The top 10 places to work or study in Toronto
The top places to work or study in Toronto are a mix of the peaceful and the stimulating. The city's libraries and coffee shops, in particular, are popular draws for people looking to get away from the distractions of home. (Let's face it, you'll always find some chore to do instead of getting your work done.) In exchange for the price of a latte, or for keeping your voice below librarian-approved levels, you've got a readymade workspace. (Just try to keep the refreshments bought/hours spent ratio reasonable, eh?)
Here are the top places to work or study in Toronto.
R Squared topped our list of best cafes with WiFi in Toronto, thanks to its abundance of seating and outlets and pleasantly-diffused natural light. Plus, if you get peckish, you can grab a solid meal (say, a bowl of soup or a sandwich) without ever having to pack up and leave.
Toronto Reference Library
This monolith of knowledge at Yonge and Bloor is, essentially, the entire city's study hall. At five massive floors, there are plenty of places to pull up a chair, including glass meeting and study pods and the Balzac's Coffee on the ground floor. We've heard the top two floors at the north end are particularly calming. (Be warned: During peak study weeks, you might end up hunting for a spot.)
Rooster Coffee House
Both of the chain's locations - one overlooking Riverdale Park, and one set into an office building at King and Ontario - offer plenty of comfy seating, free wireless Internet, delicious lattes and snacks, good tunes, and nice baristas. (What more could you ask for?)
Non-University of Toronto kids may find it difficult to fully understand the deep, conflicted relationship some students have with Robarts, U of T's brutalist, birdlike reference library. But after hitting the books there for a madness-inducing span of hours, you pick up a few tips. The basement/first floor tends to be noisier due to socializing students; it's quieter in the upper floors, where big tables in the corners of the stacks offer some nice views. Over exams, the study rooms are open all night.
The duo of coffee shops started out of the CSI shared workspace on Bathurst, where baristas do a roaring trade in espresso (despite the fact that CSI actually has free coffee for its members). That location technically isn't open as a workspace for those who aren't CSI members, though they'll let you linger over a cup for a while. Their new location in the Artscape Youngplace, however, is just off of a shared community lounge space with plenty of seating and free WiFi - hanging out is encouraged.
Gerstein Science Information Centre
While Robarts is the first study suggestion out of many U of T students' mouths, Gerstein, tucked further south into the university campus, is a close second. The atmosphere is surprisingly stately, with some cushy armchairs, grand-looking tables and chairs, and lovely natural lighting. (Also, they're bringing in a therapy dog for the spring 2014 exam season. This alone should shoot them to the top of our list.)
Dark Horse Cafe
Toronto's three original Dark Horse locations (on Queen East, Spadina and Queen West) all share large, airy windows, plenty of tables (including massive communal ones) and a hassle-free atmosphere. The newest outpost, on John, is a little less sun-filled (what with being in a basement, and all) but makes up for that in coziness. Particularly great: The upper-level seating area at the Chinatown location, which makes for a nice remove from the hustle and bustle of the coffee counter.
Here's where to head if the Reference Library is rammed - this comparatively tiny library is just around the corner. The building itself is gorgeous, with a grand facade that will add an air of deep importance to the writing of your term paper, and if you can snag a spot at the study tables at the back of the building, you will likely be able to work away undisturbed.
Black Canary Cafe
Sherbourne and Adelaide's Black Canary offers a homey atmosphere with lots of tables, perfect for laptop-toters to set up shop. There are plenty of wall outlets, and if you feel your caffeine or sugar levels dipping too low, just grab yourself a Nutella latte (they might even let you eat the leftover Nutella off the spoon).
E.J. Pratt Library
Located on U of T's Victoria campus, Pratt features a modern atmosphere, a reading room with plenty of natural light (due to massive glass walls), plenty of streamlined individual work areas, and some large tables you can spread your stuff out on. It's a little more off-the-beaten-path for U of T students, meaning less competition for study space. (Bonus: If you need to zone out for a moment, there are some great views of Queen's Park.)
What did I miss? Add your favourite places to work or study to the comments below.
Photo of CSI Coffee Pub by Morris Lum.