THE BIG T.O.
Toronto is Canada's largest city with more than 2.6 million in residence. It is located at the southern part of the Province of Ontario, at the Northwestern part of Lake Ontario. Toronto also forms the center of the Greater Toronto metropolitan area, whose dense population of more than 5.5 million makes it the largest metropolitan area in the country.
The city enjoys an internationally diverse populace with almost half of the total residents born outside of Canada. People of European origin, such those born on England, Ireland and France, make up the majority of the populace. South Asian, Chinese and other Asian immigrants can also be regularly seen among the residents. Christians make about a third of the population, which is made up mostly of Catholics and Protestants (Methodists, in particular). Although English is the main language spoken in the city, its diverse population makes sure that it not the only important tongue spoken. For example, people who work for Toronto's 9-1-1 emergency and rescue services is trained to respond to more than 150 languages.
Toronto enjoys a moderate climate, with summers from May to October which tend to be warm and humid at an average of 35 degrees centigrade. Rains can happen all year round with the average annual rainfall at 830 millimeters or 33 inches. However, the wettest days also occur during summertime when thunderstorms usually occur. Annual snowfall averages at about 130 centimeters or 52 inches.
Toronto is also considered as Canada's commercial capital and is home to top international financial institutions, such as banks and stock exchanges. As a matter of fact, the Toronto Stock Exchange is considered the third largest in the entire North America and the seventh largest in the world, in terms of market capitalization.
Toronto also has a small crime rate with a low percentage of homicides and robberies. This gives it a reputation of being one of the safest large cities in the world.
HOW IT BEGAN
Toronto was founded in the late 18th century as the town of York, then the capital of British-ruled Upper Canada during the American Revolution. During this time, the town underwent a lot of damage and change of hands. The city was then incorporated as Toronto in 1834, based on the name given to the area by the first Native Americans who settled in the region.
The 19th century also saw the construction of many of the city's necessary infrastructures, such as the sewage system, railway lines and street lighting. This made Toronto an attractive place for immigrants to settle down in and establish roots. Toronto's location in the shores of the great Lake Ontario also made it a prime venue for a thriving commercial industry and one of the major gateways to connect North America to the world. By the early 20th century, Toronto has already become one of the country's top economic centers.
The 19th and early 20th century saw waves of different immigrant groups, particularly Germans, Italians, and families from Eastern Europe. Following World War II, Toronto became home to many war refugees from Europe as well as job seekers from China and other countries, resulting in a very rapid increase in the city's population. This fast-paced population growth continues up to this day and has resulted in Toronto's large population, as well as its rapid spread to nearby areas which now comprise the Greater Toronto metropolitan area.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Toronto's various restaurants. With the city's multicultural population, it is no surprise to find a wide variety of restaurants to visit. Your palate may be familiar with Italian, Indian or Chinese cuisine, but have you tasted food prepared the Korean, Malaysian or Filipino way?
╣the Fressen restaurant, especially for vegetarian tourists. Together with its brilliant service, it has a brick-and-wood ambiance that can make dining enjoyable even to meat-eaters. It has a stylish menu filled with organic food. The restaurant has a weekend brunch that's a hit with everyone, vegan or not.
╣St. Lawrence Market and Hall. It is a favorite place to meet up friends since its original construction in 1845. This restored building houses over 50 stalls with specialty cuisines, and a wide variety of food vendors, butchers, fish mongers, and bakers who advertise their goods in bizarre gestures and voices. It also houses a gallery with rotating panels of photos, paintings, and historical documents.
╣the 360 rotating restaurant at the top of the CN Tower, since we are talking about rotation. The food there is great, although a bit on the pricey side, but the view of the city is second to none. Every tourist seems to know of this restaurant, so don't be surprised if you have a hard time booking a table here. Looking for a way to get a good view of the city may just be under your nose.
╣the big glass elevators at the CN Tower. This tower stands at 553 meters so riding its scenic elevators would be a thrill. It also has an Observation Deck to get astounding views of Toronto. You should be aware that tourists know about these elevators so be ready to stand in line for up to two hours, especially during the summer.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
If you are going to visit Toronto on a weekend or on a holiday, you may want to get hold of a day pass given by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It lets you get on any of the public transportation and off at any point in TTC's regular route. This is a great value if you need to do a lot of quick stops and check out the structures and the scenery. There’s usually a booth in any subway station where you can buy the day passes.
Most establishments in Toronto expect to be paid in credit cards, or debits from ATMs or debit cards. Canadian stores usually accept credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. You can be charged up to $2 per ATM transaction, but you should clarify with your home bank on other fees it may charge you.