views updated Jun 11 2018


Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America

Founded: 1720; Incorporated: 1834
Location: Northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Ontario, Canada, North America
Flag: Blue field with white "T" design and red maple leaf.
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: more than 80 ethnic groups from Africa, Asia, and Europe
Elevation: 194 m (636 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 43°40'N, 79°22'W
Climate: Continental climate moderated by Lake Ontario, with cold, damp winters, sunny springs, warm summers with some very hot days, and crisp autumns
Annual Mean Temperature: January-4°C (24°F); July 21.7°C (71°F).
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 141 cm (55.5 in)
Average Annual Rainfall: 64 cm (25 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: Canadian dollars (Can$)
Telephone Area Codes: 416, 905 (647 to be added in March 2001)
Postal Codes: Range of postal codes beginning with M5

1. Introduction

Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto is a city that has undergone a major transformation in the second half of the twentieth century, evolving from a staid, conservative, largely Anglo-Saxon enclave to a dynamic, multiethnic metropolis that is one of North America's major cities. Throughout, it has retained an enviable degree of livability, boasting safe streets and a clean, efficient subway system amid restored Victorian houses and a renovated waterfront. Toronto's leaders have worked successfully to protect the city's heritage and its residents' quality of life from the effects of unrestrained development, even as Toronto has continued to grow into a major financial and cultural center.

2. Getting There

Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, is located on the northwestern short of Lake Ontario. Although it is a Canadian city, it is located further south than many points in the United States, including much of New England and the northern Midwest, and is highly accessible by both Canadians and Americans.


Toronto is accessible by several major highways running parallel to the Lake Ontario shore: Highways 401 and 402 enter Toronto from both the east and west, and the Queen Elizabeth Way enters the city from the west. Highway 400 enters the city from the north and connects with Highway 401.

Bus and Railroad Service

Toronto is on a number of major bus routes covered by both regional and national bus lines. Its bus terminal, located at 610 Bay Street, is the site of arrivals and departures to and from points in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, and the United States. Canada's nationwide VIA Rail System provides service between Ontario and points throughout Canada. Service to the United States is provided through connections with Amtrak in Niagara Falls (on the U.S. side).


Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, located in the northwest part of Greater Toronto, serves major domestic and international airlines, including Air Canada, Canadian Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, USAir, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Korean Airlines, and others. In 1997, the airport handled 26.1 million passengers, of which nearly half were from Canada and almost one-third from the United States. Toronto can be reached within a 90-minute flight by about 60 percent of the U.S. population.

The Toronto City Centre Airport, located on an island in Toronto Harbour, handles scheduled, private, and corporate flights.


Toronto is one of the major port cities of the Great Lakes region. About 1.8 million metric tons (two million tons) of cargo move through its port annually.

Toronto Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 653,734
Area: 95.8 sq km (37 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: More than 80 ethnic groups from Africa, Asia, and Europe
Nicknames: Toronto the Good

Metropolitan Area

Population: 4,657,000
Description: Toronto, Etobicoke, York, North York, Scarborough, and East York
Area: 634 sq km (245 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 49
Percentage of national population 2: 15.2%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.5%
Ethnic composition: More than 80 ethnic groups from Africa, Asia, and Europe
Nicknames: Metro Toronto

  1. The Toronto metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Canada's total population living in the Toronto metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

The major streets of Greater Toronto are arranged in a north-south and east-west grid pattern. At approximately 1,800 kilometers (1,200 miles), Yonge Street, the city's main north-south thoroughfare, is the world's longest street. The main east-west street is Bloor Street. Toronto also has an extensive network of underground walkways connecting its major public buildings and shopping facilities.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Toronto Transit Commission operates bus, subway, rapid transit, and streetcar lines covering a total of almost 4,000 kilometers (2,486 miles). The main lines of Toronto's clean, efficient, U-shaped subway system are Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University-Spadina.


Double-decker bus tours of Toronto's major sites are available between the spring and autumn months. Also offered are one-hour boat tours of the city's port and its islands in Lake Ontario, as well as cruises on the 29-meter (96-foot) schooner The Challenge. Walking and bicycling tours of various Toronto neighborhoods are also available, as are helicopter tours featuring an aerial view of the city.

4. People

Having recently expanded to include the municipalities of North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, York, and East York, Metropolitan Toronto now has a population of some 4.2 million people, while the central city has over half a million. Known for its ethnic diversity, Toronto's population includes more than 80 different ethnic groups; about 100 different languages are spoken in the city. In the course of its history, Toronto has absorbed 350,000 Chinese immigrants, 400,000 Italians, 127,000 Greeks, and significant numbers of West Indians, Latin Americans, Indians, Sri Lankans, and Koreans. Nearly two-thirds of those who reside in Greater Toronto were born and raised elsewhere. The metropolitan area population includes the most extensive Portuguese population in North America, the largest Chinese population in eastern Canada, a half million Italians, and many other groups.

5. Neighborhoods

Toronto's financial district, home to the city's major banks and insurance companies, is bordered by Front Street, Queen Street, Yonge Street, and York Street. The King Street West theater district between Front and Queen streets contains a heavy concentration of cultural facilities, including the Royal Alexander Theatre, Roy Thomson Hall, the Canadian Broadcasting Company building, the city's convention center, and the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Chinatown is bounded by Dundas Street, University Avenue, Spadina Avenue, and College Street. Toronto's Little Italy, with its colorful coffee bars and trattorias, is located along College Street between Euclid and Shaw. The area from College Park to Bloor Street, between Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street is home to many of the University of Toronto Buildings and the Ontario Legislature.

To the east of Parliament Street and between Bloor and Gerrard streets is an area traditionally known as Cabbagetown because of the cabbages planted on the lawns of the nineteenth-century Irish immigrants who were its original settlers. Having undergone gentrification, today it is an upscale urban enclave.

The Yorkville area northwest of the intersection of Bloor and Yonge streets became a haven for the counterculture beginning in the 1960s; today it is a high-rent district boasting an array of fashionable galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

Residential neighborhoods include the Annex, between Bloor and Bernard streets; the exclusive Rosedale area; Forest Hill; the Beaches, formerly a summer resort; East End/Danforth, a heavily Greek enclave; and the popular redeveloped North York neighborhood.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area14,657,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was founded1720AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$129$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$60$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$15$14$15$16
Total daily costs$204$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city4132011
Largest newspaperThe Toronto StarAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper460,6541,159,450754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1892194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

6. History

The first known European to set foot in the area of present-day Toronto was a Frenchman, Étienne Brulé (c. 15921633), in 1615. The plain between the Don and Humber rivers had been traversed for hundreds of years by hunters and warriors of native groups including the Hurons, Iroquois, Ottawas, and Mississaugas. The French established a trading post at the site in 1720 and a settlement, Fort Rouille, in 1751. Twelve years later, French rule of Canada was ended by the Treaty of Paris, and the entire territory came under British control. In 1793 the British built the settlement that was to become Toronto. Called York, it became the capital of the British province of Upper Canada. Present-day Toronto's main street, Yonge Street, was laid out in 1796.

During the War of 1812, the British captured the town and burned its parliament buildings. (The British retaliated by attacking the fledging U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., and burning the president's residence, which received its present namethe White Houseafter being whitewashed to hide its charred exterior.) But the town rebuilt and continued to grow, aided by growing immigration and the extension of the Erie Canal to Lake Ontario. In 1834 it was officially incorporated as the city of Toronto. The following decades saw a dramatic improvement in the city's infrastructureincluding water works, gas lines, and, by 1884, electricity, as well as the coming of the railroad. Toronto became a major trade center for lumber and grain, and its first financial institutions were established. With Canadian independence from Britain in 1867, the city became the capital of the new province of Ontario.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Toronto's population grew rapidly, reaching 181,000 by 1891. The city became a major business center, with large fortunes amassed by a number of self-made entrepreneurs, including Timothy Eaton (18341907) and Robert Simpson, who laid the groundwork for retail empires that were to flourish in the twentieth century as well. With new wealth came the establishment of cultural institutions such as the Toronto Philharmonic Society and others. As the new century opened, the city flourished economically, attracting a new wave of immigrants from Russia, Italy, and Eastern Europe and also experiencing some of the social problems that came with increased industrialization.

Thousands of Canadians fought in both world wars, and the domestic economy expanded to meet wartime production needs. After World War II (193945), suburban expansion became a major social and economic phenomenon, much as it did in the cities in the United States. The Metro Council, established in 1953, allowed representatives of both the city and its suburbs to unite in working for the development of the metropolitan area; expanded highways and the creation of a subway system were important factors in this development. The post-war years also changed Toronto's ethnic and racial makeup dramatically, and ethnic enclaves multiplied in a city whose population had been primarily Anglo-Saxon. Restrictions were eased on immigration from China, Eastern Europe, and Italy and additional immigrants arrived from Latin America, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. By 1961, 42 percent of Toronto's population was foreign-born.

Urban renewal was sparked in the 1960s as area residents began moving from the suburbs back to the city, and the Yorkville area temporarily became a counterculture mecca. By the 1970s Toronto surpassed Montreal as Canada's top financial center. It boasted the largest number of corporate headquarters in the country, as well as its major stock exchange and the capital of its publishing industry. A growing number of skyscrapers changed city's skyline, and waterfront commercial development was begun with the development of Harbourfront. Some of the city's top attractions, including the zoo, the Ontario Science Centre, and Ontario Place, were also built during this period.

Since then Toronto has continued to grow into a major business and cultural center, becoming home to one of North America's leading theater districts as well as the world's first sports stadium with a fully retractable roof, the Skydome, completed in 1989. The 1990s have seen the expansion of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the construction of a new National Trade Center and sports arena, and a major renovation of the Royal Ontario Museum. In 1998 a major government reorganization took place, uniting six municipalities into an expanded City of Toronto.

7. Government

In January 1998 the City of Toronto was enlarged to include four neighboring cities (Etobicoke, North York, York, and Scarborough) and the borough of East York. The new city has a mayor-council form of government, with both the mayor and council members elected to three-year terms, representing 28 wards.

8. Public Safety

Toronto is known as one of the safest major cities in North America. Its subways are clean and safe and even have special camera-monitored safety areas. Criminal law in Toronto is determined by Canada's federal government and is the same throughout the country, as opposed to civil law, which varies from one province to another. The Metro area is protected by a police force of approximately 5,000, supplemented by a unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which enforces federal laws, such as those involving drug smuggling and tax evasion. The Ontario Provincial Police patrol the highways that ring the city. Uniformed police officers wear guns although gun use by the police is extremely rare.

9. Economy

Toronto is the economic heart of Canada. It is home to over 80,000 businesses, including more than one-third of the country's top 500 industrial firms. With over 8,000 industrial plants, Toronto is Canada's manufacturing capital. It is also Canada's major center for banking and finance. Five of the country's ten chartered banks are headquartered in the city, and more than 40 foreign banks have offices there. In addition, many of the nation's top insurance and investment firms also have offices in Toronto. Like New Yorkits economic counterpart in the United StatesToronto is also the major media and communications center of its country, as well as its major metropolitan retail market. Major companies with offices in Toronto include American Express Canada, the Bank of Montreal, Bell Canada, Eaton's, Famous Players, Hewlett-Packard Canada, IBM Canada, Labatt Breweries, Molson Breweries, Sears Canada, Sprint Canada, and Toronto Dominion Bank.

10. Environment

The forests of southern Ontario, within easy access of Toronto, are rich in flora and home to abundant wildlife, including many bird species and large mammals, such as moose, deer, and bear. Gulls, ducks, and Canada geese inhabit the shores of Lake Ontario, and the abundant marshes and pools of southern Ontario are home to many wetland species, including herons, woodcock, teal, wood duck, kingfishers, and ospreys, plus a variety of amphibians and such mammals as the muskrat.

The Ontario Environmental Network serves as a referral service for some 500 environmental groups of all kinds in the province of Ontario.

11. Shopping

Downtown Toronto is the third-largest retail center in North America, surpassed only by New York and Chicagoit has 929,000 square meters (ten million square feet) of retail space and some 4,500 stores. Its major department stores are Eaton's and the Hudson's Bay Company (formerly Simpson's). The major downtown shopping venues are the trendy Bloor/Yorkville area, Queen Street West for bookstores, antiques, and boutiques, and several malls. The Eaton Centre on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto is a mammoth, four-level mall complex with a glass-domed galleria and more than 360 shops and restaurants. Other downtown malls include the smaller College Park Shops, the upscale Hazelton Lanes, Royal Bank Plaza, and Queen's Quay Terminal, located in a converted waterfront warehouse. Large shopping centers in the metropolitan area include the Yorkdale Shopping Center, Scarborough Town Centre, and Dufferin Mall.

Toronto is known particularly for its retail selection of Canadian arts and crafts. The city has two major outdoor produce markets: Kensington Market and the St. Lawrence Market.

12. Education

Toronto's public school system operates more than 500 elementary and secondary schools, which have an enrollment of approximately 280,000 students. About one-third as many students attend parochial and private schools.

With an enrollment of over 50,000, the University of Toronto is the largest university in Canada. Ranked Canada's top research university by Maclean's magazine, the University of Toronto is also known for the quality of the liberal arts education it provides to its graduates. With nine colleges, the university offers 300 undergraduate, 148 master's, and 95 doctoral programs. Other colleges and universities include the National Ballet School, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, Ontario College of Art, and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

13. Health Care

With more than 50 hospitals, and some 130,000 people employed in the health care industry, Toronto is Canada's major health care center.

With a total of approximately 1,000 beds, the University Health Network (formerly The Toronto Hospital) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching organizations and the primary teaching hospital for the University of Toronto. The network consists of three separate hospitals (Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, and Princess Margaret Hospital) and Toronto Medical Laboratories.

In fiscal year 199899, University Health Network logged 38,853 admissions (of adult patients), 559,269 ambulatory visits, 66,730 emergency visits, and 16,587 surgeries.

Mount Sinai Hospital, also affiliated with the University of Toronto Medical School, is another Toronto hospital that is highly regarded throughout Canada. The 388-bed hospital is recognized in particular for the quality of its nursing care. In 199798 Mount Sinai admitted 18,174 patients and recorded 3,925 births, 28,224 emergency visits, and 518,897 ambulatory care visits. During the same period, the hospital employed a full-time staff of 1,299.

Another prestigious Toronto medical facility is the Hospital for Sick Children, which has an international reputation for clinical care and research. The hospital has been the site of many pioneering discoveries and procedures in recent decades, including the first bone marrow transplant program and major research in the area of hereditary diseases. Other hospitals in Greater Toronto include Centenary Hospital, Central Hospital, The Doctors' Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queensway General Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Rehabilitation Centre, and West Park Hospital. Toronto is also the home of Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, and the Eye Bank.

14. Media

In addition to the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, two other major dailies are published in Torontothe Toronto Star (weekday circulation 460,654; Sundays 469,811) and the Toronto Sun (weekdays 240,164; Sundays 403,316). Also published in the city are The Financial Post, a business newspaper, and hundreds of other business publications of all kinds. Toronto also houses the corporate headquarters of Thomson Publishing, one of the world's largest book publishers. Major magazine publishers Maclean Hunter and Southam Business Communications are also located in the city.

Toronto has seven television stations and 24 am and FM radio stations.

15. Sports

Toronto residents are avid sports fans, and professional sporting events are usually sold out months in advance. Hockey is played by the Maple Leafs at the new Air Canada Centre, which is also home to the Raptors of the National Basketball Association. The Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum is located in downtown Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, which won the 1992 and 1993 World Series, plays home games in the Skydome, an outdoor stadium with a retractable roof. The Argonauts of the Canadian Football League also play in the Skydome; in 1996 the Argonauts won the sport's prestigious Grey Cup national championship.

Thoroughbred racing takes place at Woodbine Racetrack. Toronto also hosts several annual spectator sports events: the Molson Indy auto race, a canoeing and rowing regatta on Long Pond, both in July, and the Player's International Canadian Open tennis championship tournament every summer.

16. Parks and Recreation

Toronto's extensive park system offers tennis courts, swimming pools, playing fields, and ice-skating rinks. The 178-hectare (440-acre) High Park in the city's West End includes Grenadier Pond (actually a large lake), a swimming pool, a modest-sized zoo, playing fields, tennis courts, bowling greens, and extensive open areas for picnicking, baseball, and other activities. Toronto is also home to two public gardens: the Allan Gardens between Jarvis, Sherbourne, Dundas, and Gerrard streets and the Edwards Garden (Lawrence Avenue at Leslie Street), a formal garden with a creek running through it. Almost directly across Lake Ontario is Niagara Falls, one of North America's most spectacular natural wonders (and major tourist sites), and some 322 kilometers (200 miles) north of the city lie the 7,700 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) of wilderness lands that make up Algonquin Provincial Park.

Toronto has an exceptional zoothe Metropolitan Zoo (or Metro Toronto Zoo), located in Scarborough. Uncaged animals roam over 287 hectares (710 acres) that have been transformed into settings resembling their natural habitats, including African savannah, Malaysian rainforests, and Western prairies. A monorail and Zoo-mobile, as well as some ten kilometers (six miles) of walkways, help visitors traverse the zoo's vast expanse, which also includes a large botanical collection.

Toronto provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including water sports on Lake Ontario. There are bicycle trails in park areas, and bicyclers can also be seentogether with walkers, runners, and in-line skaterson the city streets and at the lakefront during the warm-weather seasons. Tobogganing and cross-country skiing are popular during the winter months; Nathan Phillips Square and Harbourfront are popular ice-skating venues. The Kortright Centre for Conservation offers naturalist-guided hiking and other activities.

17. Performing Arts

Toronto is widely known for the abundance and variety of its performing arts scene. In particular, it is one of the English-speaking world's major theater venues, surpassed only by New York and London. Its major performing arts centers include the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, venues for all types of theatrical and music performances and extensively renovated in the 1980s. Broadway musicals are seen at the restored Pantages Theatre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, and the Princess of Wales Theatre.

The city's theater companies include the Canadian Stage Company, which performs at the St. Lawrence Centre and gives free outdoor Shakespeare performances in the summer; the Factory Theatre and Tarragon Theatre, known for their productions of works by Canadian playwrights; Young People's Theatre, which is dedicated to presenting theatrical works for children; Theatre Passe Muraille, a leading alternative theater; Buddies in Bad Times, a gay theater whose plays deal with issues of gender and identity; and the Native Earth Performing Arts Theatre, whose productions address issues of importance to Native Canadians. Toronto is also famous as a center for live comedy; many major comedic talentsboth Canadian and Americanwho went on to success in the United States honed their skills at Second City Toronto and in comedy clubs such as Yuk Yuk's.

The Toronto Symphony performs in Roy Thomson Hall, with the Mendelssohn Choir participating in programs that include choral works. In the summer, the orchestra performs outdoors at Ontario Place at the lakeshore. The Canadian Opera performs at the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts. Toronto's other musical groups include the Orford String Quartet, Tafelmusik, and the Elmer Isler Singers. Many types of popular music are heard in clubs and concerts, many held at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Toronto is the home of Canada's premier dance troupe, the National Ballet of Canada, founded nearly 50 years ago. The company performs both ballet classics and modern works at the O'Keefe Theatre in Toronto and also tours throughout Canada and the United States. Toronto's leading contemporary dance ensemble is the Toronto Dance Theatre, which performs at the Premiere Dance Theatre.

18. Libraries and Museums

Founded in 1883, the Toronto Public Library System serves a population of 2,300,000. The library's book holdings total 9,132,159 volumes. The library system has an annual circulation of more than 28,376,411 items. Special collections include Canadiana, the Arthur Conan Doyle Room, Native People Collection, Puppetry, and Urban Affairs. The University of Toronto Library System holds more than eight-and-a-half million volumes and subscribes to more than 40,000 electronic journals. Subject of its special collections include English Literature, Australiana, History of Science and Medicine, and Canadian and Provincial Documents.

With art, archaeology, and science collections containing more than six million items, the Royal Ontario Museum, known locally as ROM, is Canada's largest museum. It is particularly renowned for its extensive Chinese collection, which includes over 1,000 artifacts. Other notable features of the museum are the textile collection, the display of early Canadian decorative arts, the Roman Gallery, and exhibits featuring the cultures of Native Canadians. Children enjoy the museum's Bat Cave and Dinosaur Gallery. The Art Gallery of Toronto exhibits all types of artworks from the Middle Ages through the twentieth century. The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is the only museum in North America devoted exclusively to ceramics and includes both European and pre-Columbian collections. The McMichael Collection, located north of the city in Kleinburg, displays works by a group of famous Canadian landscape painters in a picturesque woodland setting. The Ontario Science Centre contains a large and varied selection of exhibits, many of them interactive.

In addition to its art and science museums, Toronto is also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum and collections featuring history and design, as well as such unusual categories as telephones, sugar, and shoes.

19. Tourism

According to Tourism Toronto, visitors made an estimated 20.2 million trips to Toronto in 199744 percent from elsewhere in Ontario, 14 percent from Canada's other provinces, 27 percent from the United States, and the rest from overseas. Of these visitors, 37 percent came for pleasure trips, 32 percent were visiting friends or family, 23 percent came on business trips, including conventions, and the remainder were unclassified. Total direct visitor expenditures in 1997 totaled Can$4.96 billion. The city's 32,250 hotel rooms had a 72 percent occupancy rate.

Toronto's major convention and exhibit facilities include the National Trade Centre (101 square meters/1,086 square feet of marketing and exhibit space), Toronto Congress Centre (46 square meters/500 square feet), International Centre (43 square meters/468 square feet), and Metro Toronto Convention Centre (43 square meters/460 square feet). In 1997, 911 meetings, conventions, and trade shows were held in the city, with an economic impact of Can$1.086 billion.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Stages Celebration

Winter Carnival

International Home & Garden Show
Milk International Children's Festival of the Arts
Toronto St. Patrick's Parade

Images Festival of Independent Film and Video

Music Hall at Snug Harbor

Big City Hoedown 8
Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Gay Pride Week
International Dragon Boat Race Festival
Medieval Renaissance Festival
Metro International Caravan
North by Northeast Music Festival
Toronto Lion Dance Festival

Benson & Hedges Symphony of Fire Fireworks Competition

International Marketplace

Wednesday's Soundsational Concert Series

Beaches International Jazz
Festival Fringe of Toronto Festival
CHIN (Canadian Heritage Information Network)
Picnic International & Shopping Bazaar
Outdoor Art Exhibition
Scream in High Parka Carnival of the Spoken Word
Toronto Harbour Parade of Lights
Toronto Molson Indy

Caribana Festival

Great Canadian Volkswagen Bug Show
Hot & Spicy Food Festival
Taste of the Danforth

Canadian National Exhibition

Bell Canadian Open
Canadian International Air Show
Country Harvest Festival
Hunting & Outdoors Show
Italian Celebration
Ontario Place Offshore Challenge
Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival
Toronto Fall Gift Show
Toronto International Film Festival
Vegetarian Food Fair


Canadian International Marathon
Creative Sewing & Needlework Festival
Fall Classic Collector Car Auction & Swap Meet
International Creators Art & Craft Show
International Festival of Authors
International Home Show
Toronto Fall Home Show

Mennonite Christmas Festival
Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
Santa Claus Parade

Christmas in the Village
Country Christmas at Gibson House Museum
One of a Kind Christmas Canadian Craft Show & Sale

Cavalcade of Lights
Trees Around the World

First Night Toronto
International Christmas Fair & Marketplace
Toronto Christmas Story

Victorian Christmas Flower Show

21. Famous Citizens

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939), novelist and poet.

Robertson Davies (b. 1913), one of Canada's most popular and acclaimed novelists.

Glenn Gould (193282), pianist.

Paul Kane (181071), nineteenth-century artist and explorer.

William Lyon Mackenzie (17951861), Toronto's first mayor.

Marshall McLuhan (191180), culture critic and media theorist.

Charles G. D. Roberts (18601943), poet and author of animal stories.

Goldwin Smith (18231910), author.

22. For Further Study


Toronto City Guide. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Toronto City Net. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Toronto Info Guide. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

Mayor's Office
55 John St. Metro Hall, 7th Fl.
Toronto, ON M5V3C6
(416) 395-6464

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON M5H2N1 (416) 392-7341

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Metropolitan Toronto Convention &
Visitors Association
207 Queen's Quay W
Toronto, ON M5J1A7
(416) 203-6753

Metro Toronto Convention Centre
255 Front St. W
Toronto, ON M5V2W6
(416) 585-8000


Financial Post
333 King St. E
Toronto, ON M5A4N2

The Globe and Mail
444 Front St. W
Toronto, ON M5V2S9

Toronto Star
1 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON M5E1E6

Toronto Sun
333 King St. E
Toronto, ON M5A3X5


Arthur, Eric Ross. Toronto, No Mean City. 3rd ed. Rev. by Stephen A. Otto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

Dendy, William. Lost Toronto: Images of the City's Past. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.

Filey, Mike. Discover & Explore Toronto's Water-front: A Walker's, Jogger's, Cyclist's, Boater's Guide to Toronto's Lakeside Sites and History. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1998.

Fulford, Robert. Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Fulford, Robert, and Megan Oldfield. Toronto Tapestry. Sponsored by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto. Memphis, TN: Towery Pub., 1997.

Holloway, Anne. Toronto with Kids: The Complete Family Travel Guide to Attractions, Sites, and Events in Toronto. Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1995.

Kilbourn, William. Toronto Remembered: A Celebration of the City. Toronto: Stoddart, 1984.

Kluckner, Michael. Toronto the Way It Was. Toronto: Whitecap Books, 1988.

Martyn, Lucy Booth. Toronto, 100 Years of Grandeur: The Inside Stories of Toronto's Great Homes and the People Who Lived There. Toronto: Pagurian Press, 1978.

Mitchell, Scott. Secret Toronto: The Unique Guidebook to Toronto's Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes. Toronto: ECW Press, 1998.


views updated May 18 2018


TORONTO , city in Canada, with a population of approximately 2.5 million people; located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The city is the capital of the province of Ontario and at the heart of a larger urban expanse officially known as the Greater Toronto Area (gta), home to an additional 2.7 million people. Toronto is also one of the largest Jewish Diaspora centers. In 2001 there were approximately 114,000 Jews in the city of Toronto and another 65,000 in the surrounding gta municipalities. That population continues to grow.


Many of Toronto's Jews remain clustered along what is likely the longest Jewish neighborhood in the Diaspora. It begins downtown and extends up either side of one street, Bathurst Street, for about 15 miles (24 km.). While there are no fixed boundaries along this lengthy north/south artery, it is possible to divide the Toronto Jewish community into a landscape of three connected neighborhoods.

The downtown and most southerly neighborhood is the oldest. Toronto, originally named York, was founded as a British garrison town on Lake Ontario in the late 18th century. As surrounding agricultural settlement gradually expanded, so did the town, which served as a local market and commercial center. By the late 1840s and early 1850s Toronto was home to a small number of Jews, mostly merchants active in the jewelry, clothing, and dry goods business. Many of these Jews were originally from England or Germany and retained close economic and kinship ties to Jewish merchant families in Montreal, New York, or London. As Toronto continued to grow, Jewish-owned enterprises successfully expanded to include financial services, land speculation, and manufacturing.

While few in number and generally well integrated into the larger community, the tiny Toronto Jewish community came together to found a burial society and organize High Holiday services. Confident that their numbers would gradually grow, in 1856 a group of 18 men founded Toronto's Holy Blossom Congregation. For the next decade and a half, there was slow but steady growth in the community. In the early 1880s the Toronto Jewish community stood just short of 600 members. They were not ready for the explosion in Jewish population numbers that came with the great westward migration of Jews out of Russian Poland, Lithuania, and the Ukraine that began in the early 1880s. As this migration reached Toronto the city's Jewish population expanded by more than 200 percent to almost 1,400 Jews in 1891. During the next 20 years it grew by more than one thousand percent to exceed 18,000 in 1911. In the next ten years the size of the Jewish community of Toronto doubled yet again.

The small and generally well-integrated older Jewish community offered the new immigrants what assistance it could, but it was soon overwhelmed by so many new arrivals who were so different from themselves. In turn, the new arrivals, Yiddish-speaking and largely working-class, often felt at a distance from the prosperous and largely English-speaking Jews they found in Toronto. Many of the recent immigrants first clustered in poorer inner-city neighborhoods where they found employment in the growing garment industry or struggled to make a living as peddlers and petty merchants. They built an institutional infrastructure that echoed the East European world from which they had recently arrived. Synagogues and Landsmannschaften were established, often tied to country or region of origin. Secular organizations of many different political stripes, left and right, Zionist and non-Zionist, also took root.

Even as Jewish immigrants to Toronto and their children struggled to secure an economic foothold for themselves in this new urban world while tenaciously holding onto their identities as Jews, they were subject to assimilationist pressures from Toronto's urban gatekeepers – school teachers, Protestant missionaries, social workers, and politicians – all preaching a vision of Toronto as an orderly outpost of British values in North America and believing it their duty to remake these "foreigners" in their own image. Some, tinged with antisemitism and fearing that Jews could not or would not assimilate, began to pressure the government for severe restrictions on immigration. As the anti-immigrant movement grew through the mid-1920s, the government responded with tough immigration barriers. Even though these regulations cut off the flow of East European immigration into Canada, antisemitism in housing, in the workplace, and in areas of social contact continued. Tensions exploded in the 1933 Christie Pits riot, where Jewish and Italian youths fought anti-immigrant gangs who had been harassing Jews.

World War ii was a watershed in Toronto Jewish life. The outbreak of war in 1939 brought not only distress to the heavily Polish-Jewish population of Toronto fearful for the fate of family still in Poland, it also brought a return of economic growth, full employment, and a sense of shared contribution to the national cause. With many Canadian Jews serving with the military and contributing on the home front, Jews were increasingly unwilling to tolerate further anti-Jewish discrimination. Even as the organized Toronto Jewish community, led by the Canadian Jewish Congress, organized in support of the war effort it also began a campaign to combat antisemitism and to lobby for legally enforced human rights protections. In part as a result of this effort, in 1944 Ontario passed the first human rights legislation in Canada, barring discrimination on the basis of race or religion. In 1962 the Ontario Human Rights Code was proclaimed and the Ontario Human Rights Commission established to ensure the Code was followed. Changing attitudes can be seen in the election, back-to-back, of two Jewish mayors, Nathan *Phillips (1955–62) and Philip *Givens (1962–66). Givens, at the time he was mayor, was also president of the Canadian Zionist Federation.

In addition to a growing spirit of openness, Toronto also emerged from the war a prosperous center of commerce and industry. Continuing demand for labor in and around Toronto drew migrants from within Canada and quickly forced a reopening of immigration. Toronto continued to thrive through the rest of the 20th century. Manufacturing declined, but the government and service sectors expanded. The city grew through large-scale suburban expansion. Like most North American Jews, Toronto Jews left crowded, aging housing downtown for the second of Toronto's Jewish neighborhoods, the near suburbs – now considered the central region of Jewish Toronto – above the core along Bathurst St. The near suburbs developed as an uptown version of the dense Jewish community that had been downtown. Continued immigration as well as suburbanization brought Jews to this area. Tens of thousands of Displaced Persons, including many Holocaust survivors, settled in Toronto in the 1950s as Canada became second only to Israel in the proportion of survivors in its Jewish population. North African Jews and Hungarian Jews arrived in Toronto in the 1960s. In addition, small-town Ontario Jews seeking a more Jewish environment for themselves and their children also moved to Toronto as did many young people from Montreal who moved out of fear of separatism in Quebec during the 1970s and 1980s. Toronto also attracted immigrants from the United States, including Vietnam draft resistors, and many from the former Soviet Union, South Africa, and Israel. Each group brought its own Jewish traditions, creating a unique Jewish community pluralism that found expression in new congregations, schools, bookstores, newspapers, bakeries, restaurants, clubs, and cultural associations. By 1991, the Jewish population of greater Toronto had risen to 163,000, up from 67,000 in 1951.


The near suburbs developed as population expanded from the 1950s through the 1980s. Dozens of congregations of all branches are found in the near suburbs. Forest Hill, which was the subject of an early study of suburbia, Crestwood Heights, is the home of Holy Blossom Temple, Canada's largest Reform congregation, and of Beth Tzedec, Canada's – and North America's – largest Conservative congregation. Toronto's extensive network of Jewish schools, which began downtown in the first wave of migration, flourished in the near suburbs. The Toronto Jewish Federation decided in the early 1970s to place considerable community resources into day school education. But instead of funding schools directly, the Federation started subsidizing tuition according to need. Day school enrollment steadily increased, reaching parity with Jewish supplementary school enrollment in the 1970s. Congregationally based supplementary schools remain the setting in which many Toronto Jews have their Jewish education, but the enrollments at Jewish day schools are now larger. And as day school enrollment grew, so did the range of day school options. Orthodox day schools were joined by secular Zionist, Conservative, and Reform day schools and others with distinctive pedagogical approaches. Orthodox schools on the yeshivah model are also late 20th century additions to the Toronto Jewish school system.

As the day schools grew at the elementary level, Federation leaders planned for a high school which would be an alternative to the public high schools that prepare students to do well at university. The Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, which opened in the 1960s, has had continually increasing enrollment, to over 1,400 students in 2004–5. In contrast to the expansion of the day school system, there are still many school-age Jewish children who do not receive any formal Jewish education. As in other North American Jewish communities, there is support for a model of lifelong learning in summer camps, campus programs, and adult education. Both the University of Toronto downtown and suburban York University have well-staffed and well-enrolled programs in Jewish Studies and many congregations have active adult education programs.

Community Organization

The Toronto uja Federation, which was created by the merger of the Ontario branch of the *Canadian Jewish Congress with the Toronto Jewish Welfare Fund in the 1970s, acts as the central agency of the community. By the end of the 20th century the Federation's uja campaign in Toronto was annually raising about $50 million. It allocates funds to a wide diversity of needs. About one-third of the annual uja income goes overseas and almost 10 percent to Canada-wide Jewish organizations. Of the part that remains in Toronto about 40 percent is allocated to Jewish education and identity. Of that amount, two-thirds is used for subsidy of Jewish day school tuition. Significant Federation allocations support a range of social services often in conjunction with funding from different levels of government. The Jewish Family and Child Service is the leading agency in this area. The Federation acquired responsibility for the two Jewish community centers in the 1990s. The Toronto Jewish community has also developed a wide range of services for the elderly. The Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care is one of the world's outstanding facilities. In addition to the support from Federation, Jewish schools, social services, and other organizations do their own fundraising. The Orthodox community is also organized for its particular needs, sponsoring a bet din and maintaining a well-organized Va'ad Hakashrut, which uses the cor label.

York Region and Downtown Toronto

Jewish population expanded along Bathurst Street beyond the near suburbs into York Region, north of the city of Toronto. This area is today the third distinctive Toronto Jewish neighborhood. The first step was the intentional creation of a Jewish neighborhood in the 1980s and this set the stage for a later transformation of this previous farming landscape into dense automobile-dependent suburbs. The developer of a large tract along Bathurst Street set aside a plot for a large Orthodox synagogue and encouraged Jewish day schools to build. The area soon became an affluent, largely Orthodox neighborhood from its inception. In addition to the synagogues and schools, the local shopping center contains a large grocery chain extensively stocked with kosher items, a Jewish bookstore, and kosher restaurants. Jews, not all Orthodox, have continued to move northward in York Region, attracted by large modern housing developments, Jewish schools, and the perception of the region as the "new neighborhood." By 2001, York Region accounted for 33 percent of the Jewish population of the gta, and with so many younger Jewish families it was home to 40 percent of Jewish children and tightly packed with hockey clubs, music lessons, and carpooling.

uja Federation has begun building a York Region campus that will include Federation offices, a Jewish community center, and several different day schools. Synagogues, while present, are less visible parts of the area landscape than they are in the near suburbs, since a number of existing day school buildings have space in which congregations can meet. Socially, the neighborhood is also distinctive. It has a large percentage of recent immigrants from Israel and the former Soviet Union. Street life, characteristic of Toronto Jewry two generations ago and still common downtown and in parts of the near suburbs, is much reduced, shifting to the malls that dot Bathurst Street in York Region which provide the setting for the leisure-time spending on entertainment, snacks, and consumer goods.

In counterpoint to the development in York Region, downtown Toronto has also seen a rapid revival in Jewish population growth. Much of downtown Toronto was gentrified in the latter 20th century. This urban transformation brought thousands of Jewish professionals and business people into renovated homes. With its combination of safe streets, public transportation, pedestrian street culture, and access to jobs and the arts, central Toronto is considered a very desirable place to live. Some areas with competitive house prices remain, but much of the increase in the Jewish population is occurring due to extensive recent condominium construction, which is adding hundreds of thousands of residential units to the central city. Recently formed Jewish congregations have joined several historic ones. New schools were founded in the 1970s and have grown since. The downtown Jewish Community Centre was renovated in the early 2000s and the Hillel at the University of Toronto's downtown campus constructed a new center at the same time. The Ashkenaz Festival of "new Jewish culture," which grew out of the klezmer revival, is held over Labor Day weekend every second year at Harbourfront, an urban park on the Lake Ontario waterfront.


Toronto is today a city where immigrants from all over the world and the children of immigrants constitute a large majority of the population. This multicultural reality is celebrated by city boosters and Toronto Jews as a vital part of that urban context. The ability of people from a pluralism of origins to live together in Toronto without overt racial tensions and the widely held view that new immigrants enrich the local culture and economy are seen as measures of the city's tolerance. Multiculturalism also continues Canada's older tradition of seeing itself as a mosaic society. The separate tiles of a mosaic touch and form a richer larger whole, but they do remain separate. While there are social settings where persons of different backgrounds meet, and a growing segment of Toronto society where friendships and families are drawn from more than one group, social segmentation continues. This is aided by new technologies which allow extensive and low-cost contact with the old country. Modern transportation also encourages more travel back and forth than was possible for previous waves of migration. This applies to Toronto Jews as well as the general population. Toronto Jews, for example, maintain a strong attachment with Israel. Many Toronto Jews have family in Israel, whom they visit and stay in contact with. Others who do not have family have visited and many have friends and professional contacts there. As well, many Israelis have moved to Toronto, some temporarily and others permanently.

Multiculturalism is also associated with the clustering of Toronto Jews in their own neighborhoods. Many older downtown neighborhoods still have ethnic labels, although the residents of these neighborhoods are now quite mixed. Clustering in ethnic neighborhoods is also common in the new suburbs. A large concentration of Italian Canadians is found west of the Jewish neighborhood in York Region, and the largest Chinese urban diaspora in the world, a product of recent and continuing immigration, is to its east. Other immigrant groups, including growing Muslim and Arab populations, are residentially concentrated elsewhere in the central city and suburbs of the gta. Multiculturalism is also associated with the willingness to respect the public show of distinctive lifestyles. Accordingly, not only is Toronto a good place to be a secular, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Conservative Jew, but it is also a good place to be an Orthodox Jew. The value placed on diversity can sometimes engender unlikely alliances. In the 1990s, supporters of Toronto Jewish day schools, and the Ontario Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress acting on their behalf, joined Conservative Christian and Muslim private school supporters in a multifaith coalition. The coalition unsuccessfully urged the Ontario government to follow a policy similar to that of other provinces, which allocate public funds to private religious schools.

Toronto, which is now by far Canada's largest city, has developed into a major world center, a node in a global network of communications, commercial, and population flows. Greater Toronto's Jewish population topped 179,000 Jews in 2001 and now accounts for approximately half of all Jews in Canada. And that population is projected to grow. Jews play important roles in sustaining and developing Toronto's social and economic network, not unlike the role Jews play in other world cities. The Jews of Toronto, as in other world cities, are also continually challenged to creatively and productively blend the separate identities fostered by multiculturalism with the cosmopolitanism of an interconnected global society.


C.H. Levitt, and W. Shaffir, Riot at Christie Pits (1987); C. Shahar and T. Rosenbaum, Jewish Life in Greater Toronto: A Comprehensive Survey of the Attitudes & Behaviors of Members of the Greater Toronto Jewish Community (2005); S.A. Speisman, The Jews of Toronto: A History to 1937 (1979).

[Stuart Schoenfeld and

Harold Troper (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 09 2018

Toronto. Principal city of English-speaking Canada and capital of Ontario. Rich musical life dates from 1820s. Toronto Mus. Soc. founded 1836, Phil. Soc. 1845, neither surviving for long. Mendelssohn Choir, founded 1894 by A. S. Voigt, rapidly became famous throughout N. Amer. and from 1902 sang with leading Amer. orchs. visiting Canada. First toured USA 1905 and sings regularly with Toronto SO since 1935. Toronto SO founded 1906 by Frank Welsman, performing mainstream repertory with distinguished soloists. Disbanded 1914 but in 1926 New SO (founded 1922 with Luigi von Kunits as cond.) acquired its charter and assets and became Toronto SO. Conds. were Kunits (1926–31); Ernest MacMillan (1931–56, under whom it became a major orch.); Walter Susskind (1956–65); Seiji Ozawa (1965–9); Karel Ančerl (1969–73); Andrew Davis (1975–88); Gunther Herbig (1989–94); Jukka-Pekka Saraste (from 1994). Performed in Massey Hall (capacity 2,765) 1923–82, then moved to Roy Thomson Hall (capacity 2,812). Gives 160 concerts a year. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has studios in Toronto and had its own orch. (CBCSO) 1952–64 which made recordings with Stravinsky, among others. Opera was first perf. in Toronto 1825 by co. from Rochester, NY. Various local opera cos. gave seasons until Royal Cons. Opera Sch. was founded 1946, its first prod. being The Bartered Bride (1947). From this grew the Canadian Opera Co. (1958) which performs about six operas a season at O'Keefe Centre or the smaller Elgin Th. Has given of several Canadian operas, f. Canadian p. of Berg's Lulu and prods. of Wagner, Strauss, and Britten. Gen. dirs. have incl. Hermann Geiger-Torel (1958–76); Lotfi Mansouri (1976–89); Bryan Dickie (1989–93); Richard Bradshaw (from 1994). Surtitles were introduced for the first time anywhere by Mansouri, 1983.


views updated Jun 08 2018

Toronto Capital of Ontario province and Canada's largest city, on the n shore of Lake Ontario. An inland port at the mouth of the River Don, it is Canada's main banking, financial and manufacturing centre. The site was first visited (1615) by the French explorer Étienne Brulé. In 1787, the British purchased the site from Native Americans, and the settlement of York was founded in 1793. US troops twice captured the city during the War of 1812. In 1834, it was renamed Toronto (Huron, ‘meeting place’), and it became the capital of Ontario province in 1867. Its development as a major distribution centre was spurred by the opening (1959) of the St Lawrence Seaway. Toronto produces more than half of all Canada's manufacturing products. Industries: electrical equipment, brewing, printing and publishing, iron and steel, meat packing, aircraft and motor vehicle manufacture. Pop. (2001) 2,481,494 (metropolitan 4,682,897).