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Yonge Street

Hot Date: Show Your Stripes at the Pride Parade

photo by Karen Chapelle

JULY 1 Celebrate diversity with the city’s huge lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community as a week of festivities culminates in the annual Pride Toronto parade. Drawing tens of thousands of spectators and participants from across Ontario and even farther abroad, the boisterous bash honours openness and acceptance with over-the-top costumes, music and decorative floats as revellers make their way down Yonge Street, from Bloor Street south to Gerrard Street. 2 p.m.; call 416-927-7433 or see here for more information.

You Are Here: Uptown Yonge

This northerly section of Yonge Street mixes name-brand and upscale-independent shops, restaurants and a bustling vibe that’s both urbane and neighbourly.


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North 44

NAME RECOGNITION The first and arguably most revered of top chef Mark McEwan’s four Toronto businesses, North 44° has been an uptown destination for more than 20 years. Longtime McEwan protégé Sash Simpson runs the kitchen at this refined restaurant, and dishes out contemporary classics like roasted squab, pan-seared Dover sole and herb-crusted ostrich.

LOCAL TREAT An alternative to the area’s abundant chain coffee shops is La Bohème Café Patisserie. Though relatively spacious, the room is often filled with patrons indulging in Te Aro coffee and fresh-made tarts, French pastries, and savoury snacks like sandwiches and quiches. If the weather is suitable, opt for a seat on the secluded back patio.

PUT ON THE RITZ The valets at Centro get a workout most evenings as the venerable restaurant attracts Toronto’s big spenders to its swanky space. Lately, chef Jason Carter has reinvigorated the menu with striking seasonal flavours—dishes range from mozzarella ravioli to a creamy lobster thermidor—while a long wine list has international vintages at many price points.

Pistachio (photo by Gizelle Lau)

GREEN GOODS Organic, sustainable, biodegradable—just a few of the adjectives that can be applied to the wares at eco-friendly gift boutique Pistachio. Here, environmentally aware consumers can peruse natural beauty products, small items for the home, children’s toys and more. A selection of social stationery and fair-trade chocolate treats help make your purchase complete.

HOME BREW Health- and flavour-conscious uptowners have made the Yonge Street location of David’s Tea a neighbourhood staple. Upon entry you’ll be offered a tea-of-the-day taste, but be sure to pick up a few sachets, too. The sheer variety—from delicate Bai Hao Yin Zhen white tea to delightful Cream of Earl Grey—can be overwhelming, but enthusiastic staff are always ready to offer up their favourites.

THE EYES HAVE IT Ladies look luxurious at Pretty in the City. The slim and trim beauty bar is known for its eyelash extensions—a signature treatment guaranteed to add movie-star glam—but also deals with hair elsewhere through shaping, tinting and waxing. Shellac and Gelish polishes are used for manicures and pedicures to ensure up to two weeks of non-chip colour.

You Are Here: Entertainment and Shopping
on Yonge Street

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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Panasonic Theatre

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.

Canon Theatre

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.

Winter Garden Theatre

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.