Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is one of the most populated cities in North America. It houses the headquarters of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the world’s sixth largest, along with a majority of Canada’s corporations. However, none of these matter to people who come here to see one of the greatest natural wonders of the world – the Niagara Falls, which is just a stone’s throw away from the city.
Due to the influx of immigrants from all over the world into the city, throughout the years, the city has a very diverse and cosmopolitan population. In fact, about 49 percent of the city’s residents were born outside Canada! What makes the city so attractive to people are the city’s low crime rates, clean environment and relatively high standard of living. Toronto has consistently been rated as one of the world’s most livable cities but it was also ranked as the most expensive Canadian city in which to live with over 2 million people sharing a 630 sq km space.
To the south of the city is Lake Ontario, the Etobicoke Creek is to the west, and the Rouge River to the east. The city is intersected by two rivers – the Humber River and the Don River, at opposite ends of the Toronto Harbor.
The many creeks, rivers and tributaries create large patches of densely-forested ravines that offer ideal sites for parks and walking or hiking trails. These deep ravines also provide some logistical support to the city for draining the city’s vast storm sewer system during heavy rains.
Toronto has relatively moderate climate as compared to the rest of the country mainly due its proximity to Lake Ontario and its southerly geographical position. The climate is continental with warm, humid summers and cold winters. Snowstorms during the months of November until mid-April are quite common, often accompanied by rain. Spring and Autumn are generally mild with alternating dry and wet periods, and the best time to visit the city if you plan to get around.
Around 1500 AD: Europeans arrive at site of present day Toronto, previously inhabited by the Huron tribes, and the Iroquois tribes before them.
1750: French traders founded Fort Rouille but abandon it in 1759.
1787: British negotiate the Toronto Purchase securing more than a quarter million acres of land in the Toronto area.
1793: Governor John Graves Simcoe establishes the town of York on the existing settlement. It replaces Newark as the capital of Upper Canada in the hope that it’ll be less likely to be attacked by the Americans. Fort York is constructed at the entrance of the town’s natural harbor.
1813: Battle of York ends in the town’s capture by American forces. Much of the Fort is destroyed by American soldiers and they also set the parliament buildings on during their five-day occupation.
1834: York is incorporated as the City of Toronto reverting to its original native name. Many escaped African-American slaves come to settle here, as slavery had been banned in Upper Canada by 1806.
1846-1849: The Great Irish Famine brings a large number of Irish Diaspora into the city.
1904: The Great Toronto Fire destroys a large section of the city costing more than $10 million in damage.
Sights around town:
Toronto’s most prominent landmark is the CN Tower, standing at 1815 ft as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world.
Just an hour away from the city is the world’s most recognized waterfall – the Niagara Falls. Most people use Toronto as a starting point to visit this great natural wonder. The sheer force of the water is astounding, and if you are brave enough, you could even try to take a boat right up to the fall and get a bit wet!
There are other places to get wet though. Toronto has some excellent beaches where you could enjoy activities such as volleyball, biking and rollerblading, apart from the usual swimming and lazing around in the sun. Lake Ontario tends to be quite cool even during summers with clean water, making it a great place to lay back. The Toronto Islands is a car-free zone and have some of the cleanest beaches (including a clothing-optional beach at Hanlan’s point). Take your bike along to get around and view the sights. It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
The Distillery District is located in the former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands. It is a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. The village contains boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, artist studios and small breweries, including the well-known Mill Street Brewery. It is a great place (and excuse) for having some alcoholic beverage.
If you prefer being out on your own, in the lap of nature, then the Lakefront and Toronto Island both offer good biking and walking trails with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline. Get your dose of exercise along with some time on your own.
For hockey fans, of which there are many in Canada for sure, the Hockey Hall of Fame is the place to honor legends and heroes. It is housed in a building that was formerly a bank and the structure was erected in 1885, making the building as much a part of history as its contents.
Other museums of note in the city include the Royal Ontario Museum for those interested in world culture and natural history; the Art Gallery of Ontario containing a vast collection of Canadian, European, African and contemporary artwork; the Gardiner Museum of ceramic art – the only museum in the country entirely devoted to ceramics, with over 2,900 ceramic works from Asia, the Americas, and Europe; the Ontario Science Centre is a great place to take kids of all ages for them to try out hands-on activities and science displays; and the Bata Shoe Museum that also features many unique exhibitions.