One thing I always appreciated about visiting cities is the amount of walking that I get done while exploring. My mom and I walked for basically eight hours, with breaks of course. We got to see much more of Toronto and decided that we truly did enjoy being in this city.
We had already learned to navigate ourselves without a map in the general neighborhood we are located in. My mom, who’s better at locating herself in cities than I am, charged ahead as we started towards our first stop for the day.
One thing I have to say against Toronto – there’s no signage to direct tourists to main attractions. Perhaps I’m simply spoiled from living in the DC area, but I am so grateful that our AirBnb host, Gen, left us a city map with all the points of interest on it because otherwise we may not have known how to get around. Well, we’d at least have had to buy our own map.
Anyways, on our way to the St. Lawrence Market, we stopped by the Cathedral Church of St. James to see if the interior was as gorgeous as the exterior. It certainly was, and it was magnified by an organist who was rehearsing for a recital later in the day. The architecture and art were to the eyes what the music was to the ears – beautiful, ethereal, and majestic. Waiting until the organist finished a movement of the work he was rehearsing, my mom and I quietly slipped away to continue on to the Market.
My first impression when I heard about the St. Lawrence Market was that it would be similar to Boston’s Quincy Market. In fact, they do share many similarities – both contain various shops and restaurants and are locations for high foot traffic. The St. Lawrence Market, however, leans more towards a farmer’s market than anything else, although the proper farmer’s market occurs on Saturdays from 5am-5pm. On Tuesdays-Fridays, the Market is comprised of several vendors carrying all sorts of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, seafood, meats, breads, and cheeses along with the arts, crafts, and souvenir vendors. It is definitely worth a visit when you’re in town – just be sure to check their website for the days and hours the Market is open.
Next on our list to see was the Royal Ontario Museum, but along the way we ran into several note worthy sights: Osgoode Hall, home to justice office and at one point provided accommodations for lawyers and students of law, with it’s serene gardens; the University Avenue Armouries; Queen’s Park; the Ontario Parliament Building; and the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Building. None of these were things we were looking for, but were so glad we found. The music building, especially, was cool for me as a musician and someone who wants to continue to work with musicians.
After much walking with several tangents for photographs, we finally came upon an old stone structure with the deteriorating engraved letters above the large wooden doors “The Royal Ontario Museum,” known as ROM, for short. Other engravings along either side of the doors said, “The Record of Nature Through Countless Ages,” and “The Arts of Man Through All the Years.” The whole edifice was very classic in nature; it looked like any other museum one would expect in a major city.
Then we turned the corner and BAM!
Welcome, modern, attention grabbing, in-your-face glass points shooting out the side of the building. The closest thing I can compare it to is the ice attack of the Bewilderbeast in How to Train Your Dragon 2. Yes, yes – I am a die hard HTTYD fan.
The architecture was simply stunning and I had a hard time looking away. Instead of going inside the museum, I actually crossed the street to take better picture. Once satisfied that I had a decent enough shot without being able to take an aerial view, mommy and I started up the street and were suddenly distracted by a store.
This was the hidden gem of the day – Remenyi House of Music is a music store that sells and provides maintenance for musical instruments AND sells sheet music. Since we started planning our trip to Canada, I was hoping to find music store where I could search for and purchase music from Canadian composers. Whenever I travel, I like to search for vocal, flute, or chamber music from local composers because they are often difficult, if not impossible, to find outside of the country or even online. I literally felt like a kid in a candy store.
After spending over an hour thumbing through the stacks like I used to do at Dale Music in Silver Spring, MD (may it rest in peace), I departed the proud owner of an anthology of Canadian flute music, a short piece for flute and piano, and a sacred vocal solo – all by Canadian composers. Oh, and the soprano solo from the Faure Requiem – that one was too good to pass up.
Both mommy and I were getting tired at this point, but we wanted to make one more stop before returning to our accommodations. The Royal Conservatory of Music was a mere block away from the ROM and glancing at it from across the street, one would think that it was a castle instead of a conservatory. It’s a beautiful brick structure with five floors, the top three of which are filled solely with teaching studios and practice rooms.
I actually have two friends who have attended or participated in degree programs here, so it was cool to be in the halls they used to walk. Sadly, we weren’t able to peek into any of the performance halls because of rehearsals, but the taste of one of Canada’s best music educational facilities was enough for us.
After a day full of walking and sight seeing, our feet were very sore but our hearts were happy. A perfect sunset brought an ending to another wonderful day in Toronto. I’m almost sad that we’re leaving tomorrow afternoon… But there is more to see, and Operation Ontario must go on!
I hope you continue to join me on the journey. 🙂