Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Toronto Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Toronto

Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, is a major Canadian metropolis on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario renowned for its dynamic pace and a high-rising skyline comprising ultra-modern skyscrapers and historic architecture.

People have inhabited the area of present-day Toronto for thousands of years, among them the Iroquois tribe, preceded by the Wyandot (Huron) people who had occupied the region for centuries before c. 1500. The name Toronto is likely derived from the Iroquoian word tkaronto, meaning "place where trees stand in the water". However, the word "Toronto", meaning "plenty" also appears in a 1632 French lexicon of the Huron language, which is also an Iroquoian language.

After the broadly disputed Toronto Purchase, when the Mississauga surrendered the area to the British, the latter established here the town of York in 1793. During the War of 1812, the town suffered heavy damage by American troops in the Battle of York. In 1834, York was renamed and incorporated as the city of Toronto; in 1867, it was designated as the capital of the province of Ontario during Canadian Confederation.

The first significant wave of immigrants were Irish, mostly Catholic, who fled the Great Irish Famine. The city received new European immigrant groups, such as Germans, French, Italians, and Jews, in the late 19th-early 20th century. These were soon followed by the Russians, Poles, and other Eastern Europeans, in addition to the Chinese entering from the West. The postwar boom had resulted in rapid suburban development of Toronto. In the decades after World War II, refugees from war-torn Europe and Chinese job-seekers arrived, as well as construction labourers, particularly from Italy and Portugal. By the 1980s, Toronto had surpassed Montreal as Canada's most populous city and chief economic hub.

Today's Toronto boasts rich cultural scene and is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture and TV production. The city has a diverse array of public spaces, a multitude of green spaces, offering a wealth of entertainment and recreational facilities. Home to numerous museums and galleries, national historic sites, festivals and public events, Toronto attracts annually over 40 million tourists.

On this self-guided Introduction Tour of Toronto, Part I you get a chance to explore some of the city's most prominent sights, such as Old City Hall, Hockey Hall of Fame, Kensington Market, Chinatown, and more. Just take a walk and see for yourself!
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Toronto Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Toronto Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Canada » Toronto (See other walking tours in Toronto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Lawrence Market
  • Gooderham Building
  • Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Yonge Street
  • Old City Hall
  • Toronto New City Hall
  • Trinity Square
  • Eaton Centre
  • Yonge-Dundas Square
  • Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
  • Chinatown
  • Kensington Market
1
St. Lawrence Market

1) St. Lawrence Market (must see)

Established in 1803, St. Lawrence Market is owned by the City of Toronto and is its nerve centre for commercial and administrative activity. The market is located between Jarvis, Front, King and Church streets, the former industrial area, and is the largest market in the city.

The South Market houses the daily sale of fresh fruits and vegetables along with dairy and meat products. Freshly baked goods are available here all day and so are non-food items. Since its establishment, on Saturdays the market has been the point of sale for the producers of southern Ontario, right from 5 o'clock in the morning. Sundays bring antique dealers to the North market, from dawn to 5 o'clock in the evening. The Market Gallery on the second floor of the South Market has an exhibition area available for rent for cultural purposes. Often, the 10,000 sq. ft. of the North Market houses exhibitions, displays, meetings and social gatherings. St. Lawrence Hall runs retail businesses and is the location of the administrative offices of the City of Toronto.

A small pub just outside the market has something to offer if you are hungry or want to sit down for a drink. The market also holds special and creative events for your pet dog or street performances at selected times of the year. So do check out this fun-filled market on your visit to Toronto.

Why You Should Visit:
The choice of fishmongers, butchers, deli meats & cheese and produce vendors reigns supreme, but vegan options are plentiful as well.
The atmosphere is amazing with so many different cultures of people spending their time with family picking out their food.

Tip:
Make sure to have a good walk around before you decide on one place – there are lots of good options.
If you're traveling through, try to go early in your week so, if you buy something you want to eat later, you have time.

Operating Hours:
Five days a week – Tue-Thu: 8am-6pm; Fri: 8am-7pm; Sat: 5am-5pm
2
Gooderham Building

2) Gooderham Building

A city is best experienced when traveling on foot and Toronto is surely no exception. Filled with its own blend of sights and sounds, the Ontario capital comes to life with its quirky museums, beautiful churches and unique architecture. The St. Lawrence neighborhood is one place where traveling on foot is very advantageous. One of the many places worth visiting in this locality is the Gooderham Building. Hardly five stories tall, the building is one of the most photographed sights in the city.

Found in the brilliant urban setting of Toronto, this flatiron edifice stands quaintly on Wellington Street. Its vermilion, almost “brick red” color singles out from the chaotic backdrop of skyscrapers. Grown to become one of the architectural symbols of the city, featured in every book and postcard, the Gooderham is one of the true historical sights of Toronto.

Built in 1892, it is 10 years senior to its more famous kin, the Fuller Building in New York, which was completed in 1902. The Toronto building was constructed for distiller George Gooderham and served as his office till 1952, upon which it was sold. The most fascinating feature of the building is undoubtedly its unique architecture. The distinct flatiron shape with tinges of Romanesque styling and the innovative mural it wears on its back wall are the obvious reasons why the Gooderham building gets so much attention.
3
Hockey Hall of Fame

3) Hockey Hall of Fame (must see)

The people of Toronto take their sport very seriously, especially when it comes to their much-loved game, ice hockey. And no visit to Toronto is complete without getting a glimpse of this fascinating sport and being part of the thrill. What better way to do this than tour the Hockey Hall of Fame! The museum is dedicated to the history of ice hockey and proudly displays the achievements and accolades won by the teams and their players.

Established in 1943, the Hockey Hall of Fame is the result of the tireless efforts of James Thomas Sutherland, a national ice hockey player, coach, administrator and an ardent sports developer and supporter. He is fondly remembered as the Father of Hockey. Located at the corner of Front and Yonge Streets and spread over an area of 57,000 square feet, the Hall of Fame is divided into 15 exhibits. The museum displays cups, trophies, memorabilia, as well as equipment and jerseys worn by famous hockey personalities. Apart from that, here you can get insights and read biographies of members of the Hall of Fame and browse through portraits and photographs of players. The museum also has some fun interactive exhibits where you can try your hand at taking real pucks, as well as play goaltender.

***Historic Buildings Walk****
The Hockey Hall of Fame's building is an attraction in its own right. The 1885 Beaux-Arts-style architectural marvel was designed by the Toronto firm of Darling & Curry, and formerly housed the old Bank of Montreal Branch. Recognized as one of the most impressive bank structures ever built in Toronto, it is ornately extravagant with ostentatious stonework displayed on the facades. The building has large rectangular plate glass windows, with columns in between richly embellished with wall carvings. The overall design of the edifice is an attempt to project the image of prosperity and security.

Why You Should Visit:
For a modest entry fee, you get room after room of memorabilia from years gone by until the past year.
This place has it all, from NHL to international hockey. Also, a great shop to get team apparel. The interactive games are a real hit with the kids.

Tip:
For a few bucks you can have your photo taken with the Stanley Cup – they will print out three photos and you also receive a digital copy.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm; Sat: 9:30am-6pm; Sun: 10:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Yonge Street

4) Yonge Street

Yonge Street is a major arterial route in the Canadian province of Ontario connecting the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a gateway to the Upper Great Lakes. Yonge is also a major commercial thoroughfare in Toronto rather than a ceremonial one, with landmarks such as the Eaton Center, Yonge-Dundas Square and the Hockey Hall of Fame located along its length—and lends its name to the eponymous Downtown Yonge shopping and entertainment district.

The street was integral to the original planning and settlement of western Upper Canada in the 1790s, and was named by Ontario's first colonial administrator, John Graves Simcoe, for his friend Sir George Yonge, an expert on ancient Roman roads.

As Toronto's main street, Yonge hosts parades, street performances and protests. After major sporting victories, thousands of people gather on the downtown portions of the street, particularly near Dundas Square, to celebrate and the street gets closed to vehicular traffic while those are occurring. Streetcars on routes crossing Yonge in that area (Carlton, Dundas, Queen, King) during those celebrations will often have to cease operations a few hundred metres east or west of Yonge Street due to the crowds.

The construction of Yonge Street was designated as an Event of National Historic Significance in Canada.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Old City Hall

5) Old City Hall

Located on the corner of Queen and Bay Street is one of the city’s architectural marvels, the Old City Hall. Grand in its demeanor and elegant in its stance, the Old City Hall was once the crowning jewel of the budding city of Toronto.

It is no secret that a lot of pain, effort, time and not to forget money went into the making of this building. By the end of 1880, the city of Toronto had expanded beyond the range of the existent municipal authority. So another building was commissioned for construction which would act as a courthouse along with being the City Hall. Prominent Toronto-based architect, Edward James Lennox, was bestowed with responsibility of constructing the New City Hall. With high expectations from his designs, it took Lennox three years to come up with an acceptable project!

The construction started no sooner. It is believed that work on the City Hall began in 1889 and took 10 years to be finished. The end result was surely well worth the wait. A magnificent City Hall, built to perfection in Romanesque Revival architecture, more accurately known as Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, boasts a 300 feet Big Ben that weighs 5,443 kg.

Why You Should Visit:
While the exterior is magnificent for its old charm and clock tower, there are still some interior details to see and appreciate – from the grand staircase with stained glass window, depicting Canadian history, to the various murals and statues...

Tip:
Make sure to visit the small "lake" close by, as many of the pictures you might know from Toronto are taken from this place while facing the "TORONTO" sign.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Toronto New City Hall

6) Toronto New City Hall

Another architectural landmark of Toronto is the New City Hall. Photographed by many, this symbol of Toronto stands out as a unique structure accentuating the originality and sophistication in the city’s scape.

The New City Hall was designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, who was awarded the project following an international competition that drew in over 500 designs from more than 40 nations worldwide. The competition initially underwent grave criticism and ran into controversy over not having a Canadian to design the City Hall. However, the result of that competition gifted Toronto with one of its finest structures which, to this very day, is a popular symbol for the state.

The construction took four years and, by 1964, the two towers were completed. The project was run in collaboration with Heikki Castren, Bengt Lundsten and Seppo Valjus who, according to Revell, were not credited enough for their contribution. The Toronto New City Hall was Revell’s only design outside Finland, and is the one for which he is most known. Unfortunately, the mastermind behind the spectacular structure did not live to see his magnum opus completed, as he died earlier in 1964.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Trinity Square

7) Trinity Square

Trinity Square, located in downtown Toronto, is accessed via James Street or the walkways from Bay Street and Dundas Street. The square is curbed by the Eaton Center, Bell Trinity Square and Marriott Downtown Eaton Center Hotel.

The owner of the site, John Simcoe Macaulay, sold it in 1845 to make way for the construction of the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, which still stands today. The area surrounding the church was called Eaton's Annex and was home to a 10-floor building constructed in 1919. The latter was brought down by fire in 1970. The original design of the Eaton Center threatened the existence of the church. Successful protests to that changed the Center's design to what it is today.

The square is decorated with granite, concrete blocks and trees planted along the walkways. The Toronto Public Labyrinth, adjacent to the church, is constructed on similar lines as the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. An artificial stream flows alongside the walkway to Bay Street where two lanterns rest on large blue columns and act as an entrance to the square.

Why You Should Visit:
Oasis in the heart of the city; a great place to relax downtown.

Tip:
The Old City Hall is located just south of the square and also deserves a visit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Eaton Centre

8) Eaton Centre (must see)

Toronto caters to any visitor's idea of the "best shopping day ever" as its shopping destinations are perfectly compatible with all visitors' budgets, however diverse. Still, no shopping experience of Toronto is complete if you haven’t visited the Eaton Centre. Literally, a "shop-till-you-drop" venue, this centre in Downtown Toronto is the largest shopping mall in Eastern Canada and the third largest in the country.

This colossal shopping complex is anchored between the Queen Street, Dundas Street, and Yonge Street. With more than 230 retail outlets, restaurants and services, the Eaton Centre has definitely got something for everyone. With an area of 160,000 square meters, Toronto’s premier shopping destination has high-end boutiques, exclusive stores and spas, popular universal brands and even bargain marts. With a massive visitor count of over a million per year, the Eaton Centre has become a regular entry on every tourist’s list.

Why You Should Visit:
Pretty much a place you can go to to find anything, from clothing to mobile services to an Apple or Microsoft Store.
The mall is connected to multiple subway stations and has exit doors to every street surrounding it.

Tip:
The food court is very nice and diversified.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-9:30pm; Sat: 9:30am-9:30pm; Sun: 10am-7pm
9
Yonge-Dundas Square

9) Yonge-Dundas Square (must see)

No place can possibly get you any closer to the spirit of Toronto than Yonge-Dundas Square. Filled with entertainment and brimming with energy and life, this square is the heart of the city’s cultural pedestal. Opposite the Eaton Center is Toronto’s community hub that attracts both tourist and locals alike on a very large scale.

Bringing together people from all walks of life, this square hosts celebrations, theatrical events, musicals, movies and concerts. Buzzing with activity, Dundas Square is always in motion.

Opened in 2002, the Yonge-Dundas was designed in context to the hip and happening Toronto metropolis. It boasts of a chic urban design and stands at a slight incline which was made on purpose so as to facilitate a theatrical feel to the complex.

Why You Should Visit:
The most photographed spot in Toronto! Canada's "Times Square" with lots of events happening. Easy access to Path, Eaton Center and tonnes of awesome food.
Good meeting point to go off shopping and sightseeing around Toronto; an ideal place to enjoy some activity during daylight or late at night.

Tip:
If you just want to drop in for a quick look-see, rest assured that getting out is as easy as hopping the subway right at the corner inside the Eaton Centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

10) Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) (must see)

One of the most spectacular structures you can ever encounter in Toronto is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Housing the world’s largest Canadian art collection, the Art Gallery of Ontario is a must visit when in the city.

The museum was established in 1900 and was the resultant of the efforts of a group of citizens who didn't take art lightly. Although the museum had a shaky start, it progressed to earn the reputation of being one of the best-known museums in Toronto.

The AGO has a proud collection of over 80,000 pieces of works that display art right from the 1st century till the present day. Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Tintoretto, Anthony Van Dyke, Thomas Gainsborough, Pablo Picasso are the few artists whose works are proudly displayed at the museum. The perfect place for admirers and followers of art, the AGO also has a brilliant collection of modern and contemporary artists like Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Jenny Holzer. Not only is the museum a haven for devoted paint and canvas lovers, the works of some of the finest sculptors can also be seen here. The AGO has the largest collection of sculptures by Henry Moore, who took the world by storm with his semi-abstract pieces of work.

Why You Should Visit:
The gallery's architecture alone is worth coming for; add the permanent Group of Seven exhibition as well as the African, European and Indigenous art to make a most enjoyable experience.
You can also stop into the museum shop for all the fun and interesting items.

Tip:
The museum policy allows for exiting and re-entering on your ticket within the day.
Don't forget to check out the basement which has many models of naval ships, mostly from Britain. It's spectacular and often overlooked.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu: 10:30am–5pm; Wed, Fri: 10:30am–9pm; Sat, Sun: 10:30am–5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Chinatown

11) Chinatown (must see)

Toronto's Chinatown, also known as Downtown Chinatown or West Chinatown, is an ethnic Chinese enclave located in the city's downtown core, centered at the intersections of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street, West. In fact, this is one of Toronto's many Chinatowns, and was formed in the 1950s-1960s in a formerly Jewish district.

Downtown Chinatown is one of the largest in North America. Historically, it has been represented by immigrants from southern China and Hong Kong. Since the transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997, immigrants from mainland China have greatly exceeded those from Hong Kong. Starting the 1990s, the area has been redefining itself in the face of changing demographics and gentrification prompted, among other factors, by the increased interest from urban professionals and young people who work in the Financial District.

While the majority of the grocery stores and shops remain, most of the once-famed restaurants on Dundas Street West, especially the barbecue shops located below grade, have closed since 2000. With the population changes of recent decades, the area has come to reflect a diverse set of East Asian cultures through its shops and restaurants, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese eateries ranging from dim sum and pho to modern fusion. The major Chinese malls in the area are Dragon City and Chinatown Centre.

The El Mocambo live music venue, a 1940s establishment that had been in place even before the neighbourhood became Chinatown, is still operational. Also “evergreen” proved the animated Asian open-air markets and shops along Spadina Avenue that offer fresh fruits and vegetables, along with herbal medicine and souvenirs. Chinese New Year celebrations are yet another local attraction, drawing tourists and locals to live stage shows, martial arts demonstrations and lion dances.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the most popular districts for shopping, walking and enjoying Chinese food and culture in Toronto.
The information overload of all the Chinese signs makes this an interesting neighborhood to take a stroll.
You'll find lots of inexpensive eateries here, especially late at night; also a great place to pick up gifts for home, as it is cheaper compared to the shops in the city centre. The local shops offer all kinds of merchandise.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Kensington Market

12) Kensington Market (must see)

Kensington Market is a fascinating, multicultural neighbourhood, one of the oldest and best-known in Toronto. Described as “as much a legend as a district, photographed more often than any other site in the city”, this bohemian area attracts artists and tourists in great numbers to its indie shops, vintage boutiques and arts spaces, much as students and families who populate the local Victorian homes.

The place is home to a wide array of bakeries and specialty grocers selling merchandise from all over the world, as well as trendy bars, cafes and international restaurants frequented by hipsters and other colorful lot. Most of these are found along Augusta Ave. and neighbouring Nassau St., Baldwin St., and Kensington Ave.

During the early 20th century, the area became populated by eastern European Jewish immigrants, prompting a nickname "the Jewish Market". After the Second World War, most of the Jews moved north to the more prosperous uptown areas and suburbs. During the 1950s, the arrival of new waves of immigrants from the Caribbean and East Asia made the community even more diverse. The Vietnam War brought a number of American political refugees, adding a unique utopian flavour. The closeness of Chinatown makes the Chinese the largest ethnic group here. During the 1980s-1990s, substantial groups of immigrants also came from Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam, Chile and other global trouble spots.

A unique architectural feature of the neighbourhood are the extensions built onto the front of many buildings. In recent years, the Market has seen a small explosion of upscale cafés, restaurants and clubs, replacing many of the older ethnic businesses. There has been much speculation that Kensington's long history as an immigrant working-class neighbourhood is near its end.

The annual "Kensington Market Festival of Lights", now known as the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival, is celebrated as a street parade during the Winter Solstice in December. Over the years, Kensington Market has been the setting for a number of television series, such as King of Kensington, Twitch City, and Katts and Dog, as well as the street riot scenes of the 1984 comedy Police Academy. It was also the primary location for Cory Doctorow's novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

In November 2006, Kensington Market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Toronto, Canada

Create Your Own Walk in Toronto

Create Your Own Walk in Toronto

Creating your own self-guided walk in Toronto is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Toronto Shopping Tour

Toronto Shopping Tour

There are many ways to enjoy shopping in Toronto. You can either walk along the oldest streets of the city, like Yonge street and visit the huge fancy shopping centers, or you can experience the atmosphere of the historic market of St. Lawrence. This tour has it all: from small unusual stores to big "all-mighty" malls. So don't hesitate to enjoy an authentic shopping experience by...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Cabbagetown Walking Tour

Cabbagetown Walking Tour

Once a small community of Irish immigrants and one of the poorest neighborhoods in Toronto, Cabbagetown is also one of the city's oldest districts, established in 1840, east of downtown. In 2004, it was declared a historic district and presently claims to be "the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in North America". Attesting to this claim is Amelia Street...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Once an Anglo backwater, today's Toronto is the cultural and economic hub of English-speaking Canada. The city's architectural beauty is supplemented by its historical richness, with some of the buildings dating back as far as the late 18th century. This self-guided tour invites you to explore the most prominent of them, such as Gooderham, Daniel Brook Building, Massey Hall and others,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Toronto's Waterfront Walking Tour

Toronto's Waterfront Walking Tour

Toronto is located on the shore of Lake Ontario and it is more than obvious that the locals, as well as visitors to the city, cherish and admire the alluring views of the lake. Toronto's waterfront is one of the most picturesque places for walking, but it is also a great destination for those in search of entertainment. This walking tour will reveal all the pearls strewn along the quay....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Toronto Islands Walking Tour

Toronto Islands Walking Tour

The Toronto Islands is a chain of islands located in Lake Ontario, comprising three major islands (namely: Center Island, Algonquin or Sunfish Island, and Olympic Island) and several smaller ones, which collectively represent a great recreation destination set in a peaceful and joyful environment. Other than a great panoramic view of Toronto, the islands offer a wealth of attractions. To acquaint...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Distillery District Walking Tour

Distillery District Walking Tour

The architectural treasure of Toronto's Distillery District dates back to 1859 as the site of the largest distillery in the British Empire. This former industrial complex is now a National Historic Site of Canada and represents a unique pocket of Victorian-era architecture, featuring the continent's best-preserved collection of cobblestone pathways and historic buildings housing...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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