‘O Canada, O Canada’
My heart sings with glee upon disembarking the plane from Chicago to Toronto. I was so excited to see the city behind those airport walls that I can hear the national anthem of the country in my head and just would love to sing out, ‘O Canada, O Canada’.As you have noticed in my blogsite before I updated it, Canada is one of the countries I would love to visit. I never have thought that I’ll get my feet on this land.
Canada is a country in the northern half of North America. It has ten provinces and three territories that extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and into the Arctic Ocean up in the north. Making the country as the world’s second largest nation by total area. Canada is just located near the United States of America and the border that separated two great nations is the world’s longest land border. As explained to me by the tour guide, Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of England being the head of state. Canada has two official languages, English and French. The country is also one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations due to large scale immigration from many other countries. It can be visibly seen the streets of downtown Toronto how multi-ethnic Canada is.
I arrived in Toronto which is the capital of the province, Ontario at 2000H via United from Chicago thru Toronto Pearson International Airport. Upon arriving in the hostel, I slept the night away for me to check the city in broad daylight. Morning of the next day, I headed out to the streets of Toronto and was amazed of how different it is. It felt like I was not in North America anymore. Different races just collide in one place which I am not used to see. It might have been caused of me being confined in a small town of Caldwell ;). Anyway, it was a good sight that even though there are a lot of races around, they act as one and have lived together harmoniously when other countries keep on bashing about racial discrimination which I sometimes experienced in my current location. With races being set aside, the city looks really great and cool.
I, then, have visited some tourist attractions in the city. First was the St. Lawrence Market.
It is a major public market in Toronto located in Front St. There are 3 buildings in the complex with each having different purposes. St. Lawrence Market South which is in the picture is open daily, hosting food stalls, restaurants and the gallery. This building used to be the city hall during 1845. St. Lawrence Market was named as the world’s best food market by National Geographic. Not only this building caught my attention but as well as other and surrounding buildings.
Just few feet from St. Lawrence Market is an eye-catching building. If New York City has Flatiron Building, Toronto has one, too and they called it, Gooderham Building.
It is a red-brick building located in the St. Lawrence neighborhoud. It is a historic landmark of Toronto and the focal point of the city’s most iconic vistas. The Gooderham building is well known both for its narrow wedge shape and for the mural on its back wall.
Few blocks from the Flatiron building of Toronto is another tourist attraction. It is the Hockey Hall of Fame.
It is located at the corners of Front and Yonge streets in downtown Toronto and is intended and dedicated to the history of ice hockey. It is a museum as well as a hall of fame which holds exhibits about players, teams, NHL or National Hockey League records, trophies and memorabilia. This building was used to be the Bank of Montreal until in 1990s where it was changed to a hall of fame.
Opposite to the Hockey Hall of Fame is a ginormous building. It is the Dominion Public Building.
The Dominion Public Building is a five-storey neoclassical structure built for the government of Canada. It was originally served as Toronto’s federal customs clearing house but it still remains a federal property which currently houses a number of administrative and support functions for Canada Revenue Agency. The building’s north facade is curved to follow the property line along the street.
Then, I walked about 10 minutes in Bay Street and I got to see these street views. It was gloomy that day. It was about to rain but it was just a drizzle.The weather finally cleared out but it was still a little dark that I have to enhance the photo when I got to my destination. But still, the picture doesn’t give justice to an amazing and grandiose building with facade incomparable. That building is the Old City Hall.
It remains as one of the city’s most prominent structures. The heritage landmark has a distinctive clock tower. The Old City Hall was designated a National Heritage Site. It is one of the largest buildings in Toronto and housed municipal government and courts. It was built of sandstone, grey stone, and brown stone from different parts of Eastern Canada.
On the left of the Old City Hall is the new Toronto City Hall.
Toronto City Hall or also called as the New City Hall is the seat of municipal government in Toronto and is one of the city’s distinctive landmarks. It is built due to shortage of space of the Old City Hall. The design was so unique with two towers in unequal height surrounding a white disk-like council chamber. Thus, the building was nicknamed “The Eye of the Government” because it resembles a large eye. Added attraction to the New City Hall is the Nathan Phillips Square with Toronto sign that changes colors with fountains which makes it the most photographed location in downtown Toronto.
After the New City Hall and the Nathan Phillips Square, I went to do mall just to take a peek or do window shopping since it is just 5-min walk. Just few blocks, I got to CF Toronto Eaton Centre.
It is a shopping mall and an office complex. It is owned by Cadillac Fairview that explains the letters CF. The shopping complex was designed as a multi-levelled, vaulted glass-ceiling galleria which resembles like in Milan, Italy. The interior design is so captivating and was considered revolutionary and influenced shopping centre architecture in North America.
I was having fun watching people just passing by and doing their daily businesses that I forgot the time. When I glanced at the time, it was already around 1600H and I haven’t had lunch yet. Then, I have decided to look for comfort food. Since Toronto is a multi-diverse city. It is impossible not to find a Filipino restaurant. I scanned the nearest Filipino restaurant with the use of free wi-fi connection in the mall. I found Lamesa Filipino Restaurant which is located somewhere in Bathurst area at Queen St West which was about 20 minutes walk from the shopping centre but it didn’t bother me. I started walking until I arrived at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen.
It is a restaurant located in downtown Toronto that serves Filipino-inspired dishes. It was too early for dinner when I got there but I was starving since I didn’t have lunch so, the hostess directed me to a table for 1 and I got the menu. The food choices were all familiar to me. I felt like I was home but I can’t say that until I get to taste the food. After much deliberation on the menu, I have decided to get lechon kawali which is a crispy pork belly served with pickled papaya and sawsawan or a dip. I got also pancit canton which is Chinese-inspired but mixed with Filipino flavors. It is an egg noodle with shitake and beech mushrooms, with snap peas and a little chili.
Check Lamesa Filipino Kitchen site by clicking here to see their menu and more. After I got my tummy filled, I went back to walking the streets and have decided to visit some of the tourist spots I haven’t seen yet. I went to the famous tower in Toronto, the CN Tower.
CN Tower is a communications and observation tower in downtown Toronto. It stands almost 2,000 feet tall. Its name, ‘CN’ means Canadian National which the company that built the tower. The CN tower is the 3rd tallest tower in the world and is the signature icon of Toronto skyline and a symbol of Canada which attracts millions of international visitors yearly.
Since I got really tired of wandering around the city, I didn’t go up the tower since it was late already for me because I still have to wake up early for my Niagara Falls Day Tour in the morning.
My entire downtown Toronto free and easy day tour ended amazing and productive. I got to see a lot of tourist attractions and I can definitely say that I heard the song, ‘O Canada’ in my head while walking the streets of the city.
Check my vlog of O Canada, O Canada by visiting my YouTube site by clicking here.