Canada’s largest city, and the fourth-largest in North America, Toronto is a global business, entertainment and tourism hub, famous for its progressiveness and diversity.
- Toronto is the capital city of the province of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.
- Centrally located between New York City, Chicago and Montreal, Toronto’s within a 90 minute flight for over half the U.S. and Canadian population.
- Toronto sits on the northern shore of Lake Ontario (the easternmost of the Great Lakes) and has a shoreline stretching 43 kilometres featuring sandy beaches, marinas and working ports.
- Two major rivers flow through Toronto into Lake Ontario: The Humber River on the west side of the city and the Don River on the east side. Each has tributaries that create a vast ravine system of forests and trails throughout the city.
- The population of the City of Toronto is 2.9 million, ranking fourth in North America, behind Mexico City, New York City and Los Angeles, and just slightly ahead of Chicago. The Greater Toronto Area has a regional population of approximately 6.3 million.
- Famous for its diversity, Toronto may be the world’s most global city, with 50 per cent of the population born outside of Canada.
- More than 200 languages and dialects are spoken in Toronto; The City of Toronto publishes information for residents in 79 languages.
- First settled more than 11,000 years ago, the area that now makes up Toronto was home to a wide array of Aboriginal groups for centuries.
- The word “Toronto” comes from the Mohawk phrase “tkaronto” meaning “where trees grow in the water” and refers to a time centuries ago when the shores of Lake Ontario reached much further north. Eventually variations of “Lac Taronto” (now Lake Simcoe) showed up on many French maps from the 1680s to the 1760s. In the 1720s a French fort was identified as Fort Toronto, where the City of Toronto stands today.
- The British established a settlement and fort in the late 1700’s, calling the settlement York. The Battle of York was a key battle in the War of 1812 and left the fledgling town badly damaged. In 1834 the city was incorporated and named Toronto.
- Over two centuries Toronto has attracted large waves of immigration from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. In the early 1980s, on the strength of sustained immigration, it surpassed Montreal as Canada’s largest city.
CANADA’S CENTRE OF BUSINESS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) are home to over 3,000 listed companies with a total market capitalization of almost $3.0 trillion. Together, TSX and TSXV represent the world’s most successful two-tiered ecosystem for supporting the long-term success of issuers across a wide range of sectors, with over 650 companies graduating from the junior to the senior market since 2001.
- As the country’s media centre, Toronto has four major daily newspapers – Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail (national) and National Post (national) – and is home to the major national broadcasters (CBC and CTV).
- One of North America’s major sports markets, Toronto’s professional sports teams include Toronto Blue Jays (baseball), Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey), Toronto Raptors (basketball), Toronto Argonauts (football), Toronto FC (soccer), Toronto Rock (Lacrosse), and Toronto Wolfpack (rugby).
For that only-in-Toronto experience, here are some famous places to find the essence of Toronto’s past and present.
- Taste a peameal bacon sandwich (with honey mustard) and a butter tart at the 200-year-old St. Lawrence Market.
- Ride the 501 “Red Rocket” streetcar along Queen Street from The Beaches in the east to the west end, through the heart of downtown and passing through the eclectic neighbourhoods of Leslieville, Riverside, Queen West, West Queen West, Parkdale and Roncesvalles along the way.
- Take the ferry to the Toronto Islands for a day in the parks and on the beaches – a piece of calm outside the hustle and bustle of the city. Refreshing signs read “Please walk on the grass.”
- Catch live music at one of Toronto’s legendary music venues such as the Horseshoe Tavern (where the Rolling Stones have played many surprise concerts), The Rex (for live jazz) or the iconic Massey Hall.
- Wander the eclectic and bohemian Kensington Market for vintage finds, organic coffee, tacos, Jamaican patties, gourmet cheese shops, green grocers and Indian spices.
- Experience the highs and lows of Toronto – from the CN Tower’s Skypod observation deck at 447 meters (135 stories) up, down to the underground PATH system connecting downtown’s office towers with a 27-km network and over 1,200 shops and restaurants.
- Stroll along the highest sidewalk at the CN Tower’s Edgewalk.
- Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario’s premier collections of Canadian art featuring the famous Group of Seven.
- Get lost in the crowds of Yonge-Dundas Square where the billboards and neon lights surround the swarms of people in Toronto’s most famous intersection.
- Cheer on the Toronto Maple Leafs at an Air Canada Centre hockey game. Absorb the Canadian game’s history and touch the actual Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Skate under clear skies at Toronto’s outdoor rinks: Nathan Phillips Square, the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre or Mississauga Celebration Square.
- Shop ‘til you drop at the Eaton Centre and for designer wear at Bloor-Yorkville.
- Eat your way around the world without leaving Toronto in Little Italy, Little Portugal, Greektown, Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little India, just to name a few.
While Toronto has emerged as a leading global city, it remains very much a Canadian city; home to some of Canada’s most famous icons and a spectacular range of cultures.
ARTS AND CULTURE
- The most extensive collections of Canadian art featuring the famous Group of Seven painters can be found at the Art Gallery of Ontario in downtown Toronto.
- The Museum of Inuit Art on Toronto’s waterfront showcases art from Canada’s northern communities, including a wide range of paintings and sculptures.
- The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is one of Canada’s longest standing symphonic ensembles established in 1922. With a large roster of musicians, many of whom are acclaimed artists, the music moves everyone.
- The Canadian Opera Company has a reputation for artistic excellence and creativity, warming hearts with its musical performances.
- Few things run deeper in Canadian culture than hockey. The history of hockey in Canada and around the world – including the Stanley Cup itself – can be found in the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.
- The CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Casa Loma and even Degrassi Street, which inspired the global television show, are all Canadian landmarks and all in Toronto.
- Recognized Canadians are forever remembered for their accomplishments on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
- Some of Canada’s most famous brands can be found in Toronto, including Hudson Bay Company, Roots and Holt Renfrew.
- Although infused with worldly flavours, some of Toronto’s finest restaurants highlight local ingredients and traditional Canadian dishes. Maple syrup, peameal bacon and poutine are among the best-known examples but many top chefs at restaurants such as Canoe and Bannock bring a contemporary feel to these traditional items.
- Local farms supply Toronto with seasonal ingredients. Visit farms such as Whittamore’s Farm and Riverdale Farm and pick apples, pumpkins and strawberries yourself.
- Ontario wines are among the best in the world, particularly Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Baco Noir varietals, along with Ontario’s world-famous Icewine.
- Canadian history can be seen and felt at Fort York, site of the Battle of York during the War of 1812; St. Lawrence Hall, the legendary meeting place of the emancipation movement leaders and the Underground Railroad; Black Creek Pioneer Village, which demonstrates the challenges of settler life in the region; Royal Ontario Museum’s collection of Canadian First Nations artifacts.
- Four very different seasons change Canada’s landscape. Toronto is no different: Summer brings outdoor festivals closing down the streets; Fall colours are displayed in the parks and surrounding farms; Winter skating, skiing, and snuggling-up with hot chocolate never gets old; Spring breathes new life into the city with arts and cultural happenings. Any time is a good time to visit.
- Worth knowing: Well-known author and contemporary artist Douglas Coupland’s “Red Canoe” is a snapshot of Canadiana and also represents iconic artist, Tom Thomson who canoed and painted in Algonquin Park.
A unique blend of historical and contemporary design defines Toronto. From the Victorian grandeur of the Industrial Age to the sleek, minimalist designs of the twentieth century, Toronto’s skyline tells an eloquent tale of its colourful history and modern cultural Renaissance.
Remnants of the classical architecture of Old Toronto are well preserved in many of the city’s historic neighbourhoods. Cabbagetown, a Heritage District known for its collection of Victorian structures, holds a number of architecturally significant homes from a variety of periods including the Georgian period, Queen Anne and the Second Empire. The industrial, red brick Distillery Historic District was once the largest whisky producer in the world. Carefully refurbished, it’s now home to a charming combination of art galleries, shops, restaurants and performance venues. In the heart of the city, Old Town Toronto is a popular tourist destination. Purchased for the first mayor of Toronto, William Lyon Mackenzie, Mackenzie House is a Greek Revival row-house and museum that includes a recreated print shop, gallery and many changing exhibitions. Also in Old Town and open to the public since 1803, is the St. Lawrence Market. As one of Canada’s oldest continuously operating markets, it’s home over one hundred and twenty vendors offering everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to antiques and artisanal crafts. With its distinctive, wedge or “flat-iron” shape, the iconic Gooderham Flatiron Building exhibits a combination of the modern Gothic Revival and the Romanesque Revival styles. Just down the street lies an iconic piece of Toronto’s skyline, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. In 1929, when the hotel officially opened as The Royal York, the twenty-eight-story structure was the tallest building in the British Empire.
THE MOVE TO MODERN
The sixties introduced modern facades to the cityscape, including the new Toronto City Hall – a much talked about structure with an unusual spaceship-like exterior, designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell. The structure’s distinctive curving and asymmetrical towers that surround the saucer-like council chambers, gave rise to the building’s original nickname “The Eye of Government” – from the air, the building looks like an enormous, unblinking eye. In the seventies, Toronto’s skyline began to change dramatically. Designed by German-born architect Eberhard H. Zeidler, Ontario Place added the futuristic, golfball-shaped Cinesphere (the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre) to the city’s waterfront. The CN Tower welcomed its first visitors in 1976 and remains the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere at 553.33 metres high. Classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the tower’s 360 degree views offer visitors breathtaking vistas of the city, Lake Ontario and the surrounding area. Featuring the world’s first retractable roof, making it the ideal sports venue in rain or shine, Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, opened in 1989. It houses two of Toronto’s professional sports franchises: the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts. Toronto’s Financial District is home to the works of world-renowned architects like Edward Durell Stone who designed the First Canadian Place. The Toronto Dominion Bank Centre, a cluster of gleaming black steel and tinted glass skyscrapers, a Mies van der Rohe signature, is highly coveted for its minimalism. Santiago Calatrava’s herring bone glass structure of the Allen Lambert Galleria elegantly stands next to the heritage buildings surrounding it. The RBC Plaza’s two towers refract and reflect light differently than other buildings in the city because of its unusual exterior: 24-carat gold leaf.
Other internationally celebrated architects have left an indelible mark on Toronto. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the annex to the Royal Ontario Museum, an enormous glass addition called the Michael Lee- Chin Crystal, was the talk of the town when completed. The geological artifacts in the museum’s collection were the inspiration behind the angular extension, which serves as a dynamic meeting spot for locals and visitors alike. Toronto-born Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario includes a billowing façade of glass and wood, as well as the dramatic sculptural staircase and 40-foot glass ceilings of historic Walker Court. It’s the first building the prominent architect has designed in Canada. Architect Bruce Kuwabara, the visionary behind high profile local architectural firm KPMB, continues to lead the collection of Cultural Renaissance projects in the city. His work includes the new home of the Toronto International Film Festival, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the National Ballet School (with Goldsmith Borgal & Company), the Gardiner Museum, and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall. The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is home to the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Architect Jack Diamond, of the Toronto firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects, envisioned the project as a way to tie together music and dance in an ensemble of glass and steel balanced with light woods against a minimalist backdrop. The structure is Canada’s first purpose-built opera house. A focal point for art and creativity in Toronto is the Ontario College of Art and Design. Nicknamed by locals as the “floating table top” or “checkerboard on stilts”, the campus’s latest addition is the Sharp Centre for Design. Created by British architect Will Alsop, the Sharp Centre’s striking design was honoured with a Royal Institute of British Architects Worldwide Award. Another iconic British architect, Norman Foster, designed the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy building, known for its luminescent “pill” floating in the main atrium and visible at night from the surrounding streets.
Annual traditions, winter family fun, unmissable neighbourhood displays and events, and New Year’s Eve celebrations make the holidays one of the best times of year to be in Toronto.
- The Santa Claus Parade always kicks off Toronto’s holiday season in mid-late November. Entertaining all ages since 1905, the parade is one of Toronto’s oldest traditions. Animated floats leave the corner of Christie and Bloor Street in the company of two dozen marching bands and thousands of costumed participants, cheered along by excited kids.
- Late November brings another annual tradition: the Cavalcade of Lights, presented by Great Gulf. It’s the first lighting of Toronto’s official Christmas tree celebrated with live musical performances. More than 100,000 energy efficient LED lights illuminate Nathan Phillips Square.
- In early November, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair showcases 300 vendors, regal horse shows, entertaining dog shows and more.
- From late November to early December, the One of A Kind Show is the ideal place to find a unique, handcrafted holiday present. This craft show features handmade designs by over 800 artists, makers, designers and craftspeople.
- During the first two weeks in December, the historic Distillery District transforms into the Toronto Christmas Market, garnering its inspiration from the markets in Eastern Europe. Sip on mulled wine, listen to classic carols and warm yourself over a roaring fire pit while eating pork knuckle, schnitzel or the Canadian classic poutine. Kids always enjoy the festive performances and rides too.
- Two of Toronto’s major department stores decorate their windows with festive, lavish displays to welcome shoppers. Families love the traditional displays at The Bay’s flagship store across from the Eaton Centre. Uptown, fashionistas revel with delight at the creative merchandising of Holt Renfrew.
- The National Ballet of Canada’s sumptuous, comical, touching and spellbinding version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas tale, The Nutcracker, was created in 1995 and has been enthralling audiences – especially children – ever since.
- Festive musical performances of all kinds are found at Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. Jazz, pop, orchestras, choirs, all music helps celebrate the holiday season.
WINTER FAMILY FUN
- The Toronto Zoo celebrates the season with its annual Boxing Day tradition called the Christmas Treats Trek when the Zoo animals await their seasonal treats.
- At The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, acclaimed producer Ross Petty is known for his farcical pantomimes of traditional fairy tales. The plays run throughout the holiday season. Petty is known to perform as a female character in these plays, which has been an ongoing tradition.
- Tie up those laces on the skates and enjoy one of Toronto’s many skating rinks for some holiday cheer. Nathan Phillips Square, Harbourfront’s Natrel Rink, Evergreen Brickworks, and Mississauga Celebration Square are all great options.
- If the snow piles up, the many tobogganing hills in the city keep family spirits high. Centennial Park in Etobicoke has one of the biggest hills in the city. Riverdale Park and Withrow Park in the east end are popular options for families; make sure to warm up with hot chocolate nearby at Rooster Coffeehouse. High Park and Trinity Bellwoods Park are good west end options.
- ROM for the Holidays occupies families and encourages holiday spirit with two weeks of holiday programming at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).
- A 40-foot tree decorates the historic Distillery District.
- Twenty-two trees in blue, white and gold as well as a reindeer display light up the College-Yonge Street intersection.
- At Yonge-Dundas Square stands a 40-foot sculptural Christmas tree dressed in 52,000 blue and white lights.
- In the middle of the Eaton Centre shines an enormous tree display that changes year-to-year.
- Nathan Phillips Square holds one of the most famous trees; a 60-foot tree decorated with 12,000 LED lights and 700 ornaments. It takes two weeks to decorate and string the lights on the tree.
- Christmas trees full of blue lights line the neighbourhoods of Summerhill and Greektown on the Danforth.
NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS
- A Toronto New Year’s celebration wouldn’t be complete without City TV’s annual New Year’s Bash at Nathan Phillips Square. Forty thousand people gather to be entertained by free, live performances and count down the final seconds until the new year arrives.
- At Mississauga Celebration Square, the party starts with treats from gourmet food trucks and continues with Mississauga Art Council’s Limelight Block Party featuring the city’s best dance groups and up-and-coming musicians and artists.
- Downtown Brampton becomes a flurry of fun and activity with Jugglers, Stiltwalkers, two live concert states, two spectacular firework displays and more.
- The kids will love the Toronto Zoo’s New Year Eve’s Family Countdown starting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Families can visit with new and wild friends in the Americas & Australasia Pavilions and in the Tundra Trek. There’s plenty of entertainment including magic shows and music.
- On Toronto’s waterfront, Mariposa Cruises offers a New Year’s Eve cruise complete with dinner and dancing and, best of all, a glittery view of Toronto’s skyline.
- In the 1913 Santa Claus Parade, Eaton’s (an old Toronto department store) arranged for Santa to be pulled by live reindeer, which had been imported from Labrador, Canada specifically for the Parade. The reindeer had a dedicated veterinarian who looks after them and supplied their special diet of moss. Following the Parade, the reindeer retired to the property of an Eaton’s Executive outside Toronto.
- The One of a Kind Show is now the largest consumer craft show in North America.
- Lowe’s Christmas Market opened in 2010 but already had over 204,000 visitors in 2012.
- The National Ballet’s The Nutcracker has 214 performers in each show: 70 professional dancers, 60 student dancers, 60 musicians, and 24 singers.
- The all-time worst day for winter snow recorded at Pearson International Airport was on February 25, 1965, when the city was buried by a mind blowing (and no doubt snow blowing) 39.9 centimetres.
One of North America’s major sports markets, and host city of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Toronto provides sports fans endless opportunity to be part of the action either in the stands or playing the game.
- Toronto Blue Jays (Major League Baseball) play at Rogers Centre, the world’s first retractable-dome stadium. The Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (National Hockey League) are one of the game’s legendary “Original Six” and have won 11 Stanley Cups. The Leafs play at Air Canada Centre.
- Toronto Raptors (National Basketball Association) are Canada’s only team in the NBA and play at Air Canada Centre.
- Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League) are the oldest professional football team in North America and have won 27 Grey Cups, including the 100th Grey Cup in 2012. The Argos play at Rogers Centre.
- Toronto FC (Major League Soccer) play at BMO Field and are famous for boisterous fans and the ubiquitous red scarves.
- The Toronto Wolfpack is a new professional Rugby League team dedicated to progressing through the English Rugby Football League’s (RFL) ranks, from League 1 to the Super League. The team is also Canada’s first professional Rugby team, and the world’s first transatlantic major professional sports team.
- Rogers Cup tennis championship alternates between Toronto and Montreal every August, with the men’s and women’s tournaments alternating cities. The tournament’s held at Rexall Centre in Toronto.
- The Honda Indy Toronto takes over the streets of downtown Toronto each July, starting and finishing at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
- Canada’s horse racing capital is Woodbine Racetrack, home of the Queen’s Plate.
2017 INVICTUS GAMES
- Toronto will host the 2017 Invictus Games from September 23 to 30.
- The event, started by Prince Harry in 2014, will see more than 550 ill, injured and wounded servicemen and women from 17 allied nations compete in 12 adaptive sports.
- The Invictus Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for those who serve their country, and their loved ones.”
2015 PAN AM AND PARAPAN AM GAMES
- The Games of 2015 brought more than 7,000 athletes from the 41 Pan American nations to Toronto and the surrounding region to compete in 36 Pan Am sports and 15 Parapan Am sports.
- New facilities created for the games include the Aquatics Centre at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus and the Athletics Stadium at York University.
- The large number of athletes and sports in the Pan Am games make these games the largest multi-sport event ever held in Canada.
- The Hockey Hall of Fame celebrates the great Canadian game played all over the world with the Great Hall showcasing the Stanley Cup, other trophies and the Honoured Members of the Hall. It delves deeper with a trove of history and lore from the NHL and international hockey as well as an interactive zone.
- The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame at Glen Abbey Golf Club and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Woodbine Racetrack add to the celebration of sport in Canada.
- Maple Leaf Gardens, the legendary home of the Toronto Maple Leafs until 1999 has been transformed into an innovative mix of sports stadium for the Ryerson University Rams and urban market, all commemorating the building’s rich history with artifacts and displays.
- Toronto has dozens of public golf courses within an hour’s drive of downtown. Several local courses host the pros regularly; Glen Abbey, Angus Glen, and St. George’s have hosted the Canadian Open recently.
- A vast network of trails along the waterfront and throughout the city’s ravines enables cyclists and joggers to ride or run alongside nature in the midst of the city. Bikes can be rented at numerous shops and through the city’s public bike system, Bixi.
- Canoe and kayak the Toronto harbour and Islands with rental stations on both the mainland at Harbourfront Centre and on Centre Island.
- Skate on one of 53 outdoor ice-rinks open every winter in public parks and areas. Nathan Phillips Square and the Harbourfront Centre are amongst the most popular.
Be part of the action even when you’re not in the stadium at some of Toronto’s best sports bars: Real Sports Bar & Grill at Maple Leaf Square, Wayne Gretzky’s, the Futbol Factory, Brazen Head Pub, or any of the locations of Shoeless Joe’s.
- Toronto team apparel can be found throughout the city, with the largest selections available at Sport Check in Maple Leaf Square, and the Jays Shop at Rogers Centre and its other location at the Eaton Centre.
- Sports memorabilia can be found at The SPORT Gallery in the Distillery District and Legends of the Game in the Entertainment District.
Canada’s largest gay community calls Toronto home. Toronto’s Gay Village, informally known by all as “The Village” and “The Gaybourhood,” surrounds the Church Wellesley intersection in Toronto’s downtown core. Cafés, restaurants, gay-oriented shops and a vast array of hot bars and nightspots fills this predominantly gay neighbourhood. An enormous street party takes over the area during the popular annual event, Pride Week.
FOOD AND DRINK
- With eclectic, modern décor, Smith prepares a stylish Saturday and Sunday brunch on Church Street. On weekends, Smith’s bar stays open late catering to nightlife crowd.
- Hair of the Dog serves another popular brunch along with their famous Caesars. It’s also been voted one of the best summer patios and a perfect place for dinner and drinks before dancing.
- The 519 Church Street Community Centre created a social enterprise initiative, Fabarnak Restaurant and Catering. Fabarnak provides a structured training environment that helps people with employment barriers under the guidance of a professional team of chefs and front-of-house staff. The restaurant serves an innovative lunch and dinner during the week and brunch on weekends.
- O’Grady’s and The Vic Public House both have expansive street-side patios, ideal for mingling in the summer months. These pubs, open seven days a week, offer traditional comfort food and a warm atmosphere.
- Conveniently located at Yonge Street and College Street, Fran’s serves up late night eats around the clock. This diner opened in Toronto in 1940 and has become an institution with three locations across the city.
- Established in 1971 and very gay-friendly, Bumpkins Restaurant & Lounge has been a popular restaurant serving local Toronto residents and visitors. Steak and seafood are its specialties, served by dedicated and professional staff in a modern yet warm ambiance.
- Located at the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village, Boutique Bar offers everything from classic cocktails to inventive drinks mixed by its passionate and attentive bartenders. Boutique Bar’s patio is open year-round with a great view of Church Street.
- Woody’s and its brother bar Sailor have been the hottest gay men’s bars in The Village since 1989. Woody’s features nightly DJs and “The Best Men’s Contests” every Thursday to Saturday.
- Pegasus Bar has a friendly, social atmosphere and stays opened until 2 a.m. every day.
- Leather-lovers want to hit The Black Eagle to mingle with a like-minded crowd.
- South of The Village, Club 120 offers events many nights a week. Saturday nights are especially know for the dance party.
- Remington’s and Flash are two notable strip clubs near The Village.
NIGHTLIFE BEYOND CHURCH STREET
- What Are You Looking At Bar and Lounge or WAYLA in Leslieville and The Beaver in the West Queen West neighbourhood, host LGBT events and parties on a rotational basis.
- Henhouse, a gay and lesbian bar on Dundas St. West, keeps a full calendar of events; pop up restaurants use the space regularly and well as monthly, themed parties.
- The West Queen West area includes events like Big Primpin’ at Wrongbar the first Friday of every month.
- The Flying Beaver Pubaret in Cabbagetown hosts a comfortably mixed crowd of gay and straight. Comedy, music or a variety of other performances happen nightly.
NOTABLE GAY PARTIES
- Business Women’s Special at Augusta House
- Yes, Yes Y’all at Annex Wreck Room
- Toastr at Riverside Public House
*Check the websites and Twitter feeds since all events are subject to change.
THEATRE AND DRAG SHOWS
- Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, a not-for-profit professional theatre company, creates performances that question sexual and cultural norms. Buddies supports new and experienced artists and works that reflect values of queer libation. It’s the world’s longest-running and largest queer theatre.
- Theatres and concert halls are not far from The Village and close to the Eaton Centre, including The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly known as the Canon Theatre) and the historic Massey Hall.
- El Convento Rico has featured world famous drag shows for over 20 years and originally starting as an underground club catering gays, lesbians and trans people who were once persecuted.
- Crews & Tangos features drag performances seven days a week in addition to two dance floors. This bar welcomes everyone to their daily drag queen and king events including karaoke, musical performances, and sharp-tongued wit.
- Over one million people crowd The Village for Pride Week every June. Ten days of queer celebration shuts down Church Street and culminates in a spectacular parade.
- In 2014, Toronto replaced the city’s usual Pride Week with WorldPride 2014 (WP14TO). Highlighting Canada’s continued progress in human rights, WP14TO also celebrates Toronto’s diversity and dynamism as one of the world’s most progressive and livable cities. WP14TO marked the first WorldPride celebration ever held in North America and the fourth such festival in the world.
- Heart of the Flag Federation Inc. (HOTF) is a not-for profit membership club that presents the Toronto Leather Pride Week, including the Mr. Leatherman Toronto, Ms. Leather Toronto and Mr. Rubber Toronto competitions, Leather Ball, and Toronto Leather Pride Day in mid-August. In addition, it raises funds for its yearly charity of choice, present educational workshops and demonstrations and host various other events throughout the year within Toronto’s sexual minorities’ community.
- For more than 20 years, Inside Out has brought Toronto’s LGBT community together celebrating the best queer films from Canada and around the world. This not-for-profit holds annual film festivals as well as engaging youth programs.
- In October, The Village streets bustle late into the night for Nuit Blanche. This all-night art party fills the city with performances and installations.
- The best Halloween costumes can be found on Church Street during Halloweek. This week-long, Halloween celebration has pumpkin carving and costume contests as well as a block party that takes over the neighbourhood.
- October also brings the annual Everything To Do With Sex Show held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This three-day adult event has seminars, stages shows, celebrities, erotic art and well-informed staff.
- Rainbow High Vacations, based in the heart of Toronto’s gay village, is the premier LGBT tour wholesaler providing unique, innovative and safe, worldwide custom and guaranteed departure, group and FIT travels since 1992. It’s the official tour operator for Toronto Pride and now WorldPride 2014.
- The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) is the world’s leading global travel network dedicated to connecting, educating and supporting LGBT travellers and the businesses. Whether it’s for individual, group, corporate, or student travel, IGLTA has affiliates around the world offering competitive packages for the perfect getaway.
- Canada’s gay and lesbian tourism industry association, Travel Gay Canada, provides gay and lesbian travellers with products and services that meet their needs and expectations. It also aims to better inform travellers of the unique and vast travel opportunities and experiences available within Canada.
NETWORKS & CLUBS
- The Gay Guide Network, a popular Canadian LGBT Digital Magazine, started in 2002 and has been contributing high-vibe content, personal empowerment and better living ever since.
- GET Out! Canada leads the exciting gay, lesbian and trans events, shows and sports in Toronto, Canada. As top leisure and recreation club for Toronto’s LGBT community, it hosts events from drop-in sporting activities and trivia nights to volunteer and culinary events.
- The Village Church Wellesley BIA serves Toronto’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans village businesses, organizations and residents, working together to create a healthy, welcoming neighbourhood.
- The Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (OGLCC), a federally chartered, non-profit organization, aims to create an environment in which LGBTQ businesses and professionals can thrive through the sharing of knowledge and resources.
- Founded in 1973, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) has grown to become the second-largest LGBT archives in the world. The house, which was built in 1858, has been extensively renovated for improved public engagement and it now offers a large reading room, an art gallery, and a meeting room that can be rented by other community groups.
- Toronto is the first jurisdiction in North America to legalize Gay marriage.
- Same sex marriages have been legal in Ontario since June 10, 2003.
- The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto married the first same-sex couple in Canada and has become a favourite spot to tie the knot.
- Other options for same-sex wedding ceremonies include City Hall, the Civic Centre or off-site.
- According to the 2006 Census, 21.2 per cent of all same-sex couples in Canada resided in Toronto.
All year long, indoors and out, Toronto is teeming with endless opportunities to make a perfect family getaway.
KID-SIZED FUN AND ADVENTURE
- Explore how things work at the Ontario Science Centre with areas for all ages from toddlers to teens.
- Come nose- to-nose with thousands of animals at the Toronto Zoo, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Riverdale Farm and the dog-lover’s PawsWay Toronto.
- Become cultural immersed at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum; both feature special children’s areas and lots of hands-on activities.
- Walk through history and around the world in somebody else’s shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum.
- Get a new perspective of the city from high above at the CN Tower.
- Play prince and princess at Casa Loma, a real 98-room castle complete with climbable turrets, private stables and secret passageways, or build your own castle at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.
- Step into history at Fort York National Historic Site and Black Creek Pioneer Village.
- Cheer on the Canadian game at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Hike, bike and wander through the outdoor conservation areas and parks of Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto Botanical Garden and the Allen Garden Conservatory.
- Root for a Toronto sports team with the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts in the summer, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors in the winter, and Toronto FC through the fall.
- Ride the roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland, the ferris wheel in August at the Canadian National Exhibition, the carousel at the indoor Fantasy Fair, the raging rivers at Wild Water Kingdom, or maybe just the simulators at Playdium.
- Bounce off the walls at the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park.
PARKS, BEACHES AND SQUARES
- A short ferry-ride away lie the Toronto Islands, a perfect spot for leisurely picnics, bike-rides, and beaches. Interact with Franklin the turtle at The Franklin Children’s Garden on Centre Island. Slightly west in the city sits High Park featuring gardens, a petting zoo and acres of open space to play.
- Birdwatch, walk, cycle and smell the wildflowers in the five-kilometre, urban wilderness peninsula of The Leslie Street Spit.
- Discover the water’s edge at Harbourfront Centre where kids love the sweeping wavedecks and signature yellow umbrellas, or opt for pink umbrellas and sand across from a working sugar refinery at Sugar Beach. The Beaches neighbourhood on the east side offer Toronto’s best and most popular sandy beaches for swimming and walking or biking the boardwalk.
- For big-city energy, Yonge-Dundas Square teems with people, lights, shows and a low-rise, runthrough fountain. Nathan Phillips Square, just in front of City Hall, hosts events and concerts; in the winter, it’s home to Toronto’s most famous outdoor skating rink.
- The Toronto Railway Museum and Roundhouse Park at the base of the CN Tower offers a good place to rest with the skyline in view while kids ride the miniature railroad.
ARTS AND STORYTELLING
- Young People’s Theatre produces year-round live theatre for children. Famous PEOPLE Players deliver black-light theatre in a dinner theatre for all ages.
- The world’s largest public film festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, also offers a dedicated kids festival called Sprockets: TIFF Kids in April.
- Gather under a tent at Artscape Wychwood Barns for an adventurous tale with Storytelling Toronto.
On weekends and holidays, a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) day pass provides unlimited travel for two adults and up to four kids for $11.00.
ABOUT DESTINATION TORONTO
Destination Toronto is the official destination marketing organization for the region, “Canada’s Downtown” – encompassing Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton. With sales and marketing programs in key markets around the world, Destination Toronto promotes the Toronto region as a remarkable destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travelers. Destination Toronto operates in partnership with the City of Toronto, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. For more information please visit www.SeeTorontoNow.com.