|Toronto Ontario Overview
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Toronto is a Canadian city located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and is the provincial capital of Ontario. Toronto is the 5th most populous municipality (population est. 2,607,640,) in North America behind Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Toronto is a major global city exerting significant regional, national, and international influence and is one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse cities in the world. It is Canada's financial centre and economic engine, as well as one of the country's most important cultural, artistic, and health sciences centres. Toronto was named the world's most livable city in 1994 by The Economist. It was displaced in 2005 by Vancouver, but is still ranked among the top ten. In January 2005, Toronto was designated by the federal government as one of Canada's cultural capitals.
The City of Toronto is part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) (population est. 5,867,700 July 1, 2006), as defined by provincial authorities for urban planning purposes. The Greater Toronto Area is one of the fastest growing urban areas in North America as well as the 13th largest. Toronto is also at the centre of the Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated region in south-central Ontario which is home to roughly eight million people, or one quarter of the population of Canada. The six former municipalities of the former Metropolitan Toronto (dissolved) were amalgamated into one municipality, and the former regional government system
dissolved, by the Ontario government in 1998. This resulted in the creation of the ('megacity') City of Toronto, in political structure, as it is today. The current mayor of Toronto is David Miller.
With no designator, Toronto alone usually refers to the GTA or the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area ("Toronto CMA"; a rarely-used Statistics Canada version of the Toronto city region used for federal statistical reporting purposes) unless "City of" (or "municipality of") is specified. The City of Toronto is also in its own "county" (Census Division (CD)) of type Division. As the City of Toronto is the only municipality in the Toronto Division CD, information about either or both should be identical.
'Toronto' means 'place where trees stand in the water'. It is an Iroquois name referring to what is now Lake Simcoe (known as Lake Toronto at the time) to the north, where Huron Indians planted tree saplings to corral fish. The portage between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron that went this route was called the 'Toronto Portage', or 'Passage'.
Toronto has collected a number of nicknames and epithets over the past two hundred years, including Muddy York (18th-19th Century), Hogtown (Victorian), The Big Smoke (1920s), Toronto the Good (1950s), T.O. (for Toronto, Ontario) and more recently T-dot, reflecting an ebonics style of nomenclature. Some Canadians outside Toronto have referred in a derogatory manner to the city as considering itself The Centre of the Universe based on the supposed Toronto-centricity of the "national" media. Residents often pronounce the name in a slurred manner, including Toronno, Tronno, Tronna, Taranna.
The first European presence in Toronto was established by French traders at Fort Rouillé in 1750. The first large influx of Europeans was by United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution in the mid to late 1780s. Toronto grew slowly in the initial years and was used by the British primarily as a naval base. When Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe moved the capital of Upper Canada from Newark to Toronto in 1793, he renamed the town York. By 1800, the town was still very small, smaller than Kingston, and consisted of probably not more than fifty families. York was captured, its surrender negotiated by John Strachan, and the major
buildings burned by U.S. soldiers in 1813 (during the War of 1812). After the war, the city grew more rapidly throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century by becoming one of the main destinations of immigrants to Canada. On March 6, 1834, the Township of York reverted to its original name of Toronto. A bustling steamboat entry port burgeoned in the 1840s and the city's development was aided by the addition of gaslit street lights and sewers. The city grew even more rapidly after it was linked by rail to the upper Great Lakes in 1854. By the 1870s, industrialization reached a feverish pace and helped ensure Toronto's place as a major centre of
urban growth in the new Canadian Confederation. In the second half of the Twentieth Century, with an influx of post-war immigrants, and, after 1970, immigrants from the developing world, Toronto surpassed Montreal as Canada's most populous city. At the same time, the city's banking and exchange centres also surpassed those of Montreal. This happened at a time when Canada had repatriated much of its stock and bond trade from London, requiring the establishment of a domestic trading centre. Its stock market, which, until the early 1960s, primarily capitalized high-risk ventures, expanded to become one of the world's major exchanges.
Geography and climate
The City of Toronto covers an area of 629.91 square kilometres (243.21 sq mi) and is bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue along the entire northern city limit, and the Rouge River to the east. In addition to Etobicoke Creek and the Rouge River, the city is intersected by two major rivers and their tributaries, the Humber River in the west end and the Don River just east of the central core. The concentration and protection of ravines allows for large tracts of densely forested valleys with recreational trails within the city. However, the ravines also interfere with the city's street grid, and
many of the major thoroughfares such as Finch Avenue, Leslie Street, Lawrence Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and Keele Street are terminated as a result, but continue on the other side of the ravines. Many others, such as Bloor Street/Danforth Avenue viaduct require large bridges to cross high above the ravines.
Toronto's climate is moderated by its southerly location within Canada and its proximity to Lake Ontario; its climate is among the mildest of any place in Canada east of the Rocky Mountain range. However, the daily weather is highly variable, particularly during the winter months. Mild days do occur throughout the winter (temperatures in the 5 C (40sF) ). There are usually a few bitter cold snaps each year, where maximum temperatures only reach into the -10 C (14 F) to -25 C (-7 F) range, often accompanied by strong winds making it feel even colder and minimums have rarely dropped to near or just below -30 C (-22 F). The coldest ever temperature
recorded at Toronto Pearson International Airport was -31.3 C (-24.3 F) on January 4, 1981, and the coldest ever wind chill was -44.7 C (-48.5 F) also on January 4, 1981. The average January maximum temperature is -2.1 C (28.2 F), and the average minimum is -10.5 C (13.1 F). Downtown the average minimum is -7.3 C (18.8F).
In the summer, Toronto is known for long stretches of humid weather and daytime temperatures sometimes approach, but rarely exceed 35 C (95 F). High humidity often causes uncomfortable conditions. These periods of heat are often broken by cooler weather stretches not found in places much farther to the south on the continent, at least for a couple of days before the heat builds again. The highest ever temperature recorded at Toronto Pearson Airport was 38.3 C (100.9 F) on August 25, 1948, and the highest ever Humidex reading (humidity combined with temperature) reached was 50.3 C (122.5 F) on July 14, 1995. The average July maximum temperature is 26.8 C (80
F), and the average minimum is 14.8 C (58.6 F). Downtown the average minimum is 17.9 C (64.2 F).
For the last recorded climate period, the downtown station has a minimum temperature that is approximately 3 C (5 °F) warmer than the airport throughout the year, however this difference continues to narrow due to greater urbanization farther out from the Airport station.
Autumn offers pleasant daytime temperatures followed by refreshingly cool nights. Spring is typically the shortest season of the year, generally with pleasant, sometimes warm days and cool nights. A local joke is that it can feel like it literally jumps from "winter directly to summer, without a spring", but this is usually an exaggeration of the true conditions. The average yearly precipitation is 793 millimetres (31.7 inches), with an average annual snowfall of about 115 centimetres (46 inches). Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest (and also sunniest) season.
Severe weather phenomena include periods of intense cold in winter and extreme heat in summer (such temperature extremes are usually short-lived, however), freezing rainstorms, thunderstorms, and hail. In the late springs and summers, Toronto is sometimes affected by severe thunderstorms, producing damage. Tornadoes are uncommon in the city, but may occur. Toronto is occasionally affected by the remnants of Atlantic hurricanes, usually they just brush the area, although with Hurricane Hazel in 1954, the city took a direct hit which produced widespread flooding and devastation.
Toronto's best-known landmark is the 553 metre (1,815 feet) tall CN Tower. The CN Tower currently stands as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world. Other attractions include the Royal Ontario Museum (currently undergoing an expansion by architect Daniel Libeskind); the Art Gallery of Ontario (undergoing a redevelopment plan by architect Frank Gehry); the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts; the Hummingbird Centre (also being redesigned by Daniel Libeskind); the University of Toronto campus; the Distillery District; Bloor-Yorkville, one of Toronto's most elegant shopping and dining areas; Casa Loma; the Beaches; the Toronto
Islands; Kensington Market; the Toronto Eaton Centre; the Hockey Hall of Fame and sports complexes the Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre.
Toronto is a city of many museums, theatres, galleries, festivals, comedy clubs, events and sports. It is generally considered to be Canada's dominant cultural centre.
The city is home to the Canadian Opera Company, the largest producer of opera in Canada and the sixth largest in North America; and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra which plays at Roy Thomson Hall. It is also home to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto's opera house; the Hummingbird Centre; Massey Hall, the Canadian National Exhibition, the Ontario Science Centre; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; Cinematheque Ontario, Toronto Centre for the Arts and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre. Canada's Walk of Fame acknowledges the achievements of successful Canadians and consists of a series of stars in front of Roy Thomson Hall,
the Princess of Wales Theatre, and the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Ontario Place is located on three beautifully landscaped islands on the shores of Lake Ontario. It has rides and attractions, and includes the world's first permanent IMAX movie theatre, the Cinesphere, a geodesic dome-shaped structure; as well as the Molson Amphitheatre, a large open-air venue for large-scale music concerts.
Set on 13 acres in downtown Toronto, the Distillery District is a national historic site. The forty plus buildings constitute the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. The Distillery District is a pedestrian village containing unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, artist studios and micro breweries, including the well-known Mill Street Brewery. The Don Valley Brick Works was recently restored as a park and heritage site and plans are underway to convert it into a cultural centre for experiencing how nature makes cities more livable.
Toronto is recognized as the third-largest theatre centre in the English-speaking world, after New York and London with over 90 venues in the greater Toronto area. The Canadian Stage Company (CanStage) is the largest contemporary theatre company in Canada. Each summer it presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto's High Park called "Dream in High Park". A new theatre, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, opened in the Distillery District and serves as the home of the Soulpepper Theatre Company, a classical repertory theatre company, and the drama productions of nearby George Brown College. There is even a theatre company
(Buddies in Bad Times) that has specialized for 27 years in gay-themed theatre.
Toronto has over 50 ballet and dance companies, six opera companies and two symphony orchestras.
The production of both domestic and foreign (usually U.S.) film and television is a major local industry. The city often stands in on screen for large American cities like New York and Chicago, as well as playing itself. Many US movie releases are screened in Toronto prior to wider release. The centrality of the film industry to the city's economic and cultural life is best illustrated by the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which is the world's largest and rivalled only by Cannes in importance.