EXPLORE TORONTO’S RICH HISTORY WITH THESE ACTIVITIES AND RESTAURANTS
Fort York National Historic Site played an essential role in the city’s turbulent past, and today boasts the largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Throughout the summer, the Fort York Guard, comprised of musketmen and musicians, perform various demonstrations including artillery firing, drills, battle tactics performances and more.
Black Creek Pioneer Village recreates Ontario life as it was in the 19th century, complete with more than 40 heritage buildings including a town hall, a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, harness shop and saddler, and a broom maker’s shop.
Take a grander look at the city’s past at Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival home that was once the private estate of financier Sir Henry Pellatt and his family. Built from 1911 to 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million, the majestic palace boasts more than a dozen rooms, towers and an underground tunnel that connects to the stables. Open in 1913, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres is the last surviving Edwardian double-decker theatre in the world, and has hosted the likes of such performers as Charlie McCarthy and George Burns and Gracie Allen. Twice a week, guests can tour the former theatre, which was home to vaudeville acts and silent films, to see the historic dressing rooms and hand-painted flats and drops.
Situated across from the current City Hall (100 Queen St. W.), Old City Hall (60 Queen St. W.), was the largest municipal building in North America at its time of completion in 1899. Until it closed in 1966, it was home to local government offices and courthouses. A looming clock tower is one of the building’s identifying features, along with bronze casts of gargoyles that were reinstalled in 2002, in tribute to the original four statues that flanked each corner.
EAT Partake in the centuries-old English tradition of afternoon tea at the Omni King Edward Hotel (37 King St. E.), which serves savory finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with Devonshire cream in an elegant setting.
Once a private home that was transformed into a diner in 1929, The Senator is the city’s oldest restaurant. With fixtures from 1948, the menu is chock-full of comfort foods like bacon and eggs with baked beans, homemade meat loaf, and liver and onions. Barberian’s Steak House dates back to 1959 and boasts an extensive collection of Canadiana art and artifacts that includes paintings by members of the Group of Seven and firearms and rifles used during the War of 1812. A menu of classic dishes includes New York strip loin, shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb and French onion soup, as well as an after-theatre menu with cheese or beef fondue and a Grand Marnier soufflé for two. —Linda Luong Luck