Walk With Me : An Interesting Walk in Toronto – Kensington Market to King Street West
↑ This picture was taken looking southward from just south of point #11 on the map below, at Richmond Street and John. ↑
With the Opening Ceremony of the Pan Am Games happening in Toronto tonight, there are many visitors being welcomed in the city right now. This being so, I thought I’d do a post showing you a nice route to walk, to get between a couple of popular parts of the city that you don’t want to miss : Kensington Market and/or China Town and the Entertainment District around King Street West and John Street area.
Note : I inadvertently covered the name of John Street on the map, with the red line. It’s the street going North to South.
Of course, you can stick to the main streets to go between these two places but this suggested walk takes you past some interesting buildings, and really doesn’t take any longer (about 40 minutes) than the direct route does.
So, here we go, beginning at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West. This intersection is located south-east of Kensington Market and in the heart of China Town. Alternatively, you can take the walk in the opposite direction, beginning at King Street West and John Street. This intersection is the corner just north of the CN Tower, where the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) building is.
#1 – From the south-west corner of Spadina and Dundas, cross Spadina Avenue and walk eastward on Dundas Street West.
↑ Looking south on Spadina Avenue from Dundas Street. ↑
#2 – Going east, you’ll walk through part of Chinatown, going towards Toronto’s major art gallery, The Art Gallery of Ontario, known as the AGO.
#3 – When you reach the corner of Beverley Street and Dundas, you’ll see this old mansion. I can find no information on its history, however can tell you that nowadays it and nine other similar historic mansions around there are divided into apartments and rented at affordable rates to residents who qualify for public housing.
#4 – You’ll see the art gallery on the south-east corner. You’re going to turn right, and walk southward alongside it.
* * * UPDATE * * * : At the southern end of the gallery, you’ll have reached Grange Park, which has recently received a very extensive make-over, thanks primarily to philanthropist Galen Weston, so these photos of the park are out of date. However, if you’d like to see what the beautiful new space looks like, I wrote about it in this post.
#5 – Turn left to walk the path that runs along the back of the gallery.
#6 – The park behind the gallery is called Grange Park and the impressive mansion that you’ll come to, is called The Grange. It was built in 1817 and is the oldest brick house in the city, the 12th oldest building still standing in Toronto. It is now part of the gallery, in fact was the actual gallery at one time. However, it was built as the home of a prominent Toronto family. I recently wrote a post about this place here.
You’ll find a path running directly south from the doorway of The Grange. Take that path southward through the park.
#7 – On your left (east) you’ll see an interesting looking building on stilts. That is the University of Art and Design, called OCADU. This is Canada’s oldest and largest school for art and design, having been founded in 1867. The colourful expansion was constructed in 2004, designed by architect Wil Alsop.
↑ Looking back north towards The Grange and Art Gallery ↑
#8 – At the southern edge of the park you’ll find the ruins of a church, St. George the Martyr Anglican Church, that burned to the ground in 1955, with only the spire and part of the rectory surviving. This Gothic style church was built in 1844. Since the fire, the church has been rebuilt in a more modern style but the old spire still stands.
#9 – From there, the path turns into John Street (this is the northernmost part of John Street) at the intersection of Stephanie Street. There are some nice looking old buildings along this short stretch before you reach the intersection at Queen Street West.
#10 – Some street art on the northern section of John Street.
#11 – John Street and Queen Street West : On the south-east corner you’ll see this unique looking building. These days it is the home of Bell Media, including Much Music, but it was originally built by the Methodist Church for their administrative and printing and publishing offices, in 1914.
There’s a blogger in Toronto named Doug Taylor who does an excellent job of researching many of the city’s historic sites, and he has done a write-up about this building here.
Want to Take a Side Trip from this corner at Queen Street and John? : The Rex Tavern is right there, Tribal Rhythm Vintage is also very close by, The Queen Mother Cafe is just to the west, To-ne Sushi is to the west just past Spadina, Several Excellent Bead Shops are also found just past Spadina.
#12 – South of Queen Street, on the east side of John Street, there are some of the original homes in the area, still left standing. These days the insides have changed completely as they are used as restaurants, but many of the lovely historic details on the exterior remain intact.
Mr. Taylor has also done a story about these buildings here.
↑ Looking towards the east from John Street. Seen is one of many of the future condo buildings currently being built in Toronto. ↑
The photograph of the CN Tower at the top of the post was taken looking south from about this spot on John Street at the corner of Richmond Street. The building on the right of that picture is a big movie theatre complex.
#13 – This building (below) on the west side of John Street, was recently picked up and moved from a bit further south on John Street, where a new condo building is being built. I love that instead of demolishing it, they went through the huge effort of moving it.
Again written by Doug Taylor, there is a good story about the whole process, including some great ‘before’ pictures, here. I’m not sure yet what it will end up being but I’ll keep any eye out!
↑↑ For a follow-up on what has become of this building, see below ↑↑
#14 – Just north of King Street on the west side of John, you’ll see this piece of street art called “The Thing” by James Carl, that looks like a huge elastic band. Here’s a story about it.
#15 – And you’ve reached your destination, the corner of John Street and King Street West!
Looking towards the south-west corner you’ll see this building, again written about on Doug Taylor’s blog here you’ll see that The Second Cup has found a nice location for one of their coffee shops.
To the west of that, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants …
Or if you look to the east, you’ll see Toronto’s Financial District …
I shall leave you here, on a corner filled with a variety of things to do. If you continue your walk westward past Spadina, you’ll come upon a relatively newly developed part of the city, where many great restaurants are located within some beautiful historic former factory buildings.
Thank you very much for walking along with me. If you are visiting Toronto, I hope you’re having a great time!
A Follow-up on the building that was painstakingly moved to 106 John Street — as of May 2017 the southernmost half has become a Mexican Restaurant called La Carnita. It looks good and is on my list of places to visit!