Little gems

In my ongoing effort to assuage those humourless Torontonians hurt by my missive about their city, I thought I might share with you three little gems I’ve discovered while here. After all, Toronto isn’t all bad, Rob Ford notwithstanding.

If I were to measure how much I like a place by how often I frequent it, I think Jimmy’s Coffee would be my favourite place in Toronto. Aside from brewing very good coffee, this little joint, in a converted house on Portland Street between King West and Adelaide, is a lovely little spot to grab a cup of joe en route to work, sit and knock off the daily crossword, or enjoy the afternoon sun on the back patio. Being watched over by the joint’s namesakes—Carter, Hoffa, Morrison, Hendrix, Dean, Stewart—is a delightful plus; so, too, is the friendly, community-oriented vibe.

I’m also quite keen on the Gardiner Museum. Did you know it’s the only ceramics museum in North America? I know, right! You’re probably thinking to yourself: there’s a museum for ceramics in North America; or, there’s only one museum for ceramics in North America? Either way, it’s quite the place—especially if, like me, you have a thing for tea sets. On the occasion of my visit, the museum was featuring a special exhibition on four centuries of British style, power and taste as captured in ceramics from that country. Quite good.

Finally, there’s the Toronto Islands. I’ve already mentioned them. They’re worth me mentioning them again. Accessible and affordable public lands, replete with gorgeous parks, beaches and forested areas; an oasis in the shadow of Toronto’s jumbled skyline of concrete and steel.

I’d previously spent the day at Ward’s Island; more recently, I decided to check out another of the Islands’ beaches, Hanlan’s Point. A “clothing-optional” beach, it was freer of screaming children and, consequently, quieter and less crowded on a weekday morning, but, as I discovered on a repeat visit, far busier—and naked-er—than I would have liked on a weekend. Nevertheless, the $7 it cost me for the round-trip ferry ticket was well worth it, especially since the ferry trip takes only 15 minutes in either direction but feels, once lying on the beach, to have transported me light-years from the madness of the city.

See? Not all bad!


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