Toronto, Canada: Wikis

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—  City  —
City of Toronto


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): T.O., T-Dot, Hogtown, The Queen City, The Big Smoke, Toronto the Good, The City Within a Park
Motto: Diversity Our Strength
Location of Toronto and its census metropolitan area in the province of Ontario
Coordinates: 43°42′59.72″N 79°20′26.47″W / 43.7165889°N 79.3406861°W / 43.7165889; -79.3406861Coordinates: 43°42′59.72″N 79°20′26.47″W / 43.7165889°N 79.3406861°W / 43.7165889; -79.3406861
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Districts East York, Etobicoke, North York, Old Toronto, Scarborough, York
Established August 27, 1793
Incorporated March 6, 1834
Amalgamated January 1, 1998 from Flag of Metropolitan Toronto.svg Metropolitan Toronto
 - Mayor David Miller
 - Council Toronto City Council
 - MPs
 - MPPs
Area [1][2]
 - City 630 km2 (243.2 sq mi)
 - Urban 1,749 km2 (675.3 sq mi)
 - Metro 7,125 km2 (2,751 sq mi)
Elevation 76 m (249 ft)
Population (2006)[1][2]
 - City 2,503,281 (1st)
 Density 3,972/km2 (10,287.4/sq mi)
 Urban UA: 4,753,120 (1st)
 Metro CMA: 5,113,149 (1st)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code span M
Area code(s) (416) and (647)
NTS Map 030M11

Toronto (pronounced /təˈrɒntoʊ/, colloquially /ˈtrɒnoʊ/ or /təˈrɒnoʊ/) is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe, which is home to 8.1 million residents and has approximately 25% of Canada's population.[3][4][5] The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,113,149,[1] and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census.[4]

As Canada's economic capital, Toronto is considered a global city[6] and is one of the top financial centres in the world.[7][8] Toronto's leading economic sectors include finance, business services, telecommunications, aerospace, transportation, media, arts, film, television production, publishing, software production, medical research, education, tourism and sports industries.[9][10] The Toronto Stock Exchange, the world's seventh largest, is headquartered in the city, along with most of Canada's corporations.

Toronto's population is cosmopolitan and international,[11] reflecting its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada.[12] Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, as about 49% of the population were born outside of Canada.[11][12][13] Because of the city's low crime rates, clean environment, high standard of living, and friendly attitude to diversity, Toronto is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit[14] and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey.[15] In addition, Toronto was ranked as the most expensive Canadian city in which to live in 2006.[16] Residents of Toronto are called Torontonians.



When Europeans first arrived at the site of present-day Toronto, the vicinity was inhabited by the Huron tribes, who by then had displaced the Iroquois tribes that had occupied the region for centuries before c. 1500. The name Toronto is likely derived from the Iroquois word tkaronto, meaning "place where trees stand in the water".[17] It refers to the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, where the Huron had planted tree saplings to corral fish. A portage route from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron running through this point, the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, led to widespread use of the name.

French traders founded Fort Rouillé on the current Exhibition grounds in 1750, but abandoned it in 1759.[18] During the American Revolutionary War, the region saw an influx of British settlers as United Empire Loyalists fled for the unsettled lands north of Lake Ontario. In 1787, the British negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of New Credit, thereby securing more than a quarter million acres (1000 km2) of land in the Toronto area.[19]

In 1793 Governor John Graves Simcoe established the town of York on the existing settlement, naming it after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Simcoe chose the town to replace Newark as the capital of Upper Canada,[20] believing the new site would be less vulnerable to attack by the Americans.[21] Fort York was constructed at the entrance of the town's natural harbour, sheltered by a long sand-bar peninsula. The town's settlement formed at the eastern end of the harbour behind the peninsula, near the present-day intersection of Parliament Street and Front Street (in the Corktown-St. Lawrence area).

Map of Toronto, 1894

In 1813 as part of the War of 1812, the Battle of York ended in the town's capture and plunder by American forces.[22] The surrender of the town was negotiated by John Strachan. American soldiers destroyed much of Fort York and set fire to the parliament buildings during their five-day occupation. The sacking of York was a primary motivation for the Burning of Washington by British troops later in the war. York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name. The population of only 9,000 included escaped African American slaves fleeing Black Codes in some states.[23] Slavery was banned outright in Upper Canada in 1834. Reformist politician William Lyon Mackenzie became the first Mayor of Toronto and led the unsuccessful Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 against the British colonial government. The city grew rapidly through the remainder of the 19th century, as a major destination for immigrants to Canada. The first significant population influx occurred with the Great Irish Famine brought a large number of Irish to the city, some of them transient and most of them Catholic. By 1851, the Irish-born population had become the largest single ethnic group in the city. Smaller numbers of Protestant Irish immigrants were welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, giving the Orange Order significant and long lasting influence over Toronto society.

Part of the series on
History of Toronto

Old City Hall.jpg

Town of York (1793–1834)
City of Toronto (1834–1954)
Metropolitan Toronto (1954–1998)
'Megacity' Toronto (1998–present)
Toronto Purchase 1787
Battle of York 1813
Battle of Montgomery's Tavern 1837
Great Fire of Toronto 1904
Hurricane Hazel (effects) 1954
Amalgamation 1967 1998
Etymology of 'Toronto'
History of Neighbourhoods
Oldest buildings and structures
Timeline of Toronto history
Toronto portal ·  

Toronto was twice for brief periods the capital of the united Province of Canada first from 1849–1852, following unrest in Montreal, and later 1856-1858 after which Quebec became capital until 1866 (one year before Confederation); since then, the capital of Canada has remained Ottawa.[24] As it had been for Upper Canada from 1793, Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario after its official creation in 1867, the seat of government located at the Ontario Legislature located at Queen's Park. Because of its provincial capital status, the city was also the location of Government House, the residence of the vice-regal representative of the Crown.

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

The Great Toronto Fire of 1904.

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

Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1891, when the city granted the operation of the transit franchise to the Toronto Railway Company. The public transit system passed into public ownership in 1921 as the Toronto Transportation Commission, later renamed the Toronto Transit Commission. The system now has the third-highest ridership of any city public transportation system in North America.[25]

The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed a large section of downtown Toronto, but the city was quickly rebuilt. The fire had cost more than $10 million in damage, led to more stringent fire safety laws, and the expansion of the city's fire department. In 1954, a half-century later, disaster struck the city again when Hurricane Hazel brought intense winds and flash flooding. In the Toronto area, 81 people were killed, nearly 1,900 families were left homeless, and the hurricane caused more than $25 million in damage.[26]

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

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

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

Subway construction on Yonge Street, 1949

During this time, in part owing to the political uncertainty raised by the resurgence of the Quebec sovereignty movement, many national and multinational corporations moved their head offices from Montreal to Toronto and other western Canadian cities.[27]

In 1954 the City of Toronto and 12 surrounding municipalities were federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto.[28] The postwar boom had resulted in rapid suburban development, and it was believed that a coordinated land use strategy and shared services would provide greater efficiency for the region. The metropolitan government began to manage services that crossed municipal boundaries, including highways, police services, water and public transit. In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto were merged into their larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the old, i.e. pre-1954 City of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. In 1998, the metropolitan government was dissolved by the Provincial Government in the face of vigorous opposition from the smaller component municipalities and all six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto, where David Miller is the current Mayor.

The city celebrated its 175th anniversary on March 6, 2009, since its in inception as the City of Toronto in 1834.


A simulated-colour image of Toronto taken by NASA's Landsat 7 satellite from 1985. Yonge Street can clearly be seen bisecting the city just right of centre in the image. The other prominent road, running east-west, is Highway 401.

Toronto covers an area of 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi),[29] with a maximum north-south distance of 21 kilometres (13 mi) and a maximum east-west distance of 43 km (27 mi). It has a 46-kilometre (29 mi) long waterfront shoreline, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The Toronto Islands and Port Lands extend some distance out into the lake, allowing for a somewhat sheltered Toronto Harbour immediately south of the downtown core.[30] The city's borders are formed by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue to the north and the Rouge River to the east.


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

During the last ice age, the lower part of Toronto was beneath Glacial Lake Iroquois. Today, a series of escarpments mark the lake's former boundary, known as the Iroquois Shoreline. The escarpments are most prominent from Victoria Park Avenue to the mouth of Highland Creek, where they form the Scarborough Bluffs. Other observable sections include the area near St. Clair Avenue West between Bathurst Street and the Don River, and north of Davenport Road from Caledonia to Spadina Road; the Casa Loma grounds sit above this escarpment. Despite its deep ravines, Toronto is not remarkably hilly, but elevation differences range from 75 metres (246 ft) above-sea-level at the Lake Ontario shore to 209 m (686 ft) ASL near the York University grounds in the city's north end at the intersection of Keele Street and Steeles Avenue.[31]

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


Late spring scene in High Park, in Toronto's west end

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

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

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

Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest season, the bulk falling during thunderstorms. There can be periods of dry weather, but drought-like conditions are rare. The average yearly precipitation is 834 mm (33 in), with an average annual snowfall of about 133 cm (52 in). Toronto experiences an average of 2,038 sunshine hours, or 44% of daylight hours, varying between a low of 27% in December to 59% in July.[32]


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


The CN Tower viewed from Rogers Centre (originally called SkyDome)

According to knowledgeable Toronto residents, and architects who have designed buildings in the city, such as Will Alsop, Toronto has no single, dominant architectural style. Lawrence Richards, a member of the faculty of architecture at the University of Toronto, has said "Toronto is a new, brash, rag-tag place — a big mix of periods and styles."[36] Toronto buildings vary in design and age with many structures dating back to the mid-1800s, while other prominent buildings were just newly built in the 2000s.

Defining the Toronto skyline is the CN Tower. At a height of 553.33 metres (1,815 ft 5 in) it was the world's tallest[37] freestanding structure until 2007 when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa, but it is still the tallest tower in the western hemisphere surpassing Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) by 110 metres in height. It is an important telecommunications hub, and a centre of tourism in Toronto.

Toronto is a city of high-rises, having over 2,000 buildings over 90 metres (300 ft) in height, second only to New York City (which has over 5,000 such buildings) in North America.[38] Most of these buildings are residential (either rental or condominium), whereas the Central business district contains the taller commercial office towers. There has been recent media attention given for the need to retrofit many of these buildings, which were constructed beginning in the 1950s as residential apartment blocks to accommodate a quickly growing population.

In contrast, Toronto has also begun to experience an architectural overhaul within the past five years. The Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Ontario College of Art and Design are just some of the many public art buildings that have undergone massive renovations.[39] The historic Distillery District, located on the eastern edge of downtown, is North America's largest and best preserved collection of Victorian era industrial architecture. It has been redeveloped into a pedestrian-oriented arts, culture and entertainment neighbourhood. Modern glass and steel highrises have begun to transform the majority of the downtown area as the condominium market has exploded and triggered widespread construction throughout the city's centre. Trump International Hotel and Tower, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are just some of the many high rise luxury condominium-hotel projects currently under construction in the downtown core.


Toronto Harbourfront at dusk

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

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

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

The Old City of Toronto covers the area generally known as downtown. It is the historic core of Toronto and remains the most densely populated part of the city. The Financial District contains the largest cluster of skyscrapers in Canada, including the First Canadian Place, Toronto Dominion Centre, Scotia Plaza, Royal Bank Plaza, Commerce Court and Brookfield Place. From that point, the Toronto skyline extends northward along Yonge Street. Old Toronto is also home to many historically wealthy residential enclaves, such as Yorkville, Rosedale, The Annex, Forest Hill, Lawrence Park, Lytton Park, Moore Park, and Casa Loma, most stretching away from downtown to the north. These neighbourhoods generally feature upscale homes, luxury condominiums and high-end retail. At the same time, the downtown core vicinity includes neighbourhoods with many recent immigrants and low-income families living in social housing and rental high-rises, such as St. James Town, Regent Park, Moss Park, Alexandra Park and Parkdale. East and west of Downtown, neighbourhoods such as Kensington Market, Leslieville, Cabbagetown and Riverdale are home to bustling commercial and cultural areas as well as vibrant communities of artists with studio lofts, with many middle and upper class professionals. Other neighbourhoods in the central city retain an ethnic identity, including two Chinatowns, the popular Greektown area, the trendy Little Italy, Portugal Village, and Little India along with others.

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

The inner suburbs are contained within the former municipalities of York and East York. These are mature and traditionally working class areas, primarily consisting of post-World War I small, single-family homes and small apartment blocks. Neighbourhoods such as Crescent Town, Thorncliffe Park, Weston, and Oakwood-Vaughan mainly consist of high-rise apartments, which are home to many new immigrant families. Recently, many neighbourhoods have become ethnically diverse and have undergone gentrification, as a result of increasing population and a housing boom during the late 1990s and 2000s. The first neighbourhoods affected were Leaside and North Toronto, gradually progressing into the western neighbourhoods in York. Some of the area's housing is in the process of being replaced or remodelled.

The outer suburbs comprising the former municipalities of Etobicoke (west), Scarborough (east) and North York (north) largely retain the grid plan laid before post-war development. Sections were long established and quickly growing towns before the suburban housing boom began and the emergence of Metro Government, existing towns or villages such as Mimico, Islington and New Toronto in Etobicoke; Willowdale, Newtonbrook and Downsview in North York; Agincourt, Wexford and West Hill in Scarborough where suburban development boomed around or between these and other towns beginning in the late 1940s. Upscale neighbourhoods were built such as the Bridle Path in North York, the area surrounding the Scarborough Bluffs in Guildwood, and most of central Etobicoke, such as Humber Valley Village, and The Kingsway. One of largest and earliest "planned communities" was Don Mills, parts of which were first built in the 1950s.[40] Phased development mixing single-detached housing with higher density apartment blocks became more popular as a suburban model of development. To some this model has been copied in other GTA municipalities surrounding Toronto, albeit with less population density. Over the last few decades, the North York Centre that runs along Yonge Street and the Scarborough City Centre have emerged as secondary business centres outside the downtown core. High-rise development in these areas have given North York and Scarborough distinguishable skylines of their own and a more downtown feel with high-density transit corridors serving them.


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

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

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

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

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

Public spaces

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

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

HTO Park, Toronto's first artificial urban beach

There are many large downtown parks, which include Grange Park, Moss Park, Allan Gardens, Little Norway Park, Queen's Park, Riverdale Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Christie Pits, and the Leslie Street Spit, which is Tommy Thompson Park on weekends. The Toronto Islands have several acres of park space, accessible from downtown by ferry. Large parks in the outer areas include High Park, Humber Bay Park, Centennial Park, Downsview Park, Guildwood Park, and Rouge Park. An almost hidden park is the compact Cloud Gardens,[41] which has both open areas and a glassed-in greenhouse in downtown Toronto.

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

Nathan Phillips Square is currently undergoing a major redesign by PLANT Architect Inc., Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners, Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture Inc., and Adrian Blackwell (winners of the International Design Competition in 2006 and 2007). West 8, a Dutch architecture firm, won the Central Waterfront Innovative Design Competition in 2006 to redesign the central part of the Toronto waterfront.[42][43] In 1999, Downsview Park initiated an international design competition to realise its vision of creating Canada's first national urban park. In May 2000, the winning park design was announced: "TREE CITY", by the team of Bruce Mau Design, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Oleson Worland Architect and Inside/Outside.

Downtown Toronto as seen at twilight.


The Midway of the Canadian National Exhibition, Canada's largest fair which runs annually from mid-August to Labour Day

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

Ontario Place features the world's first permanent IMAX movie theatre, the Cinesphere,[44] as well as the Molson Amphitheatre, an open-air venue for large-scale music concerts. Each summer, the Canadian Stage Company presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto’s High Park called "Dream in High Park". Canada's Walk of Fame acknowledges the achievements of successful Canadians, with a series of stars on designated blocks of sidewalks along King Street and Simcoe Street.

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

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

Toronto's Caribana festival takes place from mid-July to early August of every summer, and is one of North America's largest street festivals.[45] Primarily based on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, the first Caribana took place in 1967 when the city's Caribbean community celebrated Canada's Centennial year. Forty years later, it has grown to attract one million people to Toronto's Lake Shore Boulevard annually. Tourism for the festival is in the hundred thousands, and each year, the event generates about $300 million in revenue.

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


Toronto Eaton Centre is the busiest shopping mall in the City of Toronto.
View from CN tower

Toronto's most prominent landmark is the CN Tower, which stood as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world at 553 metres (1,814 ft). To the surprise of its creators, the tower held the world record for over 30 years.[46]

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a major museum for world culture and natural history. The Toronto Zoo, one of the largest in the world,[47][48] is home to over 5,000 animals representing over 460 distinct species. The Art Gallery of Ontario contains a large collection of Canadian, European, African and contemporary artwork. The Gardiner Museum of ceramic art is the only museum in Canada entirely devoted to ceramics, and the Museum's collection contains more than 2,900 ceramic works from Asia, the Americas, and Europe. The Ontario Science Centre always has new hands-on activities and science displays particularly appealing to children, and the Bata Shoe Museum features many unique exhibitions focussed on footwear. The centrally located Textile Museum possesses another niche collection of great quality and interest. The Don Valley Brick Works is a former industrial site, which opened in 1889, and has recently been restored as a park and heritage site. The Canadian National Exhibition is held annually at Exhibition Place, and it is the oldest annual fair in the world. It is Canada's largest annual fair and the fifth largest in North America, with an average attendance of 1.25 million.[49]

The Yorkville neighbourhood is one of Toronto's most elegant shopping and dining areas. On many occasions, celebrities from all over North America can be spotted in the area, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival. The Toronto Eaton Centre is one of North America's top shopping destinations, and Toronto's most popular tourist attraction with over 52 million visitors annually.[50]

Greektown on the Danforth, is another one of the major attractions of Toronto which boasts one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per kilometre in the world. It is also home to the annual "Taste of the Danforth" festival which attracts over one million people in 2 1/2 days.[51] Toronto is also home to Canada's most famous "castle" - Casa Loma, the former estate of Sir Henry Pellatt, a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist and military man. Other notable neighbourhoods and attractions include The Beaches, the Toronto Islands, Kensington Market, Fort York, and the Hockey Hall of Fame.


The Hockey Hall of Fame, housed in a former bank erected in 1885, is located at the intersection of Front Street and Yonge Street in Downtown Toronto.

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

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

Toronto is currently home to the only National Basketball Association franchise outside the United States. The Toronto Raptors entered the league in 1995, and have since earned five playoff spots in 14 seasons. The Raptors won the Atlantic Division title in the 2006–07 season, led by star player Chris Bosh. The Raptors are the only NBA team with their own television channel, Raptors NBA TV. The team plays their home games at the Air Canada Centre.

The Toronto Rock are the city's National Lacrosse League team. They are one of the league's most successful franchises, winning five Champion's Cup titles in seven years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, appearing in an NLL record 5 straight championship games from 1999 to 2003, and are currently second all-time in the number of Champion's Cups won. The Rock share the Air Canada Centre with the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

Toronto Blue Jays host the Detroit Tigers in MLB action.

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

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

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

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

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

Toronto was a candidate city for the 1996 and 2008 Summer Olympics, which were awarded to Atlanta and Beijing respectively. The Canadian Olympic Committee is currently considering a Toronto bid for the 2020 or 2024 Summer Olympics.[52]

Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games in July 2015. It contested against the cities of Lima, Peru and Bogotá, Colombia.[53]

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Toronto Argonauts
Football Rogers Centre
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ice hockey Air Canada Centre
Toronto Blue Jays
Baseball Rogers Centre
Toronto Raptors
Basketball Air Canada Centre
Toronto FC
Soccer BMO Field
Toronto Maple Leafs
Baseball Christie Pits
Toronto Rock
Box lacrosse Air Canada Centre
Toronto Xtreme
Rugby union Fletcher's Fields
Toronto Marlies
Ice hockey Ricoh Coliseum
Toronto Nationals
Field Lacrosse BMO Field
Panoramic view of Rogers Centre during an Argonauts game


Toronto is Canada's largest media market,[54] and the fourth largest media centre in North America (behind New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago), with four conventional dailies and two free commuter papers in a greater metropolitan area of about 5.5 million inhabitants. The Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun are the prominent daily city newspapers, while the national dailies The Globe and Mail and the National Post are also headquartered in the city. Toronto contains the headquarters of the major English-language Canadian television networks, including the English-language branch of the national public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the largest private broadcaster CTV, and the flagship stations of Citytv and Global. Canada's premier sports television networks are also based in Toronto, including The Sports Network (TSN), Rogers Sportsnet and The Score. MuchMusic and MTV Canada are the main music television channels based in the city. The bulk of Canada's periodical publishing industry is centred in Toronto including magazines such as Maclean's, Chatelaine, Flare, Canadian Living, Canadian Business, and Toronto Life.


Honest Ed's discount store

Toronto is a major international centre for business and finance. Generally considered the financial capital of Canada, Toronto has a high concentration of banks and brokerage firms on Bay Street, in the Financial District. The Toronto Stock Exchange is the world's seventh-largest stock exchange by market capitalization.[55] All the Big Five banks of Canada are headquartered in Toronto, as are a majority of Canada's corporations.[9]

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

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


Toronto population by year, within present boundaries
Year City CMA GTA
1861 65,085 193,844[56]
1901 238,080 440,000[56]
1951 1,117,470 1,262,000[56]
1971 2,089,728 2,628,045[57]
1976 2,124,295 2,803,101[58]
1981 2,137,380 2,998,947[59]
1986 2,192,721 3,733,085[60]
1991 2,275,771[61] 3,893,933[62] 4,235,756[61]
1996 2,385,421[63] 4,263,759[63] 4,628,883[64]
2001 2,481,494[1] 4,682,897[1] 5,081,826[65]
2006 2,503,281[1] 5,113,149[1] 5,555,912[66]

The last complete census by Statistics Canada estimated there were 2,503,281 people living in Toronto in June 2006,[1] making it the largest city in Canada,[67] and the fifth most populous municipality in North America.[68]

The city's population grew by 4% (96,073 residents) between 1996 and 2001, and 1% (21,787 residents) between 2001 and 2006. Persons aged 14 years and under made up 17.5% of the population, and those aged 65 years and over made up 13.6%. The median age was 36.9 years. Foreign-born people made up 49.9% of the population.[69] The city's gender population is 48% male and 52% female.[70] However, women outnumber men in all age groups over 20.[71] As of 2006, 46.9% of the residents of the city proper belong to a visible minority group,[72] and visible minorities are projected to comprise a majority in the Toronto CMA by 2017.[73] In 1981, Toronto’s visible minority population was 13.6%.[74] According to the United Nations Development Programme, Toronto has the second-highest percentage of constant foreign-born population among world cities, after Miami, Florida. While Miami's foreign-born population consists mostly of Cubans and other Latin Americans, no single nationality or culture dominates Toronto's immigrant population, placing it among the most diverse cities in the world.[69] By 2031, Toronto's current visible minority population will have increased to 63%, changing the definition of visible minority in the city. [75]

Pie chart showing Toronto's visible minority composition (data from Canada 2006 Census).

In 2006, people of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Toronto, 52.6%,[72] mostly of British, Irish, Italian, and French origins. The five largest visible minority groups in Toronto are South Asian (12.0%), Chinese (11.4%), Black (8.4%), Filipino (4.1%) and Latin American (2.6%).[72] Aboriginal peoples, who are not considered visible minorities, formed 0.5% of the population.[72] This diversity is reflected in Toronto's ethnic neighbourhoods, which include Little Italy, Corso Italia, Greektown, Portugal Village, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India, Kensington Market, Bloor West Village, Little Jamaica, and The Junction,

Christianity is the largest religious group in Toronto. The 2001 Census reports that 31.1% of the city's population is Catholic, followed by Protestant (21.1%), Christian Orthodox at (4.8%), Coptic Orthodox (0.2%),[76] and other Christians (3.9%). Due to the city's significant number of Methodist Christians, Toronto is often referred to as the Methodist Rome. Other religions in the city are Islam (6.7%), Hinduism (4.8%), Judaism (4.2%), Buddhism (2.7%), Sikhism (0.9%), and other Eastern Religions (0.2%). 18.7% of the population professes no religion.[77]

While English is the predominant language spoken by Torontonians, many other languages have considerable numbers of local speakers, including French, Italian, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, Urdu, Portuguese, and Tamil.[78] Chinese and Italian are the second and third most widely spoken languages at work.[79][80] As a result, the city's 9-1-1 emergency services are equipped to respond in over 150 languages.[81]


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

At the start of the 2007 term, the city council will have seven standing committees, each consisting of a chair, a vice-chair and four other councillors. The Mayor names the committee chairs and the remaining membership of the committees is appointed by City Council.[82] An executive committee is formed by the chairs of each of standing committee, along with the mayor, the deputy mayor and four other councillors. Councillors are also appointed to oversee the Toronto Transit Commission and the Toronto Police Services Board.

There are about 40 subcommittees, advisory committees and round tables within the city council. These bodies are made up of city councillors and private citizen volunteers. Examples include the Pedestrian Committee, Waste Diversion Task Force 2010, and the Task Force to Bring Back the Don.[83] Additionally, the city has four community councils that make recommendations on local matters to the city council, but possess no final authority. Each city councillor serves as a member on a community council.

Toronto had an operating budget of C$7.6 billion in 2006.[84] The city receives funding from the Government of Ontario in addition to tax revenues and user fees, spending 36% on provincially mandated programmes, 53% on major municipal purposes such as the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Zoo, and 11% on capital financing and non-programme expenditures.[85]


The low crime rate[86] in Toronto has resulted in the city having a reputation as one of the safest major cities in North America.[87][88] For instance, in 2007, the homicide rate for Toronto was 3.3 per 100,000 people, compared with Atlanta (19.7), Boston (10.3), Los Angeles (10.0), New York City (6.3), Vancouver (3.1), and Montreal (2.6). Toronto's robbery rate also ranks low, with 207.1 robberies per 100,000 people, compared with Los Angeles (348.5), Vancouver (266.2), New York City (265.9), and Montreal (235.3).[89][90][91][92][93][94] Toronto has a comparable rate of car theft to various U.S. cities, although it is not among the highest in Canada.[86]

Toronto recorded its largest number of homicides in 1991 with 89, a rate of 3.9 per 100,000.[95][96] In 2005, Toronto media coined the term "Year of the Gun", because there was a record number of gun-related homicides, 52, out of 80 homicides in total (65% – similar to the average in U.S. cities).[88][97] The total number of homicides dropped to 69 in 2006, that year, nearly 2,000 people in Toronto were victims of a violent gun-related crime, about one-quarter of the national total.[98] 84 homicides were committed in 2007, roughly half of them involved guns. Gang-related incidents have also been on the rise; between the years of 1997 and 2005, over 300 gang-related homicides have occurred. As a result, the Ontario government developed an anti-gun strategy.[99]


University College at University of Toronto

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

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

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

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

The Toronto Public Library is the largest public library system in Canada, consisting of 99 branches with more than 11 million items in its collection.[100]


Health and medicine

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

Several years ago, Toronto was reported as having some of the longer average ER wait times in Ontario. Toronto hospitals at the time employed a system of triage to ensure life-threatening injuries receive rapid treatment. [101]. After initial screening, initial assessments by physicians were completed within the waiting waiting-rooms themselves for greater efficiency, within a median 1.2 hours. Tests, consultations, and initial treatments were also provided within waiting rooms. 50% of patients waited 4 hours before being transferred from the emergency room to another room.[101]. The least-urgent 10% of cases wait over 12 hours.[101]. The extended waiting-room times experienced by some patients were attributed to an overall shortage of acute care beds.[101]

Toronto's Discovery District[102] is centre of research in biomedicine. It is located on a 2.5 square kilometre (620 acre) research park that is fully integrated into Toronto’s downtown core. It is also home to the Medical and Related Sciences Centre (MaRS),[103] which was created in 2000 to capitalize on the research and innovation strength of the Province of Ontario. Another institute is the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine (MCMM).[104]


Kilometre 0 of Yonge Street in the City of Toronto
A TTC CLRV streetcar on the streets of Toronto.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the third largest public transit system in North America after the New York City Transit Authority, and the Mexico City Metro.[25] The TTC provides public transit within the City of Toronto. The backbone of its public transport network is the subway system, as well as a mainly elevated rapid transit line. The TTC also operates an extensive network of buses and streetcars.

The Government of Ontario also operates an extensive rail and bus transit system called GO Transit in the Greater Toronto Area. As of January 2009, GO Transit carries over 205,000 passengers every weekday on its seven train lines and extensive bus system.[105]

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

There are a number of municipal expressways and provincial highways that serve Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. In particular, Highway 401 bisects the city from west to east, bypassing the downtown core. It is one of the busiest highways in the world.[106][107] The square grid of major city streets was laid out by the concession road system, in which each major arterial road is approximately two kilometres apart from each parallel route.

Sister cities

Partnership Cities
Friendship Cities

See also



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External links

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For other places with the same name, see Toronto (disambiguation).
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Toronto's skyline at dusk.
Toronto's skyline at dusk.

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe, which is home to 8.1 million residents and has approximately 25% of Canada's population. — is the cultural and economic focus of English Canada. The city began as an Anglo backwater where buying alcohol and socializing on Sundays was strictly prohibited. Owing largely to the country's liberal immigration policies of the 1960's, coupled with the region's strong economy, Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. More than 80 ethnic communities are represented among its more than 6 million residents, half of whom were born outside Canada.

When Metropolitan Toronto amalgamated its six internal cities into one in 1998, it created a new "mega-city" known simply as Toronto. Covering more than 600 square kilometres, Toronto stretches some 32 kilometres along the shores of Lake Ontario, and includes a dense, urban core surrounded by a ring of suburbs. The city is laid out on a very straightforward grid pattern and streets rarely deviate from the grid, except if there's a significant landmark in the way. As such, it is extremely easy to navigate. Many of the city's districts and neighbourhoods are named after the intersections in the street grid upon which they are centred (e.g., Church and Wellesley, Yonge and Eglinton, Jane and Finch).

Psychologically, most Torontonians view the city from an east/west dichotomy, with Yonge Street (pronounced Young) being the dividing line. The "old" city of Toronto (before it was merged into the larger mega-city) is the dense, urban core of the city. Downtown Toronto is the heart of this urban core, with Yonge Street running almost directly in the middle of this district. Immediately north of Downtown is Midtown, the city's first streetcar suburb. The West End lies, somewhat obviously, to the west of the Downtown/Midtown axis, while the East End lies to the east.

From there, the city's suburban districts (which were once independent cities, themselves) — Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough — extend outward to the city's outer boundaries. While there are pockets of density in these districts, they tend to resemble your typical, older North American suburb.

Central Toronto

Toronto's Financial District viewed from CN Tower.
Toronto's Financial District viewed from CN Tower.

Bordered by Front St. to the south, Dupont St. to the north, Bathurst St. to the west and Jarvis St. to the east. This area contains many of the tourist attractions and amenities the city has to offer.

The Southernmost part of the district includes the busy downtown financial district with its banks and institutions fuelling the city's financial engine, including Canada's largest stock exchange (and North America's third largest), the TSX.

To the southeast, there is the bustling and impressive St. Lawrence Market at Jarvis St. and King St, a must-see attraction for any visitor to the city willing to visit during its peak hours on a Saturday morning. This district also contains one of the largest nightlife districts in North America, bordered by Simcoe St. to the east, Queen St. to the north, Bathurst to the west and King St. to the south.

The theater district is also largely based in Central Toronto, along Yonge St. and King St. Furthermore, the city's opera house (The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts) is also in this area at University Ave., just south of Queen St., as well as the the home of the Hummingbird Centre and <Roy Thompson Hall> which host the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Ballet Company.

Toronto's most important shopping districts are also located here: Toronto's largest downtown shopping center, The Eaton Centre; The varied offerings of Yonge St.; The trendy, youthful boutiques of Queen West; and the upscale boutiques of Bloor St. West and Yorkville. Central Toronto also contains Toronto's most important sporting venues, including the Air Canada Centre & the Rogers Centre.

In addition to these varied attractions, central Toronto is also the academic and scholastic heart of the city, with the massive St. George campus of the University of Toronto taking up a large chunk of the northwest portion of this district. The heart of the university-oriented neighborhood of the Annex also runs along Bloor St. West from Spadina Ave. to just west of Bathurst St., where a multitude of restaurants, bars & lounges, book stores, and other shops are located. Toronto's highest concentration of bookstores are located in the Annex, with dozens of eclectic choices to be found on Harbord St., Bloor St., Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.

Moving right along, North America's second-largest Chinatown is on Spadina Ave., between Queen St. West and College St., with several cross-streets like Dundas St. radiating outwards from Dundas and Spadina, and containing many Chinese and East Asian restaurants, shops and businesses.

Adjacent to Chinatown is Kensington Market, one of the most eclectic and unique locations in the entire city. Everything from fresh food markets to restaurants and bars, vintage clothing boutiques, spice markets, and music shops are all contained in two small north-south streets and a handful of cross-streets.

Home to some of Toronto's most expensive shops and restaurants, Yorkville is Hollywood North's home away from home and the focal point of the Toronto International Film Festival, which rivals Cannes as the most important film festival in the world.

Toronto's medical research community also finds its home on University Ave., where many of the city's best hospitals can be found. The world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children is located here, as well as other world-renowned institutions such as Toronto General (Heart), Princess Margaret (Cancer), Mt. Sinai (Obstetrics), and the nearby administrative headquarters of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Central Toronto is also home to a thriving gay community, based mainly in and around Church St., between Carlton St. and Bloor St.. The Gay Village, as its known, has been an important facet of Toronto life for many years, and is a must-see destination for any visitor to the city, homosexual or otherwise.

Central Toronto is also home to the newly renovated Royal Ontario Museum with its striking, controversial Libeskind Crystal, and Frank Gehry's beautiful, sublime renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Each of these sites are world-class institutions with permanent installations to rival the best museums and galleries in the world, and also attract many touring exhibitions from museums and galleries from all over the world.

East Toronto

Bars along Distillery District, Toronto
Bars along Distillery District, Toronto

Divided into two distinct sections, East Toronto includes the East Downtown and the East End, across the Don Valley from downtown.

East Downtown: Roughly bordered by Jarvis St. in the West, the Don Valley in the East, Bloor St. to the North and Lake Ontario to the south. One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the East downtown is a tremendously varied area that contains some of the poorest and wealthiest enclaves in the city.

In the south, the Portlands contain Toronto's industrial core, and are also home to the Distillery District, a refurbished 19th century distillery that used to be a prominent location for film shoots and is now home to a number of restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, and bars.

To the north, a largely residential area contains some of Toronto's oldest Victorian townhouses and rowhouses, as well as a variety of shops and businesses along King St., Richmond St., Adelaide St., and Queen St, including a multitude of antique shops and high-end furniture shops. North of Queen St., some of Toronto's oldest housing projects can be found, including Moss Park and Regent Park, which is currently in the process of being demolished and rebuilt into mixed-use / mixed-income housing. In the streets surrounding these housing projects, one can find million-dollar Victorians on the same block as group homes, rooming houses, and homeless shelters. Many of the city's outreach programs and institutions are located in the east downtown, which attracts a large transient population to the area. The area can often present striking contrasts, with charming, tree-lined residential streets opening up to poverty-stricken avenues where conspicuous homelessness and drug use is prevalent. Along Jarvis St., and Sherbourne, some of Toronto's old Victorian mansions can still be found, if not visited. At Sherbourne and Wellesley is the massive low-income housing complex, St. Jamestown, home to an extremely varied population of recent immigrants from all over the world. Adjacent to St. Jamestown is the neighborhood of Cabbagetown, with its restored hundred-year-old Victorians and quiet, tree-lined streets. Cabbagetown's main commercial thoroughfare is Parliament, which becomes quite vibrant north of Carlton, with a variety of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores.

Annex Houses
Annex Houses

East End: Made up of Riverdale, Leslieville, East York & the Beaches. The East end is a varied, vibrant part of town. Largely residential, the East end is defined by its major thoroughfares (Queen St. E, Dundas St., E, Gerrard St. E, the Danforth), where the majority of the attractions are located, and the residential streets where most of the neighborhood's residents live. These residential streets are quiet and shaded by old oaks and maples, and contain old homes and townhouses of an astonishing variety of architectural styles. Embedded within these residential streets are a number of large parks, including Riverdale Park, with its breathtaking view of the skyline, Withrow Park, Greenwood Park, Jimmie Simpson Park, Kew Gardens, Beaches Park, and countless smaller neighborhood parks.

Two of the highlights of the East End are the Danforth, which is the heart of Greektown, the largest Greek neighborhood in North America, and Queen East with its diverse offerings. Greektown stretches from Broadview Ave. to Donlands Ave., and is full of Greek restaurants and businesses, as well as bars, cafes, and retail shops. Because the subway runs along Danforth, there is a substantial population in the area as well as a steady stream of non-residents who visit the neighborhood's shops and restaurants, making it a busy, bustling, vibrant place, especially on weekends and during the summer, when the Tastes of the Danforth festival brings over one million participants to the neighborhood over two days in August.

The other major highlight of the East End is Queen East, which stretches for many blocks from Broadview all the way to Neville Park. Along the western portion of Queen East, an enormous revitalization effort has been under way, transforming an area that was once known for little more than its booze-cans, cheap diners, and tacky furniture shops into one of the hippest up-and-coming areas in the city. A plethora of new restaurants, eateries, bars, bakeries and shops have made this a real gastronomic destination, and since it has been the center of Toronto's film industry for years, the Queen East has finally reached a tipping point, drawing in hip, young, upwardly mobile people from all over the GTA, transforming the area from a low-rent backwater into a trendsetter reminiscent of Queen West in the early 90's.

If you venture further east on Queen, past Woodbine, the long-established Beaches neighborhood attracts thousands of visitors during the summer, who dine and drink in its restaurants and bars, walk the boardwalk by the lake, sunbathe on the sand beach, bring the kids to the park at Kew Gardens, or walk around the residential streets with their unique homes and laid-back atmosphere. Of course, these are not the only attractions the East End has to offer: there's also 'Chinatown East along Gerrard @ Broadview, a smaller, quieter version of Spadina's Chinatown with many fresh food markets and restaurants; the Little India neighborhood on Gerrard between Greenwood and Woodbine is especially lively in the summertime when South Asians from all over the GTA descend on the neighborhood to catch a Bollywood flick at one of the only Bollywood movie theaters in the city, enjoy barbecued corn on the street, chew paan purchased from one of the specialized vendors, browse the many shops, jewelry stores, and sari boutiques, or eat in one of a number of South Asian restaurants.

West Toronto

Fall scene in Toronto's largest park - High Park
Fall scene in Toronto's largest park - High Park

Perhaps the largest portion of the city, this includes dozens of neighborhoods, and can be divided into two separate areas for the purpose of this guide: South of Dupont St., which includes some of the city's most vibrant inner-city neighborhoods; and the area between Dupont and the 401, which includes many unique residential neighborhoods and some of Toronto's best-hidden gems.

South of Dupont St.: This geographical area covers a large chunk of the city, including essentially everything from Lakeshore Blvd. in the south, up to the Dupont St. in the north, and from Bathurst St. in the east all the way to Jane St. in the west. Because it is such a large area, there are many neighborhoods contained in its boundaries, and dozens more attractions contained within each of these individual neighborhoods. Starting in the west, at the southern end of the district is Liberty Village and Queen St. West to the north. These two areas have become the epicenter of young, hip Toronto, and include many of the city's hottest bars, lounges and cafes, including the famous Drake Hotel. In addition to the youth-oriented shops and boutiques along Queen West, there are also a number of galleries, particularly in Liberty Village, the once derelict industrial area that has recently been revitalized and turned into lofts, home to many of Toronto's young artists and musicians. North of Queen West and Liberty Village is Little Portugal, centered on Dundas St. West and College St. west of Ossington. While the name of the neighborhood is pretty self-explanatory, some of Toronto's finest Victorians can be found on the north-south residential streets that stretch from Queen St. to Bloor St., including many historic properties. The main thoroughfares are lined with many Portuguese businesses, though the neighborhood caters to many ethnicities and is one of the most diverse in the downtown area.

College St. between Bathurst and Ossington is one of two Italian neighborhoods in the West End, and is the older and more established of the two. Even though many of the original Italian residents have left for the suburbs, College St. remains one of the West End's most vibrant areas, and is one of the most popular nightlife hot-spots outside the entertainment district. Dozens of trendy bars, nightclubs and lounges line College, along with all kinds of restaurants and cafes, as well as bakeries, delis, and retail shops many of which maintain a decidedly Italian flavor. The residential neighborhood around College is extremely popular with renters and homeowners, and densely packed with homes, townhouses, and old walk-up apartments.

North of College is a decidedly anonymous stretch of Harbord that is an extension of the Little Portugal neighborhood which continues up to Bloor St. West, which morphs from Little Korea west of the Annex, to a hodge-podge of ethnic eateries and businesses between Christie and Dufferin. West of Dufferin, Bloor St. runs through the working-class neighborhood of Junction Triangle, which is undergoing a much-needed revitalization as derelict industrial buildings are converted in loft, studios, and residential units. The dense residential neighborhood that makes up the Junction Triangle has a strong Portuguese character, and is home to a high rate of rental units.

Where Dundas crosses Bloor just west of Lansdowne, it snakes north and becomes the Junction proper, an old blue collar neighborhood with a conservative history and a slew of historic old buildings lining its main thoroughfare. The Junction was a dry neighborhood up until a few years ago, which has kept many young people from moving to the neighborhood, and prevented the neighborhood from undergoing the rapid development and change other west-end neighborhoods have experienced as older residents move out and make way for newer ones. As a result, the Junction has a unique character that distinguishes it from other Toronto neighborhoods.

Bloor St. west of Dundas, on the other hand, is the upscale neighborhood of High Park. High Park is both Toronto's largest park and a residential neighborhood with two major thoroughfares: Bloor St. & Annette St. West of High Park between Runnymede and Jane is Bloor West Village, an upscale, family neighborhood with an eclectic variety of bars, eateries, shops and cafes. Bloor St. and Annette are the major thoroughfares, though Bloor St. is busier and more established because the subway passes through. Markland Wood [1] is the most western residential community along Bloor St. and Toronto.


To the south, Dufferin marks the eastern boundary of Parkdale, an older residential neighborhood in Toronto's southwest end. Although Parkdale is often associated with urban blight and social problems, it is actually home to some of the city's most stunning Victorian homes. Furthermore, as renters are priced out of locations further east, Queen West seems to push further and further west along with the young hipsters who fuel it. Parkdale is now home to many art galleries, furniture boutiques, trendy lounges, and antique stores along King St. and Queen St. W. The western border of Parkdale, Roncesvalles, is a street with a long history that has recently shed its quaint Eastern European character and adopted a more modern, sophisticated flavor, complete with jazz bars, trendy restaurants, bakeries, and the many gorgeous residential streets lined with stately Victorian homes that surround it. Roncesvalles also combines ground-level businesses with multi-story apartments on top, creating a dense streetscape that is busy and bustling during the summer months and is conveniently located steps from High Park.

North Toronto

This area covers the enormous swathe of land north of downtown Toronto. The region includes Toronto's wealthiest neighbourhoods as well as Toronto's poorest. It also has several extremely vibrant neighbourhoods, mostly centred along Yonge St and Eglinton and St Clair Avenues. Due to the location of the subway, the stretch along Yonge Street also has several high density office-shopping-residential districts including several of the tallest buildings outside of downtown.

Toronto Islands

View of CN Tower from Toronto Island.
View of CN Tower from Toronto Island.

The Toronto Islands lies in Lake Ontario, just offshore from the Canadian city of Toronto. They are connected to the mainland by the Toronto Island Ferry Services, which provide access to the islands for recreational visitors, access to the mainland for island residents, and access to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is located at the western end of the island chain.The Toronto Island is a chain of islands in Toronto harbor and home to a small residential community, an airport, a small amusement park, kilometers of bike trails, spectacular city views, picnic grounds and even a clothing-optional beach. The short and inexpensive ferry ride alone is worth the trip, but one can easily spend a relaxing day or two here. The islands comprise the largest urban car-free community in North America, though some service vehicles are permitted. Recreational bicyclists are accommodated on the ferries, and bicycles, quadracycles, and canoes can be rented on the islands as well.

The central area hosts Centreville, a children's amusement park which was built in 1967 with a turn-of-the-century theme. The park includes a miniature railway and Far Enough Farm, and is open daily in summer.

There are several swimming beaches on the islands, including Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan's Point Beach and Ward's Island Beach. Hanlan's Point Beach includes an officially recognized clothing optional section.

Recreational boating has been popular on the islands for over a century. The Islands are home to four yacht clubs: Harbour City Yacht Club, Island Yacht Club, Queen City Yacht Club and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. There is a public marina, the Toronto Island Marina, and several smaller clubs including the Toronto Island Sailing Club, the Sunfish Cut Boat Club and the Toronto Island Canoe Club. There is also a dragon boat regatta course and grandstand, where the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival is held annually.

For many years Caribana has held an annual arts festival at Olympic Island on the Simcoe Day weekend. Other Island events include the Olympic Island Festival, an annual rock concert initiated in 2004 by Sloan's Jay Ferguson.

North York

North York, north of the former City of Toronto, City of York and Borough of East York, comprises about 25% of the land area of the new City of Toronto (or the old Metro Toronto). North York is home to Parc Downsview Park, Canada's first national urban park, Downsview Airport (used by Bombardier Aerospace) and the North York Performing Arts Centre.


Etobicoke, in the west, comprises about 20% of the total land area of formal Toronto and is largely industrial and suburban in urban makeup. It is not served as well by public transit as denser areas of Toronto. It is home to the western terminus of the Toronto subway. Possible sites of interest include major parks and shopping centres.


Scarborough has characteristics of a suburb of old Toronto, but retains much of its own character and flavour. Certain neighbourhoods in Scarborough are popular destinations for new immigrants to Canada, who bring their own culture to Scarborough. Because of the topography of the Bluffs, the Rouge Valley, and other creeks and minor tributaries, Scarborough is said to be the greenest and leafiest part of Toronto.

Scarborough covers the east part of Toronto and is home to the Toronto Zoo.

An aerial view of westside Scarborough and North York, near Highway 404. The skyline of Toronto is visible in the background, to the left.
An aerial view of westside Scarborough and North York, near Highway 404. The skyline of Toronto is visible in the background, to the left.


York is formerly a separate city, it was one of six municipalities that amalgamated in 1998 to form the current city of Toronto. Its population, as of the 2001 census, was 150,255, the second smallest of the six former municipalities, yet it is one of the most ethnically diverse. By the 2006 census, the population had fallen somewhat to 143,255.

The York Civic Centre is located at 2700 Eglinton Avenue West, between Black Creek Drive and Keele Street, near York's Museum and York Memorial Collegiate Institute.

York has a local community newspaper called the York Guardian. It is published by Metroland Media Group, which also publishes several other local papers in the Toronto area.

East York

East York was formerly a semi-autonomous borough within the overall municipality of Metropolitan Toronto before East York, North York, York, Scarborough, Etobicoke and Toronto were amalgamated into the new "megacity" of Toronto in 1998. One of East York's claims to fame was that, before the amalgamation, it was Canada's only borough.

It is separated by the Don River from the former City of Toronto. Traditional East York is southeast of the river, and the neighbourhoods of Leaside, Bennington Heights and densely-populated Thorncliffe Park are northwest of the river. The heart of East York is filled with middle-class and working-class homes, with extensive high-rise developments along peripheral major streets and in Crescent Town and Thorncliffe Park.

East York is also home to various sports teams. The hockey teams are the Bulldogs, playing out of East York Arena, and Victoria Village, playing out of Victoria Village arena. Both leagues offer entry level and competitive select hockey for various ages, being played in the North York Hockey League. East York is home to East York Soccer, playing out of East York Collegiate, and Clairlea Soccer, playing out of various locations, who both offer entry level and competitive soccer for all ages. Baseball wise, East York is home to organizations such as East York and Topham Park. East York provides entry level and AAA baseball for all ages, while Topham Park only provides entry level. East York is also home to a provincially-known figure skating club, a gymnastics club, a lawn bowling club, and a curling club.


In 1998, the cities of Toronto, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, and York and the Borough of East York amalgamated to form the current City of Toronto. This is also known as Metropolitan Toronto or "the 416" after its area code (although now there are some new area codes, the overwhelming number of area codes in the Toronto are still "416") and has a population of over 2.6 million people. More than half of these were born in some country other than Canada - a fact obvious to any visitor immediately, as the city has many vibrant bustling neighborhoods with street signs in several languages.

Toronto and its surrounding suburbs are collectively known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Outlying suburbs are also known as "the 905" after their area code, although technically this code is also used in both Hamilton and the Niagara Region, stretching to the border in Niagara Falls. The entire area including Toronto is known as the "Golden Horseshoe" and has a population of over 8 million people.

A popular urban myth has it that the United Nations rated Toronto as "the most multicultural city in the world". While the UN and its agencies are not in the habit of rating cities, it remains a fact that Canada is a nation of immigrants, and Toronto demonstrates this abundantly. A UN agency lists Toronto as second only to Miami as the city with the most foreign born residents, but Toronto's residents represent far more cultural and language groups, which is arguably a better measure of multi-culturalism. Most immigrants either pass through Toronto on their way to other parts of the country, or they stay in Toronto permanently. Many born abroad immigrants consider themselves Canadian as much as born Canadians and will be offended if treated otherwise. This contributes to the overall cultural mosaic that is Toronto today. Within Toronto, most ethnic groups will work their way into the fabric of Canadian society but some still retain their distinct ways such as language, dress (for special occasions), customs, and food.

As a result of this cultural mosaic, Toronto is home to many ethnic festivals throughout the year. Toronto also boasts several radio stations which broadcast in various languages as well as at least two multicultural television channels. The City of Toronto officially deals in 16 different languages while the Toronto Transit Commission (public transit) has a helpline that deals in 70 languages. Even large department stores such as The Bay in downtown Toronto proudly advertise service in 9 languages. The lingua franca of Toronto however, remains English.


Toronto's climate is characterized by fairly cold and icy winters where temperatures average -4°C (24°F) in January, extreme cold experienced in much of the rest of Canada is rare and does not hold a tight grip for long, despite this winters are still cold. Contrary to Canadian climate stereotypes, the city experiences very warm and humid summers with an average high of 27°C (80°F) and a low of 18°C (65°F) in July with many muggy evenings. Late spring and early fall are generally considered to be the most pleasant times to visit, and summer is by far the busiest tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto's vibrancy extends well through the winter with outdoor ice-rinks and bundled up clubgoers, etc. Toronto's public buildings are nearly all air-conditioned in summer, and are well heated in winter. Sometimes during the winter, severe storms can shut down the city for a day or two. In the summer, thunderstorms are common, most lasting less than an hour.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) -1 0 5 11 19 24 26 25 21 14 7 2
Nightly lows (°C) -7 -6 -2 4 10 15 18 17 13 7 2 -4
Precipitation (cm) 6.1 5.1 6.6 7.0 7.3 7.2 6.8 8.0 8.3 6.5 7.6 7.1

Source: Environment Canada, August 2009

Sports teams & arenas

Toronto has several major league sports teams:

  • Toronto Argonauts [2] - Canadian Football League, play at Rogers Centre.
  • Toronto Blue Jays [3] - Major League Baseball, play at Rogers Centre.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs [4] - National Hockey League, play at the Air Canada Centre.
  • Toronto Raptors [5] - National Basketball Association, play at the Air Canada Centre.
  • Toronto Rock [6] - National Lacrosse League, play at the Air Canada Centre.
  • Toronto FC [7] - Major League Soccer, play at BMO Field on Exhibition Place grounds.
  • Toronto Marlies [8] - American Hockey League (Toronto Maple Leafs farm team). Play at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Air Canada Centre [9] (40 Bay Street) is sometimes referred to as "The Hangar".

The Rogers Centre [10] (1 Blue Jays Way) is often referred to by its original "SkyDome" name.

The Buffalo Bills [11] of the National Football League are under contract to play one exhibition and one regular season (home) game at the Rogers Centre through to the 2012 season.

Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport terminal.
Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport terminal.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) [12] is about 30-50 minutes by car from the downtown core (depending on traffic) and is serviced by most major international carriers. There are two terminals: Terminal 1 hosts all Air Canada flights and a few other international (mostly Star Alliance) carriers while Terminal 3 hosts all other airlines.

Several options exist for getting downtown from Pearson:

  • Pacific Western Airport Express[13] operates a quick, convenient, and frequent bus service (every 20 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes on the off-peak). It picks up passengers at both terminals, and stops at several major hotels in the downtown core, as well as Union Station and the inter-city bus terminal at Bay and Dundas. Adult fares are $19.95 one way, $32.95 for round trips. There is a 10% discount for online reservations.
  • TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) [14] provides public bus services that run to and from Pearson. The best TTC option is the 192 Airport Rocket that runs every 10-30 minutes between Kipling Station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line (marked green on maps) and Pearson Airport. Kipling Station is the westernmost subway stop on the Bloor-Danforth line and it takes 1-1.5 hours to reach downtown. One way adult fare on the TTC is $2.75 (or $2.25 if tokens are purchased in multiples of five from an agent, or of four from a machine) which includes free transfers to other TTC buses or the subway. Tickets can be purchased from the Bureau de Change in Arrivals. When the subways stop running at around 1:30 AM, the 300A Bloor-Danforth night bus provides service along the subway line and goes directly to the airport.
  • GO Transit [15] provides express buses to locations outside of Toronto's downtown. One runs from the airport to Yorkdale and York Mills subway stations in North York for $4.05. This takes about 35-45 minutes, followed by another 20 minutes on the subway to get downtown (one must pay a separate fare to board the subway; $2.75). A new GO Transit service offers service to/from the airport to Square One GO Terminal in Mississauga and Richmond Hill Centre. This bus service runs every 30 minutes from about 5:00AM to 1:00AM daily.
  • Taxis run a flat rate of $40 [16]while airport limousines [17] go slightly higher at $50-70. Limousines are generally slightly larger (though not stretched) and more comfortable vehicles than taxis. Government approved rates can be found online [18].

Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ) [19] (commonly known as "The Island Airport" by locals) handles short-haul regional flights only. Its main tenant is Porter Airlines [20], a low-cost carrier that operates flights using turboprop planes to many cities in eastern Canada (Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax) and the northeast United States (Boston, Chicago and New York/Newark). One of the main benefits of flying into this airport is its proximity to the downtown core. Upon landing, you can be downtown within ten minutes.

A free ferry service makes the short crossing (just 121 metres - the world's shortest regularly-scheduled ferry route) between TCCA and the mainland every 15 minutes, 6:45AM-10:07PM. Once on the mainland, a free shuttle bus connects the terminal with Union Station.

Hamilton International Airport (YHM) [21], located about 80 km from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, is served by the British budget airline Flyglobespan, as well as WestJet and Air Transat. Flyglobespan customers can take advantage of the shuttle service from the airport to downtown Toronto for £9 (one-way) for UK customers or $17 (one-way) for Canadian customers. In Toronto, it drops off and picks up passengers at the Bond Place hotel (a block from the Dundas subway station). The shuttle to Hamilton leaves Toronto three hours prior to flight time. The shuttle must be booked in advance. Alternatively, you can take a $25 taxi ride to the Hamilton GO Station (36 Hunter Street East) in downtown Hamilton, where you can catch a GO commuter bus to Union Station in downtown Toronto ($9 one-way). Buses run every 30 minutes.

For frugal travellers coming from the United States, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport (BUF) [22] is another option, as flights to Buffalo tend to be significantly cheaper than to Pearson. Megabus [23] (prices vary, book early) runs from the Buffalo Airport to Toronto; the trip takes 3 hours (including the border crossing). Rental cars are available at the airport if you prefer to do the drive yourself. Buffalo Airport Limo [24] offers a flat rate of $175 to downtown Toronto from BUF.

By bus

Intercity Bus

The main bus terminal in Toronto, the Toronto Coach Terminal (also known as Bay Street Terminal or the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal), is used for intercity coach travel and is served by Greyhound, Coach Canada, New York Trailways, and Ontario Northland.

The bus terminal's main entrance is on Bay Street immediately north of Dundas and the terminal's departures building takes up the northern half of the block bounded by Bay Street, Dundas Street, Edward Street, and Elizabeth Street; the arrivals building is located immediately across Elizabeth Street from the departures building. The departures building is connected by the underground PATH walkway system to Dundas subway station on the Yonge line via the Atrium on Bay shopping centre. The terminal is also several blocks east of St Patrick subway station on the University-Spadina line. Unlike Union Station, the bus terminal has lockers in which people may store luggage, the cost is $3 for 24 hours and you must get a token from one of the token machines located next to the lockers; the lockers are located in the hallway connecting the departures building with the arrivals building, storing items in lockers overnight is not advisable as break-ins are common at night. Certain items too large to fit in a locker may be stored in the information booth at an extra cost.

Travelers should be aware that the bus terminal in Toronto is very poorly designed, forcing passengers to queue in a space that is little more than a shed with walls on two sides, as a result passengers queueing are forced to inhale the diesel exhaust fumes from the coaches as well as endure the cold winters and hot summers. In addition, there are often queues so long for the commuter coaches that they block other coaches from reaching their platforms. Platforms are also poorly mark, and it is not difficult to queue up for the wrong bus. Do not hesitate to ask anyone for help. Most people in the terminal have plenty of experience with it and understand how difficult it is for a tourist. It is advisable that passengers arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before their coach is scheduled to depart. Passengers can avoid the hassle of having to purchase their tickets at the terminal. It is generally faster to buy tickets online if possible. If you must purchase tickets at the terminal, be weary of peak travel periods, as the line can take up to 20 minutes. But be aware that Greyhound tickets purchased at the terminal can be used at any time (although they may have blackout periods) while tickets purchased online force you to reserve on a certain bus.

Coach Canada buses to Montreal and Greyhound buses to Peterborough and Ottawa also stop at the Scarborough Centre bus station to the east of central Toronto, this station lies on the Scarborough RT mass transit line. Greyhound buses to Kitchener, Guelph, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and New York and Coach Canada buses to Buffalo and New York also stop near Union Station, either in front of the York Street entrance to the Royal York Hotel or on University Avenue north of Wellington Street. Two new, heavily-discounted services between Toronto and New York City now operate from the sidewalk in front of the Royal York Hotel, across the street from Union Station. Both advertise electrical connections at each seat, wi-fi, movies, and more legroom than traditional buses. If purchased far enough in advance, tickets can be found for $1 although in reality, most seats range from $15 to $50.

  • Megabus [29] provides service from New York City, Buffalo and Buffalo-Niagara Airport to the sidewalk in front of the Royal York Hotel. Megabus runs two buses a day from the Royal York, as well as two buses a day from the bus terminal, buses from the bus terminal run to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, while buses from the Royal York run to Penn Station in New York
  • Ne-On [30] is a service operated jointly by Greyhound USA and New York Trailways that runs two buses a day from the Royal York Hotel to the New Yorker Hotel in New York.

Commuter Bus

GO Transit [31] runs the commuter transit network in the Greater Toronto Area. Their bus services are designed to supplement their commuter trains, most of which run only during rush hour. When the trains are not running, GO runs buses on the same route. Most GO buses run to the Union Station Bus Terminal, adjacent to Union Railway Station. GO Transit also operates services to bus stations at several subway stations, including: Yorkdale Mall, Finch, York Mills and Scarborough Centre.

By train

All scheduled passenger trains in Toronto run into and out of Union Station [32] which is located at 65 Front Street, between Bay and York Streets. Opened in 1927, Toronto's Union Station is generally considered to be one of the grandest, most impressive train stations in North America; with an enormous great hall, the ceiling rising to a height equivalent to seven stories. Despite this impressive hall, most of the activity in the station takes place in the underground concourses which link the commuter rail platforms with the subway station. The great hall is still used for purchasing intercity rail tickets with a row of ticket booths and several ticket machines. The train station is served by a subway station with the same name, accessible from the GO concourse. The main intercity concourse is accessed from the great hall, but all commuter rail platforms are accessed from the underground GO Transit concourse, as is the Union Station Bus Terminal across the street. The GO Transit concourse is accessed by taking any one of the three large staircases in the great hall or directly from the subway.

Most intercity rail travel in Canada is provided by VIA Rail [33]. Union Station is one of VIA Rail's main hubs and connects several of their lines. Railway lines operated by VIA Rail out of Union Station include:

  • Corridor: This is VIA's most profitable line running from Windsor and Sarnia in the southwest to Quebec City in the northeast. Regular trains run from Toronto directly to Montreal, Ottawa, London, Kingston, Windsor, and Sarnia as well as stations in between. The lines between Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto are VIA's busiest and most frequent, they also have the largest discounts if booked well in advance.
  • Maple Leaf: This service is run jointly by Via and America's passenger rail company, Amtrak [34]. Trains on this line run between Toronto and New York City once a day in each direction stopping at Albany and Buffalo as well as many smaller stations. Trains between Toronto and New York are extremely slow and very expensive, the coach services listed above generally take several hours less and cost several times less than the train. There are also more frequent trains that run on this line from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
  • The Canadian: Trains on this line run the transcontinental route from Toronto to Vancouver three times a week each way, stopping at a large number of smaller stations on the way. Cities that this train passes through include: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper and Kamloops. The full journey takes about three days. This is one of the most expensive rail journeys in North America and is many times more expensive than flying.
  • Ontario Northland [35] is a Government subsidized passenger rail service into the scarcely populated north of Ontario. They run trains on a single line from Toronto to Cochrane, Ontario six times a week. Most of this line is single track and owned by freight companies, as a result, whenever a freight train passes, the passenger train must move onto a siding and wait for the other train to pass, therefore Ontario Northland trains are generally 1.5-2.5 hours behind schedule at either end of their route.
  • Commuter train services in the Greater Toronto Area are operated exclusively by GO Transit [36] who run all of their trains from Union Station. Their trains serve mainly the sprawling suburbs around the city and most of the train lines run only during rush hour; at other times of the day, they are replaced by bus services. Most of these buses originate from Union Station Bus Terminal across Bay Street from the railway station, there is an overhead walkway from the GO Train concourse underneath the railway platforms to the bus terminal.

By car

Major highways leading into Toronto are the QEW, the 404, the 401, the 400, and the 427. Toronto is in the enviable position of being the largest city in Canada, so it's relatively easy to find a sign pointing you in the right direction. Be advised that traffic on incoming highways can be extremely heavy. In the downtown core there are many turn restrictions, particularly from main thoroughfares to other main thoroughfares (e.g. Yonge to Dundas Streets).

The main streets in Toronto are laid out in a grid pattern that makes it one of the easiest cities to get around in by car. Getting from point to point anywhere in the city can be achieved with only a few turns. Parking in the downtown core can be expensive and hard to find, but is plentiful and inexpensive or free throughout the rest of the city.

  • Canada drives on the right.

Transit bylaws

Toronto follows some bylaws related to the transit system that often confuse or surprise visiting drivers:

  • If a bus is signalling intent to merge into traffic from a stop, you must yield to the bus.
  • If a streetcar in front of you and travelling in your direction has its doors open, you cannot pass the open doors.
    • However, if a traffic island (it'll look like a raised median with a transit shelter on top) separates the streetcar from your lane, you may pass with caution.
  • Occasionally the rightmost travel lane on certain streets (most notably on Bay Street between Front and Bloor Sts.) is reserved from 7AM-7PM for transit vehicles, taxis and bicycles only; you can enter these lanes only to make a right turn at the next cross street. If you do decide to travel as through-traffic in these lanes, you may be liable to a fine (an often hefty one).

Additionally, drivers are advised that Torontonians generally take their obligation to give a wide berth to emergency vehicles quite seriously: if you hear sirens or see lights, pull over to the side of the road safely but quickly.

Get around

Toronto is huge, and most roads run for very long distances. Use public transit if your destination is downtown. Otherwise, it is probably easier to drive. Be aware that the highways regularly backup during rush hour (7AM-10AM and 4PM-7PM). Toronto has plentiful parking garages downtown but these are usually expensive.

A Large Peter Witt streetcar at the Rockwood Station.
A Large Peter Witt streetcar at the Rockwood Station.
Toronto has a very large transit system, the third most heavily used in North America (after New York City and Mexico City). It consists of buses, streetcars, subway lines, and the quasi-subway Scarborough Rapid Transit line. Buses and streetcars are prone to get caught in Toronto's notorious traffic during rush-hours, though some streetcar lines have dedicated lanes.

Toronto's long streetcar lines have resulted in chronic "bunching", where one might wait for thirty minutes at a stop, and then 4 streetcars will arrive bunched together. In contrast to this, the subway system is quite fast and efficient; the subway lines extend well into the suburbs and have spurred a great deal of high-density, high-rise development in far-flung neighbourhoods that would not otherwise have had any large-scale development. A prime example of this is the neighbourhood of North York, filled with high-rise development right on top of three subway stations. As a result, the subway is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get around the city.

Cash fare is $3.00 (discounted to $2.50 if you buy 5 or 10 tokens at a time). It should be noted that when using the subway, one can just pay $2.25 as booths sell tokens anyways. Be aware that some token vending machines are out of service but do not have signs on them to indicate otherwise making it safer to use manned ticket booths whenever possible.

A day pass is available for $10. This pass allows unlimited travel on all TTC services within the City of Toronto, except for Downtown Express buses. For one person, it allows unlimited one-day travel on any day of the week, from the mid-morning (9:30AM) until 5:30AM the next morning. On Saturday and Sunday, and statutory holidays, up to 6 people (maximum 2 adults over 19) can travel with one TTC Day Pass, from the start of daytime service until 5:30AM the next morning. The day pass does not have to be purchased on the day of use.

A weekly pass costs $36.00 a week. It allows unlimited travel from 5:30AM Monday morning, to 5:30AM the following Monday. The weekly pass is transferable, meaning it can be used by more than one person but only one person may be travelling under that pass at any given time.

A monthly pass, termed the Metropass, costs $126.00 per month. This pass is also transferable, with no pass-backs.

Tokens, daily, and weekly passes are available at subway stations and variety stores and newsstands throughout the city. Most businesses that sell passes and tokens have a TTC logo sticker on their front door.

Subway & LRT

The Toronto RT Map.
The Toronto RT Map.

There are three subway lines and one "RT" line:

  • The Bloor-Danforth line runs east-west along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. It meets the Yonge-University line at Bloor-Yonge, St. George, and Spadina stations, and meets the Scarborough Rapid Transit (RT) line at Kennedy station. This line runs through a large number of neighbourhoods, Kennedy Station is on Eglinton in working-class Scarborough and is surrounded by large apartment blocks, it is a major transit hub for TTC buses in Scarborough and also connects with GO Transit commuter trains. The line leaves Scarborough after Warden station and the next nine stations serve a number of densely packed, ethnic neighbourhoods along the Danforth. After Broadview Station, the line crosses the Don River and the following station, Castle Frank, serves the extremely exclusive neighbourhood of Rosedale. After this, the line crosses the Rosedale ravine and enters Downtown Toronto, the next four stations serve the expensive shopping district of Bloor-Yorkville. Following this, the line serves many small ethnic neighbourhoods centred around Bloor Street. Lansdowne and Dundas West stations serve working class neighbourhoods and Dundas West connects with GO Transit commuter trains. The next two stations serve High Park, a large park on the west side of the city and Runnymede and Jane stations serve the pleasant and relatively affluent neighbourhood of Bloor West Village. The next three stations serve the mostly middle class suburb of Etobicoke.
  • The Yonge-University-Spadina line runs in a U formation, travelling north-south along Yonge Street, bending at Union Station, then travelling north-south along University Avenue, Spadina Avenue, and Allen Road. It meets the Sheppard line at Sheppard-Yonge station and the Bloor-Danforth line at Bloor-Yonge, St. George, and Spadina stations.
  • The Sheppard line runs in an east-west direction along Sheppard Avenue. It meets the Yonge line at Sheppard-Yonge station and terminates at Don Mills Station in the east.
  • The Scarborough RT runs from the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth line at Kennedy Station, through central Scarborough to McCowan Station. As its name suggests, this line serves the mainly working-class suburb of Scarborough. This line's main draw for visitors is that it serves Scarborough Town Centre, one of the city's enormous regional shopping centres, at its Scarborough Centre station; this station is also a major regional transit hub and is served by a large number of TTC buses, several GO Transit commuter buses, and is a stop on Greyhound coach routes to Peterborough, Ottawa, and Coach Canada routes to Montreal and Kingston.

Other TTC services are provided by buses, streetcars, the Scarborough RT line, and Wheel-Trans vans (for people with disabilities). There are also a number of Downtown Express buses that run during rush hour, for which additional fare must be paid.


A TTC Streetcar.
A TTC Streetcar.

Toronto is one of the only cities in North America (the only city in Canada, in fact) to keep any of its streetcar route and, while the original streetcar network was much larger, the Toronto Transit Commission is planning to replace several of its busiest bus lines with high capacity LRT lines.

  • 501 runs along Queen Street for most of its route, from the eastern end of the Beaches neighbourhood, through Leslieville, the Financial District, the Queen West shopping district, Parkdale, then along the Queensway and Lake Shore Blvd through Long Branch in Etobicoke to the Long Branch GO Train station.
  • 502 and 503 run from Kingston Road in the Beaches to the Financial District. 502 runs along Queen Street through downtown and 503 (rush hour only) runs along King Street.
  • 504 and 508 run along King Street. 504 runs from Broadview subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line to Dundas West subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line. 508 (rush hour only) runs from King Street and Church Street to Long Branch GO Train station. Both routes pass through the Financial District and the Theatre District.
  • 505 runs along Dundas Street from Broadview subway station to Dundas West subway station. It runs through Chinatown.
  • 506 runs along Gerrard, Carlton and College Streets, it runs from Main Street subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line to High Park in West Toronto. It passes through Cabbagetown, Downtown, the University of Toronto, Kensington Market and Little Italy.
  • 509 and 510 run from Union subway station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line in a tunnel under Bay Street to Queen's Quay, they run aboveground on Queen's Quay, through the Harbourfront to Spadina Avenue. The 509 continues on Queen's Quay from Spadina to Exhibition Place. The 510 runs north along Spadina to Spadina subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line, the 510 passes through the Theatre District, the Queen West shopping district, Chinatown, Kensington Market and the Annex. Both 509 and 510 run within their own rights-of-way in the centre lanes of the streets and stop less frequently than regular routes.
  • 511 runs along Bathurst for nearly all of its route, from Exhibition Place to Bathurst subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line.
  • 512 runs along St Clair Avenue from St Clair subway station on the Yonge line to a streetcar loop just past Keele Street. 512 runs within its own right of way in the centre of St Clair Avenue from St Clair station to Vaughan Road, passing through St Clair West subway station on the University-Spadina line. This route serves the neighbourhood of Deer Park.

Caution: When getting on and off streetcars, make sure that traffic is stopped in the lane next to the streetcar. While drivers are required by law to stop behind open streetcar doors, some drivers don't do so. This does not apply when there is a safety island between you and the traffic lane(s). Also, be aware of pickpockets in crowded rush hour situations. Do not keep your belongings on outside pockets.


All but one (Route 99) of the TTC's bus and streetcar routes have a subway station somewhere on the loop, and while many routes will take you into the station and beyond the ticket barrier, some of them (especially downtown) will take you only to the outside of the station. In this case, you can enter the station by presenting a valid transfer. If you don't have one, you need to pay another cash fare.

Transfers are free but should be obtained at the first vehicle or station you enter on your journey. If your journey starts on a bus or streetcar, ask for one as you pay your fare (simply saying "Transfer, please" to the operator will suffice). If you start at a subway station, look for a red machine just beyond the ticket booth with a digital time clock on its face. Press the gold button and collect your transfer.

Connecting public transit services

The areas that surround Toronto—Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Durham Region—have their own transit systems. There are no free transfer privileges between the TTC and these other transit systems. To use both the TTC and another system, two fares must usually be paid (though see GTA Pass below). In many places, these networks do overlap, so you can transfer easily. Prices are similar to prices for the TTC.

A weekly GTA Pass (Greater Toronto Area Pass) is available for $47. It is valid on the TTC and the transit systems in Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, but not Durham Region. This pass is also transferable, although only one rider may use it at a time. If you are traveling through the fare-zone boundary in York Region with a GTA pass, you will have to pay an additional $1. A new region-wide integration system will be in place in 2010, known as 'Metrolinx', and will provide seamless connections between transit operators.

GO Transit

A system of regional trains and buses, GO Transit [37], connects Toronto to its surrounding areas. The majority of these services, especially trains, are oriented to weekday commuters traveling to and from downtown Toronto. Go Transit charges fares by distance. Trains are large and comfortable, and the vast majority run only during rush hours. The main exception is on the Lakeshore Line, running between the suburbs of Burlington and Oshawa, via Union Station. The GO bus network is much more extensive and fills in for trains in the off-peak hours. The vast majority of tourist destinations are reachable by TTC, although you might want to use the GO to get to the Zoo, or to the homes of family members or friends in the Greater Toronto Area.

Discounts on the fares for connecting transit services are available under certain conditions, if you are traveling to or from a GO Transit rail station. The GTA Pass is not valid on GO Transit.

NOTE: in many cases a GO bus will not stop unless the passengers-to-be indicates indicate waiting to be picked up even if they are standing at a designated stop. Users must flag the bus down, usually just by raising their hand or ticket in the air as the bus approaches. That is because GO stops often share stops with other municipal transit systems.

Also, be aware of the GO Transit Guards; they are well known for being overbearing, grouchy and intolerant. The transit guards are known to be rude and offensive to passengers that have an invalid ticket in their possession; guards have been known to curse at and threaten such passengers. Train hoppers and passengers with invalid tickets are usually punished. Depending on the mood and disposition of the guard, a mere warning may be issued, however, fines of up to $200 are not out of the question. Furthermore, passengers found train hopping are often unceremoniously kicked off the train at the nearest stop.


Taxis are plentiful and safe, but not cheap. As with most big cities, driving a car downtown can be annoying; parking is often hard to find and expensive, and traffic along certain streets can make vehicle travel slower than mass transit.

By bicycle

Toronto is trying very hard to become a bike-friendly city, with dedicated bike lanes being added all the time. There are many casual cyclists out all the time. And it is fast: door to door, in all of downtown Toronto, a bike beats a car or transit nearly every time.

There is a lack of clear understanding about regulations regarding bicycles, and as a result there can be hostility between automobiles and cyclists. Generally speaking, if you are on the road you are expected to obey the same laws as cars, and you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. In reality, cyclists have all sorts of driving styles; expect the unexpected.

The city is predominantly flat, aside from a general climb away from Lake Ontario, and post-and-ring locking posts are present throughout the city. There are many bike-only lanes on major roads and threading through various neighbourhoods and parks. The city publishes a cycling map, available on the city website [38]. Several businesses offer rentals [39].

It is provincial law that cyclists must wear a helmet, and ride a bike with reflectors and a bell. This tends to only be enforced when the police go on their annual "cycling blitz".

Some dangers:

  • Beware of parked cars - often accidents are not caused by moving cars, but rather by careless drivers or passengers who unexpectedly open their driver's side door. However, by and large Toronto is about as safe for bikers as most European cities, and certainly safer than most U.S. cities. Here, at least, cyclists are often expected and respected by drivers.
  • Be cautious of street car tracks as bike wheels can be easily caught and cause a spill.
  • Although you will certainly see large numbers of locals riding the streets year-round, be warned that biking in the winter months is enjoyable only with proper equipment and reasonable skills; winter weather does get cold, it can be quite windy, and snow removal is often imperfect.

Some recommended cycling routes:

  • By far one of the most popular bike paths is the Martin Goodman Trail, the east-west route that hugs lake Ontario, spanning the city from Etobicoke to the eastern ends of the city. This path is also often used by pedestrians and rollerbladers.
  • The Don River trail system begins at the lake (near Queen and Broadview) and travels very far North and East.
  • A special treat for bikers of all levels is a tour out to the Leslie Spit lighthouse and bird sanctuaries (no cars!). Start at Queen and Leslie and head south.
  • A visit to Toronto Islands from the ferry docks at the southern end of Bay Street is a great way to spend a bike-friendly, relaxed afternoon by bike. There are no cars to speak of on the Toronto Islands.
Toronto's urban core
Toronto's urban core

see Downtown district article for more possibilities & further information:

  • Art Gallery of Ontario, [40]. Tue, Thu-Sat 10 AM - 5:30 PM, Wed 10 AM - 8:30 PM (free admission after 6 PM), closed Mon. The largest art gallery in Canada, recently redesigned by architect Frank Gehry. It has a great Canadian paintings exhibit and the world's largest collection of Henry Moore sculptures. The European paintings exhibit has a few excellent pieces and it has one of the world's most expensive paintings on view (Ruben's The Massacre of the Innocents). Adults $18, seniors $15, students and youth $10, children free.  edit
The Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum
  • Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, 416.586.8000, [41]. One of the better and larger museums in North America. The original building was built in 1910, and is a handsome romanesque revival, with many carvings of people and events. the newer addition is a large deconstructivist crystal, made of steel and glass. Thousands of artifacts, and specimens, are featured in over 20 exhibits; including Dinosaurs, Ancient China, Native Canadians, Canadian Furniture, Medieval Europe, Art Deco,Ancient Egypt, Textiles, Middle East, India, and Pacific Islanders. the world's largest totem pole, which is over 100 years old, is also housed in a place of honour.  edit
  • Ontario Science Centre [42]— Lots of hands on science exhibits, including a rainforest, a tornado machine, sound proof tunnel, balance testing machines, and more. It also contains Ontario's only Omnimax (full wrap around) movie theatre.
  • Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor Street West, in downtown Toronto., [43]. Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12 noon-5PM. Adults $12, Seniors $10, Every Thursday evening between 5PM and 8PM, admission is Pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $5 (March 2008). This offbeat museum is devoted to shoes and footwear, and contains Napoleon Bonaparte's socks, and footwear from cultures all over the world  edit
Entrance of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)
Entrance of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)
  • Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) [44]— Annual agricultural exhibition that is Canada's largest fair and the fifth largest in North America, with an average annual attendance of 1.3 million.
  • CN Tower [45]— The tallest free standing structure, at over 500 meters tall, in North America. You can ride a glass elevator to the top. The view is incredible and there is a glass floor, which for some is very scary to walk on. There is also a revolving restaurant which offers spectacular views as the sun sets over the city.
  • Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace (at the corner of Davenport Rd. and Spadina Rd), ''+1 (416)'' 923 - 1171 (, fax: ''+1 (416)'' 923 - 5734), [46]. 9.30am to 5pm. Visit Canada's Majestic Castle, Casa Loma and step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour. The former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Canada's foremost castle is complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens (open May through October). A self-guided digital audio tour in 8 languages (English, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean) is available. CAD 18.  edit

Casa Loma is located on Austin Terrace, at the north end of Spadina Road on an escarpment (Davenport Hill) above Davenport Road. Davenport runs along the bottom of the escarpment which was the shoreline of Lake Iroquois, the predecessor of Lake Ontario. Casa Loma affords views down the escarpment and Spadina Avenue into the heart of Toronto. Stables located at 330 Walmer road and Hunting Lodge at 328 Walmer road.

Casa Loma
Casa Loma
  • Spadina House - A historic mansion dating from the 1860s, the grounds contain a beautiful garden, which is free to walk around in. If you want to view the historic interior, you need to pay.
  • Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art [47]— Dedicated to ceramics in an exquisite contemporary building right across from the Royal Ontario Museum - from Ancient to Contemporary with an extraordinary European collection.
  • Hockey Hall of Fame [48]— Dedicated to the history of ice hockey, it is both a museum and a hall of fame. it is housed in the historic Bank of Montreal building, dating from the 1880s.
  • Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, M3J 2P3, Toronto, ON (One set of lights east of Jane Street, on the South side of Steeles Avenue (follow the Village signs). TTC: Bus Steeles 60 West route from Finch subway station or Jane 35 route from Jane subway station. YRT: From the York University Terminal take the Route 10 (Woodbridge) bus or the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue. From the Vaughan Mills terminal take the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue.), 416-667-6295, [49]. Historic site in northern part of Toronto, just west of York University and southeast of the Jane and Steeles intersection. It overlooks Black Creek, a tributary of the Humber River. The village is a recreation of life in 19th-century Ontario and consists of over forty historic 19th century buildings, decorated in the style of the 1860s with period furnishings and actors portraying villagers. The village is populated with ducks, horses, sheep, and other livestock and is self-explored, although many of the individual sites will have a guide inside to explain details of the structure. Visiting in the fall, after the summer, is a great way to see the village, as weekdays will see the facility almost empty of other visitors.  edit
  • Ontario Place [50]— A great place to take the kids in summer with an Imax theater inside.
Toronto City Hall at night
Toronto City Hall at night
  • Toronto City Hall— Two buildings forming a semi-circle overlooking Nathan Phillips square, which has a very popular skating rink in the winter. Architecturally stunning, and next door to Old City Hall (currently the court house)which has a more classical architecture.
  • Toronto Zoo [51]— A world-class facility, the Toronto Zoo is best accessed by car or GO Transit + TTC bus as a day-trip as it is located at the eastern reaches of the city. The zoo is divided into zones (such as Africa, South America, and North America) and features both indoor and outdoor displays. Open daily except for Christmas Day, and worth a visit in both the winter and summer months.
  • Toronto Aerospace Museum, Parc Downsview Park, 65 Carl Hall Road, Box 1, Toronto, ON, M3K 2E1 (From Downsview subway station bus route 101, 108 Downsview, the 86 Sheppard West, Westbound or the 84 Sheppard West, Westbound. From Sheppard subway station, bus route 86 Sheppard West), (416) 638-6078 (, fax: (416) 638-5509), [52]. Wednesday, 10:00AM - 8:00PM, Thursday - Saturday, 10:00AM - 4:00PM, Sunday, 10:00AM - 4:00PM, Holiday Mondays, 10:00AM - 4:00PM.. The Toronto Aerospace Museum (TAM) is dedicated to developing an exciting educational, heritage and tourist attraction at Parc Downsview Park, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1997, we are an important year-round attraction within Parc Downsview Park, Canada’s first urban national park. The TAM is in a building that isn’t just full of history, but is part of history from the days of fabric and wire biplanes of the 1920’s to the dawn of the space age and Canada’s first satellite, launched in 1962. This historic building at Downsview is the original 1929 home of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., one of Canada’s most successful aircraft manufacturers.  edit
CN Tower as viewed from Rogers Centre.
CN Tower as viewed from Rogers Centre.
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection [53]— Renowned for its devotion to collecting and exhibiting only Canadian art, the McMichael permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, their contemporaries, and First Nations, Inuit and other artists who have made a contribution to Canada’s artistic heritage. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is the only major public art gallery devoted solely to the collecting and exhibiting of Canadian art. The gallery offers visitors the unique opportunity to enjoy Canadian landscape paintings in the woodland setting that inspired them.
  • Rogers Centre [54]— Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League's Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, the site of the annual International Bowl American college football bowl game, and as of 2008, the National Football League's Buffalo Bills' second playing venue in the Bills Toronto Series. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005.

The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348-room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the most recent North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football, as well as baseball, although some of the newer baseball parks have been known to host the occasional college football game, such as AT&T Park, Chase Field, and Safeco Field.

Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto; it has hosted many international acts including Metallica, Madonna, U2, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys, Roger Waters, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Jonas Brothers, and Cher, the latter for the Halloween extravaganza in 2003. Michael W. Smith and N'Sync also performed in the Rogers Centre.

The stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2015 Pan American Games as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.

Panoramic view of Blue Jays game with open roof.
Panoramic view of Blue Jays game with open roof.
Yonge-Dundas Square with Toronto Eaton Centre on the left.
Yonge-Dundas Square with Toronto Eaton Centre on the left.

For Toronto event listings, see FunToronto[55] -- but you must be logged into Facebook to see certain parts of the FunToronto webpage. Or see Eclectic Hub [56].

See also Wikitravel's district articles

  • Just walk— Toronto has so many eclectic neighborhoods that a random walk is fascinating in its own right. You might start in the Downtown area and then try other neighborhoods around the city. You will also find that Toronto is "the city within a park", with miles and miles of parkland following the streams and rivers that flow through the city. Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens in the neighborhood of North York might just be the place to start exploring this natural environment.[57]
  • Beaches— Toronto has three main sections of beach along Lake Ontario. The most popular of these is in the aptly-named Beaches neighbourhood. A less popular alternative is the beaches in the western end of the city in the Parkdale neighbourhood; this was once Toronto's Coney Island, with an amusement park and numerous beach-style attractions; however in the 1950s the city built the Gardiner Expressway along the lakeshore, effectively separating the beaches from the city and causing the demolition of the amusement park; over the years attempts have been made to re-energize this area, but the Gardiner remains a major barrier, as well as a source of noise and pollution to keep away would-be beach-goers. On the plus side, the beaches are largely empty most of the time, providing solitude for those who seek it. The third major beach area in the city runs along the south shore of the Toronto Islands. This area is pleasantly secluded, with most of the islands covered with parkland and a small amusement park. Hanlan's Point Beach on the western shore of the islands is the City of Toronto's only officially recognized clothing optional beach. Despite these options, many Torontonians prefer to leave the city for beach trips; the mot popular beaches are those in the Georgian Bay area north of Toronto, Wasaga Beach in particular is very popular during the summer.
  • The Distillery District[58]The former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands have been rejuvenated into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. It has fantastic restaurants, festivals, and art galleries.
  • The Lakefront and Harbourfront, in the downtown core offers biking and walking trails, with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline. The Harbourfront Centre [59] is situated right by the lake, and is home to numerous cultural events of which most are free or relatively inexpensive. Take in some of the worlds most critically acclaimed performing arts productions, or enjoy one of the many world festivals that take place every weekend.
  • The Toronto Islands are not to be missed. A short, inexpensive ferry ride from the foot of bay street, and you leave the bustle of the city behind. Visually, the views of the skyline from the islands is stunning, and for cycling, walking, picnics or just relaxing, the Toronto Islands are hard to beat. There is even a small amusement park, Centreville.
  • Comedy [60]— World renowned Second City [61] comedy/improv theatre has a location in Toronto. See great improv and situation comedy performed live with audience participation over dinner and drinks in the heart of the club district of downtown Toronto. For something a bit more grassroots, try the Bad Dog Theatre (you can even take free improv classes every Saturday evening).
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at the southeast corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West, across from Osgoode Hall.
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at the southeast corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West, across from Osgoode Hall.
  • Theater— Toronto has a great theater scene for every taste and budget. Check out the big theaters on Yonge Street for the big splashy shows, such as the long-running hit Jersey Boys - The Story of Franki Valli and Four Seasons [62], the direct from Charlottetown Anne of Green Gables - The Musical [63], and season favorite Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas [64]. Small theaters in the Annex and elsewhere offer smaller productions that range from original Canadian works, avant-garde, experimental theater, small budget musicals to British murder mysteries. A variety of theatre festivals such as the New Ideas, Rhubarb and Fringe festivals are the seed for many commercial success such as The Drowsy Chaperone.Also try to check out the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the brand new (2006) home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The Toronto Symphony plays in the recently acoustically renovated Roy Thomson Hall.TO Tix [65] is the best place to get both full-price advance and day-of discounts on shows across Toronto. Visit them in Dundas Square or online. They also offer a 5 Star Experience theatre and dining packages offer affordable and flexible entertainment value, partnering Toronto’s theatre, dance and opera companies with local downtown restaurants and cultural attractions. Another option for dinner and show packages comes from Dancap Catering [66] who offer a gourmet 3-course Prix Fix menu before evening performances of Jersey Boys right at the Toronto Centre for the Arts [67].
  • Canada's Wonderland [68]— A big theme park located in Vaughan, 30 kilometers north of downtown Toronto. It is considered one of North America's premier amusement parks, with more than 200 attractions. The park is open seasonally from May to October.
  • Little Italy/Portugal Village— Centered at College and Grace, this is the spot to get a sense of the Western Mediterranean. Sit at one of the many coffee shops and watch the world go by on the weekends. A great time to visit is during the World Cup of Soccer (regardless of where in the World it is actually being held) as both communities face off and rivalries reach a fever pitch. Recently the rivalries have begun to infect adjacent communities and it is now getting to the point that the entire city is being draped in a mind numbing variety of flags once every four years.
Pedestrian streets in Koreatown.
Pedestrian streets in Koreatown.
  • Little India is located on Gerrard Street between Greenwood and Coxwell. If you want to get a sense of Toronto's vibrant East Indian community, this is where you want to be.
  • Koreatown is composed of the retail businesses along Bloor Street between Christie and Bathurst Streets in the Seaton Village section of The Annex.

Since the early 1990s, a Koreatown has also emerged in North York along Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and just north of Steeles Avenue. The area comprises parts of North York, Ontario (Willowdale, Toronto and Newtonbrook) and Thornhill, Ontario (Vaughan, Ontario and Markham, Ontario).

The new Koreatown has many retail stores, karaoke bars and family restaurants catering to younger Koreans and those living in the north part of the City of Toronto and York Region. A larger proportion of this neighbourhood are recent immigrants or visa students from South Korea.

  • Money

Most Canadians don't carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying on their credit cards, ATMs and direct debit cards. Unlike the USA, personal checks are rarely accepted.

  • ATM

Interbank ATM exchange rates usually beat traveler's checks or exchanging foreign currency. Canadian ATM fees are low ($1.50 to $2 per transaction), but your home bank may charge another fee on top of that.

  • Credit Cards

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards are widely accepted in Canada. Credit cards can get you cash advances at bank ATMs, generally for a 3% surcharge. Beware: many US-based credit cards now convert foreign charges using highly unfavorable exchange rates and fees.

  • Changing Money

Always change your money at a recognized bank or financial institution. Some hotels, souvenir shops and tourist offices exchange money, but their rates won't put a smile on your dial.

American Express (905-474-0870, 800-869-3016; branches in Toronto only function as travel agencies and don't handle financial transactions. Instead, tackle the banks, or try Money Mart (416-920-4146;; Yonge Street Strip, 617 Yonge St; 24hr; Wellesley).

Affiliated with Marlin Travel (, Thomas Cook ( branches include the following:

Bloor-Yorkville (416-975-9940, 800-267-8891; 1168 Bay St; 9am-5:30pm Mon-Fri; Bloor-Yonge)

Financial District (416-366-1961; 10 King St E; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; King)

Travelex ( has branches:

Financial District (416-304-6130; First Canadian Place, Bank of Montréal, 100 King St W; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri)

Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Arrivals (905-673-7042; 8:30am-midnight)

Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Departures (905-673-7461; 3:30am-10pm)


Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop and find deals:

Crowds along Yonge Street.
Crowds along Yonge Street.
Yonge Street.
Yonge Street.
  • Yonge Street is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world. It runs from the edge of the lake to about 1896 km north of the city, and the Yonge subway line runs right under the Street from King Street North to Finch Avenue. You can drive this street if you want (give up trying to find parking), but the smart way to explore Yonge is on foot, with a subway day pass to whisk you between the spots you want to see.
    • South of Queen St. to the lake is mostly the financial district, with very little for tourists. If you want to have a proper look at the skyscrapers of the financial district, walk East from the King subway station to the corner of King and Bay. This is the financial heart of the country; Canada's equivalent to New York's Wall Street.
    • From Queen St. to Bloor St. is the tourist stretch. While some locals will hang out and shop here (mostly younger folks), many of the stores are tourist-y, or lower budget. This is a pretty exciting place to be, and most visitors find this part of the city an interesting experience, but if you are looking for more refined shopping, you need to go farther North.
Interior view of the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Interior view of the Toronto Eaton Centre.
      • Toronto Eaton Centre[69] A massive shopping mall on the West side of Yonge between Queen and Dundas Streets, The Eaton Centre is where those looking for a typical North American mall experience will want to go. Because of its downtown location and accessibility by subway, the mall tends to have a less-antiseptic feel than more remote suburban centres. This place is generally packed with people, an exciting mix of locals and tourists.
    • Bloor St. If you head West from the corner of Yonge and Bloor, you are in the most upscale of Toronto's shopping districts, Yorkville (see below). While not strictly on Yonge street, this area is easily accessible from the Yonge-Bloor subway station (you can also go to Bay station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line).
    • Bloor St. to Eglinton. A bit sleepier than other parts of Yonge, and a long walk without too much shopping, but for those who want a proper urban hike (4KM), there's no reason to skip this stretch. The shopping is not as vibrant, but that's not to say there aren't sights to see. Of particular interest is the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, roughly halfway between St. Clair and Davisville subway stations. The subway route between Bloor and Eglinton is interesting as well, as much of it runs outside, and the view out the window of the train is enjoyable, so if it's shopping you want, take the train to Eglinton from Bloor.
    • Eglinton to Lawrence. This stretch of Yonge is not as well known by tourists, and consequently more popular with locals. Surrounded by upper middle class and wealthier neighborhoods, this is where you want to go to experience the energy of Yonge street, without the tourist traps. Take the subway to Eglinton station, and walk North. It is a 2KM walk (1.3 Miles) from Eglinton to Lawrence, and there are hundreds of stores and restaurants on both sides of the street. If you can handle a 4KM walk, you can walk up to Lawrence on one side of the street, and then cross over and walk back. There's even a half kilometre North of Lawrence that you can cover, for a total of 5KMs of continuous shops. Bring comfortable shoes!
  • Yorkville is the high-end shopping district of Toronto. Once a haven for Toronto's hippie population, it is located just north of Bloor and Bay Streets and is now home to many designer boutiques. During the annual Toronto Film Festival the area is "ground-zero" for celebrity watching.
  • Located a short walk West of the Eaton Centre is the city's fashion district along Queen Street West, an area usually bustling with local hipsters looking for the latest looks in a variety of trendy stores. The stretch between University Ave and Spadina tends to be much more mainstream with an ever increasing number of chain stores, but it is still well worth the look. More offbeat choices can be found west of Spadina Ave stretching all the way into Parkdale (at least 2KMs/1.4miles). Take the University subway to Osgoode station and walk West.
  • Kensington Market, around College and Spadina, was once a center of Jewish life but has morphed into the center of Toronto's bohemian scene. Visitors will be assaulted by sounds and smells unlike anywhere else in the city, as narrow streets bustle with immigrants, punks, and yuppies alike. Stores include surplus shops, coffee houses, clothing vendors, and record stores. Fish and fruit markets are also present in great numbers, and the area is experiencing a boom of South American food stalls of late. Several weekends throughout the summer are designated "car-free" by the city, but even on the average weekend this is a place to avoid with a car, as pedestrians tend to wander as they please. Take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Spadina station, and then take the Spadina streetcar South into Chinatown. Kensington is one block West of Spadina, you can get off anywhere between College and Dundas streets.
  • Pacific Mall at Steeles and Kennedy in Markham, [70]. The largest Chinese indoor mall in North America, and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Asian-Canadian culture. Take any 53 bus from Finch subway station (it's a long bus ride!). About 45 minutes from downtown by car, well over an hour by transit. Also located close to Milliken GO station.
Chinatown, Toronto.
Chinatown, Toronto.
  • Chinatown— Centered at Dundas and Spadina, Toronto's Chinatown is a great way to sample a tiny bit of cities like Hong Kong, without spending the airfare. Vast crowds crush the sidewalks as vendors sell authentic Chinese and Vietnamese food, and not-so-authentic knock-offs. It is one of North America's largest Chinatowns, and with many stores geared towards tourists, it is a good place to pick up some unique and inexpensive souvenirs. The area is also home to a growing number of Korean and Vietnamese shops and eateries. Toronto's multicultural mosaic never stops evolving. For a complete tour, travel along Spadina (North/South) starting at College Street in the north or Queen Street in the south.
  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre[71] A shopping centre located in the north of the city, accessible from Yorkdale subway station. This is a full-service, upscale mall with hundreds of stores, but which is also rife with packs of roving teenagers who use the facilities as a social scene. Make use of the subway if possible on weekends, as locals pack the parking areas to capacity.
  • The 'PATH' System [72] stretches from the Eaton Centre south to Union Station, an underground shopping mall has been created for all the commuters to get from Union Station to their offices and back without ever going outside. In a city of Toronto's summer heat and winter cold, this is essential.
  • Scarborough boasts Kennedy Avenue from Lawrence Avenue East to Ellesmere Avenue, a commercial district featuring dozens of independent furniture, electronic, houseware and computer businesses that all share some of the best deals the city has to offer, together with a couple of large electronic chains. It is often very congested on weekends by automobile, and many merchants lack adequate parking, but it is within walking distance of the Scarborough RT and there is bus service from the Kennedy subway station on the Danforth line. This is not really a destination for tourists, and it's quite a drive from the city centre, but if you're in the area, and want to do some discount shopping, there may be something here to suit your needs.
  • Vaughan Mills [73] Big new shopping mall 6 km North of City of Toronto.
  • Toronto Hockey Repair and Goalie Heaven [74] is a world-renowned hockey equipment vendor, attracting people from around the world to shop.
  • Microbrews (such as Cool beer) can be hard to find outside the GTA. These can be purchased at the brewery, Beer Store, or LCBO.


Toronto is generally considered to be one of North America's top food cities. It has the same variety as New York or San Francisco and the compact and safe downtown keeps them closer together. As a multicultural city, Toronto has authentic ethnic cuisine like no other city in North America. It is easy to eat out in Toronto and have a superb meal for cheap.

Farmer's Markets

Surrounded by the extensive fertile farmlands of Southern Ontario, Toronto has an abundance of farmer's markets - one is happening, in season, almost every day. Several markets are year round, while others are seasonal, generally running from May to October.

  • St. Lawrence Market [75] has been bringing the freshest foods into the city for Torontonians and visitors alike since 1901. Located at Jarvis and Front, the St. Lawrence Market stretches over 2 buildings, the 'North Market' and the 'South Market' - and often over the section of Front street between them! The North Market is home to a Farmer's Market, open Saturdays year round. It features fresh vegetables in season, preserves, spices and herbs, and direct from the source foods, such as honey direct from the beekeeper or maple syrup from the people who tapped and boiled it, as well as quality Ontario wines. The South Market has over 50 specialty vendors, with a large seafood section, a dozen butchers, several bakeries, and three very extensive cheese shops. In the basement, there is also a specialty area for handcrafters, and an extensive foodcourt, with merchants often cooking food that they bought fresh that morning from upstairs. The South Market is open year round, Tue-Thu 8AM-6PM, Fri 8AM-7PM, Sat 5AM-5PM.
  • Riverdale Farm [76] at 201 Winchester Street (three blocks east of Parliament Street) is a year-round producing farm owned by the City of Toronto as part of its extensive park system, open daily for tours, education, and more 9AM-5PM. The Friends of Riverdale Farm operate an onsite store and restaurant, Shop at the Farm and Farm Kitchen, in Simpson House (daily 10AM-4PM), and a weekly Farmer's Market (Tuesdays, May 10 - Oct. 25, 2005, 3:30PM-7PM. Riverdale farm is a working farm, with barns and outdoor paddocks, and animals of all types. In an attempt to provide education about farming, the staff is approachable, and will discuss chores as they go through the daily tasks of keeping a farm running. Tours are available, or you can wander the 7.5 acres freely.

Other farmer's markets in Toronto:

  • City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West - Wednesdays, June 1 - October 5, 10AM-2:30PM (except June 29 due to Jazz Festival).
  • East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue - Tuesdays, May 24 - October 25, 9AM-2PM.
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall - Saturdays, June 4 - October 29, 8AM-2PM.
  • North York Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street - Thursdays, June 16 - October 20, 8AM-2PM.
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Drive - Fridays, June 3 - October 14, noon-5PM.
  • The Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market [77], 875 Dufferin Street (across from the Dufferin Mall) - Thursdays, year round (outdoors around the rinkhouse in summer and in the rinkhouse in winter) 3:30PM-7PM.
  • Cabbagetown is a small historic district in the eastern half of the downtown core. The better restaurants and bars include JAMcafe[78], Stone Grill, The Coburg, Omi.
  • A small section of Baldwin Street (east of Spadina, north of Dundas) has many small outdoor cafes ideal for summer lunches.
  • Chinatown - It now features many Vietnamese and Thai restaurants.
  • King Street between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue has many touristy restaurants appealing to theatre goers.
  • Queen Street East between Empire and Leslie has a number of casual, trendy restaurants that match the vibe of Leslieville.
  • College Street to the west of Bathurst has a cheaper set of eclectic restaurants popular with university students from nearby University of Toronto.
  • Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton, is the location of some of Toronto's best French pastry shops, including Rahier and La Cigogne.
  • Bloor Street to the west of Spadina in the Annex has a similar set of restaurants to College, with a particularly heavy concentration of budget-friendly Japanese restaurants. Most restaurants tend to be very laid back.
  • Yorkville - it's more about being seen than actually eating but there are a few hidden gems - Toni Bulloni (152 Cumberland Ave) is an Italian spot. Sushi Inn (120 Cumberland) is one of the most popular (though decidedly low-end) sushi restaurants in the city. The Coffee Mill (99 Yorkville) is a Hungarian bistro with a surprisingly varied menu.
  • The city's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, once chose the Downsview Park Flea Market food court as the best in the city. Although it is open only on weekends and rather remote, it offers a variety of authentic food from Afghan to Trinidadian and lacks the chain restaurants that dominate the city's food courts. It is located north of downtown, but is accessible from the Downsview subway station on the Spadina line and shares space with over 400 independent retailers.
  • Dufflet's, 787 Queen Street W, [79]. Cakes to die for--they supply desserts for a number of the city's best restaurants. Limited seating, but taking out a coffee to go and strolling along this interesting stretch of Queen St is ideal in warmer weather. You can also buy customized birthday cakes here.  edit
  • Bulldog Coffee 89 Granby Street [80] serves the best espresso and espresso based drinks in Toronto. One of the owner/baristas regularly wins competitions for his latte art. Daily 7AM-7PM.
  • The Red Tea Box 696 Queen Street W. Excellent teas, good food, cozy atmosphere, and decadent desserts that look too good too eat. Not cheap, but worth the cost. Open only for lunch. 416 203 8882.

Toronto is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.

see district articles for further information

  • Le Commensal - Downtown. Cafeteria style restaurant that even has a small grocery area full of organic, vegan and vegetarian produce. Menu is standard, but the portions are generous and the atmosphere is amiable.
  • Fresh by Juice for Life - The Annex & Richmond Street West. Serving mouthwatering servings of salads and juices of inspired combinations. Somewhat overpriced but all this healthy stuff does make you feel good.
  • Fressen - Queen West. Great reviews of this restaurant by locals, who pack the place for its innovative and tasty vegetarian dishes. The gluten roast (a kind of faux roast-beef) comes recommended and the wine list features organic wines.
  • Buddha's Vegetarian Food (Bathurst and Dundas; 666 Dundas West). Incredible value for money with one portion serving at least 2 very hungry people and costing only $8. Closed some (but not all!) Tuesdays.
  • Vegetarian Haven, [81]. Vegetarian Haven (Baldwin Street): All of the food was good, very filling, big portions. Staff are friendly and the restaurant is clean and charming (outdoor seating a big plus). The cost is very acceptable ($13.60 CAD for entree and soup). This place stands out as the mark of an excellent restaurant.  edit
  • Live Organic Food Bar, The Annex. Freshly squeezed juices accompany complete meals that cost $35. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11AM to 10PM. Brunch Sunday 11AM to 4PM. Closed Monday and holidays.


The majority of nightlife in Toronto is centred on the appropriately named Clubland and in the fashion district on Queen Street West. Nearly everywhere is packed to the brim with pubs and bars, but none so much as Adelaide and Queen Street in those districts. Clubs tend to operate on Richmond and Adelaide streets (both run east-west, 1 block apart); names change frequently, but the district keeps on going. Three other clubs of note outside this district: The (long-lasting) Phoenix (on Sherbourne), The Guvernment (Toronto's largest club - on the harbour east of Yonge Street) and the Docks (literally operating on part of Toronto's commercial port, but this place has an outstanding view of the city on warm summer nights, and boasts an extensive entertainment complex).

Newly opened Circa is currently the hottest club in town. Worth $6.2 million until the next major opening, Circa represents the mecca for any visitor interested in clubbing.

Hip art and music oriented crowds tend to gravitate towards Parkdale (Queen West past Bellwoods Park). The hipsters hangout and comment on their outfits (and sometimes the art) in the wide array of bars, galleries and clubs that dot the area - in particular the Stones Place (mostly Indians and sometimes gay crowds), The Social (a mixed bag), and the Drake and its poor cousin Gladstone Hotels. The same folks also frequent the Annex / Kensington Market Area of the city at night for club nights, casual drinks and art / music events. One of the main "corsos" of the city is Little Italy: College Street, between Bathurst and Ossington flows over with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food and a crowd that enjoys the summer heat and the offerings. The drinking age is 19.

  • The Green Room 296 Brunswick Avenue (416) 929 3253 is a cozy funky bar hidden in an alley just off Bloor. It has affordable prices and a beautiful courtyard garden when the weather is warm. Daily noon-2AM.
  • The Feathers Pub 962 Kingston Road (416) 694-0443 is possibly Toronto's most British pub, and has approximately 300 single malt scotches available at reasonable prices.

Toronto is also home to a number of microbreweries. These include Mill Street, Steam Whistle Pilsner, Cool, Amterdam, and Great Lakes. The breweries offer free samples and some have restaurants. Although a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery costs $8, it includes a gift.


Most hotels and hostels are situated directly outside the downtown core. Prices for rooms generally range from $150+ for a standard hotel, $60-80 for a motel, and $20-40 for a bed in a hostel.


Toronto has a wide variety of hotels that can suit every budget.


Toronto has several youth hostels, including ones in the downtown area. Global Village Backpackers at Spadina and King is perhaps most famous, with its garish colour scheme. Equally well-situated is a Hostelling International located at the foot of Church Street or Canadiana Backpackers Inn located on Widmer street.

Bed & Breakfast

Another popular alternative for over nighters are bed & breakfasts, of which Toronto has hundreds, many of them in the downtown core. Prices range from $60 to several hundred dollars depending on the house and amenities offered. The Toronto Townhouse [82] are Toronto Tourism award winners and still is one of the better ones. They have two locations - one in Cabbagetown and the other in the Annex area.

Another popular inexpensive place is Castlegate Inn Toronto Bed and Breakfast [83] because of its proximity to the Spadina subway station and the University of Toronto.


International students often prefer to study in Toronto because of its safety, proximity to other tourist destinations, and favourable exchange rates and visa policies. However, despite its status as the largest city in the country and Canada's economic centre, it is surprisingly under-served by universities. This lack of post-secondary education has led to the development of major universities in the mid-sized cities that surround Toronto: the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, the University of Guelph in Guelph, Brock University in St. Catharines and Trent University in Peterborough. The universities in Toronto remain some of the best in the country:

  • The University of Toronto [84] (Canada's largest) is spread out all over the city (including the main downtown campus, an East-end Scarborough campus, and University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM) in the neighbouring city of Mississauga). This university is consistently rated among the top three in the country and is part of the "Canadian Ivy League." Due to its size, the University of Toronto's downtown campus, known as the St George campus, after the street that runs through it, has its own "sphere of influence," turning the surrounding neighbourhoods into miniature college towns, with plenty of bars, restaurants, bookshops, grocery stores and cheap take-out joints.
  • York University [85] (the third largest in Canada) is on the northern border of the city, though the original Glendon College campus at Bayview and Lawrence is still in existence. Its location is the main drawback to this university; however, for those truly determined, there is a regular bus - route 106 - that connects Downsview subway station on the end of the University-Spadina line to the bus loop at the centre of the campus.
  • Ryerson University [86] is in the heart of the downtown core. It was once a polytechnic, but is now Toronto's third university. The university is particularly well known for its school of management, as well as its journalism program. Its campus is centred on the Kerr Hall, which forms a square around a central quad, it fills the block bounded by Gould, Gerrard, Victoria and Church streets. Ryerson also has buildings throughout this section of the city, including the Ted Rogers School of Management, at Bay and Dundas streets.
  • Ontario College of Art and Design which is located at Queen Street West and Spadina.
  • Seneca College [87] (Canada's largest college) is spread out over the city with over 16 campuses of varying sizes.
  • George Brown College [88] has two campuses: St. James (downtown) and Casa Loma (midtown).
  • Humber College [89] has two campuses: Lakeshore and North.

Toronto, like other Canadian cities, also has dozens of English as a Second Language (ESL) schools. The largest association of private English and French language schools is the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools [90].


For emergency, dial 911 (you can dial it at the pay phone without putting in any coins).

Local calls at the pay phone cost 50 cents. Local calls are not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. However, due to the popularity of cellphones there are fewer pay phones than before but contrary to what some believe they are not dissapearing, rather there are fewer street booths than were found 10 years ago. Despite this, most large public facilities still have ample pay phones to use. In malls, pay phones are usually located between the inner and outer doors at the entrances.

In addition, many public facilities (such as shopping malls) now also have phones which provide free local calls, which are funded by advertisements run on colour LCD screens. Watch for large, wall-mounted ovals in high-traffic areas.

Toronto has two area codes: 416 and 647. These area codes overlap. That is, they are both associated with the same geographic area. The suburban areas outside of the city also have two overlapping area codes, 905 and 289. As a result, Toronto has 10-digit local dialing. You must always dial the area code as part of the number you are trying to reach.

International calling cards are widely available to many countries for reasonable rates.

Toronto is a city with many internet cafés, especially on Yonge Street around Bloor, and also on Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst. It's not hard to find a place to call home and the costs are relatively low, from $3 for 30 minutes. However, currently internet cafés are opening and closing at an astounding rate so on repeat visits to the city you may find that the one you used last time has disappeared. For a guide to some of them, see YYZTech's Internet cafe reviews online [91]. Most major hotels offer high-speed internet in their rooms and in their business centres. Many coffee shops, donut shops and some food courts in the downtown core offer wireless, high-speed (some free, some not). The widespread availability of high-speed internet access in homes, businesses and hotels means that internet cafes are largely becoming a thing of the past.

Toronto Hydro Telecom operates a public WiFi network called One Zone [92] that covers six square kilometres in the downtown core. Rates are $4.99 for one hour, $9.99 for a day, or $24.99 for a month, but you must have a cell phone capable of receiving text messages to access the network.

Free internet access is available on computers at Toronto Public Library [93] branches, and the Toronto Reference Library [94] also provides free wireless access on the first two floors.


Toronto's two main dailies are the Star [95] and the Sun [96]. The Star is a broadsheet that tends to lean liberal and is the more serious of the two and the Sun is a tabloid that tends to lean conservative. Canada's two national dailies, the Globe and Mail [97] and the National Post [98], are published in Toronto and tend to focus more on that city than anywhere else. The Globe has ties with Bay Street banks and has endorsed The Conservative party in the last few elections. The National Post is more right-leaning and owned by the Asper family of Winnipeg. Toronto also has a free daily, Metro [99], which reports on local, national and international news and includes movie and television listings. Metro is distributed in boxes on the street and in subway stations.

Free weekly newspapers, distributed from boxes on street corners and in racks in stores and restaurants can be good sources of information on cinema, dining, music, theatre, and other events and local news:

  • Eye Weekly [100] - Comes out on Thursdays.
  • Now Toronto [101] - Comes out on Thursdays.

Depending on where you go in Toronto, you will be able to find locally printed newspapers in a variety of languages. For example, in Chinatown you will find Chinese newspapers. In "Little Italy" you'll find Italian newspapers. You'll also find newspapers in Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Arabic, Tagalog, Greek and more.

Stay safe

On the whole Toronto is remarkably safe and the streets are vibrant with pedestrians and bicyclists even at night in most neighbourhoods. If you use common sense you should have no trouble at all: don't walk around alone late at night and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid the club/entertainment district at closing time, as fights between drunken patrons do occur, occasionally escalating to where weapons become involved. Police have recently increased their presence in the club district to limit problems, but caution is still advised.

The downtown core and most of the surrounding suburbs are largely risk-free, but be careful when in neighbourhoods such as Jane-Finch, Regent Park, Parkdale and Morningside Avenue. These areas have a reputation for higher-than-average crime rates, but are still generally safe during the day.

Toronto's downtown core has a series of safe, underground interconnected shopping centres called the PATH. These are frequently used by locals and tourists to escape harsh weather while comfortably navigating the core. Be aware the PATH system, while very safe, is somewhat confusing, and is largely abandoned and shuttered after business hours and on weekends. Refer frequently to the posted maps or ask a security guard or store clerk for directions as needed.

The overall violent crime rate in Canada, and particularly in Toronto is much lower than that found in major cities the United States, but is still higher than the rate in some European countries such as Germany. Petty crime is generally not a problem in Toronto, but as always is the case, keep vigilant with your possessions. One exception to relatively low crime rates is that both car and bike theft are comparable to other large North American cities.

There are, of course, neighbourhoods which are known in the media and on the street as being more dangerous, though police statistics are not commonly used to justify these beliefs. Nevertheless, while assaults and other crimes can happen anywhere, especially late at night when few people are around, it is reasonable advice to avoid certain areas (again, generally late at night). These areas include Crescent Town, Regent Park, Parkdale, Jane and Finch ("Jane Corridor"), Lawrence Heights, Flemingdon Park/Victoria Village, the Peanut (ie. Don Mills and Sheppard), Rexdale/Jamestown, Malvern, Weston-Mount Dennis, Kingston-Galloway, Steeles-L’Amoureaux, Dorset Park, Westminster-Branson and Eglinton East-Kennedy Park. It is advised to simply stay away from any "housing projects", slums, shanty towns, and other dodgy looking areas. Drugs, prostitution and violent crime do occur. The good thing is these neighbourhoods become noticeably worse from a visual standpoint giving the casual tourist ample time to turn around. Armed robbery occurs rarely and mainly in poor neighbourhoods at odd hours.

Toronto also has a large homeless population, many of whom will ask you for money. If you do not want to offer them money, simply look the panhandler in the eye and say "no thank you" or simply ignore them. There have been several recent occurrences of over aggressive pan-handlers, with one resulting in a fatality. As a result, if a pan-handler becomes aggressive, move away quickly and alert a police officer. Toronto has a larger homeless population that many other similar-sized cities because there is a law allowing homeless people to remain on the sidewalk, as long as they are not aggressive.

Be careful when getting off the streetcars and look always to your right before leaving the car. Although vehicles are supposed to stop when the streetcar doors open, some motorists and cyclists will ignore this and keep going.

For the average tourist, Toronto's weather presents the greatest danger or at the least, perhaps some inconvenience. Among the major world tourist cities, Toronto has the third-coldest winter temperatures, comparable to New York or Boston, but not as cold as say, Moscow. Mild periods do occur melting accumulated snowfall from time to time, but nevertheless you must come prepared and dress warmly, preferably in layers as conditions are changeable. The average January high temperature in Toronto is -1°C and the average low is -8°C. In January, February, and early March temperatures can drop as low as -30°C or colder factoring in the biting windchill. Exposed skin will freeze in minutes at these temperatures. In July the average maximum is 27°C and the average low is 18°C with sometimes hot, humid conditions but the city has many parks or public spaces with gardens to cool off. Most evenings are a little muggy. In the summer months, shade temperatures above 30°C are not uncommon but this varies from year to year. There were nearly sixty such days in 2005 but yet only a handful (actually 9) during the record wet summer of 2008. Bring an umbrella at any time of the year, rain and/or snow are common during the colder season and sudden thunderstorms are frequent in summer, however you will experience sunshine on most days.

On occasion, during the winter months, Toronto will be hit with a severe winter storm accompanied by significant snowfall (quite often mixed with freezing rain/ice/sleet). Avoid driving during and immediately after the storms if at all possible. This is especially true for those unfamiliar with winter driving and controlling a car in a skid. Take public transit or stay inside. In the most severe storms or after a series of storms, however, surface transit has been known to be significantly delayed or even shut down.

Get out

Toronto is a great starting point for exploring southern Ontario. The Niagara Region, including Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, is about an hour's drive south of Toronto. For those wanting to go to the United States from Toronto, Buffalo, New York is about a two hour drive from Toronto. The Canadian capital of Ottawa is about a four hour drive from Toronto. The Niagara Escarpment, is a world biosphere, protected by UN mandate running from the Falls west then northward to Georgian Bay, covered by forest with high cliff views along the Bruce Trail, it borders the western edge of the Greater Toronto Area.

The Waterloo Region further west has colleges and Mennonite culture.

Muskoka,about 2 hours north, and The Kawarthas 1.5 hours northeast, are cottage country areas with more rocky and hilly terrain speckled with hundreds of lakes and waterways. These regions are known for their country inns, cottages, spas/resorts, provincial parks, and a wealth of outdoor activities including camping, fishing/hunting, nature viewing, and hiking set amongst natural beauty.

There are also several golden sand beaches along the clean fresh waters of the Great Lakes that are ideal for hot summer days. Popular beach destinations within 1.5 - 2.5 hours of Toronto include Wasaga Beach, Sauble Beach, Sandbanks, Grand Bend, Long Point, and Turkey Point.

Routes through Toronto
BarrieVaughan  N noframe S  ENDS
LondonMississauga  W noframe E  PickeringOshawa
HamiltonMississauga  W noframe E  ENDS
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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