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Filed under: Info/Facts

Toronto Info / Facts

| Published Friday, 23 October 2009 11:21 |

General Info       


Courtesy of www.wikipedia.com

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located 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 south-central Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe which is home to 8.1 million residents. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,113,149, and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census.

As Canada's economic capital, Toronto is considered a global city and is one of the top financial cities in the world. 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. The Toronto Stock Exchange, the world's seventh largest, is headquartered in the city, along with a majority of Canada's corporations.


Diversity      


Toronto's population is cosmopolitan and international, reflecting its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cities by percentage of non-Canadian-born residents, as about 49 percent of the population were born outside of Canada. Because of the city's low crime rates, clean environment, generally high standard of living, and friendlier attitudes to diversity; Toronto is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. In addition, Toronto was ranked as the most expensive Canadian city in which to live in 2006.

Residents of Toronto are called Torontonians.


History      


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 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". 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.

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 prior to Confederation); since then, the capital has been Ottawa. As it had been for Upper Canada from 1793, Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario after its official creation in 1867 and has remained so since with the Ontario Legislature located at Queen's Park. Because of its capital status, the city was also the location of Government House, the residence of the vice-regal representative of the Crown.

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, and led to more stringent fire safety laws and the expansion of the city's fire department.


Geography      


Toronto covers an area of 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi), 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. Its 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. Much of the current lakeshore land area fronting the Toronto Harbour is actually artificial landfill. In the mid-19th century the lakefront was set back up to 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) further inland than it is today. Much of the Toronto harbour (the quays, formerly known as wharves) and adjacent Portlands are also fill. The Toronto Islands were actually a landspit until a storm in 1858 severed its connection to the mainland, creating a channel later used by shipping interests to access the docks.


Climate      


Toronto's climate is moderate for Canada due to its southerly location within the country and its proximity to Lake Ontario. It has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with warm, humid summers and generally cold winters. The city experiences four distinct seasons with considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. Due to urbanization and proximity to water, Toronto has a fairly low diurnal temperature range, at least in built-up city and lakeshore areas. At different times of the year, this maritime influence has various localized and regional impacts on the climate, including lake effect snow and delaying the onset of spring- and fall-like conditions or seasonal lag.

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 anytime from November until mid-April. However, mild stretches also occur throughout winter melting accumulated snow, with temperatures reaching into the 5 to 14 °C (40 to 57 °F) range and infrequently higher. Summer in Toronto is characterized by long stretches of humid weather. Daytime temperatures occasionally surpass 35 °C (95 °F), with high humidity making it feel oppressive during usually 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 83 cm (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 possible, most of it during the warmer weather season.]


Architecture      


According to some prominent residents of the city and some important architects who have designed buildings there, 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". Toronto buildings vary in design and age with some 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 is the world's second tallest freestanding structure, and the tallest tower in the western hemisphere surpassing Chicago's 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 (which has over 5,000 such buildings) in North America. Most of these buildings are residential (either rental or condominium, where as 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. Many of the older buildings are shown to give off high concentrations of CO2 and are thought to be a significant contributor to the urban heat island effect, in addition to the aesthetic concerns as many of the buildings are viewed by many as urban blights often surrounded by limited landscaping and concrete parking lots without integration with the surrounding neighbourhoods.

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. 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.


Neighborhoods      


Toronto, Ontario, Canada is called "the city of neighbourhoods" because of the strength and vitality of its many communities. The city has upwards of 240 distinct neighbourhoods within its boundaries. Before 1998, Toronto was a much smaller municipality and formed part of Metropolitan Toronto. When the city amalgamated that year, Toronto grew to encompass the former municipalities of York, East York, North York, Etobicoke, and Scarborough. Each of these former municipalities still maintains, to a certain degree, its own distinct identity, and the names of these municipalities are still used by their residents. The area known as Toronto before the amalgamation is sometimes called the "old" City of Toronto, the Central District or simply "Downtown".

The "old" City of Toronto is, by far, the most populous and dense part of the city. It is also the business centre of the city.

The "inner ring" suburbs of York and East York are older, predominantly middle-income areas, and ethnically diverse. Much of the housing stock in these areas consists of old pre-war single-family houses and post-war high-rises. Many of the neighbourhoods in these areas were built up as streetcar suburbs and contain many dense and mixed-use streets. Mostly they share many characteristics with sections of the "old" city, outside of the downtown core.

The "outer ring" suburbs of Etobicoke, Scarborough, and North York are much more suburban in nature (although these boroughs are developing urban centres of their own, such as North York Centre around Mel Lastman Square). The following is a list of the more notable neighbourhoods, divided by the neighbourhoods' location based on the former municipalities, the names of which are still known and commonly used by Torontonians.

What makes Toronto unique in many ways is the concern of local residents within its neighbourhoods. Many Ratepayer’s Associations, Resident's Associations and Homeowner's Associations exist and meet regularly. Larger umbrella organizations such as CORRA, FoNTRA and CHIP organize because of bigger issues. Many of these organizations have websites.


Industrial      


Historically, as Toronto sprawled out, industrial areas were set up on the outskirts. Over time, they would become part of the inner city as more land was developed further out. This trend would repeat itself, and continues to this day, as the largest factories and warehouses have moved to Peel and York Regions, and the vast majority of industrial areas are in the more suburban parts of the city; Etobicoke (particularly around the airport), North York, and Scarborough. Thus, many of Toronto's former industrial sites have been redeveloped, most notably the Toronto waterfront, and Liberty Village. One of Toronto's most unusual neighbourhoods, the Distillery District contains the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. 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 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 the Brockton Village, and New Toronto areas. 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, but are mostly residential.


Culture and Events      


Toronto is a major scene for theatre and other performing arts, with more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, and two symphony orchestras. The city is home to the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 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 Hummingbird Centre (formerly the "O'Keefe Centre"). Ontario Place features the world's first permanent IMAX movie theatre, the Cinesphere, 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 of 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 prior to 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. For the most part, Caribana is based on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and the first Caribana took place in 1967 when the city's Caribbean community celebrated Canada's Centennial year. 40 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 brings in about $300 million.

Pride Week in Toronto takes place in mid-June, and is one of the largest LGBT festivals in the world. It attracts more than one million people from around the world, and is one of the largest events to take place in the city. 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.


Tourism      


Toronto is currently ranked 14th in the world with over 4 million tourist arrivals a year. Toronto's most prominent landmark is the CN Tower, which stood as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world at 553 metres (1,815 ft). To the surprise of its creators, the tower held the world record for over 30 years.

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,[45][46] 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 which 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 also features many unique exhibitions. 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.

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.

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. 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.


Sports      


Toronto is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the National Hockey League's Original Six clubs. The city has also served as home to the Hockey Hall of Fame since 1958. The city has a rich history of hockey championships. Toronto Maple Leafs has 14 Stanley Cup titles. Toronto is the only Canadian city with representation in six major league sports through National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, National Lacrosse League, National Basketball Association, Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer teams, as well as sharing a National Football League franchise with the city of Buffalo, New York. The major sports complexes include the Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre (formerly known as SkyDome), Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field.

The Toronto Raptors are a professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. When the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001, the Raptors became the only Canadian team in the NBA. They originally played their home games in the SkyDome, before moving to the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in 1999.

The city is represented in the Canadian Football League by the Toronto Argonauts who have won 15 Grey Cup titles. Toronto played host to the 95th Grey Cup in 2007, the first held in the city since 1992. The city is also home to Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, who have won two World Series titles and is currently the only major league baseball team in Canada. Both teams play their home games at the Rogers Centre, in the downtown core.


Economy      


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. All of the Big Five banks of Canada are headquartered in Toronto.

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, Alliance Atlantis and Celestica. Other prominent Canadian corporations in Toronto include Four Seasons Hotels, the Hudson's Bay Company and Manulife Financial.

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.


Demographics      


The last complete census by Statistics Canada estimated there were 2,503,281 people residing in Toronto in June 2006. 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.

As of 2001, 42.8% of the residents of the city proper belong to a visible minority group, and visible minorities are projected to comprise a majority in Toronto by 2017. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Toronto has the second-highest percentage of foreign-born population among world cities, after Miami, Florida. Statistics Canada's 2006 figures indicate that Toronto has surpassed Miami in this year. 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.

In 2001, people of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Toronto, 57.2%, mostly of English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, and French origins, while the five largest visible minority groups in Toronto are Chinese (10.6%), South Asian/Indo-Caribbean (10.3%), Black/Afro-Caribbean (8.3%), Filipino (3.5%) and Latin American (2.2%). This diversity is reflected in Toronto's ethnic neighbourhoods which include Little Italy, The Junction, Little Jamaica, Little India, Chinatown, Koreatown, Greektown, Portugal Village, Corso Italia, Kensington Market, and The Westway.

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 at 21.1%, Christian Orthodox at 4.8%, Coptic Orthodox at 0.2%, and other Christians at 3.9%. 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 faith.

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


Crime      


The low crime rate in Toronto has resulted in the city having a reputation as one of the safest major cities in North America. In 1999, the homicide rate for Toronto was 1.9 per 100,000 people, compared to Atlanta (34.5), Boston (5.5) New York City (9.1), Vancouver (2.8), and Washington, D.C. (45.5). For robbery rates, Toronto also ranks low, with 115.1 robberies per 100,000, compared to Dallas (583.7), Los Angeles (397.9), Montreal (193.9), New York City (490.6), and Washington, D.C. (670.6). Toronto has a comparable rate of car theft to various U.S. cities, although it is not among the highest in Canada. The overall crime rate in general was an average of 48 incidents per 100,000, compared to Cincinnati (326), Los Angeles (283), New York City (225), and Vancouver (239). However, many in the city, especially the local media, have concerns regarding gun violence, gangs, and racial profiling by Toronto Police against minorities.

Toronto recorded its largest number of homicides in 1991 with 89; a rate of 3.9 per 100,000. In 2005, Toronto media coined the term "Year of the Gun", because the number of gun-related homicides reached 52 out of 80 murders in total; almost double the 27 gun deaths recorded the previous year. The total number of homicides dropped to 69 in 2006. Additionally, during the first half of 2006, there were 137 (13 fatal) shooting incidents in the city, down marginally from 164 (19 fatal) in the first half of 2005. 84 murders were committed in 2007, nearly eclipsing the record of 89, and roughly half of them involved firearms. Gang-related incidents have also been on the rise; between the years of 1997 and 2005, over 300 gang-related murders have occurred. As a result, the Ontario government has come up with an anti-gun strategy.


Education      


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 biomedical research and houses North America's third largest library system, after that of Harvard University and Yale University. York University, located in the north end of Toronto, houses the largest law library in the Commonwealth of Nations. The city is also home to Ryerson University, Ontario College of Art & Design, and the University of Guelph-Humber.

There are five diploma-granting colleges in Toronto: Seneca College, Humber College, Centennial College, Sheridan College and George Brown College. In nearby Oshawa -- usually considered part of the Greater Toronto Area -- are Durham College and the new University of Ontario Institute of Technology. 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 Upper Canada College, Crescent School, Toronto French School, University of Toronto Schools, Havergal College, Bishop Strachan School, Branksome Hall, 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.


Transportation      


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. The TTC provides public transit within the City of Toronto. The backbone of its public transport network is the subway system. 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 City of Toronto, as well in its suburbs. With thirty-eight trains, and seven train lines, GO Transit run 179 trips, and carry over 160,000 passengers in the Greater Toronto Area every day. An additional 288 GO buses feed the main rail lines.

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 Toronto City Centre Airport, on the Toronto Islands. 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 expressways and 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. The square grid of major city streets was laid out by the concession road system.

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