A full-colour guide to dozens of unique outdoor spaces that highlight Toronto as a sustainable, liveable city.
Toronto is rich in public spaces — deeply incised ravines, lively neighbourhoods, lush gardens and parks, iconic bridges, even repurposed industrial silos and undercrofts of elevated highways. Urban designer Ken Greenberg and Toronto aficionado Eti Greenberg have combed the city on foot and by tandem bike, discovering some of Toronto’s best outdoor public spaces.
In Exploring Toronto, they have gathered twenty-eight of their favourite spots, each offering something unique — a flash of ingenious design, a surprise vantage point, or simply relief from the hum of traffic. Ken and Eti bring their distinctive perspective, informed by years of work in urban design, to each of their choices, providing readers (and explorers) with the full story of the history, design, and appeal of each one-of-a-kind place.
About the authors
Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. He is the author of Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder and Toronto Reborn; Design Successes and Challenges. He was selected as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2019 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Toronto.
Eti Greenberg has managed Toronto’s Euclid Cinema, acted as an art dealer, worked for two Toronto city councillors, teaches Tai Chi, and is a shiatsu and acupuncture therapist. She is passionate about Toronto and walks everywhere and also discovers new places via tandem bike and kayak.
Excerpt: Exploring Toronto: A Guide to 28 Unique Public Spaces (by (author) Ken Greenberg & Eti Greenberg; foreword by Amanda O'Rourke)
CANADA MALTING SILOS
New life for a historic landmark on Toronto Harbour
Two monumental silos book end Toronto Harbour: the Canada Malting silos at the foot of Bathurst Street and the Victory Soya Mills silos at the foot of Parliament Street. Given their scale and prominence, this pair have vital new roles to play in a revitalized waterfront. Every time we walk along the water by the Music Garden, we try to imagine what the future use of the Canada Malting silos might be.
The Canada Malting silos, built in 1928 at the height of Toronto’s early twentieth-century industrial expansion, were abandoned in the 1980s. They have somehow survived, legacies of a past of which few other traces remain. Over the years, there have been numerous plans for their adaptive reuse, but there were difficulties: deterioration of the structures, finding the right combination of uses, and arranging financing. The timing for repurposing them may now be right.
Their heritage status has been acknowledged, and a program of rehabilitation began in late spring 2021. There is enormous potential for public use.
There are two distinct parts to the Canada Malting silos. The central opening between them is being opened up as a gateway to the water’s edge. The night lighting of the silos will give Toronto a gleaming, glowing western bookend for the harbour. When the structural rehab on the silos is finished, the fences will come down and a great new park will be created around the base. This is part of the larger Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan, approved in 2017, which aims to improve the surrounding unused city-owned property with new public spaces, including a promenade connection to Ireland Park. There is a plan to eventually turn the silos into a cultural and community services hub and destination on the harbour. OCAD University has already been engaged with plans to use the silos to facilitate critical dialogues on climate resilience through the lens of art and design and will include activities such as public arts programming, exhibitions, installations, and symposiums, done in collaboration with Indigenous, local, national, and international partners.
The start of refurbishment of these long-neglected structures is a hopeful sign of renewal connecting past, present, and future. It is encouraging to see that similar plans are being developed for the Victory Soya Mills silos at the other end of the harbour. The pieces are falling into place to reconnect the waterfront from the central harbour to Port Lands and the new mouth of the Don River.
Address: 9 Eireann Quay, Toronto,
TTC: The Canada Malting Silos are a short walk from the stops along the Queens Quay LRT line, which runs from Union Station.
CYCLING: The Martin Goodman Trail on the waterfront passes right by.
Exploring Toronto is a love letter to the city I chose to call home. A similarly fascinating book for locals and for visitors.
Gil Penalosa, Founder of 8 80 Cities, and Toronto for Everyone
An intimate, personal tour of Toronto and its often-unsung details from two people who love the city and who have spent much of their lives making it better.
Shawn Micallef, Toronto Star columnist and co-founder of Spacing magazine
Ken & Eti showcase civic gems that make Toronto the fun, liveable and playful city that it has become – many of which they had a hand in creating over two remarkable careers. An essential guide for anyone who wants to experience the city's unique character and charm.
Richard Joy, Executive Director, ULI Toronto (Urban Land Institute)
Our city is so unfinished, and the Greenbergs provide insights into unfamiliar gems awaiting discovery, informed details about the city’s urban growth, and sensibilities that provide each place with a personality and feeling.
Heidi Retimaier, Executive Director, Myseum of Toronto
Resident and visitor alike will delight in Eti and Ken Greenberg’s voyage of discovery through many of Toronto’s parks, landmarks and neighbourhoods as well as the rivers, ravines and lakeshore that sit alongside them.
George Zegarac, Chief Executive Officer, Waterfront Toronto
Ken and Eti have such a passion for and knowledge of Toronto’s parks and greenspaces. Whether you’re visiting Toronto or have lived here for years, you’ll learn something new and be inspired to get out and explore the great public spaces in our city.
Dave Harvey, Co-Executive Director, Park People
Ken and Eti’s intimate insights, stewardship and love of Toronto — its people and places — reveal the diversity, energy, beauty and soul of this wonderful urban palimpsest.
Bruce Kuwabara, O.C. Partner, KPMB Architects
Exploring Toronto is a beautiful tribute to the people and places that have shaped the city’s public landscape. Ken and Eti have made a meaningful and lasting contribution to the places they feature, and with this book they invite readers to walk alongside them as they discover, rediscover and celebrate the city they have helped to build and that they dearly love.
David Carey & Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Directors at the Bentway
A gem of a book — as are its authors — who each embody the joy of the unique public spaces they’ve chosen to highlight. Treat yourself — and your friends — to this charming, informative book that encourages us to engage with the delight that intention can engender: urban places that are ours to discover.
Mary W. Rowe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Urban Institute
Ken and Eti’s excellent adventure takes you to a diversity of places where Toronto’s urban structure intersects with three natural features — Lake Ontario, the ravine network and the escarpment. Their shared experience brings strangers together as they reveal special places of delight and joy.
Paul Bedford, Former Toronto Chief Planner Chair, Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel
The insights in this book will be of interest to newcomers and longtime residents alike. Exploring Toronto is a guidebook, a history book, and a playbook for building the next generation of Toronto's unique public spaces.
Matti Siemiatycki, Director of the Infrastructure Institute at the School of Cities, and Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning at University of Toronto