At a recent Eastern Canada regional conference (held May 1 and 2, 2004), President Thomas S. Monson, who spent three years serving as the Canadian mission president in Toronto, spoke much of the missionary history of the reigion.
He told the congregation that Canada was the only country other than the U.S. that Joseph Smith ever visited. He also told the story of one of the first missionaries who was asked to go to Canada. This missionary, John E. Page, told Brother Joseph he couldn’t travel because he did not have an overcoat. The prophet took off his own overcoat and gave it to John, who went to Canada and baptized 600 converts.President Monson also related the story of Parley Pratt who came to Canada and met with future president of the Church, John Taylor, a Methodist minister at the time, in Toronto. John Taylor did not join the church right away, but he had a close relationship with Joseph Smith and was even with him later at Carthage Jail. “What a heritage,” declared President Monson.
In addition to a unique missionary past, Toronto’s expansive multiculturalism sets it apart from many other big cities. It is home to virtually all of the world’s culture groups; more than one hundred different languages are spoken among its population.
When the Toronto Ontario temple was dedicated in 1990, the diversity of the people in the area the temple serves was mentioned in the dedicatory prayer: “This nation has become a gathering place for people from scores of other lands. In their veins flows the blood of Israel.” The dedication was translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean to assist over 7,000 members who attended the dedicatory sessions. “What a heritage,” indeed!
4 Places You Must See in Toronto 1. Toronto Ontario Temple
Just north of Lake Ontario, the area where the temple is located has been called “the cradle of Mormonism.” With the dedication of this temple, Canada became the first country outside of the United States to have more than one LDS temple within its borders. It is located in the same area where the Church sent the first missionaries out of the United States and where converts, such as President John Taylor, were baptized. Canadian Saints are a patient lot: temple construction took six years between announcement and dedication in 1990.2. Ontario Science CenterThis science laboratory is a great place to take the family for some educational fun. Plan to stay awhile because there is just too much to see with over 800 exhibits ready to be discovered. Everywhere you look there is something to touch, feel, push, pull, or crank.
Kids as well as adults will love the domed screen theater with movies about the human body, space, or the coral reef. They even have programs for camps, sleepovers, and workshops. The Ontario Science Center is a perfect place to discover how fun science can be.3. The CN TowerBuilt in 1976 by Canadian National (CN) and standing at a height of 1,815 feet, 5 inches, the CN Tower is the world’s tallest building. It is also used as an important telecommunications hub. Take a trip to the four lookout levels to see the amazing view of Toronto.
Stop to dine at the 360 Restaurant located on the second level from the top. This restaurant offers a complete 360 degree view of the city as the floor rotates once every 72 minutes. If you are daring enough to make your way up to the highest level, from the Skypod (a seven-story structure housing two observation decks) you will be able to see Niagara Falls 161 km (100 mi) south of you and Lake Simcoe, 193 km (120 mi) to the north. 4. Centre Island
Hop a ferry that picks up every thirty minutes and find yourself on this idyllic island that is home to a handful of residents but no cars. You can take a carriage ride along Lake Shore Avenue where many of Toronto’s wealthiest families have built beautiful Victorian summer homes, or simply have a picnic along the peaceful shoreline. Be sure to stop at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, the oldest landmark of the city. The lighthouse is the site of an unsolved mystery surrounding the first keeper who disappeared. To this day, Gibraltar Point is believed to be haunted.
Lastly, finish the day off with a visit to the old-fashioned amusement park, Centreville. It includes a petting zoo for the children as well as an area devoted to antique cars, fire engines, an old-fashioned train, an authentic 1890s carousel, and a flume rideStroll Along the Harbor
Harbourfront Centre is one of the most popular places in the downtown area. On the weekends, the place is packed from end-to-end, so the best time to visit is during the week. Begin your walk at Union Station and head west. Along the way you will run into restaurants, shopping centers, several art galleries, activities for the children, sailing classes, and finally end up at the Toronto Music Garden. The garden is designed by the famous cellist Yo Yo Ma, and landscaped by architect Julie Moir Messervy. Best of all, admission is free and there are special events and concerts throughout the summer.An Ethnic Adventure
A majority of Toronto’s immigrants come from Asia. Approximately one tenth of the population is now ethnically Chinese. Consequently, the city is host to several Asian treasures, including “Chinatown.” Packed with fascinating shops and restaurants, its street signs are conveniently bilingual.The Royal Ontario Museum Canada’s largest museum, The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), also hosts its own variety of Asian history and includes the world-renowned T.T. Tsui Galleries of Chinese Art and the Gallery of Korean art. The Gallery of Korean Art is the largest exhibit of its kind in North America holding more than 200 works from the Bronze Age through modern times. ROM isn’t just another boring museum trip for the kids, either. There are several hands-on activities for children such as “museum mystery,” “build a batwing,” “make your own dinosaur out of chicken bones,” “make your own mummy” and much more. For more information and schedule of special events happening at the museum, visit www.rom.on.ca.
A City Under A City Under downtown Toronto lies another city called PATH. You don’t have to join a secret society to go below, simply go down the walkways. This is perfect if your visit to Toronto falls on a bad weathered day, as it has its own host of attractions.
PATH is in the Guinness World Records for being the largest underground shopping complex, with sixteen miles of shopping arcades. You can enjoy free lunch-hour lectures, opera and dance performances, and art exhibits. Each letter in PATH is a different color representing a direction, making navigation a snap. PATH will also take you to all the major attractions and entertainment sites such as CN Tower, the Sky Dome, or the Hockey Hall of Fame. It is also connected to many of the downtown hotels. www.city.toronto.on.ca/path/index.htm will give you basic information and a downloadable map for PATH.“When in Rome…” No vacation to Canada would be entirely complete without in someway experiencing the national past time: hockey! The Hockey Hall of Fame is a nostalgic look at terrific collection of sports memorabilia. You’ll see the original Stanley Cup donated by Lord Stanley of Preston, a replica of the Montréal Canadians’ locker room, Terry Sawchuck’s goalie gear, Newsy Lalonde’s skates, and Max Bentley’s stick.
The Hall offers interactive exhibits for all ages like testing your slapshot or playing goal against virtual players in its “NHLPA Be a Player Zone” You can also make the calls play-by-play for some of hockey’s greatest goals in the “TSN Broadcast Zone.” Visit hhof.com to get more information about the Hall, hours of operation, and admission.(Not) Just for Kids
Summer time is great for outdoor activities and a visit to the zoo. The Toronto Zoo was modeled after the San Diego Zoo and contains about 5,000 animals and an extensive botanical collection. You don’t even need to work up a sweat walking around; a Zoomobile shuttles visitors around the major walkways to view animals from the outdoor paddocks. If you decide to make this an all-day event, pack some sandwiches and juice boxes for a picnic. There are plenty picnic tables throughout the zoo for lunch.
Some of the zoo’s most popular attractions include the African Savanna project, a re-creation of a market bazaar and safari through Kesho National Park; the Gorilla Rainforest, the largest indoor gorilla exhibit in North America; and Splash Island (perfect if the summer heat is getting to be a bit too much), a kid-only water park that includes a replica of a Canadian Coast Guard ship. Check the website for special events at the zoo in the summer at torontozoo.com.