Toronto (/tɵˈrɒntoʊ/, local /ˈtrɒnoʊ/) is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The history of Toronto began in the late 18th century when the British Crown purchased its land from the Mississaugas of the New Credit. The British established a settlement there, called the Town of York, which its lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, designated as the capital of Upper Canada. The city was ransacked in the Battle of York during the War of 1812. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. It was damaged in two huge fires in 1849 and 1904. Over the years, Toronto has expanded its borders several times through amalgamation with surrounding municipalities, most recently in 1998.
According to the 2011 Census, the city has 2.6 million residents, making it the fifth-most populous city in North America. In 2012, the municipal government published a population estimate of 2,791,140, which led to media reports claiming Toronto as the fourth most populous city in North America and the most populous Great Lakes city, surpassing Chicago. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,583,064, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) had a population of 6,054,191 in the 2011 Census. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, and of the densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. Its cosmopolitan and international population reflects its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, with about 49% of the population born outside Canada. As Canada’s commercial capital, it is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange and the five largest banks in the nation. Toronto will host the 2015 Pan American Games.
The climate in Toronto is not as cold as most people think. The city is at the same latitude as the French Riviera and is only one degree north of Boston. Because of its proximity to Lake Ontario, the temperatures are the most mild of anywhere in Canada. Spring and summer highs range from 59-77 degrees Fahrenheit (15-25 degrees Celsius), and in January the temperature is only slightly below freezing. It is rare for snow to be any deeper than four inches, but snowfall in the many city parks makes for ideal cross country skiing.
English-Canadian is the official language in Toronto, but over 100 other languages are also spoken by immigrant minorities. Toronto has one of the most ethnically-diverse populations in the world and includes Italians, French, Croatians, Portuguese and Chinese to name a few. Toronto has a very developed and modern transportation system. It has 10,033 streets, 20,371 intersections, 1,773 traffic signals, and 158,898 streetlights.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a museum of world culture and natural history. The Toronto Zoo, 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, and also plays host to exhibits from museums and galleries all over the world. The Gardiner Museum of ceramic art 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 city also hosts the Ontario Science Centre, the Bata Shoe Museum, and Textile Museum of Canada. Other prominent art galleries and museums include Design Exchange, Museum of Inuit Art, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Institute for Contemporary Culture, Toronto Sculpture Garden, CBC Museum, Redpath Sugar Museum, University of Toronto Art Centre, Hart House, TD Gallery of Inuit Art and the future Aga Khan Museum. The city also runs its own museums, which includes the Spadina House.
The Don Valley Brick Works is a former industrial site, which opened in 1889, and was partly restored as a park and heritage site in 1996, with further restoration and reuse being completed in stages since then. The Canadian National Exhibition is held annually at Exhibition Place, and it is the oldest annual fair in the world. The ex has an average attendance of 1.25 million.
City shopping area’s include the Yorkville neighbourhood, Queen West, Harbourfront, the Entertainment District, the Financial District, and the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. The Eaton Centre is Toronto’s most popular tourist attraction with over 52 million visitors annually.
Greektown on the Danforth is home to the annual “Taste of the Danforth” festival which attracts over one million people in 2½ days. Toronto is also home to 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.