For full Toronto shopping listings, click here.
Toronto shopping can be as diverse as the population in Toronto. Shoppers flock to various areas in Toronto to satisfy a variety of shopping needs. Toronto is most definitely a supreme destination for shopping.
Whether looking for high-end couture fashion as that found in Yorkville and along Toronto’s famous Bloor Street or something eclectic and trendy as in fashion districts as Queen Street West; there are shopping opportunities in Toronto to satisfy all.
Toronto Mall Shopping
Mall shopping is a popular pastime in Toronto. There are five major malls in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). These malls have many of the same stores, retaining enough variance that some shoppers may visit more than one mall in the same shopping adventure.
Eaton Centre is the Mecca of malls in Toronto and is found in the heart of downtown Toronto. It provides a shoppers’ smorgasbord when it comes to variety of franchised boutiques, kiosks, and couture shopping stores housed in its five levels. Eaton Centre offers neatly organized food courts on either end sandwiched by department stores. The shops trend from luxury outlets on the upper levels to more general affordable shops on the lower levels.
Yonge Street which borders the east side of the Eaton Centre can take a shopper all the way from Front Street at the south end of the city right up past Bloor Street. As the shopper heads across Bloor Street they will encounter many international couture boutiques and designer stores selling everything from clothing and accessories, to jewelry, cosmetics, and home accessories.
Toronto Market Shopping
Markets also find their way into Toronto’s shopping scene. The Kensington market is open all week and has an outdoor component in the warmer summer months, although there are many specific stores shoppers go to achieve their finds any time of the year.
Queen Street West brings with it an eclectic trendy youthful shopping experience. Heading one street south to King Street West enters the Fashion District, which is a paradise for the fashionista and clothing diva. Stores upon stores of fabric, and other dressmaker accessories can be bargained for here.
Spadina Avenue offers many ethnic stores with an Asian flair. While heading south to Queen’s Quay brings the shopper to a tourist haven and a beautiful waterfront. Here you will find a spattering of artists and lots of activity during the summer months. The Harbourfront area hosts many multicultural events with shopping markets offering goods appropriate to the celebration.
The St. Lawrence Market can be found north east of the Harbourfront. With most of its activity on Saturday mornings, the market is open all week for produce and other goods, as well as a flea market shoppers can enjoy on Saturdays and Sundays.
As you continue northeast from the St Lawrence Market taking Yonge street north to Richmond Avenue there are many stores for home furnishings, art, restaurant and interior décor suppliers.
Many high-end designer furnishings can be found in this area. Along Front Street you will also find a Christmas store that is open year round. Not surprisingly the store is named just that, ‘The Christmas Store’.
East to Parliament along the lakeshore, Toronto shoppers enjoy the quirky touristy area of the Toronto Distillery district. Having been a distillery from 1837 till 1997, this quaint area has kept much of that charm while bringing a variety of boutiques and art venues for your shopping enjoyment.
New to the city, just north of downtown we find a new outdoor mall. This concept was brought to fruition to celebrate the outdoors and has the same feel of Mizner Park in Toronto.
At this new destination and Yorkville there are also exclusive specialty grocery stores to be found for those wanting organic grain fed, free range, cuts of meat, some of the finest baked goods available, along with out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
Shoppers can walk the streets of Avenue Road or Yonge Street for a distance of two subway stops and find a range of stores. South into the city, Toronto shoppers can find a variety of shops at St. Clair and Bathurst. This area of shopping is also quite the find and offers a pleasant atmosphere to spend a summer afternoon.
Toronto Grocery stores are abundant throughout the city. Of course there are the major chains, each with their own brands of goods along with the regulars. Most are open daily with posted store hours, however there are Metro stores open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. One will find it hard to go hungry in this city.
If shopping for appliances or electronics, Toronto has a couple of popular mega stores to facilitate those needs throughout the city, along with a number of franchised retail outlets.
Costco stores are abundant throughout Toronto. With bulk and discount buying, Costco is a very popular choice to members of the chain and visitors may apply for a day pass.
The ‘big box’ stores are often clustered with outlets nearby. These are typically found closer to the suburban areas of the Greater Toronto Area.
As you can imagine shopping is as diverse in Toronto as the city itself and there is almost nothing that can’t be found in the many malls, stores and outlets within the city.
Best Places to Buy Gifts
Toronto is one of the top-rated cities in the world for shopping so finding great gifts here should not be a difficult task.
From major Toronto shopping centres and outlet malls, to quaint, family run businesses; Toronto offers products, clothing and accessories to match anyone’s taste.
If you are searching for the perfect gift and traditionally enjoy the experiences of a large mall or outlet, Toronto’s Eaton Centre will not let you down.
With well over 200 retail stores, the Eaton Centre is the City’s largest tourist attraction. Over one million people visit the mall every week. It is conveniently located on Yonge Street; close to the subway and other public transit.
The St. Lawrence Market, west of Jarvis Street, between King Street West and the Esplanade is a Toronto institution. As you stroll throughout the market you will encounter vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, some of the best fish in the city, beautiful antiques, unique clothing, colourful accessories and creative artwork.
This is considered one of the best places to buy gifts in Toronto because you will often find one of a kind items. Visit www.stlawrencemarket.com for more information, including any special events that are happening.
Just west of the downtown area you will find Kensington Market; a shopping mecca and a friendly neighbourhood all in one. Kensington is known for good food, vintage shops and inexpensive gifts.
For a closer look at this market go to www.kensington-market.ca.
When you are searching for something super special you might want to check out another well known neighbourhood; Bloor-Yorkville. This area is famous for its blend of style and culture.
It has often been compared to New York’s Fifth Avenue and is considered one of the top 10 shopping destinations in the world. When movie stars come to town, they like to shop here.
If you mention the words ‘Queen Street’ to those who are familiar with Toronto, thoughts of shopping will likely pop into their heads. Toronto’s Queen Street is known for is vast array of unparalled shops.
Here you can find gifts that are funky, chic or traditional. It is easy to get caught up in the Queen Street experience and not notice that several hours have passed. Although the stores are different from Queen Street, Torontonians also relate shopping to the Yonge and Eglinton area of the city.
In this community you will find antique stores, modern furniture shops, and high end fashion retailers. These are just two of the special Toronto streets known for their wonderful shopping opportunities.
When you are visiting Toronto and want to take souvenirs home for family and friends, you have several options. There are shops that carry items specifically designed with the city in mind.
Here is a list of some places you will be able to find great Toronto souvenirs:
- Art Gallery of Ontario Gift Shop
- Royal Ontario Museum Gift Shop
- Bergo Designs
- Nicholby’s Sports & Souvenirs
- Toys, Toys, Toys
- St. Lawrence Market (Souvenir section)
- Blue Banana Market
If you have a hobby enthusiast on your shopping list, you have a number of Toronto hobby shops to choose from. They include old fashion board games, toys for toddlers, sports cards, model kits, and the latest and greatest video games.
Below are just five of the many hobby shops that dot the city.
- 401 Games, Toys & Sports Cards
- Active Surplus Electronics
- Hairy Tarantula
- John’s Hobbies
- Good Catch
A quick search on the internet will help you narrow down which hobby shops you want to visit.
Make Your Own
Some people believe the best gifts are hand-made by you. Toronto offers some special opportunities for you to craft your own gifts. Wise Daughters Craft Market on Dundas Street West is just one example.
At Wise Daughters you can do silk-screening, make mosaics, get help knitting a scarf or hat and learn lino-cut print making. For more information visit www.wisedaughters.com.
The Clay Room on the Danforth and Artistic Way on Eglinton Avenue West are two more examples of places that will assist you in creating a gift for someone special in your life.
If you are interested in venturing outside the downtown core and into the Greater Toronto Area there are plenty of places to purchase great gifts.
Popular malls like Yorkville, Bayview Village, Sheraton Gardens and The Promenade might interest you. If quaint is more your style then a visit to main street Unionville is recommended.
While we have introduced you to some of the best places to buy gifts in Toronto, there are always new and unique shops opening up in and around the city. You just never know what you could discover on your own.
Totally Toronto can help you find the best gifts in the city, feel free to browse around!
It is the biggest tourist attraction in the city of Toronto; the Eaton Centre. The actual structure, located at the corner of Yonge and Dundas is modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy.
Toronto’s Eaton Centre stretches two city blocks and houses well over 200 stores that attract millions of visitors every year. Top retail chains, as well as international designers are represented here.
It is considered one of the best malls in North American. There is rarely a quiet day at the Eaton Centre.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times at Toronto’s top mall, not just because of the shopping opportunities, but because of the spectacular views.
The four-level shopping centre with glass galleria, twinkles with hundreds of bright lights and Christmas shop windows, adorn with dazzling displays seem to bring everything to life.
In addition to being a haven for shopping enthusiasts from all over the world, the Eaton Centre is an award-winning office tower, which includes 3 buildings.
Tenants like the practical location and unique office view. To learn more about the Eaton Centre office towers visit www.tectowers.com.
A special feature of the Eaton Centre is the underground network, an interior passage that allows pedestrians to travel a great distance without facing the outdoor elements. The Centre is also linked to a 17-storey hotel.
In the 19th century Timothy Eaton established a dry goods store on Yonge Street in Toronto. It was a small shop that went on to revolutionize the shopping experience in the city. It eventually became the largest department store chain in the country.
By the 20th century the Eaton’s chain owned most of the land in the Yonge, Queen, Bay and Dundas area. The Eaton family wanted to expand the main store and build a massive complex that would occupy several city blocks.
Following much public debate, plans were made to shift the store to Dundas Street to maintain the Old City Hall and a local church. The new and grand Eaton Centre was an instant success.
The Eaton’s flagship store in Toronto shut down in 2002, but the historical landmark retained its name and remains a shopping centre today, housing a wide variety of retailers.
If shopping isn’t what you have on your mind, the Eaton Centre still has other sights you can enjoy. Some simply enjoy walking the mall and looking at the architecture. Below is a list of interesting spots to check out:
- Shooting Fountain
- Flight Stop Sculpture
- Glass Dome Ceiling
- Swarovski Christmas Tree
The mall has a number of popular restaurants. Both shoppers and non-shoppers fill the seats at places like Mr. Green Jeans and Baton Rouge so you might want to make a reservation first.
There are also a lot of options within a short walking distance of the Eaton Centre. The mall is close to the Entertainment District which is known for its excellent selection of restaurants. King, Queen, Victoria, Adelaide, Richmond; all these streets have varied menus to choose from.
The food court at the Toronto Eaton Centre is the first of its kind. Unlike cramped, messy food courts in many mall settings, the Eaton Centre court is an open, sleek concept with greeters, and not only fast food, but an upscale menu as well.
The idea is to cater to a variety of tastes. You will not be using paper cups and plastic forks in this food court; it is real cutlery all the way.
Getting to Centre
The Toronto Eaton Centre is conveniently located on the subway line with easy access to Dundas and Queen Stations. If you are traveling from within the city or are coming from an area just on the outskirts of Toronto you can use services provided by the Toronto Transit Commission. For more information on transit lines and prices visit www.ttc.ca.
The shopping mall is accustomed to a lot of bus tours coming through so they have designated a specific area; the corner of James Street and Albert Street, as a drop off and pick up spot.
If you plan on driving to the Eaton Centre there are two paid parking areas, one on Bay Street, south of Dundas and north of Queen, the other is on Yonge near Shuter.
Toronto’s Eaton Centre is an elaborate complex with a wide selection of shops, sights, and tastes to explore. You can visit the mall’s website at www.torontoeatoncentre.com.
Shopping in Bloor Yorkville
Toronto is a great city for both the casual and the dedicated shopper, and the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood is one of the most popular areas to check out.
While typically known for its fashionable higher-end stores, in reality there are hundreds of shops in the area that range from discount to viscount.
The main retail zones are found along Bloor Street and Yonge Street, as well as the numerous blocks that make up Yorkville. There are several shopping centres here, including Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville off Avenue Road, and Manulife Centre at the corner of Yonge and Bay streets.
The shopping scene is certainly not limited as the entire neighbourhood, both above and below ground, is packed with stores.
Bloor Street, from Yonge Street westward to Avenue Road, is a high-profile stretch of flagship retailers that happens to be one of the most expensive retail spaces in North America.
It is known by some as the “Fashion Mile,” and others by the more playful “Mink Mile,” as a result of the high-end fashion and jewellery stores that line the street.
Bloor has recently undergone a significant renovation, putting in trees and planters while broadening the sidewalks, in an effort to increase the area’s appeal.
Despite being known as a hot-spot for luxury fashion, in recent years Bloor Street has branched out with a wider range of stores. Some of the most popular retailers include Chapters-Indigo, Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots, Winners, The Gap and H&M.
They mingle together with the traditionally higher-end stores like William Ashley China, Gucci, Williams-Sonoma and Holt Renfrew.
North of this stretch is where shoppers will find Yorkville, which is more-or-less a continuation of the upscale shopping found along Bloor.
The bars, restaurants, hotels and designer boutiques that are the area’s tenants also tend to attract a lot of visiting celebrities, particularly during the Toronto International Film Festival.
A lot of speciality stores also common here, selling anything from watches, purses and shoes to kitchen supplies and fine foods.
Yonge Street is also a busy spot for retail, with more mid-priced shops found there, particularly south of Bloor Street. Here shoppers can find clothing, shoe, and music stores, as well as more eclectic and tourist-oriented fare as one continues to move south.
While the streets of Yorkville and the Bloor-Yonge neighbourhood are lined with shops and restaurants, a parallel shopping world exists underground.
The shopping centres here – Hazelton Lanes, Hudson’s Bay Centre (at Yonge and Bloor), Holt Renfrew Centre and Cumberland Terrace — all have above ground stores that only hint at what’s below.
In fact, most of the neighbourhood is criss-crossed with an inter-connecting underground network of passageways and tunnels not unlike the PATH network that links the Eaton Centre with the downtown financial district.
There are almost as many stores here underneath Bloor-Yorkville than there are above (and frankly, an unbelievable number of coffee shops).
Getting off the subway at Yonge/Bloor Station, one could walk the whole neighbourhood without ever seeing daylight (or cold weather for that matter).
A fair number of clothing stores are found there, introducing an even wider range of choices than up on the street. Specialty shops and boutiques are common here as well, including chocolatiers, bookstores, beauty suppliers, newsstands, hobby shops and electronics. You can also access many of the larger above-ground stores from these tunnels as well.
In terms of getting around, make sure to keep an eye out for the maps posted at regular intervals. Moving from one building to the next can often be quite seamless, so keep your senses sharp if you’re looking for somewhere in particular.
Getting to Bloor-Yorkville is easy, as it is located steps away from both of the city’s main subway lines. Yonge/Bloor Station is where the east-west Bloor-Danforth subway line meets the north-south Yonge-University line.
Bay Station, the next stop west on the Bloor-Danforth line, is also located in the heart of Yorkville. These stations provide easy access to anyone travelling in from outside the city, including those arriving by VIA or GO trains at Union Station.
Meanwhile, those travelling by car will find roads in the area to be slow-moving, particularly during rush hour. If coming from outside downtown, the Don Valley Parkway is the best bet, which can be accessed from the Bloor Street exit.
The good news is that if travelling by car there is generally a good supply of parking scattered liberally throughout the neighbourhood, but just be prepared to pay a premium. “Green P” municipal parking lots charge rates of about $1.75 to $2.00 per half-hour and $12.00 to $15.00 per day, but other lots may cost a bit more.
Shopping in Bloor-Yorkville is a must if you are a fashionista! Check out the great neighbourhood and shops and see for yourself.
Shopping in Kensington Market
Toronto’s Kensington Market is famous for more than one reason. It is a friendly neighbourhood known for its multi-cultural flavour, it was the setting of one of the country’s top-rated television shows, “The King of Kensington”, and shopping in Kensington Market draws millions of people to the area every year.
Of these 3 features, the shopping stands out. When you say the word “Kensington” to someone who lives in Toronto the first thought that comes to mind is shopping.
Kensington Market is west of the downtown core. It is bordered by Spadina, Dundas, Bathurst and College. You can think of it as a big square full of activity, including plenty of shopping opportunities.
There are clothing stores, novelty shops, grocers, furniture outlets, bakeries, specialty shops and souvenir stores. It is a major draw for both Toronto residents and tourists.
Kensington Market is easy to get to. Many people use Toronto’s subway and streetcar service to make their way over to the market. Whether you live in the city or are visiting it is a good idea to take public transit or walk because parking in the Kensington area is limited.
A lot of Toronto residents travel to the market on bicycles. In recent years a business improvement association was established. They helped bring in bike racks to make it easier for customers to park while they shop.
When you shop, shop, shop and then want to drop, you don’t have to worry; there are plenty of places to stop. Kensington Market has several bars and restaurants where you can refresh yourself with something to eat and drink.
In the summer months you have the option of enjoying one of the many outdoor patios that are open within the market.
Toronto’s Kensington Market has close to 40 clothing stores, including trendy shops, unique outlets and vintage stores. You can find modern and funky, as well as classic and elegant items.
Brand new designs and second hand merchandise are both up for sale. There is also a wide variety of accessories at reasonable prices to go along with the clothing.
The area is known for its rare selection of furniture stores. You can choose from old, new, classic and retro designs. Your furniture from Kensington is sure to be a conversation piece.
If you have come across a great recipe that you are anxious to try, but don’t know where to find that special ingredient it is calling for, you will likely be able to find it at a Kensington Grocer.
There are over 40 grocery stores in the market; a lot of them on Baldwin street. All carry fresh products daily. Below is a list of the different types of grocers you will find in Kensington. Each of the stores would fall into one; possibly two, of the categories.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- General Grocer
- West Indian and Jamaican
- South and Central American
- Herb and Spice
When it comes to Toronto souvenirs, Kensington Market is considered one of the best places to shop. For example, Blue Banana Market offers customers one-of-a-kind gifts and creative art work.
Those who frequent Kensington Market say when you have trouble finding a gift for someone, “Blue Banana is the place to go”. As you walk around you will discover many other places to purchase souvenirs in Kensington.
Kensington Market also has some specialty shops that are unique to the area. You will find beautiful arts and crafts that you won’t find elsewhere in the city.
As well there are linen shops, there is a bike shop catering to bicycle enthusiasts, and a couple of stores that specialize in organics, including beauty products.
The Market is closed on Holidays such as Christmas, but otherwise it is open 7 days a week. The grocers open early in the morning, but some of the clothing outlets don’t see customers until 11 a.m. Most stores do stay open until 7 p.m. though.
If you have spent any time at the Kensington Market in Toronto you will notice that the atmosphere is rather uplifting. People are friendly; some of the store owners like to play their favorite CD’s, a lot of artists live and work in the area, and you are often greeted with a big smile.
For more information on shopping at Toronto’s Kensington Market visit www.kensington-market.ca.
Check out more on Totally Toronto’s shopping category and get started today!
Shopping in Midtown
From big chains like GAP and Lululemon Athletica to small independent boutiques, and antique shops, Midtown Toronto has a little bit of everything when it comes to shopping.
The most particular shoppers never leave here empty handed. Shopping in Midtown Toronto can be a fun experience for everyone.
Midtown is north of Bloor, which is considered downtown and south of Lawrence Avenue, which is uptown. Since the year 2000, the area has been undergoing a lot of commercial growth and many young, urban professionals have moved here.
Some people simply refer to the area as “Yonge and Eg” because much of the shopping and nightlife activity takes place in the Yonge and Eglinton area of Midtown. There are others who call it “Yonge and Eligible” due to the high concentration of single businessmen.
The corner of Yonge and Eglinton is dominated by the Yonge/Eglinton Centre; one of Toronto’s most popular malls. It includes 75 stores, a multiplex theatre, an office tower, and a residential tower.
The centre is connected to the Eglinton Subway for easy access. You will find all the top chains in the mall, as well as special services and restaurants.
The Yonge/Eglinton Centre is open 7 days a week. Monday to Friday it is open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m for your shopping convenience.
Saturdays you can shop from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 5 p.m. For more details on the mall visit www.yongeeglintoncentre.com.
When you mention Midtown Toronto, many people picture themselves strolling along the street browsing the many shops along the way.
The “shopping strip”; as some call Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue, has clothing boutiques, men’s shops, sidewalk cafés, food shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. Here’s a list of the types of shops that might not get as much advertising as the bigger chains in Midtown; however, they have a large, loyal customer base.
- Book Stores
- Home Décor
- Bead supplies
- Stationary supplies
- Kitchen Ware
- Environmental Solutions
Since there is a young, urban population in the area that uses public transit, it is not uncommon to see people walking along Yonge Street, carrying an antique table or armoire.
In fact, often purchased items become the subject of conversation on the streets of Midtown; considered one of the friendliest parts of the city of Toronto.
As modern and urban as Midtown Toronto is, it is also home to a Canadian tradition with rural roots. Mary Maxim was established in a tiny Manitoba town back in 1952 and grew into the largest mail order merchandiser of knitting, needlework and craft materials.
For years you could only get Mary Maxim products either through the mail or through the internet, but the Yonge/Englinton Centre has a retail outlet. Keep in mind some items still have to be ordered.
You can do that right at the store if you like. For more information go to www.marymaxim.ca, look at the top of the homepage and click on Toronto retail.
Midtown isn’t all about Yonge and Eglinton. Mount Pleasant sits just south of Eglinton and it has a high concentration of good quality retail shops, such as fashion stores, accessories and specialty shops.
The business community has tried to develop variety and gauge the needs of residents who live in the area. For example, there are a lot of young families in Midtown. Belly Maternity specializes in fashionable, durable clothing for moms to be.
There are also discount shops to appeal to those who want to capitalize on a good deal. For example, Act Two is a store in the Mount Pleasant road area that sells lightly used Prada, Chanel Armani, and Michael Kors items.
You can also find nature shops, grocery stores, as well as décor and design stores in this area of Midtown Toronto.
People who frequent the Midtown area say that shopping here is an adventure; that you never know what unique items you will walk away with or what new store you will discover and fall in love with. Some would describe the area as “cool” and “unique”.
Although Midtown is still part of the city, it can be less hectic than downtown Toronto. For those who are used to the hustle and bustle of downtown shopping, browsing the streets of Midtown can be a rather laid-back venture.
So, if friendly, cool, unique and laid-back is what you are looking for, a trip to Midtown will make for a great shopping day.
Shopping in Queen Street West
The trendiest shopping district in Toronto is Queen Street West, which has been attracting people to its many stores, coffee shops, bars and restaurants for decades.
The street is known for its position on the cutting edge of Toronto fashion, but there is more to this area than just clothes. There are in fact several different potions that feature their own unique characteristics.
Yonge Street to University Avenue
Queen Street West begins at its intersection with Yonge Street, which also happens to be the home of the city’s most popular retail attraction, the Eaton Centre.
In fact, it’s generally considered to be the most popular attraction in the entire city, period, boasting a million visitors a week. Once the home of the now-defunct Eaton’s department store chain, the mall now hosts 330 stores including a recently revamped food court.
The intersection of Yonge and Queen is a major shopping destination, but for the next few blocks westward the street has fewer stores as it skirts the city’s business district.
However, visitors will still some of the great sights and attractions of the city, including City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
University Avenue to Spadina Avenue
Once past University Avenue, the street takes on a new persona as a younger, trendier neighbourhood. In the late 1970s and 1980s, this area was the cutting edge of Toronto’s music scene, which greatly influenced its redevelopment into what we see today.
Inevitably the area will always be associated with its most famous landmark, the CHUM-City Building, home of MuchMusic and several other media properties. Over the years many shows there have been designed to incorporate a certain amount of interaction with people on the street, including the epic MuchMusic Video Awards that close down Queen every August.
Here the street is lined with record shops, clothing stores, tattoo parlours and a range of novelty-type stores, as well as small hardware, electronics and variety stores that remain as hold-overs from a less-trendy era. There is also a large assortment of coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
Moving west towards Spadina, clothing stores become the more prominent tenants. There is an interesting mix of brands here, ranging from chains like H&M, Adidas and Quicksilver to small boutique fashion and jewellery stores.
One favourite spot of the younger crowd is Black Market Clothing, where vintage clothing and novelty t-shirts are the star attractions.
Past Spadina towards Bathurst Street, chain stores give way to mainly the smaller retailers: clothing and music stores, fast food joints, bars and music venues.
Here there are also a number of textile stores, leftovers from when this part of Queen Street was where clothing was made, rather than just sold. Meanwhile, to the north are the vibrant streets of Chinatown, home to an entirely different shopping adventure.
West Queen West
The development of Queen Street West as a shopping and tourist destination continues every year, as more and more of the street becomes revitalized.
West of Bathurst Street, hip restaurants, cocktails lounges and music clubs now crowd what was until recently a fairly grungy area. Here there are also great independent book stores, record shops and food boutiques. This stretch lasts until it reaches Trinity-Bellwoods Park.
Trinity-Bellwoods Park is one of the most popular parks in the city, situated on the north side of Queen Street West stretching all the way up to Dundas Street. It’s a busy park that often hosts cultural events like Nuit Blanche, and it’s also a favourite place for city-dwellers to walk their dogs or have picnics.
A farmer’s market also runs here every Tuesday. Past the park is where Queen Street changes once again, this time into a fashionable district of art galleries and clubs.
This stretch of Queen Street is also known as the Art and Design District, and is dominated by art galleries small and large. It’s also home to the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.
Suffice it to say, the area is a great place for art lovers to visit, whether they are looking to buy or only to admire. There are also a number of nightclubs and boutique hotels here, including the Drake Hotel and The Gladstone.
Dufferin Street is generally considered to be where the Queen Street West district ends, but for how long is uncertain. The neighbourhood further to the west, known as Parkdale, might just be the next hot spot in the evolution of Queen Street.
Artists and hipsters have already begun to colonize this strip of furniture stores, antique shops and greasy spoon diners. Keep an eye out for the next Queen Street West shopping frontier!
The 501 Queen streetcar runs the whole length of Queen Street West at a frequency of every six minutes during peak times. Streetcar lines also run perpendicular to Queen along Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue, while buses run along Dufferin Street, Ossington Avenue and Bay Street as well.
Queen Street West is also well-served by the Toronto Transit Commission subway lines. The Yonge-University line has two stops on the street: Queen Station at Yonge Street, and Osgoode Station at University Avenue.
Bonus fun fact: In the 1940s the TTC proposed the creation of an east-west subway line running along Queen Street. While the line was eventually built along Bloor Street instead, an empty station still sits below Queen Station where the line would have run.
Shopping in St Lawrence Market
The St. Lawrence Market in Toronto is considered on of the best markets in the world. Comprising of three buildings; the market complex includes a South market, North market, a gallery, and a hall.
The market has come a long way over the years, evolving from what was once the centre of government, to what it is today; a social hub filled with over 120 merchants with top quality products.
It is safe to say that this is Toronto’s premier market. Few people living in the city don’t know that the St. Lawrence Market is located at Front and Jarvis streets, close to the downtown core.
There is so much to see and explore at the St. Lawrence Market, from some of the freshest meats and seafood in the city, to delicious cheese and preserves, as well as colourful jewelry, handbags and clothing.
Here’s a look at what you will find in each of the buildings, starting with the St. Lawrence South Market…
- Baked goods
- Cheese & Dairy
- Bulk goods
- Teas & Coffees
- Flowers & Plants
- Restaurants & Snack Bars
The St. Lawrence North Market covers all the same categories as the South Market with two additions:
- Specialty items
- Organic products
It is primarily a Farmers Market on Saturdays and an Antique Market on Sundays.
The North Market does not have tea and coffee shops or restaurants. You have to go to the South Market for those kinds of refreshments.
The St. Lawrence Market Gallery is located on the south-west corner of Front Street east, in what was at one time the city council chamber.
Paintings, photographs and other memorable items are on display to demonstrate the history of the city. Sadly, not a lot of the furniture from those early years (1840’s) survived, but thankfully portraits and paintings did. Admission to the gallery is free. Many local schools bring students here to learn about municipal history.
The St. Lawrence Hall was built in 1850 as a public building for meetings. Today it is used for a variety of gatherings, big and small. It is also used by a lot of movie, television and music video producers.
For more information on the hall or to find out how you can rent the facility go to www.stlawrencemarket.com, click on St. Lawrence Hall and follow the prompts.
If you love food and you like to cook, but need a little help in the kitchen, the St. Lawrence Market is a great place to visit. Talented chefs at The Market Kitchen will teach you how to make delicious, unforgettable meals.
Quality is number one and learning a variety of techniques from around the world is emphasized. There is even an executive chef program that allows you to dine with some of the top chefs in the Toronto area.
For a lot of Toronto family’s going to the St. Lawrence Market has been a long standing tradition, but there comes a time when for some people; especially the elderly, it is no longer easy to get back and forth to the market; however, the market can still accommodate those situations.
If you go to www.shopstlawrencemarket.com you can purchase items and have them delivered to your house. The online market has over 800 products up for sale so you have plenty to choose from.
If you want to break up your shopping a little, you can stop and enjoy a number of activities and events taking place in and around the market.
There have been barista and cooking competitions here, the city’s annual International Street Performers Festival, known as Buskerfest is held at the St. Lawrence Market every summer, and a lot of dazzling Christmas activities take place here.
St. Lawrence Market merchants and management value their loyal customers and are always trying to create special experiences for them. Here are examples of some fun events they have staged in the past.
- Customer Appreciation Night
- Mother’s Day Brunch in The Kitchen
- Strawberry Festival
- Corn Roast
- Film Fest
- Halloween Celebrations
Adding these special events makes the shopping experience fun for the whole family.
One of the best parts to shopping in the St. Lawrence Market is that it is easy to get to. If you take a subway to either Union or King station, it is just a short walk to the market. Those who prefer to drive can use “Green P” parking lots or meters that surround the market.
Shoppers Need Fuel
Shopping and food go hand in hand, after all there is so much to see that you will build up an appetite walking around from merchant to merchant.
There is nothing like the food at St. Lawrence Market. It has become a popular spot for shoppers and workers from nearby businesses. People can expect fast, fresh and friendly service any day of the week.
Each section of the St. Lawrence Market has different hours so it is best to go online to check for opening and closing times. The St. Lawrence Market is a true Toronto landmark.