What I Learned During Doors Open Toronto
Humber College Lakeshore Campus
Hot off the heels of my supernatural experience in Ireland the week before, I decided to dive into the paranormal world again. So I called my friend Meaghan and asked her to accompany me to a tour of Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus or as we called it the whole time “The Former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.”
As many of you may know from reading my posts on Humber College the campus is rumoured to be extremely haunted because of all the American Horror Story Asylum like things that went down on the campus during its time as a psych ward (suicides, still born children and lobotomies) – read the original post at the end for more details. Now back to what I learned during Doors Open.
The tour started in a place I never thought I’d ever return to – a classroom. Oh how I will never escape school! However, it was worth it because we got to go into the tunnels of the former Psychiatric Hospital. These tunnels are currently closed off to the public and even the students and staff at Humber College, but leave it to Doors Open to allow us to go underneath the Etobicoke establishment. The tunnels themself were truly epic. At the beginning you don’t think much of them, because the piping that covers the ceiling makes it look like the boiler area of a factory. However, as you descend further in to the tunnels you start to notice the hemispheric brick roof. As you walk further down you begin to notice rust spots on the walls. When asked about the rusting on the walls our tour guide said they represented were spots where patients would be shackled.
While in the tunnels our tour guide decided to take us to this room where a patient painted mural was located. Now before we entered the room Meaghan and I experienced something paranormal. I was telling her about my freaky experience during my tour of the Hell Fire Club in Dublin when all of a sudden a piece of the door fell right next to us! Creepy! However, I digress as usual.
We exited the tunnel and had a tour of one of the cottages and saw a former room that would have been lined up with cots for patients. The room today is lined up with desks and is served like a classroom – so very similar. Our tour guide also pointed out how the administration offices in the building were once used for solitary confinement and that when Humber got control of the building these rooms still had there padded walls.
We then went outside to visit to G Building which was once used as a morgue. The building is closed because it has a large amount of mold and asbestos, which will cost $2 million dollars to remove. However, the building is being finalized for a huge restoration in the coming years. The building was creepy, since it was abandoned, and the gargoyles did not look welcoming.
From my paranormal experience to walking the same grounds where my great-grandfather worked when the campus was a Psychiatric Ward, I truly had a great experience.
That is what I learned at and why I love Doors Open Toronto.
What I Learned From Doors Open Toronto
The longest line I have ever had to wait in for a Doors Open tour was at the Dineen Building this past Sunday. However, I will admit that every minute I waited to tour the heritage property was worth it. As I mentioned in the original Dineen Building post (which is linked below), I was really happy when I found out the building was set to be restored and even happier with the outcome of it.
After years of neglect the building was in a state of despair and became an eyesore on the corner of Yonge and Temperance. The intense restoration project which took place last year saw the building completely hidden so that workers could sand blast the grime and tear down the dry wall inside. Well behind all that grime on the exterior was this beautiful coloured brick and behind that dry wall some very interesting and beautiful pieces that were hidden by those rotten tenants over the years.
This is the first year the building has participated in Doors Open and it was one of the best tours I have been to out of all my years participating in the event. The tour explored not only the history of the Dineen building, but the past and future of the Yonge and Temperance area.
I entered the building through Temperance Street where over the entrance way is a copper sign that says DINEEN BLDG. Upon entering the building I was immediately amazed by the former directories of the building which were all done by hand. On the left side there was a fully restored directory and on the right was a directory the owner decided to leave in the condition in which it was found after the drywall was torn down. Furthermore, the ceiling and the arch above the entrance way allowed my imagination to run wild as to what the building may have looked like when it was built in 1897.
To start the tour we were taken downstairs to the lounge, which had a rough, yet beautiful exposed stone wall. The tour then officially started on the third floor where I learned some amazing things about the area and how buildings were built in 1897. The building was originally the Dineen Hat and Fur Company, which at the time was located in the old fashion district of Toronto across from a shopping plaza which is now long gone. Our tour guide then told us how at the time if you wanted to build a building you would literally attach yourself to the exterior of the building right next door. I of course thought she was over exaggerating until I saw a former billboard for Kent Jewelers. I was amazed that the former billboard was in such great shape and it turns out that the dry wall that was put up helped preserve the billboard.
As we descended down the hall of the third floor we were shown one of six safes that were also found hidden behind dry wall. The safe we saw was truly extraordinary. I must also mention a legend about hidden money and treasure that may have been stashed in the building after a heist nearby. Now many people who worked on the restoration of the heritage site claim that it may be in this safe simply because the combination lock is the only one missing of the six safes. Speaking of safes, as we made our way back downstairs the tour guide had pointed out another safe that most likely was used to hold money.
What was most interesting however, was the mention of the building facing south of the Dineen building. The building whose exterior on Temperance has been completely gutted is going through an intense restoration project in which the building façade on Adelaide is being restored and relocated to Temperance. Eventually the plan is to turn Temperance Street from Yonge to Bay into a public space closed off to traffic and completely cover with cobble stone. This truly could be the most exciting project of the year!
That is what I learned at and why I love Doors Open Toronto.
Original Why I Love Toronto Post
Happy Doors Open Toronto
I have to work today - boo - but I will be able to do the Humber College Tours before I must seek things.
Tomorrow I’ll be doing my list!
P.S. Message me if you lean anything interesting or tweet and Instagram me (@whyilovetoronto) with the hash tag #DoorsOpen13
Why I Love Toronto
Wheat Sheaf Tavern
Known as one of Toronto’s oldest bars the Wheat Sheaf Tavern opened in 1849 and quickly became a popular bar for soldiers. The tavern is known for its mystery, architecture and the fact that it was a men’s only establishment until 1969!
Being the geek I am I have to acknowledge the architecture of the building, which is truly haunting. The black roof makes it look like a haunted mansion and the brick (both inside and out) give it such a historical and aged feeling. However, that was before the building was restored. In fact, in one of the photos (with the citation that says City of Toronto Archives) the building actually had a white exterior. I’ll be honest I don’t know what it is with painting buildings white (take my favourite house at 31 Sussex Ave. as an example), but I think it takes away from the buildings character. However I will admit the tallest point on the roof facing North East looks stunning with that black accent. Furthermore, the window that is there is especially creepy and looks like the perfect place for a ghost to be looking out. Luckily there have been no reported hauntings.
Now as I teased earlier there is a mystery to this building that dates back to the soldiers at Fort York. There seems to be a myth that there is a tunnel that connects Fort York to the tavern and was dug out by the soldier so that they could escape and have a drink. Even though this myth has been popular for years many online publications don’t believe the story. In fact one report says if there were tunnels it would be where the woman’s bathroom is today. However, historians who study Fort York will tell you that the soldiers were given rations of beer and spirits daily. Plus it’s not like they’d meet any woman because the bar was segregated. So what would be the point? Regardless, it is such a believable story that when I told my uncle I was going to the Tavern he sat me down and said, “now if you stumble upon a hidden tunnel, call me ASAP.”
Regardless of the tunnel myth, Wheat Sheaf Tavern is great hangout place, especially if you are watching sports. It’s in a great area of the city and it truly is a historical gem. Oh yeah and it’s
Why I Love Toronto.
Why I Love Toronto
Alumnae Theatre (Former Fire Hall No. 4)
I love my office job because on some days I get to go on adventures! In my retail jobs the only real adventure you could take was to the bank to get coin for the registers. Anyways one day my adventures took me to the east end of Toronto to a box office, where I had to pick up tickets for my co-workers so they could attend a gala the next night. After I had picked up the tickets I was to assist someone with moving a prop a bit further east. I had gotten to my first destination rather quickly and decided to explore the area while I waited for my ride to the next place. As I was walking I noticed what looked like an old fire hall. As I turned the corner I noticed that it was a fire hall that has been converted into the Alumnae Theatre.
Before I discuss the current tenant of the building, let me tell you a bit about the buildings days as a fire hall. The Edwardian Classical fire hall was designed by A. Frank Wickson (who didn’t do many building in Toronto). The building was a rebuild of an existing fire hall that once stood on the same property. Mostly known for its architectural features the building is noted for its arched gables, contrasts in brick and stone and that beautiful second storey window. My favourite feature would be the isoclines tower which is where the hoses were dried as well as the brick detailing around the second storey window, which has similarities to my dream house on Sussex Ave. Today much of the exterior is the same however the interior underwent a major renovation in 1972 by Ron Thom whose task was to convert the fire hall into the Alumnae Theatre. One of the major changes to the exterior was the elimination of the former garage doors which today are two large windows that allow you to peer into the theatres facility.
But what is the Alumnae Theatre? Well it was a club formed in 1919 by female graduates of the University of Toronto, in which the club was once affiliated with. The mission of Alumnae still remains relatively the same as it did in 1919 with just one major change. Many people in 1919 did not get the chance to see theatre because it was not as readily available and therefore, it became the Alumnae’s mission to bring theatre to Toronto by staging club premieres of famous plays. Today of course we know that theatre is thriving in the city with major theatre houses owned by the Mirvish Family and little ones like the Alumnae Theatre. Other parts of their mission statements which have been maintained since their inception include presenting the best in classic and contemporary plays and to provide women with the opportunity to be in theatre.
I have to say the one reason I love this facility is because two pieces of Toronto’s history have collided. The first is an architectural history and the second is a cultural one. Together their story is
Why I Love Toronto
Related Why I Love Toronto Posts:
- 31 Sussex Ave.
- Bathurst Theatre
- Clock Tower Fire Hall #3
- CNE Fire Hall
- Ed Mirvish Theatre
- Fire Hall #17
- Kensington Market Fire Hall
- Lower Ossington Theatre
- Royal Alexandra Theatre
- Winter Garden / Elgin Theatre
- Yorkville Fire Hall
- Image 1-3 by me
- Image 4
- Image 5 by me
Why I Love Toronto
The Great Hall
The Etobicoke School of the Arts semi-formals - I will never forget them. The girls were all decked out in dresses and skipped school to get their hair and make-up done, while the guys would iron their dress shirt and pick out a tie to wear for a night of dancing and small finger foods. Yes, semi-formal was the prom for us in Grade 9, 10 and 11.
Anyways, for my grade 9 and 11 years we went to The Great Hall for semi-formal and what a treat! The building was a stunning piece of architecture and even I realized that when I first saw it in Grade 9 and trust me architecture was not my main interest (it was reading the latest J14 magazine – how I have grown up). With its aging exterior, bay windows and orange/red bricks this building is a viewing pleasure on Queen Street West.
Erected in 1889 the building was designed by Gordon and Helliwell and built by Samuel J. Moore. Now the buildings original intent was a rather interesting one for it housed the first west end YMCA. Now compared to the YMCA’s I’ve seen today I couldn’t believe it, but don’t forget back in the day things were different and grand architectural spectacles were all the rage instead of these glass modern day boxes we have today. The building had a swimming pool in the basement (which is now a place for concerts) along with a gym that had an elevated track which Boston Marathon winner Tom Longboat trained on. Another cool fact is that The Great Hall was the place where some of the earliest basketball games were played.
The Great Hall eventually became a place of business when it was purchased by the Royal Templars of Temperance in 1912. Later it was home to the Polish National Union who used the building to print The Polish Voice newspaper and house Polish refugees coming to Canada during the second world war.
Now the main hall, called The Hall in which our semi-formal was hosted in, must have been the gym because above the hall is a balcony that looks as though it could have been used as a track. I just find it so fascinating that the building has gone through such a transition from a YMCA to offices to a home for Polish refugees to a bunch of other things in between and finally a venue for special events and concerts. This building has truly lived its life.
That is Why I Love Toronto
- Image 1
- Image 2 (The Great Hall website site above)
Dating on a Budget: The University Students Guide to Dating in Toronto
Toronto has so many amazing, unique and diverse neighbourhoods that are great for dates! Each Toronto Neighbourhood has a specific charm to them and it is because of that, that a simple neighbourhood walk can be a great date option. Below of three of things that could you do on your neighbourhood walk. .
There are just some many things to discover and experience in Toronto. For example, if you are an architecture lover then I suggest exploring the Annex which has homes that vary in styles such as Victorian, Queen Anne, English Cottage, Georgian, Tudor and Richardsonian Romanesque. Maybe you would like to see some posh homes like in the Bridle Path, Forest Hill. If you are more into the architecture of the Annex then you must hit up Parkdale for some of the most stunning buildings.
Personally there is this one house located in the South Annex where I took a date once after we had a little architecture walk. The home was abandoned and I took her up to the steps and we sat there as U of T students passed by getting ready for a night out. This house is my favourite make-out spot because of its creepy style and beautiful bay windows.
Food and Culture:
If you two are food lovers, then may I suggest in the summer visiting some of the street festivals that many of Toronto’s Neighbourhoods host? Try some cuisine from Italy, Poland or Greece with festivals such as Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy or the Polish Festival. Many of these communities will have some great food tasting options for cheap. It is at these festivals that vendors will stand outside their restaurant to give you a sample tasting of what they have inside with the hopes you’ll make a full meal out of it. I personally love grabbing some pasta and gelato when I’m at The Taste of Little Italy. The other great part is that there is live entertainment. I remember at the Polish Festival there was this band playing to a crowd of dancing teenagers, adults and older folks. These couples were dancing underneath the stars and you could tell by their faces that it was a great date night. One of my best dates was at Salsa on St. Clair and it was because my date thought it would be unique and romantic to experience something different together –and it was. I think her favourite part was seeing me whisked away by some elderly lady and dancing with her.
Another awesome option for you food lovers is Kensington Market. Kensington has every type of food known to man. Want to have a pie? Then share a pie from Wanda’s Pie in The Sky! Grilled Cheese…yep they have a shop dedicated to it! Feeling a Spanish mood and maybe want some empanada’s? Well that’s covered as well! They also have a bunch of small convenience stores where you can buy some fruit to have a small spontaneous picnic.
Window Shopping/ Looking:
There is nothing like walking through one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods main streets and peering into the windows. I love walking through The Junction because they just have some odd shops, my favourite being the appliance store that has washers from when my grandmother came to Canada. When Dasha and I saw that store we stood there for at least 10 minutes pointing things out and laughing at what was stylish back then.
Parkdale is great area for antique window shopping, whereas Kensington is great for thrift shopping and where I believe a romantic montage could occur. The best part about a lot of the places is that you can probably find yourself a cheap deal on something and give it to your date as a romantic souvenir.
There are just so many things to be found in Toronto and a neighbourhood walk is great date for there is guaranteed to be something to always talk about, from that vintage store to that houses architecture to a mural.
Planning a neighbourhood date can also create some excitement for the day. Instead of saying “Let’s go grab a Starbucks,” try saying “Let’s go grab a coffee somewhere in Cabbagetown.” Sure there may still be a Starbucks you end up at, but think of the adventure you could have by just saying coffee and the neighbourhood. The date won’t know what to expect and it will leave a little mystery. You could walking for a while before deciding what coffee shop to go to! For mystery and endless conversation, the neighbourhood walk is a great cheap date options.
That is how to Date on a Budget in Toronto.
Related Why I Love Toronto Posts
- El Gordo’s Fine Food
- Kensington Market
- Little Italy
- Salsa on St. Clair
- Wanda’s Pie in The Sky