What Is Toronto, Ontario Known for?
If you’re thinking of visiting Toronto, you might wonder what activities you can do there. Which sights should you see, and what foods should you consume? Before you pack your bags and go, you might want to do your research first on what Toronto is known for, so you can plan your itinerary better for a more fun and memorable experience.
Toronto is known for its multiculturalism, sports, and unique landmarks, such as the CN Tower. This bustling city features various cuisines, architectural mixtures, and a long history. Toronto is also home to one of the world’s largest film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival.
To learn more about the history of Toronto, landmarks to visit if you go there on vacation, and which foods you should try, keep reading!
Toronto Has a Rich History
Toronto, located to the north of Lake Ontario, is known for its rich history and is one of the most vibrant cities in Canada. The capital of Ontario, it got its name from the anglicized version of a Mohawk word – either tkaranto or taronto, meaning ‘trees grow in shallow water.’
The first people to live in Toronto were Native Indians, after which the French colonized it in the 1600s. However, after France lost the Seven-Year War in 1763, Canada was ceded to the British.
Under the British, Toronto was named the ‘Town of York.’ However, it was renamed Toronto in 1834, after Toronto was rebuilt following the American invasions.
These invasions were a part of the war of 1812 when America declared war on Britain.
In 1813, American troops invaded York, raiding and looting the buildings, notably destroying the Parliament buildings and much of the settlement. Theirs was a pyrrhic victory as they were unable to hold this territory. In retaliation, British troops destroyed the White House in Washington D.C.
Eventually, as part of Canada, Toronto gained independence on 1 July 1867. There were no grand events that resulted in this. Instead, a steady increase in racial diversity leading to rebellions and high financial costs led Britain to let this colony go.
Check out this book Toronto Then and Now to see what Toronto used to look like compared to now.
Toronto Promotes Diversity
Toronto is known for its diversity. Canada is a very diverse country due to immigration in the 1800s and 1900s from Ireland, Russia, and other countries.
Several people are also migrating to Canada from other parts of the world for work, study, or retirement. Canadians do not take offense to this, instead viewing it as a positive thing, seen by Toronto’s official motto – ‘In Diversity Our Strength.’
Toronto doesn’t just house migrants – it has one of the highest numbers of immigrants. According to Toronto Global, 47% of Toronto’s population is foreign-born. This is higher than any state in North America or any country in Europe, apart from Miami.
More than 136 languages are spoken in Toronto, according to the 2016 Candian Census Profile. This should give you an idea as to the sheer diversity of voices here.
This diversity means that Canadians are more racially tolerant, so you’re less likely to be discriminated against based on your skin tone. It also means that you’ll be able to try a wide variety of ethnic fare that might be impossible to find in your home country.
Ensure that you visit ethnic locations like Toronto’s Chinatown, the Danforth, Little Italy, and Little India to try a little piece of heaven from other cultures.
Toronto Is Home to the NBA Raptors
Toronto is home to basketball’s Raptors, the only Canadian team to play in the NBA. They were added to the league in 1995 and the Vancouver Grizzlies as part of the NBA’s efforts to expand into Canada. However, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee, so the Raptors currently remain the only Canadian team.
The legendary Raptors team has won various NBA awards, along with a championship recently in 2019. Containing many famous all-time great players like Elvis Hayes and John Stockton, this popular sports team holds a special place in the hearts of sports fans, no matter if they’re Canadian or American.
Toronto also houses the Blue Jays, a baseball team that competes in Major League Baseball as part of their East division. The team’s name originates from the Blue Jay, which is also their team logo.
It’s the Perfect City for Serious Foodies
Toronto is home to food lovers and some of the best butter tarts and peameal bacon sandwiches. Although Canada doesn’t have any special national foods, people in the country, especially in Toronto, love savoring worldwide delicacies. You should taste what the locals eat, too. Here are some examples of Toronto favorites:
Tim Hortons is not unique to Canada by any means, but it’s a Canadian favorite, and people in Toronto love it. Try getting both the ‘double double’ and ‘ice cap,’ a coffee with two creams and two sugars and an iced cappuccino to get the full Timmies experience.
A butter tart is a tart with a sweet filling of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg. This uniquely Canadian pastry has been compared to a pecan pie or Quebec’s sugar pie, which should give you an idea of how it tastes.
To experience the best butter tarts you’ve had in your life, go to blogTO’s website to know which bakeries to visit in Toronto.
Laura Secord Chocolate
Named after the Canadian war heroine Laura Secord who is renowned for walking 20 miles (32 km) in American-occupied territory to warn the British of their impending attack, this company was founded by Frank O’ Connor in 1913 in Toronto.
They sell quality chocolate products, so you should definitely buy a few or drop by their stores here.
Ice wine, known as ‘eiswein,’ is a sweet wine typically found in Germany but more recently in Canada. Grapes are left on the vine until the winter season so that the water freezes, producing a more concentrated grape juice.
The types of grapes traditionally used are either Riesling or Vidal Blanc. Because ice wine has a lower harvest ratio than traditional wine, it is more expensive. It also has fruitier notes.
Today, Canada is the world leader in ice wine. If you visit Toronto, you must go to the Niagara regions to try out their ice wines.
Peameal Bacon Sandwich
This simple sandwich only consists of cooked peameal bacon on a kaiser roll. This unsmoked bacon sandwich is the signature dish in Toronto, and experts recommend trying it out in St. Lawrence Market.
Famous Landmarks to Visit in Toronto
If you’re visiting Toronto, you will need to see these famous landmarks or events:
CN Tower — the Eiffel Tower of Canada
The CN Tower is the Eiffel Tower of Canada. This architectural triumph was specially built in 1976 to transmit microwaves and radiowaves for telecommunications in the 1960s.
In the 1960s, new highrise buildings were popping up, and the telecommunication towers were not tall enough to transmit radio waves.
As a result, Canadian National decided to build a tower for telecommunications, but historically make it the tallest building in the world.
Although the CN Tower is no longer the tallest building globally, it is still well worth your time to go and see this demonstration of human ingenuity.
To learn more about it, you can visit this website.
Hockey Hall of Fame — Ice Hockey Museum
The Hockey Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to showcasing the history of ice hockey. It contains the Stanley Cup, the prize awarded to a team after winning the National Hockey Playoff League, and other hockey-related memorabilia.
Notable treasures include Steven Stamkos’s stick, Harrison Browne’s gloves, and George Armstrong’s Jersey.
The Hall of Fame also has interactive games for visitors to play, with their opponents being the greats, and reels of spectacular shots and moments.
To learn more about it, you can visit their official website.
Distillery District — Pedestrian-Only Residential District
The Distillery District is a pedestrian-only residential district named after its former use as a whiskey distillery. It is one of Toronto’s must-visit attractions, so you might want to consider visiting it, even if you’re a teetotaler.
Although it still houses many distillery-related events, today, its 19th-century buildings house art events and hipster cafés.
It also has art galleries and studios to marvel at, along with various artisanal crafts and clothes to purchase.
This district is a must-visit for creatives and anyone else who loves shopping or good food!
Learn more at The Distillery District.
High Park – Home to Cherry Blossoms and Maple Leaves
High Park, located smack dab in the middle of Toronto, is home to cherry blossoms and a big ornamental maple leaf, two of its most famous icons of nature.
You might know the white cherry blossom flowers from Japan. The maple leaf in question is not a real maple tree. Instead, it is an assortment of plants that are arranged to make up the shape of a maple leaf.
High Park also has a lot of pretty and interesting vegetation and plants.
The park also houses 399 acres of unlimited fun. You can jump into one of its hiking trails, enjoy a picnic by the lakefront, visit the zoo or the greenhouses, or just go there to play with your children.
For more information, consider visiting this forum thread on High Park.
Graffiti Alley — An Alley Full of Graffiti in Toronto
As the name suggests, Graffiti Alley refers to an alley chock-full of graffiti from Rush Lane to Portland Street.
Interestingly enough, graffiti is illegal in Toronto unless it is thought to be a mural, a concept that is open to interpretation.
The law goes that if the property owner whose establishment has been vandalized considers the graffiti to be a mural and not vandalism, they can appeal before a panel to keep it.
Certain areas, like Graffiti Alley, are exempt from this law to promote graffiti tourism.
Scarborough Bluffs — A Network of Eleven Parks
The Scarborough Bluffs consists of eleven different parks in total. Located along Lake Ontario, the Bluffs offer breathtaking views of nature and scenery from the top of cliffs. These cliffs were formed over hundreds of years worth of erosion from the water.
Upon reaching the Bluffs, you can either drive to the top and enjoy the view or hike up. Be warned that the cliffs can reach up to 300 feet (91.44 m), so you might not want to go hiking if you get tired quickly.
After you’re done with the hike, you should visit the nearby beach and art colony.
A word of warning – when visiting the Bluffs, be sure not to go too near to the edge. These cliffs are constantly eroding, and the rocks might give out beneath you.
Rogers Centre — Home to the Toronto Blue Jays
The Rogers Centre is a stadium that has been housing the Toronto Blue Jays since 1989. Beyond this, it is famously known for its fully retractable roof, which led to its original name of SkyDome.
This means that no matter the weather, events will be able to carry as usual. This groundbreaking roof was first tested in 1989 and is said to have created 10,000 years of employment.
The seats within the stadium also have a railway track system that allows them to move easily following baseball or football seating, depending on the event.
Essentially, if you’re a sports fan, you need to visit this stadium at least once in your lifetime.
Casa Loma — Gothic-Style Revival Mansion in Toronto
Casa Loma is a Gothic-style Revival Mansion created as Sir Henry Pallat’s baby. Ironically, its creation bankrupted the creator, allowing both him and his wife to live within its walls only for a meager ten years before they had to leave.
Today, Casa Loma has been converted into a house mansion with exhibits and events that you can see to understand what life was like in the 1800s. If you’re intrigued by history, you’ll be similarly intrigued by Casa Loma.
You can visit their official website to learn more.
International Film Festival — One of Toronto’s Best Events
The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the city’s best events. While the film festival is less of a landmark and more of an event, it is undeniably one of the many things Toronto is known for and one of the world’s largest film festivals.
This event is usually held in September and runs for ten days, showcasing the best of Canadian filmmaking. If you want to go, make sure to buy your tickets in advance so you can find a date to visit that pleases you.
Toronto is a city that caters to anyone and everyone, from nature enthusiasts to sports fans, to shoppers. When visiting Toronto, be sure to have fun, but also try to distinguish traces of its English and French colonial history.
If you’re planning a trip to Toronto be sure to check out this guide on Amazon.