If you’re an American who has never been to Canada, perceptions about the country north of us often revolve around three particular themes. Stories I’ve heard from friends like, “Oh yeah, Canada’s great. I showed up to a party there once and they put their beer outside in the snow to chill it.” The one time my Mom took a wrong turn on the annual family road trip circa 2004, “I thought border police were only supposed to be at the borders between countries, not the Washington-Idaho border…” And of course, common Canadian folklore; there are bears everywhere, it’s always frigid, folks say ‘Oi,’ and they’re so friendly that no one locks their doors. (“Oi! Look Jenny, a burglar!” says Noah from the living room as he cracks open a nice, snow-chilled Budweiser. The burglar waves and shouts back, “Oi, sorry! Thought you folks were out of town until next week. Mind if I grab one of these beers chillin’ in your snow bank on my way out?”)
Now, I know everything I mention above is hearsay and all legends aside, Canada is a pretty amazing place. Amazing enough, in fact, that some myths are actually true. Instead of tackling the whole country of Canada, read on to debunk one myth and affirm five more about Toronto, Canada. Though 25% of the Canadian population lives within 60 miles of Toronto, it’s not actually the capital. Hasta la vista myth #1, now on to 5 myths about Toronto that are actually true.
In Toronto, You can Survive Entirely Underground
Though, that doesn’t mean you’ll want to. Toronto is home to The PATH, the largest continuous underground shopping mall in America. You can literally roam around its 1200 stores for weeks. The PATH’s inception is thanks partially to the extreme temperature variance in Toronto.
It gets blistering in the summer and bone-chillingly cold in the winter, but if you walk along The PATH you can escape all of that. The temperature-controlled, pathway-lit connected tunnels include everything from gyms and doctors’ offices to grocery stores. There are over 125 entrances on street level, six of which are connected to subway stations. The Hockey Hall of Fame, Design Exchange, and the TD Centre Gallery of Inuit Art is all PATH-connected in the Financial District. Not to mention some of Toronto’s biggest attractions: the Air Canada Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto Eaton Centre, CN Tower, and the Toronto Convention Centre.
Gravity Bends in Toronto
Interested in shoes? Interested in defying gravity? Head to Queen St. SW in Toronto to one of John Fluevog’s Distillery stores, where you’ll find a variety of new-age, art-deco inspired footwear inside of what used to be a prestigious bank. Of all the things to do in Toronto, this is definitely one of the most unique. The owner turned the old bank vault into the world’s first ever Vog Vault, a gravity-defying space where visitors can take photos of themselves defying gravity in real time.
The Toronto TD Centre stands for Tragic Darwinism
…That’s not actually true. TD stands for Toronto-Dominion. In fact, that’s not even a myth. Canadians don’t call the TD Centre the Tragic Darwinism Centre, but it so happens that a lawyer who used to work in the building met a Darwinian end by crashing through the window and falling to his death, earning him the name, “The Leaping Lawyer of Bay Street.” The lawyer, Gary Hoy, believed so honestly that the windows of the Toronto-Dominion Centre were unbreakable that he developed a habit of crashing into the windows body-check style whenever he brought groups of articling students to tour his firm’s offices. Then, on July 9, 1993, upon collision, the window popped out of its frame and sent Hoy plummeting 24 stories to his death. His death gained him much fame, and was featured by MythBusters in the episode “Vacuum Toilet, Biscuit Bazooka, Leaping Lawyer”, and references to Hoy have been made in numerous other television shows. In 2006, he even received a Darwin Award.
Toronto is Home to the Only Real Castle in North America
Casaloma, a 98-room, medieval-style castle, complete with turrets, secret passages, and award-winning gardens, was built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt between 1911 and 1915. Unfortunately, Pellatt had a bit of an oops fortune-wise and lost it after owning it for only a decade when the city seized it for unpaid property taxes. Back in its day, it had so many telephones (59) that the castle’s resident switchboard operator handled more calls than the entire city of Toronto. It was a pretty bumpin’ spot back in 1917. Today, visitors can venture through a tour featuring almost all of the rooms in the castle including the Windsor Room (set aside for the guests who never came … the queen and king).
Toronto is home to the tallest metal staircase on earth
Though the CN tower in downtown Toronto is no longer the tallest free-standing structure in the world, it’s still home to the tallest metal staircase on earth and it remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Great if you’re trying to up your Fitbit game and win the office prize for most stairs climbed in a day. (Hey, I’d be competing for that new flat screen TV too.) A metal staircase reaches the main deck level after 1,776 steps, and the Sky Pod reaches 100 meters above after 2,579 steps. The stairs themselves are intended for emergency use only and are not open to the public, except for three times per year for charity stair-climb events so make sure to plan ahead if you’re trying to sweat it out for the team.
Contributor: Jayson Goetz
Jayson is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona that lived in Toronto for two blissful years. Coming from an outside perspective, Jayson wants to share how awesome Toronto really is. He loves sharing his experiences and tips in hopes of helping people fall in love with Toronto all over again. Follow Jayson on LinkedIn and Instagram.