A Day in Toronto with Film Festival Director Cameron Bailey

This article is part a guide to toronto by FT Globetrotter

The city of Toronto stretches about 18 km from top to bottom, but the experiences in it are endless. It’s a glorious mess of cultures that mix with each other every day. Half of the city’s three million residents were born outside of Canada. About 200 languages ​​are spoken here. Anyone who wants to fully explore Toronto should wander its neighborhoods from culture to culture, flavor to flavor, north to south.

Although Toronto has a comprehensive public transportation system, this trip is best done by car. There are many rental car options available at Toronto Pearson Airport and around the city, including electric vehicles.

Let’s start the day at the top of Toronto with breakfast. Yin Ji Chang Fen has several branches of its Guangzhou original in the Toronto area, all specializing in rice noodle rolls. Try the location on Warden Avenue at the northern border of the city, Steeles Avenue. In addition to rice rolls, you can try 17 types of congee, as well as Hong Kong’s famous coffee-tea brew, yuenyeung. Yin Ji Chang Fen is known to attract visitors from all over North America looking for that authentic HK start to the day. It’s not fancy. We save the subtlety for later.

A typical spread at Yin Ji Chang Fen © Yin Ji Chang Fen

While you’re in the North End, you can explore one of Toronto’s many East Asian malls, including the Pacific Mall on Steeles Avenue, the largest indoor Asian mall in North America.

In addition to the commercial rush, Scarborough’s north-eastern suburbs are also home to sprawling parks, sometimes stretching for acres close to the path of electricity towers. As well as these ominous-looking sentinels – in a stunning display at the Clement Virgo set in Scarborough brother, premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival — you can find cricket grounds like the L’Amoreaux Cricket Center. During the summer months, watch players from South Asian and Caribbean immigrant families carry on the tradition of the British game that they improved.

Go to Sansotei on Yonge Street. . . .

. . . .for a bowl of nutritious Tonkotsu Ramen

Drive west from Scarborough towards downtown, Yonge Street, and Toronto continues to change. At Yonge and Finch, in what used to be North York City, Persian and Korean restaurants mingle with Japanese ramen shops. Heading south from this intersection, there are plenty of lunch options, including Sansotei Ramen (a must have tonkatsu) and a Korean spot with the distinctive name The Famous Owl of Minerva.

Continue south from North York and head to the Canadian Film Center, home to filmmaker Norman Jewison (Moonstruck) founded a college of film studies on the former estate of 20th-century tycoon and racehorse breeder EP Taylor. The grounds are beautiful and border Windfields Park, where we can imagine former students as directors Virgo and Sarah Polley once contemplated.

A European-style gated mansion in Toronto's Bridle Path neighborhood

One of the mansions in Toronto’s Bridle Path neighborhood © P.Spiro/Alamy

Not far from the movie hub is the tony Bridle Path neighborhood. This is where it gets nice. A zillion houses stand majestically outside the gates of Toronto’s Bel Air. Fans online can point you in the direction of the Bridle Path home built by global megastar and proud Torontonian Drake.

Cruising the Bridle Path and property spotting will take you to one of Toronto’s finest cultural institutions, the Aga Khan Museum. As a testament to the city’s global outlook and vibrant Muslim communities, it deserves a day visit, while also making for a glorious tea break at the Courtyard Café.

The futuristic white facade of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto

Stop at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, a testament to the city’s global image. . . © double space/VIEW

. . . and don’t miss tea at the Courtyard Café © Nic Lehoux/VIEW

Continue south towards Lake Ontario and you will soon reach the town of Yorkville. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bootsy Collins once played in the cafes and bars of this neighborhood, which has long since changed from boho to upscale. If you want to hear stories from the wild 80s, talk to Yorkville’s veteran hotel porters and bartenders.

On Yorkville’s southern border is the central campus of the University of Toronto, home to the discovery of insulin in 1921, Marshall McLuhan’s exciting mid-century media theories, and today’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence research. Toronto filmmakers David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan also visited these places as students.

Now we head west, down Dundas Street to the section where it starts to cool down. There are many spots to choose from, but try Rhum Corner, Toronto’s little oasis of Haiti. Founded by renowned restaurateur Jen Agg and her Haitian-Canadian artistic partner Roland Jean, it offers authentic Haitian dishes – don’t miss the pork shoulder a griot — and a mind-blowing sipping list of rums from all over the Caribbean. Blocks along Dundas West and south along Ossington are Toronto’s Brooklyn, Silver Lake, Hackney and others.

Roland Jean’s murals on the wall of the Rhum Corner restaurant. . .

. . . a Haitian oasis with a large selection of rum

If it’s still light during the day, head to the ferry terminal at the foot of the city and take the 15-minute ride to the Toronto Islands. This is definitely the best vantage point to see the city, especially at sunset.

But you can’t stay long. Head back across Toronto Harbor and straight to King Street West, where the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a cultural hub with studios, restaurants and galleries, offers new and classic films year-round in some of the best cinemas on the continent.

After hitting the glitzy night streets of Toronto, hit up Drake’s new club back east, History, where you’re likely to find the crowd and sound you’re looking for.

It’s a full day. From north to south, neighborhood to neighborhood, you’ll get a taste of much of what makes Toronto unique. There’s more next time you visit.

Cameron Bailey is a Canadian film critic and CEO of The Toronto International Film Festivalwhich lasts until September 18

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