2160 Minutes in… Toronto


Toron­to is a tough city to sell on for­eign trav­el­ers. If you live state­side, it’s hard to under­stand the north­ern appeal of Canada’s most pop­u­lous city, when New York has every­thing a weath­er-ready urban­ite could ever dream of. For Canucks, Toron­to can often feel like a betray­al, a grass-is-green­er bor­der town that des­per­ate­ly wish­es it were part of the cool kids club. But for copy­ed­i­tors who have recent­ly tak­ing a leave of absence to recon­nect with their pre-teen chil­dren after their ex-wife gets remar­ried to the back up goalie for the Maple Leafs, Toron­to can be a charm­ing com­bi­na­tion of urban liv­ing and open spaces.


4 p.m.

Hop­ping off the plane with lit­tle more than a ruf­fled din­ner suit and a hand-scrawled address on the back of an air­port bar match­book? Head to Bet­ty Hem­mings Leather­goods (162 Cum­ber­land St.; 416−921−4321) just off tony Bloor St. for a clas­sic trol­ley suit­case, or liv­en up your style with their cognac and brass week­end bag.

Either way, be sure to save room inside for a cou­ple of mod­el air­planes for your two boys, Jack and Stephen, who (last you heard) were into that sort of stuff. Aura Mod­el Shop (10 Dun­das St. E; 416−979−2872) is locat­ed right in the down­town core and comes out­fit­ted with the best in mod­el kits and relat­ed acces­sories, the per­fect present to wash over the past 16 months.

10 p.m.

Since the address you were giv­en is for a gat­ed and secu­ri­ty-con­trolled com­mu­ni­ty in the north­ern sub­urb of Cliff­side, it’s safe to assume you’ll be in for a long night. Make your way up Queen Street to The Tulip (1606 Queen St. E; 416−469−5797), a trip­py lit­tle steak­house with mod accents and a swelling array of steaks and chops. The hefty porter­house might as well be referred to as the pow­er­house at The Tulip, but you can wrap the pricey slab of beef to go so you’ll have some­thing to snack on late into the night in your rental car.


5 a.m.

Wait out­side while your ex-wife’s new hus­band Ben leaves for morn­ing hock­ey prac­tice, and mut­ter to your­self about how he stole your chil­dren away to live in a for­eign coun­try. This is also a good time to wor­ry if your job is in jeopardy.

Fol­low him down to the Air Cana­da Cen­tre (40 Bay St; 416−815−5500) and have a look around. Maybe sneak into the play­ers lock­er room or grab a team pho­to and burn the eyes out of your least favorite player.

8 a.m.

Sur­prise your kids by urg­ing them away from their bus stop. Reas­sure them that you’ve spo­ken to their mom and today they get to hang out with Dad because he’s more fun than their stu­pid old Cana­di­an school. Once every­one’s packed into the rental, dip over to Ham­mer­smith’s (807 Ger­rard St. E; 416−792−9043) for a taste of the old coun­try, rede­fined. A plate of crispy duck hash with a side of farm-raised eggs is sure to warm up the icy chill at the table.


When the sun is shin­ing, Toron­to offers some of the best unob­struct­ed views of Lake Ontario. At Tom­my Thomp­son Park (south of down­town on the lake; 416−661−6600), a thin isth­mus of pro­tect­ed wilder­ness means you can strad­dle the shore from the safe­ty of your rental car. Of course, there are plen­ty of well-worn hik­ing trails, should one of the chil­dren get spooked and hop out of the rolling vehi­cle, so bring boots if you can. And the best part? One way in-and-out access through the Leslie Street entrance means you can spot check every car that dri­ves by to make sure Jack isn’t hitch­ing a ride back to his moth­er’s house with a total stranger.

8 p.m.

Instead of send­ing the kids back to the wait­ing arms of their liar of a moth­er, swing by Han­dle­bar (159 Augus­ta Ave.; 647−748−7433) just north of Dun­das St. Grab a booth big enough for three and order up a round of sig­na­ture cock­tails — two with­out alco­hol, of course — from bar man­ag­er Rachel Con­duit. The fla­vors here come sharp and wild, an ode to the north­ern Cana­di­an wilder­ness that Toron­to keeps at bay. If you’re feel­ing adven­tur­ous, slip Jack and Stephen a lit­tle sip now and again, just like your father did when you were eleven.

11 p.m.

It’s final­ly time to hit the sack, and with two minors in tow whose moth­er will be call­ing around, you’re going to need a qui­et place to bed down for the night. At Hotel Le Ger­main (30 Mer­cer St.; 416−345−9500), clas­sic lux­u­ry meets down­town ele­gance, with accent­ed pil­low­cas­es and buffed met­al accents on the fur­ni­ture. The kids can head back to their gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty in the morn­ing; tonight it’s your chance to give the kids the hard sell on mov­ing back to Amer­i­ca with Dad. Who would­n’t want to sleep in a bunk bed?


9 a.m.

After a tear­ful good­bye, a few vague insults and apolo­gies to the police, the boys are back with their free­load­ing moth­er and that meat­head in a Jason mask, which means it’s time to refu­el for the trip home. Dark Horse Espres­so Bar (684 Queen St. W; 647−352−3512) can pro­vide just the spark you need, with their sig­na­ture drip espres­so pack­ing more punch than a blus­tery Toron­to win­ter. Eyes rimmed in red as you shak­i­ly board a plane back to the States, you can’t help but remark at just how promis­ing your life real­ly is. Now, if only cus­tody judge Patri­cia Eack­er­ly felt the same way. ♦