June 8, 2018, Toronto-
Of course, I pulled into Canada’s largest city at rush hour. Hey, what fun is there in empty streets? With my phone telling me there is no Internet access in Ontario, I drove to a Starbucks, where there was indeed Internet access and a wonderful pair of baristas, who wrote out the directions to Neill-Wycik Backpackers’ Hotel. Turned out, the place was in the Garden District, past downtown. So, I negotiated my way down there, finding the high rise building, then finding its parking garage, in twenty minutes’ time.
Being a large enterprise, in one of North America’s most officious urban centres, Neill-Wycik is chock full of rules and regulations, with a full security staff, uniformed and ready to enforce each and every rule.
My room was on the ninth floor. There are 26 floors, in all.
After settling in and enjoying two huge slices of pizza, prepared by an elderly Chinese “multicultural chef”, I set out for a look at the Garden District. The first place I spotted was Jarvis Street Baptist Church.
Allan Gardens is an indoor botanical conservatory, the centerpiece of the District. A spacious outdoor park abuts the facility. It was being enjoyed by a wide cross-section of Toronto’s society, on Thursday evening. A few of them were okay with being photographed, from a distance.
The outdoor gardens are a riot of botanica, leading some of the locals to remark that the place needs work.
The east end of the conservatory is a Children’s Section.
I next headed towards the south end of the Garden District, where a number of great churches may be found.
Above is St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Below, CN Tower is put in perspective, from back at Allan Gardens.
Here are a few more scenes, from the northeast corner of the park.
Here is another view of Toronto, old and new.
Ryerson University, a private institution, is the driving force of the Garden District. It owns Neill-Wycik’s building.
St. Michael’s Cathedral, now under renovation, is Toronto’s diocesan center.
Like any vibrant city, Toronto has its share of murals.
Not far from St. Michael’s, the Anglican Cathedral of St. James holds sway.
The Metropolitan United Church completes the ecclesiastical triad.
So, my evening walk around the Garden District came to an end. The rest of the evening was spent with fellow hostelers, around the lounge television, watching as Ontario’s voters chose a vocal conservative, from a prominent family, as their next Provincial Premier (Canada’s counterpart to an American state governor). People, regardless of locale, are more alike than different-and people these days are often motivated by fear.
NEXT: Toronto to Montreal