Toronto – Sky High, You Can See Forever

Today’s post is 1650 words, 22 photos, two videos, a 9 minute read. Enjoy!

Hi everyone,

Welcome back to Traveling with Tom and the second in a series of posts from our time in eastern Canada. Last week, I took you to the ballgame between the Blue Jays and the Milwaukee Brewers, click here if you missed that post.

This week I’ll take you above the city to the CN Tower. As I mentioned last week, we were in Toronto for a Friendship Force Journey. The host club organized several excursions to learn more about the city, its people, and its culture. 

This tower dominates and defines the Toronto skyline and stands tall compared to the many buildings near it. In a couple of weeks, I’ll display photos of the skyline from the Toronto Islands, the tower will really stand out from the crowd.

As a side note, if you are a fan of the tv sitcom, Kim’s Convenience, you’ll see the CN Tower in some of the shots. Check out this program on Netflix, it’s a very funny show about the Korean Canadian Kim family that run a neighborhood convenience store in Toronto. Every episode is good for a least a few belly laughs.

CN Tower

We met the rest of the Friendship Force Ambassadors outside the entrance to the CN Tower. We had a timed-entry for 10 AM, gathering everyone together was like herding cats. Once we got rounded up, we were directed to the elevators for the very quick ride to the glassed-in observation deck.

To walk up, or down, there are 1776 steps to the main observation deck. Actually, the steps are only for emergency use and charity events where runners compete to make it to the top with the fastest time. The record is 7 minutes and 52 seconds. And the runner lived to tell about it!

The CN Tower is named for the Canadian National Railroad, the company that built the tower. In the mid-1990s, the railroad sold the tower to the Canada Lands Company that manages Canadian government real estate and changed the name to Canada’s National Tower, keeping the CN initials.

The tower was completed in 1976 and was the tallest free-standing structure in the world at 1815 feet (553 meters) until 2008. It’s now the 10th tallest tower in the world and still the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere. The CN Tower draws about 2 million visitors each year. The area around the tower has become an entertainment center and tourist destination with the Rogers Centre (home of the Blue Jays and other events), an aquarium, museums, a market, and art galleries near by. The restaurant and night club scene is thriving and attracting people to live in the downtown. Thus, many of the new building going up are apartments and condos.

In addition to the observation deck, there is a rotating 360 Restaurant and the EdgeWalk, a hands-free walk on a five foot platform 116 stories above the city. Just thinking about it gives me the willies. Ok, I know those who take part in this adventure wear a special jump suit and are hooked to safety strap, but still seems nuts to me! Besides that scare factor, you have to shell out a couple hundred Canadian bucks for this thrill. Not me, I’ll take my chances on the ground. That’s why I joined the Army back in the day!

When we stepped off the elevator on the observation deck, we were immediately drawn to the view of the vast city. It stretches for many miles (kilometers) in a 180° arch from the city center.

The flat  structure in the photo below is Union Station, the main railway station and transportation hub in Toronto. It’s the largest and busiest rail station in Canada and the second busiest in North America behind Penn Station in New York City. The building is a national historic site and has dining, shopping and entertainment, all under one roof. Click here if you’d like to know more about Union Station.

From the CN Tower, it’s easy to see the small regional airport on the Toronto Islands. Access to the airport terminal is by way of a pedestrian tunnel or by ferry. While we were in the Tower, a few planes landed and took off from this airport.

A couple of times, we were eye level with helicopters heading someplace.

As is in the U.S., Canada celebrates Pride Month during June. During our travels in Canada, we saw rainbow flags and posters to recognize the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus to the country.


Meet Carra. While my Traveling Partner and I were trying to take a selfie with Toronto in the background, this outgoing young woman approached us and offered to take our photo with my iPhone. For a moment, I was a bit skeptical, you never know if someone will pocket the phone and scram. But knowing there was a line for the elevators, there was no way for a thief to escape, besides that I have a loud voice and can make a lot of commotion.

After Carra took our photo and returned my iPhone, we had a pleasant chat. She asked us where we were from and why we were in Toronto. After we shared, she told us that she’s from Oklahoma and works as a waitress and is able to get time off to travel. She was in New York to meet up with some mates and decided to pop across the border to check out Toronto for a couple of days. She told us that she loves to travel and uses her waitressing skills to earn her keep when doing international travel. When traveling, one never knows when an interesting person enters your bubble. We were honored to have Carra enter ours.

Upside Down

A few moments before getting in line for the elevator, we noticed the mirror on the ceiling. First I took this photo of two fellas taking a selfie. Note the upside down people in the mirror. My Traveling Partner and I decided to try a selfie using the mirror. It kinda worked.

The Ride Down

Upon entering the elevator, I was fortunately positioned near the glass windows to watch our descent. It took us less than a minute to drop over a hundred stories from the observation deck to the bottom. Hope you enjoy the ride.


The exit from the Tower takes visitors through the large gift shop. Very clever! I did see this sign in the shop that reminds me of Woody Guthrie’s song: “This land is your land and this land is my land….” I believe the reference in the photo below is to the indigenous peoples that once dwelled on this land.

The Walk to City Hall

After leaving the CN Tower behind, we walked to the Toronto City Hall for lunch. The day was quite hot, reaching 90°F (32.2°C). You’d think we’d be in a hurry to reach our destination with the promise of air conditioning. 

However, our walk slowed when we came across plaques of famous Canadians imbedded in the sidewalk, similar to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In addition to Kiefer Sutherland, Canada’s Walk of Fame includes folks like Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live fame, actor and comedian John Candy, actor Michael J. Fox, hockey greats Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, singers Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, and many others. In fact, there are over 210 Canadians honored with stars and more being added every year. 

It was early June and the flowers were in full bloom, at least those being watered regularly. It was dry while we were in Toronto, hope they had some rain.

The City Hall Plaza has a huge Toronto sign. There were groups taking their photos with the sign.

On the other side of the sign, were groups promoting the rough and tumble game of rugby. The teams were small and a couple were co-ed. The only thing I know about rugby is that it’s a bloody sport and a version of American football but without the protective gear. I wish I could have spent more time but cool air and lunch were calling.


The interior to City Hall is nicely done with artwork decorating the walls. From what I was told, 1% of the gross construction costs of municipal projects is to be devoted to the acquisition of artwork. It helps artists and beautifies the space around us. Good for the Canadians. Here’s one example.

City Hall was a busy place. There was a coming election for mayor after the resignation of the former mayor when he admitted to an extramarital affair. You might remember, Rob “Robbie” Ford, the Toronto mayor from 2010-2014. He was caught smoking crack while in office and forced out by the city council. This made the news around the world.

In this election, there were 102 candidates on the ballot. The election was held on Monday June 26 with Oliva Chow, a progressive, left-leaning veteran politician winning with a narrow margin. During our time in Toronto, nearly every intersection had signs for many of the candidates. I wish I took a photo of the gaggle of signs.

The other main activity going on at City Hall were weddings. Couples can get their marriage license at the city clerk’s office and say their vows in the Toronto City Hall Wedding Chamber. It can seat up to 15 people plus the couple and their two witnesses. During our time at City Hall, we saw couples headed to the wedding chamber, including the couple in the photo below.

On the main floor of City Hall was this scale model of the city. Early on, we learned that the current City of Toronto is made up of six areas, each maintaining it’s community history.

After lunch in the city cafeteria, we walked to a nearby museum and art gallery. Next week, I’ll take you to the Toronto Islands.

Until then, happy travels!