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12 iconic Toronto buildings you need to see

12 iconic Toronto buildings

Are you planning a trip to Toronto? Indeed, it’s a beautiful city to visit in any season, for its architecture and its many parks. While developing our Toronto Civic Center Tourist Scavenger Hunt and our Old Toronto Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we identified many iconic Toronto buildings.

We’ve limited our list to the downtown core and harbourfront areas, where our scavenger hunts are located.

12 iconic Toronto buildings

  1. CN TowerCN Tower
    • The CN Tower is 553 meters high. At its observation level, there is a glass floor and a revolving restaurant with panoramic views of the city and Lake Ontario. At the nacelle (the 2nd ball), you can see Rochester, NY, on the other side of Lake Ontario, when the weather permits.
    • It was built in 1976 by the Canadian National Railway on land it already owned. You will see on the other side of the tower the many railway lines that run along Lake Ontario. It consists mainly of concrete and serves telecommunications purposes.
    • It was the tallest man-made structure in the world from 1975 (during construction) to 2007. At that time, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai passed it. Then, in 2009, the Canton Tower (Guangzhou Tower) in China exceeded both. Today it is the 9th tallest structure in the world and the highest in the Americas.
    • Going up to the observation level and the nacelle is $ 53 per adult. There are many packages including the Aquarium and other attractions.
  2. Old City Hall TorontoOld City Hall
    • Built in 1899 in the Romanesque style, it housed the city hall between 1899 and 1966.
    • Its distinguishing point is definitely its clock tower, but also its gargoyles and numerous sculptures. The interior rooms show a lot of woodworks, as well as stained glass windows showing the origins of the city.
    • Today, courts of justice occupy this building. Its main entrance is on Queen Street.
  3. Toronto City HallCity Hall
    • Toronto’s City Hall is a rather distinctive building, not to say unique.
    • Opened in 1965 and open to visitors.
  4. Fairmont Royal York
    • The Royal York Hotel was designed by Ross and Macdonald for the Canadian Pacific in 1929. Like many other hotels built by the CP in the early 20th century, it is across the street from the city’s main railway station, Union Station here. The initial strategy was to encourage rail tourism with easy access to hotels and restaurants – this was prior to air travel.
    • It was built in the Chateau style, like its sister hotels in Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. It was a popular style at the beginning of the last century. The Royal York was for one year the tallest building in the British Empire. In 1930, the CIBC building on King Street surpassed it.
  5. Queens ParkQueen’s Park
    • Queen’s Park is the name of the Legislative Assembly, or Parliament, of Ontario. Located on University Avenue, open to visitors.
  6. Casa Loma
    • This Gothic Revival mansion is located in York, north of the downtown core. Built in 1914 for Sir Henry Pellatt as his home.
    • The city seized the estate in 1924 due to unpaid taxes. It was then leased in 1937 to the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto which operated it until 2011 as a tourist attraction.
    • Massively restored between 1997 and 2012. Liberty Entertainment Group now operates the Casa Loma. They’ve since opened the Blueblook Steakhouse on the property.
  7. Hockey Hall of FameHockey Hall of Fame
    • This Hockey Museum features all the legends of the NHL, as well as its long history. This is where you can see the Stanley Cup most of the time.
    • The Stanley Cup was named for Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor General of Canada in 1892 when it first appeared at the Dominion (Canada) Hockey Challenge.
    • The Hall of Fame was originally founded in Kingston, Ontario, in 1943. The first to be honored was in 1945. It moved to Toronto in 1958 at Exhibition Place, to the west of here. Then to this historic Bank of Montreal building in 1993. Female hockey players have also been included since 2010.
  8. Union StationUnion Station
    • Opposite the Royal York is Union Station, built between 1914 and 1920, in the Beaux-Arts style, during the First World War. It was the Prince of Wales, Prince Edward, who officially opened it to the public in 1927. The prime ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as several other dignitaries of the time, were present.
    • It’s actually 3rd Union Station in Toronto. The first opened in 1858. It was a few blocks west of here. The second was built on the same site as the first in 1873. The CP began using it in 1896. The 1904 Great Toronto Fire destroyed the area south of Front Street, east of this 2nd Union Station, and therefore did not touch it. So, they bought this land after the fire and plans for a third train station began to take shape.
    • Today, Union Station hosts VIA Rail and Amtrak trains, as well as GO Transit commuter trains and a metro station below it. A GO Transit bus station is located nearby.
  9. Scotiabank Arena
    • The Scotiabank Arena is the arena where the Toronto Maple Leafs play in the NHL, as well as the Raptors in the NBA. Most major concerts happen here as well.
    • Better known by its previous name, the Air Canada Center (1999-2018). The name changed on July 1, 2018.
  10. Rogers CenterRogers Center
    • Rogers Center is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian team in Major League Baseball. This stadium has a retractable roof, and regularly hosts music concerts.
    • Launched in 1989 under the name SkyDome before Rogers bought the rights in 2005. Previously the Blue Jays played at the CNE show stage in the west of downtown. The Raptors (NBA) played here from 1995 until 1999, before the Air Canada Center opened. The Argonauts (CFL) also played here from 1989 until 2015. They got their own stadium, BMO Field, in 2016.
  11. Royal Ontario Museum
    • The ROM, located on Bloor near Yonge is a very large museum with multiple exhibits from dinosaurs to wildlife photography and first people’s art & culture.
    • The ROM is unique in its exterior design that’s all angles on a grand scale.
  12. Gooderham BuildingGooderham Building
    • The Gooderham Building on Front Street is near the St-Lawrence Market and shaped like a flatiron.
    • Built in 1892, this building is part of a limited club of triangular buildings in Toronto, New York, and elsewhere in America. You’ll certainly notice the large trompe l’oeil on its back when you approached it.

Try our Toronto scavenger hunts to discover these significant Toronto Buildings.

We invite you to try our Toronto Civic Center Tourist Scavenger Hunt or Old Toronto Tourist Scavenger Hunt. They are 2-3 hours each, self-guided walking tours that you do with your smartphone (how it works). You’ll come across most of these buildings and much more. Moreover, you’ll enjoy solving the various challenges at each step of the way while learning the history of Toronto.

In sum, they each cost $45 for a group of up to 6 people. Also, there is an Explorer version of the Old Toronto scavenger hunt available for $60. Indeed, it is longer and has more challenges.

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