I love to travel around the world and often start planning my next trip while traveling on another. I was lucky enough to visit family in Israel in April then have a bonus few days to be a tourist in London with my husband and kids. And in a few weeks, to celebrate our anniversary, David and I will be in Scotland for a few days (details coming in July!). But as I plan all these fabulous trips I sometimes lose sight of the great things to see and experience in my own city. Not only my own city, my own neighbourhood.
I had the opportunity to play tour guide to a good friend of mine this week who was visiting from Western Canada. Adam actually lived most of his life in Toronto and moved with his family to Kelowna ten years ago. He has taught me so much about architecture, heritage homes and walking through old city neighbourhoods. It’s hard to find even a small part of the city that Adam hasn’t seen.
But I found one, just a few blocks from my home.
I have tried to be a tourist in my own city as often as I can, discovering beautiful hidden gems like Spadina House, for example. But sometimes it’s more than about just one house – it’s a whole neighbourhood, of houses, trees, a park and even a pond.
I am referring to a small, private enclave in the heart of Toronto called Wychwood Park. It was created late in the 19thcentury as an artists’ colony and named after a town, called Wychwood, in Oxfordshire, England. The area was rural and the city grew up around it. There is even a creek that was damned to create a large pond, in the centre of the neighbourhood.
Taking a walk through this neighbourhood on a beautiful spring afternoon is my idea of heaven. Deep in Wychwood, surrounded by spectacular homes, two-hundred-year-old trees and even a pond, on the edge of downtown Toronto, is something special. You can’t even hear the noise of the city with all its hustle and bustle.
And Adam, the guy that knows everything about Toronto, its neighbourhoods and heritage homes, had no idea this special place existed. We walked slowly on the quiet streets of Wychwood Park then continued our tour through the wider area, with so many more beautiful streets.
Our tourist in my own city afternoon was capped off with a visit to the delectable Dutch Dreams. This place is more than just your basic ice cream parlour. You will find the usual basics like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. But there’s also fun flavours like caramel turtle fudge, moose droppings or Hawaiian delight.
We each chose a single scoop in a sugar cone. At most ice cream parlours that’s all you get. But not at this place. Adam was a bit overwhelmed when his “single scoop” cone was topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream and even cotton candy. Yes, he ate the whole thing. So did I.
I just loved being a tourist in my own city again, really in my own neighbourhood. Living in the heart of the city I am surrounded by gems like Wychwood Park. Adam, when you visit Toronto again in a couple of months, let’s find another.