Graffiti in Toronto

There’s an ongoing discussion / debate here in Toronto with regards to the graffiti and street art that peppers the city. It’s a discussion that polarises some, and unites others, dividing those that believe it’s art and those that believe it’s graffiti. To get even more complex, many, like me, believe there’s a distinction between street art and vandalism, both of which are usually considered to be graffiti. But I’m not here to debate – I’m here to show off some photos of bits that caught my eye.

There are certain parts of the city that have emerged more as a forum for art than for vandals, and it’s gotten the city’s attention. Most Torontonians are aware of Graffiti Alley, and many have visited. However, most visitors are completely unaware that there’s a centre of urban art right off Queen West.

Jason of Tour Guys and Toronto Urban Adventures leads private tours of Toronto’s Graffiti Alley, and for the last two years has led tours during Janes Walk. Last year I tagged along, and these are some of my favourite photos from the afternoon.

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

Graffiti in Toronto

This last photo is said to be the only Banksy in Toronto. While it’s been tampered with, you can still see a bit of the rodent!

Graffiti Alley runs parallel to Queen Street West, half a block south, between about Peter St and Bathurst. It’s pretty safe, but maybe don’t wear flip flops, as there’s some debris on the ground. If you want a tour, get in touch with Jason at Tour Guys.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. baconismagic says:

    I didn’t realize we had any Banksy here.

    1. Yeah! It’s not 100% confirmed, but from what I understand, the graffiti community is fairly confident it actually is a Banksy. It’s on Phoebe St at Spadina on the east side on a brick wall at a cafe.–banksy-s-street-art-sets-toronto-abuzz

  2. Laura says:

    beautiful shots, Linds!

  3. frizzieliz says:

    Awesome pics and very cool idea for an urban adventure tour. I have seen a lot of very cool graffiti in my travels. The Tate Modern had an awesome exhibit on graffiti art in 2008. Part of the exhibit was that they had monstrous sized graffiti paintings on the outside of the building. Tres cool.

    1. Thanks! Cool graffiti is definitely one of the fun bits of travelling. It’s like there’s a consistent voice, but unique style in every place. That Tate Modern exhibit sounds really neat!

  4. wanderlust23 says:

    I like the art in the 4th and 7th pictures best. Nice, to see that the work in picture 7 is still up. I am not in TO often so I don’t know how often stuff gets painted over. I find that Toronto street art isn’t consistent. Some pieces are brilliant while a lot I feel doesn’t have much artist merit. Did you catch any Rob Ford art when it was up? I particularly liked those.

    I think that Banksy is questionable, the original doesn’t really look like his work. I read the article and it may be more PR than anything, cool if it’s real though.

    1. Thanks! I definitely saw a lot of the Rob Ford art – hilarious! And yeah, it would be cool if Banksy was real, but it’s never really been proven…

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