Toronto, Ontario, has become Canada's best-known city. Once
saddled with a reputation stodginess, it has been reborn and
revitalized and now stands as one of North America's leaders at
the arts, entertainment, and business.
Toronto boats a vast multicultural mix, with large groups of
Italians, Germans, Portuguese, Ukrainians, Asians, and West
Indians, each contributing to the city's mosaic. The cosmopoli-
tian blend offers visitors fine dining from a seemingly endless
range of the cultures. Shoppers can browse through funky
boutiques on Queen Street West, admire the best of designer
fashions in the renovated district of Yorkville, or visit Eaton
Centre, a four-level $25-million retail complex. For people-
watching and plenty of culinary delights, there's Kensington
Market, which features fresh produce, fish, and plenty of
friendly conversation. The city was designed and, since,
renovated to make the most of its settings on the store of Lake
Ontario. The best view is from the CN Tower, a 553-metre spire
that is considered the world's tallest free-standing structure.
Nearby is Harbourfron, a lakeside shopping, dinning and
entertainment area whose restored warehouse is a centre for flea
markets, art studios, and crafts shops. Much of the appeal of
Toronto lies in its sence of history, which dates back to 1749
when French fur traders from Quebec established a ford on the
site. The residents have worked to ensure the survival and
revitalization of such areas as St. Lawrence Market (the place to
be on a Saturday when the farmers bring in their wares) and a
booming Chinatown, chock-full of restaurants and grocery stores.
Toronto is a cultural bastion, with the ultra-modern O'Keefe
Centre, which is home to the Canadian Opera Company and the
National Ballet of Canada; the Art Gallry of Ontario, with more
than 15,000 works - from Old Masters to contemporary art - in
its permanent collection; and the Royal Ontario Museum with its
vast array of art and artifacts from cultures the world over.
business and finance from another important element of the city,
and Toronto's skyline is dominated by the high-rise towers of
financial institutions. Among the most notable is the Royal Bank
Tower, with its distinctive gold-embedded windowpanels.
At 553.33 meters the CN Tower is considered the world's
tallest free-standing structure. Construction took 40 months,
cost $57 million, employed 1,573 workers, and was completed in
June 1976. A slender column resembling a giant needle, it
weight 132,080 metric tons - the equivalent of roughly 23,214
Visitors can step inside one of four glass-faced elevators
and be whisked to the Skypod Observation level in under a
minute. In all, there are three observation decks, at 342,
346, and 447 meters aboveground, the world's highest
public observation galery. Each of these offers panoramic
views of greater Toronto, Toroto Islands, and, on a clear day,
Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New york. Spectacular views are
also to be had from Top Of Toronto, a restaurant at the
350-metre level that makes a full revolution once every 72
minutes, and Sparkles, a nightclub at the 346-metre level.
Those who prefer to dine on the ground level can enjoy a
snack in the family-style restaurant. The tower is a stroll
away from the lakefront and a walking tour of Harbourfront
parks and marinas.
As any famous structure might, the CN Tower has inspired
legions of would-be record setters. It has the longest metal
staircase in the world (2,570 steps), which is made available to
the public each year for a charity stair climb. Stuntman Dar
Robinson has jumped from the top of the tower twice - once with
a parachute for the filming of the movie HIGHPOINT (1979) and
once using a wire cable for the TV show "That's Incredible." On
the tower's tenth anniversary, "Spider Man" Goodwin completed
two free-style climbs outside the glass elevator-shaft window.
SkyDome is the world's greatest entertainment center. It's
a home to the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts as well as
host to wide variety of other sporting spectaculars, concerts,
family shows and consumeers shows.
Just how big is Toronto,s SkyDome? Well, you could put
eight Boeing 747s on the playing field. Or all of Eaton
Centre. Or a 32-home subdivision. Or the Roman Colosseum.
Even with the retractable roof closed, a 31-stoerey buildings
could fit inside the structure.
The $500-million buildings opened on June 3, 1989, after
32 months of construction. On that day, inclement weather
forced the developers to prove that the multi-panelled roof
could be closed in just 20 minutes. The roof runs on a series
of steel track and bogies, weighs 11,000 tons - the
equivalent, roughly, of 3,734 automobiles - and is made up of
steel tresses covered by corrugated steel cladding.
The eight-acre stadium offers sports fans five levels
of seating and the world's largest video replay screen. More
than 50,000 people at a time can watch a football or a baseball
game, and there,s also a 350-room hotel built into the north
end of facilty, with 70 rooms offering a view of the playing
But the building is much more than a place to wach sporting
events under an open roof. There are 23 fast-food stands, 48
beverage outlets, a 430-seat restaurant for quick-service
dining, a 300-foot-long bar overlooking the field, the largest
McDonald's in North America, the Hard Rock Cafe, and a 120-seat
movie theatre where tours of the building begin. The CN Tower is
a stroll away from the stadium.
Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, knows affectionately as the
ROM, is Canada's Lagest Public Museum, made even grander by a
recent $55 million renovation and expansion project, covering
the permanent galleries. Founded in 1912 and opened two years
later, the ROM today attracts more than one million visitos a
year. Amoung its impressive holdings, which number more than six
million objects and speciments, are a Roman galery, housing the
country's most extensive collection of antiquities; the famous
Dinosaur galery, with a mastadon, stegosaurus, and other
prehistoric creatures "at home" in jungle settings; a world-
class textile collection, with colorfol walhangings, peiod
costumes, and richly patterned fabrics on display thoughout the
museum; and the renowned Chinese colection, with 800 pieces
displayed in traditional room settings and special gallery
areas. Of particular note are the giant stone camels and
guardian figures of the Ming Tomb, the only Chinese tomb in the
Western world. There are also galleries devoted to artifacts of
Ontario and Canadiana.
Next door is the McLaughlin Planetarium where the Theatre of
the Stars uses 85 slideand video projectors to create planets,
exploding stars, and other galactic phenomena. The Sigmund
Samuel Building, a fiew blocks south of the main ROM building,
focuses on Canada's rich cultural heritage with displays of
antique toys, coocking utensils, oil paintings, pottery and
sculpture. The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramc Art, directly
across from the main ROM building, is the only museum specia-
lizing in ceramic in North America.
Every year more than 12 million people flock to Ontario to
see the breathtacking natural phenomenon knows as Niagara Falls.
Many are honeymooners, although no one is quite sure how that
tradition got started. They come to see the combined cascading
power of the 54-metre Canadian Falls - knows as Horseshoe Falls
- and the American Falls, which soars to 56 metres. Together,
these thundering cataracts rush over the brink at the rate of
39.1 million Imperial gallons of water per minute.
Statistic don't do justice to the majesty, the danger, or
the romance of the Falls. They have to be seen in person, and
there are a variety of ways to view the spectacle once your get
there: four Maid-of-Mist boats enter the Horseshoe Basin and
pass directly in front of cataracts; the Niagara Spanish Aerocar
spans mightly whirlpool where the river takes a 90-degree turn;
the Great Gorge Adventure provides a close view of the waters
from half a continent plunging through the gorge at the river's
narrowest point; and three Table Rock Scenic Tunnels allow
visitors to walk behind the Falls. To view the sights from
above, opt for a 10-minute helicopter ride, rise to the top of
the Skylon Tower observation deck via the external glass-fronted
elevators, or visit the viewing platform at the Minolta Tower
and Marine Aquarium.
If the real thing isn't enough, there's always IMAX
Theatre's Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic, shown on a six-
storey screen in the village of Niagara Falls. While you're in
town, you might consider stopping in at any of a number of
places designed to entertain, including the Ripley's Belive It
Or Not Museum, the Elvis Presley Museum, Louis Tusaud's Museum,
or the Daredevils Exhibit.