University

Philosopher's Walk
78 Queen's Park Crescent West
Tucked between the Royal Ontario Museum and the Royal Conservatory of Music, you will find Philosopher's Walk. The green oasis follows along the route that Taddle Creek once took. At the north end of the path sits the imposing Alexandra Gates. Originally built in 1901 and situated at Bloor and Avenue Road - and moved to their current location in 1960 - the gates commemorated the visit of Prince George and the Duchess of Cornwall. At the south end on Hoskins Avenue, the Bennett Gates were built in 2006 in honor of Avie Bennett, who donated 75 percent of his shares in a publishing firm to the University of Toronto. The small Philosopher's Walk Amphitheatre was added in the early 2010s.

Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queens Park
The Royal Ontario Museum, a collaborative project by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto, first opened to the public in 1914. Demand for space quickly outstripped the space available in the original brick and terracotta building on Bloor Street. Additions in the 1930s, 1980s, and 2000s expanded the footprint of the museum to what we see today. The diverse collections include everything from dinosaurs to dresses, and ranks among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America. Margaret Atwood's 'Life Before Man' was set in the museum, and several film and televisions shows have made use of the building, from the children's show 'Zoboomafoo' to sci-fi thriller 'Fringe'.

Royal Conservatory of Music
273 Bloor Street West
McMaster Hall was built in 1881 to house the Toronto Baptist College (which would later become McMaster University) and was designed by Henry Langley & Edmund Burke. Their work can be seen throughout Toronto. The hall was sold to the University of Toronto in 1930 when McMaster relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. The music school was founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music by Edward Fisher. In 1947, King George VI awarded the conservatory its royal charter, and officially became The Royal Conservatory of Music. The school relocated to its current location in 1962, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995. The certificate program runs around the world, and oversees thousands of exams yearly. Alumni include Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, and countless other musical icons. This site was used for filming of the 'Umbrella Academy', 'Nikita', and 'Mary Kills People'.

Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor Street West
The Bata family began making shoes in the Czech Republic in the late 1800s. The small family business grew, and in the 1940s, Thomas and Sonja Bata moved to Toronto to oversee the expansion into the North American market. Sonja Bata had collected shoes for many years, and by 1979, her collection had outgrown its home. The creation of the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation allowed for the research and collection of footwear from around the globe. The museum, created by Moriyama and Teshima Architects, was designed to look like a shoe box with its lid. The angled walls made of ochre limestone were given a texture and sheen mimicking the raw leather commonly used in shoemaking.

Matt Cohen Park & The Spadina Expressway
725 Spadina Avenue
The small park at the corner of Bloor and Spadina is named for author Matt Cohen, who called this area where he spent so much time 'the centre of the universe'. Cohen wrote adult fiction under his own name, and a series of children's books under the pseudonym Teddy Jam. His last novel, 'Elizabeth and After', won the 1999 Governor General's Award just prior to his death that year. Excerpts from his works can be found in the park. Also in the park are Susan Schelle and Mark Gomes' oversized domino pieces sculpture, installed in the park in 1997. Tour through the park to read the Heritage Toronto plaques describing how the Spadina Expressway, part of a massive superhighway system intended to travel through this part of the city, was shaped, started and scrapped.

Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNjcc)
750 Spadina Avenue
In 1953, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) opened its brand new doors at Spadina and Bloor. Previously, the Young Men and Young Women's Hebrew Association was centered on Brunswick Avenue with several buildings providing services to the community. The new facility offered space, but by the late 1990s, the building was showing its age. The decision was made to renovate instead of closing, and in 2004 the newly refurbished Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNjcc) reopened with a state-of-the-art fitness & aquatic centre, new 263 seat accessible theatre, studios, offices and multipurpose spaces. The MNjcc offers arts, cultural and Jewish community programming, and is open to people of all abilities, cultures, genders and sexual identities.

The Former Brunswick 'Brunny' House
481 Bloor Street West
When Benjamin Hinchcliffe first opened his tavern in the 1870s, it was a roughcast plaster building, nothing like the classical brick building that has stood here since 1908. Brunswick House was purchased in the 1960s by the Nightingales, who ushered in the era of cheap beer (they were said to have sold more beer than any other establishment in Ontario!), pickle eating contests and other shenanigans. By the 1970s and 80s, the upstairs hall was well known for its musical performances, hosting the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, and k. d. lang. In 1974, four lesbian feminists changed the lyrics to a song during open mic night. The Brunswick Four, Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth were asked to leave, refused, and were arrested. The media coverage of the event was one of the first instances that a LGBTQ2S+ issue received extensive press coverage in Canada. 'The Brunny' closed its doors in 2016 after over 140 years.

'The Band of Storytellers' Interactive Mural
297 Brunswick Avenue (at the corner of Brunswick Avenue & Leah Cohen Lane)
This mural by Ottawa-based artist Komi Olaf is painted on the side of the former Brunswick House to pay homage to Albert's Hall (which was located on the second floor). Many great blues and jazz musicians played at Albert's Hall including Cab Calloway, Oscar Peterson, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Jeff Healey. The coolest thing about this mural? Walk up to the piano keys and point your smartphone towards one. The keys are embedded with interactive near field communication chip (NFC) tech so you can learn more about the blues, the building, and the people who played there. Learn more by holding your smartphone up to read the chip. Keep your eyes peeled for other murals and art installations as you stroll through the neighbourhood.

Lee's Palace
529 Bloor Street West
Walking along Bloor Street, you'll no doubt notice Lee's Palace with its detailed cartoon mural by Al Runt bursting with colour. From starting as a shoemaker's shop in the early 1900s and evolving to become the landmark for alternative rock music in the Annex, the building also operated as a bank, and a cinema. In 1985, the building was purchased by Korean-Canadian entrepreneur, Chong Su Lee, who transformed it into the live music venue it is today. Lee's Palace has famously hosted Nirvana, Oasis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (each of which were the bands' first Toronto shows!).

A Different Booklist Cultural Centre (ADBCC) - The People's Residence
777-779 Bathurst Street
Once a small independent bookstore, A Different Booklist Cultural Centre (ADBCC) The People's Residence has evolved far past that original designation. The ADBCC is a non-profit community hub and destination that proves opportunities to experience the culture and history of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry. The ADBCC engages the public to learn about these stories through literature, music, drama, dance and visual arts. Fostering intergenerational and youth led programming and leadership, the ADBCC documents neighbourhood history and promotes community well-being.

Samuel Richardson Way (at Central Technical School)
725 Bathurst Street
In 1934, 17 year old Sam Richardson competed in the British Empire Games, winning a gold and silver medal despite his age. Joining the Canadian Olympic Team, Richardson took to the world stage at the 1936 Berlin Olympiad in Nazi Germany. Along with other black athletes such as American sprinter Jesse Owens and fellow Team Canada captain Dr. Phil Edwards, Richardson proved that athletes could perform at the highest level of skill and ability regardless of the colour of their skin. In honour of his accomplishments, his high school alma mater renamed the laneway between the school and the running track Sam Richardson Way. Signs were installed in 2018, along with a plaque. Other alumni of Central Technical School include Lawren Harris (painter), Michael Smith (decathlete), and Sydney Newman (television producer), among others. The school was used for the filming of 'Good Will Hunting'.

Harbord Village Residents' Association Walk
213 Brunswick Avenue
Look a little closer while wandering this neighbourhood's side streets to find several QR codes that link to powerful stories about this area's past. Launched by the Harbord Village Residents' Association in 2013, this oral history project includes interviews of over one hundred present or former residents of the Harbord Village, remembering the neighbourhood from the 1930s to 1980. To listen, scan the QR code with a cellphone camera. The first stop on the walking tour tells the story of Albert Jackson, Toronto's first Black postal worker, and his family. A map of all 24, as well as transcripts and audio files can be found on the Harbord Village Residents' Association's website.

The Doctors' Parkette
15 Brunswick Avenue
The Doctor's Parkette is a welcoming space to sit while enjoying a snack from one of the many nearby shops. The space was named in 2017 to acknowledge the medical history of the community, including the Doctors' Hospital founded by the Raxlen brothers to serve all residents regardless of background, culture or religion. The light and dark grey cobblestone that lines the park in a waved design was imported from Portugal as a nod to the neighbourhood's large Portuguese population. This space is best enjoyed at night, with bright beacons of light and a stone wall, which lights up in red and pink.

First Nations House
563 Spadina Avenue
In 1982 Dean Lowery, who was a part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto at the time, had asked a critical and yet obvious question: why are there very few Indigenous students attending U of T? Considering this question, Lowry put together a committee with the mandate of identifying the needs of Indigenous peoples to make post-secondary education more accessible. In 1983, a workshop held by the committee was attended by a diverse range of community members and those from the school that made recommendations that would increase Indigenous participation at the university level. The following year, Health and Welfare Canada proposed that universities fund and deliver programming to increase Indigenous participation in the professional health field. This spurred several other initiatives that, along with the work of the Native Students Association and Diane Longboat at U of T, eventually led in 1992 to the creation of First Nations House, a setting specific to Indigenous needs and wants that would embody community and promote cultural life ways for Indigenous students.

John P. Robarts Library
130 Saint George Street
The John P. Robarts Research Library is named for John Robarts, the 17th Premier of Ontario. More colloquially known as 'Robarts', the library has also earned the nicknames 'Fort Book', 'The Peacock' or 'The Turkey' due to its distinctive shape when viewed from the south corner of St. George & Harbord. The building is one of the most prominent examples of brutalist and futurist architecture in Ontario. Completed in 1973, the 14 storey library occupies over 860,000 square feet and contains nearly 10 million individual items. The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the front of the building contains the largest collection of rare books and manuscripts in Canada. The labyrinthine form of the building is thought to have inspired the secret library in Umberto Eco's 'In the Name of the Rose'. Robarts has also stood in for various film and television locations, including as a prison in 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' and 'Sliders', as a UFO in 'Starship Invasion', and as a hospital in 'Friends' and 'Crossing Jordan'.

Explore University

Now is the time for residents to experience all that tourists have been raving about for years. Discover shops, stops, places and spaces on city main streets. Stay curious, Toronto.

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Don't Miss

Artists from various disciplines present messages of hope and resilience throughout the city in the form of text-based visual art installations.
Hiba Abdallah
Toronto Public Library -​ Lilian H. Smith Branch
239 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1R5

Check out main street storefront art installations, in the neighbourhood or nearby, created by Local Arts Organizations and Business Improvement Areas across the City.

Painting Icon StrollTO Guided Walks:

On select weekend dates, join guided walks and discover the diverse histories and cultural significance behind neighbourhood landmarks and attractions.
Learn more and register.

We hope that you enjoyed exploring this Toronto neighbourhood and found many other points of interest along the way. While StrollTO highlights some of the 'hidden gems' in the neighbourhood, there may be others that could be included in a future edition. Would you like to share a point of interest that you discovered in the neighbourhood? Email us at [email protected].

Neighbourhood Stroll

While the University of Toronto campus does encompass a wide swath of the neighbourhood, there is history, art, and curiosities throughout. Stroll through the Harbord Street, Bloor Annex, and Mirvish Village BIAs on Bloor Street West, Harbord Street, College Street, and Bathurst Street to visit some unique places, shops and restaurants. Wander through the side streets to find interactive art and green spaces in the midst of the city.

Main Streets: Bloor Street West, Harbord Street, College Street, Bathurst Street, Spadina Avenue
  1. Philosopher's Walk
    78 Queen's Park Crescent West
    Tucked between the Royal Ontario Museum and the Royal Conservatory of Music, you will find Philosopher's Walk. The green oasis follows along the route that Taddle Creek once took. At the north end of the path sits the imposing Alexandra Gates. Originally built in 1901 and situated at Bloor and Avenue Road - and moved to their current location in 1960 - the gates commemorated the visit of Prince George and the Duchess of Cornwall. At the south end on Hoskins Avenue, the Bennett Gates were built in 2006 in honor of Avie Bennett, who donated 75 percent of his shares in a publishing firm to the University of Toronto. The small Philosopher's Walk Amphitheatre was added in the early 2010s.
  2. Royal Ontario Museum
    100 Queens Park
    The Royal Ontario Museum, a collaborative project by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto, first opened to the public in 1914. Demand for space quickly outstripped the space available in the original brick and terracotta building on Bloor Street. Additions in the 1930s, 1980s, and 2000s expanded the footprint of the museum to what we see today. The diverse collections include everything from dinosaurs to dresses, and ranks among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America. Margaret Atwood's 'Life Before Man' was set in the museum, and several film and televisions shows have made use of the building, from the children's show 'Zoboomafoo' to sci-fi thriller 'Fringe'.
  3. Royal Conservatory of Music
    273 Bloor Street West
    McMaster Hall was built in 1881 to house the Toronto Baptist College (which would later become McMaster University) and was designed by Henry Langley & Edmund Burke. Their work can be seen throughout Toronto. The hall was sold to the University of Toronto in 1930 when McMaster relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. The music school was founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music by Edward Fisher. In 1947, King George VI awarded the conservatory its royal charter, and officially became The Royal Conservatory of Music. The school relocated to its current location in 1962, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995. The certificate program runs around the world, and oversees thousands of exams yearly. Alumni include Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, and countless other musical icons. This site was used for filming of the 'Umbrella Academy', 'Nikita', and 'Mary Kills People'.
  4. Bata Shoe Museum
    327 Bloor Street West
    The Bata family began making shoes in the Czech Republic in the late 1800s. The small family business grew, and in the 1940s, Thomas and Sonja Bata moved to Toronto to oversee the expansion into the North American market. Sonja Bata had collected shoes for many years, and by 1979, her collection had outgrown its home. The creation of the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation allowed for the research and collection of footwear from around the globe. The museum, created by Moriyama and Teshima Architects, was designed to look like a shoe box with its lid. The angled walls made of ochre limestone were given a texture and sheen mimicking the raw leather commonly used in shoemaking.
  5. Matt Cohen Park & The Spadina Expressway
    725 Spadina Avenue
    The small park at the corner of Bloor and Spadina is named for author Matt Cohen, who called this area where he spent so much time 'the centre of the universe'. Cohen wrote adult fiction under his own name, and a series of children's books under the pseudonym Teddy Jam. His last novel, 'Elizabeth and After', won the 1999 Governor General's Award just prior to his death that year. Excerpts from his works can be found in the park. Also in the park are Susan Schelle and Mark Gomes' oversized domino pieces sculpture, installed in the park in 1997. Tour through the park to read the Heritage Toronto plaques describing how the Spadina Expressway, part of a massive superhighway system intended to travel through this part of the city, was shaped, started and scrapped.
  6. Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNjcc)
    750 Spadina Avenue
    In 1953, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) opened its brand new doors at Spadina and Bloor. Previously, the Young Men and Young Women's Hebrew Association was centered on Brunswick Avenue with several buildings providing services to the community. The new facility offered space, but by the late 1990s, the building was showing its age. The decision was made to renovate instead of closing, and in 2004 the newly refurbished Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNjcc) reopened with a state-of-the-art fitness & aquatic centre, new 263 seat accessible theatre, studios, offices and multipurpose spaces. The MNjcc offers arts, cultural and Jewish community programming, and is open to people of all abilities, cultures, genders and sexual identities.
  7. The Former Brunswick 'Brunny' House
    481 Bloor Street West
    When Benjamin Hinchcliffe first opened his tavern in the 1870s, it was a roughcast plaster building, nothing like the classical brick building that has stood here since 1908. Brunswick House was purchased in the 1960s by the Nightingales, who ushered in the era of cheap beer (they were said to have sold more beer than any other establishment in Ontario!), pickle eating contests and other shenanigans. By the 1970s and 80s, the upstairs hall was well known for its musical performances, hosting the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, and k. d. lang. In 1974, four lesbian feminists changed the lyrics to a song during open mic night. The Brunswick Four, Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth were asked to leave, refused, and were arrested. The media coverage of the event was one of the first instances that a LGBTQ2S+ issue received extensive press coverage in Canada. 'The Brunny' closed its doors in 2016 after over 140 years.
  8. 'The Band of Storytellers' Interactive Mural
    297 Brunswick Avenue (at the corner of Brunswick Avenue & Leah Cohen Lane)
    This mural by Ottawa-based artist Komi Olaf is painted on the side of the former Brunswick House to pay homage to Albert's Hall (which was located on the second floor). Many great blues and jazz musicians played at Albert's Hall including Cab Calloway, Oscar Peterson, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Jeff Healey. The coolest thing about this mural? Walk up to the piano keys and point your smartphone towards one. The keys are embedded with interactive near field communication chip (NFC) tech so you can learn more about the blues, the building, and the people who played there. Learn more by holding your smartphone up to read the chip. Keep your eyes peeled for other murals and art installations as you stroll through the neighbourhood.
  9. Lee's Palace
    529 Bloor Street West
    Walking along Bloor Street, you'll no doubt notice Lee's Palace with its detailed cartoon mural by Al Runt bursting with colour. From starting as a shoemaker's shop in the early 1900s and evolving to become the landmark for alternative rock music in the Annex, the building also operated as a bank, and a cinema. In 1985, the building was purchased by Korean-Canadian entrepreneur, Chong Su Lee, who transformed it into the live music venue it is today. Lee's Palace has famously hosted Nirvana, Oasis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (each of which were the bands' first Toronto shows!).
  10. A Different Booklist Cultural Centre (ADBCC) - The People's Residence
    777-779 Bathurst Street
    Once a small independent bookstore, A Different Booklist Cultural Centre (ADBCC) The People's Residence has evolved far past that original designation. The ADBCC is a non-profit community hub and destination that proves opportunities to experience the culture and history of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry. The ADBCC engages the public to learn about these stories through literature, music, drama, dance and visual arts. Fostering intergenerational and youth led programming and leadership, the ADBCC documents neighbourhood history and promotes community well-being.
  11. Samuel Richardson Way (at Central Technical School)
    725 Bathurst Street
    In 1934, 17 year old Sam Richardson competed in the British Empire Games, winning a gold and silver medal despite his age. Joining the Canadian Olympic Team, Richardson took to the world stage at the 1936 Berlin Olympiad in Nazi Germany. Along with other black athletes such as American sprinter Jesse Owens and fellow Team Canada captain Dr. Phil Edwards, Richardson proved that athletes could perform at the highest level of skill and ability regardless of the colour of their skin. In honour of his accomplishments, his high school alma mater renamed the laneway between the school and the running track Sam Richardson Way. Signs were installed in 2018, along with a plaque. Other alumni of Central Technical School include Lawren Harris (painter), Michael Smith (decathlete), and Sydney Newman (television producer), among others. The school was used for the filming of 'Good Will Hunting'.
  12. Harbord Village Residents' Association Walk
    213 Brunswick Avenue
    Look a little closer while wandering this neighbourhood's side streets to find several QR codes that link to powerful stories about this area's past. Launched by the Harbord Village Residents' Association in 2013, this oral history project includes interviews of over one hundred present or former residents of the Harbord Village, remembering the neighbourhood from the 1930s to 1980. To listen, scan the QR code with a cellphone camera. The first stop on the walking tour tells the story of Albert Jackson, Toronto's first Black postal worker, and his family. A map of all 24, as well as transcripts and audio files can be found on the Harbord Village Residents' Association's website.
  13. The Doctors' Parkette
    15 Brunswick Avenue
    The Doctor's Parkette is a welcoming space to sit while enjoying a snack from one of the many nearby shops. The space was named in 2017 to acknowledge the medical history of the community, including the Doctors' Hospital founded by the Raxlen brothers to serve all residents regardless of background, culture or religion. The light and dark grey cobblestone that lines the park in a waved design was imported from Portugal as a nod to the neighbourhood's large Portuguese population. This space is best enjoyed at night, with bright beacons of light and a stone wall, which lights up in red and pink.
  14. First Nations House
    563 Spadina Avenue
    In 1982 Dean Lowery, who was a part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto at the time, had asked a critical and yet obvious question: why are there very few Indigenous students attending U of T? Considering this question, Lowry put together a committee with the mandate of identifying the needs of Indigenous peoples to make post-secondary education more accessible. In 1983, a workshop held by the committee was attended by a diverse range of community members and those from the school that made recommendations that would increase Indigenous participation at the university level. The following year, Health and Welfare Canada proposed that universities fund and deliver programming to increase Indigenous participation in the professional health field. This spurred several other initiatives that, along with the work of the Native Students Association and Diane Longboat at U of T, eventually led in 1992 to the creation of First Nations House, a setting specific to Indigenous needs and wants that would embody community and promote cultural life ways for Indigenous students.
  15. John P. Robarts Library
    130 Saint George Street
    The John P. Robarts Research Library is named for John Robarts, the 17th Premier of Ontario. More colloquially known as 'Robarts', the library has also earned the nicknames 'Fort Book', 'The Peacock' or 'The Turkey' due to its distinctive shape when viewed from the south corner of St. George & Harbord. The building is one of the most prominent examples of brutalist and futurist architecture in Ontario. Completed in 1973, the 14 storey library occupies over 860,000 square feet and contains nearly 10 million individual items. The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the front of the building contains the largest collection of rare books and manuscripts in Canada. The labyrinthine form of the building is thought to have inspired the secret library in Umberto Eco's 'In the Name of the Rose'. Robarts has also stood in for various film and television locations, including as a prison in 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' and 'Sliders', as a UFO in 'Starship Invasion', and as a hospital in 'Friends' and 'Crossing Jordan'.

Accessibility information: All locations are visible from the sidewalk. Philosopher's Walk is a paved path with some uneven sections.

Soundtracks of the City

From global superstars to local favourites and ones to watch, the Soundtracks of the City playlists all feature artists who have called Toronto home. Whether it’s a lyric about the neighborhood, an artist representing a cultural community, or a tie-in to the StrollTO itinerary itself, all the music reflects connections to an individual ward or the City as a whole.

Music was chosen based on an artist’s Spotify presence and each song’s broad appeal, as well as its associations with the cultures, languages and ethnicities that reflect Toronto’s neighborhoods and diverse music scene. Soundtracks of the City combines 425 songs that feature more than 500 different local artists or acts, showcasing songs in 23 different languages.