Travel Toronto: Dog-friendly Urban Scavenger Hunt? Maybe.

sculpture found on Urban Capers AdventureWhat astrological signs flank either side of the seated figure’s head above the original entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Ontario? Cancer and Leo.

What’s unusual in the stain glass window of the nearby church? A Star of David.

You can thank me later. I’ve just given you two answers to the Hidden Histories of Toronto Scavenger Hunt. Form a team of two to six people, select a ‘theme’ game, and buy tickets online for $25 to $30 per person.

Then join the Urban Capers’ staff at an arranged place and time on Saturday and Sunday, and start your outdoor educational game by following a serious of clues in a book and sleuthing out the answers. Scouting out public art, plaques and statues, you collect trivia, not items.

You must complete the game within two hours, but it’s not a race. Accurate answers get you points.

Robyn Yates Cameron, Chief Historian at Urban Capers

Robyn Yates Cameron, Chief Historian at Urban Capers

Hunt themes range: Hidden History Treasures of Toronto, Whisky Mystery at the Distillery District, a nighttime flashlight lit Haunted Toronto Hunt, and Murder at the ROM. The latter is popular with corporate and private groups (20 or more), a significant slice of Urban Capers’ business, according to owner Jodi Sinden.

“Murder at the ROM is like the board game Clue inside the museum,” she says. “There’s a fictional narrative and your team determines who, where and with what weapon.”

I can understand why urban scavenger hunts works well as a team building challenge. Keeping together, reasoning clues and maintaining a level head is essential to success. Running ahead (the wavier you sign before the game asks you not to run and obey crosswalk signals) and not consulting with other teammates leads to missed clues and wasted time. Think focused tortoise rather than frazzled hare.

However, you do move. So put on your running shoes.

Can you bring the dog?

“Sure,” says Taylor Lavigne, one of several game facilitators who moved to Toronto recently to pursue a career in acting. “Some routes – like Hidden History that starts outside the ROM – are entirely outside.”

Do I recommend it?urban capers dog image

Not exactly. It depends on the expectations and coherence of your team. If you want to frantically run the hunt, then no. A dog will slow you down.

If you want to walk it at a reasonable pace, and learn new treasured facts at each stop, then possibly because this would be great exercise for an energetic dog in need of new stimulation.

Hey, life is short, so stop and pee on the roses.

What I do recommend is making a ‘dog’ team. Form a team of follow dog walkers (or better yet, several teams to compete with each other) and make a doggie day of it. The 20-question Historical Hunt covers several blocks from Bloor to Yonge to St. George Streets and spends a lot of time on the wide-open green space of Queen’s Park, according to Sinden.

What was at the pot of gold at the race? Bragging rights for those who got the most (or all) answers correct, a pint of beer for the rest of us, and a bowl of water (much needed) if you bring the hounds. Better yet, bring water for everyone during the hunt. You’ll need it.

Check out our other Dog-welcoming experience during the Hamilton, Ontario Super (Art) Crawl.

If you are in Toronto, also check out the Chuhuly glass exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) there until the end of 2016. Add it to your scavenger hunt adventure.

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  1. I’ve never been on a scavenger hunt. It sounds like a lot of fun, especially with fellow dog-lovers and their pooches. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

  2. I absolutely love the idea of a doggie team for a scavenger hunt. I’m positive that would go over well in a city like Portland! As far as I know, we don’t have anything like this — I love this concept. A pint sounds like a proper prize for getting through all the questions/locations!

    1. I think this idea would totally work in Portland – maybe make it just a dog/person scavenger hunt. Good idea for a fundraising event too.

  3. Sounds like great fun.

    1. I can be. Ours was only one hour long.

  4. That sounds like fun! I think it would make sense for everyone on the team to have a dog so no dog-less person would feel like the dogs were slowing the team down. I would want to take my time and enjoy the sights anyway.

    1. I think that would be the most fun – everyone bring their dog. (Everyone has a dog, right?)

  5. I kinda love the idea. I’d prefer it if it wasn’t clocked. Would be a super fun way to do a pet friendly walking tour of Toronto … or any city really! You could meet up with other travellers… and a guide there to assist if needed. Fun idea.

    1. Yes, I think it’s only clocked so when you do it in groups, there isn’t one group waiting hours for the others to arrive. If you have a group of 20 or more (like a club) you can set up your own, and likely modify the rules a bit.

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