Toronto is arguably Canada’s most important city – and at 6 million it’s certainly by far the largest. Yet just as the New York feels a world apart from most of the USA, and London’s very different from the rest of the England, Toronto doesn’t feel too representatively Canadian either. This is one very big, very cosmopolitan city, whose role abroad is often as important as its role at home.
And as North America’s fifth largest city, Toronto’s concerns are often continental in scale. It hosts Canada’s main stock-market; largest airport; dozens of corporate headquarters; and various professional baseball, hockey and basketball teams which play as often in the USA as they do in Canada.
But more than just being a significant North American player, Toronto is also a world city; one where communities from some hundred nations have created homes and neighbourhoods; 140 languages and dialects are said to be spoken around the city. All this means a big part of really appreciating the city is to make the most of its multi-ethnic celebrations, foods and districts rather than simply homing in on the small clutch of sights amid the skyscrapers of Toronto’s surprisingly compact Downtown.
As Tourism Toronto puts it: “Toronto’s neighbourhoods are the heart of the city. They pulse with life and each has a personality of its own. A visit isn’t complete without exploring these culturally diverse areas. Have a coffee or a craft brew, savour an exotic snack, poke around a bookstore or an art gallery — experience what makes Toronto the vibrant, eclectic place it is.”
Diverse ethnic highlights include the Chinese Dragon festival, Caribana’s colourful parade and the Greek Festival.
But cosmopolitanism aside, perhaps two things make Toronto most identifiably Canadian. One is its sheer scale. Toronto covers around 6,000km2 (3,000 sq mi) and it’s hard to see where the city ends for at least an hours’ drive in any direction. It has the world’s longest street (Yonge), and the average Torontonians Commute time lies close to 90 minutes.
The other real Canadian trait is its preparedness for a harsh winter. Not only does the city keep well on-top of matters like snow-clearing and maintaining an excellent public transit system, its downtown is as open for business in winter as it is in summer. This is in part thanks to the PATH – an underground system of concourses that join buildings to create an enclosed world of malls that spans many city blocks.
To learn more about Toronto, check out www.seetorontonow.com. And while our destination specialists gets their guides to the city up and running, we’ve sourced this Toronto for Couples itinerary from Tourism Toronto.