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Toronto Islands

Haunted Toronto: Six Ghostly Sites in Hogtown

THE LEAD UP TO HALLOWEEN INEVITABLY BRINGS OUT BONE-CHILLING, SPINE-TINGLING, GOOSEBUMP-INCITING STORIES OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, SPOOKY SIGHTINGS AND HAUNTED TORONTO DESTINATIONS. FEELING THE URGE TO INDULGE YOUR INNER GHOSTBUSTER? HEAD TO OEN OF THESE SIX SCARY SPOTS IN THE CITY—IF YOU DARE.

Haunted Toronto Ghost Tours

Old City Hall is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two convicted criminals (photo: Eric Parker)

Depending on who you talk to, both Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas are said to haunt one of two different locations in Toronto: Old City Hall and the Don Jail. Turpin and Lucas were the last two individuals in “Muddy York” to be sentenced to death for their crimes. As one story goes, the penalty of death by hanging was delivered in a courtroom at Old City Hall where the men now roam, sometimes tugging at judges’ robes. Alternatively, the men haunt the gallows of the Old Don Jail—where many inmates were treated poorly while the prison was in operation from 1964 to 1977, and in whose open courtyard hangings were carried out.

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Weekend Roundup: July 13 to 15

Friday: See artist-designed tutus and much more at the Design Exchange (photo by Setareh Sarmadi and Marta Ryczko)

Friday, July 13
Get an insider’s look into the history of the the country’s most prominent dance company, as the Design Exhange presents 60 Years of Designing the Ballet. The exclusive exhibition tells the story of the National Ballet of Canada through set pieces, paintings, videos and archival wardrobes, including 60 iconic tutus for the troupe’s diamond anniversary.

The hallowed grounds of Fort York play host to a vaunted group of electronic musicians tonight as dubstep hero Skrillex brings his Full Flex Express tour to town. Accompanying the popular DJ/producer are a handful of cohorts including Montreal’s Grimes and Philly-based DJ Diplo.

The Soundclash Festival kicks off tonight at Harbourfront Centre, with dance and musical performances ongoing throughout the weekend. This evening you’re invited to feel the funky Afrobeat as Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou takes the stage for its Canadian debut. (more…)

Staff Picks: 5 Fun Activities for Canada Day

photo by Michelle Lee

Sunday, July 1 marks our country’s 145th birthday. It’s easy to celebrate the nation’s diversity and heritage in Toronto, thanks to a number of excellent events and outdoor activities! (more…)

Hot Dining: Get Out and Eat with the Culinary Adventure Co.

Chef Scott Savoie leads Culinary Adventure Company tours (photo by Kyla Zanardi)

Navigating Toronto’s vast dining scene can be daunting, especially if you’re only in town for a few days. A great way to get acclimated is to join one of the many diverse foodie tours offered by the Culinary Adventure Company. Experienced chef Scott Savoie leads hungry guests through a veritable smorgasbord of eating, drinking and learning opportunities on weekly walks through neighbourhoods like Leslieville—including stops at Table 17 and fishmonger Hooked Inc.—and Little Italy, which could feature cocktails at the members-only Toronto Temperance Society and tastings at top restaurants such as Acadia. Or paddle to the Toronto Islands with chef Savoie for a picnic dinner with local Ontario ingredients. Tours start at $50 per person; call 416-565-1730 or click here for further details.

Staff Picks: Our 10 Favourite Spots for an Autumn Stroll

Toronto isn’t all concrete, cars and skyscrapers. A walk through one of the city’s greenspaces can be a refreshing break from everything urban. Let your feet crunch on some trails and crane you neck toward the trees while enjoying one or more of our ten favourite spots for an autumn stroll.

There are plenty of opportunities to see the fall colours in Toronto (photo by Craig Moy)

East Don River Trail
See the East Don River completely devoid of railways and expressways as you walk this path just west of Leslie Street, between Steeles and Sheppard avenues. Maple and willow trees rise above the undergrowth where foxes and other wildlife make their home.

High Park
Steps away from High Park and Dundas West subway stations, the city’s largest public park is home to forests, Chinese gardens and wildlife galore (not to mention a small zoo). Keep a camera handy to snap shots of one the park’s waterfalls, and stroll alongside Grenadier Pond and see ducks, geese, grebes, and maybe a frog or two.

Humber Arboretum
Natural areas and ornamental gardens are open for your strolling pleasure at the Humber Arboretum, located on the West Humber River at Humber College’s North Campus (205 Humber College Blvd). A relaxing jaunt along the trails and boardwalk will take you through forests, meadows and wetlands. You’ll also get to inspect the work of the school’s horticulture apprenticeship students, who maintain landscape design projects on the grounds.

Kay Gardner Belt Line Trail
What used to be commuter railway line in the 1890s is now a gorgeous, tree-lined path through Forest Hill. Runners, dog-walkers and even some folks on bicycles share this path that runs between the Eglinton West and Davisville TTC stations.

Rosedale Ravine
You’re at the hub of Midtown Toronto. Shoppers and workers pack the sidewalks. If only there was some way out! You duck down Heath Street East, descend a staircase, and find yourself beside a creek in the middle of a forest. The ravine holds diverse wildlife, woods, and wildflowers; perfect for your urban escape.

Rouge River Park
For a more rustic stroll, take on the trails at the Rouge River Park near the Toronto Zoo. Walk through wooded areas, peaceful meadows and lush wetlands. Just be prepared to share the space with foxes, rabbits, squirrels, muskrats and woodchucks.

Scarborough Bluffs
Towering 65 metres over the shore of Lake Ontario, the Scarborough Bluffs offer some stunning natural scenery in the city’s east end. At the foot of Brimley Road, Bluffers Park walking trail wends through parkland and naturalized areas in between the cliffs (formed by erosion of the packed clay firmament) to the north and water to the south.

Sherwood Park
The path in this uptown retreat (east and west of Bayview Avenue, just south of Blythwood Road) will lead you through grassy and wooded areas for a relaxing reconnection with nature. You can follow the trickling stream or stretch your legs on gentle hills if you want to get off the main trail.

Sunnyside Beach
Feel the cool breeze coming off Lake Ontario on your stroll along Sunnyside Beach.  The path here is part of the Waterfront Trail network and leads through parkland alongside sandy and grassy beaches. The offshore breakwaters make perfect perching places for gulls, ducks and migrating geese.

The Toronto Islands
Enjoy a ferry ride and a leisurely amble on a trip to Centre Island, where you can stroll along the boardwalk between Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. You’ll pass sand dunes, ponds, lighthouses, and of course the waves of Lake Ontario are in full view along the way.

Weekend Roundup, July 15 to 17

Friday: Hear all manner of music as the Beaches International Jazz Festival begins

Friday, July 15
Kick off your weekend at the 23rd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival, which begins tonight at Woodbine Park. With acts ranging from jazz, blues, calypso and more—legendary Toronto rocker Carole Pope is even part of this evening’s bill—the festival offers ear candy for a wide variety of listeners.

The Colombian Colours Il Diaspora Festival also starts this evening an continues all weekend long. Part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer line-up of cultural celebrations, it features performances by Colombian musicians, dancers and other artists proudly representing their distinct heritage.

Do you have tickets to see Grammy-winning sensation Taylor Swift belt out her hits at the Air Canada Centre? The contemporary country singer’s Speak Now Tour brings one of 2011’s hottest concerts to Toronto for one night only.

Saturday: Sarah Harmer and other artists celebrate Parks Canada's 100th anniversary

Saturday, July 16
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada—the world’s first national park service—with a free festival on Centre Island. Starting at noon, the special Parks Day event showcases the country’s diverse natural heritage, and boasts live performances by musicians including Serena Ryder and Sarah Harmer.

Yonge-Dundas Square also offers an event for the environmentally aware—the Live Green Toronto Festival features hundreds of vendors with eco-friendly products, live music and more.

Sit back and relax with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. The “Margaritaville” singer instills a beachy state of mind as part of his Welcome to Fin Land tour.

Sunday: Slurp up some seafood at the Souther Ontario Oyster Festival

Sunday, July 17
Foodies are invited to take part in a truly succulent tasting at the much-anticipated Southern Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Toronto’s mollusk mecca Rodney’s Oyster House. Attendees can enjoy live music, cheer on the oyster shucking contest, and, of course, indulge in fresh oysters. Tickets are $30 and help benefit the Environmental Defense organization.

Spend your Sunday night with British indie-rock band Gomez as they fill the Phoenix Concert Theatre with their distinctively rootsy sound.

Experience the rich culture of the Asian subcontinent at the 39th annual Festival of India, taking place on the Toronto Islands. This free event, celebrating Toronto’s large Indian community, includes an arts and culture showcase, a South-Asian bazaar, and much more.

Weekend Roundup, June 24 to 26

Friday: Show Aretha Franklin some respect at David Pecaut Square

Friday, June 24
Start the weekend on a high note as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free show at David Pecaut Square. The festival continues until July 3, and promises performances by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Branford Marsalis, and even hip-hop outfit The Roots.

One of the largest GLBT celebrations in the world, Toronto’s Pride Week begins this weekend with events throughout the city. Tonight the Gladstone Hotel hosts a Gay-Straight Alliance Dance Party, with DJs including Cosmic Cat and Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, spinning tunes. The festival culminates with the annual Pride parade on July 3.

Enjoy an evening of timeless classics and traditional swing-jazz numbers at a Roy Thomson Hall performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Directed by renowned trombonist Gary Tole with special guest Susie Arioli, the big band’s setlist includes all-time favourites like “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Saturday: Sway to the sweet sounds of folk crooner James Taylor

Saturday, June 25
The sweet sounds of acoustic folk music fill the open-air Rexall Centre at York University as James Taylor makes an appearance at the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival. Fans of the Grammy-winning troubadour can expect to hear his hits including “Fire and Rain”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Carolina in my Mind.”

Cheer on all the competitors at the 23rd Annual Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. The two-day event at Centre Island offers multicultural food and entertainment, plus more than 180 teams paddling teams competing for glory.

Calling all cycling enthusiasts! Join the fun at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Bike Fest in the Distillery Historic District, featuring clinics and seminars, demonstrations, a scavenger ride and even live local bands.

Sunday: Les Chiclettes and other francophone artists perform at Franco-Fete.

Sunday, June 26
Round out the weekend by celebrating Canada’s other official culture at Harbourfront Centre’s Franco-Fete. The city’s only francophone festival presents a bevy of family-friendly performances, culinary demonstrations and much more. Très bien!

The Toronto Zoo marks the occasion of the International Indian Film Academy Awards being held downtown with it’s own Bollywood party. The festivities include music and dancing for children, as well as storytelling, henna tattoos and more.

Welcome the start of summer with a 1920s-style garden party at Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens. Guests can marvel at the mansion’s decor—recently restored to its Jazz Age heyday—dance to jazz rhythms, enjoy period-appropriate refreshments, and even solve a murder mystery.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This June

3. The Art Gallery of Ontario, complete with Henry Moore sculptures (photo by Roger Yip)

1. The soulful voice of Aretha Franklin, who opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free concert on June 24.

2. Donning red and white to cheer on the Toronto FC.

3. Admiring the collection of Henry Moore sculptures housed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

4. Sipping a cappuccino from White Squirrel Coffee Shop while seeking its namesake critters in adjacent Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

5. Practicing your swing at Polson Pier’s lakeside driving range.

10. Toronto's skyline

6. Receiving a boisterous greeting from servers and chefs upon entering Japanese izakaya Guu.

7. Examining industrial-landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky’s latest exhibit about the oil business at the Royal Ontario Museum.

8. Strolling the pedestrian-friendly outdoor retail complex Shops at Don Mills.

9. The fervor of the “scramble” at Yonge and Dundas, where you can cross the street in any direction.

10. Taking the ferry to the Toronto Islands and looking back at the impressive skyline.

13. The Rex

11. Perusing refined Scandinavian design at Mjölk.

12. Admiring the cavernous grandeur of Union Station (65 Front St. W.).

13. Winding down the week with the live jazz and laid-back vibe at The Rex.

14. Walking beneath architectural artist Philip Beesley’s Sargasso installation, featured in Brookfield Place during Luminato.

15. The sense of otherworldliness in Sarah Anne Johnson’s Arctic Wonderland photos, displayed at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

19. Buca

16. Queuing for the $5.99 lunch specials at Sushi on Bloor—it’s worth the wait.

17. TV’s Rachel and Finn—a.k.a. Lea Michelle and Cory Monteith—belting it out on stage for Glee Live! In Concert!

18. Working up the courage to step onto the CN Tower’s glass floor, then looking down at the street 342 metres below.

19. Crunching on crispy pigs’ ears within Buca’s reclaimed industrial space.

20. Centering yourself at a drop-in yoga class at the Evergreen Brick Works.

24. Stillwater Spa

21. Finishing off a meal at The Gabardine with a burnt marshmallow ice cream sandwich.

22. Ordering creative cocktails and shareable snacks at Origin.

23. Admiring the elaborately designed merchandise windows at posh Holt Renfrew.

24. Getting pampered with a deep blue Tahitian massage at Stillwater Spa.

25. Picking up a new pair of flip-flops or sandals at always on-trend  shoe store Get Outside.

26. The Drake General Store

26. Quirky items from the Drake General Store to bring back home to your family and friends.

27. Tucking into tacos el pastor and a bowl of guacamole at Mexican stalwart El Trompo.

28. Coveting the volume of tomes at The Cookbook Store.

29. Scouring the rows of kitchenware at Chinatown’s Tap Phong Trading Company (360 Spadina Ave., 416-977-6364).

30. A stroll through the ravines of the Don Valley—you might glimpse a white-tailed deer by the river.

Weekend Roundup, August 13 to 15

Take advantage of Toronto’s summer festival season before it passes you by!

Friday: See Philman George (a.k.a. the Rhyming Chef) at Harbourfront Centre's Hot and Spicy Food Festival

Friday, August 13
The annual After Dark Film Festival begins today, Friday the 13th! The Bloor Cinema (a local landmark) features a week of new and independent horror, sci-fi, action and cult films from around the world. Favoured by none other than Quentin Tarantino, this film festival is one of Toronto’s can’t-miss events.

True to the marketers’ words, you can “touch the puck that touched a nation” this weekend at the Hockey Hall of Fame. That puck, which Sidney Crosby shot past U.S. goalie Ryan Miller to end the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament, is now on display at the Hall’s Double Gold exhibit, which celebrates victories by both the men’s and women’s teams. Visitors can also stand in awe of Crosby’s stick and gloves, coach Mike Babcock’s lucky tie, and Hayley Wickenheiser’s jersey.

Start your weekend right by partaking in the first night of the Hot and Spicy Food Festival, part of the Harbourfront Centre’s World Routes slate of festivals. Tour the Red Hot Marketplace and taste spicy marinades, sauces, and dips (if you dare) and sample top chef Jamie Kennedy’s spiced frites. Then head to the stage to hear some sizzling international music!

Toronto’s historic Casa Loma hosts “A Clue to Murder” tonight! A riff on the classic board game, this dramatic murder mystery unfolds while you wine and dine. As the meal draws to a close, guests sift through the clues to guess the murderer, weapon, and room in which the mischief occurred. Miss Scarlet, in the library, with the candlestick, anyone?

Saturday: Renowned indie rockers Arcade Fire sing about The Suburbs

Saturday, August 14
India Day celebrations kick off with a parade down Yonge Street this morning, in honour of the country’s independence. Follow the floats to Yonge-Dundas Square, which hosts multiple cultural events and activities throughout the day! Sample Indian cuisine, buy local crafts, get a henna tattoo and enjoy live entertainment!

Cheer on the Toronto Argonauts as continue a fierce rivalry with the Montreal Alouettes. Off to a (surprisingly) strong start this season, the Argos hope to maintain their winning ways at the Rogers Centre.

Make your weekend a little greener! Learn about (and sample) sustainable cuisine at the Conscious Food Festival. Chat with local farmers, try Ontario wines, chow down on a grass-fed beef burger or artisan ice cream, and view chef and farmer demonstrations. Don’t forget to bring your own reusable bag if you’re planning to shop!

Catch one of the Western world’s hottest music groups, as Arcade Fire storms the stage tonight on the Toronto Islands! The Montreal-based band is set to perform songs from their newest critically acclaimed album, The Suburbs. Hip hop/R&B maverick Janelle Monae opens.

Sunday: Will Andy Murray amongst the Rogers Cup finalists?

Sunday, August 15
See the stars of men’s tennis battle at the Rogers Cup final today! With a multimillion-dollar prize and bragging rights heading into the U.S. Open on the line, its sure to be an exciting match.

It’s the final day of the SummerWorks Theatre Festival! This indie theatre expo gives emerging Canadian talent the chance to be seen. With plays showing all day, all over Toronto, nothing should keep you from being in the audience.

Another last chance: Catch the Bard’s Bus Tour, a travelling theatre troupe that’s set to perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night outside at Todmorden Mills this evening. This comedy of mistaken identity is sure to keep you laughing!

Cheer your favourite horse to victory in the Breeders’ Stakes. The final race in this year’s Canadian Triple Crown is a 1.5-mile turf derby run this afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.

You Are Here: Toronto Islands

Discover why one million visitors head to the Toronto Islands each year for family fun.

Toronto Islands Map

1 GUIDING LIGHT Visitors have enjoyed the islands’ lakeside charm for more than 200 years, and though history has given way to modern development, vestiges of the past remain. One the Great Lakes’ oldest lighthouses, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, has stood since 1808. It’s rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of its first keeper.

Toronto Island Bicycle Rental2 NURTURING NATURE Follow the squeals of delight to Franklin Children’s Garden (416-392-8192), an interactive learning environment based on the popular series of Franklin the Turtle books. Little ones can explore a tree house, learn how plants grow or sit down for story time at TD Storybook Place.

3 PEDAL PUSHERS More than 10 km of meandering paths are great for a stroll—or better yet, a bike ride! Island Bicycle Rental (416-203-0009) offers single and tandem bicycles ($7 and $14 per hour), while two- and four-seat quadricycles ($16 and $30) are a good option for families. A $10 to $40 deposit is required, depending on bicycle choice. Open daily.

4 THEME-PARK FUN A well-loved venue for family fun, Centreville Amusement Park (416-203-0405) has more than 30 rides and attractions, including the Rockin’ Ferry Boat, miniature golf and an antique carousel. Admission to the park is free, but all-day ride passes are available for $21 to $29.50. Open daily.

Far Enough Farm5 ANIMAL FARM Find the sights, sounds and smells of barnyard life at Far Enough Farm (416-392-8192). A menagerie of animals—from horses and goats to sheep, pigs and peacocks—pass the time munching on grass and mugging for visitors’ cameras. Open daily.

6 QUIET LUNCH Picnicking is the most popular way to enjoy a meal on the islands, but it’s certainly not the only option. The Rectory Café (416-203-2152) is a lovely alternative to wooden benches and overzealous seagulls. Fresh entrees are served in the small dining room or on the lovely lakeside patio, complemented by a selection of Ontario wines and premium loose-leaf teas. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

TIP! Boats depart from the Toronto Ferry Terminal at the base of Bay Street and take about 15 minutes to reach the islands. Return fares are $6.50 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, and $3 for children under 15. Call 416-392-8193 for a departure schedule.

Weekend Roundup, October 9th to 12th

Happy Thanksgiving! But there’s much more to the long weekend than turkey.

Friday, October 9th
Examine real, whole bodies preserved in polymer in the Body Worlds & the Story of the Heart exhibit, which opens today at the Ontario Science Centre.

Savour the sizzling flavours of Chile at the King Edward hotel restaurant Victoria’s with a special prixe fixe menu to celebrate Chilean Gourmet Week.

Be dazzled as dancers twirl paper fans, musicians beat drums and other performing artists do their thing in a lavish, multicoloured spectacle of Chinese culture in the opening Shen Yung Performing Arts show.

Saturday, October 10th
Catch the antics of some quirky friends and relatives for the last time when they visit a couple reluctant to play host in Alumnae Theatre’s last performance of A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee (also the playwright of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Grab a partner and jitterbug on over to Swing Toronto‘s Saturday Night Swing dance party.

Consider the fashion and function of wool floor coverings that were popular in the city from the 1850s to 1920s in the exhibit Wall-to-Wall: A History of Carpeting in Toronto at Spadina Museum.

Sunday, October 11th
As part of Sound Travels: Festival of Sound Art, pedal one of the Synthecycletron’s stationary bicycles located at the Toronto Islands to produce synthesizer melodies.

Be transfixed by some of the best images in photojournalism worldwide showcased at the World Press Photo exhibit at Brookfield Place.

Take the kids to HarbourKIDS: Respect at Harbourfront Centre so they can appreciate the ecosystem by engaging in activties like helping build a model of the Great Lakes and its inhabitants out of LEGO.

Monday, October 12th
Help prepare harvest foods and nibble on 19th-century-inspired treats to celebrate Thanksgiving at Gibson House.

Or, let someone else do the cooking at Peartree, where you can nosh on a full turkey dinner from the roasted butternut squash soup to the pumpkin pie.

If you want Thanksgiving take-out, pick up a reheatable three-course meal complete with Ontario-grown poultry and accompanying trimmings via the Royal York Hotel’s Turkey to Go service.