11 Toronto Secrets You Probably Didn’t Know

If the mayor of Toronto can hold on to a secret THAT big for so long, then it should come as no surprise that the rest of the city has a few whoppers of its own. Here are 11 hush-hush Toronto facts you probably didn't know about...

1. There’s a cemetery buried UNDER Yorkville

The poshest of posh Toronto ‘hoods has a unique past that doesn’t quite fit with its current incarnation -- it was actually Toronto's first public non-denominational cemetery, known as the Potter's Field. Yorkville was built on top of it.

2. Yorkville was also a hippie hangout

Before it was the epicenter of clothes and accessories you can’t afford, Yorkville was overrun with hippies. So much so that it was known as the “Canadian capital of the hippie movement.” Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and other famous Canuck musicians and artists hung out here in the many coffee shops and bars that have since been replaced with names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

3. You can brew beer like it’s the 1800s at Pioneer Village

Yes, you can spend the day learning how to brew beer like they did in the 1860s through the apprenticeship program at Pioneer Village. The best part: you get to take home a 2-liter growler of beer when you’re done. If brewing beer doesn’t float your boat you can also sign up to work one-on-one with a blacksmith, baker, or quilter for some more historical learning experiences.

4. There's a mini tropical garden tucked away downtown

Amidst all the concrete and condos sits a garden escape that goes overlooked by many downtown dwellers. Located on the South side of Richmond Street between Yonge and Bay, the Cloud Gardens Conservatory feels like stepping into a tropical rainforest.

5. There’s half a house on St. Patrick Street

Blink and you’ll miss it (and many people do), but at 54 1/2 St. Patrick Street you’ll find there’s half a house. While you might feel as if your eyes are playing tricks on you, the house really has been cut in half. The Victorian row house was severed from its kin after a development dispute in which the owners refused to sell.

6. There’s a bridge buried under Trinity Bellwoods Park

The next time you’re discreetly sipping tall cans in the park or walking your dog through the dog bowl, think about the fact that there’s a bridge buried beneath your feet or your picnic blanket. Built in 1914, the cement structure over Garrison Creek was no more after the ravine beneath it was filled in with excess rubble from the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway. The whole thing was covered over, leaving the area flat.

7. The Rogers Centre was once filled with a lot of hot air balloons

For a reason lost to the sands of time, in 1992 the Rogers Centre set the world record for the greatest number of hot air balloons in an enclosed area. That’s a grand total of 46 inflated hot air balloons on the field at once.

8. Humber’s Lakeshore campus used to be an asylum

The Humber College Lakeshore campus wasn’t always filled with backpack-toting students. Several buildings on campus as well as the tunnel system beneath were once the Mimico Branch Asylum, later called the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. Needless to say, there are rumors that the place is haunted. The tunnels are closed off to the public but sometimes there are tours.

9. Toronto Island wasn’t always an island

The main island of the Toronto Islands wasn’t always an island. The area was once attached to the mainland and formed a 9km-long sand spit. An aggressive storm in 1858 blew a hole at the base of the spit, separating the end of it and creating an island.

10. There’s a hidden lookout near Broadview Station

Located just North of Danforth and West of Broadview is the make-out spot you always knew you needed but never knew where to look. Well, we found it for you, but it’s up to you to locate someone to take up there.

11. We have a haunted lighthouse

In more haunting-related Toronto history, there’s also a ghost allegedly hanging around Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Legend has it that the place is haunted by the very first lighthouse keeper, J.P. Radan Muller. He managed to get himself murdered in 1815 and is, it seems, still angry about it.

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