Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999

Learning for Free

By JOANNE MACKAY-BENNETT - September 16 2013

As counterintuitive as it may sound, one of the advantages of living in a big city like Toronto is the number of the absolutely FREE educational and cultural opportunities that are available. Often, the hardest part is deciding what to attend. Here’s our list of how to access some of what’s on offer now and throughout the year. GRATIS! FREE! NO CHARGE!


No question, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is a superb place to start when you are looking for free classes. For hundreds of programs, classes, and events, September– December 2013, use their website or pick up a print edition of What’s On at your local public library branch. All you need is a library card.

The Museum + Arts Pass is another reason that the TPL is a go-to resource. This pass allows access for two adults and up to five children to museums, galleries, the Toronto Zoo, etc. for one week. You can pick one up at most library branches on Saturdays, 9 am. Passes are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.


The Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s Cultural Access Pass gives free access for one year to more than 1,000 Canadian treasures (galleries museums, cultural sites across Canada) for new Canadian citizens.

A list of all non-profit, multi-service neighbourhood organizations. Neighbourhood centres promote and build community: health and wellness, social gatherings, literacy, settlement services and access to government programs.

For specific information on community programs in your neighbourhood.

Classes in just about everything you can imagine.

Free, public seminars, lectures colloquia at U of T.

A great source of language classes, mentoring match-ups and outdoor activities for newcomers.

Comprehensive listing of dance, theatre, film, visual art and literary events in the GTA. Look for $0 underneath listing.

The Art Gallery of Ontario has free entry to their general collection on Wednesday nights, 6:00 -8:30 pm for adults; Tuesdays after 3:00 pm for high school students. Take a walk through history. Royal Ontario Museum’s Free Walking Tours are held on Wednesdays at 6pm, Sundays at 2pm, until October 20th.


University in the Community.

Free humanities classes for adults whose access to university has been limited. Classes taught by scholars and practitioners.

Topic: How Do the Media Work?

Where: Innis College, 2 Sussex Ave. U of T

When: Wednesdays, October 2nd – December 4th 6:15 – 8:30pm

Register? Yes.

Contact: universityinthecommunity@

Royal Canadian Institute Lecture Series

Founded in 1849, RCI is Canada’s oldest surviving scientific society.

Where: McLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, U of T, 1 King’s College Circle

When: Sundays, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, October-April

Register? No


Bioethics Seminar Series

Where: Joint Centre for Bioethics. Check website for details

When: Wednesdays, 4:10 -5:30pm, September- May

Register? No

Special note: 14th Annual Alloway Lecture, Dr. Stephen G. Post ‘Hope in Caring for the Deeply Forgetful: The Ethics of Enduring Selfhood.’ Wednesday, September 11th, 4pm, 18th floor auditorium, Mt. Sinai Hospital University Ave. Toronto


Hamilton Association Lectures

8 lectures on a topic related to the Canadian north and/or the spirit of exploration.

Where: Room 1A1 Ewart Angus Centre, Mc Master University, Hamilton When: Saturdays, 8:00 pm – 9:15pm, September -April

Register? No

Special Note: On January 11th, Nicolas Peissel will speak about his navigation of the NW Passage aboard Bezlebub, a 4.9 motorized fiberglass sailboat. Contact:


Toronto International Film Festival:

Sept 5th- Sept. 15th FREE screenings by directors Brocka, Marker, Resnais, Lewis, Rossellini, Ozu. Who knew?

Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.

When: September 6th @ 12:15pm, 7th @ 12:45pm, 8th @ 9:45 am, 9th @ 12 noon, 10th@ 5:15 pm 11th @ 4:00pm

Register? No but arrive early.

Contact: www filmprogramming/schedule/

The Word on the Street

A festival of reading: books, mags, small presses, authors, literacy.

Where: Outdoors, Queen’s Park Circle

When: Sunday, September 22nd, 11am- 6 pm

Register? No


Toronto Science Festival:

Life in the Universe

Where: Downtown, various locations

When: September 27th 28th 29th Register? Online tickets required for all events, even the free ones.

Special Note: Sept. 28th Sky Observing and Telescopic Clinic with Royal Astronomical Society of Canada outside Convocation Hall, U of T, 9:30 pm Sept. 29th Panel discussion: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, Innis Town Hall, 12:30 pm


Nuit Blanche

112 art projects on view for night owls, early birds and the articurious.

When: October 5th, 6:51 pm to sunrise

Where: Various

Register? No

Not to be missed: Installation of Ai Weiwei’s sculpture, Forever Bicycles, at Toronto City Hall. How many bikes? 3,144!

Harvest Festival

Where: Todmorden Mills, Pottery Road

When: October 6th, 12:00 – 4:00pm

Register? No

Contact: 416 396-2819


Art Talks

Art historian Yi Gu talks about the work of Ai Weiwei

Where: Concourse, North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street

When: September 17th 7pm

Register? Yes.

Contact: 416 395-5639

U of T Art Centre

17th annual Janet E. Hutchinson Lecture: Katherine Lochnan, AGO Curator of Prints and Drawings, “Exhibitionism: The Art of Curating”

Where: University College, Room 140, 15 King’s College Circle

When: September 19th 4:30 pm (arrive early)

Register? No

Ryerson Image Centre:

Noontime Collection Talks

Where: 33 Gould St.

When: September 19th October 17th November 14th 12 noon – 1 pm Register? No.


Gallery Exhibition Tour: Vladimir Spicanovic, Dean, Faculty of Art Where: 230 Richmond St. W

When: September 25th 6:30 pm

Register? No

Art Classes

Saturday Storefront Art Classes. 4-6 week small classes for artists of all ages. Where: Arts Etobicoke, 4893A Dundas St. W. (5 minutes from Islington subway station)

When: Saturday afternoons, all year

Register? Yes

Contact: 416 622-8737


Summer Music in the Garden

Where: Toronto Music Garden, 475 Queen’s Quay W. (between Bathurst and Spadina)

When: Thursdays at 7pm, Sundays @ 4pm, to September 15th 1 hour performances

Contact: 416 973-4000

U of T Faculty of Music Tuesday Performance Class for Singers Where: Faculty of Music, Walter Hall, 80 Queen’s Park

When: Tuesdays, starting September 17th at 12 noon

Register? No


Cinema Politica Danforth

Where: Centre of Gravity, 1300 Gerrard St. E.

When: First Friday of every month

Register? No

Free Friday Night Films: Innis College Cinema Studies Student Union

Where: Town Hall, Innis College, 2 Sussex Ave

When: Friday nights, 7 pm Fall-Spring 

Register: Yes 416 978-7434


Art Bar Poetry Series

Where: The Black Swan Tavern, 2nd floor, 154 Danforth Ave. (Broadview subway station)

When: Tuesdays, 8pm

Register? No

BEST MOOCs Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs) are not for credit but offer certificates for those who complete the course:

  • Khan Academy: (math. biology chemistry physics).
  • MIT Open courseware: All of MIT’s course content.
  • EdX (Harvard and MIT): With over 1.2 million users, the King of MOOCs.
  • Coursera: 400+ courses in over 20 categories created by 62 universities.


1 FREE Undergraduate or graduate degree for seniors Where: York University When: Anytime after you turn 60 Contact:

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