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Home to the Austin family for more than a century, Spadina House is now operated as a museum by the City of Toronto Cultural Services. Although some restoration has taken place, the original feel of the 55-room mansion has been wonderfully preserved, giving visitors a glimpse into a time when immigration increased and tabloid journalism had its beginnings (1918-1939). Rooms are also available for hire. The tour guides will make sure that the experience is thoroughly informative and educational while still being fun.
Built over three years beginning in 1911, Casa Loma was born of the lofty ambitions of the Canadian financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Inspired by the castles of Europe, Pellatt sought to employ the formidable resources at his disposal to build for himself a grand chateau in the heart of Toronto; an abode truly befitting the aspirations of the magnate. Built in the Gothic Revival style, Casa Loma appears to have sprung from the pages of a fairy tale, replete with hidden passages and generously adorned with exquisite art. The castle features 98 lavishly decorated rooms and is surrounded by a beautiful estate complete with its own conservatory, gardens, and stables. The Great Hall's sculptured pillars, the Conservatory's stained glass ceiling, the Library's impressive cache of books, and the subterranean tunnel to the stables outside are just a few of the many treasures that define the estate. Pellatt's triumph was short-lived, however, his businesses buckling in the aftermath of World War I, forcing him to sell his home. Today, Casa Loma is a museum and popular event venue.
Located near the city center in Toronto, the Distillery Historic District is a prominent area of the city where the Gooderham and Worts Distillery used to operate until 1990 CE. The distillery was touted as one of the biggest facilities in the world. After its closure, the Victorian-era buildings of the property became the Distillery District of today. Today, it houses many shops, restaurants and commercial complexes. However, the historic facade of the distillery is still intact and can be seen.
Built in 1793, Fort York National Historic Site was established to protect Toronto Bay from American invasion. It lies just east of Exhibition Place and represents Canada's largest concentration of original War of 1812 buildings. Period-costumed staff provide guided tours highlighting the blockhouses, barracks and officers' quarters. The staff give demonstrations of what military life was like in the early 18th Century. Special events throughout the year include a Battle of York Commemoration, Victoria Day Celebration and Canada Day at Fort York.
If you want to know what it was like to live in the pioneer era, check out Black Creek Pioneer Village, located in the northwest part of the city near the York University campus. It has over precisely 35 restored 1860s stores and homes, as well as attentive costumed staff. Hop on a horse-drawn wagon, visit the doctor, school or chat with the blacksmith and cabinet-maker about their work. If you feel hungry, there's the Half Way House Restaurant for country fare.
Toronto's third City Hall, this magnificent Romanesque building is a fitting homage to the artistic genius and uncompromising vision of its architect, Edward James Lennox. Construction began in 1889, continuing through the next 11 years until it was finally completed in 1899. At this time, the Old City Hall was the largest municipal building in North America, housing both Toronto's city council and courthouse. While the soaring clock tower is the most definitive feature of the stately building, the striking structure is resplendently fitted with gargoyles, grotesque stonework and other intricate details typical of the Romanesque Revival style. Inside, the mosaic floors, stained glass windows, and frescoes are just a few of the details that proclaim Lennox's skill for design. Just beneath the corbels, his name was inscribed by the stonemasons where it remains to this day. Replaced by the New City Hall in 1965, the Old City Hall has been declared a National Historic Site and functions as the Provincial Courthouse.
St James Park, with its 19th-century garden and splendid fountain, is the setting for this cathedral, Toronto's first Anglican Church. The Cathedral Church of St James you see today, which opened in 1853, is actually the third on the site - the first two were destroyed by fires in 1839 and 1849 respectively. Designed by architect Fredrich Cumberland, the present church includes the tallest steeple in Canada and an elaborate interior with a solid marble choir stall and stained glass windows.
Founded in 1827 and now home to over 75,000 students, this is Canada's largest and arguably most famous university. Some of the more interesting sites to visit are the main room of the University of Toronto Bookstore, the chapel and the dining hall at Trinity College, the great rooms on the second floor of the University College, Hart House and its art gallery, and the Sydney Fisher Rare Book Library. The university offers daily tours during the summer, starting at Hart House. The campus is right in the heart of the downtown core.