5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

Though the beautiful city I live in was only founded in 1793 and does not possess any ancient landmarks, it is one that is home to many lovely sites from the past few hundred years.

Being a history buff myself (and a lover of antiquity), I have explored as many historical sites scattered around the city as possible.

If you live overseas, but are fascinated by the culture and buildings, here are some cocktails to make you feel like you’re in Canada. After umpteen sips, you’ll feel like you’re there for real.

Here are my favourite historical spots.

Royal Ontario Museum

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

100 Queens Park, Toronto, M5S 2C6

I could spend all of my time in the Royal Ontario Museum – I swear it!

With every Tuesday boasting free admission for post-secondary students, I frequent the ROM as often as possible; in fact, in my first semester of university, I had gone to the museum every single Tuesday of the term.

My favourite wing is the one dedicated to European history, exhibiting not only fully furnished period-style rooms, but also artifacts from various estates around the continent.

I find myself completely enraptured from the moment I view the silver church relics upon first entering the vicinity, to the stoic (for a rather awkward man) portrait of King Louis XVI of France about halfway through, to the clean and fluid shapes of items surviving the brilliant Jazz Age that end off the exhibit.

Naturally, this is not the only exciting part about the museum, as there are halls upon halls of exhibits from across the globe that consist of diverse objects.

From taxidermy beasts to an extensive dinosaur exhibit, to ancient Asian artifacts (and everything in between), you’re sure to be kept bust. More than that, the architecture of the building is beautiful.

With the building opening to the public in 1914, the ‘modern’ style of those years is reflected in the (currently old-style) architecture. However in the late spring of 2007, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition opened and consequently added a modern touch to the structure.

I was at first extremely apprehensive about the whole thing (I mean, this is a museum dedicated to history and the addition was not historical in any way), but over the past years this addition has become synonymous with Toronto’s perspective of the Royal Ontario Museum, and so I’ve come to accept it as it is – plus, the extra space means more room for additional exhibits, and how can I complain about something as magnificent as that?

Places to grab a bite nearby:

  • Duke of York, 39 Prince Arthur Avenue
  • Museum Tavern, 208 Bloor Street West
  • Enoteca, 150 Bloor Street West
  • La Serre (at the Four Seasons Hotel), 21 Avenue Road
  • Host, 14 Prince Arthur Street

Michael’s Cathedral

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

65 Bond Street, Toronto, M5B 1X5

The oldest Catholic Church in Toronto, St. Michael’s Parish was constructed between 1887 and 1889 and has an absolutely gorgeous exterior as well as interior.

The English Gothic Revival style is one that I can’t get enough of, and with a limited number of buildings reflecting this architecture in Toronto, St. Michael’s Cathedral is one that I visit whenever I get the urge to stand in a fragment of history.

The brilliant depictions on stained glass windows filter colourful sunlight onto the expansive interior, one that is currently in a restoration process in order to maintain the splendor of the building for years to come.

I would suggest dropping in when there isn’t a mass going on (unless of course, you’re going for the sake of attending Church), so that you can walk around and fully appreciate the visually exquisite design that the historical site has to offer.

Places to grab a bite nearby:

  • Jazz Bistro, 251 Victoria Street
  • Fran’s, 200 Victoria Street
  • Stages Restaurant & Lounge, 200 Victoria Street
  • George Restaurant, 111 Queen Street East
  • 3 Brewers, 275 Yonge Street

Old City Hall

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

60 Queen St W, Toronto, M5H 2M3

Currently containing a series of court rooms, one can (quietly) enter the Old City Hall at any given time during the day.

Front door security always seems a little apprehensive of me when I answer their mandatory, “What are you here for today?” question with: “Checking out the history of the building”.

No seriously, for some reason it really throws them off.

This large Romanesque Revival styled building is one that held Toronto’s city council from 1899 until 1966, upon the completion of the New City Hall across the street.

Not only can you appreciate the building from the outside – the immense clock tower, many sandstone gargoyles, and countless intricate patterns carved into the façade – but the interior is equally spectacular.

Murals depicting angels as representations of Toronto’s pioneers greet you upon entering the spacious main hall and the marble expanse as well as elaborate pillars continuing on throughout the various levels of the building.

Be sure to explore the entire structure thoroughly, as you don’t want to miss anything.

As someone appreciative of history, you’ll be sure to value all of the minute details of the structure.

Also, if you’re up for it, there’s always an interesting court case unfolding behind the closed doors which you can check out, as well.

Places to grab a bite nearby:

  • Eggspectations, 20 Albert Street
  • Bannock, 401 Bay Street
  • Quinn’s Steakhouse, 96 Richmond Street West
  • Great Cooks on Eight, 401 Bay Street (Simpson Tower, 8th Floor)
  • Druxy’s Famous Deli Sandwiches, 65 Queen St West

Casa Loma

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, M5R 1X8

I drive by Casa Loma nearly daily on my way downtown and I never fail to be in awe of the sheer grandeur of the Canadian castle.

I’ve been here multiple times since I was a young child (first coming with my aunt to see a children’s production of Snow White), and have always enjoyed roaming the castle grounds for hours at a time.

With 98 rooms commissioned by major-general and financier Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife, along with secret passageways and underground tunnels to explore, you’ll be sure to see something new and exciting at every turn.

Though the place can get kind of creepy in the less frequented parts of the estate (I mean, it was built in 1914 and there have been a multitude of reported ghost sightings, so how can one not get a little bit unnerved?), this is almost a second thought when you have so many things to take in.

From the first level of the castle to the towers on the uppermost floors, you will enjoy every aspect that there is to see.

This is obvious in the fact that I’ve seen the whole building multiple times and still find myself returning to view it all over again.

Places to grab a bite nearby:

  • Flor de Sal, 501 Davenport Road
  • Live Organic Food Bar, 264 Dupont Street
  • Scaramouche, 1 Benvenuto Place
  • Aviv, 328 Dupont Street
  • Roti Cuisine, 308 Dupont Street

Fort York

5 of my Favourite Historical Spots Around Toronto

250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, M5V 3K9

This military fortification is still in downtown Toronto, but removed from the hustle and bustle we all know so well as making up the city’s main core.

The summer months bring with them the colourful Fort York Guard, so if you are visiting the city from out of town, this would be the optimal time to see the historical site.

However, if you’re visiting during another time of year, fear not: this is Canada’s largest series of buildings and battle sites from the War of 1812 and is thankfully open year round for the public to enjoy.

Restored in the 1930s, the original sites of the war are available to peruse for a nominal fee.

For more on the involvement of this particular site in the famous war, visit the Fort York website.

Places to grab a bite nearby:

  • Hunters Landing, 82 Fort York Boulevard
  • Saku Sushi, 478 Queen Street West
  • Guirei, 600 Queens Quay West
  • Fox & Fiddle, 17 Fort York Boulevard
  • Nutella Café, 22 Fort York Boulevard (Sobeys Urban Fresh)

Remember, you don’t have to be in the oldest cities of Europe, amidst the crumbling but gorgeous architecture in the Middle East, or even the ancient ruins in South America to have a taste of history.

Ontario’s capital city is home to some of the loveliest historical places I have had the pleasure of exploring, and they are ones that I know you will love, too.

For tips or questions regarding Toronto life, please feel free to contact me via any of my social media pages!

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