Canada facts & history
Toronto is the Capital of the Ontario province,
sitting in the centre of the Great Lakes region of Canada,
on the shore of Lake Ontario.
The city is Canada's chief manufacturing, financial,
and communications centre, business capital and largest
It leads all Canadian cities in printing, publishing,
and television and film production and leading cultural
The city has Canada's largest museum and public library
During the 1600's and 1700's, the Seneca and Iroquois
Indians lived in the Toronto area before white people
In the early 1700's, the French set up a fort, a mission
and fur trading post.
In 1759, the French burned Fort Toronto, also known
as Fort Rouille down to keep the British from capturing
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris gave all Canada to Great
In 1791, John Graves Simcoe became lieutenant governor
of the new British colony of Upper Canada (now Ontario).
He chose the present day Toronto site of for his colonial
capital to replace Newark, which was the capital until
In 1793, he named the settlement York after the Duke
During the 1812, war Americans captured and held York
for six days, looting and razing the town.
The British struck back by attacking Washington and
torching what is now known the White House (it was painted
white to hide the burn marks).
In 1834, York was renamed Toronto, a Huron Indian term
for 'meeting place' and received its city charter.
During the late 1800's, Toronto developed as a manufacturing
and transportation centre.
In 1904, a large fire burnt more than a hundred buildings
down in the inner city.
In the early twentieth century the city became known
as 'Toronto the Good' for its highly moral, mannered
culture, a tag that only began to fade in the 1970s.
World War I and World War II brought great industrial
expansion to the Toronto area.
During the Depression years between the two WW Toronto
went through a very bad patch.
Anti-immigrant hostilities ran high, with anti-Semitic
After World War II, hundreds of thousands of European
immigrants settled in Toronto.
In 1954, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto became
North America's first metropolitan government federation.
The Municipality consisted of Toronto and 12 of its
In 1998, when five surrounding suburbs were incorporated
into the city, Toronto became the largest city in Canada
and the fourth-largest in North America.
Toronto has three of the world's tallest buildings,
the 72-storey Bank of Montreal Tower rises 285 metres,
the 68-storey Scotia Plaza building is 276 metres tall
and the Commerce Court West, with 57 stories, rises
Nearby is the CN (Canadian National) Tower, that rises
553 metres and is the world's tallest free-standing
The downtown area is surrounded by bohemian, ethnic
and historic neighbourhoods and Lake Ontario on the
Toronto has a warm summer and a cold winter (Averaging
between 2 and -10°C.
Some of Toronto's many attractions are;
Yonge St., the main thoroughfare, stretching about 18
km north from Lake Ontario through the central downtown
area and beyond the city's northern boundary.
Bloor and College Sts. are the main east-west streets.
On the lake shore is the semi-developed Harbourfront
Downtown Toronto has many of Toronto's most significant
and easily accessible attractions.
The CN Tower, at 533m (1748ft) the highest free standing
structure in the world since 1976 and Toronto's best
known landmark with a Revolving Restaurant instead.
The SkyDome next door, features the world's first fully
retractable dome roof and large enough playing field
to park eight 747s.
The Old Town of York has the city's oldest and best-preserved
buildings can be found here, including the Flatiron
Building, with its triangular shape and famous mural,
and the St. Lawrence Market, with the interesting clock
Nearby is the St. James Cathedral with its beautiful
stained glass, a grand organ and the tallest spire in
The Harbourfront area has many galleries and cultural
centres, the Mackenzie House, Osgoode Hall, Campbell
House, and the restored grandeur of the Elgin & Winter
Garden Theatre Centre.
Chinatown centred around Dundas St., west of Yonge St.,
where many ethnic restaurants and shops are.
North of Chinatown is the busy university area and Yorkville.
It is a trendy shopping and gallery district, with numerous
museums, collections, galleries, restaurants, nightspots
and outdoor cafes.
Little Italy is west of the University of Toronto, with
various outdoor cafes, bars, bakeries and fine ristoranti
and the authentic Corso Italia, with the real Italian
cinemas, smoky espresso cafes and pool halls. North
of Bloor St. is the Caribbean area.
Koreatown and multi ethnic Bloor Village is towards
the west of downtown. Nearby is the small Ukrainian
Museum of Canada, a Tibetan Buddhist temple, the Casa
Loma, 'House on a Hill', a 98-room medieval-style castle
built by the wealthy Sir Henry Pellat in the early 20th
century and Spadina House, an Art Nouveau mansion built
in 1886 and lit by working gaslights with attractive
Edwardian and Victorian gardens.
Cabbagetown, is just east of downtown, was so called
as the sandy soil proved ideal for growing cabbage and
was a Irish neighbourhood who came here fleeing the
potato famine of 1841.
The area has a nice collection of fine Victorian architecture
beautifully restored houses and carefully tended gardens
and the tall red brick Toronto Dance Theatre & School,
the Witches' House, the Chapel of St. James-the-Less,
an old English country type church.
Often been called one of the most beautiful buildings
To the north of Cabbagetown is Rosedale, one of the
city's wealthiest areas for almost a century where almost
every house has been listed by the Ontario Heritage
Foundation for architectural or historical significance,
especially the two ornate faces of No 88 and the ornamental
iron porch of No 93.
Toronto's splendid islands were formed in 1858 when
a storm created the Eastern Channel.
Centre Island Park has several amusements, including
the Centreville Amusement Park, the Far Enough Farm,
a hedge maze, Hanlan's Point Beach, and a boathouse.
Algonquin Island Park and Ward's Island, have small
artistic communities living there and enjoying their
unique way of life. All islands are interconnected by
bridges or footpaths.
Niagara Falls, Canada's top tourist attractions, drawing
over 12 million people annually is about a two-hour
drive from Toronto.
Buses run every two hours or so and trains run twice
Kitchener-Waterloo, centres of Canada's Amish and Mennonite
religious farming communities is about an hour's drive
west of Toronto, and the route is serviced by train
These religious sect were established in the 16th century
Switzerland, and arrived in North America around 1640,
after William Penn's promise of religious freedom.
These sects agree on the freedom of conscience, separation
of church and state, refusal to take oaths, using cars,
machinery and on practical piety.
The central Farmers' Market operated since 1839 featuring
Mennonite products, such as breads, jams, cheeses, sausages;
and handicrafts such as quilts and simple, well-made
About half Kitchener-Waterloo's residents are of German
ancestry, making its nine-day Oktoberfest an event not
to be missed.
A town named Stratford, located on a river called the
Avon is the heart of England transplanted to Canada,
with a world-famous Shakespearean festival.
Stratford over two hours to drive to from Toronto, and
trains and buses connect through Kitchener-Waterloo.
The Niagara Peninsula Wine Country is only about 2 hours
drive from Toronto with regular bus services.
Many wineries are open daily year-round and offer tours
and free wine tastings.
Ohsweken, the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve
is southeast of Brantford, and larger than the city
itself was established in the late 18th century.
Many different gatherings are held during the year,
including the Six Nations Pageant, a summer theatre
program and an annual handicraft bazaar.
Toronto has many festivals and events between May and
The city is great for walking, swimming, windsurfing,
sailing, bicycle riding, in-line skating, golfing, ice-skating
Toronto is served by two airports, Pearson International
Airport and the main bus terminal is near downtown on
the corner of Bay and Dundas Sts, are handling a large
number of national and international services.
The city also have an excellent integrated bus, subway
and tram (Streetcar) system, Ferries run to the Toronto
Islands, and GO Trains leave from Union Station for
points throughout the Toronto suburbs.
Toronto has an area of 632 sq km and has a population
of about 3 million.
First I visited Toronto in 1996, in the middle
of one night and had some trouble finding a place to
stay. In desperation I hoped in a Taxi to be taken to
an expensive 'pigsty' (literally).
In 2002 I have returned with Hui Chin.
Following our arrival from Niagara Falls by bus we were
a bit confused and we also got turned down from about
ten small nearby Hotels, (History repeats?!).
After a while we got our 'sea legs' and managed to get
on the right tram and find our way to the Alexandra
The rates were a bit high for us, but being turned away
so many places we accepted it reluctantly.
We enjoyed the conducted city tour and we did enjoy
our stay at the hotel and in Toronto in general.
After our conducted tour we done a lot of walking.
Down at grass roots level, where we can really get the
feeling of the city, any city or any place really.
We enjoyed our stay so much, we spent a few more days
after our return visiting the eastern cities Montreal,
Ottawa and Quebec City.
You can click on
these photos for an enlargement.
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