Since its opening in 1963, the Canadian Automotive Museum has honored the automotive industry by displaying mint-condition vehicles, some of which date back to the beginning of the 20th century. Many of these cars were manufactured in Canada, whereas others come from America or overseas?but each one has a history that educates and entices visitors.
Size: 25,000 square feet, enough room to hold more than 60 vehicles plus motorcycles, bicycles, and trucks
The Building: a former 1920's car dealership, featuring the original elevator that moved cars from floor to floor when they were too lazy to take the stairs
Eye Catcher: the only remaining 1903 Redpath Messenger; built in Kitchener, its original owner was one of the first employees of the famed Canadian car company
Don't Miss: Lady Eaton's 1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
Pro Tip: the museum and gift shop are both cash only, so hit the ATM on your way there
Named as a national historic site, Parkwood Estate guided tours offer an intimate and informed look at pristine turn-of-the-century architecture, furnishings, gardens, and landscaping. Knowledgeable volunteers contextualize the experience, narrating events from former owner R. Samuel McLaughlin's life as an auto baron, or explaining the intricacies of his elaborate black-truffle badminton tournaments. While truth may be stranger than fiction, it's seldom as interesting: explore Parkwood Estate's role as a film set, viewing the hall where Professor Xavier appealed for calm in mutant-human relations, or the stairway where Billy Madison single-handedly overcame schizophrenia to victoriously re-enter the world of mathematics. Tours run Tuesday through Sunday, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
When George Gardiner began collecting ceramics in 1976, he was only interested in decorating his home. But soon his passion for pottery and porcelain grew, and, rather than build a second home entirely from teapots, he co-founded the Gardiner Museum in 1984 with his wife, Helen. Today, the museum's collection has ballooned to include more than 3,000 pieces, encompassing everything from Japanese sake pots and Canadian ceramic sculptures to Italian Renaissance maiolica plates.
Objects from the core collection share space in the museum with special exhibitions. One of these is the annual 12 Trees of Christmas, a display of holiday trees. The museum supplements its showings with events such as lectures and ceramics-inspired meals, as well as clay classes for budding adult and child ceramicists. Visitors can even take home pieces from the Gardiner Shop, which sells Canadian ceramics, as well as international jewelry, scarves, and glasswork.
Ben Navaee Gallery is dedicated to two causes: first, to present and promote local Canadian artists in its gallery space, and second, to raise funds and awareness for philanthropic causes related to poverty, homelessness, and natural disasters. With classes, the gallery aims to educate its visitors, helping them learn about the work of a new artist or teaching them how to paint a heartfelt message onto that artist's car. During each calming session, students leave outside stress behind as they unlock hidden artistic talents with the help of gentle, encouraging instruction. This nurturing environment is an extension of Ben Navaee himself; a veteran painter, sculptor, and photographer, Ben has spent the last 25 years helping students better their lives through art, as well as yoga and meditation.
The sixth annual Wings & Wheels Heritage Festival celebrates the history of Canadian aviation with showcases, exhibits, and live demonstrations on the grounds of Downsview Park and Airport, Canada’s first urban national park. Tickets grant entrance to Hangar Bay 1's exhibitions and aircraft displays, access to outdoor display grounds and runways, free Canadian Air & Space Museum admission, and a tour of the newborn helicopter nursery. Wings events showcase classic aircraft from the world's oldest flying DHC-1 Chipmunk to brand-new cloud ticklers such as the gargantuan C-130J Super Hercules. In-between browsing fields of professionally manufactured and home-built aircraft, guests watch pilots fly swiftly into the airport compound.
Toronto Zoo's 710-acre grounds and five indoor pavilions house more than 5,000 animals representing more than 500 species in recreated habitats. More than 10 kilometres of walking trails wind through fall colours and seven geographical zones designed for year-round exhibition, bringing wanderers up close to fauna from far away places such as Africa, Australia, and James Cameron's subconscious. Recently moved in to a 6,000-square-foot exhibit, endangered african penguins make funny faces at visitors in an underwater viewing area, where the tuxedoed tykes dive and swim. Western lowland gorillas headline the rainforest exhibits, and a stroll through the Tundra Trek unveils a five-acre polar bear habitat and a reindeer flight-training camp. Upcoming events include the Oasis ZooRun, Remembrance Day, Boo at the Zoo, and the Christmas Treats Walk. Visitors are welcome to pack their own lunch or opt for on-site food options, which span cafés, restaurants, and snack bars, enabling grab-and-go or sit-and-ponder-existence refueling.