Heritage Toronto is once again returning to in-person tours, along with keeping many online and virtual as well. On the Civic Holiday, a sold-out group of 20 cyclists peddled lakeside trails learning about our waterfront history. Looking forward, they will be offering diverse experiences exploring our food history, industrial heritage,  architecture, and more. Many of the 31 tours provide opportunities to re-engage with each other and with Toronto’s neighbourhoods.

 Running from August until October, the 2021 Tours season also respects the evolving situation caused by the global pandemic, with new headset technology provided on in-person tours to help ensure physical distancing.

Upcoming tours are featured below. There is a 20$ fee for all in-person tours this year. Free online events will be held via Zoom. Spots are limited and registration is required for both online and in-person tours. Sign up soon!

Verna Johnston’s Indigenous youth boarding house from 1966-1972, 129 Blythwood Ave.

Indigenous Roots: A Living History

Learn about the earliest inhabitants and their resistance to colonialism. Hear stories of the Indigenous leaders, artists, and community members who worked to ensure that Indigenous cultures thrive on Tkarón:to’s busy streets today—including that of Verna Johnston (1909-1996), an Ojibwe woman who started a boarding house for Indigenous youth in Toronto, and in so doing, established a community for future generations.

Sunday, August 8 | SOLD OUT

Tuesday, August 24 | 6:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

This tour was developed by Emerging Historian Mnawaate Gordon-Corbiere, with the support of a generous donation by Andrew and Sharon Himel and the Himel Family.


International Women’s Day, Toronto, 1982. Image: Helena Wehrstein

Lady Action: Toronto’s Trailblazing Women

Walk in the footsteps of Toronto’s trailblazing women, who pushed boundaries in politics, broke the glass ceiling, and changed the course of history in their city. Explore the stories of suffragists, doctors, entrepreneurs, artists and others who faced adversity and challenged the status quo.


Tuesday, August 10 | 6:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

Sunday, August 29 | 10:30 AM

Allan Gardens (160 Gerrard Street East)

This tour was developed by Emerging Historian Emily Gwiazda, with the support of a generous donation by Alex Pike.

Black and white photo of a man in 50s clothing standing on a train platform waving at the approaching train. In the background is a building with a large sign that reads Viceroy rubber products.

West Toronto Railway Station (Canadian Pacific Railway). Photo by James Victor Salmon, 1957. Image: Toronto Public Library

Junction Triangle: A Neighbourhood in Motion

Explore this west-end neighbourhood, defined by the railway lines that border it, and once home to thriving industry, transportation routes, and immigrant communities. Today, it is one of the city’s emerging hotspots and is undergoing major urban redevelopment.

Thursday, August 12 | 5:30 PM

Perth Square Park (350 Perth Avenue)

This tour was developed by Emerging Historian Quinton Bradshaw, with the support of a generous donation by Andrew and Sharon Himel and the Himel Family.


Sherbourne Street with the Gooderham Mansion at left, 1972. Image: City of Toronto Archives

St. James Town: World within a Block

Discover the history of the largest high-rise community in Canada. Once featuring grand Victorian houses on every corner, in the 1960s, St. James Town became the centre for young, single lifestyles. It is now home to many diverse cultures, welcoming new immigrants from around the world.

Sunday, August 15 | 10:30 AM

Rekai Family Parkette (625 Bloor St E)

Tuesday, August 31 | 12:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

This tour was developed by Emerging Historian Ori Abara, with the support of a generous donation by Andrew and Sharon Himel and the Himel Family, as well as our tour sponsor:

Logo for the Ontario Association of Architects

Group stands in alleyway in front of dragon mural listening to tour leader speak.

Chinatown West, Dundas and Spadina, June 1, 2019. Image: Kristen McLaughlin

Chinatown: Past and Present

Trace the development of Toronto’s Chinese community from its humble roots in The Ward, with its early laundries, restaurants, and associations, to the postwar settlement of the Chinatown West neighbourhood (Dundas Street and Spadina Avenue), now filled with diverse foods, shops, and businesses.

Tuesday, August 17 | 12:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

Marilyn Bell crawls ashore after swimming the English Channel, 1955. Image: Norman James/Toronto Star Archives

Pedalling the Parks: Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage

As we celebrate the Olympic performances of Canadian swimmers Maggie Mac Neil, Penny Oleksiak, and Kylie Masse, we also think back to another famous swimmer. In 1954, Toronto’s Marilyn Bell, became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. She was only 16 years old! After her record-breaking swim, Marilyn became a local hero. In 1955, she gained even greater fame by swimming the English Channel.


Today, the naming of Marilyn Bell Park commemorates her athletic achievements, not far from where she had emerged from Lake Ontario. Learn more about her story and others celebrating our waterfront history.

Thursday, August 19 | 12:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

This cycling tour was developed by Emerging Historian Steven Kellier, supported by Andrew and Sharon Himel and the Himel family.

Yiddish and Hebrew sign advertising a butcher shop, The Ward, c. 1910. Image: City of Toronto Archives

Good Eats: A History of Food & Dining

At the turn of the twentieth century, Toronto experienced a wave of immigration, largely from Eastern European Jewish communities. Arriving in Toronto, a large Jewish community established itself in the St. John’s Ward area (often known simply as “The Ward”), approximately where City Hall stands today. By 1910, the ward was approximately 80% Jewish, with an estimated 15,000 Jewish residents. As the Jewish community grew in Toronto, new businesses opened to meet its needs, including butchers who were trained to prepare meat according to Jewish dietary laws.


Learn more about this and other areas of Toronto’s food history on this tour.

Sunday, August 22 | 10:30 AM

Black Bull Tavern (298 Queen Street West)

Architecture of a Neighbourhood tour, 2018. Image: Herman Custodio

Architecture of a Neighbourhood: Downtown Yonge

Explore the architecture of the neighbourhood that surrounds Toronto’s iconic road, Yonge Street, from a large university campus, to beautiful churches, and numerous parks. Get an in-depth look at the side streets, laneways, and the spaces between to discover a side of the area you haven’t seen before.

Thursday, August 26 | 12:00 PM

Online via ZOOM

This tour was developed by Emerging Historian Stephen Ficalora, with the support of our tour sponsors:

Logo for Downtown Yonge BIA

Logo for the Ontario Association of Architects

Beverly Mascoll plaque unveiling

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.