The Gathering of the Fellowship Tolkien Fan Community



Visiting Toronto

Welcome to Canada:

Canada Customs Information


US Customs Information


Local Laws


Government Resources

Transportation to Toronto:

By Air


By Train


By Bus


By Automobile

Toronto: You Belong Here

Language & Customs


How to get around


Toronto Myths


What to See, What to Do


I'm Hungry - Where to Eat

Resources on Tourism


Flag of CanadaWelcome to Canada!

Canada is big. REALLY big.

There is so much to see and do here, that it would be impossible to do everything in one trip. Western Canada is renowned for its stunningly beautiful countryside, while Eastern Canada mixes the flavour and charm of Europe with the bustle of trendy New York.

The Gathering of the Fellowship is being held in Toronto, the capital city of the Province of Ontario, one of 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada. There is a great deal of cultural diversity across this nation. Starting with the two founding cultures of English and French settlers to North America, it has been enhanced with a variety of cultures from the immigrants that have settled here. A cross-Canada tour of the people would introduce you to all that identifies us Canadians: a love of nature and the outdoors, a desire for peace and harmony, a philosophy of patience and tolerance, and an inherent, enduring strength borne of the very land and weather of this land.

We are a sovereign nation, but we count ourselves as brothers and sisters to Americans. While we may not always agree politically, we share greatly in their culture and we are their biggest trading partner. The boundary between Canada and the United States is the longest undefended border in the world. However, while travel across this border is relatively free and unrestricted, visitors should be aware that they are indeed crossing an international boundary.

Canada Customs Information

To visit Canada...

Most U.S. Citizens
  • You will need a valid passport or proof of who you are (a birth certificate and driver’s license is currently sufficient—click here for more information).
Some U.S. Citizens*, non-U.S. Citizens, and from outside the U.S.
  • You must be healthy (if you’re staying for longer than 6 months, you may need a doctor’s examination).
  • You must respect Canadian laws.
  • You will need a valid passport, proof of who you are, or other travel documents.
  • You will need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) if you are from one of these countries.
  • You may need a letter of invitation.
  • If you are bringing equipment/goods/merchandise for exhibits/vending at the convention, you will need the Canada Customs Letter provided for you by us (details soon!).
You may not be permitted to enter Canada if you have a criminal conviction, including a conviction for driving while impaired. Find out more about inadmissibility to Canada.

Read important information on the new Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record program (API/PNR).

*If you are uncertain about the entry requirements, contact a Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate for information on what you will need before coming to Canada.

Once you arrive, an officer will ask you a few short questions. To make this go quickly, keep your passport with you and not in your luggage.

The officer will stamp your passport or advise you how long you may stay in Canada. Feel free to ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

After you arrive, you may want to change the conditions of your visit. This is possible in special cases. You must do this before your status as a temporary resident expires. Apply to extend your stay or visit three weeks before your visa expires.

For detailed information on Visitors to Canada, please review the Citizen and Immigration Canada website and the Visiting Canada page.

US Customs Information

For American citizens and residents, entry into Canada is usually trouble-free. It is important to realize, however, that you prepare for your return entry into the United States.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that, by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. The goal is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors. The U.S. passport is the document of choice because of the incorporated advanced security features.

The travel initiative requirements will be rolled out in phases. The proposed implementation timeline is as follows:
  • December 31, 2006 – Passport required for all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
  • December 31, 2007 – Passport required for all land border crossings, as well as air and sea travel.
These requirements will be implemented AFTER the dates of the Gathering convention (July, 2006); however, it is highly recommended that U.S. citizens carry a valid passport for entry into Canada and their return to the United States. The following documents are currently acceptable for travel between the two countries:
  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship such as your U.S. passport or certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the city, county or state in the U.S. where you were born. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen and do not have a passport, you should travel with your naturalization certificate. A driver’s license, voter’s registration card or Social Security card is NOT valid proof of citizenship.
  • Photo identification, such as a current, valid driver’s license.
  • Alien permanent residents of the U.S. must present their Alien Registration Card, commonly called a “Green Card.”
  • Due to international concern over child abduction, single parents, grandparents, or guardians traveling with children often need proof of custody or notarized letters from the other parent authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of citizenship as explained above.) Any person under the age of 18 and traveling alone should carry a letter from his/her parent or guardian authorizing the trip. Travelers without such documentation may experience delays at the port of entry.
In Toronto, the United States Consulate is located at 360 University Ave., between Dundas and Queen Streets and between the St. Patrick and Osgoode subway stations, just 2 blocks west from the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

For more detailed information, please review the Tips for Travelers to Canada page on the U.S. Department of State website.

Local Laws

Health Information

Make certain that your insurance policy covers you during your time in Canada. Consider purchasing supplemental or other insurance if your own policy does not provide this coverage. You may also wish to check with your health insurance company to ensure that your policy includes coverage for medical evacuations, hospitalization abroad, premature birth abroad, and other coverage for a beneficiary who is involved in an accident or illness outside your country of origin. Carry details of your insurance plan with you, and, leave a copy with a relative or friend at home.

U.S. CITIZENS: THE SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE PROGRAM DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR HOSPITAL OR MEDICAL COSTS OUTSIDE THE U.S.A.

If you are entering Canada with prescription drugs and syringes used for medical reasons, be sure to keep the medication in its original and labeled container to avoid problems. Syringes should be accompanied by a medical certificate that shows they are for medical use and should be declared to Canadian Customs officials. It may also be wise to carry with you an extra prescription from your doctor in the event your medication is lost or stolen and to attest to your need to take such prescriptions.

What Can I Bring Into Canada?

Declare everything you are carrying including, meat, animal hides, live birds, plants and fruit. These items can harbor microscopic diseases and pests that can seriously harm Canada’s agriculture industry and environment. Administrative penalties of up to $400 may be imposed or prosecution may be pursued if you do not declare restricted or prohibited items. Inspectors of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) work with specially trained detector dogs — to prevent the entry of plant and animal products prohibited by law.

Remember, the pest and disease situation around the world is constantly changing. Call your local Canadian Embassy for the most current information before you travel.

Alcohol and Tobacco

The drinking/smoking age in Canada varies from province to province. In Ontario, which is the province where Toronto is located, the drinking/smoking age is 19 years. Be prepared to carry ID to prove your age.

You can import, duty and tax free, one of the following: up to 1.5 liters of wine, or 1.14 liters of liquor, or 24 x 355 milliliter cans or bottles (8.6 liters) of beer or ale. You can bring in more than this free allowance of alcohol, as long as the quantities are within the limit set by the province. However, the cost may be high, as you must pay both customs assessments and provincial taxes.

You can import, duty and tax free, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of manufactured tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. You may bring in additional quantities, but you must pay duties and taxes on the excess amount.

Bringing Pets Into Canada

DOGS AND CATS: Currently, there is no quarantine for import of pet dogs or cats. If you have several pets, you may be asked to provide certification that they are your personal pets and not for resale.

Dogs and cats may enter Canada if accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate issued, in either English or French, by a licensed veterinarian, which clearly identifies the animals and shows that they are currently vaccinated against rabies. This certificate should identify the dog or cat, as in breed, color, weight, etc., plus indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used (trade name), serial number and duration of validity (up to 3 years). Please note if a validity date does not appear on the certificate, then it is considered a one-year vaccine.

There is no waiting period between the time the dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies and the time it is imported into Canada.

If the above requirements are not met, an inspector will order the owner to have the dog or cat vaccinated for rabies within a period of time specified in the order and to provide the vaccination certificate to an inspector, all at the owner's expense.

SPECIAL PURPOSE DOGS: Service dogs that are certified as a guide, hearing or other service dog are not subject to any restrictions for importation where the person importing the dog is the user of the dog and accompanies the dog to Canada.

OTHER PETS: For specific information on the importation of other kinds of pets into Canada, please visit the Canadian government webpage describing Pet Imports.

Firearms and Other Weapons

Canada’s firearms laws make Canada safer for residents and visitors. Contact one of the Canadian customs offices or a Canadian Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for detailed, specific information before you import a firearm. For detailed information, consult the List of Restricted and Prohibited Firearms page on the Canada Firearms Centre website.

Some other types of weapons are also prohibited in Canada. Prohibited weapons include switchblades, butterfly knives and many martial arts weapons. Penalties, even for possession of such weapons, range from confiscation and fines to imprisonment.

Before bringing ANY weapon into Canada, even if it is a static part of a costume, it is wise to contact the Canada Border Services Agency ahead of time.

Please review the Gathering of the Fellowship's Weapons Policy.

Taxes

In Canada, almost all purchases you make are subject to a Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is generally 7%. In Ontario, many purchases are also subject to an 8% Sales Tax. Visitors to Canada are eligible for a refund of the GST they pay on purchases made here, through the Visitor Rebate Program. Click here for more information... 

Driving in Ontario, Canada

If you are a visitor to Ontario and want to drive while you are here, you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver's license from your own province, state or country. If you are from another country and visiting Ontario for more than three months, you need an International Driver's Permit from your own country or you may have to apply for an Ontario driver's license, depending on your length of stay. You should also ensure your automobile insurance coverage is sufficient. Visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website for more information.

If you are a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA), you are covered with similar privileges while driving in Canada, under the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

Government Resources

Here are a number of useful links to Government Websites and Pages:

Information updated January 27, 2006.


Transportation to Toronto

By Air
Yankee HolidaysYankee Holidays, a leading tour operator in the United States, is now offering all-inclusive packages for the Gathering of the Fellowship!  Yankee Holidays specializes in worry-free travel—they arrange everything for you, including booking hotel rooms, arranging airport transportation, providing discounts to Toronto-area attractions, and even registering you for the convention. They also offer SIGNIFICANT discounts for airfare, which you can book through them!

You can call them at 1-800-225-2550 or 978-922-0461 to book your travel package RIGHT NOW,
or visit the Registration Page for more information.
Air Canada

We have appointed Air Canada as the Official Airline
of the Gathering of the Fellowship 2006
in Toronto, July 1 to 4, 2006.

Simply contact Air Canada's Conventions Reservations North American
toll-free number at 1-800-361-7585 or your travel agent*
and take advantage of Special Discounted Airfares!

Our Convention Number is CV060870.

By ensuring that the convention number appears on your ticket,
you will be supporting our organization. We thank you!

Domestic and Trans-border Fare Discounts:
Fare Type
Booking Class
Travel Within Canada
Travel Between Canada
& USA (excluding Hawaii)
Executive Class
J
15%
15%
Executive Class
C
5%
5%
Latitude Plus
-
15%
15%
Latitude
-
10%
10%
Tango Plus
-
5%
5%
Overseas Fare Discounts:
Fare Type
Booking Class
Travel Between North America
and International Destinations (including Hawaii)
Executive First
J
15%
Executive First
C
10%
AC Published Fares
Y
15%
AC Published Fares
S, M, B, H
10%
AC & Star Alliance Interline
Published Fares
Per
published fare
10%
*Please note: Discounts are not applicable to bookings made via the internet. All fares listed in the table are subject to the normal tariff rules and regulations. Discounts are not applicable to seat sales.
Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is Canada’s busiest airport, handling 24.7 million passengers in 2003. Established in 1939, Pearson Airport currently handles more than 1,200 arrivals and departures every day—or more than 383,000 aircraft movements last year. By the year 2020—the number of travelers passing through the airport’s gates is expected to reach 50 million. Lester B. Pearson International Airport is operated by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), a private, not-for-profit corporation. The airport is currently undergoing a 10-year, $4.4 billion development plan and expansion.

Toronto has airline connections with most major airports in the United States and the rest of the world.

There are direct connections between the airport and downtown Toronto, as well as automobile rental agencies and taxi and limo services.

There are also significantly cheaper Public Transit Connections with the subway (one-way adult fare: $2.50 CAD).
TTC directions to the Sheraton: Take the 192 “Airport Rocket” Bus to Kipling subway station; take the subway to Queen station.

Airport Express

REMEMBER YOUR TERMINAL (1, 2, or 3)!

If you're renting a car and driving yourself:
Driving Directions
Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
To
Sheraton Centre
Toronto Hotel


Buffalo Niagara International AirportBuffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) averages approximately 110 daily flights with nonstop service to 18 cities, the BNIA plays an essential role in the development of business and tourism in the Buffalo Niagara region. With its relative proximity to Toronto (102 miles/164 km), Buffalo Niagara International Airport is a viable alternative to flying directly to Toronto. There are automobile rental agencies available, and there is a direct shuttle service between Buffalo Airport and Toronto: Niagara Air Bus.

If you're renting a car and driving yourself:
Driving Directions
Buffalo Niagara Int'l Airport
To
Sheraton Centre
Toronto Hotel



By Train
Union StationInter-city Rail service is available at Union Station, which is located in downtown Toronto. Union Station is connected to the PATH network, so it is possible to walk from the train station directly to the Sheraton Centre Hotel without ever going outdoors! The hotel is located six blocks directly north of the train station, along York Street or Bay Street. Union Station is also a subway station, so you can connect to Toronto's vast transit system directly from the inter-city trains.

Rail options:
  • Amtrak - If you're coming to the Gathering from the United States, the train is an excellent and less expensive alternative to flying. Amtrak has frequent service into Toronto's Union Station, with border crossings at Buffalo, New York and Michigan. Use the Fare Finder on Amtrak's home page, which makes a great starting point for planning your trip. For information on crossing the Canada/USA border by train, click here.
  • VIA Rail CanadaVIA Rail Canada - This is Canada's national rail service. You can travel on VIA Rail all over the country, as well as New York City. You can use VIA's website to plan your whole trip. You can also download VIA's current train schedules here in PDF format. Click here for information for non-Canadians.
  • GO Transit - This is the local commuter rail service. They provide convenient rail links (and bus service) from major centres in south-central Ontario. If you decide to stay at a hotel other than the Sheraton, and you don't want worry about driving into the city, this option is for you. There are many routes and stations, and service is frequent. One-way fares run from anywhere from $3.00 CAD to $9.00 CAD, depending on the distances involved. Click here for information on routemaps, schedules, fares, and FAQ.

By Bus
Toronto Coach Terminal Toronto Coach Terminal is located within ten minutes walk of the Sheraton Centre Hotel, just northwest of Dundas Street and Bay Street. It also has a direct connect to the PATH system of underground building connections.

Bus options:
  • Greyhound - This is a large bus company that operates routes throughout Canada and the United States. Service into Toronto is frequent and affordable.
  • Coach Canada - Coach Canada is affiliated with Coach USA, and has a number of scheduled routes into Toronto.
  • Voyageur - This company has bus routes for travelers from eastern Ontario and Québec.
  • Ontario Northland - This company offers service to/from northern Ontario.
  • GO Transit - As well as commuter train service, GO Transit also has an extensive system of bus routes connecting to train stations throughout south-central Ontario.

By Automobile
If you decide to drive to the Gathering, it should not be necessary to emphasize the importance of purchasing a detailed road map! For an up-to-date map of Ontario which you can download,
click here.

There are literally dozens of good street maps of Toronto, available at the better book stores, usually in the Travel Section. We strongly advise purchasing one of them before starting your trip. This company makes the best Toronto maps: MapArt.

Toronto is fairly easy to navigate, as the streets are laid out in a grid pattern. Traffic in Toronto can be heavy at times, especially at the height of the tourist season, so give yourself lots of extra travel time.

Distances to Toronto by road,
and approximate travel times:
From Buffalo, NY 102 miles (164 km), 2 hours
From Detroit, MI 243 miles (391 km), 4¾ hours
From Cleveland, OH 295 miles (475 km), 5¼ hours
From Montreal, QC 338 miles (544 km), 7 hours
From New York City, NY 490 miles (789 km), 7½ hours
From Philadelphia, PA 497 miles (800 km), 7¾ hours
From Sault Ste Marie, ON 531 miles (855 km), 8¼ hours
From Chicago, IL 544 miles (875 km), 8½ hours
From Boston, MA 548 miles (882 km), 8½ hours
From Washington, DC 560 miles (901 km), 8¾ hours
From Atlanta, GA 1,011 miles (1,627 km), 15½ hours
From Miami, FL 1,530 miles (2,462 km), 23½ hours
From Los Angeles, CA
2,600 miles (4,184 km), 40 hours
There are, of course, a number of useful internet mapping resources: To calculate Driving Directions to the Sheraton Centre, use the hotel's street address: 123 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Driving Directions

There are several approaches to Toronto, from various directions. You can find your way to the Sheraton Centre Hotel using the following map and guides:
Approaches to Toronto
Driving Directions
From the South
via
Buffalo, NY

Driving Directions
From the East
from
Montreal, QC


Driving Directions
From the East
via
Interstate 81

Driving Directions
From the West
from
Detroit, MI


Driving Directions
From the West
from
Port Huron, MI

Driving Directions
From the North
via
Highway 400


Driving Directions
From the North
via
Highway 404


Available Local Parking

Toronto Parking AuthorityNathan Philips Square Municipal Parking Garage
On Queen Street West, across from the hotel. There is a direct underground pedestrian connection (PATH) to the Sheraton Centre Hotel (Concourse Level) from the Parking Garage (Level One). The Garage also has a car wash and several pedestrian exits to the street. Nathan Phillips Square is the main City Hall Square in Toronto, and there are many activities that take place there in the summer.

Rates: $1.75 CAD per ½ hour, to the following MAXIMUMS:
  • Daytime Monday to Friday (07:00 - 18:00): $13.00 CAD
  • Daytime Saturday (07:00 - 18:00): $6.00 CAD
  • Evenings Monday to Saturday (18:00 - 07:00): $5.00 CAD
  • Sunday and Holidays (24 hours): $6.00 CAD
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
Valet Parking is available at the main hotel entrance. Rates: Coming soon!

Over-Height (Outdoor) Parking Information
Coming soon!

Street Parking
Long-term street parking (greater than 3 hours) is not available in Toronto without a permit. Illegally parked cars are subject to tagging and towing. For information on parking in Toronto, click here.

Information updated January 26, 2006.


Toronto - You Belong Here!
Toronto (pronounced tor-ON-toe, or by the locals: tor-ON-no):
The name is aboriginal (Huron) in origin, meaning “Meeting Place”.

Welcome to the Big Smoke, Hogtown, T.O., the Megacity… welcome all hobbits, rangers, dwarves and elves. For those of you who are new to our fair city, this great city of Toronto, here are some tips on where and how to have a great time, when not preoccupied with all things Tolkien.

Toronto – Language & Customs

You’re probably saying to yourself, “but I thought they spoke English in Toronto”. Our official languages are English and French, but, as with all cities, there are local terms and slang that you may want to familiarize yourself with before you hit the streets:

10 digit dialing – a reality in Toronto as it is in New York City; in order to access any local number, you must dial its area code plus the number. Toronto has two area codes:  416 (original) and 647 (new). The suburban areas of Toronto have the area code 905, which are also considered as local calls. All long distance calls to points within the USA and Canada start with 1. All international calls outside the USA and Canada start with 011.

$100 bills – these are brown in colour, and not accepted in most stores in Toronto. If you have $100 bills, you should go to a bank or the hotel concierge, and have them changed down to $20 bills instead.

Bank Machine – what we call an ATM or Instant Teller machine. Most machines are operated by banks, and, unless it belongs to your personal bank, will charge a surcharge from $1.50 - $2.25 CAD per use.

Bar (also referred to as a Pub) – an establishment licensed by the government of Ontario to serve alcoholic beverages. By law, bars and pubs must also serve food. Many bars in Toronto permit smoking in certain sections. As a result, people under the age of 19 are not allowed to enter bars or pubs, even if they are accompanied by their parents and/or intend not to drink. If you look younger than 25, you will be asked to produce photo identification, such as a Driver’s License or Passport. College and/or University Student I.D.’s are not suitable forms of identification for Toronto bars and pubs.

GST – pronounced gee-ess-tee, this stands for the Goods and Services Tax which is levied on all goods purchased in Canada. If you are a tourist from outside of the country, and you have a valid passport, remember to keep all of your receipts as you can apply to the Canadian government for a GST refund on all of your purchases once your trip is over. (Click here for more information.)

The GTA – pronounced the gee-tee-eh, this refers to the “Greater Toronto Area”, including the suburban areas outside of the perimeter of the City of Toronto. Sometimes called the “905 region”, as this is the area code for the phone numbers located in this area.
Interac
Interac – sometimes pronounced incorrectly as “Interact”. This is our term for direct debit payment using your debit card. Look for the yellow and black signs on doors to see if you can pay using your debit card. No signature is required; all they need is your PIN. More convenient than carrying cash, that’s for sure! Unfortunately, this network is only available to Canadians.

The LCBO – pronounced the ell-see-bee-oh. This stands for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and they run the stores where you can buy wine, coolers, hard liquor, and imported beer. Alcohol cannot be purchased at corner stores. Since the age of majority is 19 years old, if you look under 25, the cashiers at the LCBO will ask you for photo identification. Torontonians purchase beer at a place called The Beer Store.

The Leafs, the Buds, the Blue and White – all references to Toronto’s beloved NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. From October to June, this town has hockey mania, and, for better or worse, we love our hockey team. The best place to see the Leafs in action is at the Air Canada Centre where they play, or head on down to the Loose Moose Sports Bar on Front Street West, to immerse yourself in the mania of the crowd. 
Loonie
Loonie – a golden coin which is valued at $1.00 CAD, nicknamed for the picture of the bird on the tail side. 

Restaurant – an establishment designed to serve food to the public. Some restaurants may also be licensed to serve alcohol. Restaurants in Toronto are smoke-free, and as a result, are happy to serve people of all ages.

Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke (pronounced ee-TOE-bih-coe), York, East York, City of Toronto – at one time, each of these individual boroughs was its own city, before the amalgamation and formation of the Megacity (now called just plain old Toronto).

Spadina Avenue – pronounced spuh-DYE-nuh (not Spud-EE-na), Spadina Avenue (which is the same as Spadina Road) is the centre of the Fashion District in Toronto, and also the main street of Chinatown. If you are looking for elven-type cloth or a good leather oilskin coat to keep out the rain on those long journeys, venture on down to Spadina Avenue.

Street meat – don’t worry; this is a family website! We just refer to the many hot dog vendors found on our streets as vendors of “street meat”, or “the hot dog guy”. In Toronto, we grill our hot dogs, veggie dogs and sausages, and they come with a full range of condiments. If you ask nicely, they may even give you cheese. The best vendors are found on the corners of Queen and Spadina and at the Queen Street Exit of the Eaton Centre.
Toonie
Toonie – a small gold coin surrounded by a larger silver ring coin, its value is $2.00 CAD. The toonie gained its nickname for being twice the value of a loonie. Sometimes called a “doubloonie” by folks from outside the GTA.

The TTC – pronounced the tee-tee-see. This is the Toronto Transportation Commission, or the public transit system of Toronto. Please see the section on “How to get around in Toronto” (below) for more details, but just remember that people refer to the subway, the buses, the streetcars, and wheel-trans shuttles, individually or collectively, as “The TTC”.

Yonge Street – pronounced young street, Yonge St. is the longest street in the world; it starts at Lake Ontario and goes all the way around the Great Lakes to the border of Ontario and Manitoba as it becomes part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Yonge Street is considered to be Toronto's main street, and will lead you to many tourist sites, like the Eaton Centre, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Hummingbird Centre, the World’s Biggest Bookstore, the Canon Theatre, the Hard Rock Café, etc. You can walk for several blocks along Yonge Street, but the best way to travel is by using the subway (the TTC).

And in Toronto, if you call it the “washroom”, “bathroom”, “loo”, “water closet”, “toilet”, “mens”, “ladies”, “womens”, it all means the same thing.

How to get around in Toronto

Public Transit

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

The best way to get around the city is via the TTC. It truly is the better way. Whether you take the streetcar, subway, or bus, you will always get to your location, and sometimes, when traffic is restricted or banned because of construction, the TTC is the only way. The cost for a one-way fare is $2.50 CAD. If you are taking the bus or streetcar, they accept exact change only. Tickets and tokens can be purchased at each subway station at the price of 5 for $10.00 CAD and 10 for $20.00 CAD. A day pass can be purchased for $8.00 CAD, which provides for unlimited travel per day.


Streetcar
Click here to read all about Toronto’s Streetcars.
The Sheraton Centre is conveniently located on Queen Street between two TTC subway stations: Osgoode Station to the West, and Queen Station to the East. You can ask the Ticket Collector in the subway booths for copies of Ride Guides (the transit system map), or you can check their website. You can also call their information line at 416-393-INFO (4636). The service is available 24 hours a day, but you can speak to a live operator between the hours of 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
TTC Subway System - Downtown:
Subway downtown
Click here to download the full Subway map.
Click here to download the full TTC System map (Ride Guide).

The 501 Queen streetcar stops right outside the Sheraton Centre at York St. Other streetcars may be diverted onto the tracks of Queen Street, so be sure to look for a 501. If a car has the destination “Roncesvalles” on the top, this means it is going back to the yard, and it may not be the best idea to board this streetcar.

The subway hours of operation are:
Monday to Saturday approximately 6:00 AM – 1:30 AM
Sunday approximately 9:00 AM – 1:30 AM
 
Taxis

Taxi cabs are readily available. The initial fare is $2.75 CAD as soon as you sit down. Most of the times, you can just flag a cab down from the street if their top lights are on. Reputable taxis to look for in Toronto are:
  • Beck Taxi (416-751-5555): Orange cabs with the green, white & orange light on top.
  • Maple Leaf Taxi (416-392-3000): Blue and white taxis.
Most drivers know their way to the Sheraton Centre from any point in the city, and from the Sheraton Centre know their way to major attractions. Toronto has a regulatory body, the Toronto Taxicab Commission, whose job it is to ensure that all passengers experience a safe, clean, and quiet taxi ride. They can be contacted at 1-800-TO-TAXIS for more information.

Other forms of transportation which will take you to points outside of the city include VIA Rail and GO Transit, and major bus companies (Greyhound, Adirondack Trailways, Go Transit).

There is a shuttle bus between the Sheraton Centre and the airport, however, you can negotiate a flat rate with cab companies (approx $40 - $50 depending on your point of departure in the city), or call for an airport limousine.

If you must drive

Please note the Tow-Away zones for street parking on the major streets of downtown. Towing is strictly observed. Even if you pay for parking, if the zone is a Tow-Away zone, your car will be towed. No exceptions. Look for the little pictures of tow trucks. Towing times are usually during rush hours – 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. If you park in a way that blocks a streetcar’s path (remember—they’re on rails—they can’t drive around your parked car), they are particularly merciless with you.

If you choose to park in a designated lot, parking prices can cost up to $20 CAD/day for outside lots from the hours of 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Indoor parking lots can cost more than that, since some of them do not have flat day rates, and charge hourly rates.

If you drive on any street where streetcars travel, i.e. King St., Queen St., College St., Bathurst St., Dundas St., and others, please note that it is illegal to pass a streetcar while it is stopped with its doors open. Not only will you get a nice horn honking from the streetcar driver, you could hit a descending passenger or be fined or ticketed by police. You may drive in the streetcar’s lane unless there are signs prohibiting it. The most notable exceptions are on Queens Quay and Spadina Avenue.


Green lights that flash mean that all other signals are indicating red (including pedestrian signals) and that you may proceed through the intersection, even to make a left turn.

Cycling

Cycling in TorontoGetting around by bicycle is often the preferred way in Toronto. The City has made it easy by designating a number of bicycle lanes and routes on downtown streets, and placing lock bars at various popular locations. There are many, many parks in the City, with lots of great bicycle paths that take you deep into natural settings in the middle of the tall buildings. Exploring Toronto by two wheels is a popular tourist activity. And the summer time is great for cyclists—why not bring your bicycle with you and solve all of the traffic congestion problems you might encounter?


Bicycles are considered vehicles and must be treated as such by automobile drivers. Please note that helmet use by cyclists is mandatory.

Walking - truly the better way

The other way that most people get around Toronto is by using their own two feet. From the Sheraton Centre, there are many attractions that are within a 5 – 30 minute walking distance, with a scenic route along the way. For more information, please see the “What to Do” section (below).

Toronto Myths

So you’re a tourist in the Big Smoke, eh? 

Canadians, in particular Torontonians (and Newfoundlanders), are known for their dry sense of humour, especially when it comes to pulling the wool over tourists’ eyes. Here is a little guide to dispel the myths and stories which you might hear as you wander around the town...

“Hey, isn’t that Gene Wilder on your money?”
 
Canadian 10-dollar billCanadian paper bills come in many different colours. We are a nation of drinkers; we like to make sure we can still pay for the bill at the end of the night. Blue is for $5, purple is for $10 (and it's not Gene Wilder, but Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada's first Prime Minister), green is for $20 and red is for $50. Denominations of $2.00 and lower come in coin form.

Canadian Tire MoneyIf you find a bill with a picture of a man in a Tam O’Shanter on it, you probably have Canadian Tire Money. To redeem your cash, visit Canadian Tire at Yonge & Davenport, the original hardware superstore before the likes of Home Depot and the Building Box.

“Polar Bears Walk Down The Streets”

Well, since the Gathering will be in the summer, this won’t be nearly as big a problem as you might think. The Polar Bears don’t walk in the downtown core, since there are too many cars. But if you do want to see polar bears, head up to Sheppard subway station and take the Sheppard East bus to the Toronto Zoo, where the polar bears, along with penguins and snowy owls, will be there to greet you.

“Living in Igloos”

In Toronto, we don’t get enough snow to build igloos to live in, so we’re forced to use materials such as bricks, wood, steel beams and glass. While they aren’t igloos, the various buildings and houses still show off the creativity of Canadians. If you want to browse the architecture and neighbourhoods of Toronto, why not try a walking tour?

“Can I make a quick day trip to visit my friend in Vancouver?”

Canada is the second largest country (area wise) in the world. If you want to make a “day trip”, here are driving distances to some of the popular areas in Canada. You decide...

Niagara Falls 1½ hours drive South of Toronto
London, ON 3 hours drive West of Toronto
Ottawa 5 hours drive East of Toronto
Windsor 5 hours drive West of Toronto
Montreal 7 hours drive East of Toronto
Vancouver 4 days drive West of Toronto

What to see, What to do

Shopping

There are a lot of shopping areas within walking distance of the Sheraton Centre, and also, within 15 to 20 minutes via subway. Here are a few of the key shopping areas you may want to check out during your visit...
Eaton Centre
The Eaton Centre
From the Sheraton Centre – 5 minute walk east
Unfortunately, there is no longer an Eaton’s store in the Eaton Centre; it’s now a Sears. But Toronto’s largest shopping mall has many other popular stores within, including Roots, Old Navy, Gap, HMV, Transit, the Sony Store, and the Museum Company.
Click here for some history on Eaton’s and the Eaton Centre.

Queen Street West
From the Sheraton Centre – 2 minute walk west and onward
Trendy Queen Street West has boutique shopping and the best comic book store on the planet – The Silver Snail is a 5 minute walk west of the Sheraton Centre.

PATHThe PATH
Accessible from the Concourse level of the Sheraton Centre
Click here to download the map
 The underground PATH leading from Union Station to the Atrium on Bay has shopping and restaurants, and (according to Guinness World Records) is the world’s largest underground shopping complex with 16 miles (27 km) of shopping arcades and 4 million sq. ft of retail space. You can find everything from fine wine to 75¢ pens in the PATH.

Bloor Yorkville
From the Sheraton Centre – 5 minutes via subway (Bloor Station)
Yorkville
Located at Bay & Bloor Streets, Yorkville is the equivalent of Toronto’s Rodeo Drive, with Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Harry Rosen, and other boutique and high-end stores, including Holt Renfrew, Toronto’s answer to SAKS.

St. Lawrence Market
From the Sheraton Centre – 15 minute walk southeast
Located on Front Street East and Jarvis Street, St. Lawrence Market is more than just an indoor farmer’s market. Open daily except Mondays, no trip to Toronto is complete without a Peameal Bacon Sandwich or some Churrasco Chicken (Portuguese BBQ chicken) from “the Market”.

Taking the Family Out

Brought the wee ones along? Need something to do before or after the Tolkien festivities? Here are some of Toronto’s famous attractions, that are fun for the whole family...

CN TowerCN Tower
From the Sheraton Centre – 20 minute walk southwest
The world’s tallest building—please don’t call it the “Space Needle”, or the “CNN Tower”. There is an interactive video centre at the base of the tower. You can experience incredible views and stand on a glass floor 1,000 feet up, and you can also have dinner at the 360 Revolving Restaurant, which has the world’s tallest free-standing wine cellar.

Rogers Centre
From the Sheraton Centre – 25 minute walk southwest
Formerly The Skydome, the Rogers Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. This magnificent, retractable-roof stadium doubles as an entertainment complex, and includes a hotel with rooms overlooking the playing field. Summer is baseball season—why not catch a game?
Click for details...

Harbourfront
From the Sheraton Centre – 25 minute walk south
On Queens Quay along the lake, Harbourfront has a variety of small boutiques, restaurants, and art centres. A stroll/ride/skate along the lake front is a popular pastime for Torontonians and tourists alike.

The Hockey Hall of Fame
From the Sheraton Centre – 15 minute walk south
To understand Canadians, you must understand the game of hockey. For a better understanding, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are interactive displays for adults and kids, and, once you visit there, you officially become an honourary Canadian, eh?

The Royal Ontario Museum
From the Sheraton Centre – 5 minutes via subway (Museum Station)
Located at Bloor Street and Avenue Road, the ROM is currently undergoing major renovations. With 6 million objects in its collections and 40 galleries of art, archaeology and natural science, the ROM offers a whole world to explore. Four giant carved totem poles rise in the centre of the stairwells, and the Hands-on Biodiversity gallery offers families a fun interactive experience about the interdependence of people, animals and plants.

The Art Gallery of Ontario
From the Sheraton Centre – 15 minute walk northwest
Located at Dundas and McCaul streets, the AGO is also undergoing renovations. The permanent collection takes you from the Middle Ages with 14th century artist Giovanni del Biondo, to 20th century Canadian works by the Group of Seven, to works of contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko.

Casa LomaCasa Loma
From the Sheraton Centre – 7 minutes via subway (Dupont Station) and then 5 minute walk north
On Spadina Road north of Dupont, Casa Loma is Toronto’s world-famous castle. In 1911,  Sir Henry Mill Pellatt (a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist, military man, and unabashed romantic) engaged the noted architect E.J. Lennox to help him realize a life-long dream - the creation of a “medieval” castle on the brow of a hill overlooking Toronto.

Ontario Science Centre
From the Sheraton Centre – 15 minutes via subway (Eglinton Station) and then 15 minutes via Bus (Eglinton East route 34 to Don Mills Road); 20 minutes by car/taxi
Located on Don Mills Road just south of Eglinton Avenue East (Longitude West 79° 20' 18,7745", Latitude North 43° 43' 0,5061"), the Science Centre is a dream come true for budding scientists. There are hundreds of displays on nature, science, and engineering, and a variety of hands-on exhibits for the whole family to enjoy.

Ontario PlaceOntario Place
From the Sheraton Centre – 25 minutes via Streetcar (Harbourfront 509 from Union subway station to Exhibition Place) and then 10 minute walk south; 15 minutes by car/taxi
Right on the waterfront, Ontario Place is a great place to take your family for summer fun. There are water rides, incredible playgrounds, restaurants, a marina, and the world’s first permanent IMAX® Theatre: Cinesphere.

Medieval Times
From the Sheraton Centre – 25 minutes via Streetcar (Harbourfront 509 from Union subway station to Exhibition Place) and then 5 minute walk west; 15 minutes by car/taxi
Located on the Exhibition Place grounds, Medieval Times will be familiar to 2003 Gathering event attendees as the location of our incredible themed banquet. Enjoy the dinner and tournament with live horses and knights fighting for honour!

Paramount Canada’s Wonderland
From the Sheraton Centre – 40 minutes northwest by car/taxi
On highway 400 just north of Toronto, this theme park will entertain and excite you with dozens of rides, roller coasters, and other attractions; and there’s a water park too!

A Neighbourhood Stroll


One of the greatest things about Toronto is its diversity. When you walk down the streets, you can see various cultures of people side by side, and this diversity is reflected in the neighbourhoods of Toronto. Summer in the City is a great time to take walking tours of some of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Here are some of the more interesting areas...

Chinatown and Kensington Market
From the Sheraton Centre – 20 minute walk
TTC directions: Take the 501 Queen streetcar westbound to Spadina Avenue; transfer to the Spadina streetcar and go northbound to Dundas Street.
Chinatown and Kensington Market
Chinatown and Kensington Market exemplify the cultural harmony that makes Toronto one of the most unique cities in the world. Chinatown is home to a multitude of Asian cultures, including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai. For a special treat, head down to Chinatown between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM for traditional Dim Sum lunches, or, after a night on the town, you can still get a hearty meal at many of the restaurants along Spadina Avenue near Dundas Street, as they are usually open until 4:00 AM.

Kensington Market, located just one block west of Chinatown (starting at Dundas & Kensington up to College & Augusta), is one of the first neighbourhoods where many cultures came together to open shop and live, side by side. Not only does the market have fresh fruits and vegetables, but the world’s best cheese shop, Global Cheese, is an adventure in itself, and they give you free samples!

Honest Ed's WarehouseThe Annex
From the Sheraton – about an hour walk
TTC directions: Take the subway to Spadina or Bathurst stations.
The Annex is the trendy student area located on Bloor Street, just west of the Royal Ontario Museum, full of unique boutique shopping and yummy restaurants. Also, in the heart of the Annex is Toronto’s own Honest Ed's Warehouse. How does he sell things so cheap? Only Honest Ed knows. As Ed says,  “Come In and Get Lost”. Also in the Annex is one of Toronto’s best well-known repertory cinemas, the Bloor Cinema.

The Danforth
From the Sheraton – about an hour and a half walk
TTC directions: Take the subway to Broadview or Pape stations.
The Danforth, also known as “Greektown”, is the stretch of Danforth Avenue with small boutique shops, but with also some of the best places to eat in Toronto.

The Beaches
From the Sheraton – over an hour walk
TTC directions: Take the 501 Queen streetcar east to Woodbine Avenue.
This vibrant community on Toronto’s eastern beach has a mixture of cool shops and trendy restaurants, a variety of cafés and coffee houses, and beautiful parks bordering the lake shore. There’s even a boardwalk running along the beach that in the summer is packed with walkers, cyclists, and roller bladers.

Ward's Island housesToronto Island Community
From the Sheraton – over an hour walk
TTC directions: Take the subway to Union station; transfer to the 509 or 510 streetcar south to Queens Quay and Bay Street; transfer to the Ward’s Island ferry.
The Toronto Island Park is an adventure on its own, but it has a hidden treasure that many tourists overlook. There is a small community of residents that live on the island, where cars are prohibited and peace is prevalent. Small, quaint houses on narrow, sidewalk-size streets make this area a virtual paradise for city-dwellers. It is worth a look...



I Love The Nightlife; I’ve Got To Boogie

Theatre
The Lord of the Rings on Stage
Of course, the most important Live Event is the Lord of the Rings stage production at the Princess of Wales theatre on King Street West. The Gathering of the Fellowship has arranged a reduced rate block of tickets for this show, which you can purchase here.

Toronto’s theatre scene is world-famous. If you’re in town for longer than the conference and you have the time, don’t miss this opportunity for quality entertainment.
  • Mirvish Productions: They are bringing The Lord of the Rings to Toronto, and they are also responsible for presenting a number of other stage shows, including The Lion King, Mama Mia, and Movin’ Out.
  • Onstagetoronto.ca: A comprehensive guide to current Toronto and area theatre.

Sports

The JaysIf you arrive in Toronto early and you’re a sports fan, why not join other Gathering attendees and catch a baseball game at the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome)? The Toronto Blue Jays will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies at 7pm on Friday, June 30. The stadium is within a few blocks walking distance from the hotel, so you don't have to worry about parking! There’s even an underground PATH connection in case it rains, and of course the stadium has a retractable roof!

But the best news of all—Gathering attendees will be able to sit together in the stadium on reserved field level seats, and we have arranged a special discount of 30% off the regular ticket price! Tickets are only $29.40 CAD each (regular $42.00 CAD). To reserve your seats, download this document (click here) and follow the instructions. See you at the ballgame!

Festivals & Events

If you’re in Toronto for longer than just a weekend, you may wish to attend one of the following events in the city:
  • Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival (June 23 to July 2): This annual 10-day world-class festival showcases more than 1,500 of the best Canadian and international musicians performing diverse styles from traditional to fusion, blues to bebop. Hundreds of thousands of jazz fans from around the world experience jazz at ticketed mainstage performances, in concert halls, at free indoor and outdoor stages and at more than 30 clubs, hotels and lounges in the heart of downtown Toronto.
  • Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (June 24 to 25): Around 200 teams with over 6,000 paddlers compete in over 100 races in two days. Athletes of different backgrounds from all over the world take part in the ancient Chinese tradition and friendly competition.
  • CHIN International Picnic (July 1 to 3): The CHIN International Picnic includes many exciting and varied entertainment and festivities: non-stop colorful and spectacular cultural and contemporary song and dance entertainment, a circus, amusement park rides and games, beer garden, dozens of food concessions, major sports events; an International Shopping Bazaar, prize winning contests/competitions, Mr. and Miss CHIN Bikini pageants; and headline singers and entertainers brought from around the world specifically for this weekend. More than 2,000 performers entertain, and an estimated 250,000 people attend the FREE CHIN International Picnic!
  • Toronto Fringe Festival (July 5 to 16): The Toronto Fringe audience has continued to develop and grow and now more than 42,000 enthusiastic Fringers attend Toronto’s largest theatre festival each summer. These patrons have come to embrace the Fringe philosophy and the fun of discovering some of the most exciting and entertaining theatre in the city. With their support The Toronto Fringe Festival has grown to include eleven venues and more than 120 theatre companies from Ontario, across Canada and around the world and is now the third largest Fringe in Canada.
  • Toronto Trek 20Toronto Trek 20 (July 7 to 9): Definitely Toronto’s best Science Fiction convention, this will be their 20th Anniversary. This year’s announced guests include Amber Benson (Tara Maclay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager), Richard Hatch (Apollo/Tom Zarek from Battlestar Galactica), Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1), Lexa Doig (Rommie from Andromeda), and Larry Stewart (Aurora Award winner). Check out their website for updated information. Why not make it two convention weekends in a row?
A Night Out on the Town

If you’re just looking for a night out, and you’ve tucked the kids away, or left them at home, check out College Street between Bathurst and Ossington, where both celebrities and locals go for a good time at night. You’ll find everything from dining to dancing to pool halls to a quiet coffee. You may also want to check out King Street West or Queen Street West, just a few minutes walk from the Sheraton Centre, where there are lots of small cafes and restaurants for your dining and chatting pleasure!

In Toronto, last call is at 2:00 AM, but the subways shut down at approximately 1:30 AM, so be prepared to take taxis back to the Sheraton if you stray too far away.

I’m Hungry – Where to Eat

You can find anything you want to eat in Toronto, from burgers & fries to Injeera and Gado Gado. There are many restaurants within walking distance from the Sheraton, of all price ranges and styles of food. Toronto is a city where we love to eat. To help you out, here are some places which have good food and good value.

Restaurants

Purple Pig  – Richmond & Yonge Streets
The best smoked BBQ ribs in the city. 

The Keg MansionJarvis & Wellesley Streets
Good steak, good food, good times. The mansion itself is a designated Historical building, and as such, there are rumours that the place is haunted.

Sushi TimeQueen & Beverley Streets
Home of unique maki (rolls), including the CN Tower Roll, Toronto Roll, and Queen Street Roll, the sushi, both vegetarian and fish, is reasonably priced and very good.

Bombay PalaceAdelaide & Jarvis Streets
Excellent Indian Food, vegetarian-friendly, with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Former President Clinton ate here.

Spring RollsFront & Jarvis Streets, plus other locations; Delivery 416-365-3649
Great Thai and Vietnamese food, can be made as spicy or as mild as you like, with both meat and vegetarian specialties.

Café DiplomaticoCollege & Grace Streets
Excellent pasta, antipasto and other Italian specialties in the Heart of Little Italy, and it’s cheap and cheerful.

Pizza GigiHarbord & Bathurst Streets; Delivery 416-535-4444
If you just feel like ordering a pizza, order from Pizza Gigi instead of the conglomerates. Every student and graduate in Toronto will tell you that Pizza Gigi is simply the best.

Here's a guide to Toronto's Fifty Best Restaurants.

Pub food

Just remember that pubs are not family restaurants.

Fionn MacCool’sFront Street & The Esplanade
Live Celtic bands, excellent mashed potatoes, perfect pints of Guinness. Could there be anything better?

The Elephant & CastleKing & Pearl Streets
Good English fare, happy times, and hey, you just might see an Oliphaunt.

The Dukes
This is a chain of pubs known as The Dukes, located throughout downtown Toronto. The food is excellent, they have a fine single malt collection, and they can accommodate large, spontaneous groups at a minute’s notice.
Cafés/Desserts

Greg’s Ice Cream  – Bloor Street & Spadina Avenue
Simply the best ice cream. Ever. All ice cream is fresh and made on the premises.

Caffé DemetréDanforth & Chester Avenues
Homemade ice cream, large desserts, open late.
 
7 West CaféYonge & Charles Streets
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, serving very yummy desserts from some of Toronto’s finest bakeries, and with excellent coffee and hot chocolates.

Patisserie RahierBayview Avenue, south of Eglinton Avenue
It’s far from the hotel, but it’s completely worth it for Sonia and Bernard Rahier’s mouth-watering croissants and pain au chocolat.

So we hope you enjoy your stay in Toronto. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help. We’re only too happy to oblige.

by Naomi Mesbur, a Torontonian
(with additional notes by Ed Rodrigues)


Do you want to add to this guide? Are you a local Torontonian with some information that might be useful to Gathering attendees?
Let us know!
Send an email to webmaster@gatheringofthefellowship.org.

Information updated January 26, 2006.


Resources on Tourism

Here are a number of websites you can browse for more information about Toronto, Ontario:

Information updated April 19, 2006.



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