Want to be Entertained or Try the Foods of the World, Toronto's Entertainment
District is the Place
by Habeeb Salloum
The first time that I set foot in Toronto, more than half a century ago,
for a young man like myself, there was hardly anything entertaining to
do. To have fun, one travelled to Buffalo, Detroit or Montreal. Toronto
the Good was a fine but a boring city. For a lonely newcomer arriving
from western Canada, roaming the streets or going to movies was about
the only entertainment to be had. Sunday was the worst - there were no
restaurants open. If I did not buy food and take it illegally to my room
on Saturday, Sunday would be a day of fasting.
How things have changed! Toronto today has become a magnetic urban centre
for young and old alike. Innumerable places of entertainment, honeymoon
getaways and the foods of the world are to found in the hundreds of eating-places
that dot every corner of the city. Food buffs assert that one can eat
in these restaurants, mostly open seven days a week, 365 days a year and
not have the same ethnic food twice.
Toronto Entertainment District -- "The District"
The top spot where one can
enjoy life in Canadas largest metropolis is The Toronto Entertainment
District, or as it is commonly called, The District, located within an
eight square blocks area in the heart of the city. Bordered by York Street
and the Financial District on the East, Queen Street on the North, Spadina
and the Fashion sector on the west, and the Lakeshore on the south, the
area is easily accessible, by all forms of transportation.
It offers some of Torontos best theatres, bars and nightspots and,
as well, The District encompasses many gourmet restaurants, fine shopping,
the best of accommodations, sporting facilities, live theatres, movies,
top-class luxury hotels and a good number of other attractions - for honeymooners,
much to see and do.
The undisputed entertainment capital of Canada, The District is a heartland
of good food and a lively concentration of entertainment spots, bursting
with inspiration. It boasts the worlds largest and longest underground
shopping complex with 1,200 shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. Now, known
as the Trendy Area, The District incorporates an incredible
number of art galleries, boutiques, bistros, cafes, nightclubs, first
class shopping and theatre life galore.
When I first roamed Toronto in the early 1950s, this neighborhood was
an area of neglected warehouses and rundown homes. Yet, when the city
was first established it was set aside for the homes of Torontos
upper crust which included such family names such as Baldwin, Campbell,
Strachan and Boulton. As the city expanded, this original residential
area was transformed into a neglected industrial and warehouse section
of Toronto. In the ensuing years, after urban decay, there was growth
and renewal. The neighborhood that was magnificently restored, has now
evolved into the premier centre of Toronto and one of North Americas
most diverse entertainment destinations.
the historic landmarks that remain from the bygone era are: the Campbell
House, an example of Georgian architecture; St. Andrews Church,
once the leading church in the social reform movement of the Victorian
era; the Black Bull Tavern, dating back to the early 1800s; the train
terminal, Union Station, inspired by the basilicas of Ancient Rome featuring
22 limestone columns weighing 75 tons each; the CPR John Street Roundhouse,
a reminder of the steam technology and the role of rail in Toronto; and
the 1929 built Royal York Hotel, today known as the Fairmont Royal York,
renowned for its physical presence and beauty and hailed when first constructed
as the largest hotel in the British Empire.
Since the early 1980s, this physical resurgence has given the area an
immense popularity. It has become a sought-after hot spot, known for its
diverse and varied recreation possibilities - a place to enjoy a family
overnight getaway. Here one can shop both above ground and below ground;
drink in its innumerable pubs and patios; dine the best of Italian and
French cuisine or the other fine foods of the world; catch a movie or
a live performance in one of its theatres; attend an art exhibit or a
sports event; and climb the highest tower in the world to get a birds
eye view of Toronto in all its glory, then return to rest in one of The
Districts six luxury hotels.
SkyDome, Theaters, and
most well known landmarks that give The District its renown are the Sky
Dome, the home of Torontos baseball team the Blue Jays and boasting
the worlds first fully retractable roof; the CN Tower, the worlds
tallest free-standing structure, with its Convention Centre; the Canada
Centre, the home for Torontos hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs;
the CHUM City Building, an innovative television station noted for its
unique Gothic architecture; and the CBC Building, edged by Simcoe Park,
designated the first park in Toronto in1827.
Vying with these giant attractions are the famous Princess of Wales, the
first privately built theatre in North America; the Royal Alexandra Theatre,
an architectural gem which has featured on its stage the most famous theatrical
stars of the 20th century; and the spectacular Roy Thompson Hall, renowned
in the world of entertainment. These three theatres have been largely
instrumental in making Toronto the third largest theatre-going city in
the English-speaking world.
The good number of plush condominiums being built around The District
is gradually, and on an ongoing basis, making it a popular high demand
residential area, especially for the young. The energy of this neighborhood
can be seen at its best during the night when the streets fill up with
people dressed their best, ready for a night on the town. Numerous clubs
host special events geared for enjoyment, creating for those who live
in Toronto and visitors alike a friendly and pleasureful atmosphere.
saying that the District really does have it all for those who are
seeking entertainment is truly a valid statement. Every attraction,
shop, eating-place or entertainment establishment is literally next door
to the next. Considered a modern and fast paced neighborhood, it is constantly
abuzz with entertainment and activities. Amazing, when one ponders that
what was once a neglected area has become today a mecca of culture, those
seeking excitement on their honeymoons and diversity.
For More Information On the Toronto Entertainment District, 157
Adelaide St. W., Box 414, Toronto, ON M5H 4E7, contact: tel: 416-397-0815.
E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thedistrict.ca
An Excellent Hotel in the District
The Fairmont Royal York
Hotel - Called the ultimate downtown Toronto hotel, this deluxe
grand landmark of the city is one of the most popular hotel names in
the world. Within walking distance of all The District and beyond, it
is an ideal place to stay when visiting Toronto. 100 Front Street West,
Toronto, ON, Canada M5J 1E3. Tel: 416-368-2511. Fax: 416-368-9040. E-mail:
Fine Eating Places
225 King St. West, Toronto M5V 3C5. Tel: 416-351-7002. Fax: 416-351-7002.
See website: www.peneloperestaurant.com/
350 Fahrenheit Restaurant - If after visiting the Entertainment
District one has an Appetite for healthy living, to the north, on Bloor
Street, this eating spot, is the place to dine. It is the first restaurant
in Toronto to offer an entire menu designed to suit today's poplar diets
and healthy eating lifestyle. For the dieter who appreciates the presentation
and the art of fine cuisine, but also wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle,
350 Fahrenheit provides a comfortable dining experience. The nutritional
breakdown including the calorie count and grams of fat, protein, carbohydrates
and fibre are listed for each serving. The bill also includes the nutritional
breakdown of all the foods ordered.
Popular dishes include: a lime grilled white fish with spicy sweet potato
and kale; Poulet a l'range, chicken in an orange sauce; sweet potato
& green pea samosas; and for dessert, "uncheesecake",
cheesecake made from soy - dairy free. Appetizers and soups are under
$6. and entrees are moderately priced - from $8 to $20.
"Forget about restrictions" says Ion Nicolae, proprietor of
the restaurant. "Meals can be as delicious tasting as dishes ordered
on any other restaurant menu."
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Habeeb Salloum is a Canadian
author and freelance writer specializing in Canadian, Arab and Latin-
American history, travel and the culinary arts. Besides five books and
18 chapters in books, he has had hundreds of articles about food, travel,
history and homesteading in western Canada published.