Formerly named as York, Toronto was first established in the 18th century by British Army General John Graves Simcoe, where it was announced as the permanent capital of Upper Canada on 1st February 1796, and given the name Toronto in the year 1834.
The most populous city in Canada and the centre of the Greater Toronto Area, Toronto is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. A city of soaring skyscrapers and hub to countless world-class business, education, dining, shopping, sports and entertainment, Toronto is also the home to one of the most recognizable structures in the world: the CN Tower.
In a city where over half of its residents reflect visible minorities and over 200 distinct ethnic origins are represented, there is no question of Toronto’s pride in multiculturalism. The primary language spoken by Torontonians is English, but over 160 languages are spoken in the city.
It is this blend of world-class offerings and multicultural heritage that makes Toronto unique. A city that reflects so many international cultures, Toronto reflects a mosaic of business and culture not commonly found in one place.
1. Toronto, by the numbers
- Population: based on the 2016 Canadian Census, the population of Toronto was recorded at 2,731,571, with the census reporting the Greater Toronto Area proper having a population of 6,417,516
- Location: Situated on the north-western shore of Ontario Lake, Toronto is part of a densely populated region in southern Ontario, popularly known as the “Golden Horseshoe”
2. Top-tier education
It only makes sense that a world-class city would offer its residents a wide array of world-class education. From elementary, secondary, post-secondary and mature student levels of education, the city of Toronto is well-known for its offerings of higher-learning and top-rated facilities. The city is home to several high-ranking elementary and secondary schools. Just to name a few:
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Toronto District School Board Catholic elementary school in Central Toronto with an EQAO rating of 98%
- Blythwood Junior Public School – a TDSB public school serving students JK to grade 6 with a 97.3% EQAO rating
- Hillmount Public School – this high-achieving TDSB school serves students from JK to grade 5 and has an EQAO rating of 97%
- North Toronto Collegiate Institute – a high-ranked non-semester public high school located in the North Toronto area
- St.Michael’s Choir School – a semi-private integrated elementary and secondary school in the Garden District of the city
The city is also well known for its wide range of renowned private school institutions, including:
- Upper Canada College – providing high-ranked facilities including excellent sports clubs and world-class boarding
- De La Salle College – a highly-regarded private, Catholic, independent co-educational preparatory school run by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
- St.Michael’s College School – founded in 1852 by the Basilian Fathers, this institution is Ontario’s only independent Catholic school for young men
- Bishop Strachan School – this girls-only day-boarding school aims to “hone core academic skills through exploration and discovery”
For a complete list and ranking of Toronto private schools, OurKids.net is an excellent resource. This metropolitan city is also home to several renowned international schools. To name just a few:
- Toronto French School – Canada’s International School – an independent, bilingual, co-educational, non-denominational school in Toronto, where Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, is the royal patron of the school
- Keystone International Schools – a boutique school with an Ontario-based curriculum with an experiential, project-based approach to learning
- The York School – First opened in 1965, this progressive school offers students state-of-the-art facilities with the aim of providing “a modern school for a global world”
The city is also home to many internationally-ranked post-secondary institutions spanning all educational sectors and designations, including:
- The University of Toronto – founded by royal charter in 1827, this institution is known the world-over and has a reputation for some of the best teaching and research faculties across North America
- York University – the second-largest university in Canada and consistently ranked one of the finest in Ontario, with over 90% of university students finding employment within two years of graduating
- George Brown College – this institution is well-known for its host of field education opportunities afforded to its students, owing to the school’s strong ties to industry
3. Toronto is a hub for international business and industry leaders
Business, arts, finance and culture are integral to the fabric of the city, where countless industry leaders and major international businesses are based. Much like New York, London and Tokyo, the City of Toronto is considered a base point for international business in North America and consistently ranks as one of the most influential cities in the world.
Toronto is home to:
- The Toronto Stock Exchange – North America’s third-largest stock exchange by market capitalization, seventh-largest in the world
- Headquarters to Canada’s five largest banks: Bank of Montreal (BMO), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), operating within the Financial District along Bay Street, the city’s equivalent to Wall Street in New York City
- Generating $52 billion in revenues annually, the Canadian and international tech industry has a massive and significant presence in Toronto, where in 2017 alone, Toronto tech firms represented nearly 30,000 jobs, a number which is greater than San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C. combined
- The tourism industry is hugely significant in Toronto, where the primary tourist attraction is the Toronto Eaton Centre, which hosts over 47 million visitors annually. Some other major attractions of note include the city’s unique underground PATH network (the largest underground shopping centre in the world), the Toronto Islands, the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Casa Loma, and so much more.
When it comes to fostering new business and supporting existing ones, the City of Toronto offers resources to businesses in the industries of:
- Aerospace – home to Canada’s second largest aerospace cluster and a growing aerospace campus hub
- Design – Toronto employs the largest design workforce in Canada and third largest in North America
- Education – the largest centre of education in Canada, Toronto is home to world-renowned educational facilities
- Events – you can find support, resources and consultation services available from the city for local and international public and private events
- Fashion/Apparel – prominent retailers, world-renowned designers and major manufacturers
- Film – with over 40 years of international experience in film and television production, and post-production, Toronto has cemented its status as a major contender in this industry worldwide
- Financial Services – Toronto is the business and financial capital of Canada and is the second largest financial centre in North America by employment
- Food and Beverage – Toronto houses the greatest concentration of food and beverage manufacturers in Canada.
- Life Sciences – focusing on the future of medicine, Toronto’s Life Sciences sector has significant impact and influence in this industry on the global scale
- Music – the largest centre for music in Canada, Toronto’s live music events generate a total economic impact of $850 million annually
- Technology – the city is North America’s fastest growing technology market and eighth most popular destination for global tech talent
4. World-class healthcare
You can’t be a world-class city without world-class healthcare – and Toronto more than meets this criteria. The city is home to twenty 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
- Etobicoke General Hospital
- St. Joseph’s Health Centre
- Scarborough General Hospital
- Birchmount Hospital
- Centenary Hospital
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
There are also several state-of-the-art designated research sites within the city, including a biomedicine research centre in Toronto’s Discovery District, situated on a 620-acre research park, and the MaRS Discovery District, created in 2000 for the purposes of strengthening research and innovation in Ontario.
5. World-famous attractions
It’s not surprising that one of the world’s busiest cities would also be home to some of the world’s greatest and most diverse collection of attractions. From state-of-the-art architecture, to world-class dining, internationally-renowned art and so much more. Here are just a few of the city’s most popular sights to see and experience:
- CN Tower – The towering 553-metre tower holds the Guiness World Record as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and is easily the city’s most recognizable landmark. From the incomparable views to the famed EdgeWalk experience and the 360 restaurant, the structure has been a must-visit for locals and tourists since its completion in 1976.
- The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Located at 100 Queen’s Park in the city, the premier museum houses a world-class collection and features an expansion to the building that was completed in 2007, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, which features a stunning array of glass panels and sharp edges that make part of the expansion’s ultra-modern design.
- Casa Loma – Built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt, this castle located in midtown Toronto, is a heritage landmark and one of the city’s top tourist attractions and hospitality venues, hosting over 650,000 visitors annually. Approximately 25% of Hollywood productions are filmed in Toronto, with Casa Loma being one of the most popular local settings for filming
- The Art Gallery of Ontario – Housing over 95,000 international works of art, the gallery is one of the largest museums in North America
- The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – founded in 1976, TIFF is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, attracting over 480,000 people each year and proving to be a favourite celebrity stop on the film festival circuit
- Making the Guinness Book of World Records is Toronto’s prominent Yonge Street, spanning 1,896 km and intersecting with major highways in the downtown area, it is known as the longest street globally
With so many world-class attractions within the city, it’s impossible to list them all – but some notable local gems include the iconic waterfront Ontario Place, the Toronto Zoo, the endless action always happening at the famed Yonge-Dundas Square, the Ontario Science Centre, and so much more.
6. Some of the world’s best shopping
The Toronto Eaton Centre is easily the city’s most popular shopping centre, offering visitors over 230 shops spanning over 2 million square feet of indoor retail space, dining options, accessibility via the underground PATH network, a skywalk over Queen Street West and two subway stations, this mega-mall is an anchor and major landmark amongst the city’s wealth of shopping options.
While there is no shortage of vintage markets, local shops, major shopping chains and the like, there are some shopping districts in the city that are better known than others.
For high-end boutiques, fine dining and luxurious services in the city, the Bloor-Yorkville area can’t be beat. Known as “Toronto’s Fifth Avenue”, here you’ll find the flagship Holt Renfrew location, endless designers within Yorkville Avenue and Yorkville Village, top-ranked dining options, top-tier hotels and a number of fine art galleries.
Some other key shopping (and dining) destinations in the city include Queen West’s eclectic assortment of shops, the Chinatown district, the historic Distillery District, Leslieville, Greektown and of course, the Downtown District.
7. A city that loves its sports and keeps its residents active and engaged
Sports is king in this city, where hometown pride is everywhere you look. From professional to semi-professional teams and leagues, amateur teams and even e-sports, Toronto is home to some of the greatest sports teams – and sports fans – in the world. The city also boasts state-of-the-art stadiums and sports facilities, including The Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena and BMO Field. Just a few of the many major professional sports teams in Toronto being the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), the Toronto Raptors (NBA), the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), and the Toronto FC (MLS).
Recreational options are everywhere in the city, from CampTO programs, accessible and virtual programming options, ActiveTO, sports and leadership programs, winter sports and so much more. At last count, the city of Toronto operates 700 sports fields, 123 community recreation centres, 118 swimming pools, hundreds of recreational facilities and others that are operated by community organizations.
Arts, culture and recreation are paramount in this city, where over 30,000 city-funded cultural events draw in over 17 million attendees each year. As far as enjoying the great outdoors, with over 1,500 parks spanning 8,000 hectares, the city is well-equipped for all of its residents’ recreation wants and needs, catering to those of all ages and abilities.
8. One of the world’s most liveable cities
Getting around is easy, with one of the world’s most extensive and highly-ranked transportation networks in the world. The TTC is the city’s local transit service, and is the third-largest system in North America, commuting over 300,000 passengers daily. From trip-planner resources to accessibility options, the TTC has established themselves as a leader in transit the world over.
Toronto’s landscape has been designed with livability in mind. From education and employment to recreation and entertainment – and everything in-between – this is a city that has covered all its bases.
When it comes to living in Toronto, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the world’s most in-demand urban pockets, where development and growth is never-ending and there are property options for every residential and commercial need.