Canada – “Toronto for a day”

Wednesday, August 6th 1986

At 6:20am my alarm clock went off and I went to meet Brian in the lobby of the youth hostel. By 6:40am we were already heading out towards the bridge over to Canada.

We crossed the border relatively effortlessly and then continued to head towards the Ontario Bus Terminal to catch the 7:25am Gray Line bus to Toronto.

It ended up with us both running up the incline towards the bus station with only a few minutes to spare. Brian got the tickets whilst I changed some US dollars into Canadian dollars.

The bus we boarded was much nicer that the Trailways buses I had been used to. It soon set off to join the Queen Elizabeth expressway.

We arrived at the Toronto bus station at 9:10am and soon located the Eaton Center; “The world’s largest shopping mall”. On a trip that had already taken in some large shopping malls, the Eaton one really impressed me. Surprisingly there were quite a few British shops including branches of Boot’s, W H Smith’s and Marks and Spencer’s.

We found an ice cream parlour-type café on the 3rd floor and purchased a ham and cheese croissant, some potato chips and a coffee for 4 Canadian dollars.


We then proceeded down Younge Street, the main street, towards the harbour front. At the harbour front we found a very interesting collection of renovated buildings. One of them housed a glassblowing exhibition and another had a pottery making section to it.

We headed over to the CN tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and saw that the wait for a ticket was 45 minutes. We agreed to come back later and continued to walk around the city. We passed through Chinatown, past little Italy and finally up Bloor Street.

We purchased root beer and some fruit from a supermarket and headed back on to Bloor Street and past the largest self service department store in the world; “Honest Eds.”

We found a little café nearby for a late lunch / early dinner (it was 5 pm) and purchased clams, french fries and Sprite. It was awful but it was cheap.

We then spent 30 minutes in the park watching a peace rally to mark the 41st anniversary of the Hiroshima Bomb.

The winos wouldn’t leave us alone and in the end we moved back towards the CN tower.



By 6pm the queue had disappeared and we paid our 5 dollars to get to the first stage and then a further 1 dollar to reach the top. The view from there, 1700ft up, was spectacular and actually even better as it was just starting to get dark.

Back down on the ground we boarded one of the trains on the city’s quick and efficient metro system for a trip back to the bus station.

We caught the 9pm bus back towards the border. On the bus we discussed the ways Canada had seemed different from America to us.

Our conclusions, based on a single day’s trip, were:

  1. Canada had black Mars Bar wrappers just like the UK
  2. The Queen was on the money just like the UK
  3. There was a small crown in the middle of the vehicle licence plates
  4. The pace of life seemed a little less hectic – although we couldn’t be 100% sure about that.

The bus made it back to the Ontario bus station on time and we set off again through immigration. We walked back over the bridge into the USA and made it to the Buffalo youth hostel by midnight.

Back to Pittsburgh