Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life


A cool winter festival in Yorkville

Photo gallery from Bloor-Yorkville Icefest 2014

For a description of the up-coming event on Feb. 20-21, 2016, read Bloor-Yorville Icefest. To give you a taste of the Icefest, here are some photos taken in a previous Icefest with a circus theme. The theme for 2014 was tropical: "Heat Wave". In addition to the competition, there are always a few ice carving demonstrations on the premises.

When you see the ice carving at this stage, you'd think that the artist is carving a block of snow. But see how sparkly the fish (shown below) turned out, once polished (Photo of finished artwork, courtesy of Blyth Academy private school, sponsor of this piece in 2011).


There's a short cut linking Yorkville's two main streets. Just west of the Guild Shop (118 Cumberland Street) you'll find a corridor leading to 99 Yorkville Avenue. MoRoCo, along that corridor, is a chocolate boutique with a chichi restaurant attached, one of the few in Toronto where you can have a chocolate fondue (or a fancy afternoon tea).

For many years (maybe even from the beginning but I don't know for sure), the event has rewarded $2 donations to the Heart & Stroke Foundation with a large ice cube containing a toy car.

The competition is held in Village of Yorkville Park on Saturday, starting at 12 noon.

One of the park's favourite feature is the large rock platform which can, with the right amount of snow, turn into a nice sliding slope.

In 2011, they created carrousel horses for kids to climb onto.

Along Hazelton Avenue, you'll see a few sculptures around the galleries.



TOP-10 fun things to do with tissues and boxes

For artsy kids | TOP fun lists

It's cold season again.

I don't know about you but in my house, everyone is currently sneezing and blowing their nose. That's a lot of Kleenex boxes to recycle!

Here are my TOP-10 fun things to do with tissues and boxes. (Excerpts from my Clever DIY fun for kids board on Pinterest on


1. Decorate the box, tie an empty one to the new one with elastics to collect the used tissues (so germs are not spread all over the place).

2. Plug a fan in and let the kids make the unused tissues fly! The good thing is that you can use the tissues afterwards.

3. A cool rocket to build. See instructions on

4. A Lego box to cover boring boxes of tissue. See instructions on

5. Turn two boxes into dinosaur paws.

6. A box becomes a tunnel.

7. With the help of elastics, a box turns into a guitar.

8. My favourite: building a catapult to throw marshmellows (from

9. Monsters!

10. How to make a miniature box of tissues, for doll houses (from



TOP-5 activities to combine with a visit to Harbourfront during the construction

TOP fun lists


In the last two years, it's been trickier to access Harbourfront Centre, thanks to a big revitalization project. But this shouldn't deter us from attending all its great on-going free activities and events such as Natrel Rink and HarbourKIDS Fest during February Family Day, to name a few.

Here are a few tips to better enjoy your visit:

About parking: This weekend, I checked the three closest parking lots around Harbourfront, including Harbourfront's underground parking lot on the premises, the one just north of Harbourfront (entrance off Lower Simcoe Street), and the one north-west of the Centre at Rees and Queens Quay. They were all $15/day during the weekend. Therefore, Harbourfront's underground lot, at the foot of Lower Simcoe, is your best bet.


About public transportation: The Queens Quay streetcar will be reinstated only by June 2014. Until then, you can catch the 509 Harbourfront bus at the north-west corner of Bay and Front street (off Union Subway Station), going southbound on Bay, then east on Queens Quay, with a stop by Harbourfront Centre. (You will have to go to the corner of Lake Shore and Simcoe Street to catch the 509 back to Union Station.)

Instead, I suggest you walk from Union Station to Harbourfront Centre (it will take you less than 10 minutes) and use this as an excuse to enjoy the following features around Air Canada Centre (just south of Union Subway Station).

About fun things around Union Station: Read about Air Canada Centre's bas-relief sculptures on its facade Bay Street and Lake Shore Blvd. (school-age kids will enjoy finding the theme linking the series of bas-relief), then proceed west of Air Canada Centre and southbound on York Street to reach Harbourfront Centre. Also read about Air Canada Centre's Wins, Losses and Ties sculpture. (Hockey fans will enjoy this one.)

Craft activity: If you're going to Harbourfront Centre during the construction, make it worth your trouble by taking advantage of Miss Lou's Room weekend free craft activities.


Cool combo: Combine your visit with a stop at Toronto PawsWay (with free admission) just west of Harbourfront, across the small white bridge.



What's that on Air Canada Centre?

Around subway stations

Do you see a theme on these bas relief?

Outside of Air Canada Centre (at the end of a tunnel south of Union Station), you can see interesting bas relief along Bay Street. Starting with the one where we can see someone who seems to shout, work your way southbound and around the building to see the rest of the bas relief sculpture and ask your kids if they can see a theme.

Then retrieve your steps, back into the building, where he kids will be able to see the Toronto Postal Delivery heading.

I was wondering why there were dolphin carvings on the wall, then I learned in a blog about art deco buildings that the architect who designed the Toronto Postal Delivery building was Charles Brommall Dolphin. Funny guy.

Related post: TOP-5 tips to better enjoy Harbourfront during the construction



Air Canada Centre Wins, Losses, Ties sculpture

Around subway stations

Around Union Subway Station

When I stop at Union Subway Station, I like to follow the indoor signs to Air Canada Centre (a corridor links Union Station to Air Canada on its south end) and exit through its eastern door into Bay Street. That's where you'll find the sculpture Wins, Losses and Ties created in 1999 by Micah Lexier. There's more to what looks like an inverted pipe organ than meets the eye. (Read the explanation below.)

If you look down, you'll notice engraved marble slates topped with the three words Wins, Losses, and Ties (easier to see when the sidewalk is wet).

They are referring to hockey games played by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the old Maple Leaf Centre, up to the year when all hockey games were moved to Air Canada Centre. At the bottom, you can read the years the games took place and look up to see what happened that specific year, score wise. For example, during the season 1959-1960, the Maple Leafs won 35 games, lost 26, and 9 games ended with a tie. 

Related post: TOP-5 tips to better enjoy Harbourfront during the construction

If you exit Air Canada Centre through the western door, you'll get to see the landmark sculpture of three giant columns with stars cut-out: Search Light, Star Light, Spot Light, by John McEwen, and erected in 1998. This part of town is now called Maple Leaf Square and it included a giant screen where we can sometimes watch live games taking place inside the Centre.


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Buy the book Toronto Street Art Strolls

Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.


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