Trip of a Life Time – Toronto

Oh, and then I went to Canada. Toronto, for some reason, seemed the place to go in Canada. Can’t really remember what the main appeal of the place was back in 1999, I mean why I chose it. Obviously I felt if I was going to North America it seemed logical at the time that I would visit both the USA and Canada, as I must admit much of the planning of the trip had been about cramming in as many countries as I possibly could.

toronto 3

So it was that I had close to a week in Toronto. And it was tough going mentally speaking. It was unseasonably hot in September, into the high thirties every day which you know, I didn’t think actually happened in Canada, and I had serious trip-lag by this stage. I think, as rare as it is for me, that I was actually missing home! And of course, sleeping in a big, hot dorm was getting somewhat old.

The hostel I stayed at was huge, with various recreation rooms, an outside area, internet, most things that you’d need. Probably a bar as well. It wasn’t really what I needed right at the time though, if you know what I mean. It was a little too party in some ways and I really could have done with my own room to sleep in. But, the money you have dictates where you stay! In fairness 1999 was supremely about making the piece of string stretch as far as humanly possible.

From the tower.
From the tower.

I went to the CN Tower, it’s the thing to do right? And it’s pretty high and impressive and gives you a sense of the city. A city that I had been told was like Melbourne. And it did seem to me to have a similar sort of vibe to my home town. I made some friends at the hostel and we would head to a bar once or twice, there was a lot to like about Toronto even if my psyche wasn’t at its peak.

I took in a couple of Improvisation shows and then a workshop. It was a very different thing to do compared to my activities of the previous six months, but it was a good choice because I met a few people who invited me over for dinner. The week went by pretty quickly. I discovered the most awesome of record shops and I must have bought around 20 or more 45s, an odd thing to buy when you’re overseas, especially en masse, but somehow I managed to get them all home safely. Mostly hits of the 60s and 70s if you’re interested!

From the hostel I found myself on a tour (really cheap, $12 or something) to Niagara Falls in an old, yellow school bus that screamed ‘North America’. We had a smallish group of less than ten people, so plenty of room on the bus, and we went around Lake Ontario and learnt a bit about Canadian/American history. Which we all subsequently forgot of course.

On the 'Maid of the Mist'
On the ‘Maid of the Mist’
Street leading to Niagara.
Street leading to Niagara.

Niagara was fantastic, although very touristy as you can imagine. I’ve heard the Canadian side is better than the American side, but having not visited the American side, I can’t really comment. Our group got on the ‘Maid of the Mist’, a boat that goes close to the bottom of the falls, and yes you get covered in spray which was actually pretty awesome on a hot day. And we got to wear ponchos too which is always exciting. Ok, maybe not.

This column I THINK was near the border.
This column I THINK was near the border.

toronto 5

Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Sunset over Lake Ontario
Sunset over Lake Ontario

A beautiful sunset across the lake on the way home made for a beautiful shot. The thing is, even with photos and a vague recollection of this day, I feel like it was all a bit of a dream. In fact many elements of the 1999 trip seem somewhat dream like. Was I really there? It was a long time ago, and I didn’t have a digital camera.

My trip was coming to an end, quickly now. One more stop proper before heading home. The last of this series of blogs is next – Los Angeles. May the Journey Never End.


  1. Yes, may the journey never end! Toronto sounds exciting, even though I am not too intrigued about America. But I hope to visit it someday! All the best for LA!

  2. I’ve really enjoyed this series – something about the thrill of exporting the big wide world for the first time. And yeah, I guess the CN Tower would be the thing to do in Toronto!!

  3. I grew up just outside of Niagara Falls and have been living in Toronto for more than 10 years now. A lot has changed in both areas since your visit. There’s a lot more craft breweries in Toronto, condo developments, and you can actually walk on the top of the CN Tower on this attraction called “EdgeWalk” now. The hostel you stayed at, which sounds like the one near Chinatown, is no more. Niagara Falls has a lot more development and a second casino that was built after 1999 if I remember correctly. They opened up a zip lining attraction that starts near the Maid of the Mist (now known as Hornblower Cruises) earlier this year. The only thing that has remained the same is that Niagara Falls, New York is still a dump. 🙂

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