Toronto-Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Today’s post is 1700 words, 26 photos, one video, a 9 minute read. Enjoy!

Hi everyone,

This week I begin a series of posts about our three-week trip to eastern Canada and United States. We had a grand time, lots of new adventures, and a few misadventures, mostly with transportation. More about that in future posts.

Canada has been in the news in our part of the world. The smoke from fires in Alberta drifted over the Midwest of the U.S. causing several days of air quality alerts. By the time you read this blog, the smoke is likely over the eastern U.S. The news isn’t good either. It’s possible that around here, this summer may go down  as having the worst air quality in our history. Fingers crossed that all these predictions are totally wrong!

Friendship Force

A little background. Our trip to Toronto began last year when the Friendship Force of Wisconsin-Madison club we belong to announced a journey match with the Friendship Force of Toronto. I’ve written about our involvement with Friendship Force in the past. If you have time, click here, here, and here to read those stories. Here’s a short recap about Friendship Force:

Friendship Force of Wisconsin-Madison is one of about 350 FF clubs located on six continents and sixty countries. The purpose of this nonprofit international organization is to promote cultural learning and understanding through personal friendships and homestays. By meeting, hosting and staying with fellow ambassadors, we learn about each other and experience views of the world often much different than our own. This helps us overcome differences and promotes peace between our fellow citizens of the world. In other words, a world of friends is a world of peace. Check out Friendship Force International by clicking here.

My Traveling Partner and I enthusiastically signed up for the journey to Toronto. In the past, we traveled in western Canada but never have been east of Winnipeg. This was our opportunity and we weren’t going to miss it.


I think most of you know that Canada is the big country that shares a long border with the United States. In fact, the U.S./Canadian border is the longest international land border in the world. Canada is the second largest country in the world in total land mass and has the worlds longest coastline. With a population of nearly 40 million (2023 estimate), about 90% of Canadians live within a 100 miles of their border with the U.S. Most of those are in cities with Toronto leading the pack with 5.6 million, followed by Montreal (3.6 million), Vancouver, British Columbia (2.4 million), Calgary, Alberta (1.3 million),  Edmonton, Alberta (1.1 million), and Ottawa, the capitol city of Canada (1.1 million).

I can’t but help remind readers of the quote on Canada/U.S. relations from 1969 when the late Pierre Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada visited President Nixon at the White House in Washington, DC. He said to Nixon: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Trudeau’s son, Justin, is now the Prime Minister. He probably thinks that he’s sleeping next to a cranky, unpredictable elephant. He has made it clear with the following statement from 2018: “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we will not be pushed around.”

During our travels in Canada, we found that statement to be very true. Canadians are polite, friendly, and willing to help. Maybe some of the smoke will bring that politeness and friendliness to the U.S. IMHO, we could use it.

Toronto, Ontario

The first leg of our trip took us from our home in Madison, WI to Port Huron, Michigan where we spent the night before crossing the bridge over the St. Clair River into Ontario. BTW, did you know that the bridge has a toll? It’s $3.50 and no, I-Pass or E-ZPass are not accepted. After paying the toll and crossing the bridge, we pulled up to one of the Canadian border kiosks, handed over our passports, and answered a few questions about firearms, alcohol, and destination. The interaction lasted less than a minute and we were welcomed to Canada. The first of many polite responses.

Upon reaching the outskirts of Toronto, we missed a turn that resulted in three more missed turns and some aggravating travel through an abundance of road construction. This wouldn’t be our last “alternate” route taken on this 4000 mile driving excursion. Even with all that, we arrived at the home of our Friendship Force hosts, George and Monica, on time. We would stay with them the next six days and participate with them in the Friendship Force journey.

They are a very friendly couple both recently retired. George is a native of New York City and Monica is a life-long resident of Toronto. One interesting thing about George and Monica is that they have hosted more than 105 “house” concerts of Canadian and American folk singers. We admired George’s collection of thousands of carefully cataloged music CDs from many genres. Looking over the titles and artists took us all down memory lane a time or two.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada with well over 5 million people living in the greater metro area. It’s also the capitol city of the Province of Ontario and is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, the smallest of the five Great Lakes. Toronto is recognized as one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world. It is a center of international finance and business and home to several large banks and corporations. In Canada, Toronto is known for its arts, culture, and sports. I’ll feature those things in this and the next three blog posts. Stay tuned.

Downtown Toronto

The downtown of Toronto is a mix of the old the new. Below are a couple examples of the old, brick building with six or fewer stories, shops at street level and apartments above. Reminds me a lot of some sections of London and Edinburgh, Scotland. In the second photo featuring the Hockey Hall of Fame, is a combination of both. The facade is the old that hides the new, modern, larger building.

Then there is the new, the towering buildings of glass, some business, many apartments and condos. There were cranes everywhere, lots of construction going on in Toronto.

As a photographer, I’m always on the look out for a break in the pattern. I found one in this 30-40 story building. Someone extended the umbrella on their lanai/balcony as shelter from the sun. Lucky for me! One of my favorite photos from Toronto.


Early in our stay, we learned some new terminology. During our travels, we’ve looked for and used; bathrooms, restrooms, toilets, outhouses, lavatories, baños, latrines, water closets, the loo, the head, the john, and the can. After our visit to Canada, we added a new word to our vocabulary, washroom. I think it’s a very civilized word, it implies that washing is an important step in using that room whatever it’s called. On another note, many of the washrooms in Toronto were unisex, no argument about who uses what washroom to take care of business. This one was not but I liked the signage.

Take me out to the ballgame

One of the many activities that the Toronto Friendship Force club planned for us was to attend a baseball game at the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto. By coincidence the Blue Jays of Toronto were playing a three game series with the Brewers of Milwaukee. Those of us from Wisconsin got to sit along side our Blue Jay hosts and cheer for our team. It seemed like we were the only ones taunting the opposing teams pitcher and cheering on the hits that came from the Brewer’s bats. Unfortunately, there weren’t many hits to cheer about, the Blue Jays won 3-0.

But the atmosphere in the stadium was great and watching the fans around us was fun. With lots of end-of-the-school-year trips, there loads of school age kids, most interested in the concessions and the cheers rather than the box score of their team. I present this short video as evidence.



When we arrived at the ballpark, our hosts took us through a side entrance. Since I was wearing a Brewers jersey, one of the security guys pointed me to the bullpen where they were setting up for the Brewer’s pitchers to warm up. Again, that’s another example of how polite and kind the folks in Canada are to everyone. I waited a few minutes for the pitchers to show up but needed to go with the group to find our seats.

The following are some photos I took during the game.

The CN Tower is right next to the Roger’s Centre. The retractable dome was open for the game, giving us a great view of the tower that we would visit the next day. More on that next week.

Every couple of innings, a crew 0f guys would come out and drag the sandy part of the field, during which the announcer would entertain the crowd.

To be honest with you, I’m a fair weather baseball fan. Sure, I check the scores in the newspaper every morning to find out if the Brewers won or lost. With that said, I did enjoy attending the game, especially at an away stadium. It was a fun time.

After the game, we went to the nearby Chinatown for a traditional Chinese dinner. I don’t recall how many courses, I just know it was a lot. We were all stuffed to the gills by the end of the evening when we shared our fortunes.

And a couple of views from the neighborhood.

Getting Around

During our stay in Toronto, we used what the locals call the TTC (subway, streetcar, and bus) to get around especially in the downtown where traffic is heavy and parking rare and expensive. After reading all the signs posted in the subway car, I begin to look around at my fellow travelers. Then raise my camera for a few discrete photos. In the morning, most riders were checking their phones, in the evening several rested their eyes. Below are a few of my observations. The last in the series is one of my favs. What do you think?

That does it for this week. The Toronto adventure continues next week. See you then.

Happy Travels!



6 thoughts on “Toronto-Take Me Out to the Ballgame

  1. Where did you spend the night? We’re in the planning stage of a September trip and it looks like downtown hotels have no parking and are very expensive. Any insight appreciated.

    1. Thanks for checking in Mick. Since we were on a cultural exchange, we stayed with a family on the outskirts of Toronto.

      You are correct, traffic can be quite congested and it seems like there is road construction everywhere in downtown Toronto. Parking is expensive, most people who live in the downtown use public transportation. In addition to a nice, clean and efficient subway system, there is a network of streetcars in the downtown area as well as a bus system.

      My recommendation for lodging would be to find a hotel further out near a subway station and ride it to your destination. It’s easy and convenient. For example, I found a Hilton Garden Inn for $96 USD near the Vaughn Metro Centre. It’s about a 40 minute subway ride to Union Station, the main hub and close to all the major sites in downtown Toronto. There are likely many other options.

      You might check out the Lonely Planet guidebook for Toronto out of the library for additional ideas. Good luck. Hope you enjoy Toronto as much as we did. Tom

  2. Tom,
    Thanks so much for sharing your blog. It was fun to read your perspectives and see the photos, which brought back lots of fond memories.
    Diane & Larry

    1. Thanks for checking in Diane and Larry. Glad you enjoyed the stories and photos. There is more to come. TM

Comments are closed.