Local Focus: Toronto
by Gale Beeby
Considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is a wonderful collection of neighbourhoods
In 1998, the six municipalities that comprised Metropolitan Toronto (East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York and the former city of Toronto) and the regional municipality of Metro Toronto were amalgamated into the City of Toronto. This has resulted in creation of a “megacity” with a population of about 2.81 million, and growing. More than 100,000 people move into the GTA every year, most of them settling in the City of Toronto proper.
Historic homes, like the quaint Victorian houses in Cabbagetown and the coveted cottages in the Beach, are just some of the city’s hallmarks. But the skyline is now dominated by the sleek highrise condos in the city’s core. Single-family homes dominate in the former suburbs, where you will also find a large array of new condos and townhouses.
Living in Toronto is an open door into a vast array of cultural, theatrical, musical and sporting events. The city is home to the National Ballet of Canada (along with another 50 or so dance companies), the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
The Art Gallery of Ontario has a large collection of work by the Group of Seven, while the Royal Ontario Museum has a collection of world culture and natural history. The Gardiner Museum is the only museum in Canada devoted to ceramics and the collection contains more than 2,900 pieces from Asia, the Americas and Europe. Other museums include the Bata Shoe Museum, the Textile Museum of Canada, Museum of Inuit Art, Spadina House and the Aga Khan Museum.
If sports are more your thing, there are plenty of choices. Hockey? The Maple Leafs play out of the Air Canada Centre, as do the NBA’s Raptors. The Blue Jays call the Rogers Centre Home and Toronto FC play at BMO Field. A visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame should be mandatory for any hockey fan.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is an annual event celebrating the film industry and attracts many movie stars and a-list players. Caribana takes place in the summer and is primarily based on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. Caribana now attracts over one million people, making it the second largest Caribbean festival in the world.
Other points of interest include the Toronto Zoo, the Ontario Science Centre, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Harbourfront, The Don Valley Brick Works, Fort York, the Distillery District, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and the Canadian National Exhibition.
PARKS & REC
Golf anyone? How about some tennis? Or lawn bowling? Or horse racing? Toronto has it all, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing and boating in the summer, cross-country and downhill skiing, ice skating, ice canoeing and snowshoeing in the winter.
A visit to the Scarborough Bluffs is a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon, as is a visit to Etobicoke’s waterfront, where there is a large marina and parkland. High Park is always a great place for a summer stroll or winter hike.
Toronto is called The City of Neighbourhoods, and each community has great parks, community centres, activity centres and libraries.
Great shopping districts help define neighbourhoods, and there is none better than the St. Lawrence Market, considered one of the finest food markets in the world. Kensington Market is also a great spot to find unique food and interesting arts and crafts.
The Toronto Eaton Centre is the city’s largest mall, with 235 retail and service providers.
Trips to Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Little India and Greektown offer other wonderful treats for the senses.
Etobioke’s Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale Mall in North York also offer a roster of A-list stores and products, as does the Scarborough Town Centre.
The TTC moves over 1.6 million people throughout the city every day on its subway cars, buses, streetcars and LRT lines. The subway can get you from the west end to the east end of the city in less than an hour. GO Transit is Ontario’s only inter-regional transit system, linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the GTA. Highways include several four and sixlane routes (at points, Highway 401 is 16 lanes wide), including Highways 401, 403, 404, 407, 427, the DVP and the QEW.
BY THE NUMBERS
Population: 2.81 million
Average Walk Scores
- Downtown Toronto: 97
- East York: 78
- Etobicoke: 75
- North York: 72
- Scarborough: 68
- York: 88
Motto: Diversity Our Strength