Cultured, cosmopolitan, creative
What, go to Toronto to see art? No longer just a gateway to the Canadian wilderness, Toronto is fast becoming an exciting culture capital, where artists from around the world find the inspiration and the freedom they need to work
Back to the overview
The stunted pine is a piteous sight as it desperately clings to the small rocky is- land. The lakeshore beyond it is bare of trees but studded with row upon row of condominiums. “Home Sweet Home” is the name of this depressing painting that hangs on the wall in David Miller’s office.
For a moment, the mayor of Toronto ponders the faceless modern buildings in their unhealthy surroundings. Is this a swan song for the Canadian wilderness? Mr. Miller smiles. This is the only picture in his office that he actually owns. “It touched me so I had to buy it,” he explains.
Does it help him to focus on his favorite subject while fulfilling the multifarious demands of municipal politics? Mr. Miller has done a lot more to promote art and culture in Canada’s largest city of about 2.5 million than many of his predecessors.
The wonders of architectural art
The UFO has landed: Completed in 1965, the futuristic City Hall symbolized the spirit of renewal alive in Toronto back then, and indeed, the city’s fortunes have been rising steadily ever since.
Toronto is undergoing another renewal today, this time a cultural and architectural one. Star architect Daniel Libeskind sheathed the venerable Royal Ontario Museum in a crystal-shaped structure that looks almost ready to topple.
Royal Ontario Museum: 100 Queen’s Park, Tel.: +1-416/586 80 00. Opening times: daily 10am-5.30pm, Fri -9:30pm. Admission: $21-24. www.rom.on.ca
Another architectural exclamation mark: The 553-meter-high CN Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the world and the city’s landmark. Its observation decks attract more than two million people each year.
CN Tower observation decks: 301 Front Street West, Tel.: +1-416/868 69 37. Opening times: daily 9am-10pm, Fri+Sat -11.30pm. Admission: starts at $22.99, reduced $14.99-20.99. www.cntower.ca
Hip quarter and contemporary art
A wild mix of designer boutiques, fish ’n’ chips joints, factory warehouses, tattoo parlors, and sushi restaurants: Queen Street West and the neighboring streets are part of what is probably one of Toronto’s most fashionable areas. Queen Street West’s Tex-Mex restaurant La Hacienda was originally set up by a couple of street musicians who wanted a place to perform.
La Hacienda: 640 Queen Street West, Tel.: +1-416/703 33 77. Opening times: Mon-Fri 12noon-1am, Sat, Sun 11am-1am. www.lahacienda.ca
Hip and Canadian: Fulfill these two conditions and there’s a good chance your could be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). Visitors can look forward to seeing the works of emerging artists and influential modern artworks at this museum - which is now fittingly located in the Queen Street West art and design district.
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: 952 Queen Street West, +1-416/395 00 67. Opening times: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm. Admission: at the visitor’s discretion. www.mocca.ca
The Sharp Center for Design towers over the Ontario College of Art and Design building like a colossal, 35-meter-high table on 12 legs. The “tabletop” houses two college floors with studios and classrooms.
Pictures: Frank Schwere (6), Corbis