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Summer Cool

So much to do, so little time.  We Torontonians wait so very patiently for summer to arrive, and once it does, the clock starts to tick double-time as our weeks of decent weather fly by…especially this year, as cold fronts and flash floods seemed to delay our summer into mid-July.  At the same time, summer events go on rain or shine, and it seems like this season has been busier than ever… It’s easy to work up a sweat just running from one festival to the next.  So here are a few helpful hints so you can slow down and smell the roses: 1) The City of Toronto has 58 outdoor pools for residents and visitors to have fun in the sun and make a splash while enjoying the warm summer weather.  They are located in every corner of the City, and best of all – they’re FREE!  For a complete list go to http://www.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/outdoor-pools/index.htm

blogSpit 300x225 Summer Cool

2) Toronto is trying very hard to be the bike-friendly city everyone wants it to be.  I can’t in all good conscience recommend that you ride on city streets without a shield of armour, but there is a network of fantastic bike paths where you can ride safely and securely: http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/map/index.htm . My favourite by far is the Leslie Street Spit, a 5-kilometre long urban wilderness peninsula (photo #1)

3) If biking isn’t your thing, hiking trails abound…and we’re not necessarily talking overly strenuous (though there are those, too!) …Toronto’s popular Discovery Walks program consists of a series of self-guided walks that link city ravines, parks, gardens, beaches and neighbourhoods. See http://www.toronto.ca/parks/trails/index.htm

BlogKensington 300x225 Summer Cool

4) Get lost.  Choose a neighbourhood – any neighbourhood – and just walk around. This is one of my favourite things to do in a city full of the most wonderful pockets of humanity.  You’re bound to find a wonderful spot for a drink or nibble, a great specialty store to pick up a unique trinket, or just a house or building that inspires awe.  I was walking around one of my favourite little enclaves the other day, Kensington Market (check out their car-free, pedestrian friendly Sundays!), and stumbled across this fantastic scene (photo #2)

5)If all the above are too “active” for you, then grab a lawn chair and check out one of the many free “pop up” outdoor movie theatres that infiltrate the City on those long, lazy summer nights.  All of these are free: – Christie Pits Film Festival on Sunday nights (christiepitsff.com) – Cult Classics at Yonge-Dundas Square on Tuesday nights (ydsquare.ca) – Free Flicks at Harbourfront Centre on Wednesday nights (harbourfrontcentre.com) – TIFF in the Park at David Pecaut Square on Wednesdays (tiff.net) – Junction Movie Nights – various dates (thejunctionBIA.ca)

So unless you’re spending the entire summer lounging on a cottage dock some where (in which case I hate you!), there’s no excuse not to enjoy some summer fun in the City!

Mr. Toronto


First and foremost, I guess I should announce the brand change of my workplace. Not so much because it is a big deal as far as Toronto hotels go (it is!), but more because it is my excuse for why I have been so busy that I haven’t written a new blog in forever! After 37 years, the Delta Chelsea – Canada’s largest hotel – is becoming the Eaton Chelsea … no, not part of the Eaton Centre (though we are the Official Hotel of that shopper’s paradise!), but part of a brand that our owners, Langham Hospitality Group, is bringing into Canada. It’s gonna be the same warm, (family) friendly, great-value hotel that you all know and love, but with some much-needed renovations and exciting new additions. The switchover is July 1, so stay tuned for more on this (and read about it on the homepage!)
This is also the time of year when all our fun summer announcements have been made. So much going on! Just a sampling:

1) Concerts are already happening at the Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place – starting with the ever-popular Dave Matthews Band at the end of May, ending with Depeche Mode in early September. And lots of great stuff in between including John Mayer, Kiss, Phish and Ke$ha (though certainly not together!). Something for every musical taste. Go to www.livenation.com/venues/14878/molson-canadian-amphitheatre


2) The Toronto Jazz Festival is back for its 26th year, and is truly better than ever. (At least I’m more excited than ever!) Went to their line-up announcement (at the city’s newest jazz club, a fantastic spot that has re-opened after many shuttered years – The Jazz Bistro on Victoria street), and there are SO many great (free and ticketed) acts this June – Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Steve Martin, Boz Scaggs…the list goes on and on…check out www.torontojazz.com

3) Luminato Festival is a little more “esoteric” (code word for “artsy”) than the above, but an amazing array of concerts, plays, dance performances and public art – much of it also free! (Here’s a photo of filmmaker Atom Egoyan at the recent media launch). Visit www.luminatofestival.com

4) Harbourfront Centre is an amazing place to walk around during the summer, even if nothing is happening – but plenty is! Every weekend a different festival (“Soundclash”, Calypso, “Hot & Spicy Food”, “Ritmo y Color” to name a few) www.harbourfrontcentre.com

5) Yonge-Dundas Square – right in the heart of the City and always a great place just to sit and people-watch – has a full line up of lunchtime concerts, public movie screenings, and Friday night “Indie” music – all FREE! www.ydsquare.ca


And I would be remiss if I did not at least mention that our “Boys of Summer” are in full “swing” at the Rogers Centre. Although they are not living up to expectations we all had when they announced their amazing team this year, a Jays game is still a most awesome way to pass a beautiful summer day!

So get your sunscreen ready, get out your sandals, and get ready to enjoy the best time of year in the best city in the world!

Mr. Toronto


71BRGroup 300x225 BRRRUNCH and BRRROTHThere’s no getting around it.  Toronto in February is COLD.  Granted, this winter (so far) has been relatively mild, with little snow.  But then there is that occasional day that turns your nose red, your fingertips white, and you just want to curl into a ball and roll yourself under a rug…

Well, I have a couple of suggestions to ease the pain if you’re shivering with the BRRRs….

If it’s on the weekend, consider a cozy brrrunch.  Food critic Joanne Kates recently named her 3 top new brunch spots: The Saint, at 227 Ossington Ave.; Rose and Sons, at 176 Dupont St.; and Café Boulud, at 60 Yorkville Ave.  If you’d like some music with your eggs, there are some great hangouts that serve up great toons, depending on your mood:

For Bluegrass, you have a choice between The Gladstone Hotel’s Melody Bar (1214 Queen St. W.) and the Dakota (249 Ossington Ave)

For Rockabilly, Dominion on Queen (500 Queen St.E.)

For Klezmer, the famed “Bella! Did Ya Eat” Jewish-inspired buffet at Free Times Café (320 College St.)

And for Heavy Metal (?!), the “Black Metal Brunch” at Graffiti’s Bar& Grill (170 Baldwin St.)

To warm up during the week, consider a bowl of brrroth at one of the City’s noodle joints.  Ramen shops seem to be the “hot” new trend for 2013, and some of the best places to jump on this Japanese train include:

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at 91 Dundas St. E.

Sansotei at 179 Dundas St. W.

Kinton Ramen at 51 Baldwin St.

A-OK Foods at 930 Queen St. W

Ramen Raijin at 3 Gerrard St. E. (right next to the Delta Chelsea, where I work!  icon wink BRRRUNCH and BRRROTH

Now that I have done my civic duty and told you were to eat, allow me to totally digress…the only connection being that brunch and broth both start with “BR”, also the initials of my favourite Canadian band, Blue Rodeo.  Just wanted to wish these amazing fellas a “Happy 25th Anniversary”, which they celebrated at a pair of shows in beautiful Massey Hall (everyone’s favourite concert venue) this past weekend.  I was privileged to be there….love these guys (see photo)

And one final digression…the only connection being that Blue Rodeo is a member of the performing arts community….just wanted to congratulate this community – and City Hall for actually doing the right thing for a change (don’t get me started), as Toronto just approved a 4 year plan to increase Toronto’s yearly arts investment by $17.5 million.  Mayor Rob Ford (REALLY don’t get me started) made the announcement at an event last week.

Keep Warm,

Mr. Toronto


70anshei minsk 300x215 A DIVINE NEW YEARHappy 2013!  Hope your end-of-year celebrations were wonderful, and that you are a ready to attack the new year with a renewed sense of inner peace, calm and hope.  In order to help you along, I thought I’d kick off my first blog of the year by highlighting some of Toronto’s most divine houses of worship.  No matter what your religion – or whether you even have a religion – these institutions are worth checking out for various fascinating reasons:

Yorkminster Park Baptist Church: Houses the finest organ in Toronto, consisting of 5,000 pipes (the smallest being the size of a pencil). 1585 Yonge St.

Saint Anne’s Anglican Church: This 102-year-old church features a number of paintings by Canada’s famous “Group of Seven” painters, dating from 1923. 270 Gladstone Ave.

St. James Cathedral: One of the city’s oldest and most impressive cathedrals, it recently added an exquisite glass pavilion designed by renowned architect Peter Clewes.  The juxtaposition of old and new is breathtaking. 65 Church St.

Metropolitan United Church: Home of a spectacular ninety-year-old 54-bell carillon, rung by way of mechanical linkages from a keyboard ranging over four octaves, these bells are still used every Sunday, with occasional weekday afternoon concerts (slightly less formal – Bohemian Rhapsody is a real crowd pleaser!). 56 Queen St. East

Anshei Minsk Synagogue: One of the few surviving/still functional synagogues in or around Toronto’s old Jewish section in Kensington Market, this lovely old building features a magnificent steel-and-glass chandelier, which is one of the finest examples of art deco lighting in the city.  10 St.Andrew St.

70St. Elias 300x201 A DIVINE NEW YEAR

And with a car, you’ll be able to visit these unique houses of worship:

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir: A Hindu temple constructed from six thousand tones of shimmering marble, limestone and sandstone. 1,800 craftsmen in India used hammers and chisels to hand carve 24,000 tiny stone pieces. 61 Claireville Dr. (Finch/Hwy 427)

St. Elias the Prophet Church: An incredible Eastern Catholic (Ukrainian) church in classic 17th-century Cossack style, with five cupolas and a double roofline made of cedar shingles and massive fir timbers.  10193 Heritage Rd in Brampton

Aga Khan Islamic Centre: Although there will be a prayer room, this massive new project is really a cultural centre for Ismaili Muslims, and will consist of a fantastic museum and acres of parkland. Scheduled to open this spring near Don Mills and Eglinton

Peace and Love,
Mr. Toronto

ALL THE BEST (part two)

So as promised (I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath), here is the second and final installment of my “Best Of 2012” list. And because I69Santa Ken 300x225 ALL THE BEST (part two) deserve a bit of a break at this time of the year, I am borrowing very heavily (in other words, copying) from NOW magazine’s “Best of the City” Reader’s Poll. Having said that, let me throw in one of my own that was not in their magazine: Best Source For Weekly Entertainment and Dining Information: NOW Magazine! (Really – I couldn’t live without it – I grab my free copy religiously, every Thursday morning when it hits the streets)

And one more of my own, based on a visit earlier this month. Although NOW says Ajisai, I say that the Best All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant is Spring Sushi (springsushi.com) at Yonge/Dundas Square. An incredible selection of delicious food, at an amazing price ($14.99 lunch!), in a gorgeous setting, using very cool technology (tablets to order). I’ll be back soon!

Now for a random sampling of other “Bests”:



Best Restaurant: Woodlot at 293 Palmerston (woodlotrestaurant.com)

Best Pizza: Pizzeria Libretto at 221 Ossington and other locations (pizzerialibretto.com)

Best Burger: Burger’s Priest at 636 Queen East and other locations (theburgerspriest.com)

Best Gourmet Takeout: Whole Foods at 87 Avenue (wholefoodsmarket.com)


Best Bookstore: BMV at 471 Bloor West and Other locations

Best CD/Record Store: Vortex Records at 2309 Yonge (vortexrecords.ca)

Best Mall: Yorkdale Shopping Centre at 3401 Dufferin (yorkdale.com)

Best Unique Gift Store: Outer Layer at 430 Bloor West and others (outerlayer.com)

Best Pet Store: Timmie Doggie Outfitters at 867 Queen West and others (timmie.ca)


Best Repertory (Movie) Theatre: Revue Cinema at 400 Roncesvalles (revuecinema.ca)

Best Live Music Club: The Horseshoe Tavern at 370 Queen West (horseshoetavern.com)

Best Dance Club: Wrongbar at 1279 Queen West (wrongbar.com)

Best Bar or Pub: The Three Speed at1163 Bloor West (twitter.com/thethreespeed)

Because You Never Know!

Best Beauty Spa: Body Blitz at 471 Adelaide West (bodyblitzspa.com)

Best Body Piercing: Adrenaline Tattoos at 239 Queen West (adrenalinetoronto.com)

Best Yoga Studio: Moksha Yoga at 372A Danforth (downtown.mokshayoga.ca)

I could go on and on, but that would allow me no room for my 2012 sign-off, wishing you the very best of everything – a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you all- look forward to blogging with you again in 2013!

Mr. Toronto

ALL THE BEST (part one)

As we head into the last month of the year, this is the time we get inundated in all media with “Best of…” lists. So why shouldn’t Mr. Toronto be allowed to throw in his two cents?  Although come to think of it, this entire blog is dedicated to the best things to see, do, hear and eat in our City.  That being the case, I’m going to “borrow” a bit for these next couple of blogs, and pull some “Best of” lists from others who also know what they are talking about!

Let’s start with Ontario Tourism and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.  These two organizations recently gave out awards to recipients around the province, so while these may require day trips from Toronto, they’re worth it!:

  • Sustainable Tourism Award: Algonquin Eco-Lodge (www.algonquinecolodge.com) -Located on the southern border of Algonquin Park (3 hours from Toronto), it’s a wilderness enthusiasts’ dream!
  • Tourism Innovator of the Year: EdgeWalk at the CN Tower (www.edgewalkcntower.ca) – Toronto’s newest and tallest attraction has adventure lovers taking a walk OUTSIDE – around the circumference of the roof!
  • Event of the Year: The Stratford Perth Culinary Festival (www.visitstratford.ca/culinaryfestival)  - Award-winning chefs, amazing toured tastings, cooking shows and entertainment come together for a fantastic September weekend in beautiful Stratford (another reason to visit besides the Stratford Festival and a tour of Justin Beiber’s favourite haunts!)
  • Culinary Tourism Experience Award: The Culinary Adventure Company (www.culinaryadventureco.com) – I’ve blogged about these folks before – my new friend Chef Scott leads fabulous food-related tours throughout the City and even over to the Toronto Islands! And that’s a good segue way to mention a few more of Toronto’s top “food tour” companies – check out these websites to see what they offer and when:

While I’m on the topic of Toronto’s best, I would be remiss if I ended this blog without a shout-out to the city’s best sports team, since we don’t often68Anthem 300x225 ALL THE BEST (part one) (like once every 15 years or so!) get to brag about these things….AAAARRRGGGOOOSSS!!!  For those of you outside of Canada who have NO clue what I am referring to, our Canadian Football League (yes, there is one!) team, the Toronto Argonauts, just won the Grey Cup (the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl).  Even sweeter, the game was played in Toronto this year, at the Rogers Centre.  Sweeter still, it was the 100th Anniversary of the Cup, and all the stops were pulled out – including a halftime show featuring Canada’s top musical talents, past (Gordon Lightfoot) and present (the aforementioned Beibs – hey, I said Top”, not “best”!).  Sweetest of all?  I was there! (photos).
To be continued….

Mr. Toronto



I guess that’s why they call me “Mr. Toronto”….

67legends.cropped 300x135 MAN, I LOVE THIS CITYI had another topic planned for this blog entry, but this past weekend was one of those jam-packed, gee-this-city-is-terrific whirlwinds that just demands sharing…so here goes!

Friday night: Went to one of my favourite live music venues in town, Monarchs Pub (full disclosure – located at the Delta Chelsea Hotel, where I work!).  Live music – featuring the best local and visiting jazz, blues and rock musicians – is featured here four nights a week, and there is never a cover charge!  This particular evening was a benefit concert, which featured at least a dozen incredible performers over five hours!www.monarchspub.ca674 seasons front desk 225x300 MAN, I LOVE THIS CITY

Saturday: Took a walk through Yorkville. Usually not my favourite Toronto neighbourhood – a little too chic for my tastes – this time I discovered a couple of totally awesome stores (more suited to ‘hoods I prefer, like Kensington or Queen (way)West).  The first is Rolo Gifticians (www.rolostore.com)  – an incredibly cramped funhouse full of stuff I would love to receive (feel free – Chanukah is around the corner!).  The second is Legends (www.legendsgallery.ca), a photography gallery specializing in “Music, Film, Fashion, History”– with dozens of iconic prints by well-known photographers (photo #1).Side note: Yorkville is also home to the glorious new Four Seasons Hotel, replacing the gloriously faded/outdated Four Seasons Hotel.  Popped in for a quick visit; it really is something else (photo #2 is the reception desk).  And famed chef Daniel Boulud is the star of the show, with both a gorgeous restaurant (Café Boulud) and lobby bar (DB – nothing like self-promotion!).  The exterior, which boasts a magnificent entranceway with courtyard and fountain, will be even more amazing come spring, when an adjacent park they are currently constructing will be complete…

Saturday night: Went to my first “Holiday Season” event – Ice, Wine & Dine, put on by Downtown Yonge as part of their “Winter Magic” programming. This was just a one-night event, which closed down Elm Street so that pedestrians could eat, drink and be merry. But other fun events are scheduled throughout November and December – check out www.wintermagic.ca for the full schedule.67Vaughan 20121104 00543 300x224 MAN, I LOVE THIS CITY

Sunday: Took a drive out to Kleinburg, a quaint little town about half an hour northwest of the city.  The main attraction there is the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, housed in a spectacular building out in the woods.  Focusing on Canadian painters the Group of Seven (Google them, American/International friends!), it is currently running a couple of other fascinating exhibits as well, including photos of Queen Elizabeth when she was still Princess and raising Charles (isn’t she still doing that?).  The grounds of the museum are also home to a wonderful sculpture garden (photo #3). http://www.mcmichael.com/

I could go on, but I’ve already used up every superlative adjective I know.  Did I mention I love this City?

Mr. Toronto



Halloween is around the corner, and although my trick-or-treat days are long behind me, I feel obligated to share with you a few cool things to do66Frida and Diego21 233x300 SPOOKY STUFF during this creepy time of the year (as tempting as it is, I will leave watching the US Presidential debates off the list).

First and foremost, everyone’s favourite amusement park, Canada’s Wonderland, does the season justice with its “Halloween Haunt”. Every weekend night, evil takes over the park, as Zombies, psychotic clowns and other nightmare-inducing characters come out to play.

Warning: according to their website, www.canadaswonderland.com/haunt2012, “this event is too intense for anyone under the age of 13. Or anyone, for that matter.” The Haunt is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 7pm-12am, through October 28.

For something a little more family friendly, try The Haunted Walk of Old Toronto. Tours depart from the Distillery District (20 Gristmill Lane) strolling through the cobblestone streets by lantern, then make their way over to the old hanging grounds at St. Lawrence Market.  A special Halloween twist is given to these tours until the end of this month. (www.hauntedwalk.com/torontotours)

And I guess now would be a great time to mention the brand new blockbuster exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which opens October 20 and runs through January. www.ago.net/frida-diego-passion-politics-and-painting66Frida cookies1 300x160 SPOOKY STUFF
Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting features more than 80 works on paper and paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and more than 60 photographs of the couple, whose shared passion for each other and Mexico’s revolutionary culture during the 1920s and 1930s have made them Mexico’s most famous artists. I know this doesn’t sound too creepy, but take a look at this couple! (photo #1).  An absolutely bizarre relationship, which I won’t go into at the risk of being a “spoiler”.  But the art of both these characters is wonderful, and the exhibit is a gem.  I had the pleasure of going to the media launch yesterday, where we were treated to cookies shaped like Frida herself (affectionately dubbed “uni-brow” here at the office). (photo #2)

How scary is that?!

Mr. Toronto


65Humber park1 300x224 PARKS AND RECREATION Sorry, with the new fall TV season starting, I should have been more original with my title for this blog…but we are now experiencing some beautiful crisp, sunny fall days, and this is indeed what I want to talk about!

Thinking about Parks, because the leaves are almost starting to turn, and there’s only a short window before they drop and we’re looking at bare branches…and I have recently been turned on to two very cool green spaces in Toronto that I never knew existed.

The first is Humber Bay Park, a waterfront oasis located in Etobicoke (Lake Shore Boulevard West at Park Lawn Road). The park consists of two land spits situated at the mouth of Mimico Creek, and is perfect for strolling, picnicking, or just taking in the amazing views of Toronto’s skyline (photo 1).  The second park isn’t really a park as much as a walkway – at Glen Stewart Ravine, between Kingston Road and Queen Street.  A million dollars has recently been spent on a spectacular new boardwalk that winds its way through the centre of 11 hectares (whatever a hectare is?!) of woods.  Hard to believe you are minutes from downtown Toronto!

As for Recreation, fall continues to be almost as busy as summer in terms of festivals and events, as everyone tries to get in their last licks before65Chef Michael Smith and Adrienne Clarkson 300x224 PARKS AND RECREATION hibernating once the weather gets too cold.  Last week I went to “Word on the Street”, a great annual authors-and-books event spread throughout Queen’s Park (photo 2 shows a book signing with ex-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Chef Michael Smith).  Put this in your book for next year!

Other upcoming events include:

Oct 12-14 Global Cabaret Festival Young Centre – Distillery District  Oct 12-20 Toronto International Flamenco Festival Various locations

Oct 13-Nov 4 Toronto Chocolate Festival Various locations  Oct 14 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Nathan Phillips Square finish

Oct 18-28 International Festival of Authors Harbourfront Centre

So squeeze some time in between Canadian Thanksgiving and US Thanksgiving, and get festive!

Mr. Toronto

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The Party’s Over….

64Echo Beach 300x225 The Party’s Over….

OK, guess I have to finally come to terms with the fact that summer is officially over (though if you want to get really technical, the first day of Autumn is September 22…).  I just haven’t wanted to let this summer go – it’s been one of the nicest I can remember in many years.  And the weather has remained fantastic, and there are still plenty of outdoor events and concerts (KISS just played the Molson Amphitheatre last night!) going on…

But everyone is back to school, back to work, traffic is congested again, the nights are cool…time to move on.  But before I do, a few last memories to share, that will also fulfill my duty of giving you some ideas of cool things to do!


Experienced a fantastic new concert venue this summer – Echo Beach (see photo 1).  It’s on the Ontario Place grounds (site of the aforementioned Amphi), but actually ON a beach!  They have constructed a great stage, and nothing is better on a warm summer night than kicking off your shoes and dancing in the sand to a great band (in this case, My Morning Jacket).  The last concert of the season is this weekend, but keep it on your radar for next year!

61ROM Dinos 200x300 The Party’s Over….

Discovered a fantastic new tour experience just this past week…there is a company called “Culinary Adventure Tours” – led by the larger than life Chef Scott (sorry, Chef, that was meant to be flattering!) – which hosts incredibly fun and “exotic” food-related excursions in various parts of the City and beyond….in my case, I went on the “Paddle and Picnic” tour – 9 of us in a large canoe, paddling over to the Toronto Islands, where we disembarked while Chef prepared a gourmet picnic for us.  Then we all paddled back in the dark, with a gorgeous skyline lighting the way.  Quite magical.  This particular tour is over for the season, but others offered throughout the year – check out www.CulinaryAdventureCo.com

And went to a fantastic exhibit at the ROM-  Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana.  The state of the art technology they are using to make some of the dinos come alive is amazing. (see photo 2).  You still have plenty of time to check it out, as it continues through March. (Special packages available at my favourite Hotel, the Delta Chelsea!)

Looking to the immediate future – before I let go of summer entirely – Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival takes place September 20-23, honouring our country’s finest…much more than just a great awards ceremony (which you can get tickets to), there are a bunch of concerts and performances, many free – http://www.canadaswalkoffame.com/festival
So don’t break out that winter coat quite yet!  But talk to you again on the “other side”….

Mr. Toronto