In celebration of Canada Day this year I thought I’d recount my time there a good few years back. As a college student I got a summer working visa for Canada and six of us decided to got to Toronto. Toronto is definitely one of my favourite places I’ve ever been. Luckily I got to live there for a few months back in 2004.
Gorgeous video of the city
Working on Old City Hall
While I was there, I was working for a construction company as a labourer. I had the pleasure of working on the restoration of Toronto’s Old City Hall. It was a great job, but it was tough. The site itself was a thin vertical site around the entire building - mostly a huge set of scaffolding around it; about 8 or 9 floors on each side. The tower was a different matter and the scaffolding went up in the inside. Another 9 or 10 flights of stairs. So it was a tough trip to the top! As Old City Hall is now a working courthouse - since the building of new city hall - the site had to go quiet at 10AM. This unfortunately meant that I was required to be in work at 4:50AM. Which, as a student on a holiday visa, with a lot of other students on a holiday visa, meant that I missed a lot of parties! Still though, it paid well, and I got to have breakfast at Tim Hortons before 5AM! And as I was out of work in the early afternoon, I got to explore a lot of the city.
Baseball and the Blue Jays
With all this free time I had in the evenings I managed to fall in love with Baseball down in the SkyDome (or the Rogers Centre as its known now). The Blue Jays kept me entertained when my other friends were working in bars or extras on movies and TV shows. The SkyDome was the perfect place to learn to love baseball. It’s indoors when the weather turns - outdoors when its nice out. $9 tickets up in the nosebleeds. Easy to get there via public transport too. I loved spending time there.
Living in The Danforth
So we had accommodation sorted before we got over there. Because there was six of us we decided to rent a full house rather than rent rooms in the University dorms like a lot of other students. We rented a house on a nice street - Woodbine Ave in the Danforth but right beside The Beaches which is a really nice area.
The Danforth is Toronto’s greek area. We were in for a nice surprise then when Greece won the European Championship that Summer. There were street parties and free food and drink. It was a tonne of fun. Because we were on the edge of the beaches, we had lots of little boutique stores, and nice restaurants. But as students that wasn’t such a great thing :-) Luckily Pizza Pizza was also within walking distance!
Down by the lake
During off days when the sun was shining, the lake became our go to place. We were within a 10 min walk of it. On Canada Day, we walked down to the lake shore to watch the beautiful fireworks. There was an open air swimming pool by the lake too which we went to often. The whole city shares the lake shore and there are many beautiful apartments buildings - one of the most famous is Kings Landing, designed by Arthur Erickson - and bars, restaurants and great areas just to chill out. The islands are beautiful too and definitely worth a visit.
Drinking in McVeighs
As we were Irish and students, there were many parties that summer. Those Sundays when I didn’t have to work on Monday (and even some that I did), we went to McVeighs Irish bar. Absolutely full of Irish people meant that it was a little bit of Ireland in Toronto. We went to a lot of pubs that summer, more than I can remember to be honest. We did quite a bit of drinking at home too though as Toronto had a service that delivered alcohol to your house! Brilliant.
So would I go back? In a second. I loved it there. Canadians are really friendly. The city was gorgeous and clean. Public transport was the best I’ve ever used anywhere in the world. I was only there during the summer so that may taint my judgement - I hear the winters get very cold. I can’t imagine working outdoors then! I hope I get back there, even just for a holiday.