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Stop At: Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3C4 Canada
Panoramic walking tour
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: St. Lawrence Market, 92-95 Front St. E., Toronto, Ontario M5E 1C4 Canada
Since 1803, the St. Lawrence Market has been the community’s beating heart and culinary focal point of the city of Toronto. It’s the living symbol and anchor of the neighborhood and for the families who live here. It’s a place to connect, to share stories and of course, to taste and to discover great food. The original market was known as Market Square and people gathered there on Saturdays at the corner of King Street and New Street, (today's Jarvis St) stretching west to Church Street and south to Palace (today's Front St), with a creek running through the center from King south to the bay. The plot set aside for the market was 5.5 acres (2.2 ha). The market square was the center of the city's social life where auctions took place and public punishments were carried out. In the earliest days of the town, when slavery was still legal, this included auctions of black slaves. Town bylaws prohibited the selling of butter, eggs, fish, meat, poultry, and vegetables between the hours of 6am and 4pm on Saturdays, except at the market.
Duration: 10 minutes
Stop At: Gooderham (Flatiron) Building, 49 Wellington St E, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1C9 Canada
The Gooderham Building, also known as the Flatiron Building, is an historic office building, built in 1882. The Gooderham Building is the focal point of one of Toronto's most iconic vistas: looking west down Front Street towards the building's prominent rounded corner, framed on the sides by the heritage commercial blocks along Front Street, and with the skyscrapers of the Financial District towering in the background. The previous building was shorter, but in the same shape, and was called the Coffin Block. It was the office of the Gooderham and Worts distillery until 1952, and it was sold by the Gooderham family in 1957.
Bought in 1975 and saved and partially restored by David Walsh and Robert Phillips, further restoration took place in 1998 by owners Michael and Anne Tippin. The building was declared a historic site under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975, and then in 1977, the Ontario Heritage Trust attained a Heritage Easement. It was subsequently owned and managed by the Woodcliffe Corporation.
On 12 October 2011, Woodcliffe Corporation announced that it would be selling the building. The building was last sold for $10.1 million in 2005 and for $2.2 million in 1999. The building is currently owned and managed by The Commercial Realty Group.
Duration: 10 minutes
Stop At: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St (at King St. W.), Toronto, Ontario M5J 2H5 Canada
Here we have Roy Thomson Hall. It is home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s best orchestras. As you can see, it is very architecturally unique. It is one of the most modern architectural designed structures in Canada. The honeycombed glass canopy encases both the lobby and the auditorium, serving as a container. It was designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson and opened its doors in 1982. It is named for Roy Thomson who donated $4.5 million to complete the fundraising efforts for the new hall. It houses a magnificent pipe organ built by Canadian organ builders Gabriel Kney of London, Ontario.
This venue stands out from the others we have seen tonight as it is built for music rather than theatre or film. It does, however, play in integral role in TIFF. It is home to many gala screenings for the festival and the final screening of the People's Choice Award winner. It is also a very popular place to shoot film and television. You may recognize it from the film X-Men.
Duration: 5 minutes
Stop At: Canada’s Walk of Fame, King Street West, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Royal Alexandra Theatre, King Street West, Toronto, ON
So what do The Princess of Whales Theatre and The Royal Alexandra Theatre have in common? They are both owned by Mirvish Productions. Ed Mirvish bought the Royal Alexandra in 1963 for a quarter of a million dollars. But that’s not where the story begins for this architectural gem.
Construction on this theatre began in 1905 for a grand opening in 1907. Construction was financed by a group of business leaders who wanted to ‘put Toronto on the map’. At the time this neighbourhood was home to the wealthiest people in the city. The land where the Royal Alexandra now stands was part of the grounds for an exclusive boy’s school.
Architect John McIntosh Lyle was chosen for the job of designing and building this theatre. His instructions were simple: to build the finest theatre on the continent. With a budget of only $750,000, this job seemed daunting. Needless to say Lyle went over budget, but what he delivered was as requested. The interior featured an Italian marble lobby; Venetian mosaic floors; elaborately carved walnut and cherry wood stairs and railings, silk wallpapers everything that the space needed to be called the finest theatre on the continent. When it opened, it received letters patent from Edward VII, which gave it the royal designation. That makes it the only remaining legally "royal theatre" in North America.
But The Royal Alexandra was not an immediate success. Its business was rivalled with that of The Princess Theatre. As I mentioned earlier, in 1915 the Princess Theatre burned down which greatly improved the outlook of the Royal Alexandra. However, the 1940s and 50s saw a great decline to the neighbourhood. The places that once were the homes to Toronto’s wealthiest inhabitants became warehouses. Patronage greatly declined to the theatre.
So, Ed Mirvish bought the Royal Alexandra. Previously Ed hadn’t even stepped foot into a theatre. He was in the retail business – he owned a department store called Honest Eds on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. But he knew a good deal when he saw one and he bought the building with the agreement that it would remain a theatre for at least five years after the passing of ownership. It served primarily as a roadhouse for touring productions, although Mirvish did produce shows such as Hair and Godspell, which featured many cast members who were later given stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame. The most famous of which is arguably MartinShort, a famous comedian who played alongside Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in the film The Three Amigos.
Mirvish almost single handedly transformed the neighborhood into The Entertainment District. He slowly bought the warehouse and industrial buildings along King St. and opened a group of colourful restaurants in a successful effort to draw people back into the neighbourhood. The last of these closed in 2000 but were all replaced by businesses of the like. The Entertainment District in now home to independent wine bars, restaurants, cafes and bistros that make the area a major attraction to Toronto natives and visitors alike.
Canada's Walk Of Fame, Simcoe Street, Toronto, ON
The Walk of Fame was introduced in 1998 as a way to recognize Canadians for their achievements. In order to receive a star you must be a Canadian Citizen, have a minimum of 10 years in their field of work, and have had an impact on Canada’s cultural heritage. Anyone can make a nomination for a recipient of a star. These nominations are reviewed by a committee, which determines if the nominees fit the criteria. If they pass, their name is submitted to the board of directors who choose the recipients of the stars.
Recipients include athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Kurt Browning, actors like Jim Carrey and Rachel McAdams, singers and songwriters like Michael Bublé and Joni Mitchell, musical groups like The Tragically Hip and over 160 others who are recognized for their work in sports, film, television, theatre, music, literature, and print. All these people have played their part in Canada’s contribution to the global entertainment industry. As you walk down these blocks and read the names joined to each star you will understand the scope of Canadians’ influence on the media that is consumed around the world.
Princess of Wales Theatre, King Street West, Toronto, ON
Here we have The Princess of Wales Theatre. It seats 2000 people. The name ‘Princess of Wales’ was named such for three reasons: first, it was named after its predecessor, The Princess Theatre, which was located in the area. The Princess theatre was lost in a fire in 1915. But more on that story later. Second, it was named to honour Diana, Princess of Wales. Princess Diana consented to its naming. Lastly, the theatre was named to connect it to the Royal Alexandra Theatre which was also named for a former Princess of Wales.
Mirvish Productions built this theatre to house large-scale, long running musicals. Construction began in 1991 and the doors opened in 1993 with a production of the famous musical, Miss Saigon. From there is continued to house some of the most notable and famous musicals possible. Shows such as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Les Misérables, Hairspray, Chicago, Cabaret, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Sound of Music have run here at the Princess of Whales Theatre.
Duration: 10 minutes