Architecturally, Toronto is known for its modern triumphs – the soaring CN Tower, the retractable Rogers Centre and the dramatic addition jutting from the exterior of the venerable Royal Ontario Museum. But the city is also sprinkled with historic treasures – Old World marvels from an earlier era. Many of them are now open for meetings and conferences.
ST. LAWRENCE HALL
In 1849, a fire storm ripped and roared through Toronto, burning much of the city to the ground. But just a year later, rising from the ashes was the new St. Lawrence Hall. It immediately became the city’s favourite meeting spot, hosting the most famous personalities of the day. Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale thrilled audiences by hitting the high notes while P.T. Barnum, the legendary showman, dropped by the Hall with his pal Col. Tom Thumb. More serious visitors ranged from Toronto’s first mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, to US abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Today, the Hall with its grand Corinthian columns, topped by a copper cupola, is again an important meeting spot. It features the Great Hall, which is suitable for groups up to 200, the East Room and VIP Room and assorted anterooms, reminders of the city’s past and future. www.stlawrencemarket.com
Music lovers already know all about the legendary Palais Royale. Originally built in 1922, the art deco creation is perched on the edge of Lake Ontario and has swung and rocked to the sounds of everybody from Duke Ellington to Blue Rodeo and of course the Rolling Stones who performed here free in 2001. The interior is centred around a grand ballroom and stone fireplace and features a patio that juts out to the edge of Lake Ontario. www.palaisroyale.ca