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Toronto

25 Great Things to Do in Toronto with Kids

BY CARA SMUSIAK

Things to do in Toronto with Kids

Friendly, safe, and packed with fun attractions, Toronto is terrific city to travel to with the whole family. Don’t believe us? These 25 great things to do in Toronto with kids ensure everyone’s time in town will be filled with excitement and discovery.

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Discover the Lost Dhow at the Aga Khan Museum

Dragon-headed ewer (photo: Aga Khan Museum)

Dragon-headed ewer (photo: Aga Khan Museum)

DECEMBER 13 TO APRIL 26  We often think of globalization as an explicitly modern concept—the world and its diverse peoples connected by airplanes and computers—but its origins can be traced back more than a millennium, when ancient empires in the Middle East and Asia forged important trade routes across both land and sea.

A fascinating new exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum focuses on ocean-going commerce and its resultant cultural connections. The Lost Dhow: a Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route assembles artifacts from a 9th-century Arab trading vessel that were salvaged from the bottom of the Indian Ocean in 1998.

On display for the first time in North America, the ship’s contents speak to the transcontinental exchange of goods, but also of culture and language, long before Europeans entered the region in 500 years later. The majority of its recovered wares are mass-produced bowls and containers of Chinese origin, but which boasts Middle Eastern design influences; some pieces, however, are one-of-a-kind luxuries, and possibly signal evidence of diplomatic ties between the Tang and Abbasid empires. Other exhibited artifacts may well have belonged to members of the boat’s (apparently multi-ethnic) crew, and include the likes of a bone gaming die, carved fishing hooks and more.  —Craig Moy

Photos by Craig Moy except where noted

• Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., 416-646-4677; agakhanmuseum.org
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15 Great Reasons to Visit Toronto in 2015

BY CRAIG MOY

Perhaps you’ve heard: Toronto is one the most dynamic cities in the world. An endlessly fascinating place to live; an equally amazing destination to visit. Whether you’re an international jetsetter or on a cross-Canada excursion, travelling within Ontario or just looking to be a tourist in your own hometown, there are literally thousands of compelling reasons to visit Toronto. And for 2015, here are 15 more.

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Learn to Sign While You Dine at Signs Restaurant

Signs-Restaurant-Toronto

Barbecued chicken with crispy noodles at Signs

We love a feel-good story, and there’s not much better than a good dining experience where you also get a bit of an education and break down barriers. At Signs restaurant and bar, the servers and several other staff are deaf, and diners are encouraged to learn and use American Sign Language to communicate. The menu illustrates how to order each item, and a sign on the table shows people how to relay common phrases, like a request to split the bill. Not to be outdone by the concept, chef Mark Breton (formerly executive chef at the Gladstone Hotel) serves up a variety of Canadian and international dishes, including venison shepherd’s pie and green curry mussels, plus daily specials like barbecue chicken with crispy noodles.  —Cara Smusiak

• Signs, 558 Yonge St., 647-349-7446; signsrestaurant.ca
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10 Spirited Holiday Performances

BY LINDA LUONG

Donny & Marie. Photo by Jeremy Deputat.

Donny & Marie Osmond (photo: Jeremy Deputat)

One of the hallmarks of this festive time of year is the bounty of holiday performances appearing on stages across the city. There are returning staples like Handel’s Messiah as well as new specials—like a pair of siblings from Utah singing Christmas songs.

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Ovest Draws King Street Diners Farther West

A meal at Ovest could include (from left): fresh ricotta with peppers and salsa verde; spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes; and a chocolate nest with chocolate mousse (photos: Craig Moy)

A meal at Ovest could include (from left): fresh ricotta with peppers and salsa verde; spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes; and a chocolate nest with chocolate mousse (photos: Craig Moy)

King Street West, particularly the stretch running between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street, is well-trod by the trendier, more well-to-do segment of Toronto’s foodie community. Past Bathurst, however, the eating options begin to thin. Ovest Cucina e Vineria aims to fix that problem; the recently opened Italian restaurant offers a robust menu of regional Italian fare from Sicilian-born chef Luca Stracquadanio (formerly of La Bettola di Terroni). Like the majority of its clientele, the 120-seat dining room is smartly—though no doubt expensively—adorned: a sizeable marble bar features heavily near the front-of-house, as does a glass-walled wine cellar boasting many fine bottles from Italy.

To go with that wine? The chef’s daily salumi board, plus Ovest’s varied carte, offering a handful each of inventive antipasti, pizzas, pastas and larger mains—all very stylishly plated but deceptively simple, with most dishes built on only three or four ingredients. Among them are his signature smoked swordfish carpaccio with fennel and orange, plus the decadent likes of house-made squid ink gnocchi with lobster, porcini- and speck-stuffed rabbit, and more.  —Craig Moy

• Ovest, 788 King St. W., 416-214-6161; ovest-to.com
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Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Holiday-Gifts-2014-Title-Card

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes shopping for everyone from your spouse, parents, kids and in-laws to friends and co-workers and maybe even party hosts and hostesses. In the spirit of giving, we’ve curated more than 60 holiday gifts worthy of your best wrapping paper.
BY LINDA LUONG

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Holiday Gifts Made Personal

Off-the-shelf items become extra special holiday gifts when they can be customized with special image or the receiver’s likeness, or by having their initials engraved into them. Many businesses offer monogramming services for a minimal charge (or better yet, gratis). Of course, do take note of production and delivery dates to ensure your items are completed in time for gifting season.

Holiday Gifts for Globetrotters

For the world-travelling relative, friend or co-worker whose bags are always packed, these holiday gifts are sure to be valuable for future adventures or business trips.

Holiday Gifts That Anyone Can Enjoy

Spread the seasonal love around with these holiday gifts for hosts and hostesses, neighbours, caregivers, employers and anyone else who deserves something special.

Holiday Gifts for New Parents

Welcoming a new baby is a happy occasion for every family. And while buying itty bitty clothes and stuffed animals is fun, what are the items new parents really need? Mother of two Karen Hunter curates this woodland-themed selection of practical, engaging and whimsical holiday gifts for new moms, dads and their bundles of joy.

Holiday Gifts for Super-Cool Kids

Holiday gifts are even better when they’re given to children—the mini mes, nieces, nephews, tweens and teens in your life. There’s nothing like seeing their faces light up with the joy of the season.