I Tour Spadina
This morning, at a press conference at the RBC branch at King Street West and Spadina Avenue, Heritage Toronto announced the release of its first iTour: a historic tour of Spadina Avenue. Funded in part by RBC, the iTours program provides free downloadable audio and visual walking tours that are designed to help people explore Toronto’s rich history in areas that are often too difficult to navigate with a tour group.
The Spadina Avenue iTour took over a year to produce, and is the result of the hard work and dedication of Heritage Toronto’s numerous volunteer researchers. The tour focuses on Spadina Avenue’s architectural, political, and industrial history, while intertwining stories about its different immigrant populations. The tour also features contributions by Globe and Mail columnist Rick Salutin and Trinity-Spadina councillor Adam Vaughan. “One of the reasons I ran for city council was to protect the disappearing heritage of the city,” said Vaughan, in response to a question at the press conference about his involvement with the project. “Spadina is the spine of my ward.”
We tested the tour out on foot, and while it’s entertaining and informative, it’s also a little confusing. Lifelong Torontonians won’t have too many problems following the directions, but tourists are going to get lost. The tour starts at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue, and works north until Spadina Crescent. Although the audio track is only thirty-one minutes, the tour took us roughly an hour to complete. The audio has to be paused between landmarks, which makes the tour longer and, unfortunately, a little disjointed. But despite its flaws, it’s well worth taking a look at, even if you’re not a Toronto history buff. Other iTours, including Don Mills, Islington Village, and a bicycle tour of the Toronto Islands will soon be available to download.
Video courtesy of Heritage Toronto.