Toronto is Canada’s largest city and also its most culturally diverse. It’s a city of neighbourhoods, each distinctive with its own unique character and selection of restaurants and shops to enjoy.
For the citizens of Toronto (known as “Torontonians”) and visitors the variety of culinary and cultural experiences is as varied as its people. More than 40% of the city’s population was born outside of Canada, diversity is an aspect of life here that is not only accepted, it’s celebrated. The “Canadian identity” is one of mixed backgrounds and a mosaic of cultures. Most Canadians identify themselves with one or more “foreign” origins and cultural pride is something all levels of government support with funding for festivals and celebrations throughout the year. In Toronto there are numerous events centered around international festivals and holidays from the four corners of the globe. You can travel the world in a single day by visiting several neighbourhoods where cultural groups have settled into miniature versions of their homeland. Little Italy, Koreatown, Chinatown, Greektown, Little Portugal, and Little India are some of the names bestowed upon parts of Toronto that have come to be known for their ethnic character, shaped by people who have left their home countries to settle here. They have brought with them their beliefs, their customs, their cuisine and their dreams and together have helped create a city that ranks as one of the safest and most prosperous in North America.
Travelling Toronto is like travelling the world, and as a local Torontonian, having the world at my doorstep is something I miss when I go abroad. I think what I miss most when I’m away is the food. Here I can have French crepes for breakfast, enjoy Chinese dim sum for lunch and stuff myself with Ethipoian food for dinner. Later in the evening I can satisfy my sweet tooth with Italian gellato – all made and served up by people who find the food much less exotic than I do.
The options for entertainment and recreation here are hard to beat. With world class museums, Broadway style shows, independent theatre productions, stand-up comedy, and countless art galleries, any culture hound will find more than enough to keep themselves busy for days at a time. Toronto is called a “city in a park” with plenty of green spaces, both small and manicured and large and untamed to explore or to simply relax in under a tree with a good book.
Toronto is easy to navigate either by public transit or by foot. Most Torontonians who live downtown find having a car more of a nuisance than a convenience and bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation for many with mild winters making almost cycling year-round a possibility.
Toronto is best experienced on foot and at a leisurely pace to allow time for popping into shops and to enjoy a coffee at any of the many franchise and independent cafes when one feels like a break or a caffeine fix.
For visitors, having a local guide give you a tour and advice on where to spend your time is money well spent. For locals, taking a tour of Toronto will reveal a side of the city you might not have known, and will give a better appreciation of Toronto than you have ever had. Most Torontonians are unaware of the tumultuous past and the multitude of stories that make up the city’s history. Our history is punctuated with cholera epidemics, catastrophic fires, riots, and rebellion. Toronto’s story reads like a coming of age epic, growing from small British colony with a nearby fort to today’s multicultural “megacity”.
Toronto is a phenomenal place to visit and an even better place to live. I hope you take the time to get to know this city better with us through a Toronto Urban Adventure!