This morning I’m going on yet another tour and checking out part of Eastern Toronto, the St. Lawrence Market. It’s just a stone’s throw from the hostel, but I keep forgetting to check it out. However, the hostel has a tour that also gives a brief history of the place. As it turns out, its just me and Stacie interested, so it’s a quick and intimate one.
The St. Lawrence Market started out in a wooden building a little further up the street, eventually replaced by a brick building, and then moved down the street to its current location. Although it’s something of a tourist attraction, it’s still used by locals, with only a few tourist shops. It’s primarily food, and our first stop is a bakery stand that sells bacon rolls. Specifically, peameal bacon, one of Toronto’s most famous products.
It all started with a man called William Davies, who dealt in pork and wanted to ship the meat back to the UK. In order to do this, he had to find a way to ship it without spoiling. The end result was soaking the pork in brine, and then rolling it in split peas (the same thing that he was feeding his pigs). It was a huge success, and it made Davies a fortune. Nowadays, the pork is rolled in cornmeal, but the flavour remains very similar. We managed to get a sample of it, and it was SO much better than most of the bacon I’ve tried in Canada so far, but still lacking flavour for me (I just like my bacon smoked, and it doesn’t seem that popular outside the UK).
This is a great place to buy food – there are cheese, meat, fish and fruit & veg stands that all host plenty of good food at reasonable prices, as well as several food court style stands on the basement floor including Japanese, polish and Italian sandwiches. I could have happily eaten at a dozen places, but I have other plans for lunch.
My hosts at Parrots in Paradise have family who live in Toronto, and we exchanged contact information to try and meet up. The original plan was dinner, but I got my dates mixed up so we changed it to lunch. At 11:45 I headed over to her building on the 40th floor. And DAMN but you don’t realise how high 40 storeys are until you reach it. For someone whose never been higher than 20, staring out the window makes my vertigo freak out.
Still, it means I’m getting a great view of Toronto – Sheila takes me around her office so I can even get a few different views.
The restaurant she takes me to is Bannock, which is known for Canadian style food. The waitress recommends the Arcadian Court Chicken Pot Pie, which is pretty awesome, and then at Sheila’s recommendation, I get to have the butter tart. This is similar to a custard tart, but a lot more syrupy. It’s very sweet, but in a natural rather than manufactured way. Really worth trying.
In the afternoon, I figured I’d try and locate the museum. I get a little lost and don’t get there until after 3, but figure 2 hours will be enough time to wander round. It’s $20 to get in (plus an additional $10 if you want to go to the extra blue whale exhibit, which I didn’t), and has three floors.
It’s biggest exhibits mostly involve pottery and jewellery from different eras, and a lot of dinosaur bones (most are admittedly casts with only a handful of real fossils). However there’s only a very small section regarding the history of the native Canadians compared to other countries that were invaded with white civilisation. A lot of the museum feels a little dry, and it’s not very engaging. There’s a lot here, but it gets dull to keep wandering around. Ended up running through the last few exhibits and heading out early.