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    One of Toronto's most significant historical buildings, right by Union Station, might soon have two giant rental towers sitting on top of it. 

    One Front, as the project is called, is a new proposal from Vancouver-based developer Larco Investments looking to add a pair of 45-and 49-storey towers to the top of the Dominion Public Building, the old customs house that curves along Front Street between Yonge and Bay. 

    Covering two acres of land, the Beaux Arts building at 1 Front Street West went up for sale early last year and was bought by Larco for a whopping $275.1 million shortly thereafter. 

    If Larco's plans get approved by the city, the Dominion Public Building— which was built between 1929 and 1931 — will get some serious changes, namely two rental towers jutting out of the podium in the building's east side designed by architectsAlliance

    dominion public building toronto

    One Front designed by Larco Investments plans to add two rental towers atop the Dominion Public Building. Photo from Urban Toronto/One Front. 

    Of the 836 units available, 424 will be one-bedrooms, 208 will be two-bedrooms, 84 will serve as three-bedroom and 120 will be studios units. 

    As for the podium itself, the heritage-protected facade will remain mostly untouched save for some new doors. Inside, however, the Canada Revenue Agency offices that currently sit there will have to make way for some serious changes. 

    Aside from the 8,986 square metres-worth of dedicated retail and restaurant space, there are also plans for a new 251-room boutique hotel that will take over the second-to-fourth floors of the building. Which brand of hotel that will be has yet to be announced.

    The"Long Room" in the building's east pavilion and other marble features will remain untouched, but its original second floor full of ornamental brass railings will be destroyed completely to create taller ceilings for the main level. 

    The flat rooftop is intended to house a hotel restaurant, bar, and green roof, while the fifth floor of the podium will be turned into amenities for residents of the rental towers. 

    While the grey-and-white renderings for the Dominion Public Building are still in their preliminary stages, it should be noted that Larco was recently criticized for its proposed redesign of Ottawa's heritage hotel Fairmont Chateau Laurier.


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    Would you choose to save three minutes of precious time on an otherwise pull-your-hair-out-busy day if it meant risking your safety a little bit?

    It's a choice OCAD students are faced with every day when hurrying between the university's main academic campus on McCaul Street and its fast-expanding network of buildings south of Queen Street West.

    Fortunately, it won't be like this for long. Toronto City Council has approved of a motion to install traffic control signals at the intersection of Queen and McCaul, where currently, nobody ever knows what the heck is going on.

    queen and mccaulWhile most notorious for construction-related woes, Queen and McCaul is also known for people running across the street, in every direction, often through vehicle traffic.

    There isn't even a stop sign on the corner right now, which makes things confusing for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike.

    With roughly 4,500 students now attending OCAD University — and nine buildings stretching from Dundas and McCaul to Richmond and Duncan — this is particularly problematic.queen and mccaul toronto

    "We now house the majority of our student services – including Admissions, Financial Aid and our Health and Wellness Centre – at our 230 Richmond St. W. building, and hold regular classes in our building at 205 Richmond," reads a letter penned late last month by OCAD Vice-Provost Deanne Fisher.

    "This means that hundreds of students traverse Queen Street daily as they move between our main academic building at 100 McCaul and the Richmond St. locations," she continues.

    "Students are busy people. They are often stressed, distracted or carrying large projects. While many walk to the corner of Queen and St. Patrick, where there is a traffic signal, and then back to Duncan, many do not."

    queen and mccaul toronto

    That letter was one of 38 from OCAD staff, students and faculty members that prompted the Toronto and East York Community Council, and then more recently Toronto City Council, to approve the installation of traffic lights.

    It has yet to be announced when the lights will be installed, but OCAD is already celebrating a victory.

    "A new traffic signal at Queen and McCaul will improve safety for hundreds of members of our community who traverse this stretch daily,"  said President and Chancellor Sara Diamond in a news release on the school's website Tuesday.

    "We will continue to work with the City to see the installation happen as quickly as possible."


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    The old Zimmerman's grocery store at 241 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market is set to get a new lease on life this August when it transforms into an immersive, art-filled funhouse.

    But after reports surfaced that the whole thing might be just a tease for a sprawling Universal Music Canada backed bar called Liquor Donuts local residents quickly registered their objections with the city.

    In the latest episode of the Only in Toronto podcast we speak to the people behind the bold projects to try to get to the nitty-gritty of it all. 

    Background information on this episode:

    Articles referenced in this episode include:

    Ways to subscribe to the Only in Toronto podcast.

    You can also listen to the Only in Toronto podcast on Alexa. Just ask Alexa to play the podcast Only in Toronto.


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    If the prospect of a messy, painful death doesn't scare you enough to stop jumping out of moving cars for the 'gram, please turn your focus to the east for a moment.

    Bloomberg reports this week that the Egyptian government is warning citizens against doing the popular #InMyFeelings dance (or Kiki challenge, as its sometimes called) on local roads.

    It's fine to do the dance for fun, says Egypt's Interior Ministry, but obstructing traffic with it could land you a hefty fine — plus a full year in prison. If the act results in injury or death, the penalties could be much worse.

    Based on a song from Drake's latest album, the dance challenge involves having someone film you performing a series of cute hand gestures while walking next to a moving vehicle.

    The resulting product is truly delightful, in some cases, but the act of making these videos can be dangerous.

    A Florida man was hit by a car just yesterday while trying to do the Kiki challenge and, in the few weeks since this thing became hip with the teens, dozens (if not hundreds) more have been hit by cars, fallen out of cars, crashed into poles and even been mugged while trying to look cool for the internet.

    Earlier this month, a 16-year-old girl in Iowa had to be airlifted to hospital with a fractured skull, blood clots in her ear and bleeding in her brain after attempting to do the challenge.

    Local news outlet WGNTV reports that she is now re-learning how to walk after spending a week in the ICU.

    Meanwhile, law enforcement officials all over the world are speaking out against the act of jumping from moving cars to dance alongside them. 

    In Spain, police are threatening criminal charges. In Abu Dhabi, they've gone so far as to arrest three "social media influencers" for endangering lives by encouraging the trend.

    Maybe it would be best to leave the Kiki Challenge to animals from now on. They do seem a lot better at it than human teenagers.

    Hey, we'll always have Tide Pods.


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    City Council voted unanimously today to rename the Regent Park Aquatic Centre after the late city councillor Pam McConnell. 

    The longtime city councillor and former deputy mayor died at the age of 71 last year. Council saw it fitting to name the aquatic facility after McConnell, who, among many things, was an essential proponent of the city's poverty-reduction strategy. 

    She was also a longtime resident of Regent Park, and was one of the people who advocated for the construction of the Aquatic Centre. 

    Built in 2012, the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre is one of the best public indoor swimming facilities in the city with several pools, gender-neutral change rooms, a Tarzan rope, and tons of community programming. Plus, it's open year-round.


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    Cannabis is set to be legalized country-wide by mid-October, but there might be some delays. 

    Since Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced sales would no longer be controlled by the LCBO, as was originally planned, experts are saying rollout might take longer than expected.

    "We still need to get exact details but ... given the tight deadline for Oct. 17 for cannabis legalization it might be the case consumers will need to buy online until retail stores can be finalized," said Rod Elliot, senior vice president at Global Public Affairs. 

    However, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli says there is no need to fear, and that stores will be operational by the October 17 legalization date. 

    Along with this update, there are unconfirmed reports that the Ontario Cannabis Store ― the wing of the LCBO that was meant to sell weed under the scrapped public ownership plan ― may remain in the retail business after all. 

    The Ontario Cannabis Store has reportedly been told to continue its hiring process. Some experts believe there may be a public-private hybrid approach to cannabis sales in the province, but nothing has been confirmed or announced by the Ford government.

    If the stores are not in fact operational by then, you can always purchase online!


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    In the market for a piece of history? An Etobicoke bungalow owned by the one of the most notable Torontonians this century to date just hit the market for roughly $2.5 million (which is a steal, really, as far as landmarks go.)

    Yes, it's true, Rob Ford's house is up for sale, and you can live there just like the late politician did during his tenure as Mayor of Toronto and beyond — but you'll have to act fast.

    Ford's three-bedroom home at 223 Edenbridge Drive is already attracting "a fair amount of interest," according to real-estate agent Mike Donia, despite only hitting the market a few days ago.

    Rob Ford House sale

    The foyer of late former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Image via RE/MAX.

    Donia told The Globe this week that he's selling the house on behalf of Ford's widow, Renata Ford, who earlier this year filed a $16.5 million lawsuit against her late husband's brother, current Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

    That lawsuit, filed just days before Doug was elected leader of the province, alleged that he put Renata and her children in a "highly stressful and unfair financial position" during their period of grief following Rob's cancer-related death in March of 2016.

    An informal for sale sign was erected on the lawn of the Etobicoke house in early June, shortly after news of Renata's lawsuit went public, though nothing was listed through MLS and calls to a number on the sign went unreturned.

    Rob Ford House sale

    The kitchen of late former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Image via RE/MAX.

    The public could only speculate, up until now, as to how much the home would be sold for. It had last been assessed at $888,000 as of 2014.

    As of right now, the property is being billed as a "signature address" in a "once in a lifetime location."

    "When only the best will do," reads the RE/MAX listing. "Surrounded by James Gardens on two sides, 80-foot frontage pie shaped lot. Fully reno'd family home with total privacy in backyard."

    Rob Ford House sale

    The backyard of late former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Image via RE/MAX.

    What goes unsaid is the fact that TV crews routinely camped out in front of the house like paparrazi to catch a glimpse of Ford at the height of his "crack video" scandal (among other colourful moments during his tenure as mayor).

    Thanks to Donia and his real estate firm, interested members of the public can now take a virtual 3D tour of the house and experience 223 Edenbridge Drive from beyond the edge of a driveway.

    The white-brick bungalow isn't huge, and it's only got a walk score of 35, but it does have six parking spaces and is said to be in Etobicoke's "absolute best neighbourhood."

    Rob Ford House sale

    One of three bathrooms in the house of late former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Image via RE/MAX.

    Donia told the Globe that he thinks Rob Ford's legacy will add to the home's value, as "a lot of people loved him."

    True say. Showings are by appointment only.


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    What's open and closed on the August civic holiday in Toronto for 2018, otherwise known as Simcoe Day in Ontario, is a bit different than your typical long weekend. On August 6, most of the city remains open so start planning for the day ahead.

    Here's what's open and closed on the August civic holiday in Toronto.

    General
    Closed
    • Government offices
    • Libraries
    • Banks
    • Post offices
    Open
    • The TTC will operate on a holiday schedule.

    civic holiday ontario

    The TTC is operating on a holiday schedule for Simcoe Day. Photo by Jason Cook.

    Food

    Closed
    • It's worth calling ahead to restaurants before heading out — many consider Mondays a day off.
    Open
    • Grocery stores are open citywide, though many will operate on holiday hours. Check online or call for individual store hours.

    Drink

    Open

    civic holiday monday

    Indie bottle shops will be open on Simcoe Day. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Malls

    Open
    • Malls are open citywide, though many will operate on holiday hours. Check online or call for individual hours of operation.

    Attractions

    Open

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    Summer savings are on at the top warehouse sales in Toronto this August. Kitchen Stuff Plus is practically giving it away and there's a massive sale on at the CNE. Swimwear, dresses, shoes and more can be found at these sales—all without the hefty price tag.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Yates & Co. Blowout Sale (August 1-2 @ Yates & Co)
    Designer brands' prices get a slashing at this big summer sale with big savings on Velvet, PJ Salvage, good hYOUman, eberjey, Stark X and more.
    Henkaa Warehouse Sale (August 2 - September 2 @ Henkaa Showroom)
    Gowns, dresses, wedding attire and accessories are all up for grabs at this sale, with savings up to 50 percent off. Arrive early while the pickings are hot!
    Baby Huey Summer Sample Sale (August 9-12 @ Baby Huey)
    Summer is just getting started and everything you need to hit the beach from brands like Hurley, Vissla, Arbor and Cobain is all 50 percent off.
    Haggar Warehouse Sale (August 15-18 @ Haggar Shoes)
    Pick up some fresh new looks for work, school or special occasions with big savings on men's and women's apparel, plus Kenneth Cole shoes.
    Mr.B’s Back to School Skechers Sale (August 16-26 @ Mr.B's)
    Mr.B's got the shoes of all shapes, sizes and styles on sale for two weeks this month just in time for back to school season.
    SaleEvent.ca CNE Warehouse Sale (August 17 - September 3 @ Enercare Centre)
    If you're heading to the CNE, there's a massive sale on, with cosmetics from Revlon and Covergirl, plus apparel and home essentials.
    Kitchen Stuff Plus Warehouse Sale (August 24-27 @ Kitchen Stuff Plus Warehouse)
    Save big on kitchen products, with everything from appliances, furniture, dinnerware, cookware and gadgets up to 90 percent off.

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    The best shakshuka in Toronto perfects this savoury Middle Eastern and North African breakfast staple of runny eggs poached in a red tomato sauce. There are many variations to this hearty dish, but the one constant of eating it is the pleasure of sopping up the eggs and sauce with the bread provided.

    Here is the best shakshuka in Toronto.

    9 - Souk Tabule

    Part of the Tabule family of restaurants, this fast-casual concept in the Canary District is a bakery, cafe and brunch spot all in one. Its shakshuka consists of three local, free-run, omega-3 soft-cooked eggs in a roasted tomato and red pepper sauce, all baked into a pan, served with a scoop of labneh.
    11 - Bacchanal

    An artful, colourful shakshuka is on the daytime menu at this French neo-bistro on Sudbury Street by West Queen West. Poached eggs in a cinnamon-scented tomato sauce with eggplant and crispy chickpeas are begging to be dipped by the crostini (sliced from a house-made baguette) it’s served with.
    5 - Fat Pasha

    Restaurant group Wilder and Rose’s Middle Eastern spot on Dupont Street in the Annex makes its shakshuka with a base of chunky peppers, onion, and tomato topped with two eggs and a sprinkling of halloumi. It’s all served in a sizzling skillet with a couple of pieces of challah toast.
    3 - Aish Tanoor

    This kosher Israeli Middle Eastern restaurant on Eglinton West serves its “stylish” shakshuka (with or without spicy merguez sausage) in an irresistible-looking house-made bread bowl. The dough is risen for two hours before going into the oven. It’s also possible to have shakshuka surrounded by hummus with a freshly made laffa on the side.
    4 - Parallel

    Found on industrial Geary Avenue, this cafe and tahini-making operation offers up a shakshuka made with ripe tomato sauce and two organic eggs that come with a side salad and organic pita. Also available is the option of adding roasted eggplant, goat cheese or roasted bell peppers as extra toppings. There is also “Hammshuka,” a version of shakshuka on house-made hummus.
    6 - Cafe Landwer

    Three kinds of shakshuka can be found on the menu at this Israeli chain’s first North American location at Bathurst & Rutherford in Vaughan. There’s the classic Landwer version; the Mediterranean with parsley, eggplant and feta cheese; or the Halloumi, topped with big hunks of the squeaky cheese plus spinach. All come with a breakfast side salad, tahini, labneh and a choice of white or multigrain bread for dipping.
    10 - The Green Wood

    Focusing on sustainable fare made with local ingredients, this casual brunch joint in Leslieville makes a shakshuka with chickpeas, sour cream and chimichurri in addition to the traditional ingredients. It all comes baked in a skillet pan with pieces of fresh pita.
    7 - Lola's Kitchen

    Two free-range eggs are baked into a roasted tomato and red pepper sauce for the shakshuka at this brunch destination on Church Street just south of Bloor. Accompanied by a choice of salad, frites or Lola’s home fries along with challah toast, there is also the option for the toast to be gluten-free for an extra fee.
    8 - Simit & Chai

    This Turkish bakery on King Street West specializes in the two items that make up its name – Turkish-style bagels and tea – but it also offers shakshuka on its all-day brunch menu. Goat cheese, feta cheese, pastrami or prosciutto are all tasty options that can be added to the pair of poached eggs in spiced tomato sauce.

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    Have you seen a human man riding a large, stereotypically angry bird in midtown Toronto recently? How about not so recently? Because, apparently, this has been happening for at least two years.

    The popular local entertainment brand 6ixBuzzTV posted a viewer-shot video to its Facebook page on Saturday in which someone appears to be riding a full-grown ostrich down the sidewalk along Weston Road.

    While it is possible, although frowned upon, to ride an ostrich, such a thing is highly unusual to see in the middle of a large Canadian city.

    Fortunately for the sake of anyone within a 10 foot radius of the mystery rider (because like, have you met an ostrich?) the bird is fake. A closer inspection of the video suggests that the "ostrich" rider is wearing some sort of costume involving stilts.

    The fact that someone went out for a trot wearing an ostrich suit on Saturday is funny enough on its own, but what makes the story interesting is that this isn't the first time he's been spotted.

    The ostrich rider has come up in social media posts several times between 2016 and now, often in the northern parts of Toronto.

    Footage of the ostrich near St. Clair and Bathurst back in September of 2016 had people suggesting that the man was a professional performer. At the time, Twitter users reported having seen him at the CNE and different street festivals around town.

    Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton wrote in response to one photo on Twitter that the man was wearing a costume from Cirque du Soleil.

    Posts dating back to 2015 suggest that there may also be a female ostrich rider, though her bird is slightly less realistic.

    More recently, the male ostrich rider has been spotted on the streets of Toronto on at least three different days.

    "Tell me I did not see a woman riding an ostrich down weston road," wrote one Twitter user just last night.

    "Yup, saw a man riding an ostrich on Bayview Ave today!" wrote someone else on July 14.

    As can be seen clearly in the photo above, the ostrich isn't real. At all. Still, it's turning heads wherever it goes and leaving a lot of people in the city curious.

    Your days in relative obscurity are over, ostrich rider. Please come forward with your identity at once so that we may all learn what the heck it is you're up to.


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    As the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival draws closer, more and more news about the films set to premiere continues to trickle out.

    This year's list of Canadian feature films has no shortage of new and veteran filmmakers showing works that explore the world around us.

    Of particular note is the late Toronto filmmaker Rob Stewart's film Sharkwater: Extinction. He disappeared early last year during a dive and his body was later recovered off the Florida Keys. The film was his final project. 

    Other films include director Darlene Naponse's exploration into First Nations People in Canada's stories of healing in Falls Around Her and Jennifer Baichwal's virtual reality documentary about human impact on the planet in Anthropocene.

    Denys Arcan's The Fall of the American Empire, Barry Avrich's Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz and Miranda de Pencier's The Grizzlies all offer visual narratives meant to excite and challenge us as viewers.

    More buzzworthy films premiering at this year's festival—on from September 6 to 16—can be found here.


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    The top day trips from Toronto are all about packing in as much fun as possible without spending too much time in the car. The best one-day sojourns require less than two hours driving time each way, which still leaves an astounding number of options for those looking to escape the city.

    Here are my picks for the top day trips from Toronto.

    Pamper yourself at a Scandinavian-stye spa

    Toronto has some pretty fine spa options, but if you want to get away from the city and relax, Scandinave Spa is the ultimate day trip. Because there's a registration system for the baths, it never gets completely overcrowded.

    Nerd out on Toronto's transit history in Milton

    If you think vintage streetcars and and other transit vehicles are cool, the Halton Radial Railway will be a wonderland for you. There's old Peter Witt and PCC streetcars among the host of relics here. You can even ride on the little track they have!

    Do Niagara Falls a bit differently

    It's the ultimate day trip from Toronto, so much so that Niagara Falls has become completely predictable. Shake it up next time you go by really soaking up the kitsch at the Flying Saucer restaurant before doing the zipline or riding around on the Mario-Kart style track.

    Stroll across an epic suspension bridge

    Located on the outskirts of Campbellford in Ferris Provincial Park, the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge is a must-visit destinations. It spans 300 feet above a quick rushing section of the Trent River and offers stunning views of Northumberland County.

    day trips toronto

    The lush valley bellow Dundas Peak. Photo by Mr. Walczak.

    Go for a hike at Dundas Peak

    There are so many places to hike around Toronto, but few are as pretty as Dundas Peak, particularly in the fall. As an added bonus, you can check out some of the spectacular waterfalls in the area.

    Try out rock climbing at Rattlesnake Point

    Rattlesnake Point is a great place to try out rock climbing for the first time, particularly if you don't mind crowds. It can get rather busy here due to its proximity to Toronto, but there are plenty of instructional groups that operate on this cliff. It's also great for hiking.

    Explore the caves of Eramosa

    One of the closest cave systems to Toronto, it'll take around an hour to get to Eramosa Karst. There aren't really the deep caverns that you'll find elsewhere in the province here, but there are so many nooks and crannies that it's a great way to spend a day exploring the time-worn terrain that also features streams and waterfalls.

    Get a dose of culture at the Shaw Festival

    The Shaw Festival is one of the country's premier theatre festivals. Featuring the work of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries, it's been running for over 50 years. With multiple theatres, the dramatic options are robust, while Niagara-on-the-Lake is worth spending some time before and after the play of your choice is done.

    day trips toronto

    The sprawling sandy beach in Cobourg. Photo by Will.

    Spend a day at the beach in Cobourg

    Cobourg has one of the nicest beaches within an hour and half of Toronto. While not really a secret, this is one of those day trips that tends to fly a little bit under the radar compared to other beach getaways. The water is at its best for swimming from mid July to late August.

    Learn about Ontario's craft cider scene

    Ontario's craft cider scene is blowing up, and a perfect little day trip is a visit to Spirit Tree Cidery in the picturesque community of Caledon. There's a bakery and bistro on site, so you can do a tasting and stay for a meal. Check out the new lookout at Cheltenham Badlands while you're nearby.

    Take a lazy cruise down a river

    There are lots of options for tubing near Toronto, but perhaps the best is along the Grand River. You can float down the the water in the Elora Gorge or use access points in Paris and Waterloo for a more laid back experience with less rocks and mini-rapids to navigate.

    day trips toronto

    The vineyards and the view at Thirty Bench Winery. Photo by Derek Flack.

    Get a buzz in wine country

    Toronto's close proximity to Niagara wine country is pure fodder for day trips. Not only is the landscape beautiful from spring through fall, but the tasting experience at most wineries is both educational and fun. Beamsville is a popular destination, but Niagara-on-the-Lake is great as well.

    Go mountain biking at Kelso

    While there might not be a ton of technical trails or obstacles, Kelso is a great place to spend a day mountain biking thanks to the serious climbs up the Niagara Escarpment and gorgeous single track. when you're done riding, hit up the beach for a cooling swim.

    Immerse yourself in Hamilton's art scene

    Did you know that Hamilton has a robust arts scene? You can tour upstart galleries on any given weekend, but for a more memorable trip head over on a Friday for the bi-monthly James Street North Art Crawl, where you'll get a better sense of just how much energy is pumping out this place. You can really spend a whole weekend there.

    day trips toronto

    Some of the best riding in Ontario can be found in Grey County. Photo via Grey County Tourism.

    Test your legs by cycling in Grey County

    There's plenty of great places to ride a road bike in and around Toronto, but if you want to spend a day really testing your mettle, head to the Grey County area around Blue Mountain, where you can sweat it out on climbs like Scenic Caves Drive (be careful of traffic here) and Grey Road 19.

    Take in the quaint delights of Port Perry

    We tend to think of cottage country as being more than two hours of driving from Toronto, but a trip to Lake Scugog won't take that long. Kinsmen Beach is a lovely spot to spend an afternoon, and you can also check out Old Flame Brewing Co. for a tasting and tour.

    Join the party at Wasaga Beach

    Is there beach that's more fun in Ontario? With apologies to Grand Bend, Wasaga is the ultimate beach day trip form Toronto. There will be lots of crowds, of course, but that's part of the fun. The sand is gorgeous and the water warmer than you might think, based on its shallowness near the beach.

    day trips toronto

    The stunning Tews Falls in Hamilton. Photo by Worrawat Engchuan.

    Go waterfall hunting in Hamilton

    The most popular day trip from Toronto might be to that big waterfall you've heard about, but nothing beats a trip to the Hamilton area to hike in and see hidden away gems like Tews, Webster, and Tiffany falls.

    Do a Southern Ontario craft brewery tour

    If you plan your route well, you could easily hit four or five craft breweries around Toronto in a nice loop. Heading west, you might hit Cameron's Brewing Company in Oakville, Nickel Brook in Burlington, Grand River in Cambridge, before heading down to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Silversmith and Oast House.

    Go swimming in a pool that's more like a lake

    Quite possibly the coolest outdoor pool in the Toronto area, Bronte Creek Provincial Park has a 1.8 acre swimming area that holds 5.8 million litres of water. Unlike most swimming pools, you can wade in, which means its kid friendly but also ideal for slowly shaking off a hangover (wear a hat).

    Get lost in Glen Major Forest

    Glen Major has long been on the radar of mountain bikers and hikers. This 1,548 hectare woodland just northeast of Toronto is dotted with challenging trails and feels completely separated from the bustle of this city, despite the fact that it's less than an hour's drive away in low traffic.

    day trips toronto

    A sunny day at Elora Quarry. Photo via Grand River Conservation.

    Go for a swim in an old quarry

    The Elora Quarry is one of the best swimming holes in Ontario, and it's just an hour's drive from Toronto. The crowds flock here on summer weekends, but it's not hard to tell why: on a sunny day the swimming area looks both surreal and serene. Go early to beat the crowds.

    Spend the day on Lake Simcoe

    If you want to ditch the city for a day at the beach, you could do a lot worse than a trip to Sibbald Point Provincial Park, which is about an hour away from Toronto on the south end of Lake Simcoe. There's a sandy beach, ample picnic areas, and hiking trails around the park.

    Go vintage hunting in Aberfoyle

    Aberfoyle is a quaint little town about an hour west of Toronto that's worth visiting for its quaint main street and Mill restaurant, but it's also home to a weekly antique market that hosts over 100 vendors selling various furnishings and knick knacks on Sundays throughout the spring and much of the fall.

    Walk in a lavender field

    The numerous lavender fields a short drive from Toronto have become popular spots to get that Instagram moment, eat some ice cream or even spend the night. Look out for the yellow door.


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    There'll be no need to stock up on booze ahead of this three-day-long weekend in Toronto: Both the LCBO and Beer Store will have plenty of locations open to serve you on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (should you still be raring to go by then.)

    Unlike fancier, more widely-celebrated holiday weekends, the one we're heading into doesn't even have an agreed upon name — and is thus relatively chill in terms of closures.

    Government offices, municipal buildings, banks, libraries and post offices will all be closed on Monday in honour of what most people call either Civic Holiday or Simcoe Day, but you'll still be able to shop and buy six-packs.

    The LCBO announced on its website last week that its stores will be observing regular hours on Saturday August, 4, and Sunday, August 5.

    A total of 420 (seriously) LCBO stores will also be open on Monday, August 6, across the province, but may be operating on holiday hours. You can check the schedule for your local haunts right here.

    The Beer Store, for its part, says that "select retail locations will remain open on Monday August 6th from 11am-6pm."

    More than 20 Beer Store locations in Toronto, a list of which you can see here, will be open for the entire holiday weekend, though, again, holiday hours might apply.

    Enjoy (responsibly)!


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    There's going to be something new and different at the CNE this year, and it looks to excite all your senses. 

    Organizers have announced a new Asian-style market for the week of August 30 to September 3. 

    The main stretch of Princes' Blvd will be filled with vendors, artisans, food, and entertainment. 

    However, the main attraction might just be the enormous indoor lantern festival. 17 large, illuminated art installations will be displayed in the Enercare Centre, celebrating the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism.

    The installations were created by 90 artists, a ton of silk and steel, and will showcase legends of the ancient Silk Road. 

    The CNE will also host some returning, familiar faces this year. The eight-foot CNE sign will be back, and joined by "six- and 12-feet gnome statues."

    Also, the Aerial Acrobatics & Ice Skating Show, the parkour competition, music performances, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds air show, and more will all be making their way back. 

    Make sure you arrive with an empty stomach!


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    For someone who aligns himself with the whole "fake news!" crowd, Doug Ford seems to be putting a lot of time and money into the production of news that is in no way actual news.

    A recently-launched Twitter account called "Ontario News Now" published a video this week in which Ford's former executive assistant and current deputy director of communications, Lyndsey Vanstone, recaps the premier's first month in office.

    "Since his inauguration on June 29, Premier Ford has been off to the races — literally," says Vanstone as the picture cuts to Ford meeting voters at Woodbine Racetrack.

    At just over one minute long, the video is presented in the same style as a typical TV news segment — in fact, you might even mistake it for one if you didn't know better.

    It's got chryons, a sign-off, fast-moving clips and an interview with Ford himself. Vanstone, a former broadcast journalist, also looks and sounds just like any other reporter you might see with a microphone at Queen's Park.

    What sets her apart is that she's being paid by the Ontario government to produce content about the Ontario government — and there's a big difference between "content" and "news."

    Ontario News Now is only "news" in the same way that almost every corporation has a news section on its website to announce product launches and aggregate quotes from VPs.

    When Ford released similar TV-news-style videos in the run up to June's provincial election, they could most generously be classified as "campaign materials."

    Now that his party is in power, the clips are being described by critics as "North Korean-style news broadcasts" or "shameless partisan propaganda."

    Many in the province were upset to learn that the Ontario News Now page is being paid for with tax dollars.

    Adding insult to injury is the fact that, just like during his election campaign, Ford is getting cagier by the day when it comes to answering questions from actual reporters.

    "The launch of the social media account comes on the same day journalists questioned Ford government communications staff over behaviour during news conferences," wrote Global News on Tuesday.  

    "The behaviour, which appears to be designed to limit questions, was something journalists observed throughout the Ford campaign. It has also been apparent at press conferences since the premier took office last month."

    The Ontario News Network promises in its Twitter bio to serve up "timely exclusive content on the PC government's priorities for the people of Ontario."

    Many of these Ontario people say they'd rather their money go towards such things as, say, the basic income pilot project that was just scrapped, or keeping Toronto City Council intact.

    "You cut social programs because 'it costs too much', but it's totally okay to spend money on your own feel good propaganda media?" wrote one voter on Twitter this morning. "Go f*ck yourself Douche Ford."


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    Marijuana-infused brews will soon be a thing in Canada, thanks to a unique partnership between Molson Coors and Quebec-based cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corporation (or "HEXO," as it's referred to in press materials).

    The companies announced on Wednesday that they had entered into a "definitive agreement to form a joint venture to pursue opportunities to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market following legalization."

    What this means is that they want to make beer that gets you high, but not drunk.

    Recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada on October 17 of this year, though we still don't quite know how it's going to be sold in Ontario.

    It is well known, however, that edibles and other "infused" products won't be legal from the get-go. Molson and HEXO say that "the highly anticipated consumable cannabis market" is expected to be legalized country-wide sometime in 2019.

    You'll have to wait until at least summer to try this Molson-brand cannabis beer stuff, in any case — but rest assured, it's coming.


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    TIFF news is quickly starting to pour in as the film festival approaches. 

    The newest announcement comes hot off the heels of the late Rob Stewart's new film Sharkwater Extinction being slated for premiere as well. 

    This time, TIFF has announced that the worldwide premiere of Quebec wunderkind director Xavier Dolan's "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan" will take place right here in Toronto. 

    The film stars some big names, like Natalie Portman, Kit Harington, Jacob Tremblay, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and many more. 

    Dolan is arguably one of Canada's biggest movie making talents. His critically acclaimed films Mommy and It's Only the End of the World took home top awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

    This film will be Dolan's English language debut. It was previously scheduled to premiere at Cannes but was pulled in April because Dolan said he wouldn't have it ready in time. 


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    Veganism is at the heart of a dramatic feud in Toronto once again this week as Parkdale prepares for a massive block party— or lack thereof, as some locals hope — in the gentrifying neighbourhood.

    Between Thursday and Sunday, the restaurant collective known as Vegandale is scheduled to celebrate grand openings, of sorts, for the stretch of Queen St. West it has claimed as a "mecca for the ethically-minded and hungry."

    That stretch of Queen, between Dufferin and Block, happens to be in the neighbourhood of Parkdale — and residents have been vocal in their opposition of anyone trying to "rebrand" the block since news of the project surfaced in March.

    "Parkdale is a diverse neighbourhood whose marginalized communities are being evicted to make room for privileged, inaccessible veganism," wrote the developer of an anti-Vegandale browser app last month, summing up much the community's sentiment.

    "Ok first of all, building fictional gentrified communities is what Sims is for," wrote the popular Instagram account Parkdale Life back in March when renderings of the veganized city block were released.

    "Secondly, take some of that greasy soy protein money and invest in good design," the account continued. "Thirdly, to set the record straight there is nothing wrong with veganism or vegans."

    "I take issue with the obnoxious tone-deaf branding that seems to erase a rich community of businesses and people and cultures by renaming and mocking up (poorly) an existing neighbourhood."

    A post shared by Parkdale Life (@parkdalelife) on

    As the August long weekend approaches, so too does Vegandale's "Toronto Vegan Block Party" — and nay-sayers are ready for a fight civilized discussion.

    Parkdale Life, which has a considerable amount of influence in Toronto, is hosting a community forum this Saturday, August 4, in partnership with the The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust.

    Concerned citizens are welcome to come "discuss concerns and issues and ask questions about Vegandale" during the forum at Milky Way Garden from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

    Afterwards, a "community organize" event will be held at the Parkdale Library. Attendees are encouraged to make signs and bring donations for the Parkdale Community Food Bank.
     

    A post shared by Parkdale Life (@parkdalelife) on

    "This is not a protest," reads a Facebook page for the event. "This is a chance for community members to get together and discuss issues with this rebranding of the neighborhood of Parkdale..."

    "Hopefully some folks from Vegandale can come out as well to respond," the event description continues. "They have not thus [far] made any contact with any neighborhood group or given any response to criticisms. It's a chance to take this from online comments to a real-life conversation."

    Parkdale Life and supporters are demanding two things from The 5700 Inc. (the restaurant management group responsible for the fast expansion and branding of Vegandale.)

    The first demand is that "Vegandale cancel their block party until further community consultations take place." The second is that they "remove and permanently stop Vegandale branding."

    A quick search for the term "Vegandale" on Twitter right now shows they're far from alone in their criticism.

    "Jesus, if you wanted Vegandale there was already Kensington," commented one local. "Go buy buildings in Yorkville ffs with your $20 mains."

    "GTFO, Vegandale," wrote someone else on Twitter this week. "More room for real foods, please. Parkdale is diverse and most of the prominent food groups have multiple vegan options. Oh but wait, vegans can’t eat somewhere if it doesn’t have VEGAN plastered across it."

    The conversation is certainly getting heated online, and it's an interesting one to watch evolve. I supposed we'll have to wait and see what happens in Parkdale on Saturday.


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    New restaurants in Toronto include Asian snacks of all stripes, from sushi to fried rice, noodles, dumplings, katsu sandos, edamame and tempura. More than a few of these new places have also opened with patios just in time to soak up the last months of summer.

    Here are my picks for the top new restaurants that opened in Toronto last month.

    Aniq

    Asian small plates have yet another new home at this Roncesvalles spot that once played host to a jazz bar.

    Koi Koi

    Kensington now has this place for sake and snacks like wings, fried rice, katsu sandos and yakitori.

    M'eat Resto Butcher

    Finally, a butcher shop and beef-based restaurant in one in Riverside. Locally raised cattle provide the protein for a rotating menu of daily-changing carnivorous specials like ribs and burgers accompanied by craft beer made in Hamilton.

    Alma

    Bloordale now has this spot with a renowned pasta chef at the helm where Karelia Kitchen used to be.

    The Yard

    The folks behind Hogtown Smoke have opened this new spot with a bright patio, just in time to soak up the rays of the last months of summer.

    Paradise Grapevine

    Old school Greek restaurant in Bloorcourt, Menalon, has recently been transformed into a beer and natural wine bar with small plates, including custom Burdock bread, Monforte Dairy cheese and Pasquale Brothers antipasto.

    Jugemu

    The Toronto sushi scene welcomes this new addition to the Cabbagetown neighbourhood, with fresh fish shipped in regularly.

    Bar Stray

    Buck-a-shuck oysters, olives, wine and cocktails are all on the menu at this new Little Italy bar with a distinct motorcycle theme.

    Parcheggio

    The Oliver & Bonacini team does it again by bringing their Italian flair to North York with ten-layer lasagna and cannoli.

    Nome Izakaya

    Gorge on Japanese snacks from oysters and sashimi, to donburi, sliders and mac n' cheese at a brand new location of one of the most popular izakaya spots in North York.


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