TORONTO

Spring in the Queen City

Richard Burnett
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Spring in the Queen City

A weekend getaway in Toronto is a sure bet, with fine restaurants and fab shopping, museums, top accommodations, vibrant LGBTQ nightlife and – my favourites – plenty of opera and big-league sports teams year-round.

I returned to Toronto twice this winter with my mom
Diamond Lil: We were invited by our BFF Louis-Michel Taillefer to attend The 519’s intimate LGBTQ community centre benefit concert starring gay icon Patti LuPone, as well as the Canadian Opera Company production of Rusalka at the Four Seasons Centre, hands-down the finest opera house in the land. The remainder of the COC season looks excellent, notably their productions of Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece Aida (April 18 to May 8), as well as Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (May 1 to 16).
 
I also spent several hours visiting The Hockey Hall of Fame. This was the fifth time I visit the Hockey Hall and it never gets tired. It is easy to lose oneself in this incre-dible museum where Montreal’s hockey legacy looms large. The Hall’s centrepiece is an exact replica of the Canadiens’ old Montreal Forum dressing room, complete with jerseys, skates, pads and other equipment worn by the team’s legendary superstars. 
 
Theatre goers will enjoy the Canadian premiere of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton – about America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was America’s first Treasury Secretary – which continues at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until May 17.
And do not miss the Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971 exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibition features 150 photographs, and runs until May 18.
 
HOW TO GET THERE 
VIA Rail travel to Toronto is not only relaxing but a terrific green option. The VIA Rail Business Lounge at Toronto’s Union Station features a complimentary snack bar and business centre. VIA Rail also offers free Wi-Fi. To book a fare, visit viarail.ca. 
 
WHERE TO STAY 
The boutique Hotel Le Germain Toronto Mercer (30 Mercer Street) and Hotel Le Germain Toronto Maple Leaf Square (75 Bremner Boulevard, a two-minute walk from Union Station) are strategically located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. Both affordable luxury hotels are exceptionally equipped and offer excellent service. I highly recommend both. Make your reservation via legermainhotels.com.
 
QUEER TORONTO
While the Church-Wellesley Village remains the focal point of LGBTQ nightlife, queer-owned and queer-friendly establishments can be found throughout the Queen City, notably in the west end, where the affectionately named “Queer West Village” – centred around Queen Street West between Trinity Bellwoods Park and Roncesvalles Avenue – has become an alternative to the Church Street scene. 
 
For all you need to know about Toronto, visit seetorontonow.com.  
 
Spring Toronto