Port and capital of Ontario, Canada, at the mouths of the Humber and Don rivers on Lake Ontario; population (2006) 5,424,000. In 1998 the former area of Metropolitan Toronto merged with York, East York, Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, and Toronto to form the City of Toronto. It is a major shipping point on the St Lawrence Seaway, and Canada's main financial, business, commercial, and manufacturing centre. Industries include shipbuilding, food-processing, publishing, biotechnology, information technology, and the production of fabricated metals, aircraft, farm machinery, cars, chemicals, and clothing. It is also a tourist and cultural centre, with a thriving film industry.
History Originally a Native Canadian meeting place and crossroads of trade, its strategic position on the Toronto Passage overland route between lakes Huron and Ontario was fought over by the French, Americans, and English. French fur traders were using the passage to carry canoes between the lakes in 1615. Fort Rouillé, established by the French in 1749, was destroyed by the British in 1759.
The area was settled by Loyalists after the American Revolution, and in 1787 the site of present-day Toronto was bought from Native Canadian Mississauga peoples for £1,700. The plot was chosen by Lord Dorchester, governor of Canada, as the seat of government for the newly created province of Upper Canada in May 1793; it was named York after Frederick Augustus, Duke of York. The city was occupied by US forces in 1813 when legislative buildings and archives were burned; the mace of government, which was carried away, was returned by President Theodore Roosevelt at the centennial celebrations in 1934.
Self-government was granted to the town of York in 1817, and it was incorporated as a city under the name of Toronto in 1834. The expansion of the city gained impetus from the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, and the discovery of vast mineral deposits to the northwest at the beginning of the 20th century.
Becoming increasingly ethnically diverse in the late 20th century, Toronto is now a very multicultural city; in 2001 over half its residents were foreign-born and over 100 languages were spoken in the city.
Location Toronto lies in the southern part of Ontario province, 2,900 km/1,800 mi west of the Atlantic Ocean, on a bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is situated 535 km/334 mi southwest of Montréal and 383 km/239 mi east of Detroit, USA. The city occupies a large low-lying plain opposite Toronto Island and a great hooked spit that protects the inner and outer harbours. Industry has spread along the lakeshore and the Humber and Don valleys, while the main area of suburban residential development is located inland on the beach ridge formed around old Lake Iroquois.
Financial services The Toronto Stock Exchange accounts for about two-thirds of the value of Canadian sales of stocks, and is the third-largest in North America by value. The financial district is focused on Bay Street.
Communications Roads and railways are carried inland by the Humber and Don valleys. An underground rapid transit rail system was opened in 1954 and has since been extended. The city is served by Pearson International Airport.
Architecture Over 1,300 buildings in Toronto are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act. Notable constructions include the Ontario Parliament Buildings (1886) and the City Hall complex (1965). The 553 m/1,815 ft-high CN Tower, a transmission and telecommunications mast and the world's tallest free-standing structure, was built by CN (Canadian National Railways) in 1976; its glass-fronted lifts travel on the outside of the building. Fort York, erected in 1793 and rebuilt in 1815, contains Toronto's oldest residential buildings, the Officers' Quarters. The mock-medieval Casa Loma, a castle built in 1914 as a private mansion, is now a public museum; its Great Hall can hold 2,000 people.
Educational and cultural institutions Toronto University (1827), the Ontario College of Art (1876), York University (1959), and Ryerson Polytechnic University (1992) are the main centres of higher education. Museums and galleries include the Royal Ontario Museum (1912), with a collection of Chinese art; the Canadian Railway Museum (1961); the Ontario Science Centre (1969); the Art Gallery of Ontario (1902), containing the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre; the Toronto Centre for the Arts, which houses the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (1999); and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (1984). The city is home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada, and Canadian Opera Company.
Entertainment The SkyDome sports complex (1989) seats up to 52,000 and has a retractable roof. The annual Canadian National Exhibition has its grounds by the lake. The
Toronto Zoo and Canada's Wonderland, a theme park, are located in the metropolitan area. Festivals include the Celebrate Toronto Street Festival since 1997 and the annual Toronto Winterfest since 1980. Toronto is regarded as ‘Hollywood North’ and is the third-largest film and television production centre in North America.
Toronto Star City Search
CN Tower, Toronto
For more than two centuries after the first Europeans had advanced into the region, the site of the future Toronto and then the town itself were...
Capital of Ontario province and Canada's largest city, on the N shore of Lake Ontario. An inland port at the mouth of the River Don, it is...
43 42N 79 25W A city and port in E Canada, the capital of Ontario on Lake Ontario. A centre of finance, it houses a stock exchange and many...