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A Good Walk: Old Toronto

In this district, which runs from Yonge Street east to Parliament Street and from King Street south to the lake, Toronto got its start as the village of York in 1793. In 1834, the year the little community was "erected" into a city, the area, described as a ward, was renamed in honor of Canada 's patron saint, St. Lawrence. A pleasing natural disorder now prevails in this neighborhood, which blends old and new buildings, residential and commercial space. Within the space of a few blocks you can walk past the huge canopy of the 1960s-era Hummingbird Centre, where crowds throng for a ballet, to converted late-19th- and early-20th-century warehouses hosting an array of modern stores, to a hall that has operated continuously as a market since the early 1800s.

What To See

Start your tour at the northwest corner of Yonge and Front streets, where the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum is housed in a decommissioned branch of the Bank of Montréal. After having your fill of hockey's golden moments, turn left and walk a short block north on Yonge to Wellington and turn left again. Walk less than half the block, then enter BCE Place , a striking skyscraper built in the 1980s.

The reassembled stones of the former 15 Wellington Street West -- the oldest building on this walk -- are in the BCE Place concourse. The elegant Greek Revival-style bank was one of the earliest (1845) projects of William Thomas, the architect who also designed the St. Lawrence Hall. Return to, and cross, Yonge Street ; head another short block north to Colborne, where on the right you see the Trader's Bank, the city's first skyscraper. From here, go one block north to King, turn right, and walk one short block to Victoria Street . Across Victoria is the beautiful Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel , a 1903 structure by E. J. Lennox, who also designed Old City Hall , Massey Hall, and Casa Loma.

A little farther, on the northeast corner of King and Church, is the impressive Anglican St. James Cathedral. Directly south of the church is the Toronto Sculpture Garden , a small landscaped park with waterfalls. Head north one block on Church to Adelaide ; two blocks to the east (look for the flags and postal drop box) is Toronto 's First Post Office, where you can transact your 20th-century postal business using 19th-century implements.

Return 1½ blocks west to Jarvis; a block south at King is the elegant St. Lawrence Hall. Continue south one block on Jarvis to St. Lawrence Market; you're now on Front Street again, and from here it's two blocks west to the Flatiron Building . As you continue west from here on Front to your starting point, Yonge Street , you pass the St. Lawrence Centre and the Hummingbird Centre, two large performing art venues. The Hummingbird opened as the O'Keefe Centre in 1960 and featured the world premiere of the musical Camelot.


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