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Toronto

You Are Here: Eat, Shop & Hang Out in Little Italy

10 GREAT DESTINATIONS IN TORONTO’S LITTLE ITALY NEIGHBOURHOOD

you are here Little Italy Toronto

Bar Isabel (photo: Paula Wilson)

West of the University of Toronto, College Street and its surroundings were historically home to a large Italian population. The area’s heritage has long since been diluted, but its main drag is still filled with tasty restaurants, cool cafés and more.

1 The hospitality of the Highlands is in full effect at The Caledonian a Scottish pub that pours nearly 200 whiskies (scotch or otherwise) alongside contemporary twists on hearty dishes like steak pie, butter chicken and haggis, naturally. 856 College St., 647-547-9827; thecaledonian.ca

2 Bar Isabel is one of Toronto’s most popular eateries; every evening it’s stuffed with patrons from first seating ‘til well past midnight. Go for the Spanish small plates. Stay for the excellent, boozy cocktails and craft beers. 797 College St., 416-532-2222; barisabel.com

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Weekend Events: March 6 to 8

THESE WEEKEND EVENTS AND PERFORMANCES ARE GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOUR TIME IN TORONTO EVEN MORE MEMORABLE!

Spoon River headlines Toronto's current crop of weekend events (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)

Spoon River headlines Toronto’s current crop of weekend events (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)

THE MAIN EVENT
Like a modern (well, not too modern) River Styx, Spoon River is populated by the dead. Fortunately, they’re a congenial bunch. Adapted by Mike Ross and Albert Schultz, the musical brings to life the stories of a rural town’s long-deceased residents, as originally told in Edgar Lee Masters’ poetic 1915 Spoon River Anthology. Soulpepper Theatre Company’s acclaimed production returns to the Young Centre stage beginning this Saturday.

A THRILLING TALK
Over the course of 10 frigid days, four experienced climbers navigated a new frontier: a 2,000-foot spire called Bertha’s Tower in Antarctica’s Wohlthat Mountains range. Now back from the pole, two of the four adventurers, explorer Mike Libecki and photographer Cory Richards, talk about their uncharted summit on Sunday afternoon (as well as Monday and Tuesday nights) at Roy Thomson Hall, as part of the National Geographic Live series.

TOP TUNES
Music lovers can be all about that bass on Friday night as singer Meghan Trainor sets up at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, or go for some classi-pop at the Sony Centre, which hosts YouTube-famous musicians The Piano Guys. Saturday features a pair of performances at Koerner Hall—an afternoon show designed for families, plus a regular evening show—by contemporary New Orleans pianist Jon Batiste and his band, Stay Human, and Sunday night sees diminutive pop star Ariana Grande filling up a big venue: the Air Canada Centre.

GIGGLES GALORE
The 10th edition of the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival is pretty much guaranteed to inspire guffaws all weekend long (and through to March 15, in fact). Its opening-weekend lineup features performances by a who’s-who of laugh-worthy locals, including the Sketchersons, Rulers of the Universe and the Templeton Philharmonic, plus headlining American duo the Pajama Men.

SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES
Hunters of home-decor items and gatherers of garments are advised to check out the Toronto Antique and Vintage Market and Toronto Vintage Clothing Show, co-located this weekend at Exhibition Place’s Queen Elizabeth Building. This year’s clothing show is especially exciting: among its featured vendors is Carole Tanenbaum, one of the city’s best-known retailers of beautiful vintage clothing and jewellery. And on Sunday, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Gardiner Museum partners with Far & Wide Collective—an organization that empowers artisans from developing economies by bringing their wares to the international market—to host a showcase of crafts and jewellery handmade by women from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Swaziland and elsewhere.

JUST FOR KIDS
TIFF’s efforts to foster childhood learning and discovery through immersive visual media culminate this weekend with the opening of its digiPlaySpace. The six-week exhibition is now in its fourth year, and better than ever, with new artist-designed installations that combine everything from math and science to visual arts to computer programming, robotics and even virtual reality, all in an effort to encourage media literacy and promote creative thinking.

25 Toronto Spa Treatments to Get You Ready for Spring

GOING TO THE SPA IS TYPICALLY CONSIDERED A LUXURY EXPERIENCE, BUT FOR WEARY TRAVELLERS IT CAN OFTEN BE A NECESSITY. WHILE YOU’RE IN TOWN, REFRESH FOR SPRING BY INDULGING IN SOME OF THESE FABULOUS (AND FABULOUSLY RELAXING) TORONTO SPA TREATMENTS.  BY LINDA LUONG

Toronto Spa Treatments

Gee Beauty

Toronto Spa Treatments for Your Beautiful Face

A litany of ailments can mar what ought to be your glowing visage: puffiness, redness, clogged pores, brown spots and blemishes, not to mention dryness resulting from the season’s harsh elements. Routine facials can help to remedy all that, leaving behind a natural luminosity.

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Borealia Serves Canada’s Culinary Heritage

WEST QUEEN WEST-AREA DINING ROOM BOREALIA OFFERS CONTEMPORARY VERSIONS OF EARLY-CANADIAN CUISINE

Borealia restaurant toronto

Among the menu items at Borealia are braised whelk and bison “pemmican” bresaola (photos: Nick Merzetti)

Nowadays there are many Toronto restaurants known for serving Canadian cuisine, but few do it with such specificity as Borealia. The cozy Ossington Avenue restaurant takes its cues from the historical recipes prepared by Canada’s native peoples and those who settled here—from England, France, China and elsewhere—during the country’s first great wave of immigration. The culinary aim, however, is less about preservation than it is reinvention: chef Wayne Morris uses modern techniques to interpret pre-Confederation fare for today’s discerning diners. The results are both reverent and novel in dishes such as éclade (mussels smoked in pine needles), pigeon pie and braised whelk (a giant sea snail).  Craig Moy

• Borealia, 59 Ossington Ave., 647-351-5100; borealiato.com
Map and reviews

Things to Do in Toronto: Shows & Events in March 2015

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY IN MARCH!

Things to do in toronto march 2015

Japan’s Kodo Drummers beat out a rhythm this month at the Sony Centre

MARCH 8 TO 10 Over the course of 10 frigid days, four experienced climbers navigated a new frontier: a 2,000-foot spire called Bertha’s Tower in Antarctica’s Wohlthat Mountains range. Explorer Mike Libecki and photographer Cory Richards were among the adventurous quartet. Now back from the pole, Libecki and Richards talk about their uncharted summit in the latest installment of the National Geographic Live series, Untamed Antarctica. Roy Thomson Hall, Sunday 2 p.m., Monday and Tuesday 8 p.m., $19.50 to $79.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit roythomsonhall.com to charge.

MARCH 12 Japan’s famed percussion troupe, the Kodo Drummers, returns with an all new experience. It’s latest show, Mystery, brings together 15 artists in a pounding performance that ranges from pulsating rhythmic beats to more measured taps—particularly fitting as “kodo” in Japanese can mean both “heartbeat” and “children of the drum.” Japanese folk art and rituals are explored in this tale about sacred creatures and gods from another world. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $55 to $95; call 1-855-872-7669 or see kodo.or.jp for details.

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March Break Family Fun in Toronto

THE ANNUAL SCHOOL BREAK MEANS THERE ARE MANY CHILD- AND FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO!

Things to do in Toronto March Break 2015

March Break brings many families to Toronto. More specifically, it brings parents who are looking for ways to keep their kids entertained. Whether your charges are tiny tots, school-age kids or tweens and teens, there are myriad ways to keep everyone happy this month.

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Douglas Coupland’s Double Dip

DOUGLAS COUPLAND, ONE OF CANADA’S BEST-KNOWN CREATIVE ARTISTS, GETS A DOUBLE-BARRELLED RETROSPECTIVE IN TORONTO.

Douglas Coupland Toronto

More than 100 works by Douglas Coupland are now on display at MOCCA and the ROM

JANUARY 31 TO APRIL 26 He’s not quite ubiquitous, but this spring Douglas Coupland has managed to take over a pair of Toronto’s most notable institutions, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Royal Ontario Museum. The dual exhibition, Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything, represents the Vancouver-based artist, designer, author and cultural guru’s first major survey in more than a decade, and offers an updated perspective on the subjects he’s explored since his first novel, Generation X. Through more than 100 varied works (approximately two-thirds of which are at the ROM), Coupland tackles questions of identity, language, and technology in 21st-century Canada.  —Craig Moy

Editor’s Note: MOCCA’s portion of the Douglas Coupland exhibition closes April 19.

• Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000; rom.on.ca
Map and reviews

• Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen St. W., 416-395-0067; mocca.ca
Map and reviews

IceFest Brings Frosty Fun to Yorkville

THE BLOOR-YORKVILLE ICEFEST RETURNS FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF STUNNING FROZEN SCULPTURES.

Bloor-Yorkville IceFest Toronto

FEBRUARY 21 & 22  Bloor-Yorkville transforms into a frozen paradise—and all without the magical powers of Elsa, Princess of Arendelle. The annual IceFest returns for another year, as 12 master ice carvers (along with their assorted picks, chisels and chainsaws) chip away at 20,000 pounds of ice to create glacial works of art. Given that the theme for the 2015 incarnation is archaeology and prehistoric times, expect to see the likes of dinosaurs, sabre-toothed tigers, pyramids and Egyptian gods. Visitors can cast their vote for their favourite ice sculpture, as well as sample maple syrup taffy. Village of Yorkville Park (at Cumberland and Bellair streets), noon to 5 p.m., free; see bloor-yorkville.com for more details.  —Linda Luong

The Artist Project Hosts Its Annual Viewing Party

ANNUAL FAIR THE ARTIST PROJECT SHOWCASES THE WORK OF INDEPENDENT CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AT EXHIBITION PLACE

The Artist Project Toronto

FEBRUARY 19 TO 22  A response to the (debatable) stuffiness and exclusivity of traditional art fairs, The Artist Project assembles more than 250 independent artists from Canada and elsewhere in a colourful showcase of contemporary works. The juried expo is especially suited to art lovers with wide-ranging tastes: this year’s offerings range from digital paintings by Matthew Catalano to experimental cityscape photos by Chris Albert to collage-based pieces by Robyn Thomas. Additional attractions include the requisite art talks, a display featuring the Canadian finalists for the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards, and a number of striking, large-scale installation works, including a 100-foot-long piece by Bruno Billio.  —Craig Moy

• The Artist Project, Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Blvd., 416-960-4516; theartistproject.com

The Canadian International Auto Show Speeds into Toronto

THE COUNTRY’S LARGEST CAR EXPO, THE CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW, BRINGS TO TORONTO THE LATEST IN VEHICULAR TECHNOLOGY.

Audi's AQ3 is among the many cars to be featured at the Canadian International Auto Show

Audi’s AQ3 is among the many cars to be featured at the Canadian International Auto Show

FEBRUARY 13 TO 21  Whether you’re in the market for a new vehicle or just scoping out the latest models and features, the Canadian International Auto Show is the place for car enthusiasts. The annual showcase is all encompassing, with many top manufacturers—ranging from “sensible” carmakers like Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda to luxury producers including Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW—revealing their newest rides. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., general admission $25; call 905-940-2800 or visit autoshow.ca for details.  —Linda Luong

The Soulpepper Concert Series Puts Singers on Stage

MUSIC STEALS THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE SOULPEPPER CONCERT SERIES

Soulpepper Concert Series Toronto

P.E.I. singer-songwriter Mike Ross kicks of the 2015 Soulpepper Concert Series

Though best known as an artist-founded stage ensemble, Soulpepper Theatre Company also produces a popular concert series, which returns for a second season of acoustic performances and stories. A Moveable Musical Maritime Feast (February 15, 20 and 22) kicks things off with a classic East Coast kitchen party hosted by P.E.I.’s Mike Ross. The Nina Project (February 16) sees three Canadian songbirds—Jackie Richardson, Shakura S’Aida and Kellylee Evans—pay tribute to legendary crooner Nina Simone. And American Pie—A Songbook Investigation (February 27) reflects on the standards that defined a generation, with tunes by such artists as Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, various times, $15 and up; call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca to reserve. —Linda Luong

Blithe Spirit Appears at the Princess of Wales Theatre

NOËL COWARD’S COMEDIC PLAY, BLITHE SPIRIT, BRINGS ANGELA LANSBURY TO THE TORONTO STAGE.

Blithe Spirit Angela Lansbury Toronto

Angela Lansbury stars in Blithe Spirit (photo: Robert J. Saferstein)

FEBRUARY 11 TO MARCH 15  What happens when an eccentric medium, a successful novelist and his two wives—one of whom is dead—come together under one roof? Comedic chaos, of course. The latest revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit has Angela Lansbury reprising her Tony winning role as Madame Arcati, a bumbling clairvoyant invited by author Charles Condomine to hold a seance as research for his next book. Unwittingly, Madame Arcati summons the ghost of ill-tempered Elvira, Condomine’s first wife, who haunts him and accidently kills his current spouse. The psychic is then called upon to exorcise the spirits of both women, though her success is far from assured. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $39 to $130; see mirvish.com to book.  —Linda Luong