Facts about The City of Toronto
Toronto, one of the most fascinating and cosmopolitan cities in North America. Its area (603.2 km2), confines to the north with Steeles Avenue; to the south with Lake Ontario; to the west with Etobicoke Creek, and Eglinton Avenue; to the east with the Rouge River and the Scarborough-Pickering Townline.
The weather in Toronto is not the coldest in Canada. In fact, although the snow covers the ground between the months of December and mid-March, its winters are not as frigid as other cities in North America; whereas its summers are warm and sunny. Notwithstanding the smog coming from the factories in the proximity of the Great Lakes, the air quality is overall classed as very good.
According to the 2016 Census, Toronto’s population is over 2.8 million people, and therefore, it is the 4th most populated city in Canada. It’s not surprising that in Toronto more than 140 languages are spoken: in fact, more than half of its population is foreign and has its roots in English, Chinese, Canadian, Irish, Scottish, East Indian, Italian, Filipino, German, French, Polish, Portuguese, Jamaican, Jewish, Ukrainian, and Russian ancestry. No specific ethnic group or culture is predominant over the other.
Although the different branches of Christianity are the most popular religions in Toronto, other professed religions in the area are Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism.
Historical Facts – Toronto
The capital city of Ontario since 1867, Toronto is the largest city in Canada. Its name derives from the Mohawk word Tkaronto and signifies ‘where there are trees standing in the water’.
Before the arrival of European settlers, the land was inhabited by groups of indigenous people such as the Iroquois Indians, the Huron, the Mississauga, and the Seneca.
Soon after the French explorer Étienne Brûlée set his foot on the Huron territory (close to St. Lawrence River), the French settled in Toronto. However, the French and English colonial hostility led Britain to have full control over the area in 1760.
Although Toronto was initially a small town where the French traded fur, its convenient position on St. Lawrence River soon helped the city to become one of the most profitable manufactural, financial, and transportation centres of North America.
The American Revolution war (1765 -1783) caused a great influx of British settlers. Amongst them was Lord Dorchester – Governor of Quebec – whom in 1787 purchased Toronto from the Native American chiefs for the price of £1,700.
In 1830, the European settlers sign treatises with the Indigenous people in order to gain possession over their territory. Notwithstanding such treaties, in the 30s of the XIX century, Toronto became one of the most progressive cities of North America. In fact, throughout this decade, black people were integrated in society, equality was promoted, and slavery was abolished. Moreover, the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815) and the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), caused many Europeans (mostly Irish) to emigrate to Canada. Therefore, the population increased exponentially between 1816 and 1834, going from 720 to 9000 people.
During the second half of the XVIII century, Toronto underwent some urban improvements such as the introduction of the sewage system and of lighting on the streets. Thus, Toronto was on its way to becoming one of the most thriving commercial and financial cities. In fact, its industrialization (which occurred in the 1870s), was facilitated by the railway system which connected Toronto to New York and Montreal. Due to the transports’ improvement and the exploitation of Ontario’s natural resources (such as the forests and mines), between 1890 and 1900, Toronto’s market expanded. Moreover, the factories’ use of hydroelectric power from the Niagara Falls encouraged further development of the market, which in turn, benefited not only investment and insurance companies but also banks. By 1891, Toronto’s population reached 150,000.
Although the city lived through the 1930s Great Depression and the World Wars, it saw a period of revitalization and substantial growth during the post-war period.
Each year, Toronto attracts thousands of Canadian and international students to its world-renowned universities. In fact, according to the latest QS Best Student Cities Ranking, Toronto appears to be one of the most appealing student cities (out of 100 cities, Toronto is the at the 13th spot). With institutions such as the University of Toronto, York University, OCAD University, and Trent University, the city is vibrant and thriving with diversity and multiculturalism.
Things to do in Toronto
Considering Toronto is home to many different ethnic groups, the city presents neighbourhoods that represent the diversity of its citizens. Some examples are Chinatown, Corso Italia, Greektown, Little India, and Little Jamaica. Here, one can enjoy a variety of dishes coming from all over the world: all tastes can be satisfied in Toronto! From French-Caribbean cuisine to empanadas, to Nu Bügel (Venezuelan wood-fired bagels), to sushi, to tacos, to Jamaican-Italian cuisine (such as the Rasta Pasta restaurant), and much more. For the food-lovers, St. Lawrence Market is not to be neglected: visit the market in order to taste the delicious food (praised by National Geographic), or to try out some fun cooking classes.
Toronto offers a variety of experiences. For those that are interested in exploring the artistic side of the city, the Royal Ontario Museum possesses over 6 million items in its collection. Some of its collections include Korean and Chinese art, Egyptian mummies and First Nations art. For those who are more outdoorsy, High Park is one of the best choices: it is considered to be a jewel in the city and is an ideal place for picnics, biking, playing tennis and even swimming. Yet, the park has much more to offer: skating on the Grenadier Pond or visiting theatrical stage or the zoo, are only a few options.
If you are in Toronto, the CN Tower is a must-see: being 553m tall, it offers a breathtaking view of the city. Here, you can do the EdgeWalk or even have dinner in the award-winning restaurant.
Things to do in Toronto
Sport culture is no stranger to Toronto. In fact, one of the most popular sports happens to be hokey, and some of its teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, the Mississauga Steelheads, and Toronto Blue Jays (who’s tickets were sold out in 78 minutes in the 2015 American League Championship Series). On the other hand, the Toronto Argonauts are considered to be football legends, whereas the Toronto Wolfpack are the first rugby team of the city.
Although watching a match in a stadium is not an option for everyone, one can watch the game and dive into the sporty vibes of the city by going to a sports bar. In fact, for those interested in watching a soccer match in a bar, The Football Factory could be an ideal place. However, other local lively sports bars include the Shark Club (which has been voted twice as the best sports bar in Canada), the Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse, and The Dock Ellis.
Moreover, Toronto has a professional team for almost any sport you can think of: also baseball, basketball, lacrosse, auto racing, horse racing, and tennis are widely followed.
Some of the most renowned stadiums in Toronto are: the Scotiabank Arena (formerly the Air Canada Centre), the Ricoh Coliseum and the BMO Field (located at Exhibition Place), and the Roger Centre (which was the first to build a retractable roof).
Some of Toronto’s sport rivals are the Montreal Canadians and the Ottawa Senators.
Toronto is a city that celebrates art and diversity. In fact, the art scene is lit with exhibitions that cover different topics and niches. For instance, the Aga Khan Museum merges dance, music, and theatre performances with a permanent collection on the Islamic culture; the Textile Museum of Canada possesses over 13,000 pieces coming from all over the world, and the Gardiner Museum displays ceramic art and offers clay classes.
However, the theatre scene is also very much alive and attracts citizens and tourists to its lively or dramatic plays. One of the most renowned theatres in Toronto is the Massey Hall (opened in 1894), which has a seating capacity of 2,752 people. In this prestigious theatre, some of Canada’s most important concerts, lectures and sports events take place. In fact, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir performed in this hall several times. Since July 2018, the Massey Hall has been undergoing a period of renovation.
When it comes to music, the perfect locations to enjoy a musical evening are the Casa Loma (a historic gothic-style mansion) surrounded by its magical gardens; or Ripley’s Aquarium, which is home to live jazz and 16,000 aquatic creatures. Moreover, Casa Loma hosts a variety of entertaining experiences. To name a few: the Legend of Horror (throughout October) and Winter Wonderland (during the Christmas period).
Toronto has one of the strongest economies in the whole of North America and is one of the top ten financial centres in the world. In fact, in 2014, Forbes voted it as one of the most influential cities in the whole world.
However, Toronto does not have the upper hand only in financial matters: it also has a firm grip on the technological, scientific, and musical sector. Fashion, design, food and drinks are not to be left out of the equation: Toronto embraces and promotes the development of each sector, and is the advocate of innovation.
Toronto is widely known for being the city of banks. In fact, it is home to Canada’s Big Five: the Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, Canada Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto-Dominion Bank.