I love discovering new places. I love discovering odd/interesting/hidden/offbeat places my lifelong hometown has to offer even more! Whether hidden down one of Toronto's many ally ways, in the basement of a downtown office tower, on a nature path, or in someone's front yard - if it's strange, if it's beautiful, if it's creepy... I want to see it.
I hope my daughter is always curious, and I want to spark that curiosity and desire to explore. I decided to start a new photo project where Edie and I would venture to places within Toronto that I didn't really know about: the hidden gems of the Toronto.
First trip: Commerce Court!
I decided Commerce Court would make a good first adventure since it is indoors (and it's still a bit chilly) and is pretty easy to get to (well, if you know what you're doing!).
A little History of Commerce Court:
Commerce Court is a complex of office buildings, we were specifically visiting the North Tower, which is the original building erected in 1931. The building sits at the intersection of King & Bay Streets, and was the site of Toronto's first Wesleyan Methodist Church from 1818-1831. From 1833-1886, the site was home to Theatre Royal and from 1887-1927, seven storeys became the head office of the Canadian Bank of Commerce.
The 34-storey limestone building was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth until about 1962. At the time of construction, the Canadian Bank of Commerce (now Commerce Court North) was one of the most lavish corporate headquarters in all of Canada. Perched atop the elaborate building is a public observation deck which closed in the 70's due to safety concerns. The deck wraps all the way around the tower and holds 16 "giant heads." Visitors could pay 25 cents to trek to the top of the lookout to see a gorgeous view of Toronto and apparently even the mist from Niagara falls!
The other 3 buildings were erected in 1972, creating the Commerce Court complex.
I decided we would begin our adventure at Queen Station and walk through the PATH to Commerce Court North. What a mistake that was! If you have ever been to the PATH there is no explanation needed. For those of you that haven't ventured into this ridiculous maze, take my advice and stay out unless you enjoy the thrill of crowded lobbies and walkways filled with very important (insert eye-roll), very busy people and getting lost. Once we got into the PATH I remembered how, of all the times I'd been there, I'd also got lost, and I didn't have a stroller or a 1 year old back then. Oi.
After going the wrong way more times than I can count, I finally made it to Commerce Court but found the North Tower was just as difficult. In hindsight, the Art Deco styled elevators probably should have tipped me off, but my anxiety was already high so I clearly wasn't thinking.
I stepped out of the busy, bustling hallway into the elevator and pressed the button I assumed would take me where I needed to go. It was a bit like stepping into a time machine. The elevator doors opened and I was greeted with silence. I poked my head out to see if I was in the right place and there it was, the gorgeous gold-plated ceiling.
I took Miss E out of her stroller so she could toddle around while I took a few photos. At one point, she was about to fall and my incredible mom automatic reaction kicked in to save her. Unfortunately. my camera swung around and hit a nearby banister. Now my camera was making strange noises. We cut our visit short and I didn't get nearly as many photos as I wanted because I was just too worried about my other, non human baby.