districts.
There are several cute little fire stations downtown with varying styles. They were built in the late 19th century up to the 1950's.
Toronto's Hospital District includes several hospitals (Hospital for Sick Children, Princess Margaret Cancer Center, and Mount Sinai Hospital) all within one block. Above is Toronto General Hospital (TGH). It is the oldest hospital in Toronto.
The backside of TGH - It is part of the University Health Network, and performed the world's first single and double lung transplants, the world's first valve-sparing aortic root replacement, and the world's first triple organ transplant.
The University of Toronto - It is located in Queen's Park and is known for being the birth place of insulin and stem cell research, and was the site of the first practical electron microscope, development of multi-touch technology, identification of the first black hole, and theory of NP-completeness.
View of The University of Toronto from our tour bus.
The Royal Conservatory of Music building.
There were numerous churches and parks intermingled between the tall skyscrapers, such as St. James Cathedral Church and Park,
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church,
and St. Basils' Church, located at St. Michael's College, at the University of Toronto
We saw many weddings during our short stay in Toronto. This particular wedding processional looked like a parade with musicians, dancers, and brightly colored carriages carried on men's shoulders.
This wedding party was taking pictures on King's Street, a popular place for young adults to hang out.
This bride was getting pictures taken at Casa Loma. Casa Loma is a huge castle that sits on a hill above Toronto. Brad and I enjoyed our self-guided tour of the property and grounds. In addition to 400,000 visitors a year, Casa Loma also hosts 130 weddings, 240 corporate events, media events (many major films have been filmed at Casa Loma including X-Men & Chicago), and vast amounts of school and community events.
This couple was just finishing their wedding reception at Casa Loma's Conservatory.
The guests were still enjoying their meal while being serenaded by a classical quartet.
Every part of the Conservatory was breathtaking from its stain-glass rotunda, to the golden ornate French doors.
Casa Loma is Spanish for Hill House. It was owned by Sir Henry Pellatt (who hired architect E.J. Lennox), his wife Mary, and one son. Pellatt was a Canadian financier and soldier, but at the age of 20, he set a world record in New York, running the mile in 4 minuets and 42.4 seconds, beating the U.S. champion. By 1901 Pellatt was chairman of 21 companies and was apart of the consortium that built the first hydroelectric dam on Niagara Fall's, Canadian side.
(Back of Casa Loma).
In 1903 Pellatt bought 25 estate lots atop of a hill overlooking Toronto. His monopoly grew for 28 years and his fortune was worth $17 million in 1911 when he began construction on Casa Loma. Casa Loma was created in the Gothic Revival style, and was the biggest private residence ever constructed in Canada.
Casa Loma costed $3.5 million dollars to build. The home covered 64,700 square feet, took 300 workers three years to build, included 98 rooms and 30 bathrooms, and cost $50,000 a year to pay for 40 live-in staff.
(Pellatt's study with his portrait above the fireplace)
Pellatt became wealthy by investing in the railway and hydro-electric industries. He founded the Toronto Electric Light Company, which lighted the streets of Toronto, and was part of the North West Land Co, Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Toronto Electric Railway Company, which operated the city'streetcar system.
(Henry Pellatt's Suite).
In 1920 when the electricity market became publicly owned, and with the economy slump after WWI, and also with owing the Home Bank of Canada over one million dollars, Pellatt filed for bankruptcy. In 1923 Pellatt and his wife had no choice but to move to their farm north of Toronto. Lady Pellatt died about six months after they moved. Shortly after Lady Pellatt's death, an auction was held for the contents of Casa Loma. Pellatt sold all of his artwork and furnishings for only seventeen percent of their original cost. Casa Loma's contents were valued at $1.5 million, but brought in only $250,000.
(Pellatt's desk in another part of his suite)
Since Casa Loma was in Lady Parett's name, when she died, the city seized it for $27,000 worth of unpaid taxes. Pellatt remarried in 1927 but his second wife died shortly after. Casa Loma was then bought and turned into an upscale hotel by a New York syndicate, but it closed with the stock market crash of 1929. After sitting vacant for 10 years, the Kiwanis Club turned it into a museum. On Mar 8, 1939 Pellatt died virtually penniless at the home of his former chauffeur whom he was living with at the time.
Pellatt's white marble bathroom cost $10,000 to build and included a marble-lined bathtub, and shower with its own heater, large shower head, and multiple side-spraying heads.
In 1905 Pellatt purchased additional land north of his home in order to build Stables and a Hunting Lodge.
The estimated cost of the Stables were $250,000. They included mahogany stalls, Spanish tile flooring, and each horses' name etched in pure gold.
The Garages - Pellatt also had a love of cars.
The impressive Carriage Room now houses vintage cars.
The exhibit includes a 1924-1925 Ford Model T,
and 1910 Maxwell Model Q.
Also on display in the Tack Rooms are the Ford Model T Woody (on right), and 1929 Ford Model A (on the left).
View of Casa Loma from the Stable Complex, which in addition to the Stables, Tack Rooms, and Potting Shed, included a 4380 square foot Hunting Lodge with servant's quarters.
Heated underground tunnel that connected the Stable Complex to the Castle.
(The Third floor has been turned into a Regimental Museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada)
At the age of 18, Pellatt became a member of The Queen's Own Rifles, and eventually became a Commanding Officer and knighted for his dedication.
From the third floor numerous stairs lead to the Towers.This was one of the lines to the top.
The narrow spiral staircase leading to the top of the tower.
Exterior door to the tower terrace.
Views of Toronto's skyline from the tower's terrace...
View of the rooftop terrace.
Views of the grounds and gardens.
Massive Great Hall
Pellatt's Study had a desk that was an exact replica of one of Napoleon Bonaparte's desks.
There were even secret passageways, on either side of the fireplace, in Pellatt's study. One passageway went to the upper floors, and the other, to the lower floors and basement.
Pellat's massive library which held over 10,000 books. The irony is that although the Pellat's were well educated, they were not big readers.The floors of the library were made from mahogany planks, laid in a chevron pattern that reflected the suns rays, causing them to appear multi-colored.
Lady Pellatt's Suite
Lady Pellatt's sitting room.
Lady Pellatt's all marble bathroom.
Dinning room that held 100 people. Pellatt hoped his castle would bring in royalty from all over the world.
The family's dining room.
The Round Room - All walls, windows, and doorways are curved.
The elegant Windsor Room.
The home had many beautiful sitting rooms, painted and decorated in various pastel colors.
Oak and Billiard Rooms located on the Main Floor.
Main floor hallway.
One of the guest's room decorated in an oriental theme, with some furnishings from China.
Another guest bedroom and sitting room.
One of the many guest bathrooms.
The wine cellar, which was actually buried and rediscovered not too long ago. Also, located in the basement are the beginnings of a large swimming pool, bowling alleys, and indoor shooting range, which were never completed.
The final stop on our tour of downtown, Toronto, included a visit to Toronto's waterfront on Lake Ontario.
We took a boat tour of Toronto's harbor.
Cruising around the harbor's many small islands.
Watching some guys sunbathe on a rooftop. The weekend we visited, many of the islands were closed to the public, due to flooding.
Watching some locals paddle board.
Small boat dock on one of the islands.
Views of the CN Tower from the small islands across the harbor.
Small airport located on one of the islands.
Beautiful view of Toronto's skyline from our boat. We had a wonderful time visiting Toronto, and I can't wait to make it back someday!