Toronto is Canada's Number One tourist destination, with 21 million visitors a year. Many Canadian companies have their head offices in Toronto. The country's premier stock exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, is here. After New York and London, Toronto has the largest English-language theatre centre in the world.
(Source: Government of Ontario)
From cosmopolitan chic to country charm, Toronto's neighbourhoods offer an eclectic mix of architecture, food and shopping. This vast cultural diversity creates a worldly experience for visitors.
(Source: Toronto Tourism)
Two hundred years ago, cannons fired over the Niagara peninsula. Today, life by the lake is a little more leisurely.
Tucked between the rush of Niagara Falls and the crush of Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake was once at the centre of the
War of 1812, which shaped North America. Today, the town, which encompasses a cluster of small villages along the
southern shore of Lake Ontario, about a 90-minute drive from Toronto, is a pastoral paradise – a patch of grape-growing
farmland where everything revolves around wine, wars and words. The former battleground has transformed decisively
into a tourist hub; the fortresses are (mostly) gone, but cozy boutique hotels abound.
Among the finest hotels is the Riverbend Inn, which sits at the edge of town, where the region’s vineyards begin. At this stunning white manor, which has a vineyard out back, you can retreat to a Muskoka chair and read by the vines, linger in the gazebo or take in a wine-tasting at the canopied bar. (One is never far from a wine-tasting around here.) The 21 character-filled guest rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces, discreetly hidden televisions and more pillows than you’d ever possibly need.
Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s main drag, is well worth an amble even if the town’s real gems are hidden away from the crowds. There, you’ll find the three venues of the Shaw Festival, a season of plays by, about and relating to George Bernard Shaw, which runs through October. The renowned theatre festival is at the heart of Niagara’s emergence as a tourist destination.
For a quiet bit of lunch on the stretch, look for a gift shop called Irish Design and head straight to the back, where you’ll find the Irish Tea Room, home to authentic meat pies and expertly poured pints of Guinness. If you’re feeling formal, pop across the road to the Prince of Wales Hotel for its afternoon tea. That’s “tea” in the British sense of the word: a full afternoon meal. In the most decorous of sitting-rooms, you’ll be served a selection of sandwiches, pastries, scones… and tea.
There is no shortage of restaurants on Queen Street, but one of the town’s most beloved spots – the Stone Road Grille – is off the main drag, in the unlikeliest spot – virtually unsigned, in a strip mall. “My family said, ‘You’re crazy. You can’t open a restaurant in that ugly plaza,’” says Heidi Johnson, the Grille’s co-owner, laughing. But the outside world disappears as you step through the door and into an attractively lit room, appointed in warm, dark tones. Eight years on, the place is still humming.
The Stone Road Grille has won plaudits from everyone from Fodor’s to New York magazine for its fresh-baked breads, charcuterie and mains. The steak frites is served, intriguingly, with “bacon and egg sauce” – hollandaise, made with tarragon and bacon, which arrives in an eggshell. Like at many places here, locally sourced, prepared-in-house food is the name of the game.
After dinner, pop by the Olde Angel Inn, a lively public house that’s tucked into a side street just behind the shops and theatres of Queen Street. Established in 1789, destroyed in 1812 and then rebuilt, the inn offers fireplace-lit surroundings and, often, live music. According to local lore, it’s also the haunt of at least one soldier’s ghost.
Ditching the car for a day is a great way to see the countryside. A network of bike lanes leads through town and the green country beyond, wending alongside the Niagara Parkway, above the Niagara River and on the edge of wine country.
Rent wheels at Zoom Leisure Bikes, where you can choose between laid-back cruiser-style bikes or more aggressive hybrids. Then, head west along a well-tended bike route to one of Niagara’s most prominent sites: Fort George. Obliterated in a two-day cannon battle in 1813, it was rebuilt as a museum during the Great Depression.
The time when the British and Americans warred against each other – and its coming bicentennial – looms larger in Niagara than perhaps anywhere else. Had the battles fought here gone differently, Ontario might well have been annexed by the US.
People remember. At the fort’s gates on a sunny day this summer, a pair of elderly American tourists were speaking earnestly with a short teenage guide who was dressed in the full regalia of the old British army: red shirt, buckles and tall black hat. “Now, you burned down our White House,” said the man. “Well,” said the teenager, with a sniff, “you burned down our village!”
It’s true. Both the president’s mansion in Washington and Niagara-on-the-Lake itself were burned and rebuilt after the war. As a result, many of Niagara’s buildings date to around 1814. The fort makes a great outing; try to catch a live, loud demonstration of the notoriously fickle muskets that both armies used.
The bike ride along the parkway is stunning. On one side, wine country spreads off to the east. On the other, the Niagara River heads swiftly downhill toward the Falls, at the bottom of a gorge. After about 40 minutes of rolling ups and downs, you’ll arrive at Queenston, a tiny colonial-era village perched between cliffs. All but forgotten to modern Canada, the village looms large in history, having been the home of one Laura Secord, a wartime heroine before she was a chocolate brand, and the death-place of General Isaac Brock.
Queenston is also home to one of the country’s most unusual museums: the Mackenzie Printery, where the history of newspaper typesetting is brought to blotchy, smudgy life. Located in the restored house of William Lyon Mackenzie, the newspaperman who became Toronto’s rebellious first mayor, the museum has centuries-old presses, which can be inked up and pressed into service for a hands-on lesson in 19th-century typesetting.
Back in town for dinner, The Old Winery Restaurant serves lively takes on Mediterranean and Tuscan staples in a dignified brick warehouse. Mussels and pasta in a dill sauce is delicate on the palate; pizza from wood-fired ovens is a perennial favourite.
Today, Niagara is fine-wine country. This wasn’t always the case; a few decades ago, you might have called the local offerings plonky. But the arrival of wineries like Inniskillin, starting in the mid-1970s, has put Niagara on the global map.
Today, some of the most buzzed-about winemaking is happening at new boutique wineries that welcome visitors with open arms. A few minutes’ drive southeast of downtown, Stratus Wines inhabits an eye-popping, ultramodern building that does triple duty as a state-of-the-art winery, store and tasting room. Enjoy a flight-tasting here at the long granite counter inside, or on the patio, overlooking the vineyard.
The winery generating the most buzz this year is a young upstart heavy on the old-world charm. Next to the picturesque village of St. Davids, the Ravine Vineyard holds such an unusually varied mix of soil types, the original consultants’ reports were met with disbelief. The unique conditions mean disparate grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling can all flourish.
“This gives us a lot more flexibility for blending,” notes Ravine’s winemaker, Shauna White. Its wines – especially the flagship Merlot – are making waves, even though Ravine’s only been at it for three seasons. The vineyard’s adjacent bistro, housed in a faithful re-creation of an old-time fruit-packing shed, serves an unfussy lunch and dinner.
On your way back to Toronto, in the village of Virgil, you’ll find the Pie Plate, founded six years ago by Ruth Anne Schriefer. Years ago, Schriefer bussed tables at a local establishment (it shall remain nameless) that was making “homemade” desserts the wrong way. “They were heating up Sara Lee cakes,” recounts Kirk Schriefer, her husband. “She was appalled.”
The Pie Plate, which has thrived on word-ofmouth, has picked up the local habit of creative dishes – try the strawberry spinach pizza – but also shines with classic comforts like coffee and, well, pie, from rhubarb to apple to (of course) grape. Staunchly local, slightly eccentric and bent on gastronomy: it’s the new Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The War of 1812 is two centuries behind us – and a world away. Now that’s worth raising a glass to.
It’s the place in Toronto where all routes meet, but it’s lain derelict for years. Now The Junction has traded in urban decay for urbanity.
The clue is in the name: The Junction has always been one of Toronto’s major hubs, situated at the spot where four railway lines come together. Until recently, however, it was a place to avoid rather than converge, as it declined to a shabby strip of outdated stores and restaurants. Now (inter)change has come, and it’s been transformed into a destination full of unique shopping, indie flair, and an infectious sense of community. The area was farmland until the arrival of the railway in the 1880s, when it became a centre of industry; mills and factories moved in, and after-work drinking became such a menace (and embarrassment – drunks could be seen on the street from passing trains) that the area went dry in 1904. This move, according to resident and business owner Rodrigo Gudino, turned it from “boozetown” to “cracktown.” Dereliction and drugs ensured that no one willingly went “up The Junction.” In 2000, a huge regeneration program got under way, and Dundas West, the main drag, is now packed with bars and restaurants where good food and wine are de rigueur. The Junction has finally become a hub to head for.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is 2.5 km/1.5 miles from downtown.
Location of Porter check-in desk: departures.
The shuttle pick-up and drop-off location downtown is on the south side of Front Street, just west of York Street. The designated stop is located near Starbucks.
The shuttle bus offers comfortable and complimentary service between downtown and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, approximately every 15 minutes. Times may vary due to traffic and road conditions.
A modern ferry takes you to and from Porter’s terminal in style. But don’t get too comfortable – one of the world’s shortest ferry rides is merely 121 metres (400 ft.) and runs about every 15 minutes across Toronto’s inner harbour.
You can choose to take the pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Get where you need to go faster with the moving sidewalks that zip you through the tunnel in less than 5 minutes. With fast, reliable and convenient access, the tunnel takes the stress out of your travel
Taxi CAN $10 to downtown. Car service approximately CAN $40.
Hertz is conveniently located in-terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the lower level.
Located at the base of Bathurst Street, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is easily accessible by streetcar (the 511 streetcar via Bathurst subway station and the 509 streetcar via Union Station).
Porter Airlines is proud to partner with Standard Parking Plus to offer safe and affordable offsite parking, located at 200 Queens Quay West. Standard Parking Plus offers a free direct shuttle service to and from the Airport daily from 5 AM to 12 AM. Pre-book your parking online to ensure the shuttle is waiting for you when you arrive.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has 531 short and long term parking spaces available. Managed by Stolport Corporation, airport parking is available at three locations:
Disabled parking is available in all three locations.
The UP Express Train connects you between Union Station, Bloor Station, Weston Station and Pearson Airport. For ticket fares and schedules, visit www.bbtcaparking.com