Toronto is the capital of the Province of Ontario. It is Canada’s largest city, and with a population of 2.7 million it is the fifth largest in North America. It is also at the center of the Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated region along the western shores of Lake Ontario which is home to roughly eight million people, or one quarter of the population of Canada.
The skyline of the city is stunning and unmistakable. Its best-known landmark, the CN Tower, is the world’s tallest tower and dominates the surrounding skyscrapers. Beyond the skyscrapers is a city center which consists of lush green residential areas and parks, notably along the ravines that cut through the city.
Toronto’s history dates back, long before Europeans came to settle Canada. It was a meeting place for First Nations people (Native Indians). The name “Toronto” is derived from the Huron Indian word for “meeting place”.
Initially claimed by the French in the 18th century, it was not until the American Revolution caused a huge number of United Empire Loyalists (loyal to England) to flee to Toronto that the city became an established settlement. The new town was named “York” and its beginnings can still be seen in the historic garrison of York near the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in downtown Toronto. Its current name was adopted in 1834 when the town was incorporated.
Over the years the city grew gradually, mainly with people of British origin. From the 1950’s, a surge in the arrival of immigrants infused Toronto with new foods, new languages and, most importantly, new attitudes. Toronto’s diverse restaurants and communities are a testimony of the variety of people who have immigrated to Canada and settled here. This can be seen in Toronto neighborhoods named Greektown, Little Italy, Indian Bazaar, Little Poland, Portugal Village, Chinatown and others. Visiting these places is like taking a trip around the world without leaving Toronto.
Today, the city is a lively, cultured place with hot summers and cold, dry winters, It is the most economically important city in Canada, the center of finance, media and services, and home to more corporate head offices than any other. By night, its people indulge themselves at the city’s numerous restaurants, bars and clubs, or at the symphony, opera and theater. More than anything, however, Toronto is defined by its people – friendly, efficient and one of the most multi-cultural in the world.
Toronto has an extensive public transit system which includes buses, subways and streetcars. In fact, for a little over $2 you can use the city transit to get from the Lester Pearson International Airport to the city center. It is one of the safest cities in the world, with a crime rate lower than many other cities of equivalent size.
For entertainment, Toronto is recognized as the third-largest theater center in the English-speaking world, after New York and London with over 90 venues in the greater Toronto area. The city’s sports fanatics can get their fill by taking in a hockey game with the Maple Leafs, basketball with the Raptors or a Blue Jay baseball game at the SkyDome.
Television and film entertainment is also a major local industry here. Toronto often stands in on screen for large American cities like New York and Chicago. Most importantly, Toronto is the proud host of the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which is the world’s largest and rivalled only by Cannes in importance.
Toronto is a city of many museums, galleries, festivals, comedy clubs and events. It is generally considered to be Canada’s dominant cultural center.
Shopping is plentiful as well and in the winter months – you don’t even need to go outside! Walk the labyrinth of shops under Toronto’s streets – no coat required!
Before you come to Toronto, be sure to visit http://www.toronto.ca