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The 10 Best Public Art Spots in Toronto

Toronto Travel Insider Guides
by Marie-France Roy Oct 9, 2016

Toronto is the largest and most populous city in Canada with 2.8 million people in the city proper and 6 millions in the metropolitan area. We’re also the most multicultural city on the planet, with over 50% of people born outside the country, and 140 languages spoken. As the country’s financial centre, all the major Canadian banks are headquartered here. It’s not all banks, stockbrokers, and suits though. Toronto has a vibrant art scene, including many outdoor public art projects that everyone can enjoy. Below are some of the best and most interesting ones, all located downtown and easily accessible by public transit.

If you’re going to spend time outside, the best months to visit are May to October. You may want to avoid November to March. Just saying.

These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, plus build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Graffiti Alley

 Graffiti AlleyToronto, CanadaGraffiti Alley runs between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street, just south of Queen Street West, and features some striking street art. Up until it appeared on a TV show, few people knew about it. Have your picture taken in front of the quirky underwater scene that covers the entire wall of a three-storey building. #art #graffiti #culture #alley

Kensington Market

 Kensington MarketToronto, CanadaKensington Market is just drenched in murals and graffiti, in addition to funky vintage shops’ facades. On Augusta Street, south of Oxford, you’ll also find an old car that’s been decoratively painted, filled with soil, and is now used as a giant planter. The car has been there since 2006 and gets repainted with different artwork once in a while. #plants #car #art #publicart

Ireland Park

 Ireland ParkToronto, CanadaThe Irish Memorial Garden commemorates the large influx of Irish immigrants who arrived on Toronto’s shores in 1847, fleeing persecution and starvation at home. Granite slabs forming the outline of a ship list the names of those who died on the journey (or shortly after). Emaciated statues stand bleakly where the immigration wharf used to be, south of Queen’s Quay and east of Bathurst Street. #statue #irish #history

Village of Yorkville Park

 Village of Yorkville ParkToronto, CanadaConsisting of a large rock, a boardwalk that meanders through tall grasses, and a curtain-like fountain, this quirky urban garden in Yorkville was designed by architect David Oleson. “The Rock”, which is approximately one billion years old, was removed in pieces from the Canadian glacial shield before being re-assembled here in 1994. Amazing! #garden #park #rock #fountain #publicart

Shangri-La Hotel

 Shangri-La Hotel, TorontoToronto, CanadaProbably the most stunning yet bizarre public sculpture in Toronto, this work of art is called “Rising” and stands guard in front of the Shangri-La Hotel. Are these birds on a tree, or evil flapping hands attacking a dragon? Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s giant sculpture keeps you guessing. #sculpture #art #publicart

Toronto Dominion Centre Park

 Toronto Dominion Centre ParkToronto, CanadaThe financial district is home to these seven bronze cows relaxing on the lawn between the towers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. It’s a favourite lunch spot for office workers, and a photo op for visitors the rest of the time. Each cow in Joe Fafard’s sculpture “The Pasture” weighs 544 kg. #statue #sculpture #financialdistrict

Distillery District

 Distillery DistrictToronto, CanadaReminiscent of “War of the Worlds” alien hardware, this giant spider-like sculpture towers over the cobblestones of the Distillery District. Entitled “I.T.”, the 40-feet tall steel creature by Michael Christian caused controversy when it was installed in 2009. #sculpture #publicart #art #alien

Commerce Court WEST

 Commerce Court WESTToronto, Canada“Tembo, Mother of Elephants” by Derrick Stephan Hudson is one of the largest bronze elephant statues in the world. Tembo (Swahili for elephant) and her two babies are tucked away in the Commerce Court courtyard off the east side of Bay Street, south of King. The mother is 16 feet long and over 9 feet high. Come here outside of business hours for peace and quiet. #statue #elephant #financialdistrict

Union Station

 Union StationToronto, CanadaThe “Monument to Multiculturalism” in front of Union Station greets thousands of commuters every day but you have to look up to notice it, high on its pedestal. Unveiled in 1985, the bronze statue represents a man inside a globe, joining two meridians while doves, symbolizing peace, hold up the remaining meridians. Created by Italian sculptor Francesco Perilli, the statue was presented to the city on behalf of the Italian Canadian community. #statue #multiculturalism #italian

Gooderham Building

 Gooderham BuildingToronto, CanadaThis iconic “trompe l’oeil” mural on the back side of the Gooderham Building (commonly known as Flatiron) mirrors the building located across the street. Created by Canadian artist Derek Besant, it’s been in place since 1980. Can you tell which windows are real and which are painted? #mural #building #art #publicart

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