Walk the walk Toronto style
Walking tours are a wonderful way to discover Toronto. Tours are as varied as the city, and focus on everything from neighbourhoods to architectural landmarks, artwork, literary sites, ravines, river valleys and much more. Toronto Public Library’s website is a good place to start your tour plan.
A few recent titles are Stroll: psychogeographic walking tours of Toronto, Shawn Micallef’s personal take on 32 neighbourhoods, and Larry Richard’s University of Toronto: the campus guide: an architectural tour, which covers 170 buildings in nine walks of the university's three campuses.
Some older books also are helpful. My personal favourites are Patricia McHugh’s masterful Toronto architecture: a city guide and Greg Gratenby’s comprehensive Toronto: a literary guide, which provides 58 walking tours showcasing Canadian and international authors who have spent time in the city.
The library has produced historical walking tours of five Toronto neighbourhoods: Kensington Market and College Street, the Danforth, Kew Beach, Deer Park and Lawrence Park. These can be borrowed or viewed digitally; copies of the latter two titles still are available to buy at selected library branches.
Many self-guided walking tours are online. The library links to recommended websites and the City of Toronto provides a self guided walking tours database.
If you have difficulty getting around or are feeling lazy, take an armchair tour. In addition to books and internet links, the library has a good selection of DVDs from the Structures television program featuring Toronto places, past and present.
For those who prefer guided tours, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM Walks) and Heritage Toronto give free walks in many parts of the city all spring and summer. Toronto Public Library is partnering with Heritage Toronto and the North Toronto Historical Society for a tour of Lawrence Park on September 10 at 10:30 am. Other organizations also provide guided walks.
The success of the annual Jane’s walk honouring Jane Jacobs – 170 were planned in Toronto on May 7 and 8 - demonstrates how Torontonians love to show off their city. Building on this idea of citizen-guided walks, the City of Toronto is offering organizations and individuals the opportunity to create self-guided tours, with a limited number of grants up to $500 to cover production costs.