Toronto: It puts a spell on you (Part 3)

By Sonia Holiad April 23, 2018

YORKVILLE is your destination for high-end shopping, people-watching, enjoying a drink on an outdoor patio, or indulging in a meal prepared by a celebrity chef “du jour.” If you arrive by taxi/Uber, ask to be dropped off at the northeast corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road. From this spot, look across the street for the perfect view of Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the controversial crystal-shaped addition by architect Daniel Libeskind exploding from its stately facade. Some people consider the addition an abomination to the building’s Romanesque Revival architecture, but I love the presence of the crystal. It reminds me how important it is for institutions – and individuals – to embrace fresh perspectives and reinvention.

The Royal Ontario Museum’s crystal addition leaves little room for indifference. Photo credit: Tourism Toronto

After reflecting on the crystal, window-shop at Tiffany’s, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Louis Vuitton and other more-affordable shops on both sides of Bloor Street West between Avenue Road and Bay Street. One block north on Cumberland Street, via a right turn off Bloor Street West onto Avenue Road or a left turn onto Bay Street, the concrete towers recede a bit and the vibe becomes more old world, with shops and restaurants in smaller buildings, and the odd Bentley or Ferrari parked by a curb. Don’t miss the laneway between Hemingway’s and Kate Spade, lined with shops, floral displays and outdoor seating. It’s a charming spot to enjoy the autumn air and a beverage.

My favourite laneway in Yorkville, accessed from Cumberland Street. Photo credit: Tourism Toronto

To reach Yorkville from the Westin Harbour Castle:

On foot: Not recommended for this trip because of the distance.

TTC: 21 minutes via the subway from Union Station to Museum Station (which exits at the ROM), including walk time to and from the stations. Or 28 minutes via the Bay 6 bus from the Queen’s Quay Ferry Docks Terminal stop on Bay St. to the corner of Cumberland Street and Bay Street. Single fare: $3.25. Unlimited day pass: $12.50. Visit TTC Trip Planner to plan your trip.

Taxi: 14-18 minutes. Fare: $14 (Time and fare vary depending on traffic and weather conditions and are subject to change without notice).

UberX: 14-18 minutes. Fare: $10-12 (Time and fare vary depending on traffic and weather conditions and are subject to change without notice. Higher surge pricing may apply during peak periods.)


A visit to the DISTILLERY DISTRICT on Toronto’s lakefront is like a trip back in time. The tiny “village” features brick streets lined with well-preserved red-brick buildings, reflecting its long history housing the Gooderham and Worts distillery business founded in 1869. Today, the industrial buildings are home to artisanal boutiques, pop-up art installations, and a wide selection of indoor and outdoor coffee houses, restaurants, pubs and kiosks.

In the Distillery District, historic buildings rub shoulders with unconventional art installations. Photo credit: Sonia Holiad
A freshly made sandwich from the rustic Brick Street Bakery in the Distillery District will fuel you for the day. Photo credit: Sonia Holiad

The heart of the main square is the massive sculpture “Still Dancing,” representing the distillation process of days past. Browse in City of Angels, a store stocked with men’s and women’s eclectic clothes and accessories, exotic teas, organic body care products and candles, household utensils, décor and more. Don’t miss one of my favourite destinations for bold, contemporary art – the Thompson Landry Gallery, and then visit John Fluevog for some of the most creative footwear designs in the city.

The Thompson Landry Gallery, where the modern art is as commanding as the time-worn walls that house it. Photo credit: Sonia Holiad

Pick up a coffee at Balzac’s, where they take their beans seriously, and where the two-storey interior is just fanciful enough to make you happy to wait in line and chat with fellow patrons. Afterwards, follow the red-brick road to Gallery Indigena for Indigenous art from across Canada (it’s duty-free), including sculptures, masks, paintings, jewellery and clothing with Native designs.

To reach the Distillery District from the Westin Harbour Castle:

On foot: 23-25 minutes depending on the route chosen.

TTC: 12 minutes via the 72 Pape bus from the Queen’s Quay West/Bay Street stop (just outside the Westin Harbour Castle) to the Parliament Street/Lakeshore Boulevard East stop. When you exit the bus, immediately turn left (north) and walk along Parliament Street under the two bridges immediately ahead. Walk an additional block and turn right at Distillery Lane. Follow Distillery Lane to Trinity Street, the anchor of the Distillery District, where you find the sculpture “Still Dancing.” Timing includes about six minutes of walking. Single fare: $3.25. Unlimited day pass: $12.50. Visit TTC Trip Planner to plan your trip.

NOTE: If you visit the Distillery District after the sun sets, I recommend taking a taxi/Uber to and from the destination.
Taxi: 5-10 minutes. Fare: $9 (Time and fare vary depending on traffic and weather conditions and are subject to change without notice).

Taxi: 5-10 minutes. Fare: $9 (Time and fare vary depending on traffic and weather conditions and are subject to change without notice).

UberX: 5-10 minutes. Fare: $7-9 (Time and fare vary depending on traffic and weather conditions and are subject to change without notice. Higher surge pricing may apply during peak periods.)

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