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Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth-most populous municipality in North America. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely-populated region in south-central Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe which is home to over eight million residents. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,113,149, and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 at the 2006 Census.
As Canada's economic capital, Toronto is considered a global city. Toronto's leading economic sectors include finance, business services, telecommunications, aerospace, transportation, media, arts, film, television production, publishing, software production, medical research, education, tourism and sports industries. The Toronto Stock Exchange, the world's sixth largest, is headquartered in the city, along with a majority of Canada's corporations.
Toronto's population is cosmopolitan and international, which reflects its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also rated Toronto as the world's most diverse city, as about 49 percent of the population were born outside of Canada. Because of the city's low crime rates, clean environment and generally high standard of living, Toronto is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. In addition, Toronto was ranked as the most expensive Canadian city in which to live in 2006.
Residents of Toronto are called Torontonians. Toronto has a number of sister cities, which are selected based on economic, cultural and political criteria.
When Europeans first arrived at the site of present-day Toronto, the vicinity was inhabited by the Huron tribes, who by then had displaced the Iroquois tribes that occupied the region for centuries before c. 1500. The name Toronto is likely derived from the Iroquois word tkaronto, meaning "place where trees stand in the water". It refers to the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, where the Huron had planted tree saplings to corral fish.
French traders founded Fort Rouille on the current Exhibition grounds in 1750, but abandoned it in 1759. During the American Revolutionary War, the region saw an influx of British settlers as United Empire Loyalists fled for the unsettled lands north of Lake Ontario. In 1787, the British negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of New Credit, thereby securing more than a quarter million acres (1000 km?) of land in the Toronto area.
In 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe established the town of York on the existing settlement, naming it after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Simcoe chose the town to replace Newark as the capital of Upper Canada, believing the new site would be less vulnerable to attack by the Americans. Fort York was constructed at the entrance of the town's natural harbour, sheltered by a long sand-bar peninsula. The town's settlement formed at the eastern end of the harbour behind the peninsula, near the present-day Parliament Street and Front Street.
In 1813, as part of the War of 1812, the Battle of York ended in the town's capture and plunder by American forces. The surrender of the town was negotiated by John Strachan. American soldiers destroyed much of Fort York and set fire on the parliament buildings during their five-day occupation.
With a population of only 9,000 inhabitants, York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name. These included escaped African-American slaves fleeing Black Codes in some states, as slavery had been banned outright in Upper Canada by 1806. Reformist politician William Lyon Mackenzie became the first Mayor of Toronto, and led the unsuccessful Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 against the British colonial government. The city grew rapidly through the remainder of the 19th century, as a major destination for immigrants to Canada. The first significant population influx occurred with the Great Irish Famine between 1846 and 1849 that brought a large number of Irish diaspora into the city, some of them transient and most of them Catholic. By 1851, the Irish-born population had become the largest single ethnic group in the city. Smaller numbers of Protestant Irish immigrants were welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, giving the Orange Order significant influence over Toronto society.
Toronto was twice for brief periods the capital of the united Province of Canada first from 1849-1852, following unrest in Montreal, and later 1856-1858 after which Quebec became capital until 1866 (one year prior to Confederation); since then, the capital has been Ottawa. As it had been for Upper Canada from 1793, Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario after its official creation in 1867 and has remained so since with the Ontario Legislature located at Queen's Park. Because of its capital status, the city has also always been the location of Government House, the residence of the vice-regal representative of the Crown. Toronto Harbour, 1919. In the foreground is the Harbour Commission headquarters at the end of a pier. Nowadays it is about 500 m from the harbour. Toronto Harbour, 1919. In the foreground is the Harbour Commission headquarters at the end of a pier. Nowadays it is about 500 m from the harbour.
In the 19th century, an extensive sewage system was built, and streets became illuminated with gas lighting as a regular service. Long-distance railway lines were constructed, including a route completed in 1854 linking Toronto with the Upper Great Lakes. The Grand Trunk Railway and the Great Northern Railway joined in the building of the first Union Station in downtown. The advent of the railway dramatically increased the numbers of immigrants arriving and commerce, as had the Lake Ontario steamers and schooners entering the port and enabled Toronto to become a major gateway linking the world to the interior of the North American continent. Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1891, when the city granted the operation of the transit franchise to the Toronto Railway Company. The public transit system passed into public ownership in 1921 as the Toronto Transportation Commission, later renamed the Toronto Transit Commission. The system now has the third-highest ridership of any city public transportation system in North America.
In 1954, the City of Toronto was federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto. The postwar boom had resulted in rapid suburban development, and it was believed that a coordinated land use strategy and shared services would provide greater efficiency for the region. The metropolitan government began to manage services that crossed municipal boundaries, including highways, water and public transit. In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of the region were merged into their larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the old City of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. In 1998, the metropolitan government was dissolved and the six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto, where David Miller is the current Mayor.
The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed a large section of downtown Toronto, but the city was quickly rebuilt. The fire had cost more than $10 million in damage, and led to more stringent fire safety laws and the expansion of the city's fire department.
The city received new immigrant groups beginning in the late 19th century into early 20th century, particularly Germans, Italians, and Jews from various parts of Eastern Europe. They were soon followed by Chinese, Russians, Poles and immigrants from other Eastern European nations, as the Irish before them, many of these new migrants lived in overcrowded shanty type slums, such as the "the Ward" which was between Bay Street, now the heart of the country finances and the Discovery District, considered one of the world's most advanced medical research zones. Despite its fast paced growth, by the 1920s, Toronto's population and economic importance in Canada remained second to the much longer established Montreal. However, by 1934 the Toronto Stock Exchange had become the largest in the country.
Following the Second World War, refugees from war-torn Europe arrived as did construction labourers particularly from Italy and Portugal. Following elimination of racially based immigration policies by the late 1960s, immigration began from all parts of the world. Toronto's population grew to more than one million in 1951 when large-scale suburbanization began, and doubled to two million by 1971. By the 1980s, Toronto had surpassed Montreal as Canada's most populous city and the chief economic hub. During this time, in part due to the political uncertainty raised by the resurgence of the Quebec sovereignty movement, many national and multinational corporations moved their head offices from Montreal to Toronto and other western Canadian cities.
GeographyA simulated-colour image of Toronto taken by NASA's Landsat 7 satellite. Yonge Street can clearly be seen bisecting the city just right of centre in the image, the other prominent road, running east-west, is Highway 401. A simulated-colour image of Toronto taken by NASA's Landsat 7 satellite. Yonge Street can clearly be seen bisecting the city just right of centre in the image, the other prominent road, running east-west, is Highway 401.
Toronto covers an area of 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi), with a maximum north-south distance of 21 kilometres (13 mi) and a maximum east-west distance of 43 kilometres (27 mi). It has a 46 kilometre (29 mi) long waterfront shoreline. Its borders are bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Etobicoke Creek and Highway 427 to the west, Steeles Avenue to the north and the Rouge River to the east.
TopographyThe city is intersected by two rivers and numerous tributaries: the Humber River in the west end and the Don River east of downtown at opposite ends of the Toronto Harbour. The harbour was naturally created by sediment build-up from lake currents that created the Toronto Islands and the Leslie Street Spit. The many creeks and rivers cutting from north toward the lake create large tracts of densely-forested ravines, and provide ideal sites for parks and recreational trails. However, the ravines also interfere with the city's grid plan, and this results in major thoroughfares such as Finch Avenue, Leslie Street, Lawrence Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and Keele Street terminating on one side of ravines and continuing on the other side. Other thoroughfares such as the Bloor Street Viaduct are required to span above the ravines. These deep ravines prove useful for draining the city's vast storm sewer system during heavy rains but some sections, particularly near the Don River are prone to sudden, heavy floods. Storage tanks at waste treatment facilities will often receive too much river discharge causing them to overflow, allowing untreated sewage to escape into Lake Ontario closing local beaches for swimming.
During the last ice age, the lower part of Toronto was beneath Glacial Lake Iroquois. Today, a series of escarpments mark the lake's former boundary, known as the Iroquois Shoreline. The escarpments are most prominent from Victoria Park Avenue to the mouth of Highland Creek, where they form the Scarborough Bluffs. Other noticeable sections include the area near St. Clair Avenue West between Bathurst Street and the Don River, and north of Davenport Road from Caledonia to Spadina Avenue, the Casa Loma grounds sit above this escarpment. Although not remarkably hilly, Toronto does have elevation differences ranging from 75 metres (246 ft) above-sea-level at the Lake Ontario shore to 270 metres (886 ft) ASL near the York University grounds in the city's north end.
Much of the current lakeshore land area fronting the Toronto Harbour is actually artificial landfill. In the mid-19th century the lakefront was set back up to a kilometre (0.6 mi) further inland than it is today. Much of the Toronto harbour (the quays, formerly known as wharves) and adjacent Portlands are also fill. The Toronto Islands were actually a landspit until a storm in 1858 severed its connection to the mainland, creating a channel later used by shipping interests to access the docks.
|Toronto's climate is moderate for Canada due to its southerly location within the country and its proximity to Lake Ontario. It has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with warm, humid summers and generally cold winters, although fairly mild by Canadian and many northern continental U.S. standards. The city experiences four distinct seasons with considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. Due to urbanization and other factors Toronto has a fairly low diurnal temperature range, at least in built-up city and lakeshore areas. At different times of the year, the proximity to Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes has various localized and regional impacts on the climate, including lake effect snow and delaying the onset of spring and fall conditions.
Toronto winters sometimes feature short cold snaps where maximum temperatures remain below -10 ?C (14 ?F), often made to feel colder by windchill. Snowstorms, sometimes mixed with ice and rain can disrupt work and travel schedules, accumulating snow can fall anytime from November until mid-April. However, mild stretches also occur throughout winter melting accumulated snow, with temperatures reaching into the 5 to 14 ?C (40 to 57 ?F) range and infrequently higher. Summer in Toronto is characterized by long stretches of humid weather. Daytime temperatures occasionally surpass 35 ?C (95 ?F), with high humidity making it feel oppressive during usually brief periods of hot weather. Spring and Autumn are transitional seasons with generally mild or cool temperatures with alternating dry and wet periods.
Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but summer is usually the wettest season, the bulk falling during thunderstorms. There can be periods of dry weather, but drought-like conditions are rare. The average yearly precipitation is 83 centimetres (33 in), with an average annual snowfall of about 133 centimetres (52 in). Toronto experiences an average of 2,038 sunshine hours or 44% of possible, most of it during the warmer weather season.
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