The Financial District is located in downtown Toronto and it is also the financial heart of Canada. Roughly, its boundaries are Queen Street West to the north, Yonge Street to the east, Front Street to the south, and University Avenue to the west.
It is very easy to get to with Toronto’s handy public transport network. Because we were staying in Mississauga, I always took the bus to Islington subway station and then the subway to Union Station. It is said that Union Station is the busiest passenger transportation facility in Canada. It didn’t seem so when I was there but then again it wasn’t rush hour.
I took a few minutes to see the station. It was built in the Beaux-Arts style and was opened in 1927 by the Prince of Wales. My favourite feature was the coffered vault ceiling.
I walked down Front Street and admired the stately Fairmont Royal York Hotel. On a previous visit, I took the PATH (the city’s underground walkway that joins different buildings, hotels and entertainment venues along its 28 kilometres) and walked straight into the elegant lobby. It was such a pleasant surprise!
I had a crick in the neck from looking up at all those glass and metal buildings. I liked looking at the fleeting reflections of the clouds and sunlight on the windows.
The Allen Lambert Galleria is a sight not to be missed. It isn’t called the "crystal cathedral of commerce" for nothing. This atrium, designed by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, connects Bay Street with Heritage Square. It certainly reminded me of vaulting in the great Gothic cathedrals, albeit a lot more luminous.
There isn’t a lot to see in the Financial District unless you’re a hockey fan, in which case you’ll head straight to the Hockey Hall of Fame (30 Yonge St.), or a shopaholic (then it’s a tossup between Eaton Centre at 220 Yonge Street or The Bay, 176 Yonge St). However, I thoroughly enjoyed walking alongside busy people and pretending I was busy too.
The highlight of this visit was joining the lunchtime crowd at Nathan Phillips Square. The Bay Street side is lined with food carts selling mainly hot dogs, poutine and ice cream. I got the mandatory Toronto hotdog (grilled, not boiled) and a drink and sat at one of the concrete tables. It was interesting to watch busy office workers, students, pensioners and tourists grabbing a quick bite in the warm spring sunshine.