From the CN Tower and Art Gallery of Ontario, to High Park, Ripley’s Aquarium and the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto is filled with popular sites and attractions that are well-known to visitors and locals alike. But there are also quite a few lesser-known, strange, and interesting places to visit that you might not have thought about. Some are hidden, while others are just not as well known as the bigger attractions you can find in the city. If you’re looking for something a bit different to do, here are seven unusual things to see in Toronto.
Toronto’s Half House
There is a house in Toronto, located at 54½ St. Patrick St., that happens to be missing its other half. The average person strolls right by without noticing (it’s easy to miss), but take time to look and you’ll likely end up doing a double-take. But your eyes aren’t deceiving you – it really is half a house. The strange residence is well over 100 years old and was dethatched from its neighbour in the 1970s when the owners refused to sell.
Biblio-Mat at Monkey’s Paw Bookstore
The Monkey’s Paw has always been a unique place to visit. The antiquarian bookshop, located at Bloor and Lansdowne, stocks a vast collection of weird and wonderful books that you won’t find anywhere else. This is a store where it's easy to lose all track of time as you peruse the strange yet intriguing tomes. You won’t find bestsellers here, but you might, as the store’s website suggests, find something you never knew you needed. The best (and most unusual) aspect, however, is the store’s Biblo-Mat, a coin-operated vending machine that dispenses randomly-selected old books. It’s the world’s first device of its kind and worth visiting the shop for.
Village of Yorkville Park is a pretty, well-used urban park in Yorkville with several unique features, but the most unique has to be the rock. It’s a favorite meeting spot among area shoppers, but it has quite a unique history. This is not just any rock–it’s a really old rock. How old? Oh, about one billion years old. And it’s massive. The rock weighs a whopping 650 tons and was removed in pieces from the Canadian Shield. After being transported to its current home it was reassembled.
Toronto Public Labrynth
Tucked away in Trinity Square Park, behind the Toronto Eaton Centre is where you’ll find the Toronto Public Labyrinth, something not everyone in the city is aware exists. Surrounded by trees, the labyrinth makes for a peaceful escape from the hectic pace of downtown. The park is always open and lit in the evenings so you can visit at any time for a relaxing, meditative stroll through the labyrinth.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Completed in 1808, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is the is the oldest landmark in Toronto and one of the earliest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. That alone is enough to make it an interesting Toronto attraction, but the lighthouse also has a spooky past. John Paul Rademuller, the first keeper, died under mysterious circumstances and ever since there have been reports of ghostly apparitions, strange sounds and other unexplained occurrences on the grounds.
Like the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, this spot is a bit on the spooky side. But the site is a very important one. The park acts as a memorial marking the spot where 38,000 Irish immigrants arrived in Toronto during the famine of 1847. The Toronto Waterfront memorial features five bronze statues that represent the arriving Irish. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and located off Bathurst St. and Queens Quay at the foot of the boardwalk on the waterfront.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Not all libraries are created equal and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto is no exception. As the name would suggest, this particular collection of books doesn’t represent what you’d normally find in your average stack of publications. The library, the largest rare book library in Canada, houses upwards of 700,000 volumes and 3,000 meters of manuscripts – that’s a lot of rare books. Among the reams of fascinating books you can expect to find things like a first edition of Anne of Green Gables, the literary papers of Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen and the only Canadian copy of Shakespeare’s first folio.