The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Toronto is Canada's largest city and the provincial capital of Ontario. The word Toronto comes from a Wyandot word for fishing weir. Toronto's population is 2,518,772 (2004 Statistics Canada estimate); that of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is 5,715,386 (2004). Residents of Toronto are termed Torontonians. Toronto is part of the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario, a densely populated region of around 7 million people. Approximately one-third of the Canadian population lives within 160 km of Toronto, and about one-sixth of all Canadian jobs lie within the city limits. The largest ancestral groups in the Greater Toronto Area are British, Irish, Italian and Chinese. Smaller groups include Portuguese, Greek, Indian and those from the Caribbean.



Known as the "economic engine of Canada", Toronto is considered a major world city, exerting significant regional, national, and global influence. Toronto has been declared by the UN as the world's most multicultural city, with more than half its population(52%) having immigrated from other countries, and 55% of its population comprised of visible minorities. Toronto is often described as the world's most cosmopolitan city. Every summer the city plays host to the "Largest Street Festival" in North America known as Caribana: a large Caribbean festival, Toronto also hosts one of the three largest gay pride parades in the world (along side New York City, and Sydney).

While English is the predominant language, Statistics Canada reports that there are significant populations of others, such as Chinese and Italian. Fewer than 2% of Torontonians claim French (Canada's other official language) as their mother tongue.

Toronto is Canada's financial,media and health sciences centre. It has one of the most diversified economies in North America with the largest concentration of head offices in a variety of fields, the highest concentration of cultural workers and institutions, and the largest arts community in Canada. Indeed, in January 2005, it was designated by the federal government as one of Canada's cultural capitals. It is one of the safest cities to live in North America; its crime rate is one of the lowest in Canada and North America.

The City of Toronto covers an area of 641 km² (247 square miles) and is bounded 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. According to provincial law, the southern boundary of the city actually extends to the US boundary in the centre of Lake Ontario.

The GTA extends beyond the city boundaries and includes the regional municipalities of Halton, Peel, York and Durham.

The GTA is part of a larger, natural ecosystem known as the Greater Toronto Bioregion. This ecosystem is bounded by Lake Ontario, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Oak Ridges Moraine, and includes several watersheds that drain into Lake Ontario. It is also the northern extent of the Carolinian forest zone.

Until the 1970s, Toronto was the second largest city in Canada, after Montreal. The economic growth of Toronto was greatly stimulated by the development of the auto industry and of large mineral resources in its hinterland, and by the completion in 1959 of the St. Lawrence Seaway which allowed ships access to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean. Further growth in the Toronto area is often attributed to the rise of Quebec nationalism, though the extent of its influence is still contested by some who argue that its effect was exaggerated by the English media (cf.[1]). During the 1970s, the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois enacted several French-language laws that were perceived as unfavourable towards English-language businesses and English-speaking Montrealers, and many relocated to Toronto where the French language is not necessary for business. A continuous influx of newcomers from Atlantic Canada, and large numbers of immigrants from around the world have contributed to the steady growth of Toronto and its surroundings since the second World War. Today, Toronto is the main destination for new immigrants to Canada.

The current mayor of Toronto is David Miller.


Pre-European period

Located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto was originally a term of indeterminate geographical location, designating the approximate area of the future city of Toronto on maps dating to the late 17th and early 18th century. Eventually the name was anchored to the mouth of the Humber River, the end of the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail portage route from Georgian Bay; this is where the city of Toronto is located today.

The source and meaning of the name remains a matter of debate. Most common definitions claim that the origin is the Huron word toran-ten for "meeting place". However, it is much more likely that the term is from the Mohawk word tkaronto meaning "where there are trees standing in the water," a reference to a specific location at the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, then known as Lake Toronto. The portage route up the Humber River eventually leads past this well-known landmark. As the portage route grew in use, the name became more widely used and was eventually attached to a French trading fort just inland from Lake Ontario on the Humber. [2]

Part of this confusion can be attributed to the succession of peoples who lived in the area during the 18th century: Huron, Senecas, Iroquois, and Mississaugas (the latter having lent their name to Toronto's modern-day western suburb). Until the beginning of British colonization there were no permanent settlements, though both native peoples and the French did try, including the construction of another small fort near the mouth of the Humber, currently buried on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition.

European settlement

European settlement in central Canada was quite limited before 1788, amounting to only a few families, but it began growing quickly in the aftermath of the American Revolution. The French established a trading fort, Fort Rouillé , on the current Exhibition Grounds around 1750, but it was abandoned in 1759. United Empire Loyalists, American colonists who refused to accept being divorced from the United Kingdom, or who felt unwelcome in the new republic, fled the US to the unsettled lands north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario; some had fought in the British army and were paid with land in the region. In 1788 the British negotiated the purchase of more than a quarter million acres (1,000 km²) of land in the area of Toronto. The site was then chosen by Governor John Graves Simcoe on July 29, 1793 as the new capital of the newly organized province of Upper Canada, moving from Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) on February 1, 1796.

Specifically the town, then known as York, was built inland from the Toronto Islands, a chain of small islands leading into a marsh at their eastern end, with an opening at the western end. This formed a natural protected harbour, one that was defended with the construction of Fort York at the entrance on what was then a high point on the water's edge with a small river on the inland side (Garrison Creek). The town proper was formed closer to the eastern end of the harbour, near what is now Parliament Street.

Governor Simcoe was concerned with opening military communications between the settlements in the southwest of Upper Canada (notably Newark), and those to the east (Kingston, then points east to the border with Lower Canada). Dundas Street was the western route, leading to the town of the same name near Hamilton, but then continued west instead of southeast towards Niagara, and today it ends near the US border at Windsor. Kingston Road today forms the basis of the major Toronto-Montreal route. A third route, Yonge Street, was opened northward to Lake Toronto (later renamed Lake Simcoe) and cut in three years. Yonge Street now forms the dividing line between east and west in Toronto, and is sometimes called "the longest street in the world" as it snakes its way for 1,896 kilometers to Rainy River, on the Minnesota border.

In 1813, as part of the War of 1812, York was attacked and partially burned. It was in retaliation for this that British forces attacked Washington, DC, the next year. Fort York was lightly manned at the time, and realizing that a defence was impossible, the troops retreated and set fire to the magazine. It exploded as the US forces were entering the fort, and many US soldiers were killed in the explosion. After the US forces left a new and much stronger fort was constructed several hundred yards to the west of the original position. Another American attack in 1814 was defeated with ease, the landing force never being able to approach the shoreline. (Due to landfill this newer fort now lies hundreds of meters inland and largely hidden behind the Gardiner Expressway.)

In 1834 the town reverted to the name Toronto to distinguish it from about a dozen other localities in the province (including the county in which Toronto was situated) and this was the name the city was incorporated under on March 6 of that year, with William Lyon Mackenzie as its first mayor. Toronto was the site of the key events of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837

The Irish potato famine of 18461849 brought a large numbers of Irish into the city. Protestant Irish immigrants were generally welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, and soon occupied important positions in buiness, education and politics. Indeed, the Orange Order would become a dominant force in Toronto society, so much so that the 1920s Toronto would would be called the "Belfast of Canada", and the order's influence would only diminish in the 1940s. [3] In contrast, Irish Catholics arriving in Toronto faced widespread intolerance and severe discrimination, both social and legislative. The Irish population essentially defined the Catholic population until 1890, when German and French Catholics were welcomed to the city by the Irish, and reduced the Irish proportion to %90. However, various powerful initiatives such as the foundation of St. Michael's College in 1852 (where Marshall McLuhan was to hold the chair of English until his death in 1980), three hospitals, and the most significant charitable organization in the city (The Society of St. Vincent de Paul ) by Irish Catholic groups strengthened the Irish identity, transforming the Irish presence in the city into one of influence and power. [4]


Toronto grew rapidly in the late 19th century, the population increasing from 30,000 in 1851 to 56,000 in 1871 and 181,000 in 1891. Modern amenities came to Toronto, including an extensive streetcar network in the city (still operational) plus long-distance railways and radial lines. One radial line ran mostly along Yonge Street for about 80 km to Lake Simcoe, and allowed daytrips to its beaches. At the time Toronto's own beaches were far too polluted to use, a side effect of dumping garbage directly in the lake. The Grand Trunk Railway and the Great Northern Railway joined in the building of the first Union Station in the downtown area.

In 1904 a large section of the downtown was destroyed in the 1904 Toronto fire, but it was quickly rebuilt.

As the city grew it became naturally bounded by the Humber River to the west, and the Don River to the east. Several smaller rivers and creeks in the downtown area were routed into culverts and sewers and the land filled in above them, including both Garrison Creek and Taddle Creek, the latter running through the University of Toronto. At the time they were being used as open sewers, and were becoming a serious health problem.

Bloor Viaduct
Bloor Viaduct
The Don has an especially deep ravine, cutting off the east at most points north of the lakeshore. This was addressed in 1919 with the construction of the Prince Edward Viaduct, better known today as the Bloor Street Viaduct, linking Bloor Street on the western side of the ravine with Danforth Avenue on the east. The designer, Edmund Burke, fought long and hard to have a lower deck added to the bridge for trains, a cost the city was not willing to provide for. Nevertheless he finally got his way, and thereby saved the city millions of dollars when the TTC subway started using the deck in 1966. The Prince Edward Viaduct represented a turning point in Toronto's history. Now linked to what were formerly separate towns, Toronto "filled out" in the first half of the 20th century, becoming a single larger city.


During the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century, the Irish immigrants who had followed the British to Toronto were followed by many other immigrant groups: first Italians, and Jews from various part of Eastern Europe; later Chinese, Russians, Poles, and many other eastern Europeans; and by the latter half of the 20th century immigrants and refugees from many other parts of the world. [5] The large numbers of immigrants helped Toronto's population swell to over one million by 1951, and double it again, to over two million, by 1971. [6]

Recent history

As the rural areas surrounding the city began to be transformed into suburbs during the postwar boom, the need for more coordination of city services became apparent. As a result, in 1953, the new Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto was created, and came into being on January 1, 1954, as a new regional level of government. It encompassed East York, Etobicoke, Forest Hill, Leaside, Long Branch, Mimico, New Toronto, North York, Scarborough, Swansea, Toronto, Weston, and York. These thirteen townships, villages and cities continued to exist and provide services, with the so-called "Metro" government gradually taking over services that crossed municipal boundaries, such as water supply, transit, and expressways.

On January 1, 1967, several of the smaller municipalities were amalgamated with larger ones, reducing their number to six. Forest Hill and Swansea became part of Toronto; Long Branch, Mimico, and New Toronto joined Etobicoke; Weston merged with York; and Leaside amalgamated with East York.

This arrangement lasted until 1998, when the regional level of government was abolished and the six municipalities (Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, East York, York, and Scarborough) were amalgamated into a single 'giant' municipality or "megacity". Many people criticized this change, which came on top of a massive "downloading" of provincial services to the municipal level, with little to no new revenue available. The overwhelming majority of the citizens of Toronto opposed amalgamation, as proven by a referendum in that year. However, the Province of Ontario under Premier Mike Harris had the power to ignore this referendum, and did so. Mel Lastman, the long-time mayor of North York before the amalgamation, was the first mayor of the new "megacity" of Toronto.

At this point the definition of Toronto itself came into some doubt. In the 2000 Toronto municipal elections, over 88% of those voting did so for a mayor that had discussed forming a new Province of Toronto - the second-place finisher Tooker Gomberg (8%) strongly favoured this move, while Mel Lastman (80%) also voiced his support. His statements were far more likely an attack on the provincial government, rather than a serious proposal, however, and after winning the election did nothing to advance this idea. The notion was also favoured by urban activist Jane Jacobs. In all probability such a separation is legally difficult or impossible - under the Canadian constitution the municipalities have no actual power; they are just permitted to make use of provincial authority.

This of course was one of the main problems that had concerned the activists - a few small groups, notably the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, advocated an extended campaign of property damage and resistance to Ontario's government. This led to Toronto's first large-scale riot in the summer of 2000 - a violent confrontation in front of the provincial legislature - as well as several smaller such events in 2001. When prominent federal politicians including Paul Martin and later Jack Layton (New Democratic Party of Canada leader and for 20 years a Toronto City Councillor) began promising a "new deal for cities", and large banks began issuing papers on it, the rhetoric in general became more muted and support for violent or radical solutions had faded. None of these deals have, however, been realized.

In 2001 Toronto lost the bid to Beijing in hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

In 2002 Toronto hosted the World Youth Day 2002 and the late Pope John Paul II. The municipal government's two largest unions, Locals 79 and 416 of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) went on strike a few weeks before the scheduled event, meaning that services such as libraries, day care, parks programs, and other important services were not available. Since city workers also pick up garbage and recycling, city parks were piled high with trash; some parks were designated official dump sites for the duration of the strike, while others were used as illegal dumps. The Ontario government tabled back-to-work legislation to end the strike, so the city was back to normal before World Youth Day started.

In 2003 Toronto was hit by the SARS epidemic. Although the disease was primarily confined to hospitals and health-care workers, tourism in Toronto significantly suffered because of media reports. To help recover the losses the city suffered in industries and tourism, the city held a "SARS Benefit Concert," colloquially called 'SARSStock,' featuring many famous bands such as Avril Lavigne, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who, Justin Timberlake, and headlined by The Rolling Stones. The concert attracted some 450,000 people, making it one of the largest concerts in history, second only to Woodstock in 1969 (which had 500,000 people). The city was also affected by the 2003 North America blackout. The results were chaotic, with the city grinding to a halt, the streets being deserted and power not being restored for more than 12 hours in many cases, and in some areas for three days.

In the 2003 Toronto election David Miller was elected to replace Mel Lastman as mayor, after running a successful campaign which included the promise to cancel a proposed fixed link to the Toronto Island Airport.

In 2004, Toronto balanced its budget for the first time in years. This came from a GST exemption for cities, modest property tax increases, and bailouts from higher level governments.

According to a United Nations report, Toronto has the second-highest proportion of immigrants in the world, after Miami, Florida. Almost half of Toronto's residents were born outside Canada. [7] The resulting cultural diversity is reflected in the numerous ethnic neighbourhoods of the city; and the proliferation of authentic shops and restaurants derived from cultures around the world makes the city one of the most exciting places in the world to visit. Moreover, the relative tranquility that mediates between such diverse populations is a testament to the tolerant character of Canadian society. 25% of Toronto's is South Asian, 25% Chinese, 20% African-Canadian and 30 per cent White or mixed race backgrounds.

City issues


Although crime (including violent crime) in Toronto has been steadily decreasing over the past decade, concern over gun and gang related crimes has come to the attention of the media. While Toronto's homicide rates are extremely low compared to many American cities (in 1999, Toronto had 1.3 homicides per 100,000 compared to Houston's 13.4, Chicago's 23.3, and Washington, DC's 45.5 [8]) and Toronto has lower crime rates than most cities in Canada, there are many calls to take action to prevent what is seen as a slide towards an increase in crime. American gang experts have been brought in and increased funding for programs in troubled neighbourhoods have been recently initiated.


Toronto is also struggling to come to grips with a growing homeless problem. Many programs and responsibilities have been recently downloaded to the city from provincial and federal government, with many arguing that the City must come up with new ways to raise revenue, to fund these new responsibilities.

Underfunding of public transit

Toronto has an extensive public transit system - the TTC - but transit advocates argue that the system has been grossly underfunded in recent years. Recently, higher level governments have indicated that they are prepared to fund the system further, so this situation may change.

The Toronto waterfront

For decades, the lack of development of the Toronto waterfront has been a major issue, as it is blighted by an elevated expressway (the Gardiner Expressway) that severs the city from the lake. The formerly industrial area is now largely vacant and awaiting redevelopment. In 2004 hundreds of thousands of dollars were sent by the province of Ontario to encourage further development. Currently a movie studio is being built on the site of the R.L. Hearn Power Plant.

Computer Leasing Inquiry

A dominant issue in Toronto's municipal politics in recent years has been the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry, which has been investigating allegations of impropriety involving computer contracts between the city and MFP Financial Services.


Another important issue is the city's garbage. Currently Toronto's trash is shipped to Michigan, but concerns with the border and opposition from residents in Michigan has promoted the need to look for alternate sites or expand the recycling program. Besides the blue box (plastic and metal) and grey box (paper) programs, the city has instituted a green bin program to recover compostable materials. Its use began in Scarborough and Etobicoke and has since been expanded to the rest of the city except the former City of North York, which will participate in 2005.


In March 2005, the provincial government unveiled the boundaries of a greenbelt around the Greater Toronto Area, a 7,200-square-kilometre area stretching from Niagara Falls to Peterborough. The greenbelt is designed to curb urban sprawl and to preserve valuable farmland surrounding the city. The decision remains controversial, as farmers and other critics say that the "development embargo" being placed on such lands forces down the value of farmland within the greenbelt, without providing just compensation to its owners. Many cities have implemented growth boundaries of some kind, including Ottawa, Portland, Oregon, Frankfurt, Germany, and London, England, as a method of restricting urban growth.

In the city

Overhead view of Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), with the roof closed, as seen from the CN Tower
Overhead view of Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), with the roof closed, as seen from the CN Tower


Perhaps Toronto's most famous landmark is the CN Tower, a steel/concrete transmission tower that, at 553 meters (1815 feet), is the tallest free-standing land structure in the world and the most famous landmark of the city. Directly beside it sits the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome), which was the world's first sporting arena to feature a fully retractable roof. It is currently home to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Argonauts.

The Air Canada Centre is the city's other sporting venue, which is the home of the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was originally built to replace the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens.

Toronto's City Hall is one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. Built to replace its predecessor — now known simply as Old City Hall — its modernist style still impresses today. Directly in front of City Hall is Nathan Phillips Square, a public space that frequently houses concerts, art displays, a weekly farmers' market, and other public events. It is also the site of a reflecting pool that, during the winter, becomes a popular skating rink. Dundas Square, nearby, is the city's newest and flashiest public square and is located across the street from the Eaton Centre, a large and popular shopping mall.

Queen's Park is a historic scenic park and public space that is also home to Ontario's Legislative Assembly.

Being one of Canada's cultural centres, the city is home to a world-renowned museum, the Royal Ontario Museum (frequently known as the "ROM"), and one of North America's largest art galleries, the Art Gallery of Ontario (known also as the "AGO").

Exhibition Place is the home of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), an annual event that takes place in August. Nearby Ontario Place is a popular amusement park on the waterfront.

The Toronto Islands form part of the largest car-free urban community in North America. Accessible by ferry, "the Islands" include a public park and a children's amusement park, Centreville. The Islands are also home to the Toronto City Centre Airport.

Casa Loma, a mock castle overlooking downtown Toronto, is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.

Other popular attractions include the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Leslie Street Spit, and the city's oldest cathedrals, the Roman Catholic St. Michael's Cathedral and the Anglican St. James' Cathedral, both on Church Street.

Performing arts

Toronto is home to a vibrant live theatre scene, where such companies as Soulpepper, the Canadian Stage, and Tarragon produce plays. As well, many Broadway theatrical hits originated in Toronto, such as Show Boat, Ragtime, and Tafelmusik, an internationally-known baroque orchestra and chamber choir.

Toronto is the third largest centre for English language theatre in the world, behind New York City and London. Venues for theatre include the Canon Theatre (formerly Pantages Theatre and Pantages Cinema), the Elgin Winter Garden and Theatre, the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Poor Alex Theatre, and the Harbourfront Centre.

Musical venues in Toronto include the Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York, Roy Thomson Hall, home to Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), and Massey Hall, the former home of the TSO and Canadian Opera Company.

The National Ballet of Canada is based in Toronto and performs at the Hummingbird Centre and formerly at the Walter Carsen Centre. It will move to the Four Seasons Centre in 2006.

As Canada's largest city and the main centre of its recording industry, Toronto is also home to many Canadian pop, rock, and hip hop artists. This includes both musicians native to Toronto and those who have moved to Toronto from other towns and cities. The live music scene in Toronto is centred primarily in the Queen Street West area, part of what is known as the Entertainment District, although not all of Toronto's music venues are in this neighbourhood. More established acts play at venues such as Lee's Palace, The Opera House, The Horseshoe Tavern, The Phoenix Concert Theatre, and Kool Haus (formerly known as the Warehouse).

Major concert tours by stars are usually booked into larger venues such as Air Canada Centre, Hummingbird Centre, and Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place.


Main article: List of neighbourhoods in Toronto

Toronto has over 200 neighbourhoods within its borders, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the "city of neighbourhoods."

Before 1998, Toronto was a much smaller municipality and formed part of Metropolitan Toronto. When the city amalgamated that year, Toronto grew to encompass the former municipalities of York, East York, North York, Etobicoke, and Scarborough. Each of these former municipalities still maintains, to a certain degree, their own distinct identities, and the names of these municipalities are still used by their residents. The municipality that existed as Toronto before the merger is sometimes called the "old" City of Toronto or the Central District.

The "old" city of Toronto is, by far, the most populous and dense part of the city. It is also the business centre of the city.

The "inner ring" suburbs of York and East York are older, predominantly middle-class areas, and are highly ethnically diverse. Much of the housing stock in these areas consists of old post-war single-family houses and high-rises.

The "outer ring" suburbs of Etobicoke, Scarborough, and North York are much more suburban in nature.

Toronto's "905" suburbs

Before 1993, the telephone area code 416 included the entire Golden Horseshoe region from Clarington to Niagara Falls, Ontario. The area code was then split, with Metropolitan Toronto (now Toronto) alone remaining in 416, while the rest of the area became 905. In informal usage in Toronto, "905" quickly began to be used as shorthand for the belt of suburbs and exurbs surrounding the city, but not for places like Niagara Falls or Hamilton. Toronto itself may similarly be referred to as "416". (Subsequently both area codes 416 and 905 were overlaid with new codes, 647 and 289 respectively, but popular usage has not been affected by this.)

The major "905" suburbs or exurbs surrounding Toronto are:

A simulated colour image of Toronto, taken by
A simulated colour image of Toronto, taken by Landsat 7


Peel Regional Municipality

Halton Regional Municipality


York Regional Municipality


Durham Regional Municipality

Note: Clarington, Oshawa and Whitby fall into the Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area and Burlington falls into the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area. However, all four of these 905 communities are viewed by the provincial government as part of the Greater Toronto Area, unlike Hamilton or Niagara Falls.

For more information on the suburbs of Toronto, see Greater Toronto Area.


Toronto is a centre of many industries in Canada. It is one of the centres of Canada's film industry, along with Vancouver, with many American-based movies and television productions. Toronto is the primary centre of theatre, art, and music in Canada, and the third largest for theatre in the world after New York City and London.

Toronto is also the business and financial capital for the country, containing the Toronto Stock Exchange, the fourth largest stock exchange in North America by value traded. The Toronto financial industry is based in Bay Street, Downtown Toronto . Toronto also has a large tourism industry.

A number of major corporations are based in the city, as prominent and diverse as the Hudson's Bay Company, TD Canada Trust, Celestica, Four Seasons Hotels , Rogers Communications, MDS Inc. and many others. Numerous other companies are based in the Greater Toronto Area outside of the city limits Nortel, IBM Canada, and Magna International.

Universities, colleges, and libraries

Toronto is home to a large number of public educational institutions, including the largest university in Canada, the University of Toronto, which has a student population of more than 60,000. The city is served by two other universities: York University in the North York area and Ryerson University downtown.

The city’s Royal Conservatory of Music and its associated Glenn Gould Professional School are internationally-recognized centres for musical training.

Toronto is also home to the highly respected Ontario College of Art and Design, the fourth-largest art school in North America.

In addition to these, Toronto also has an extensive system of community colleges, including Seneca College, Humber College, Centennial College, and George Brown College. Recently, Toronto's community colleges have begun either offering their own bachelor's degree programmes or operating joint degree programmes with neighbouring universities.

Toronto also has several private and independent schools, at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

The Toronto Public Library is among the largest public library systems in the world.



Toronto is served by intercity Amtrak and VIA Rail trains through Union Station, a grand neoclassical structure in the heart of the city's downtown. It is a major transportation hub, which is also served by the city's regional commuter train and bus service, GO Transit. GO trains and buses connect the city to the rest of the Greater Toronto Area.


See also: List of Toronto, Ontario roads

Although Toronto does not have as extensive a highway system as its American counterparts, there are a number of freeways that serve the city and the Greater Toronto Area. Forming part of Toronto's municipal expressway system, the Don Valley Parkway (or colloquially, the DVP) connects the city's eastern and northern suburbs to downtown, while the Gardiner Expressway (or colloquially, "the Gardiner") connects its western suburbs to the downtown core. Extending northward from the Don Valley Parkway is Highway 404, towards Markham, Richmond Hill, Aurora, and Newmarket. Extending westward from the Gardiner Expressway is the Queen Elizabeth Way, which heads towards Hamilton, Niagara, and Buffalo, New York.

Highway 401 (or simply, "the 401") acts as a by-pass of downtown Toronto, and is one of the most congested highways in North America. It connects to Highway 427 (an important connector highway, leading into downtown Toronto), Highway 400 (towards Barrie and Ontario's "cottage country"), Allen Road, and Highway 409 (a connector route to Pearson Airport).

Highway 407 does not operate within Toronto proper, but is a major highway in the Greater Toronto Area acting as a secondary by-pass around the northern end of Toronto. It is a toll road.

Public transportation

A TTC in downtown Toronto.
A TTC streetcar in downtown Toronto.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides subway, light rail, streetcar, and bus service which serves the City of Toronto, and parts of several neighbouring municipalities, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, and Mississauga. A number of suburban transit authorities provide bus service into Toronto, including York Region Transit and Mississauga Transit.


Toronto is served by two commercial aviation airports, the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ). One of the world's busiest airports, the Pearson Airport, located in neighbouring Mississauga, is owned and operated by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority . The airport has recently undergone a $4.4 billion (CDN) renovation and expansion project, which includes the construction of a larger, more modern terminal to replace two aging terminals. The Toronto City Centre Airport, formerly known as Toronto Island Airport, is located on the Toronto Islands and is primarily a short-haul airport, providing flights to Ottawa and Montreal.

The Hamilton International Airport (YHM) is an alternate, relief airport to Pearson. Situated in Hamilton, 85 km west of Toronto, it is also a terminus for low-cost carrier, charter airline, and courier traffic.

There are a number of general aviation airports in and around the city, including Buttonville Municipal Airport, Markham Airport, Oshawa Airport, Brampton Airport, and Burlington Airpark.

The Downsview Airport (YZD) is a decommissioned military airfield in the Downsview area. Although no longer active, it is still used by Bombardier to test flights of finished aircraft at its plant on the site. The Toronto Aerospace Museum [9] is also a tenant at the site.

Pickering Airport is a proposed facility in Pickering, east of Toronto, to ease congestion at Pearson Airport; it is still under consideration. Land for the airport was acquired in the 1970s, but strong local opposition forced the federal government to cancel the development plans in 1972. Many local residents still oppose the new plan, arguing that the area does not need a new airport and that it is a waste of resources.


The Breeze ferry service across Lake Ontario linking Toronto to Rochester, New York launched on June 17, 2004 but is currently suspended. Service is slated to resume in May of 2005.

Seaboard Flights operated a hydrofoil service between Toronto and the Niagara Region. The service has since ceased to operate.

Ferry services to Toronto Island is provided by Parks and Recreation to Hanlan's Point, Centre Island, and Ward's Island.

On north-south streets, street numbers increase as you move away from Lake Ontario, with even numbers being on the west side. On east-west streets, they increase as you move away from Yonge Street, with even numbers on the north.


Toronto's nicknames include:

  • T.O. (from Toronto, Ontario - pronounced Tee-Oh)
  • T-dot (short for "t-dot o-dot")
  • The Big Smoke (a nickname it shares with many other cities)
  • Hogtown (perhaps referring to Hogg's Hollow, or to the city's growing livestock trading and farmers' markets during the 19th century, or to the city's capitalist reputation)
  • Methodist Rome (late nineteenth and early twentieth century)
  • Toronto the Good (from its history as a bastion of Victorian morality from the nineteenth century through the 1950s)
  • Hollywood North (a nickname it shares with Vancouver)
  • Queen City
  • Muddy York
  • The 4-1-6
  • New York North
  • Centre of the Universe (a nickname used by Canadians who live far from Toronto, especially in the West, in reference to it being so large)

Pronunciation of "Toronto"

The stress is on the second syllable.

Locals sometimes pronounce the city's name as "Toronno" or "Trono", "Toranna", "Taranna", "Chrono", "Chranna" or even "Terawhnna" (). However, this is merely a reflection of the varieties of Canadian pronunciation and does not represent a unique pronunciation for the city name itself.

For instance, many Canadians pronounce the number "ninety nine" as something between "9-D-9" and "9-E-9", whereas many Britons or East Indians will distinctly pronounce "9-T-9". Thus while it is natural that many Canadians will say "Toronno", speakers whose dialects pronounce the "T" distinctly in words like "ninety nine" should do likewise when pronouncing "Toronto". In each case, the speaker merely pronounces "Toronto" in the way that is most natural in his or her dialect.

Even for Canadian speakers it is never outright incorrect to pronounce distinctly the second t in Toronto, and some local people do so. However, pronouncing it "Tor-on-toe" (with equal stress on each syllable) in casual speech is usually seen as a sign of someone who is not a native of the city.

Local media

Main article: List of media outlets in Toronto

Toronto has a wide range of media outlets in many languages and is the centre of Canada's English language media industry.

See also

External links

North: Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill
West: Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto Pearson International Airport Toronto, Toronto City Centre Airport East: Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa
South: Lake Ontario

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