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Finding Free Wifi Near UofT

Looking for places to study or work near UofT? Here's our list of places you can find free WiFi, power outlets and reasonably-priced caffeine at.

By: Staff

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First a little secret: WiFi is everywhere in Toronto
Fact is a large number of eating establishments in Toronto, especially the chains, have free WiFi available for customers, though it generally is password protected so check with the cashier or server. Some will have a sign in the window advertising this, but the majority don’t.

Most, if not all, of the coffee chains (Second Cup, Timothy’s, StarBucks, etc.) have had free WiFi for several years (Tim Horton’s even started in spring 2012). These all work the same: look for the chain’s name on the list of wireless networks available and connect; as soon as you try to go to a web page you’ll get a welcome screen with the chain’s branding asking you to click a link to start using the internet (and usually a link to conditions of use). Most allow you about an hour of time online before having to re-connect.

If you’re looking for a study or working spot around UofT there are plenty of choices. We’ve listed places here based on, not just WiFi (since that’s pretty ubiquitous these days), but the availability of seating and power outlets.It won't get you into the a Hipster Blue Book, but the Second Cups around UofT tend to have more seating, space and easier access to power outlets than the other chains, price-wise they're slightly cheaper than StarBucks - plus we like them because they're Canadian.

Internet Cafes near UofT
Yes, these still exist, though for the most part they’ve gone the way of other late-1990s fads. With the exception of Net Plaza on College, the few remaining downtown ones are found on Yonge St.

Coffee Etiquette
One of the reasons coffee shops are a good place to work is the staff at most places officering WiFi are happy to have you spend an hour or so there as long as you buy something (and usually buy more than one thing if you're staying longer - you've got OSAP / a business expense account right?) and don't spread out over a two tables during the busy parts of the day - after all cafes make money off selling coffee not WiFi.

The Best Direction Is South

Your best bets are to the south, west and maybe north. To the east you’ll probably have to go to Yonge St. to find much, directly east Bay St. a wasteland after 5pm and to the north/east you’ll be in Yorkville which pretty much means small and expensive.

On the south side, your best here is the Second Cup at McCaul St. right across from the UofT gates. They have plenty of seating and 4-5 power outlets spread over the three sections. It’s also a bit more cozy and private than some of the other coffee shops. down the street. It tends to get busy around the mid-morning and later afternoon during the school year. Open until 11 year-round expect over the New Years when they generally close around 8. Note though, there is a small stair at the entrance, so it’s not wheelchair accessible.

Another good option is the Starbucks about two blocks west at Beverly St. It’s not open as late as the Second Cup, but it’s bright and has a nice patio on the west side and fairly good-sized tables and some outlets inside. It shares the space with a bagel shop that’s open during the day so you have a bit more choice food-wise. It is fully wheelchair accessible too.

In between them there is a bar, Pour Girl, that has WiFi and a patio, ask your server for the password.

Going further south to Dundas and McCaul there is Orange Alert kitty-corner from the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). It has no power outlets, prices are on the high side and you have to ask the staff for the WiFi password, but it’s certainly cozy with big south windows that’s make it a nice spot in the winter. Should you get hungry, there are two bars, the Village Idiot and Sin and Redemption, right across the street that have pretty good menus, both in terms of food and beer.

Also, while you’re down there, there is a 24 hour Tim Horton’s with WiFi that usually has students in it at any hour of the night. Not a huge number of seats, 2 outlets at the seats in the back. There is another Tims with the same amenities and nicer seating about a two minute walk, north of Dundas on the east side of University; it’s not open late though.

North Side

To the north, there is another Second Cup near the corner of Spadina that is popular with students and families. There are about 3-4 outlets and it’s open until 11. Tends to be very busy on weekend afternoons. Accessible expect for washrooms which are down a flight of stairs.

There is a second Second Cup in the Miles Nadal JCC (use the Spadina entrance), it's bright and clean but the WiFi has never worked well there and it seems to also serve the purpose of confusing people who are told to "Meet me at the Second Cup at Spadina and Bloor."

There isn’t anything really north of Bloor within walking distance so you're options are going east and west. To the east there is a Tim Horton's at St. George St. that's open late. To the west you'll find a lot of restaurants and bars with WiFi, plus a ridiculous number of places selling ice cream and sushi.

West End

Closest spots are right on campus at Spadina and Harbord. If you’re new to UofT, you might have missed these, but they’re worth knowing. Harbord and Spadina corner has a Second Cup in the Grad Lounge and a Starbucks on the south side in the Athletics centre. Both of these have shorter hours that their other chain brethren but both feature nice patios and, of course, free WiFi. if you're looking to the west, best options are to walk along either Bloor or College to the south.

Going East

With the decline (and forclosure) of Urbana Coffee on Bay, there really isn't much until you get to Yonge St. Two options are the Second Cup at on the north/west side of Bay and College or the Timothy's across the street that has less seating; both are open only during the day.

That wraps up our list of spots near UofT, if you can recommend any others (or places to avoid?) just add them in the comments and we'll credit you in updates to this guide.

Date published: 22-Aug-2012

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