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—  City  —
City of Toronto
From top left: Downtown Toronto featuring the CN Tower and Financial District from the Toronto Islands, City Hall, the Ontario Legislative Building, Casa Loma, Prince Edward Viaduct, and the Scarborough Bluffs


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): T.O., T-Dot, Hogtown, The Big Smoke, The Queen City, Toronto the Good, The City Within a Park
Motto: Diversity Our Strength
Location of Toronto and its census metropolitan area in the province of Ontario
Coordinates: 43°42′59.72″N 79°20′26.47″W Coordinates: 43°42′59.72″N 79°20′26.47″W
Country  Canada
Province   Ontario
Former boroughs East York, Etobicoke, North York, Old Toronto, Scarborough, York
Established August 27, 1793
Incorporated March 6, 1834
Amalgamated January 1, 1998 from Flag of Metropolitan Toronto.svg Metropolitan Toronto
 •  Mayor Rob Ford
 • Council Toronto City Council
 •  MPs
 •  MPPs
 • City 630 km2 (240 sq mi)
 • Urban 1,749 km2 (675 sq mi)
 • Metro 7,125 km2 (2,751 sq mi)
Elevation 76 m (249 ft)
Population (2006)
 • City 2,503,281 ( 1st)
 • Density 3,972/km2 (10,290/sq mi)
 •  Urban 4,753,120 ( 1st)
 •  Metro 5,113,149 ( 1st)
 •  Demonym Torontonian
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 • Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)
Postal code span M
Area code(s) (416) and (647)
NTS Map 030M11

Toronto (pron.: / t ə ˈ r ɒ n t /, colloquially / ˈ t r ɒ n / or / t ə ˈ r ɒ n /) is the provincial capital of Ontario, and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. With over 2.5 million residents, it is the seventh most populous municipality in North America. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe, which is home to over 8.1 million residents—approximately 25% of Canada's population. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,113,149, and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census.

As Canada's economic capital, Toronto is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group and is one of the top financial centres in the world. Toronto's leading economic sectors include finance, business services, telecommunications, aerospace, transportation, media, arts, film, television production, publishing, software production, medical research, education, tourism, engineering/construction, and sports industries. The city is also a major centre of higher education and research, home to many colleges and universities, including the University of Toronto, consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world and highest-ranked in Canada. The Toronto Stock Exchange, the world's eighth largest in terms of market value, is headquartered in the city, along with the most Canadian corporate headquarters of a major Canadian city.

Toronto's population is cosmopolitan and international, reflecting its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, as about 49% of the population were born outside Canada. As a result, the city was recognized by UNESCO as the most ethnically-diverse city in the world. Toronto is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. In addition, Toronto was ranked as the most expensive Canadian city in which to live in 2006. Residents of Toronto are called Torontonians.


Before 1800

When Europeans first arrived at the site of present-day Toronto, the vicinity was inhabited by the Huron tribes, who by then had displaced the Iroquois tribes that had occupied the region for centuries before c. 1500. The name Toronto is likely derived from the Iroquois word tkaronto, meaning "place where trees stand in the water". It refers to the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, where the Huron had planted tree saplings to corral fish. A portage route from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron running through this point, the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, led to widespread use of the name.

French traders founded Fort Rouillé on the current Exhibition grounds in 1750, but abandoned it in 1759. During the American Revolutionary War, the region saw an influx of British settlers as United Empire Loyalists fled for the unsettled lands north of Lake Ontario. In 1787, the British negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of New Credit, thereby securing more than a quarter million acres (1000 km2) of land in the Toronto area.

In 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe established the town of York on the existing settlement, naming it after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Simcoe chose the town to replace Newark as the capital of Upper Canada, believing the new site would be less vulnerable to attack by the Americans. Fort York was constructed at the entrance of the town's natural harbour, sheltered by a long sand-bar peninsula. The town's settlement formed at the eastern end of the harbour behind the peninsula, near the present-day intersection of Parliament Street and Front Street (in the Corktown– St. Lawrence area).


Map of Toronto, 1894

In 1813, as part of the War of 1812, the Battle of York ended in the town's capture and plunder by American forces. The surrender of the town was negotiated by John Strachan. American soldiers destroyed much of Fort York and set fire to the parliament buildings during their five-day occupation. The sacking of York was a primary motivation for the Burning of Washington by British troops later in the war. York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name. The population of only 9,000 included escaped African American slaves fleeing Black Codes in some states. Slavery was banned outright in Upper Canada in 1834. Reformist politician William Lyon Mackenzie became the first Mayor of Toronto and led the unsuccessful Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 against the British colonial government. The city grew rapidly through the remainder of the 19th century, as a major destination for immigrants to Canada. The first significant population influx occurred with the Great Irish Famine brought a large number of Irish to the city, some of them transient and most of them Catholic. By 1851, the Irish-born population had become the largest single ethnic group in the city. Smaller numbers of Protestant Irish immigrants were welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, giving the Orange Order significant and long lasting influence over Toronto society.

Toronto was twice for brief periods the capital of the united Province of Canada first from 1849–1852, following unrest in Montreal, and later 1856–1858 after which Quebec became capital until 1866 (one year before Confederation); since then, the capital of Canada has remained Ottawa. As it had been for Upper Canada from 1793, Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario after its official creation in 1867, the seat of government located at the Ontario Legislature located at Queen's Park. Because of its provincial capital status, the city was also the location of Government House, the residence of the vice-regal representative of the Crown.

In the 19th century, an extensive sewage system was built, and streets became illuminated with gas lighting as a regular service. Long-distance railway lines were constructed, including a route completed in 1854 linking Toronto with the Upper Great Lakes. The Grand Trunk Railway and the Northern Railway of Canada joined in the building of the first Union Station in downtown. The advent of the railway dramatically increased the numbers of immigrants arriving, commerce and industry, as had the Lake Ontario steamers and schooners entering port before which enabled Toronto to become a major gateway linking the world to the interior of the North American continent.

The Great Toronto Fire of 1904.

Toronto became the largest alcohol distillation (in particular spirits) centre in North America, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery operations became the world's largest whiskey factory by the 1860s. A preserved section of this once dominant local industry remains in the Distillery District, the harbour allowed for sure access of grain and sugar imports used in processing. Expanding port and rail facilities brought in Northern Timber for export and imported Pennsylvania coal, industry dominated the waterfront for the next 100 years.

Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1891, when the city granted the operation of the transit franchise to the Toronto Railway Company. The public transit system passed into public ownership in 1921 as the Toronto Transportation Commission, later renamed the Toronto Transit Commission. The system now has the third-highest ridership of any city public transportation system in North America.

The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed a large section of downtown Toronto, but the city was quickly rebuilt. The fire had cost more than $10 million in damage, led to more stringent fire safety laws, and the expansion of the city's fire department.

Toronto Harbour, 1919. Union Station can be seen under construction.

The city received new immigrant groups beginning in the late 19th century into early 20th century, particularly Germans, French, Italians, and Jews from various parts of Eastern Europe. They were soon followed by Chinese, Russians, Poles and immigrants from other Eastern European nations, as the Irish before them, many of these new migrants lived in overcrowded shanty type slums, such as " the Ward" which was centred on Bay Street, now the heart of the country's finances. Despite its fast paced growth, by the 1920s, Toronto's population and economic importance in Canada remained second to the much longer established Montreal. However, by 1934, the Toronto Stock Exchange had become the largest in the country.

Since 1945

Following the Second World War refugees from war-torn Europe and Chinese job-seekers arrived. So too did construction labourers, particularly from Italy and Portugal. Following elimination of racially based immigration policies by the late 1960s, immigration began from all parts of the world. Toronto's population grew to more than one million in 1951 when large-scale suburbanization began, and doubled to two million by 1971. By the 1980s, Toronto had surpassed Montreal as Canada's most populous city and the chief economic hub.

Subway construction on Yonge Street, 1949

During this time, in part owing to the political uncertainty raised by the resurgence of the Quebec sovereignty movement, many national and multinational corporations moved their head offices from Montreal to Toronto and other western Canadian cities.

In 1954, the City of Toronto and 12 surrounding municipalities were federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto. The postwar boom had resulted in rapid suburban development, and it was believed that a coordinated land use strategy and shared services would provide greater efficiency for the region. The metropolitan government began to manage services that crossed municipal boundaries, including highways, police services, water and public transit. In that year, a half-century after the Great Fire of 1904, disaster struck the city again when Hurricane Hazel brought intense winds and flash flooding. In the Toronto area, 81 people were killed, nearly 1,900 families were left homeless, and the hurricane caused more than $25 million in damage.

In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto were merged into their larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the old, i.e. pre-1954 City of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. In 1998, the metropolitan government was dissolved by the Provincial Government in the face of vigorous opposition from the smaller component municipalities and all six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto, with Mel Lastman as its first mayor (after being mayor of North York). David Miller was the second mayor, and Rob Ford is the third and current mayor.

The city celebrated its 175th anniversary on March 6, 2009, since its inception as the City of Toronto in 1834. Toronto hosted the 4th G-20 summit during June 26–27, 2010, for which the largest security operation in Canadian history took place amidst large-scale protests.


A simulated-colour image of Toronto taken by NASA's Landsat 7 satellite from 2004. Yonge Street can clearly be seen bisecting the city just right of centre in the image. The other prominent road, running east-west, is Highway 401.

Toronto covers an area of 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi), with a maximum north-south distance of 21 kilometres (13 mi) and a maximum east-west distance of 43 km (27 mi). It has a 46-kilometre (29 mi) long waterfront shoreline, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The Toronto Islands and Port Lands extend some distance out into the lake, allowing for a somewhat sheltered Toronto Harbour immediately south of the downtown core. The city's borders are formed by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue to the north and the Rouge River to the east.


The Scarborough Bluffs

The city is intersected by two rivers and numerous tributaries: the Humber River in the west end and the Don River east of downtown at opposite ends of the Toronto Harbour. The harbour was naturally created by sediment build-up from lake currents that created the Toronto Islands. The many creeks and rivers cutting from north toward the lake created large tracts of densely forested ravines, and provide ideal sites for parks and recreational trails. However, the ravines also interfere with the city's grid plan, and this results in major thoroughfares such as Finch Avenue, Leslie Street, Lawrence Avenue, and St. Clair Avenue terminating on one side of ravines and continuing on the other side. Other thoroughfares such as the Prince Edward Viaduct are required to span above the ravines. These deep ravines prove useful for draining the city's vast storm sewer system during heavy rains, but some sections, particularly near the Don River are prone to sudden, heavy floods.

During the last ice age, the lower part of Toronto was beneath Glacial Lake Iroquois. Today, a series of escarpments mark the lake's former boundary, known as the Iroquois Shoreline. The escarpments are most prominent from Victoria Park Avenue to the mouth of Highland Creek, where they form the Scarborough Bluffs. Other observable sections include the area near St. Clair Avenue West between Bathurst Street and the Don River, and north of Davenport Road from Caledonia to Spadina Road; the Casa Loma grounds sit above this escarpment. Despite its deep ravines, Toronto is not remarkably hilly, but does increase in elevation steadily away from the lake. Elevation differences range from 75 metres (246 ft) above-sea-level at the Lake Ontario shore to 209 m (686 ft) ASL near the York University grounds in the city's north end at the intersection of Keele Street and Steeles Avenue. There are occasional hilly areas, in particular midtown Toronto has a number of rolling hills, some of which are of considerable height. Lake Ontario remains occasionally visible from the peaks of these ridges as far north as Eglinton Avenue, 7 to 8 kilometres (4.3 to 5.0 mi) inland.

Much of the current lakeshore land area fronting the Toronto Harbour is artificial landfill filled during the late 19th century. Until then the lakefront docks (then known as wharves) were set back further inland than today. Much of the adjacent Port Lands are also fill. The Toronto Islands were a natural landspit until a storm in 1858 severed their connection to the mainland, creating a channel later used by shipping interests to access the docks.


Early winter scene at the intersection of Dundas Street and University Avenue

Toronto's climate is moderate for Canada owing to its southerly location within the country. It has a humid continental climate ( Köppen Dfa), with warm, humid summers and cold winters. The city experiences four distinct seasons, with considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. Owing to urbanization and its proximity to water, Toronto has a fairly low diurnal temperature range (day-night temperature difference). The denser urban scape makes for warmer nights year around and is not as cold throughout the winter than surrounding areas (particularly north of the city); however, it can be noticeably cooler on many spring and early summer afternoons under the influence of a lake breeze. Other low-scale maritime effects on the climate include lake-effect snow, fog and delaying of spring- and fall-like conditions, known as seasonal lag.

Toronto winters sometimes feature short cold snaps where maximum temperatures remain below −10 °C (14 °F), often made to feel colder by wind chill. Snowstorms, sometimes mixed with ice and rain can disrupt work and travel schedules, accumulating snow can fall any time from November until mid-April. However, mild stretches with temperatures in the 5 to 12 °C (41 to 54 °F) range and infrequently higher also occur in most winters melting accumulated snow. Summer in Toronto is characterized by long stretches of humid weather. Usually in the range from 23 °C (73 °F) to 31 °C (88 °F), daytime temperatures occasionally surpass 35 °C (95 °F) accompanied by high humidity making it feel oppressive during these brief periods of hot weather. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons with generally mild or cool temperatures with alternating dry and wet periods.

Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest season, the bulk falling during thunderstorms. There can be periods of dry weather, but drought-like conditions are rare. The average yearly precipitation is about 830 mm (32.7 in), with an average annual snowfall of about 133 cm (52 in). Toronto experiences an average of 2,038 sunshine hours, or 44% of daylight hours, varying between a low of 27% in December to 59% in July.


360-degree panorama of Toronto, Canada, as seen from the CN Tower. The Toronto Islands and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Lake Ontario are visible on the left side of the image.


Art Gallery of Ontario

According to knowledgeable Toronto residents, and architects who have designed buildings in the city, such as Will Alsop and Daniel Libeskind, Toronto has no single, dominant architectural style. Lawrence Richards, a member of the faculty of architecture at the University of Toronto, has said "Toronto is a new, brash, rag-tag place—a big mix of periods and styles." Toronto buildings vary in design and age with many structures dating back to the mid-19th century, while other prominent buildings were just newly built in the first decade of the 21st century.

Defining the Toronto skyline is the CN Tower. At a height of 553.33 metres (1,815 feet 5 inches) it was the world's tallest freestanding structure until 2007 when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa, but it is still the tallest tower in the western hemisphere surpassing Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) by 110 metres in height. It is an important telecommunications hub, and a centre of tourism in Toronto.

Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place

Toronto is a city of high-rises, having over 2,000 buildings over 90 metres (300 feet) in height, second only to New York City (which has over 5,000 such buildings) in North America. Most of these buildings are residential (either rental or condominium), whereas the central business district contains the taller commercial office towers. There has been recent media attention given for the need to retrofit many of these buildings, which were constructed beginning in the 1950s as residential apartment blocks to accommodate a quickly growing population.

Through the 1960s and 1970s, significant pieces of Toronto's architectural heritage were demolished to make way for redevelopment or, simply, parking. In contrast, Toronto is currently experiencing a period of architectural revival, with several buildings by world-renowned architects having opened in the last five years. Daniel Libeskind's Royal Ontario Museum addition, Frank Gehry's remake of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Will Alsop's distinctive Ontario College of Art & Design expansion are among the city's new showpieces. The historic Distillery District, located on the eastern edge of downtown, is North America's largest and best preserved collection of Victorian era industrial architecture. It has been redeveloped into a pedestrian-oriented arts, culture and entertainment neighbourhood. Modern glass and steel highrises have begun to transform the majority of the downtown area as the condominium market has exploded and triggered widespread construction throughout the city's centre. Trump International Hotel and Tower, Ritz-Carlton Toronto, Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are just some of the many high rise luxury condominium-hotel projects currently under construction in the downtown core.


Row houses in Old Toronto; some of the houses shown have the distinctive bay-and-gable design, common in many parts of Old Toronto.

The many residential communities of Toronto express a character distinct from that of the skyscrapers in the commercial core. Victorian and Edwardian-era residential buildings can be found in enclaves such as Rosedale, Cabbagetown, The Annex, and Yorkville. Wychwood Park is historically significant for the architecture of its homes, and for being one of Toronto's earliest planned communities. The Wychwood Park neighbourhood was designated as an Ontario Heritage Conservation district in 1985. The Casa Loma neighbourhood is named after Casa Loma, a storybook castle built in 1911 complete with stunning gardens, multiple turrets, massive stables, an elevator, secret passages, and bowling alleys. Spadina House is a 19th century manor that is now a museum.

The City of Toronto encompasses a geographical area formerly administered by six separate municipalities. These municipalities have each developed a distinct history and identity over the years, and their names remain in common use among Torontonians. Throughout the city there exist hundreds of small neighbourhoods and some larger neighbourhoods covering a few square kilometres. Former municipalities include East York, Etobicoke, North York, Old Toronto, Scarborough, and York.

Map of Toronto with major traffic routes. Also shown are the boundaries of six former municipalities, which form the current City of Toronto.

The Old City of Toronto covers the area generally known as downtown. It is the historic core of Toronto and remains the most densely populated part of the city. The Financial District contains the largest cluster of skyscrapers in Canada, including the First Canadian Place, Toronto-Dominion Centre, Scotia Plaza, Royal Bank Plaza, Commerce Court and Brookfield Place. This area includes, among others, the neighbourhoods of St. James (not to be confused with St. James Town to the north), Garden District, St. Lawrence, Corktown, and Church and Wellesley. From that point, the Toronto skyline extends northward along Yonge Street. Old Toronto is also home to many historically wealthy residential enclaves, such as Yorkville, Rosedale, The Annex, Forest Hill, Lawrence Park, Lytton Park, Deer Park, Moore Park, and Casa Loma, most stretching away from downtown to the north. These neighbourhoods generally feature upscale homes, luxury condominiums and high-end retail. At the same time, the downtown core vicinity includes neighbourhoods with many recent immigrants and low-income families living in social housing and rental high-rises, such as St. James Town, Regent Park, Moss Park, Alexandra Park and Parkdale. East and west of Downtown, neighbourhoods such as Kensington Market, Chinatown, Leslieville, Cabbagetown and Riverdale are home to bustling commercial and cultural areas as well as vibrant communities of artists with studio lofts, with many middle and upper class professionals. Other neighbourhoods in the central city retain an ethnic identity, including two Chinatowns, the popular Greektown area, the trendy Little Italy, Portugal Village, and Little India, along with others.

The inner suburbs are contained within the former municipalities of York and East York. These are mature and traditionally working class areas, primarily consisting of post-World War I small, single-family homes and small apartment blocks. Neighbourhoods such as Crescent Town, Thorncliffe Park, Weston, and Oakwood–Vaughan mainly consist of high-rise apartments, which are home to many new immigrant families. Recently, many neighbourhoods have become ethnically diverse and have undergone gentrification, as a result of increasing population and a housing boom during the late 1990s and first decade of the 21st century. The first neighbourhoods affected were Leaside and North Toronto, gradually progressing into the western neighbourhoods in York. Some of the area's housing is in the process of being replaced or remodelled.

The outer suburbs comprising the former municipalities of Etobicoke (west), Scarborough (east) and North York (north) largely retain the grid plan laid before post-war development. Sections were long established and quickly growing towns before the suburban housing boom began and the emergence of Metro Government, existing towns or villages such as Mimico, Islington and New Toronto in Etobicoke; Willowdale, Newtonbrook and Downsview in North York; Agincourt, Wexford and West Hill in Scarborough where suburban development boomed around or between these and other towns beginning in the late 1940s. Upscale neighbourhoods were built such as the Bridle Path in North York, the area surrounding the Scarborough Bluffs in Guildwood, and most of central Etobicoke, such as Humber Valley Village, and The Kingsway. One of largest and earliest "planned communities" was Don Mills, parts of which were first built in the 1950s. Phased development mixing single-detached housing with higher density apartment blocks became more popular as a suburban model of development. To some this model has been copied in other GTA municipalities surrounding Toronto, albeit with less population density. Over the last few decades, the North York Centre that runs along Yonge Street and the Scarborough City Centre have emerged as secondary business centres outside the downtown core. High-rise development in these areas have given North York and Scarborough distinguishable skylines of their own and a more downtown feel with high-density transit corridors serving them.


The Distillery District

In the earlier industrial era of Toronto, industry became concentrated along the Toronto Harbour and lower Don River mouth.

The Distillery District contains the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. Once the largest alcohol processing centre in North America, related structures along the Harbour include the Canada Malting Co. grain processing towers and the Redpath Sugar Refinery. Although production of spirits has declined over the decades, Toronto still has a robust and growing microbrewery industry.

The District is a national heritage site, it was listed by National Geographic magazine as a "top pick" in Canada for travellers. Similar areas that still retain their post-industrial character, but are now largely residential are the Fashion District, Corktown, and parts of South Riverdale and Leslieville. Toronto still has some active older industrial areas, such as Brockton Village, Mimico and New Toronto. In the west end of Old Toronto and York, the Weston/ Mount Dennis and Junction areas have a sense of grit to them, as they still contain factories, meat packing facilities and railyards close to medium density residential.

Beginning in the late 19th century as Toronto sprawled out, industrial areas were set up on the outskirts. Over time, pockets of industrial land mostly followed rail lines and later highway corridors as the city grew outwards. This trend continues to this day, the largest factories and distribution warehouses have mostly moved to the suburban environs of Peel and York Regions; but also within the current city: Etobicoke (concentrated around Pearson Airport), North York, and Scarborough. Many of Toronto's former industrial sites close to (or Downtown) have been redeveloped including parts of the Toronto waterfront and Liberty Village, large-scale development is underway in the West Don Lands.

The still mostly vacated Port Lands remain largely undeveloped, apart from a power plant, a shipping container facility and out-of-commission industrial facilities. There are future plans for development, including residential areas under the guidance of Waterfront Toronto.

Public spaces

Yonge-Dundas Square, one of the busiest squares in the city

Toronto has a diverse array of public spaces, from city squares to public parks overlooking ravines. A group called the Toronto Public Space Committee was formed to protect the city's public spaces. Nathan Phillips Square is the city's main square in downtown, and forms the entrance to City Hall. Yonge-Dundas Square, a newer square not far from City Hall, has also gained attention in recent years as one of the busiest gathering spots in the city. Other squares include Harbourfront Square, on the revitalized Toronto waterfront, and the civic squares at the former city halls of the defunct Metropolitan Toronto, most notably Mel Lastman Square in North York.

There are many large downtown parks, which include Grange Park, Moss Park, Allan Gardens, Little Norway Park, Queen's Park, Riverdale Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Christie Pits, and the Leslie Street Spit, which mainly consists of Tommy Thompson Park and opens on weekends. The Toronto Islands have several acres of park space, accessible from downtown by ferry. Large parks in the outer areas include High Park, Humber Bay Park, Centennial Park, Downsview Park, Guildwood Park, and Rouge Park. An almost hidden park is the compact Cloud Gardens, which has both open areas and a glassed-in greenhouse in downtown Toronto.

Both squares and parks are associated with rinks or pools for public ice-skating.

Nathan Phillips Square is undergoing a major redesign by PLANT Architect Inc., Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners, Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture Inc., and Adrian Blackwell (winners of the International Design Competition in 2006 and 2007), since PLANT Architect Inc. won the competition in 2007. West 8, a Dutch architecture firm, won the Central Waterfront Innovative Design Competition in 2006 to redesign the central part of the Toronto waterfront. In 1999, Downsview Park initiated an international design competition to realise its vision of creating Canada's first national urban park. In May 2000, the winning park design was announced: "TREE CITY", by the team of Bruce Mau Design, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Oleson Worland Architect and Inside/Outside.

Downtown Toronto as seen at twilight.


The Royal Alexandra Theatre

Toronto is a major scene for theatre and other performing arts, with more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, two symphony orchestras and a host of theatres. The city is home to the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, and the Canadian Stage Company. Notable performance venues include the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Massey Hall, the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (originally the "O'Keefe Centre" and formerly the "Hummingbird Centre").

Ontario Place features the world's first permanent IMAX movie theatre, the Cinesphere, as well as the Molson Amphitheatre, an open-air venue for large-scale music concerts. Each summer, the Canadian Stage Company presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto's High Park called "Dream in High Park". Canada's Walk of Fame acknowledges the achievements of successful Canadians, with a series of stars on designated blocks of sidewalks along King Street and Simcoe Street.

The Distillery District is a pedestrian village containing boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, artist studios and small breweries, including the well-known Mill Street Brewery. A new theatre in the district, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, is the home of the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the drama productions of nearby George Brown College.

The production of domestic and foreign film and television is a major local industry. Many movie releases are screened in Toronto before wider release in North America. The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most important annual events for the international film industry. Europe's largest film studio, Pinewood Studios Group of London, is scheduled to open a major new film studio complex in west-end Toronto, with five sound stages, with the first two to open by fall 2008.

Toronto's Caribana festival takes place from mid-July to early August of every summer, and is one of North America's largest street festivals. Primarily based on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, the first Caribana took place in 1967 when the city's Caribbean community celebrated Canada's Centennial. More than forty years later, it has grown to attract one million people to Toronto's Lakeshore Boulevard annually. Tourism for the festival is in the hundred thousands, and each year, the event generates over $400 million in revenue into Ontario's economy.

Pride Week in Toronto takes place in late June, and is one of the largest LGBT festivals in the world. One of the largest events in the city, it attracts more than one million people from around the world. Toronto is a major centre for gay and lesbian culture and entertainment, and the gay village is located in the Church and Wellesley area of downtown.


Toronto Eaton Centre is the busiest shopping mall in the City of Toronto.
Royal Ontario Museum is one of Canada's leading museums.

Toronto's most prominent landmark is the CN Tower, which once stood as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world at 553 metres (1,814 feet). To the surprise of its creators, the tower held the world record for over 30 years.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a major museum for world culture and natural history. The Toronto Zoo, one of the largest in the world, is home to over 5,000 animals representing over 460 distinct species. The Art Gallery of Ontario contains a large collection of Canadian, European, African and contemporary artwork. The Gardiner Museum of ceramic art is the only museum in Canada entirely devoted to ceramics, and the Museum's collection contains more than 2,900 ceramic works from Asia, the Americas, and Europe. The Ontario Science Centre always has new hands-on activities and science displays particularly appealing to children, and the Bata Shoe Museum features many unique exhibitions focussed on footwear. The centrally located Textile Museum possesses another niche collection of great quality and interest. The Don Valley Brick Works is a former industrial site, which opened in 1889, and was partly restored as a park and heritage site in 1996, with further restoration and reuse being completed in stages since then. The Canadian National Exhibition is held annually at Exhibition Place, and it is the oldest annual fair in the world. It is Canada's largest annual fair and the fifth largest in North America, with an average attendance of 1.25 million.

The Yorkville neighbourhood is one of Toronto's most elegant shopping and dining areas. On many occasions, celebrities from all over North America can be spotted in the area, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival. The Toronto Eaton Centre is one of North America's top shopping destinations, and Toronto's most popular tourist attraction with over 52 million visitors annually.

Greektown on the Danforth, is another one of the major attractions of Toronto which boasts one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per kilometre in the world. It is also home to the annual " Taste of the Danforth" festival which attracts over one million people in 2 1/2 days. Toronto is also home to Canada's most famous "castle" - Casa Loma, the former estate of Sir Henry Pellatt, a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist and military man. Other notable neighbourhoods and attractions include The Beaches, the Toronto Islands, Kensington Market, Fort York, and the Hockey Hall of Fame.


The Hockey Hall of Fame, housed in a former bank erected in 1885, is located at the intersection of Front Street and Yonge Street in Downtown Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays host the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Centre.

Toronto is the only Canadian city with representation in seven major league sports, with teams in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, Canadian Football League, Major League Soccer, Canadian Women's Hockey League and USL W-League. The National Football League's Buffalo Bills also play select home games in the city. The city's major sports venues include the Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre (formerly known as SkyDome), Ricoh Coliseum, and BMO Field.

Toronto is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the National Hockey League's Original Six clubs, and has also served as home to the Hockey Hall of Fame since 1958. The city has a rich history of hockey championships. Along with the Maple Leafs' 13 Stanley Cup titles (second all-time), the Toronto Marlboros and St. Michael's College School-based Ontario Hockey League teams combined have won a record 12 Memorial Cup titles. The Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League also play in Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum and are the farm team for the Maple Leafs. They are currently the only AHL team that is located in the same market as its NHL parent club.

Toronto is currently home to the only National Basketball Association franchise outside the United States. The Toronto Raptors entered the league in 1995, and have since earned five playoff spots in 15 seasons. The Raptors won the Atlantic Division title in the 2006–07 NBA season, led by former star player Chris Bosh. The Raptors are the only NBA team with their own television channel, NBA TV Canada. The team plays their home games at the Air Canada Centre.

The Toronto Rock are the city's National Lacrosse League team. They are one of the league's most successful franchises, winning five Champion's Cup titles in seven years in the late 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century, appearing in an NLL record 5 straight championship games from 1999 to 2003, and are currently first all-time in the number of Champion's Cups won. The Rock share the Air Canada Centre with the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

BMO Field immediately after Danny Dichio scored the first goal in Toronto FC history.

The city is represented in the Canadian Football League by the Toronto Argonauts, who have won a league-leading 15 Grey Cup titles. Toronto played host to the 95th Grey Cup in 2007, the first held in the city since 1992. In addition, the city has hosted several National Football League exhibition games; Ted Rogers leased the Buffalo Bills from Ralph Wilson for the purposes of having the Bills play eight home games in the city between 2008 and 2012. The city is also home to Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, who have won two World Series ( 1992 and 1993) titles and are currently the only Major League Baseball team in Canada. Both the Argonauts and Blue Jays (as well as the Bills when they are in town) play their home games at the Rogers Centre, in the downtown core.

Toronto is home to the International Bowl, an NCAA sanctioned post-season football game that puts a Mid-American Conference team against a Big East Conference team. Beginning in 2007, the game is played at the Rogers Centre annually in January.

Toronto (along with the city of Montreal) hosts an annual Tennis Tournament called the Rogers Cup between the months of July and August. In odd-numbered years, the men's tournament is held in Montréal, while the women's tournament is held in Toronto, and vice-versa in even-numbered years.

Besides team sports, the city annually hosted Champ Car's Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place from 1986 to 2007. The race was revived in 2009 as the Honda Indy Toronto, part of the IndyCar Series schedule. Both thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing events are conducted at Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale.

Historic sports clubs of Toronto include the Granite Club (established in 1836), the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (established in 1852), the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club (established in pre-1827), the Argonaut Rowing Club (established in 1872), the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club (established in 1881), and the Badminton and Racquet Club (established in 1924).

Toronto was a candidate city for the 1996 and 2008 Summer Olympics, which were awarded to Atlanta and Beijing respectively. The Canadian Olympic Committee is currently considering a Toronto bid for the 2020 or 2024 Summer Olympics.

Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games in July 2015. It contested against the cities of Lima, Peru and Bogotá, Colombia.

Professional teams
Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Toronto Argonauts CFL Football Rogers Centre 1873 15 (Last in 2004)
Toronto Maple Leafs NHL Ice hockey Air Canada Centre 1917 13 (Last in 1967)
Toronto Blue Jays MLB Baseball Rogers Centre 1977 2 (Last in 1993)
Toronto Raptors NBA Basketball Air Canada Centre 1995 0
Toronto FC MLS Soccer BMO Field 2007 0
Other sports clubs
Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Toronto Maple Leafs
Baseball Christie Pits
Toronto Rock
Box lacrosse Air Canada Centre
Toronto Xtreme
Rugby union Fletcher's Fields
Toronto Marlies
Ice hockey Ricoh Coliseum
Toronto Nationals
Field lacrosse Lamport Stadium
Toronto City Saints
Rugby league unknown
Toronto Aeros
Canadian Women's Hockey League
Women's ice hockey Lakeshore Lions Arena
Toronto Lady Lynx
USL W-League
Women's soccer Centennial Park Stadium


View of Toronto's Financial District from the CN Tower.

Toronto is a major international centre for business and finance. Generally considered the financial capital of Canada, Toronto has a high concentration of banks and brokerage firms on Bay Street, in the Financial District. The Toronto Stock Exchange is the world's eighth-largest stock exchange by market capitalization. All the Big Five banks of Canada are headquartered in Toronto, as are a majority of Canada's corporations.

The city is an important centre for the media, publishing, telecommunication, information technology and film production industries; it is home to the Thomson Corporation, CTVglobemedia, and Rogers Communications. Other prominent Canadian corporations in Toronto include Magna International, Celestica, Manulife Financial, Sun Life Financial, the Hudson's Bay Company, and major hotel companies and operators, such as Four Seasons Hotels and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Although much of the region's manufacturing activities take place outside the city limits, Toronto continues to be an important wholesale and distribution point for the industrial sector. The city's strategic position along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor and its extensive road and rail connections help support the nearby production of motor vehicles, iron, steel, food, machinery, chemicals and paper. The completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 gave ships access to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean.

The city's debt stood at $2.7 billion at December 31, 2008, and is forecast to rise to more than $3.5 billion by 2016, before subsiding.


Toronto population by year, within present boundaries
Year City CMA GTA
1861 65,085 193,844
1901 238,080 440,000
1951 1,117,470 1,262,000
1971 2,089,728 2,628,045
1976 2,124,295 2,803,101
1981 2,137,380 2,998,947
1986 2,192,721 3,733,085
1991 2,275,771 3,893,933 4,235,756
1996 2,385,421 4,263,759 4,628,883
2001 2,481,494 4,682,897 5,081,826
2006 2,503,281 5,113,149 5,555,912

The last complete census by Statistics Canada estimated there were 2,503,281 people living in Toronto in June 2006, making it the largest city in Canada, and the fifth most populous municipality in North America.

The city's population grew by 4% (96,073 residents) between 1996 and 2001, and 1% (21,787 residents) between 2001 and 2006. Persons aged 14 years and under made up 17.5% of the population, and those aged 65 years and over made up 13.6%. The median age was 36.9 years. Foreign-born people made up 49.9% of the population. The city's gender population is 48% male and 52% female. However, women outnumber men in all age groups over 20. As of 2006, 46.9% of the residents of the city proper belong to a visible minority group, and visible minorities are projected to comprise a majority in the Toronto CMA by 2017. In 1981, Toronto's visible minority population was 13.6%.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, Toronto has the second-highest percentage of constant foreign-born population among world cities, after Miami, Florida. While Miami's foreign-born population consists mostly of Cubans and other Latin Americans, no single nationality or culture dominates Toronto's immigrant population, placing it among the most diverse cities in the world. By 2031, Toronto's current visible minority population will have increased to 63%, changing the definition of visible minority in the city. More than 100,000 immigrants arrive in the Toronto area every year.

In 2006, people of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Toronto, 52.6%, mostly of British, Irish, Italian, and French origins. The five largest visible minority groups in Toronto are South Asian (12.0%), Chinese (11.4%), Black (8.4%), Filipino (4.1%) and Latin American (2.6%). Aboriginal peoples, who are not considered visible minorities, formed 0.5% of the population. This diversity is reflected in Toronto's ethnic neighbourhoods, which include Chinatown, Corso Italia, Greektown, Kensington Market, Koreatown, Little India, Little Italy, Little Jamaica, Little Portugal and Roncesvalles.

Christianity is the largest religious group in Toronto. The 2001 Census reports that 31.1% of the city's population is Catholic, followed by Protestant (21.1%), Christian Orthodox at (4.8%), Coptic Orthodox (0.2%), and other Christians (3.9%). Due to the city's significant number of Methodist Christians, Toronto is often referred to as the Methodist Rome. Other religions in the city are Islam (6.7%), Hinduism (4.8%), Judaism (4.2%), Buddhism (2.7%), Sikhism (0.9%), and other Eastern religions (0.2%). 18.7% of the population professes no religion.

While English is the predominant language spoken by Torontonians, many other languages have considerable numbers of local speakers. Chinese and Italian are the second and third most widely spoken languages at work. As a result, the city's 9-1-1 emergency services are equipped to respond in over 150 languages.


Toronto City Hall at night

Toronto is a single-tier municipality governed by a mayor–council system. The structure of the municipal government is stipulated by the City of Toronto Act. The Mayor of Toronto is elected by direct popular vote to serve as the chief executive of the city. The Toronto City Council is a unicameral legislative body, comprising 44 councillors representing geographical wards throughout the city. The mayor and members of the city council serve four-year terms without term limits. (Until the 2006 municipal election, the mayor and city councillors served three-year terms.)

At the start of the 2007 term, the city council will have seven standing committees, each consisting of a Chairman, a vice-chair and four other councillors. The Mayor names the committee chairs and the remaining membership of the committees is appointed by City Council. An executive committee is formed by the chairs of each of standing committee, along with the mayor, the deputy mayor and four other councillors. Councillors are also appointed to oversee the Toronto Transit Commission and the Toronto Police Services Board.

The city has four community councils that consider local matters. City Council has delegated final decision-making authority on local, routine matters, while others - like planning and zoning issues - are recommended to the city council. Each city councillor serves as a member on a community council.

There are about 40 subcommittees and advisory committees appointed by the city council. These bodies are made up of city councillors and private citizen volunteers. Examples include the Pedestrian Committee, Waste Diversion Task Force 2010, and the Task Force to Bring Back the Don.

Toronto had an operating budget of C$7.6 billion in 2006. The city receives funding from the Government of Ontario in addition to tax revenues and user fees, spending 36% on provincially mandated programmes, 53% on major municipal purposes such as the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Zoo, and 11% on capital financing and non-programme expenditures.


The low crime rate in Toronto has resulted in the city having a reputation as one of the safest major cities in North America. For instance, in 2007, the homicide rate for Toronto was 3.3 per 100,000 people, compared with Atlanta (19.7), Boston (10.3), Los Angeles (10.0), New York City (6.3), Vancouver (3.1), and Montreal (2.6). Toronto's robbery rate also ranks low, with 207.1 robberies per 100,000 people, compared with Los Angeles (348.5), Vancouver (266.2), New York City (265.9), and Montreal (235.3). Toronto has a comparable rate of car theft to various U.S. cities, although it is not among the highest in Canada.

Toronto recorded its largest number of homicides in 1991 with 89, a rate of 3.9 per 100,000. In 2005, Toronto media coined the term "Year of the Gun", because there was a record number of gun-related homicides, 52, out of 80 homicides in total (65% – similar to the average in U.S. cities). The total number of homicides dropped to 69 in 2006, that year, nearly 2,000 people in Toronto were victims of a violent gun-related crime, about one-quarter of the national total. 84 homicides were committed in 2007, roughly half of them involved guns. Gang-related incidents have also been on the rise; between the years of 1997 and 2005, over 300 gang-related homicides have occurred. As a result, the Ontario government developed an anti-gun strategy.


University College at University of Toronto
OCAD University (formerly the Ontario College of Art and Design)

Toronto is home to a number of post-secondary academic institutions. The University of Toronto, established in 1827, is the oldest university in Ontario and a leading public research institution. It is a worldwide leader in several fields including biomedical research. It houses North America's fourth-largest university library system, after those of Harvard, Yale and Berkeley. The Osgoode Hall Law School, affiliated with Toronto's York University, houses the largest law library in the Commonwealth of Nations. Toronto is also home to Ryerson University, OCAD University, and the University of Guelph-Humber.

There are four diploma-granting colleges in Toronto. These are Seneca College, Humber College, Centennial College and George Brown College. The city is also home to a satellite campus of the francophone Collège Boréal. In nearby Oshawa, usually considered part of the Greater Toronto Area, are Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, while Halton Region is home to Sheridan College.

The Royal Conservatory of Music, which includes The Glenn Gould School, is a noted school of music located downtown. The Canadian Film Centre is a film, television and new media training institute founded by filmmaker Norman Jewison. Tyndale University College and Seminary is a transdenominational Christian post-secondary institution and Canada's largest seminary.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) operates 558 public schools. Of these, 451 are elementary and 102 are secondary (high) schools. This makes the TDSB the largest school board in Canada. Additionally, the Toronto Catholic District School Board manages the city's publicly funded Roman Catholic schools, while the Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud manages public and Roman Catholic French-language schools. There are also numerous private university-preparatory schools, such as Bayview Glen School, Bishop Strachan School, Branksome Hall, College of Toronto, Crescent School, De La Salle College, Greenwood College School, Havergal College, Ridley College, Royal St. George's College, St. Clement's School, St. Michael's College School, Toronto French School, University of Toronto Schools, Upper Canada College, and The York School.

The Toronto Public Library is the largest public library system in Canada and the most widely used, consisting of 99 branches with more than 11 million items in its collection.


Health and medicine

Toronto General Hospital

Toronto is home to at least 20 public hospitals, including the Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital, North York General Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Centre, Rouge Valley Health System, The Scarborough Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Princess Margaret Hospital, as well as the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine.

Several years ago, Toronto was reported as having some of the longer average ER wait times in Ontario. Toronto hospitals at the time employed a system of triage to ensure life-threatening injuries receive rapid treatment. After initial screening, initial assessments by physicians were completed within the waiting waiting-rooms themselves for greater efficiency, within a median 1.2 hours. Tests, consultations, and initial treatments were also provided within waiting rooms. 50% of patients waited 4 hours before being transferred from the emergency room to another room. The least-urgent 10% of cases wait over 12 hours. The extended waiting-room times experienced by some patients were attributed to an overall shortage of acute care beds.

Toronto's Discovery District is centre of research in biomedicine. It is located on a 2.5 square kilometre (620 acre) research park that is fully integrated into Toronto's downtown core. It is also home to the Medical and Related Sciences Centre (MaRS), which was created in 2000 to capitalize on the research and innovation strength of the Province of Ontario. Another institute is the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine (MCMM).


A TTC CLRV streetcar
A TTC T1 subway train

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the third largest public transit system in North America after the New York City Transit Authority, and the Mexico City Metro. The TTC provides public transit within the City of Toronto. The backbone of its public transport network is the subway system, as well as a mainly elevated rapid transit line. The TTC also operates an extensive network of buses and streetcars. There have been numerous plans to extend the subway and streetcar networks, but many efforts have been thwarted by monetary and budgetary concerns. These plans have been placed back on the docket, as expansion and greater efforts for mass transportation are needed as the city continues to grow.

The Government of Ontario also operates an extensive rail and bus transit system called GO Transit in the Greater Toronto Area. As of January 2009, GO Transit carries over 205,000 passengers every weekday on its seven train lines and extensive bus system.

Canada's busiest airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport ( IATA: YYZ), straddles the city's western boundary with the suburban city of Mississauga. Limited commercial and passenger service is also offered from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, on the Toronto Islands, southwest of downtown. Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham provides general aviation facilities. Toronto/Downsview Airport, near the city's north end, is owned by de Havilland Canada and serves the Bombardier Aerospace aircraft factory.

Ontario Highway 401, the busiest highway in North America

There are a number of municipal expressways and provincial highways that serve Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. In particular, Highway 401 bisects the city from west to east, bypassing the downtown core. It is the busiest road in North America, and one of the busiest highways in the world. The main municipal expressways in Toronto include the Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Parkway, and to some extent, Allen Road. The square grid of major city streets was laid out by the concession road system, in which each major arterial road is approximately two kilometres apart from each parallel route. Major east-west arterial roads are generally parallel with Lake Ontario and major north-south arterial roads are roughly perpendicular with Lake Ontario.

Sister cities

Partnership Cities
Country City State / Region Since
China China National Emblem of the People's Republic of China.svg Chongqing Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Southwest China 1986
Flag of the United States.svg United States Chicago city seal.png Chicago Flag of Illinois.svg Illinois 1991
Flag of Germany.svg Germany Wappen-frankfurt.png Frankfurt Flag of Hesse.svg Hesse 1989
Flag of Italy.svg Italy CoA Città di Milano.svg Milan Flag of Lombardy.svg Lombardy 2002
Friendship Cities
Country City State / Region Since
Flag of Vietnam.svg Vietnam Coat of arms of Vietnam.svg Ho Chi Minh City Flag of Vietnam.svg Southern Vietnam 2006
Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine Coat of arms of Kiev.svg Kiev Flag of Kyiv Oblast.png Kiev Oblast 1991
Flag of Ecuador.svg Ecuador Coat of Arms of Quito.jpg Quito Bandera Província Pichincha.svg Pichincha 2006
Flag of Japan.svg Japan Flag of Sagamihara, Kanagawa.png Sagamihara Flag of Japan.svg Kantō 1991
Flag of Poland.svg Poland POL Warszawa COA.svg Warsaw POL województwo mazowieckie flag.svg Masovia 1990
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