Toronto

Short history

Over 10,000 years ago, Indigenous peoples were the area’s first inhabitants, thriving in what is now Canada’s largest city. By the late 18th century, Toronto, initially known as York, was established by British colonial officials in 1793. This period laid down the foundations for the city’s growth, significantly influenced by British culture and political structure.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Toronto witnessed an influx of immigrants, which contributed to its diverse culture and economic expansion. The city played an important role in major historical events, including the War of 1812. 

Throughout the 20th century, Toronto underwent great transformations, transitioning from a primarily industrial economy to a global center of finance, technology, and culture. The amalgamation of Toronto in 1998, consolidating six municipalities into the current City of Toronto, greatly expanded its metropolitan area and diversified its socio-economic scene.

Geography

Toronto is located in Southern Ontario along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario.The city spans an area of approximately 630.2 square kilometers, characterized by a variety of terrain including flatland, hills, and valleys.

The climate of Toronto is classified as humid continental, experiencing four distinct seasons. Summers are typically warm and humid, with temperatures often rising above 25°C (77°F). Winters are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently dropping below freezing point. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons, often mild and pleasant, making the city’s parks and waterfront particularly enjoyable during these periods.

Toronto’s urban layout is marked by a combination of modern skyscrapers, historic architecture, and expansive green spaces. The city’s street grid and transportation infrastructure facilitate navigation and connectivity, both within the city and to its surrounding regions. 

Population

Toronto is Canada’s most populous city, with population of over 2.7 million residents. This metropolis stands out for its diversity, with people from more than 200 ethnic groups calling it home. Data reveals that approximately 51.5% of Toronto’s inhabitants are part of visible minority groups, including South Asian, Chinese, Black, and Filipino communities.

Language heterogeneity is another hallmark of Toronto’s population. While English is the primary language, over 160 languages and dialects are spoken here, highlighting the city’s inclusive atmosphere. Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, and Spanish are among the most commonly spoken non-official languages.

Religion in Toronto mirrors its ethnic mixture, with a substantial portion of the population practicing Christianity, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Judaism. This religious diversity fosters a spirit of tolerance and community amongst its residents.

Main sights

  • CN Tower: A symbol of Toronto’s skyline, this 553.3 meter tall tower provides panoramic views of the city and a glass floor observation deck for the daring.
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Located at the base of the CN Tower, this aquarium features a wide variety of marine life, interactive exhibits, and a moving walkway through an underwater tunnel.
  • Royal Ontario Museum (ROM): One of the largest museums in North America, the ROM has a vast collection of natural history and world cultures exhibits, housed in an architecturally striking building.
  • Toronto Islands: A group of small islands in Lake Ontario, with beautiful parkland, beaches, is accessible by ferry.
  • Distillery District: A historic and entertainment precinct, known for its well-preserved Victorian-era industrial architecture, boutiques, art galleries, and trendy restaurants.
  • St. Lawrence Market: One of the world’s great markets. It’s ideal for gourmet shopping and sampling Toronto’s diverse culinary offerings.
  • Casa Loma: A gothic-style mansion and garden in midtown Toronto, offering an insight into the early 20th-century Canadian lifestyle, with guided tours and seasonal events.

Food

  • Peameal Bacon Sandwich: A Toronto classic, this sandwich features peameal bacon, which is a type of back bacon made from lean boneless pork loin, rolled in cornmeal. It is commonly served on a bun and can be found at St. Lawrence Market, among other places.
  • Butter Chicken Poutine: A delightful fusion of Canadian and Indian cuisine, this dish combines the savory flavors of butter chicken with the classic poutine, which consists of fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
  • Dim Sum: Reflecting Toronto’s significant Chinese population, dim sum restaurants throughout the city offer a broad range of this traditional Cantonese meal, which includes various types of steamed buns, dumplings, and rice noodle rolls.
  • Toronto-style Pizza: Distinct from other styles, Toronto pizza is known for its thick, fluffy crust, sweet tomato sauce, and generous meat or vegetable toppings.
  • Pierogies: Demonstrating the influence of the city’s Eastern European communities, pierogies are dumplings filled with potato, cheese, or meat, often served with sour cream or onions.

Fun facts

  • Toronto is home to the CN Tower, which was the world’s tallest free-standing structure until 2007, standing at a height of 553.3 meters.
  • The city’s name, “Toronto,” is derived from the Iroquois word ‘tkaronto’, which means “place where trees stand in the water.”
  • Toronto houses more than 10 million trees, making it one of the greenest cities in North America.
  • The Toronto Islands, a collection of small islands just off the downtown coast, represent the largest urban car-free community in North America, accessible only by ferry or private boat.
  • Toronto’s PATH system is recognized by the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest underground shopping complex in the world, with 30 km (19 miles) of shopping arcades.
  • The city has over 8000 restaurants, reflecting its status as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with cuisines from over 200 distinct ethnicities represented.