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Where in Toronto: Of Buildings and Bridezillas

U of T's ivy-covered campus is home to numerous historic buildings (photo by Alistair Edmondson)

I’m not a bridezilla. Really. I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was 12. I don’t have a dress picked out. And not everything has to be done my way. My wishes are simple: I just want a summer wedding and amazing photography.

My summer-wedding wish was granted fairly early in the planning process. So I was able to get straight to work on ensuring my fiancé and I would have top-notch photographs. For that I needed to find an amazing setting.

I wanted our photos to be backdropped by some classic, European-style architecture. Big columns, grand arches, rotundas, the works—like the Pantheon in Paris, or, even better, Rome’s Coliseum! I thought it would be poetic to pick an Italian-inspired building. My fiancé and I both have a trip to Italy on our respective bucket lists, our favourite movie is The Godfather, and our very first conversation happened to uncover a mutual love for Italian soccer. How cool would it be if our wedding pictures were shot in Italy? Of course, travelling to Rome would put us slightly over budget.

Thus, we looked to Toronto’s underrated stock of heritage buildings. Forget the high-rise towers and the edgy ROM and the artistic AGO. They’re nice and all, but they faded to the background of my thoughts as I rediscovered the city’s gorgeous Old World–influenced architecture.

The University of Toronto campus were an obvious first choice. University College always made me feel like I was walking around in 17th-century Europe, and was a favourite for that reason. The Lillian Massey Building also tempted me with its striking resemblance to the Pantheon. But it proved impossible to choose from amongst the dozens of such buildings on the campus.

Osgoode Hall (photo by Five-two)

However, some good did come of my indecision: I was led me to discover even more of historical Toronto. For one, there’s the early 19th-century Campbell House. Now a city-operated museum, it’s the oldest building still standing from the original town of York. I especially liked the idea of photos featuring the building’s Georgian exterior, as well as the grandiose ballroom and staircase inside. Directly across the street is the lovely Osgoode Hall, also built in the 1800s. And the Romanesque Revival architecture of Old City Hall stood just east of there. Suddenly I was finding all sorts of historic edifices (or were they finding me?) Such was my fascination with them that I forgot all about wedding photography.

Toronto, in my mind, has long been synonymous with skyscrapers and condos and modern architecture. It had not occurred to me how much history is tucked away into different parts of the city. Although I haven’t yet decided on the amazing backdrop for my sure-to-be amazing wedding pictures, I rest assured that there’s much more old-school Toronto architecture that I have yet to find.

—Faiza Siddiqui

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