Photo: Detail of Passage to Port Union by Allan Bender (Lead Artist), John Nobrega, Azadeh Pirazimian, Jesse McCuaig, Frances Potts, Chris Brown, and Melissa Bessey. Courtesy of Mural Routes.

By Janice Bennink

It’s no surprise to us that Scarborough is home to a hotbed of arts and culture. Around any corner you find a richness of stories past and present, art, music and performance. With the addition of last year’s Nuit Blanche and recent success of novels set in Scarborough, it seems we are finally being recognized as the cultural treasure that is our community.

If you need an informative guide to our arts scene, look no further than the Cultural Loops Guide, Explore Scarborough, a 133-page book containing self-guided tours of Scarborough’s art, history and nature. The guide is a legacy project of Cultural Hotspot, a City of Toronto Arts Services program in its sixth year that celebrates culture in areas outside the downtown core.

Scarborough’s Cultural Loops Guide is divided into three regions, or loops, each with a series of self-guided tours that feature local arts and cultural institutions, green spaces, history, architecture and businesses. The tours include maps to 161 cultural points of interest on foot, by bike, TTC or car. Visitors and residents alike will also appreciate the “Hot Eats“ section, with over 70 restaurants in all three loops.

Close to Centennial, the tour “Community Spirit in East Scarborough” includes historic homes on Old Kingston Road, art and architecture on the UTSC campus, murals in Highland Creek Village, the Scarborough Archives and our own Passage to Port Union mural in Centennial Plaza. There are informative descriptions and notes about each stop on the tour. Where else will you find quick facts about the founder of Ted’s Restaurant, or the contributions of Centennial’s Rella Braithwaite to research on Black history in Canada?

One of the goals of Cultural Hotspot is to build community pride. Nadira Pattison, Manager Arts Services City of Toronto, wants everyone to celebrate Scarborough’s vibrance. She says, “it’s so important for Scarborough residents and all Torontonians to see what Scarborough has to offer – it is a home to many truly dynamic neighbourhoods with beautiful natural landscapes, unique local history and one of the most multicultural areas in the city, as evidenced by the diversity of local restaurants.”

The city has produced Cultural Loops Guides to East York, North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough. They can be picked up at City of Toronto community centres and downtown at INFOTOGO pillars. All guides can also be viewed online at by following the link to Explore.