The Royal Ontario Museum is part art, part natural history and part world culture museum. The museum, founded in 1914, is home to more than 13 million artifacts, including dinosaur fossils and works of art. The items are displayed in 40 galleries and exhibition spaces. The museum is one of the most visited in North America.
Historic Union Station opened in 1927 and is today the busiest rail station in Canada. GO Transit, UP Express, intercity trains, subways and streetcars all pass through the station. Chances are anyone exploring Toronto will step foot in the station at least once.
The Cathedral Church of St. James is home to the oldest congregation in Toronto. Its parish dates to 1797 in what was then the city of York. Construction on the cathedral began in 1850; it was open for services starting in June 1853. It was one of the most massive buildings in the city at the time it opened.
St. Lawrence Market is often ranked among the best food markets in the world. Located in the Old Town district of Toronto, the market’s south building dates to 1845 and includes a structure that once served as Toronto City Hall. Today, the market is a great way to experience the cuisine of Toronto.
British Army and Canadian militia troops built Fort York during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Their goal was to defend what was then the settlement of York from a potential military attack from their southern neighbors. Despite the military presence, we attacked in 1813 and burned part of York, including the Parliament Building. The British retaliated the following year and burned the White House. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1923, and Toronto designated it a Heritage Conservation District in 1985.
CN Tower looms large over the city of Toronto. The idea for the iconic communications and observation tower dates to the late 1960s when Canadian National Railway wanted to build a structure that would, in part, symbolize the railroad’s strength. The tower, built on former railroad right-of-way, opened to the public in June 1976. Canadian National sold the tower in 1995. Today, the tower is the centerpiece of the entertainment center along Front Street. The tower, which is home to a rotating restaurant in addition to the observation deck, is within walking distance of the Rogers Center, Union Station and the 17-acre Roundhouse Park.
The Toronto Railway Museum opened in 2010 in a portion of the historic John Street Roundhouse in the heart of Toronto. Canadian Pacific Railway built the roundhouse, designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990, in 1929-31; it is today the only remaining roundhouse in downtown Toronto. The museum is home to locomotives, rolling stock and railroad artifacts that interpret the history of railroads in the Toronto area and Canada. The museum, which is part of the 17-acre Roundhouse Park and sits in the shadows of the Rogers Centre and CN Tower, has also relocated several historic buildings to its grounds, including Don Station, which Canadian Pacific Railway built in 1896 and original at the Don River and Queen Street East.
The congregation of St. Andrew’s Church was founded in 1830 as the first Church of Scotland congregation. When it was founded, the congregation was loacted in what was then the Town of York. A portion of the congregation broke away following the 1843 split of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. The current building, a fantastic Romanesque Revival design, opened in 1876.
The 480,000-square-foot Art Gallery of Ontario is home to an impressive collection of art. But, its collection of more than 90,000 items doesn’t just include works by European artists, thought Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and others are well represented. The museum houses an extensive collection of works by Canadian artists. Members of the Ontario Society of Artists established the museum in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto. Today, it is the second most visited art museum in Toronto following the Royal Ontario Museum.
The storied history of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, a part-time militia, is on full display in this delightful museum in the basement of St. Andrew’s Church. The museum displays a range of photographs, artifacts and uniforms to bring the unit to life. The museum was founded in 1959 and has been located in St. Andrew’s Church since 1997. Former unit members staff the museum and are more than willing to share personal anecdotes, further enhancing the visitor experience.
The First Toronto Post Office is the only surviving example of a post office that served as a department of the British Royal Mail in Canada. The Georgian style building dates to 1833 before York became the city of Toronto and is also sometimes referred to as the Fourth York Post Office. Today, the museum, which is also home to the Town of York Historical Society, includes a range of exhibits about the history of mail in Canada and the building itself.
No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The museum — known as the Temple de la renommée du hockey in French — dates to 1943 and has been in its current location on Yonge Street in the heart of Toronto since 1993. There are roughly 400 people — including players, builders and referees — inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 60,000-square-foot museum is home to heaps of memorabilia, helping to tell the story of hockey from its earliest days to modern times.