Discovering Toronto’s Outdoor Public Art

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Toronto outdoor art

Over the last few years I have become aware of statues and various outdoor monuments that are located throughout the city of Toronto. During research, I discovered that over 200 pieces City-owned pieces of outdoor public art and historical monuments are located in parks and public places all over the city. These are all part of the Toronto Outdoor Pubic Art Program. The earliest piece in the collection, The Canadian Volunteers Memorial, which dates back to 1870 and new pieces are being added to the collection each year.

Along with the 200-city owed outdoor art monuments, there are hundreds of others that are funded through the Percent for Public Art Program administered by the City of Toronto Urban Planning division. The program recommends that significant private sector development (ie: condominiums) contribute a  minimum of one percent of the gross construction cost to public art in the city of Toronto. Residents and visitors to  Toronto benefit by having access to all of these magnificent Toronto outdoor art pieces which not only serves as city landmarks but also contributes to the character of the city. The statue above is called Monument to Multiculturalism and is located on Front Street with the gold Royal Bank building pictured in the background.

Public Art

Now that I am aware of the Outdoor Public Art Program, my quest continues to find these hidden treasures in the most unexpected places.  These are among a few of my favorites that I have recently discovered.

The statue to the left entitled Immigrant Family pays homage to Toronto’s  multicultural heritage by honouring the early settlers that arrived here to start a new life.  The monument is located at the foot of York Street and Queens Quay.

The history of Toronto is forever cast in stone, granite, bronze and other precious metals throughout the city.  Be sure to also look for the Chinese Railway Workers Memorial on Blue Jays Way and a Monument to Construction Workers at Richmond and Yonge.

The Giant Toy Solders is another one of my favorites which is located on the Lakeshore near Bathurst.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the 9-foot high sculpture of a Giant Thimble resting on a stack of buttons which marks the heart of the  garment district in Toronto on the corner of Spadina and Richmond street west.

Toronto Giant Statues

Nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto and surrounded by condo buildings and office towers these huge pieces of outdoor art are visually accessible to everyone, yet we sometimes take them for granted.  You may have driven or walked by this one located at the corner of Yonge and Queens Quay pictured to the right, hundreds of times and barely noticed it before. What do you think this one depicts? Here is a clue it is entitled Between the Eyes

I often recommend to our guests who are taking the City Sightseeing Toronto bus tour that they keep a close watch for these beautiful statues spread out throughout the city. So the next time you are in the land of the giant condo’s, take a look around and you maybe surprised to find some of the city’s most beautiful outdoor art right around the corner.

Fallen Figherfighters Memorial

Located beside at the fire station near the Urban Beach on Queens Quay just east of Spadina is a monument to our fallen fire fighters entitled The Last Alarm which was erected in 2000.  This beautiful statues depicts a firefighter holding a small baby. Each year in early May a solemn ceremony complete with a bagpipe band and a water-tribute preformed by the fireboat  honours all of our fallen firefighters in the history of the Toronto fire department. Each name is read out load with the newest recipients added to the list in a very moving ceremony. Diane Greene

And lastly but certainly not least, here I am standing beside David Ruben Piqtoukun’s Gateway to Understanding which is quietly tucked away along the Toronto waterfront beside the Marine Police station at the foot of Rees Street just east of HTO Park East.

During my research I discovered a valuable resource website  called Toronto Sculpture which is a virtual gallery and database of Sculptures in Toronto, based on the photo collection started by the Dittwald family. Simply click on a location in the city, ie Front Street and then it will show you the pictures of the statues, then it is up to you to find them.

So grab a map and a camera and happy hunting! This should be at the top of your list of things to do in Toronto.  Please feel free to share your favorite discoveries.

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