The history of Toronto began not long after glaciers created the Great Lakes thousands of years ago—including Lake Ontario, the eastern most of the five.
Soon various Indian tribes settled its northwest shore including the Mississaugas, Huron and Iroquois—Toronto is most likely Iroquois ‘tkaronto’ for the ‘place where trees stand in the water’, or a man-made natural corral to easily catch fish.
In the late 1700s, the British monarchy purchased the land from the Mississaugas and Toronto was incorporated as York in 1834. In those many years, British loyalists fled America for Canada as did escaped slaves and immigrants from Ireland during the great famine.
Since then, Toronto has become the largest city in Canada and the capital of Ontario—and with just over 50% of its population native-born, it’s one of the most diverse cities in the world.
By the 1860s the Gooderham and Worts Distillery is said to have become the world’s largest whiskey factory and the industry established the Distillery District. While many significant architectural structures were demolished in the 60s and 70s to make way for modern buildings, the district maintained many of its Victorian era industrial architecture.
The city has seen its share of natural disasters—most notably the Great Toronto Fire of 1904 and Hurricane Hazel in 1954—which create opportunities to rebuild and modernize.
The distinctive CN Tower was completed in 1974 and is not only a key feature of the city’s skyline, at just over 1,815 feet (553 metres) it’s still the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Thankfully the city’s street car system from 1891 remains—and as renovations of buildings and neighborhoods are done—the mix of the old with new is unique and charming.
Today, the Toronto Public Space Committee protects the city’s many public spaces including city squares and parks and its revitalized waterfront.
Besides its fifty-plus ballet and dance companies, Toronto has been home to the Hockey Hall of Fame since 1958—and the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the original six clubs of the National Hockey League. And since 1995, the Raptors are the only NBA team outside the US.
With the cold winters come inside activities including sports and movies. Home to the first permanent IMAX, the city has been seen on the big screen in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe and David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch and the soon to be released Cosmopolis.
Special thanks to darryl, store manager Queen West, for the photograph.