Toronto’s best-known thoroughfare stretches from Lake Ontario to locales far north of the city. Its main strip, of course, runs through the downtown core and offers lots to see and do. Strut along the street for some serious shopping, or find a seat at one of three historic theatres to witness unforgettable entertainment.
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MODERN CLASSIC Built almost a century ago, what is now the Panasonic Theatre began life as a private residence. Soon after it became a cinema and went on to serve as a primary venue for the Toronto International Film Festival, during that event’s infancy. Since undergoing renovations in 2005, the theatre has been a state-of-the-art home for a variety of live shows, from an 18-month engagement by Blue Man Group to the recently acclaimed production Love, Loss and What I Wore. 651 Yonge St., 416-872-1212.
PUBLIC PLAZA The unofficial centre of downtown Toronto, bustling Yonge-Dundas Square is a year-round gathering place and host to concerts, cultural celebrations, film screenings and many other events, many of which are free. This month, do a bit of early holiday shopping at the Arts at the Heart marketplace (October 2, 9, 10, 23 and 24) and be serenaded by such Canadian bands as Woodpigeon (October 6). Southeast corner of Yonge and Dundas streets, 416-979-9960.
SPLENDID SITE When the venue now known as the Canon Theatre opened as a moviehouse in 1920, its 3,373 seats made it the largest cinema in Canada. Since then it has survived scandal, numerous ownership changes and a spell in legal limbo to become a premier facility for live theatre. Opulently outfitted with huge chandeliers and a sweeping lobby staircase, the Canon welcomes theatregoers to Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel (to October 10) and the popular Tony Award-winning musical Wicked, which opens October 20. 244 Victoria St., 416-872-1212.
MALL STOP Spanning two full blocks, the Toronto Eaton Centre is the city’s largest and most heavily trafficked shopping spot. More than 230 retailers, from Harry Rosen and Michael Kors to Williams-Sonoma and Apple, sell their sought-after wares here—for anyone seeking to spend, this mall is a one-stop shop. The domed-glass ceiling ensures a bright and airy ambience in which to ponder your purchases. 220 Yonge St., 416-598-8560.
DRAMATIC DUO The only double-decker theatre operating in the world, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is truly a local landmark. Restored to its early-20th century majesty, the former vaudeville playhouse and cinema now hosts musical and theatrical productions, including Opera Atelier’s Acis and Galatea, opening October 30. Weekly tours offer behind-the-scenes insight about the Elgin’s damask and gilded plaster detailing and the upper-level Winter Garden’s garden murals and beech-leaf canopy. 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901.
ALL IN ONE The flagship location of Canada’s oldest department store, The Bay, is an eight-storey mecca with goods to satisfy any shopper’s desires. The main attractions are apparel and accessories for men, women and children from respected Canadian and international brands—ladies, in particular, have the run of The Room, which features high-end designer fashions—but space is also made for housewares, electronics, eateries and much more. 176 Yonge St., 416-861-9111.