If you’re living like most Torontonians, you’re paying a lot of money for not a lot of space. Your domicile is likely freezing cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer—but your threats to move to Montreal were empty and here you are dealing with the heat with what resources you have. Cold showers and pleas to your landlords to install an AC unit are daily habits. Friends with basement apartments are now your best friends and you’ve blown your beer money on Canadian Tire’s entire fan inventory. In Toronto, you have to get crafty when looking for places to cool down. Here are some landmarks perfect for escaping the summer’s inevitable heat waves:
1. The Carlton Cinema/The Bloor Cinema — Movie theatres are always cold and dark and if you’re lucky, a bit damp from Diet Coke spills. You could chose to go to a large cinema, which probably has more fountain pop options; however, these two cinemas are full of character, reasonable prices and film nerds who are actually silent during the movie. But the most genius idea behind the Carlton and the Bloor is that they are fully licensed to sell booze, which will result in whatever you’re watching being in the two-thumbs up category. The Carlton has $5 Tuesdays so you can splurge on popcorn and the Bloor plays documentaries so you will emerge from the theatre smarter and more cultured than before (that’s how documentaries work, right?). Cold beer in a cold theatre for a few hours will have you feeling restored and sweat-stainless.
2. Honest Ed’s — This soon-to-be Toronto condo really is one of the best places in which to get lost. On a hot summer day the airy and confusing store will finally get the attention it deserves because for once blistering temperatures are more terrifying than what’s happening inside Ed’s. I suggest starting at one of the top floors and working your way down. There are tons of strange rooms with anything and everything your heart could desire. We’re all lucky “normcore” is in and Honest Ed’s is still kicking because this is your one stop shop for basic T-shirts, basic sweatshirts, basic shoes and basic mesh bras … Basics, bitches. Go with a friend and play hide-and-seek! Go alone and have an existential crisis! Take your time, take shelter and take advantage of this sprawling TO treasure while it still stands.
3. Your Friend’s Parents’ House — If your parents live somewhere outside the GTA, it’s very important to befriend the rare “Toronto kids” in this city. In my experience, they often find you exotic if you’re from small-town Ontario. Members of this easily-impressed species also probably have great relationships with their parents as they likely lived with them after university/college or maybe they never got around to moving out! Chances are these parents have some sort of state-of-the-art cooling system in place, like a swimming pool or air conditioning or maybe just a bunch of cold beverages in the fridge. The Holy Trinity is if the Toronto parent is rocking all three. Be polite and have a few charming-but-tame stories on hand and you could get invited over for dinner one of these hot days.
4. The Bay — Both locations of the Bay in downtown Toronto are large, jam-packed, almost-anachronistic shopping spaces. I’ve spent many a warm afternoon getting lost in these Canadian institutions, making friends with sales associates and hiding from the sun. In the summer months the AC is pumping, the florescent lighting is better than scalding hot UV rays and the elevator music is soothing. The best section in which to spend your time is furniture. I like to pretend I’m a fancy lady furnishing her newly decorated guest bedroom, which gives you an excuse to Goldilocks and lie down on each perfectly made bed. Or maybe you just want to sit in a comfortable chair or couch and contemplate how most of the furniture costs what you would spend on rent. If you’re lucky like Emily Keeler, you might get locked somewhere in the bedding section.
5. Public Pools That Stay Open During Heat Advisories — A well-kept secret around town is that certain pools stay open when the weather authorities advise us against the heat. The outdoor pools that stayed open until quarter-to-midnight last summer were: Alex Duff Memorial, Alexandra Park, Cummer Park (indoor pool), Giovanni Caboto, McGregor Park, Monarch Park, Smithfield and Sunnyside-Gus Ryder. My favourite downtown pools are Sunnyside (for Parkdale cuties) and Alex Duff (for Bloor and Ossington cuties) Last summer I swam under the stars while teen lifeguards blasted Miley Cyrus over the soundsystem, which I’m pretty sure is the definition of cool.