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ATTRACTION AND SIGHT-SEEING
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
Sculptures by Henry Moore (the largest collection in the world), Canadian & European art and contemporary art adorn every corner of this art gallery that boasts of a collection of 79,000 works of art, spanning from 100 A.D right up to this day. As a distinguished art museum, the gallery also hosts a wide variety of exhibitions that dot the entire calendar and add to the charm of this remarkably bequeathed gallery. If you are a compulsive shopper, there is a Gehry-designed space where you can dig into some interesting merchandise to carry back home or to your friends and family.
Island Park acts as a domicile to the Island Yacht Club, Queen City Yacht Club, The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Island Sailing Club and Island Marina. A small drive from the heart of the city brings us to the Centre Island. A yatch-enthusiast’s favourite, this spot also includes tennis courts, broadwalk, restaurants, an amusement park and picnic areas. Yes, there is a lot to see; and there are rental bikes, tandem and quadricycles available that can help you cover as much area as you wish to.
History and architecture enthusiasts require no introduction to this famous 'House on the Hill'. A result of the flamboyant entrepreneur Sir Henry Pellatt's forward-looking architectural dreams, this castle, established way back in the early 1900s, incorporated some modern-day conveniences, such as central VAC and an elevator. One cannot help comparing it with the Hearst Castle in California. However, the building, designed by Canadian architect EJ Lennox, failed to achieve what Pellatt had set out to prove and he ran into financial deepwater in 1924 leading to the sale of the house – definitely worth visiting.
Campbell House Museum
This is one of the most outstanding architectural monuments preserved with concern, and is also one of the very few Georgian architectural pieces remaining in the city. This House was originally located in the Town of York and is known to have been built by Judge William Campbell and his wife Hannah way back in 1822. It is also famous for being moved (you heard it right, moved) from its original location to its present University Avenue and Queen Street location in 1972. Today, the Sir William Campbell Foundation, an NGO, maintains it and operates a museum within the house that serves its purpose of edifying tourists as well as locals.
If you are into war movies, you will love this place. If you are not, you will still love visiting this site, since it is so soaked in history and bound to inspire awe. Open throughout the year, the Fort York is a site of military fortifications; and the brick & wooden structures, canons and old war paraphernalia make for a wonderful picture opportunity. There are musical demonstrations and seasonal guided tours as well that visitors may choose to be a part of. Its importance is ranked among the top three historical places of the city, since it houses Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. This Fort can be visited at 100 Garrison Road and it is the apt reflection of the 19th Century military life.
Another most exciting tourist spot in the city is the CN tower, which stands tall and proud at over 550 meters (1800 feet) and is clearly among the tallest buildings in the world. If you fear heights, or suspect you might be suffering from vertigo, this place isn’t for you. However, the view from atop the tower is exhilarating, one that is absolutely hard to resist – it hasn’t made it to the list of most-visited tourist spots for nothing. In fact, if you care for a little statistics, each year around 2 million people visit this site to get an eagle’s view of the city, a truly breath-taking experience.
This is the place, which nurtured the acting careers of comedians like Dan Akroyd, Mike Meyers, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Gilda Radner. This improv-based sketch-comedy theatre is a busy and entertaining spot that can prove to be a stress-buster to you. Watching a show here should be a worthwhile experience; and you may find the Cabaret-style seating arrangement amusing as it gives ample scope to interact with others who may have gathered at the spot for a hearty laugh too. The restaurant, the lobby and the theatre are also available for hosting special events – personal and official.
Royal Ontario Museum
This one is one of the largest museums in the world, and Canada’s biggest, housing over 6 million rare artefacts and objects depicting world culture as well as natural history. The museum houses 40 galleries and has received overwhelming attention in terms of renovation and extension – one of the most notable being the recent C$30 million funding by donor Michael Lee-Chin that led to the construction of the modern crystalline-form structure (dubbed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal), completed and opened to public in 2007.
FUN PLACES FOR KIDS
Venture out to cherish a diversified natural beauty with ponds, unique plants, lawns for picnics, wildlife sights, playgrounds as well as discovery adventures. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? This Park is considered among the best-sought places for its recreational and leisure elements – a perfect spot to unwind with your family. It is visited by scores of people at all the times of the year.
First for a little history: the park is named after the former British monarch, Queen Victoria. It was inaugurated in 1860 and Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales, is known to have been present at the occasion. In fact, the northern section of the park also has an equestrian statue of the prince in its centre. The park anchors a structured English-style landscape garden green, and is soaked in Nature’s bounty with plenty of trees and flora to please the eye. The park is situated towards the northern end of the University Avenue. The inimitable design of this scenic park will make your cameras go click-click and give your kids ample place to run around or laze.
African Lion Safari
Get all set with your children for a memorable leisure time at picnic areas, Misumu Bay water play area, Nature Boy railway and the ‘African Queen’ boat tour at the African Lion Safari game park, located at an hour’s drive from the city. If you are with children, you are not likely to smoke. However, if you are not travelling with children and happen to be a chain smoker, you can get a chance to go gentle on your lungs here because this is primarily a smoke-free park with just three designated smoking zones available during an hour-long safari. Soak in the untamed natural environs and say ‘hello’ to the wildlife – this is one experience you are likely to cherish for life.
OTHER PLACES OF ATTRACTION
A little travel towards the east of the city brings you to the Ontario Place, a seasonal amusement park that has many attractions, including a concert theatre (Molson Amphitheatre) and an IMAX theatre. May to October is the best time to explore this park, situated on the waterfront of the beautiful Lake Ontario.
The Queen’s Quay Street flanks the east and west shores of Lake Ontario and is also the address to one of the city’s most visited tourist destinations – the city’s Harbourfront. It is a bustling residential and tourist waterfront, dotted with speciality shops. You may also want to check out the theatre and other cultural happenings at the Harbourfront Centre. Or, probably just cruise the harbour – an exciting experience.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Feel closer to nature here. If you expect an out-of-the-world collection of flora in the Royal Botanical Gardens, you will not be disappointed. And if you happen to visit the specially-designed Rock Garden in spring, you will be greeted by over 10,000 tulips – a sight that is bound to be permanently etched in your memory. Sights of the Great Blue Herons, with fish in their beaks, in Cootes’ Paradise, or the being hit by the fragrance of the most-exquisite lilacs and myriad varieties of flowers is an experience that can only be felt and not really justified by words. The site offers a stark contrast and a serene break from the busy life of Hamilton where it is located.
St. James Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. James comes under the purview of the Ontario Heritage Trust and is also a National Historic Site that holds the Anglican Church of Canada’s diocese. It was founded in the year 1797; however, the present structure came into existence in 1844. Being the oldest in the city, the Cathedral draws a large number of tourists and worshippers everyday.
Numerous neon lights and giant-sized video screens on its constructions are just some of the reasons for the Yonge-Dundas to be nick-named the city’s ‘Times Square’. The square is always bustling with activity. Film screenings, promotions, concerts and theatre events are a common sight. In close proximity to this Square are the Massey Hall, Canon Theatre, Eaton Centre and the Elgin Winter garden Theatre Centre.
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