A mesmerizing escort in Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada’s most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people (as of 2016) surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and comopolitan cities in the world.
People have travelled through and inhabited the Toronto area, located on a broad sloping plateau interspersed with rivers, deep ravines, and urban forest for more than 10,000 years. After the broadly disputed Toronto Purchase, when the Mississauga surrendered the area to the British Crown, the British established the town of York in 1793 and later designated it as the capital of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812, the town was the site of the Battle of York and suffered heavy damage by United States troops. York was renamed and incorporated in 1834 as the city of Toronto. It was designated as the capital of the province of Ontario in 1867 during Canadian Confederation. The city proper has since expanded past its original borders through both annexation and amalgamation to its current area of 630.2 km2 (243.3 sq mi).
The diverse population of Toronto reflects its current and historical role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. More than 50 percent of residents belong to a visible minority population group, and over 200 distinct ethnic origins are represented among its inhabitants. While the majority of Torontonians speak English as their primary language, over 160 languages are spoken in the city.
Toronto is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production, and is home to the headquarters of Canada’s major national broadcast networks and media outlets. Its varied cultural institutions, which include numerous museums and galleries, festivals and public events, entertainment districts, national historic sites and sports activities, attract over 43 million tourists each year.Toronto is known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the CN Tower .
The city is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada’s five largest banks and the headquarters of many large Canadian and multinational corporations. Its economy is highly diversified with strengths in technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, and tourism.
CN Tower & EdgeWalk
Toronto’s most prominent attraction is the CN Tower , the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and it now includes EdgeWalk, a thrilling hands-free walk around the outside ledge of the tower.
Standing at 1,815 feet tall and designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, this engineering marvel is not only a top-notch dining and entertainment venue, it’s a Canadian icon and an enduring symbol of Toronto.
Address: 290 Bremner Boulevard
Hours: Open daily from 8:30 AM to 11:00 PM
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased in-person at the CN Tower box office, or online at the CN Tower website.
Highlights: The LookOut Level at 1,136 feet offers unparalleled views of the city with its floor-to-ceiling panoramic Window Walls, while the Glass Floor gives you a heart-stopping view straight down!
Where to Eat Nearby: The CN Tower’s own 360 restaurant offers a Canadian cuisine paired with an outstanding revolving view of Toronto – an ideal place for a special night out.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Located at the base of the CN Tower in the heart of the entertainment district Ripley`s Aquarium of Canada , welcomes nearly 16,000 beautiful and exotic inhabitants to Toronto. Boasting 135,000 square feet of interactive, underwater exhibits, the country’s largest indoor aquarium is home to stunning jellyfish, ancient giant lobsters, sharks, sting rays and every type of colourful fish you can imagine. Marvel at aquatic creatures from fresh and salt waters from all over the world, watch them swim overhead in the acrylic viewing tunnel, then get up close and personal at the Touch Tank gallery.
Address: 288 Bremner Boulevard
Hours: Open 7 days a week, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM, with occasional early closures.
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased in person or online at the Ripley`s Aquarium website.
Highlights: Don’t miss the breathtaking Planet Jellies exhibit, and witness the hypnotic dance of Pacific sea nettle jelly fish, illuminated in an array of breathtaking colours – it’s a truly magical experience!
Where to Eat Nearby: Grab a quick bite at Ripley’s® Café, or indulge in a full meal of globally-inspired cuisine at nearby SOCO kitchen & bar.
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
The Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works, to the African art gallery, to cutting-edge contemporary works and masterpieces of European art, the AGO offers an incredible experience with each visit. In 2008, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry resulted in one of the most critically-acclaimed architectural achievements in the world.
Address: 317 Dundas Street West
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM; Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30 AM to 9:00 PM; Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Tickets: Tickets and memberships can be purchased in-person and online at the AGO website.
Highlights: Don’t miss the AGO’s collection of Canadian artwork that captures the spirit of our vast, great nation through stunning Group of Seven landscapes – like the majestic Lake and Mountains by the great Lawren Harris.
Where to Eat Nearby: The best place to grab a sophisticated bite by the AGO is none other than the AGO Bistro. Designed by Frank Gehry himself, the Bistro’s creative and seasonal menu of fresh, local ingredients keeps art-lovers full long after they’ve taken in their last work of art.
Toronto Islands & Centreville
Visitors who want to be closer to the ground can take the short, scenic ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands, which provides a wonderful view (and photo opportunity) of the city skyline. With multiple islands to explore, there are beaches, picnic areas, sports facilities, canoe and kayak rentals and much more. After you’ve discovered the islands by foot or bike, bring the kids to Centreville Theme Park for a fun-filled day of rides and attractions and yummy food and drink.
Address: 21 Avenue Of The Islands (Centreville Theme Park)
Tickets: Ferry tickets to the Toronto Islands can be purchased in-person or online.
There is no general admission fee to Centreville, but to enjoy rides and attractions you can purchase an All Day Ride Pass or ride tickets in-person or online at the Centreville website.
Highlights: Visiting the Islands offers up photo-ops at every turn, so don’t forget to soak up that iconic panoramic Toronto skyline from several focal points, including Ward’s Island, Hanlan’s Point and Centre Island.
Where to Eat Nearby: grab a relaxing bite with a spectacular view at Island Café, directly across the Ward’s Island ferry dock.
Hockey Hall of Fame
Featuring the most elaborate collection of hockey memorabilia and gear from across the globe, as well as interactive games, multimedia stations and exhibits on the game’s greatest players, there’s something for everyone at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Be sure to visit one of the most coveted prizes in professional sports, the Stanley Cup. Get a selfie with Stanley.
Address: 30 Yonge Street
Hours: Summer hours are Monday to Saturday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM, Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Tickets: You can buy your tickets in-person or online at the Hockey Hall of Fame website.
Highlights: Peruse the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world, and go one-on-one against life-size, animated hockey greats, like Sidney Crosby, and – of course – get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup.
Where to Eat Nearby: Steps away from the HHoF is The Bottom Line , a sports bar owned and operated by former NHLer Wayne Cowley, where you can chow down on generous portions of familiar pub fare while enjoying wall to wall entertainment.
Watch a game
The Distillery Historic District
Recognized as a National Historic Site, the Distillery Historic District is one of Toronto’s most picturesque sites with its cobblestone laneways and Victorian era buildings. It was Toronto’s first distillery–which produced almost half of Ontario’s total spirit production in 1871–and is now home to high-end boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Located in the Old Toronto area, you can take a tour (by Segway!) or just stroll the laneways and courtyards and get a feel for Toronto’s history and heritage.
Address: 9 Trinity Street
Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Thursday to Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Highlights: If you’re visiting during the holidays, the Toronto Christmas Market is a must-visit, as the charming Distillery District transforms into a true winter wonderland.
Where to Eat Nearby: Savour authentic Mexican cuisine among the eclectic, stylish décor at El Catrin, while soaking up the sun on their spacious patio.
Built as a private home by Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt in 1914, this majestic castle-in-the-city features elegant rooms, secret passageways, sweeping staircases, stables and lush gardens. Spanish for “Hill House”, Casa Loma attracts guests from all over the world to view the grounds and buildings or to take in special events like escape games and concerts in the garden.
Address: 1 Austin Terrace
Hours: Open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Tickets: You can buy tickets online at the Casa Loma website.
Highlights: When visiting Casa Loma, don’t just explore the castle grounds – with authentic Edwardian era décor and elaborate furnishings and antiques, the nearly 98 rooms of Casa Loma are a must-see.
Where to Eat Nearby: For a meal as regal as the castle in which it’s housed, make your way to Blueblood Steakhouse, set inside Casa Loma itself. Serving decadent steak and seafood dishes in an opulent, sophisticated setting, it’s the perfect way to end a day spent at Toronto’s castle.
Make a day trip to the Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake
and enjoy a wine tasting in one of the most picturesque areas in one of the popular wineries
Canada’s Powerhouse: A Brief History of Toronto
By Jamie Bradburn.
A Nation is Born
On July 1, 1867, Torontonians gathered near St. Lawrence Market to celebrate Canada’s Confederation with a day-long ox roast, followed by evening festivities and fireworks in Queen’s Park. Few of the over 45,000 people residing in the city that day could have imagined the roles Toronto would play within Canada over the next 150 years.
The road to becoming Canada’s centre of arts and entertainment, business, sports and innovation started with a rejection from Queen Victoria. While she chose Ottawa as Canada’s capital due to its distance between Montreal and Toronto and lower likelihood of attack from the United States, our consolation prize was to play host to the new Ontario provincial government. We still had a prominent role to play in Ottawa, as George Brown, influential editor of The Globe newspaper and a Father of Confederation, served as the first leader of the emerging Liberal party. Toronto would be the birthplace of two Prime Ministers (Lester Pearson and Stephen Harper), while Mount Pleasant Cemetery marks the final resting place of our longest serving leader, William Lyon Mackenzie King.
As the city grew into an industrial power during the Victorian era, an annual fair was established to display the latest technological advances. Originally known as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition when it launched in 1879, the scope of its ambitions led to its rebranding as the Canadian National Exhibition. While known these days more for its novelty food items, in its heyday the fair introduced visitors from across the country to innovations ranging from electric railways to television.
Manufacturers like Massey-Harris (farm equipment) and the William Davies Company (meat packing) grew not only into Canada’s largest in their particular fields, but the British Empire’s as well. It’s to Davies that Toronto owes its nickname “Hogtown.” In retailing, Eaton’s grew from a small dry goods store on Yonge Street into a department store chain whose catalogue was so embraced by settlers in the rural west that it became known as “the prairie Bible.”
During the 20th century, our educational institutions and hospitals made Toronto a centre for medical breakthroughs which improved the lives of many Canadians. The work of Frederick Banting and Charles Best at the University of Toronto led to the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes in 1922. At the Hospital for Sick Children, Frederick Tisdall and Theodore Drake’s development of Pablumin 1930 improved infant nutrition. In 1961, James Till and Ernest McCulloch’s work at the Ontario Cancer Institute pioneered stem cell research.
A Centre for Television and Film
In the midst of the Great Depression, radio audiences across the country tuned in the radio every Saturday night to listen to Foster Hewitt yell “he shoots, he scores!” during his play-by-play of Maple Leafs games from the recently-built Maple Leaf Gardens. These broadcasts grew into one of our national institutions, Hockey Night in Canada.
Hewitt was among the first personalities to appear on CBC Television when it signed on in 1952. Its launch paved the way for Toronto to become the country’s centre of film and television production. Foreign producers noted the skilled workforce which developed at CBC and early studios like Scarborough’s Glen Warren Productions. Alongside Vancouver, Toronto became “Hollywood North,” prompting moviegoers to figure out which city neighbourhoods and landmarks filled in for other locales.
New forms of media helped spur the careers of intellectuals like the University of Toronto’s Marshall McLuhan. His insights into the role of “the medium as the message” inspired debate over the consequences of new technological innovations upon us and society.
Shaping the National Conversation
George Brown’s newspaper, the Globe, cultivated national political debate and public opinion in the wake of Confederation, as did its Conservative counterpart, the Mail. These papers later merged to form the Globe and Mail, which long billed itself as “Canada’s National Newspaper.” Toronto-based media companies such as CBC, CTV and Postmedia continue to entertain, enlighten and infuriate Canadians.
City and Financial Development
The consequences of how Canadian cities developed spread out from Toronto: Don Mills provided a template for the development of suburbia in the 1950s, while urban theorists like Jane Jacobs promoted human-scale neighbourhoods. To get commuters moving in the post-Second World War era, Toronto opened the country’s first subway system in 1954, leading the way for rapid transit systems in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
By the 1970s, spurred by an exodus of bank headquarters as anxieties about Quebec separatism grew, Toronto overtook Montreal as Canada’s centre of economic power. Bay Street and other downtown addresses housed the boardrooms where Canada’s economic fate was frequently decided by the nation’s corporate elite. This shift altered the city’s appearance, in a skyscraper boom which continues to this day.
While long-suffering Maple Leafs fans have endured a half-century of Stanley Cup drought, more recent arrivals on Toronto’s professional sports scene have captured the country’s hearts. Baseball’s Blue Jays became competitive within a decade of their debut in 1977, leading to back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993. Their run for the playoffs in 2015 rekindled interest in the team nationwide. The Raptors’ “We the North” branding coincided with the basketball team’s emergence as a playoff contender the past two seasons. Not since Molson beer’s “I Am Canadian” had a marketing campaign resonated so well with patriotic sentiments.
Strength in Diversity
Toronto has shown the country the advantages of a vibrant, multicultural society, especially in a city once viewed as a boring place which shut down completely on Sundays. “Diversity Our Strength” declares the motto on the city’s coat of arms, and we have helped export that across Canada as immigrants who begin their new lives in Toronto move on to other locales, bringing with them a richness of cultural activities, food and life perspectives.
Canada’s many waves of immigration are embodied in the history of Kensington Market. British labourers in the Victorian era were followed by Eastern European Jews during the first half of the 20th century. Post-Second World War opportunities attracted the Portuguese. The loosening of restrictive immigration policies from the 1960s onward drew newcomers from the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America.
We have helped promote tolerance of what were once considered alternative lifestyles, especially regarding LGBTQ issues. Toronto’s Pride celebrations have gained international stature and inspired similar activities in other cities, while the union of Michael Leshner and Michael Stark in 2003 paved the way for same-sex marriage elsewhere.
Promoting these notions of diversity and tolerance may prove to be one of Toronto’s greatest legacies to the country. How we continue to handle them will help shape the next 150 years.
Jamie Bradburn is a Toronto-based historian and staff writer for Torontoist
Historical images from the City of Toronto Archives.
where to take your independent luxury companion for a romantic or fancy dinner date:
George (Canadian, French)
Il Covo (Italian)
Canoe (Canadian, view)
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