Toronto
City of Toronto
From top left: Downtown, City Hall, the Ontario Legislative Building, Casa Loma, Prince Edward Viaduct, and the Scarborough Bluffs
Flag of Toronto
Flag
Coat of arms of Toronto
Coat of arms
Official logo of Toronto
Etymology: From "Taronto", the name of a channel between Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching, See Name of Toronto
Nickname(s): 
Motto(s): 
Diversity Our Strength
Interactive map outlining Toronto
Toronto is located in Ontario
Toronto
Toronto
Location within Ontario
Toronto is located in Canada
Toronto
Toronto
Location within Canada
Toronto is located in North America
Toronto
Toronto
Location within North America
Coordinates: 43°44′30″N 79°22′24″W / 43.74167°N 79.37333°W / 43.74167; -79.37333Coordinates: 43°44′30″N 79°22′24″W / 43.74167°N 79.37333°W / 43.74167; -79.37333
CountryCanada
ProvinceOntario
DistrictsEast York, Etobicoke, North York, Old Toronto, Scarborough, York
Settled1750 (as Fort Rouillé)[5]
EstablishedAugust 27, 1793 (as York)
IncorporatedMarch 6, 1834 (as Toronto)
Amalgamated into divisionJanuary 20, 1953 (as Metropolitan Toronto)
AmalgamatedJanuary 1, 1998 (as City of Toronto)
Government
 • TypeMayor–council
 • MayorJohn Tory
 • Deputy MayorDenzil Minnan-Wong
 • CouncilToronto City Council
 • MPs
 • MPPs
Area
 (2011)[6][7][8]
 • City (single-tier)630.21 km2 (243.33 sq mi)
 • Urban
1,751.49 km2 (676.25 sq mi)
 • Metro
5,905.71 km2 (2,280.21 sq mi)
Elevation
76 m (249 ft)
Population
(2016)[6][7][8]
 • City (single-tier)2,731,571 (1st)
 • Density4,334.4/km2 (11,226/sq mi)
 • Urban
5,132,794 (1st)
 • Metro
5,928,040 (1st)
Demonym(s)Torontonian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Postal code span
Area codes416, 647, 437
NTS Map030M11
GNBC CodeFEUZB
GDPUS$276.3 billion (2014)[9]
GDP per capitaUS$45,771 (2014)[9]
Websitetoronto.ca

Toronto (/təˈrɒnt/ (About this soundlisten) tə-RON-toh) is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.[10][11][12]

People have travelled through and inhabited the Toronto area, situated on a broad sloping plateau interspersed with rivers, deep ravines, and urban forest, for more than 10,000 years.[13] After the broadly disputed Toronto Purchase, when the Mississauga surrendered the area to the British Crown,[14] the British established the town of York in 1793 and later designated it as the capital of Upper Canada.[15] During the War of 1812, the town was the site of the Battle of York and suffered heavy damage by United States troops.[16] York was renamed and incorporated in 1834 as the city of Toronto. It was designated as the capital of the province of Ontario in 1867 during Canadian Confederation.[17] The city proper has since expanded past its original borders through both annexation and amalgamation to its current area of 630.2 km2 (243.3 sq mi).

The diverse population of Toronto reflects its current and historical role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada.[18][19] More than 50 percent of residents belong to a visible minority population group,[20] and over 200 distinct ethnic origins are represented among its inhabitants.[21] While the majority of Torontonians speak English as their primary language, over 160 languages are spoken in the city.[22]

Toronto is a prominent centre for music,[23] theatre,[24] motion picture production,[25] and television production,[26] and is home to the headquarters of Canada's major national broadcast networks and media outlets.[27] Its varied cultural institutions,[28] which include numerous museums and galleries, festivals and public events, entertainment districts, national historic sites, and sports activities,[29] attract over 25 million tourists each year.[30][31] Toronto is known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings,[32] in particular the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the CN Tower.[33]

The city is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada's five largest banks,[34] and the headquarters of many large Canadian and multinational corporations.[35] Its economy is highly diversified with strengths in technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, and tourism.[36][37][38]

History

Before 1800

When Europeans first arrived at the site of present-day Toronto, the vicinity was inhabited by the Iroquois,[39] who had displaced the Wyandot (Huron) people, occupants of the region for centuries before c. 1500.[40] The name Toronto is likely derived from the Iroquoian word tkaronto, meaning "place where trees stand in the water".[41] This refers to the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, where the Huron had planted tree saplings to corral fish. However, the word "Toronto", meaning "plenty" also appears in a 1632 French lexicon of the Huron language, which is also an Iroquoian language.[42] It also appears on French maps referring to various locations, including Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, and several rivers.[43] A portage route from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron running through this point, known as the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, led to widespread use of the name.

In the 1660s, the Iroquois established two villages within what is today Toronto, Ganatsekwyagon on the banks of the Rouge River and Teiaiagon on the banks of the Humber River. By 1701, the Mississauga had displaced the Iroquois, who abandoned the Toronto area at the end of the Beaver Wars, with most returning to their base in present-day New York.[44]

In the 17th century, the area was a crucial link for travel, with the Humber and Rouge rivers providing a shortcut to the upper Great Lakes. These routes together were known as the Toronto Passage.

French traders founded Fort Rouillé in 1750 (the current Exhibition grounds were later developed here), but abandoned it in 1759 during the Seven Years' War.[45] The British defeated the French and their indigenous allies in the war, and the area became part of the British colony of Quebec in 1763.

During the American Revolutionary War, an influx of British settlers came here as United Empire Loyalists fled for the British-controlled lands north of Lake Ontario. The Crown granted them land to compensate for their losses in the Thirteen Colonies. The new province of Upper Canada was being created and needed a capital. In 1787, the British Lord Dorchester arranged for the Toronto Purchase with the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, thereby securing more than a quarter of a million acres (1000 km2) of land in the Toronto area.[46] Dorchester intended the location to be named Toronto.[43]

In 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe established the town of York on the Toronto Purchase lands, naming it after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Simcoe decided to move the Upper Canada capital from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) to York,[47] believing that the new site would be less vulnerable to attack by the United States.[48] The York garrison 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 "Old Town" area).

1800–1899

In 1813, as part of the War of 1812, the Battle of York ended in the town's capture and plunder by United States forces.[49] The surrender of the town was negotiated by John Strachan. American soldiers destroyed much of the garrison and set fire to the parliament buildings during their five-day occupation. Because of the sacking of York, British troops retaliated later in the war with the Burning of Washington, DC.

American forces attacked York in 1813. The Americans subsequently plundered the town, and set fire to the legislative buildings.

York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name. 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.

Toronto's population of 9,000 included African-American slaves, some of whom were brought by the Loyalists, including Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, and fewer Black Loyalists, whom the Crown had freed. (Most of the latter were resettled in Nova Scotia.) By 1834 refugee slaves from America's South were also immigrating to Toronto, settling in Canada to gain freedom.[50] Slavery was banned outright in Upper Canada (and throughout the British Empire) in 1834.[51] Torontonians integrated people of colour into their society. In the 1840s, an eating house at Frederick and King Streets, a place of mercantile prosperity in the early city, was operated by a man of colour named Bloxom.[52]

View of Toronto in 1854. Toronto became a major destination for immigrants to Canada in the second half of the 19th century.

As a major destination for immigrants to Canada, the city grew rapidly through the remainder of the 19th century. The first significant wave of immigrants were Irish, fleeing the Great Irish Famine; most of them were Catholic. By 1851, the Irish-born population had become the largest single ethnic group in the city. Smaller numbers of Protestant Irish immigrants, some from what is now Northern Ireland, were welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, giving the Orange Order significant and long-lasting influence over Toronto society.

For brief periods, Toronto was twice the capital of the united Province of Canada: first from 1849 to 1852, following unrest in Montreal, and later 1856–1858. After this date, Quebec was designated as the capital until 1866 (one year before Canadian Confederation). Since then, the capital of Canada has remained Ottawa, Ontario.[53]

Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario after its official creation in 1867. The seat of government of the Ontario Legislature is located at Queen's Park. Because of its provincial capital status, the city was also the location of Government House, the residence of the viceregal representative of the Crown in right of Ontario.

Long before the Royal Military College of Canada was established in 1876, supporters of the concept proposed military colleges in Canada. Staffed by British Regulars, adult male students underwent a three-month long military course at the School of Military Instruction in Toronto. Established by Militia General Order in 1864, the school enabled officers of militia or candidates for commission or promotion in the Militia to learn military duties, drill and discipline, to command a company at Battalion Drill, to drill a company at Company Drill, the internal economy of a company, and the duties of a company's officer.[54] The school was retained at Confederation, in 1867. In 1868, Schools of cavalry and artillery instruction were formed in Toronto.[55]

The Gooderham and Worts buildings c. 19th century. The distillery became the world's largest whiskey factory by the 1860s.

In the 19th century, the city built an extensive sewage system to improve sanitation, and streets were 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. These enabled Toronto to become a major gateway linking the world to the interior of the North American continent.

Toronto became the largest alcohol distillation (in particular, spirits) centre in North America. By the 1860s the Gooderham and Worts Distillery operations became the world's largest whiskey factory. A preserved section of this once dominant local industry remains in the Distillery District. The harbour allowed for sure access to 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.

Initially a horse-drawn system, Toronto's streetcar system transitioned to electric-powered streetcars in 1892.

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.[56]

Since 1900

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

By 1934 the Toronto Stock Exchange emerged as the country's largest stock exchange.

The city received new European immigrant groups beginning in the late 19th century into the early 20th century, particularly Germans, French, Italians, and Jews from various parts of Eastern Europe. They were soon followed by Russians, Poles, and other Eastern European nations, in addition to Chinese entering from the West. 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 Financial District. As new migrants began to prosper, they moved to better housing in other areas, in what is now understood to be succession waves of settlement. Despite its fast-paced growth, by the 1920s, Toronto's population and economic importance in Canada remained second to the much longer established Montreal, Quebec. However, by 1934, the Toronto Stock Exchange had become the largest in the country.

Following the Second World War, refugees from war-torn Europe and Chinese job-seekers arrived, as well as construction labourers, particularly from Italy and Portugal. Toronto's population grew to more than one million in 1951 when large-scale suburbanization began, and doubled to two million by 1971. Following the elimination of racially based immigration policies by the late 1960s, Toronto became a destination for immigrants from all parts of the world.

By the 1980s, Toronto had surpassed Montreal as Canada's most populous city and chief economic hub. 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 Western Canadian cities.[57]

Construction of First Canadian Place, the operational headquarters of the Bank of Montreal, in 1975. During the 1970s several Canadian financial institutions moved to Toronto.

In 1954, the City of Toronto and 12 surrounding municipalities were federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto.[58] 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.[59]

In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto were merged with larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the former city of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, and York.[60]

In 1998, the Conservative provincial government led by Mike Harris dissolved the metropolitan government, despite vigorous opposition from the component municipalities and overwhelming rejection in a municipal plebiscite. All six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto, the successor of the old City of Toronto. North York mayor Mel Lastman became the first "megacity" mayor and the 62nd Mayor of Toronto. John Tory is the current mayor.

The city attracted international attention in 2003 when it became the centre of a major SARS outbreak. Public health attempts to prevent the disease from spreading elsewhere temporarily dampened the local economy.[61]

On March 6, 2009, the city celebrated the 175th anniversary of its inception as the City of Toronto in 1834. Toronto hosted the 4th G20 summit during June 26–27, 2010. This included the largest security operation in Canadian history. Following large-scale protests and rioting, law enforcement conducted the largest mass arrest (more than a thousand people) in Canadian history.[62]

On July 8, 2013, severe flash flooding hit Toronto after an afternoon of slow-moving, intense thunderstorms. Toronto Hydro estimated that 450,000 people were without power after the storm and Toronto Pearson International Airport reported that 126 mm (5 in) of rain had fallen over five hours, more than during Hurricane Hazel.[63] Within six months, on December 20, 2013, Toronto was brought to a halt by the worst ice storm in the city's history, rivalling the severity of the 1998 Ice Storm. Toronto hosted WorldPride in June 2014[64] and the Pan American Games in 2015.[65]

Geography

Toronto covers an area of 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi),[66] 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 out into the lake, allowing for a somewhat sheltered Toronto Harbour south of the downtown core.[67] The city's borders are formed by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek, Eglinton Avenue and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue to the north and the Rouge River and Scarborough–Pickering Townline to the east.

Topography

Initially acting as a barrier towards development, the Toronto ravine system has since been adopted as a central piece of Toronto's landscape.

The city is mostly flat or gentle hills and the land gently slopes upward away from the lake. The flat land is interrupted by numerous ravines cut by numerous creeks and the valleys of the three rivers in Toronto: the Humber River in the west end and the Don River east of downtown at opposite ends of Toronto Harbour, and the Rouge River at the city's eastern limits. Most of the ravines and valley lands in Toronto today are parklands, and recreational trails are laid out along the ravines and valleys. The original town was laid out in a grid plan on the flat plain north of the harbour, and this plan was extended outwards as the city grew. The width and depth of several of the ravines and valleys are such that several grid streets such as Finch Avenue, Leslie Street, Lawrence Avenue, and St. Clair Avenue, terminate on one side of a ravine or valley and continue on the other side. Toronto has many bridges spanning the ravines. Large bridges such as the Prince Edward Viaduct were built to span wide river valleys.

Despite its deep ravines, Toronto is not remarkably hilly, but its elevation does increase 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.[68] There are occasional hilly areas; in particular, midtown Toronto has a number of sharply sloping hills. 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.

The Scarborough Bluffs is an escarpment along the eastern portion of the Toronto waterfront, which formed during the last glacial period.

The other major geographical feature of Toronto is its escarpments. 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.

The geography of the lake shore is greatly changed since the first settlement of Toronto. Much of the land on the north shore of the harbour is landfill, filled in during the late 19th century. Until then, the lakefront docks (then known as wharves) were set back farther inland than today. Much of the adjacent Port Lands on the east side of the harbour was a wetland filled in early in the 20th century. The shoreline from the harbour west to the Humber River has been extended into the lake. Further west, landfill has been used to create extensions of land such as Humber Bay Park.

The Toronto Islands were a natural peninsula until a storm in 1858 severed their connection to the mainland,[69] creating a channel to the harbour. The peninsula was formed by longshore drift taking the sediments deposited along the Scarborough Bluffs shore and transporting them to the Islands area. The other source of sediment for the Port Lands wetland and the peninsula was the deposition of the Don River, which carved a wide valley through the sedimentary land of Toronto and deposited it in the harbour, which is quite shallow. The harbour and the channel of the Don River have been dredged numerous times for shipping. The lower section of the Don River was straightened and channelled in the 19th century. The former mouth drained into a wetland; today the Don drains into the harbour through a concrete waterway, the Keating Channel.

Climate

The city of Toronto has a hot summer humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfa) bordering on a warm summer humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb), with warm, humid summers and cold winters.[70] According to the classification applied by Natural Resources Canada, the city of Toronto is located in plant hardiness zone 7a, with some suburbs & nearby towns having lower zone ratings.[71][72]

Toronto
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
62
 
 
−1
−7
 
 
55
 
 
0
−6
 
 
54
 
 
5
−2
 
 
68
 
 
12
4
 
 
82
 
 
18
10
 
 
71
 
 
24
15
 
 
64
 
 
27
18
 
 
81
 
 
26
17
 
 
85
 
 
21
13
 
 
64
 
 
14
7
 
 
84
 
 
8
2
 
 
62
 
 
2
−3
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada[73][73]

The city experiences four distinct seasons, with considerable variance in length.[74] As a result of the rapid passage of weather systems (such as high- and low-pressure systems), the weather is variable from day to day in all seasons.[74] Owing to urbanization and its proximity to water, Toronto has a fairly low diurnal temperature range. The denser urbanscape makes for warmer nights year around; the average nighttime temperature is about 3.0 °C (5.40 °F) warmer in the city than in rural areas in all months.[75] However, it can be noticeably cooler on many spring and early summer afternoons under the influence of a lake breeze since Lake Ontario is cool, relative to the air during these seasons.[75] These lake breezes mostly occur in summer, bringing relief on hot days.[75] 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.[75]

Winters in Toronto are typically cold with frequent snowfall.

Winters are cold with frequent snow.[76] During the winter months, temperatures are usually below 0 °C (32 °F).[76] Toronto winters sometimes feature cold snaps when maximum temperatures remain below −10 °C (14 °F), often made to feel colder by wind chill. Occasionally, they can drop below −25 °C (−13 °F).[76] Snowstorms, sometimes mixed with ice and rain, can disrupt work and travel schedules, while accumulating snow can fall anytime from November until mid-April. However, mild stretches also occur in most winters, melting accumulated snow. The summer months are characterized by very warm temperatures.[76] Daytime temperatures are usually above 20 °C (68 °F), and often rise above 30 °C (86 °F).[76] However, they can occasionally surpass 35 °C (95 °F) accompanied by high humidity. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons with generally mild or cool temperatures with alternating dry and wet periods.[75] Daytime temperatures average around 10 to 12 °C (50 to 54 °F) during these seasons.[76]

Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest season, the bulk falling during thunderstorms. The average yearly precipitation is about 831 mm (32.7 in), with an average annual snowfall of about 122 cm (48 in).[77] Toronto experiences an average of 2,066 sunshine hours, or 45% of daylight hours, varying between a low of 28% in December to 60% in July.[77]