The Secrets Buried Under City Hall – Gambling in old Chinatown

St. John’s Ward, known mainly as “The Ward,” was the landing ground for nearly every immigrant group in Toronto from 1830 to 1950. Covering the area bounded by College, Queen, Yonge and University, by 1900 the Ward was the most multicultural neighbourhood in the city. Around 1910 the Ward became a mainly Chinese neighbourhood. Canada’s Head Tax, enacted in 1885, …

Not Just the 510 Streetcar – Labour Resistance, Ghosts and Spadina Street

In 1924, the Labor Lyceum, a union hall for Jewish workers in the garment industry, stood at the corner of Spadina and St. Andrew, in the Jewish Market, now Kensington Market. Their strike action led to better conditions for all garment workers in Toronto. So when trailblazing anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman, who J. Edgar Hoover called “the most dangerous …

When Bears Attack… Keanu Reeves?

The CBC archives are chock full of interesting pieces of Canadiana. One of those is the rarely publicized bear attack involving a young Keanu Reeves. How did this happen? As a cub reporter for the CBC, Keanu was sent to the First Canadian and International Teddy Bear Convention, a young teddy bear collector brought a rare, fluffy white specimen to …

Getting on The Grid

We sleuths love unravelling mysteries by gaslight and candlelight, but getting on The Grid is worth celebrating! Check out our spread in The Grid TO:     Next: the world!

Package for Dr. Jones – A Reel Life Mystery

Last year, the admissions department at the University of Chicago received this package, addressed to a Henry Jones Jr. The department was confused – there is no one by that name in their building – and passed the package on to student mail workers to properly sort. Luckily, one of the students realized that this Jones was in fact Indiana Jones, and the department opened the package.

What they found was astonishing…

Nuit Blanche Toronto, or, Pull Up A Chair

On my way home from work yesterday, a short-turning streetcar forced me to get off several stops before I got to Queen Street subway station. While some may see this as a setback, since we’re entering Nuit Blanche territory, I actually got a sneak preview of some beautiful art.

Garden Tower in Toronto, 2013 by Tadashi Kawamata

In the courtyard of the Metropolitan United Church, at Queen East and Church Streets, there is a massive structure already in place. Chairs are stacked in an unpredictable jumble around two storeys high. It looks at once so massive that it could never be dislodged, and so fragile that it will fall over in the next strong wind. Though the immediate area around the installation is fenced off, the courtyard was buzzing with…

BlogTO Recaps Some Hidden Curiosities of Toronto’s Urban Landscape

I’ve always thought that the most interesting parts of a city are the hidden gems — the things only the locals really know about — the things that, if you’re lucky, a native of the city will show you and open your eyes to a whole new side of the city. People love hidden wonders so much that we have a whole scavenger hunt about them called, of course, Discover Hidden Toronto.

Recently, one of my favourite websites blogTO published two lists of hidden, quirky features that you may not know about Toronto. Here are the ones I found the coolest:

My First Urban Capers Hunt

When Jodi brought me onto the Urban Capers team to help out with PR and social media, I was excited. I could tell how passionate she was about putting together quality, fun scavenger hunts and showcasing the beautiful city of Toronto and that made me eager to help. But there was just one thing: I had never done a scavenger hunt before!

After working with Jodi for a few weeks — getting set up on Twitter, posting on Facebook, helping to prep the clue books — I still felt like I was missing a part of the puzzle. I wanted to experience exactly what it was like to be on an Urban Capers hunt, and luckily for me one was coming up. Would it be fun? Would it be hard? Would it be physical? Spoiler alert: it was all of the above.