When visiting a city, there is no better way to get your bearings and an initial view than taking a City Tour. In Toronto, there are several ways, however we elected to use City Sightseeing Toronto. Using a fleet of open topped double-decker buses, and a 20 minute frequency, this was a great way to great around. As with the previous evening, we used the GO Transit trains to get into Toronto from Mississauga and the TTC Metro to reach the starting point at Yonge-Dundas Square. Our ticket was valid for three days, and having previously been on the City Sightseeing Tour in Glasgow (to show friends round my own city), we were eligible for a discount on our tickets.
Leaving Yonge-Dundas Square, the tour heads north up Yonge Street to Yorkville Avenue. This is part of the developed and developing part of the city with high rise buildings. Entering Yorkville Avenue, one of the first sights is one of the oldest buildings in the street, namely Toronto Fire Station 312.
The stops along the route are numbered, and by this point we were heading towards stop 6 on Avenue Road approaching Bloor Street at the Royal Ontario Musuem (ROM).
Passing the ROM, stop 7 on Kendal Avenue was reached by passing up Spadina Road, passing under the CN railway tracks and turning onto Davenport Road on the southern boundary of the Casa Loma gardens. This is the stop for Casa Loma (of which more in a later post). At the top of the hill there was a view of the CN tower and downtown Toronto in the autumn sunshine.
The route then retraced our steps to stop 8 at the south end of Spadina and then onto stop 9 at the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street W, before reaching the ROM at stop 10.
Turning south onto Queens Park, we were now in the University area as the road curved round the park, past the Ontario Legislative Building, and onto University Avenue. In the next few blocks are several hospitals, including the Gynecologic Oncology Clinic, Toronto General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto Rehab Foundation and the Sick Kids Foundation.
Leaving University Avenue, head reached McCaul Street and the Pencil Case, otherwise known as OCAD University. The top of the building is a long rectangular box, supported by pillars that have tapered ends in the shape of giant pencils.
At stop 14, listed as CN Tower north, the tour stops for 15 minutes for a comfort break, before heading along Front Street West towards Union Station (and stop 15)..
Passing underneath Union Station, the tour reached the base of the CN Tower and the Toronto Railway Museum. Once having passed under the Gardner Expressway, we reached the Toronto Waterfront. This is were the Harbour Cruises are based, leaving the Waterfront, we noted that there was a Beaver Tails concession, of which more later.
Heading east in the Old Town Toronto and the Distillery district, we got back onto Front Street at the Hockey Hall of Fame (stop 18) and onto St Lawrence Market (stop 19). The eastern extremity of the tour is at stop 20 in the distillery.
Once up Trinity Street, it was west along King Street E passing St James Cathedral and reaching the final stop (stop 21). Crossing Yonge Street, we entered the Financial District and after passing the Old Town Hall turned east for the final time onto Queen Street W, becoming Queen Street E on crossing Yonge Street.
Two more left turns took us back onto Yonge Street, we had returned to Stop 1. As a result of using the City Sightseeing Tour, we decided on the following attractions over the remainder of our time in Toronto:
- Casa Loma (stop 7) – 14 September 2015
- CN Tower (stops 14 & 16) – 15 September 2015
- Toronto Railway Museum (stop 16) – 15 September 2015
- Toronto Harbour Cruise (stop 17) – 15 September 2015
- Royal Ontario Museum (stop 10) – 16 September 2015
Although we had orginally thought of driving to Casa Loma, what better way than staying on the bus and following our journey from two hours previously to stop 7.
After our visit to Casa Loma, we got were lucky to get a ex-London Transport Routemaster (which had also spent time in Glasgow) to take us to Toronto Harbour. Unfortunately, due to traffic congestion as a result of a bus crash in Union Station resulting in a diversion to the route, the bus stalled as a junction and was unable to restart without the aid of a mechanic. We were close to stop 14 so we were walked to the bus that was waiting there – the newest bus in the fleet having only been built and delivered in the summer of 2015.
We stayed on the bus to Toronto Harbour, were we decided to have something to eat before heading back to Port Credit on the GO train, having the added advantage of waiting until the rush hour had died down.
At Toronto Harbour, the broken down Routemaster was there having received the attention of a mechanic and been started.
As the harbour there is a Pet Shop called Paws Way with some sculptures outside.
After an evening meal at Williams Cafe, next to Paws Way, we walked over the Amsterdam Bridge and along the waterfront towards Union Station, were we found the Beaver Tails concession that we had spied earlier from the bus.
Having eaten our Beaver Tails we walked back to Union Station and an evening train west.