By Hannah Rollmaker
Though there are many beautiful places to visit in Canada, no other city comes close to Toronto in terms of sightseeing and grandeur. Toronto is easily the most populated city in Canada and is the capital of the province of Ontario. Toronto, with two and a half million citizens, ranks in at number five in the most populated cities in North America. If you include the Golden Horseshoe (the region of Southern Ontario that Toronto is a part of), you’ve got a whopping eight million people that call the Greater Toronto Area home! This is a quarter of Canada’s entire population contained within earshot of America’s Great Lakes.
Toronto commands a very large cache in the global financial sphere and for good reason. The Toronto Stock Exchange is one of the ten largest stock exchanges in the world. The “Big Five” banks of Canada all call Toronto home and Bay Street, in the Financial District, is known the world over for having some of the most important brokerage firms on the face of the planet. With such wealth, it is little wonder that Toronto is one of the most expensive cities to live in within Canada. This high cost does have an upside, though, as Toronto is one of the safest cities in North America when it comes to crime rates. Much of this has to do with the city’s stringent policies regarding gun laws but, regardless, the low incidence of crime is even more remarkable when one considers how diverse the population of Toronto is. No one nationality is dominant in Toronto, though people of European descent (British, Irish, and the like) make up just over half of the population. Nearly a quarter of Toronto is made up of Chinese and South Asian people, and the fact of the matter is that Toronto is incredibly diverse and there is no real “majority”. This is made even more evident when one sees how multilingual the city is; though English is the dominant language, there are enough French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and many more foreign tongues that the emergency services are able to respond to over one hundred and fifty languages!
Toronto is about more than just business and multiculturalism, though. Tourists who visit Toronto consistently marvel at the amazing sights contained within this busy burg. The Toronto Zoo, for instance, is one of the largest in the world and contains nearly five hundred different animal species and over five thousand different creatures! The much loved neighborhood of Yorkville attracts visitors from around the world for its very prestigious upscale boutiques and restaurants. For those with slightly less discerning tastes, the Toronto Easton Centre offers people of more modest means an incredible shopping experience and, as a result, has become Toronto’s most popular tourist spot, attracting an astonishing fifty-two million visitors a year! With all the perks of big cities and hardly any of the crime, pollution, or crowding, it is little wonder that people from all over the world adore and cherish Toronto. If you have yet to visit this Canadian wonderland, do yourself a favor and take a pilgrimage to the happiest place on Earth (north of Disney World, that is).
* Canadian National Tower
Toronto’s most famous landmark is the CN Tower, a 553 metre- (1,815 foot-) tall steel and concrete transmission tower and observation deck which is the second tallest freestanding structure in the world. But it is now recognized that the CN Tower is the tallest free-standing tower in the world.
* Sports stadia
The Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) is the world’s first sporting arena to feature a fully retractable roof. It is currently home to the Toronto Blue Jays (baseball) and the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian football). Nearby, the Air Canada Centre is the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs (ice hockey), the Toronto Raptors (basketball), and the Toronto Rock (box lacrosse). It was built to replace the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens. Additionally, there is BMO Field, which the home to the MLS team Toronto FC (association football).
* City Hall
Toronto’s City Hall is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks. Built to replace its predecessor — now known simply as Old City Hall — its modernist style still impresses today (it has been used as a backdrop in American films to depict a city of the future). Directly in front of City Hall is Nathan Phillips Square, a public space that frequently houses concerts, art displays, a weekly farmers’ market, and other public events. It is also the site of a reflecting pool that, during the winter, becomes a popular skating rink.
* Yonge-Dundas Square
Yonge-Dundas Square is the city’s newest and flashiest public square, located across the street from the Toronto Eaton Centre, a large, popular shopping mall long enough to have Toronto Transit Commission subway stops at both the northern and southern ends of the mall. Another upscale shopping mall with subway access is the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, although this mall sits outside of the city centre at the intersection of two highways, Allen Road and the 401. Queen’s Park, an historic scenic park and public space, surrounds Ontario’s Legislative Assembly.
* The Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands form part of the largest car-free urban community in North America. Accessible by ferry, “the Islands” include a public park and a children’s amusement park, Centreville. The city has several large forested urban parks, the best known being High Park to the west of downtown. The city is crisscrossed by a network of ravines that have remained almost wholly undeveloped. The Martin M. Goodman trail also traverses the entire lakeshore from one end of the city to the other, a section of this trail runs as a Boardwalk through the Beaches area, from Ashbridges Bay to Victoria Park Avenue. The Scarborough Bluffs are majestic cliffs along much of Scarborough’s shores.
* Toronto’s oldest cathedrals
The Roman Catholic St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Anglican St. James’ Cathedral are both on Church Street.
* The Distillery District
The Distillery District is a collection of old and restored industrial buildings from the 19th century which now feature artworks and historical artifacts from Toronto’s early industrial past.
* Casa Loma
Casa Loma, Spanish for “Hill House”, is a castle overlooking downtown Toronto, it is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.