City Living: Secret Walks

Whether you’re a Toronto veteran or a newbie to the city, you’ll have to agree that this is a pretty great city we live in. Exciting events, great food and shopping and festivals galore, but is it a great walking city? After reading our pick of under-the-radar walks, we think you’ll come to the conclusion that it indeed is.

Here’s a walk that probably goes against
all your instincts: City Hall. Boring! Grey! Eaton Centre on a weekend! But
hear us out – it’s here you’ll find City Hall Podium Green Roof. Enter the 2.4
km path from the ramp on the east side of Nathan Phillips Square and you’ll be
transported to a whole new Toronto (maybe where Rob Ford isn’t the mayor? One can wish). It only takes about half an hour to do the whole thing, so take your time and
smell the flowers.

You probably won’t find Rob Ford up here.
We’re not going to try to act all cool and knowledgeable like we were the first to know about this next Toronto trail, because honestly, we had no clue it existed until very recently. The West Toronto RailPath extends from Dundas St. (at Landsdowne Ave.) up to Dupont Ave., closely following the railroad. What’s nice about this path is that you feel like you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be – looking at the graffiti’d backs of buildings and empty lots. Check out some interesting architecture and buildings on Stirling Rd. and Perth Ave. and lust over the Wallace Station Lofts. Oh and you can go paintballing.
About as legally close to walking on train tracks as you can get. 

A forest in the GTA! Amid the sprawl of Scarborough lies Warden Woods, 85 acres of beautiful forested valley
along Massey Creek. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing and general frolicking allowed. This is a great option for those feeling like Trinity Bellwoods is getting a bit crowded (a.k.a. you see every single person you know within a 10 minute walk). Enter via car from Pharmacy Ave. just north of Danforth or walk five minutes from the Warden subway station at St.Clair Ave. E and Warden Ave. 

Yes, this exists in Toronto. 
Cabbagetown is filled with nooks and
crannies, and unless you live in the neighbourhood, it’s hard to know where the hidden gems are. 
We suggest starting on Spruce St. and
wandering east towards River St., across Geneva Ave., onto Sumach St. and into
postcard-worthy Gordon Sinclair Lane. At Sumach and Carlton is Riverdale Park.
Here lies Riverdale Farm (animals!) and Necropolis Cemetery (zombies!), one of
Toronto’s oldest cemeteries. Notable figures buried here include William Lyon Mackenzie, George
Brown (yes, he’s a real person) and Jack Layton. Also worth checking out is Wellesley Park at Wellesley St. E. and Amelia St. and the beautiful houses along
Winchester St., Salisbury Ave., Sackville St. and Dermott Pl. Finish this walk
off with 50 lattes from
Jet Fuel on
Parliament or dinner at
Daytime cemetery strolls? Yes please. 
Known to locals and Toronto history aficionados,
Wychwood Park is a private community at Bathurst and Davenport. Though open to
walk through, the streets and amenities (pond, tennis court) are paid for by
the residents. Originally founded as an artist colony in the late nineteenth
century, it has been home to notable Canadian figures, including
Marshall McLuhan. Stroll the trails, admire Taddle Creek and hope that one day
you too can afford to live here. Then head over to The Stockyards to drown your housing sorrows in some affordable and delicious fried chicken.  

It’s possible we could own a house in here someday, right? 

Fave Five: Toronto Running Routes

With spring finally here (was it ever really winter, though?), it’s time to jump off the treadmill and take our cardio out-of-doors. There are so many great spots to run – or walk, if that’s your thing – in Toronto, but we’ve highlighted our favourite five 5k routes in the city:

Lakeshore: Summertime Run 

Toronto has a beautiful lakeshore to run along (and let’s hope that’s never marred by a casino, Mayor Ford). Start at the base of Lower Spadina and run past the marina, lusting over the beautiful boats docked there. Continue west through Coronation Park until you join up with Lake Shore Blvd. W. Cross the foot bridge (bonus points if you sprint up the steps) and Exhibition Place. Loop east to Strachan, cross at the lights and follow your route back to the marina. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and refreshing lake breeze.

High Park: City Escape Trail 

High Park is ideal for running – not just because it brings us closer to nature, but because the hilly routes are challenging, so you can really gain endurance by sticking with this route for a few weeks or so. Starting at Bloor and Clendenan Ave. run east and enter the park at High Park Ave. Stick right along W. Rd. until it meets up with Colbourne Lodge Dr. Head north for a hot minute until you turn onto Centre Rd. Hang a Louie onto Spring Rd. and high-tail it back to your starting point. Or collapse on an inviting patch of grass for some sun salutations or a quick cat nap before heading back.

Cabbagetown: Wishful Thinking Route 

Ah, Cabbagetown. What was once a low-income neighbourhood back in the day is now full of beautiful, fully-restored heritage homes (read: out of your budget). See how the 1% live by following this lovely route. Beginning just north of College on Bleeker, run straight until you reach Howard St. Then turn right and head towards Parliament, where you’ll change direction southward.  Once you reach the cemetery entrance, head inside and do a loop of the perimeter. Exit the same way you went in and continue down Parliament, hanging a left onto Wellesley St. E. Run until you hit Sumach St. Wonder how little Cabbagetown homes  cost 25 years ago. Curse your bank account and lack of foresight. Head west along Winchester St. until you return to your starting point. Shuffle dejectedly back to your rented apartment. Thank the higher powers for that natural runner’s high that will eventually boost your spirits.

Toronto Island: Adventure Run 

Use the Centre Island ferry ride over to warm up and stretch so you’re ready to run as soon as the platform lowers. Take off down the Avenue of the Island (romantic) all the way until you hit Lakeshore and then head left towards Ward’s Island. Careful on the boardwalk (it can be a little uneven). This side of the island is usually not that busy, so feel free to sing along with your iPod. Keep wrapping around the point and cut back through the residential area of the island. Wish that you, too, lived on the island upon seeing the idyllic little homes. Connect back to Cibola Ave. and finish in front of the Rectory. Grab an iced tea and wait for the Ward Island Ferry to take you back to the Big Smoke.

Financial District: Ghost-town Sprint 

Save this run for a morning on Saturday or Sunday for full effect. Start off at Victoria Memorial Park and run east on Wellington, straight past all the empty office towers. Keep going until you hit Church then loop up and back via King St. Imagine you’re in The Walking Dead and there are zombies hiding in the eerily quiet buildings. Run faster. Keep sprinting until you start to see city life again. Whip down Portland, back to the park. You survived!

Fave 5: Not-so-typical Valentine’s Day events

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, for most of us it’s a love-hate relationship. Some of us love it, some of us hate it (and some of us land firmly in the middle). 

For the lovers, a typical V-Day usually entails going out for a romantic dinner and maybe a movie or cocktail after. For the haters out there, (single or coupled up) staying home and pretending you forgot that it’s February 14 isn’t necessary. Embrace your warm fuzzy self, and somebody you love, and check out some unconventional events happening around the city that even the biggest cynic is sure to enjoy.

SPiN Toronto – 461 King St. W.
Singles, couples and groups are invited to SPiN Toronto’s first ever Valentine’s Day party, where fake blood is welcome, gory costumes are encouraged and bloody drinks are being served. There is also a killer photo booth and a prize to be won for goriest costume. Ping pong is free after 9 p.m. Not into Valentine’s Day? Just think of it as a Halloween party in February.
Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace
From the looks of it, horror and romance seem to be going hand in hand this year. If it’s not cheesy, typical love day plans you’re after (we’re not that kinda girls), then head to Casa Loma where the Brant Theatre is presenting Dracula, A Love Story, a play by Sharyl Hudson. The play takes you from room to room throughout Toronto’s own Gothic mansion, as the actors bring the famous Bram Stoker novel to life. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $34. 
Supermarket – 268 Augusta Avenue
WORN FASHION JOURNAL is hosting a karaoke night starting at 9 p.m. at Supermarket in Kensington. Tickets are $7, and just $5 if you wear red. Who doesn’t love belting out love songs and a cheap cover?

Oz Studio – 134 Ossington Ave.
If live music is your thing, then Love Near Bellewoods is the place to be. Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, Chris White of Bellewoods and Luke Laldone from Born Ruffians are all part of the lineup that may just serenade the crowd with love songs. Rumour has it that there will also be a few surprise guests. And because Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without DIY crafts, there will be a card making station with paper bag mail boxes for the first 50 people to arrive. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $7. 

Whistler’s Grille and Cafe, 995 Broadview Avenue
If you’re in the east end, The Cabbagetown Theatre Company is putting on No Sweetheart Required, a cabaret evening of short and sassy comedies and musical performances. Tickets are $20 and group rates are also available for 10 or more people (you’ll also be entered into a prize draw). The event starts at 8 p.m.