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Hidden In Plain Sight: Amazing Destinations Inside Canada's Biggest Cities

12/01/2014 11:48 EST | Updated 12/08/2014 03:59 EST
Bruce Yuanyue Bi via Getty Images

When you think of cities, you probably picture tall buildings, neatly curated parks, and wide congested streets. You don’t really think of labyrinths and underground paths. Yet Canadian cities contain many of these hidden treasures, just waiting to be explored.

From Buddhist temples in the greater Toronto area, to secret labyrinths in Vancouver, we list some of the best experiences hiding in plain sight in your city.

Hidden In Plain Sight: Amazing Destinations Inside Canada's Biggest Cities

The Toronto Public Labyrinth, Toronto, Ontario

There is a labyrinth right next to the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. It’s located in Trinity Square Park and was created by the Labyrinth Community Network. Walking in and out of the labyrinth will take you about 20 minutes, and in the tradition of labyrinths (unlike mazes, labyrinths have no dead ends), the journey down a single twisted path is supposed to lead you towards an answer you’ve been searching for. The Labyrinth Community Network sponsors four free walks with live music per year.

Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto Buddist Temple, Mississauga, Ontario

This Buddhist temple is a fantastically-constructed slice of Asia that has become part of the Mississauga landscape. It offers marriage and funeral ceremonies, tours and Dharma services. Anyone who is interested in learning and celebrating the Buddhist religion are welcomed to attend the services. The tea shop (with all proceeds going to the temple’s upkeep) comes highly recommended!

Vancouver Island Labyrinths, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

If you’re in the mood for meditation and mindfulness, there are more than 50 labyrinths on Vancouver Island. You can go on a self-directed tour or on a guided group tour. The labyrinths are made of grasses, trees, and even flowers! They all work together to promote a mindset of peace and patience.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia

This garden is right in the heart of Vancouver, and it serves as a pleasant surprise when you leave the busy roads and end up in this colourful and peaceful space. The garden’s stated mission is “to maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between the Chinese and Western cultures, to promote Chines culture generally, and to be an integral part of the local community.”

The garden was built in 1985, using the principles and techniques of a Ming dynasty garden. Canadian and Chinese craftsmen worked together to create this garden. If you visit, be sure to walk the halls — they were built without the use of nails, screws or glue.

Fortifications of Quebec, Quebec City

The walls surrounding Old Quebec City make this city the only fortified city in North America. The walls are made of grey brick and they hold cannons, loopholes, a star-shaped citadel and an artillery park.

Inside the walls is Old Quebec City, a place of restaurants, shops, bed and breakfast inns and a lot of history.

The Centre Island Maze/William Meany Maze, Toronto Islands, Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Island/William Meany Maze was a tradition but neglect led to the uprooting of the trees in 2011. A recent donation from businessman William Meany means that the maze will soon be reopened for business. The original maze was mapped out by landscape designer Peter Vanderwerf.

Volunteers replanted 1,200 black cedars from a local nursery this year and fenced them off so that the trees can grow, creating the actual “walls” of the maze. That means the maze will be open in 2015 for anyone interested in getting seriously lost.

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