Spend your whole summer on Toronto’s Waterfront!

Are you ready to think outside the box this summer?
Torontonians – “Everything summer” is literally on offer on a lake shore near you

Cycle, skate or just walk the Martin Gooodman trail which is the Lake Ontario portion of the Great Waterfront Trail which stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border, along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Ontario portion of the St. Lawrence River.
No bike? no problem – you can use the Bixi bike system (https://toronto.bixi.com/) or hire from the rental shop under the Raddison Hotel.”Our” Martin Goodman portion of the cycle trail extends westwards past the Spadina Music Garden and Sunnyside pool, cafe and huge sandy stretch of beach, all the way along to an upfront close and personal view of the staggering “Grand Harbour at Lakeshore Boulevard” shore-front condominium complex. To the east it skirts the “Beaches” area of Toronto and sort of peters out before Scarborough bluffs
The Polson Pier complex east in the Port lands houses a couple of nightclubs – you fancy rounding off your day with some clubbing. There is also a Driving range; mini putting; a drive in movie theatre and beach volleyball and a Go Kart track

Want to sit and read a book on the beach. Again you have some choices.

Man-made beaches: you can choose an Algonquin lounger at Spadina beach or a deck chair at Sugar beach.
Cherry beach is a natural beach at the far east end of central Lakeshore – good for bathing; there is also a sailing club and it is skirted by the aforementioned Martin Goodman trail.
There is also the long expanse of boardwalked beach at Sunnyside to the west and a similarly boardwalked “Beaches” area east of the downtown core.
Try Pier 4, overlooking the Lake and the kitschiest most touristy restaurant in Toronto with its fishing nets, buoys and glass globes – so cliched, it actually works!!
Or simply watch the Lake schooners, ferries and sailboats (and the prop “Dash 8” planes flying low over the Lakeshore to and from the city airport) whilst sitting under sun umbrellas outside the restaurant on Wally MaGoos patio
Or get a different and lofty perspective and go up to the 38th floor to La Toula in the Westin’s circular but non-revolving restaurant jutting out across the Lake. Don’t expect much by way of food – seriously – just a great view.
Within the huge and glamourous Queens Quay centre adjacent to the tourist boat pier are 3 Waterfront restaurants – Bar Milano, the Waterfront Irish pub and W. On the 2nd floor there is a massive and old-established Chinese restaurant called Pearl with floor to ceiling views over the harbor and next to a small food court where you can sit on the verandah and watch the ferries ply to and from Toronto Island. The centre also houses speciality shops, gelato and coffee shops and exhibits plus you can purchase picnic food from Sobeys.
At Sugar Beach there is also “Against the Grain”
Countless options available – The Toronto sky-line is getting ever more spectacular and still topped by the streamlined and strikingly elegant CN Tower which at night is candy-cane bright with all the colours of the rainbow.
Sail on a Tall ship such as the Kajama
Stroll down to York Quay and you will find about 10 different styles of tour boat – paddle steamer; dine and tour options; the ubiquitous party boat and of course the cheapest of all -ride a Toronto Ferry back and forth.
The “Duck” also plys the Lakeshore, stopping off at Ontario PLace for a plunge into the harbour
Look out for the red jump on- jump off, double decker bus tours that stop off at various points along Lakeshore.
To sail, canoe or kayak at Harbourfront’s boating schools on Rees way – Trust me, nothing better on a summer’s evening than messing around in watercraft on the Lake; seeing the shore-line from a different perspective and watching the dying rays of the sunset alternately reflect from, and pick out in relief the massive glass and steel condo structures strung around the shoreline and clustering northwards into the city core.
You can also sign up for glass/ pottery and various other craft classes at the working studios flanking the Harbourfront centre.
Visit the exhibits in the Power Plant (also part if the massive “Enwave” theatre complex)) which is currently hosting its ” World Stage” exhibition. The Harbourfront centre also has a large and ever changing display of art.For info on current exhibitions and events go to http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/
Throughout the summer, music and cultural performances/shows are staged at “The West Jet” open-air stage right on the quay. Free movies are often screened here from summer to summer depending upon funding.
A wonderful menu of every type of music imagineable is available on given evenings and weekends at Spadina Music Gardens to the west of the main Lakeshore drag. Google Spadina Music Gardens for more info on this
But hey, I hear you say ” I really do need to get out of the city and go to the cottage. So here’s the thing – even your “country in the city escape” is here too!
No need to spend hours traveling up and down to traditional cottage country when you have the fabulous Toronto Islands a ferry ride away. You can even stay at a bed & breakfast on the island or have a few days retreat at the Retreat Centre or at the Artscape Lodge (both centres are near Hanlans point west of the island)
Once again Lakeshore is the launchpad for the Toronto Island’s ferries which will take you to 3 points on the islands depending upon your mood.Do you want to rent a bike and cycle along boardwalk? Or use the beach by the pier or take the kids to Centre Park for some fun? – if so take the Centre Island Ferry.
Are you taking your bike over and want to explore the cute Island houses spanning both Algonquin and Ward island with their secret gardens and tiny laneways lining the shore and nestled amongst the trees? Best view of Toronto skyline from this perspective. The yacht club is also at this end. Then catch the Ward island Ferry.Or, you are inclined towards lush park land, white sandy beaches (including a nudist beach), the Retreats mentioned above and on Labour Day weekend a grandstand view of the Air show – then take the Ferry to Hanlans PointWorth a separate blog this……
Over and Out

Jazz Thursdays at Cherry Street Cafe

中文: 樱桃

中文: 樱桃 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have passed this cafe by so many times on the way to Cherry Beach and used to wonder about the business model of something stuck in the middle if the Port Lands like this. The only decent building left on this road, it stands out like a sore rhumb – an art deco beacon of commerce amongst the Rufty -Tufty dock lands neighbourhood. It is however right on the spring/summer “flight path” of the gaggles of cyclists that zoom past on their way to the Martin Goodman cycle path that skirts the Lake shore, I was certain that winter heralded a downturn in footfall but the cafe always wore an open sign – a blue and red beacon of promised hospitality amid a pretty bleak neck if the woods.
And so it was with curiosity that we arrived one Thursday night in March, having heard a promo on Jazz FM radio about their Thursday jazz evenings. Ordinarily if we were to have a “school night” out on a Thursday then we would meet a bunch of friends at the Monarch Pub in the Delta Chelsea to watch the superb Jerome Godboo and his blues band. So what to do!
What a great evening upom which to visit. We were treated to a stunning and intimate performance by the Alex Samaras quartet. We had seen Alex perform with the Toronto Jazz orchestra at the Rex Hotel last autumn during their homage to Radiohead
Alex is not your average jazz vocalist – he approaches all his material with the air of one who has studied all the nuances of jazz performing at an academic level with spot- on perfect phrasing and tone. Just looked him up and sure enough he studied vocal performance on the Jazz program at the University of Toronto!
Incredibly versatile, it was obvious from his choice of music for the Cherry Street set that he was very at home with the “musical” numbers from all the great shows of yesteryear.
His 3 piece band who were all playing together with Alex for the first time were consummate professionals who no matter what was requested if them didn’t miss a beat.

Food – this is no gourmet eating venue – burgers and standard cafe fayre; small nicely laid out space with the original brick walls exposed and original deco exterior. A little bit different from your average jazz venue – definitely worth a visit.

Over & Out

Toronto – Tailor-made for Mothers

Or Ten best Toronto outings things to amuse your Mother
Having just had a visit from my darling Mother – from the UK, I spent many hours lining up a series of bits and bobs to keep us amused. Despite this being her third trip here in six years, trust good old Toronto to just keep on delivering on the fun stuff.
With our gorgeous (for the most part) summer weather and the tourist season in full swing, I discovered a whole host of new things for us to share. This is a very special time for the two of us – Having cleared my diary completely and with only the dog to worry about, we spent our days ambling around Toronto and beyond (actually make this haring around as neither Mum or I can stay in one place for very long), exception being the AGO which needs at least 3 hours – or more if you are a member with access to the Members lounge – an excuse to lounge around eating and drinking coffee/wine in the space that was the original Manor House from which the old AGO sprung
Warning – started this blog with great intentions and an incisive list of “To-dos with your Mother”, and realised that there were dozens of things we’d done as Mother and daughter over the last few years. so list has had to be categorized into 10 separate lists. Go Toronto……
Unusual cafes/restaurants:
Campbell House lunch and tour – http://www.campbellhousemuseum.ca/ They now have a restaurant on the premises which would be worth a look – we didn’t unfortunately get around to this…
Osgoode Hall – Mainly the lunch domain of barristers and lawyers, the refectory in Osgoode Hall – just off Queen and University serves up a stupendous 3 course lunch. great value. Tel: 4169473300 for reservations. Opens again after Labour day.
Toronto Athletic Club breakfast in the Stratus resaurant at the top of the Adelaide Centre building – 416-865-1924. reservations@stratusrestaurant.com
The Good Old Panorama lounge inthe Manu-Life Centre on Bloor – sit on the balcony 55 floors up for “Panoramic” view of the city and Lake. look in sidebar for details
For drinks with a view – Canoe Restaurant – don’t need a reservation if you are just having a drink – Tel: 4163640054
Hart House brunch in The Gallery Grill – http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/event/lunch-gallery-grill
The Art Cafe is one of the nicest of the cafes lining the street opposite the AGO as they serve a huge array of sweet and savoury crepesin the midst of its tiny art gallery, oh AND a great espresso – there are also a couple of tables outside in the shady courtyard or on the entrance patio that seem to be positioned so as to capture any sun going.
Coco Rogue ( coming soon) and or Marocco Chocolate for chocolate based high tea – http://morocochocolat.com/
Soma at The Distillery does “special” drinking chocolate – the chilli chocolate is divine but not for the faint hearted!
Art Galleries/Museums
The main museums/Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)Royal Ontario Museum (ROM); Gardner Museum; (and do a spot of pottery creation in the Pottery studio in the basement) The Textile Museum and Bata shoe Museum. Walk along far Queen Street West to look in all the smaller lesser -known galleries, the best being Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art . See http://www.mocca.ca/about-us/visit-mocca/ for a list of all the galleries along this stretch of Toronto. http://www.showmetoronto.com/tour_queen_art.htm for a list of all the galleries in this area. Also some cute galleries on Dundas Street West opposite the AGO and in the Distillery District.
Afternoon tea
The Royal York;
King Edward Hotel
Windsor Arms
the Red Tea Box -Tel: 416 203 3882
Check out Mirvish.com and subscribe to email update for great deals on the many shows that come to Toronto – Billy Elliott rocks by the way
Dream in High Park – this year a Winter’s Tale 8pm (not on Mondays) – finishes next week
The Rex Hotel or Reservoir Lounge for your Mother’s favourite Jazz
The Royal Conservatory – Koerner hall for your Mother’s favourite classical Music
Anywhere the “National Theatre of the World” is playing ( see Bread & Circus blog), The Comedy Club (Eglinton) or Second City if your Mother has an open mind and sense of humour.
Day trips:
Niagara wineries – http://www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com
Caledon – Gorgeous Mill restaurant and Spa plus many antique shops in the village and lets not forget the nearby “Badlands”
McMichael Gallery at Kleinburg for group of Seven Collection and wonderful hikes. The village is very pretty too.
St Jacobs – Mennonite Museum and great Mennonite Farmers Market.
Elora – Again great Mill restaurant (overlooking Elora Gorge), cute shops and good hiking trails.
Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival – continues until the Fall – see sidebar/Theatre category for Link.
Toronto Islands – starting with an ice cream and espresso at Island Cafe just off the ferry point at Wards Island, a leafy shady stroll through the cutsey cottages; The Rectory café; watch people playing disc golf – *Disc golf is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target . Hiring a bike; “charabang” four wheeler; canoe or kayak may be questionable depending upon your Mother’s age, but all of these can be found on the island. The nudist beach might also be a No-no – well go on just a peek!!!
Walks/half days
Ravine walks in Toronto worth a day “out” (technically) of the noise of the city. www.toronto.ca/parks/trails/discover.htm
The Brickworks just off the Don Valley Parkway – best on Sundays when the antique market sets up – will do separate blog on this as great board walk and paths through the wetlands area’ . Few Cafes and shops here too and great “brickworks’ workshop space. We’re talking Eco and sustainability at the Brickworks by the way.
Newly discovered between The Redpath sugar factory and the new CORUS building on east Lakeshore, a cocktail of sun umbrellas and white sand.
Cherry Beach – better for the Martin Goodman trail walk behind it.
The Beaches in general
Toronto Island – take your pick.
Toronto Botanical Gardens http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/
Spadina House and Gardens
Casa Loma I put this visit off for years – worth a separate blog of its own.
Allan Gardens
The Distillery District for cobbled meanderings amongst artsy shops/cafes/galleries and restaurants.
The tiny zoo at Riverdale
Toronto Zoo – should be categorized under walks/Days out but is both. Set in beautiful Rouge Park – forget the animals in glorious (often) barrier (yes they are enclosed but most are roaming in oodles of space) – you’ll definitely need your trainers/walking shoes for this one.
Finally, how about living like Princesses and having a day/half day by the pool on one of the upper levels of the Fours Seasons Hotel!!