First Published: April 18, 2017
Last Update: April 19, 2017
Peameal Bacon Sandwich
The five Great Lakes contain more than a fifth of all the world‘s above ground fresh water. Starting in the west with Lake Superior, the world’s second largest lake, the water flows east into Lake Michigan (the world’s largest lake located entirely within one country), then onto the Huron, Erie, and eventually Ontario after flowing over Niagara Falls. Lake Ontario is the last and most eastern of the Great Lakes before the water flows northeast up the St. Lawrence and finally ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. The lake is also the smallest and second least voluminous, ahead of Lake Erie (as Ontario is much deeper than Erie), and its surface is at the lowest elevation of the lakes. And like most of the other lakes and the St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario lies between the United States to the south and Canada to the north. On the southern shore lies the Upstate New York city of Rochester (Buffalo is just south of the Niagara River on the eastern end of Lake Erie, which flows north over Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario), while the northern shore is home to a region in southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. The region, shaped like a horseshoe around the western end of the lake is the most densely populated and commercially developed region in Canada, being home to more than a quarter of the country’s residents. Before the first Europeans arrived on the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, the area was inhabited by Wyandot also known as the Huron, who were later displaced by Iroquois. The languages of both native American nations contributed to the name of what would be known as, Toronto, with “Tkaronto” Iroquois for “place where trees stand in the water” and “Toronto” meaning “plenty” in the French lexicon of the Wyandot. Toronto was first settled as a trading fort known as Fort Rouille in 1750, later abandoned in the wake of the Seven Years War. The area was then reestablished as York in 1793, which incorporated as Toronto on March 6th, 1834 with a population of less than ten thousand. The city, which has experienced tremendous growth in the last century sits on relatively flat land and has geographically expanded to include neighboring towns, further growing the city’s scope and population. The city today occupies 243 square miles and 29 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline.
Toronto was at two brief points in time, the capital of the Province of Canada, back when Canada was still a British colony. As part of the British Empire, Toronto, formerly known as York, was captured and taken over by American Revolutionary forces in the Battle of York during the War of 1812. While the American victory didn’t produce any immediate strategic results, the victory ultimately ended up capturing weaponry destined for British forces on Lake Erie. This contributed to a decisive American victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, giving the Americans control of the lake and recovering Detroit. Toronto traded the role as Canada’s Capital with Quebec twice in the 1850s until Ottawa became the permanent capital thereafter. After multiple legislative milestones, Canada finally gained full independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. During the mid 19th century, several railroad companies built lines heading to Toronto from the rest of the Great Lakes. These links bolstered the regional economy and brought immigrants and businesses from many cities across North America, as it had happened in Chicago. The city was the largest alcohol distillation center in the Americas and the railways expanded many other important industries along Toronto’s waterfront. Like Chicago, Toronto also suffered a large scale fire in 1904 that resulted in stricter building and fire safety codes. The 20th century brought racial diversity, suburbanization, urban development, and political uncertainty. The Toronto Stock Exchange overtook Montreal’s in 1934 to become the largest in the nation. The population of Toronto increased from 1 to 2 million between 1951 to 1971, following an easing of racially based immigration policies. Over the course of the 1900s, Toronto went through various stages of amalgamation, merging with neighboring towns and cities to become the expansive city it is today.
Toronto is regarded as one of the world‘s leading global cities, being a highly diversified international nexus of finance, culture, arts, sports, and education. Nearly half of the city’s residents belong to a visible minority group as defined by the Canadian government, with 160 languages and 200 distinct ethnic origins represented. The city is home to the nation’s main television networks and studios, as well as many of Canada’s most popular festivals, museums, sporting events, and tourist attractions, including the CN Tower. The tower, built by the Canadian National Railway Company in 1976 is a 1,815 feet tall freestanding communications tower with a revolving restaurant and two observation decks, one of which contains a glass section of its floor, allowing visitors to look down at the streets below. There’s also a relatively new feature called EdgeWalk, in which tethered guests can walk hands free around the roof above the restaurant. The CN Tower was the tallest freestanding man-made structure in the world from the time of its completion until 2007, when it was surpassed by the ongoing construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Tower is the most recognizable landmark in the city, which is known for its recent skyscraper boom. Toronto is home to Canada’s five largest banks, the Toronto Stock Exchange (7th largest in the world by market cap), and the head offices of several Fortune 500 companies. Toronto’s economy represents a fifth of Canada’s entire GDP, and is based on strong tourism, finance, healthcare, education, technology, transportation, and media industries. The area includes Canada’s largest university, The University of Toronto, as well as York University, Ryerson, OCAD, Tyndale, Centennial, George Brown, and the Royal Conservatory of Music among others, all of which bring almost 190,000 students to the T.O. each academic year. More than 25 million tourists visit the city on an annual basis, helping make the Toronto Pearson International Airport the busiest in Canada as well as the second busiest in North America by international traffic.
The city is a global center of culture and arts, being the nation’s hub of media and theater. There are more than 150 individual performing arts companies, dozens of museums and galleries, and notable examples of an impressive range of architectural eras. The city is also home to the Toronto International Film Festival, the Toronto Public Library which is the largest public library system in the world, and an expansive parks footprint. The city is one of the world’s most LGBTQ friendliest (Canada was one of the first nations to fully legalize gay marriage), being the home to Toronto’s Pride Week, a ten day affair that is one of the largest celebrations in the world. The festival takes place each year towards the end of Pride Month in June. Toronto’s culture is perhaps most notably linked to its thriving sports culture, which is primarily associated with Ice Hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the NHL’s “Original Six” teams have been playing in Toronto since 1917, and while they’ve won a league second best 13 Stanley Cups, the team is currently (as of the 2016-2017 season) in a 49 season Cup drought, the longest in the league. The Hockey Hall of Fame as well as the IIHF Hall of Fame are located in a former bank building in Downtown, making it a popular tourist attraction. The city is also home to The National Hockey League’s “War Room” where disputed goals from around the league are viewed at multiple angles by video goal judges to determine whether a puck was scored legitimately or not. Aside from hockey, the city is home to the Raptors of the NBA, the Blue Jays of the MLB, and the Toronto FC of the MLS. The Buffalo Bills played several regular season games at the Rogers Center (home to the Blue Jays) between 2008 and 2013 (known as the Bills Toronto Series) as part of an effort to increase the popularity of the team and American Football in Canada. Former mayor Rob Ford was a noted fan of the team and their starting running back at the time, Fred Jackson. Toronto is also home to a diverse and growing brewing industry, with more than thirty breweries and brew pubs represented within the city. The city boasts one of the best craft beer bar scenes in North America, and has been rated as a top food destination for cuisine enthusiasts. Like Montreal‘s RESO, the city of Toronto is connected underground by a network of tunnels and open areas known as the PATH, which at 4 million square feet, is the largest underground shopping complex in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The complex includes more than 1200 stores, 20 parking garages, and is more than 30 km in total length. Many commuters use the PATH, which connects to the city’s rail and bus hubs to avoid the sometimes harsh Ontario winters.
The City of Toronto has a GDP of more than $275 Billion, with a metro area population of almost six million Canadians. There are many major highways serving the city’s commuters and rail lines serving freight to and from the rest of North America. About 9500 roads cover 5200 km of Toronto which are largely built on a grid based system with a few notable exceptions. Toronto is Canada’s second most walkable city according to Walk Score (behind Vancouver and ahead of Montreal). The city’s public transportation is run by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) which operates bus, subway, paratransit, and streetcar services across the city. More than 2.76 million passengers use some part of the system on an average weekday (primarily by bus or subway). The rapid transit system, known as the Toronto Subway, covers 42.4 miles (with another 17 under construction) across 69 stations (with another 28 under construction). There are 858 cars working three heavy subway rail lines and one elevated light rail line with another light rail line under construction, known as the 5 Elington Crosstown Line. The Elington Line will use custom made Flexity Freedom light rail trains that are being built in Ontario by Montreal based manufacturer Bombardier. The heavy rail subway cars are coupled into either 4 or 6 car train sets and were all built in Canada by Bombardier. The current rolling stock includes the Bombardier T-1 series trains built in the late 90s as well as a new type nicknamed the “Toronto Rocket” which was first introduced in 2010 to replace older cars that were built in the 70s and 80s. Aside from the Elington line, there are numerous expansion plans to either add new lines or extend current ones throughout the system, including two additional light rail lines, a replacement of the current 3 Scarborough line, an extension to the Yonge-University line, and an additional heavy rail line near Toronto’s City Hall. Many of the system’s stations include public art that was installed as part of an effort to improve overall aesthetics, which were once described as “a series of bathrooms without plumbing.” At the end of 2013, wifi service began operating in many of the stations, a service that is expected to cover the entire network by the end of 2017. 4G service is expected to be available in all stations by 2019.