So you’re visiting Toronto, and you want to see more than skyscrapers? GREAT! I can work with that. My hometown has a lot more to offer than tall steel structures which are used as a backdrop for movies, television, and unoriginal Instagram photos. Here is the first of a to-be-determined number of “travel guides” I’ll try my hand at writing, the first being this guide to the University of Toronto‘s St. George (midtown-downtown Toronto) Campus…but please bear with me, I’m not used to taking on the type of perspective that suggests I know anything of practical value.
IT’S WORTH MEANDERING THROUGH EVERY LAST BIT OF U OF T’s ST. GEORGE CAMPUS
Unless you’re visiting between May and August, I’d recommend visiting the University of Toronto’s downtown campus on a weekend! During the week and especially every hour, when classes turnover, U of T gets extremely busy, which can be overwhelming, especially if you want to take your time and actually take a good look around at the strange mix of architecture of which the university is made up.
- Late-May and June are when U of T really splurges on gorgeous landscaping in preparation for the onslaught of graduation ceremonies that are held in the first couple weeks of June. Therefore, if you want to get your fill of pretty flowers within an old-timey-collegiate atmosphere, that is the time to visit!
- If you do visit campus on a weekend, it is very likely that you’ll stumble upon a session of wedding photography, especially in the Spring, Summer and Fall! Some popular sites of wedding photo-taking (and sites worth visiting, regardless of the presence of couples in their wedding finery) include:
- Knox College – the building proper and the inner courtyards
- Trinity College – the building proper and the inner courtyard
- University College – the building proper and the surrounding courtyards
- Victoria College – the building proper and the surrounding spaces, including the Lester B. Pearson Garden for Peace and International Understanding, which has its own pond and tiny waterfall (!!)
- During what I refer to as “peak-Fall” (which, in Toronto, is mid-October until mid-November), U of T’s old, stone ivy-covered buildings look especially beautiful.
- Late-January until early-February is when you’d encounter the university in all its snowy, stereotypically-Canadian glory
Other Tips & Tricks
- If you’re looking for good coffee and doughnuts but don’t want to pay a fortune for Starbucks, make sure you plot your tour through campus accordingly, as there are only three (semi-hidden) Tim Horton’s locations on or near the campus-proper:
- U of T is large, spanning the distance of about three subway stations in length (Queen’s Park Station, Museum Station and St. George Station) and three in width (Spadina Station, St. George Station and Bay Station)
- Near Queen’s Park Station is Toronto’s Discovery District, where a lot of hospitals and other research/tech institutions are located
- At the aptly-named Museum Station, you’ll find the Royal Ontario Museum, a close neighbour to U of T’s Victoria College
- From St. George Station to Bay Station, you’ll find part of Bloor Street, one of the busiest streets in Toronto for food and for the often-extreme-luxury shopping for which the Yorkville neighbourhood is known. This is also where you’ll be most likely to spot fancy sports cars, if you’re into that sort of thing…
- Near Spadina Station, you’ll find the many pretty houses that make up the Annex neighbourhood, along with more great food and shopping along Bloor Street
- You’ll be able to walk into libraries and other buildings on campus even if you are not a student; you just won’t be able to actually check-out the books, etc. that lie within! I’m not sure how it works at every single U of T library (there are 44 of them across its three campuses), but at Robarts Library (U of T’s largest one; pronounced *ROBE-ARTS*), you are not permitted to board elevators to upper floors without a student card.
When I started out writing this post, the aim was to talk about a few Toronto neighbourhoods…..that was clearly WAAAY too ambitious. Please let me know if any of this was helpful, and/or if there’s anything I should keep in mind when writing these types of guides in the future!