Toronto | Attractions


Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It's a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities.


1 Government Structure

toronto nathan phillips

Torontonians elect representatives to three levels of government:

Government decision making is done through a series of committees that are part of City Council, and through agencies and corporations. Members of the public can get involved with many of the City's agencies, and can submit comments during the decision-making process.



In 1998 Toronto's municipal government restructured. Seven large municipalities were combined, municipal and provincial responsibilities revamped, and property tax reformed.


2 Geography

toronto skyline aerial

Toronto - the name derived from the Huron word for "fishing weir" - is on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario at Latitude 43 39 N, Longitude 79 23 W.

Located on a broad sloping plateau cut by numerous river valleys, Toronto covers 641 and stretches 43 km from east to west and 21 km from north to south at its longest points. The perimeter is approximately 180 km.

More statistics:

  • Waterfront is 76.5 meters above sea level; shoreline stretches 43 km or 138 km when including in the bays and islands
  • The intersection of Steeles Avenue West and Keele Street is the highest point at 209 meters
  • 307 km of rivers and creeks run through the city
  • All rivers and creeks flow into Lake Ontario and are part of the Atlantic Ocean Drainage Basin
  • Most northerly point is the intersection of Steeles Ave E. and Pickering Town Line
  • Most southerly point is Lake Ontario's shoreline at the border between Toronto and Mississauga
  • Most easterly point is the meeting of the Rouge River and shoreline of Lake Ontario
  • Most westerly point is the intersection of Steeles Ave W. and Albion Road
  • Toronto is in plant hardiness zone 6, and on the eastern edge of the Carolinian Forest zone
  • There are over 1,600 named parks comprised of over 8,000 hectares of land (ravines, valleys, woodlots, parks, beaches, golf courses, destination parks, parkettes) and over 200 km of trails, many of which are suitable for biking and walking.
  • Toronto has a total of about 10 million trees, approximately 4 million of which are publicly-owned trees. These include approximately 600,000 street trees (e.g. located on public right of ways on boulevards and commercial trees in sidewalks, etc) and 3.5 million trees in parks, ravines and other natural areas.

Statistics source: Land Information Toronto, Parks & Recreation, Natural Resources Canada.


3 Diversity

toronto gooderham

Toronto, with a population of 2.79 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area) is heralded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is ranked as the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac.

Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken here, and just over 30 per cent of Toronto residents speak a language other than English or French at home.

  • In 2006, the City of Toronto was home to 8 per cent of Canada's population, 30 per cent of all recent immigrants and 20 per cent of all immigrants
  • Between 2001 and 2006, Canada received 1,109,980 international immigrants. The City of Toronto welcomed about one quarter of all immigrants (267,855) to Canada during this period of about 55,000 annually
  • Half of Toronto's population (1,237,720) was born outside of Canada, up from 48 per cent in 1996
  • In 2006, half of all immigrants to the City of Toronto have lived in Canada for less than 15 years
  • In 2006, more than half of all immigrants living in the City were age 25 and over; 7 per cent were pre-school age 5 and under; 16 per cent were school age 6 to 14; and 22 per cent were youth 15 to 24
  • In 2006 the City of Toronto had 45 per cent of the GTA's population in 2006, and was home to:
    • 52.4 per cent of all GTA immigrants
    • 36 per cent of all immigrants living in Ontario
    • 20 per cent of all immigrants living in Canada
    • 42.4 per cent of all visible minorities in Ontario
    • 22.9 per cent of all visible minorities in Canada
  • 47 per cent of Toronto's population (1,162,635 people) reported themselves as being part of a visible minority, up from 42.8 per cent (1,051,125) in 2001
  • The City of Toronto's visible minority population increased by 10.6 per cent since 2001, and by 31.8 per cent since 1996
  • The top five visible minority groups in Toronto were:
    • South Asian at 298,372 or 12 per cent of our population
    • Chinese at 283,075 or 11.4 per cent
    • Black at 208,555 or 8.4 per cent
    • Filipino at 102,555 or 4.1 per cent
    • Latin American at 64,860 or 2.6 per cent

Visible Minorities

"Visible minority" is defined by Statistics Canada as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour"

Across Canada there has been a four-fold increase since 1981 in people who identify themselves as visible minorities – up from 1.1 million in 1981 to almost 5 million in 2006
Nationally, 96 per cent of the visible minority population live in a metropolitan area compared with 68 per cent of the total population

Ethnic Origin

Regardless of where people were born, or when they came to Canada, everyone reports on their ethnic background or heritage. Respondents are permitted to report more than one ethnic origin if appropriate and this is happening more frequently. People more likely to report multiple origins include those from European backgrounds whose ancestors have lived in Canada for several generations. In general, groups with a more recent history in Canada were more likely to report single responses.

  • Toronto's rich multicultural diversity is expressed by the more than 200 distinct ethnic origins residents identified in their response to the 2006 Census.
  • In 2006, twenty-eight percent of all ethnic origin responses in Toronto were European; 19 per cent identified themselves with the British Isles (including England, Scotland, and Ireland); 16 per cent as East or Southeast Asian; and 10 per cent as South Asian in origin.


  • Toronto remains a mosaic of many languages. In 2006, forty-seven percent of the population had a mother tongue in a language other than English or French.
  • The top 5 mother tongue languages in 2006 were:
    • Chinese (420,000);
    • Italian (195,000);
    • Punjabi (138,000);
    • Tagalog/Filipino (114,000);
    • Portuguese (113,000).
  • Diversity can also be measured by the extent in which people speak another language other than English or French in the home. Thirty-one percent of City residents had a home language other than English or French. The top non-official home languages were: Chinese, Tamil, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
  • Among Chinese speakers who identified a specific dialect, two-thirds spoke Cantonese and one-third spoke Mandarin.
  • Since 1996, the number of persons with Tamil as a home language has surpassed those who speak Italian while Spanish as a home language has overtaken Portuguese.
  • Five percent of the population has no knowledge of either official language, a slight decline from 6 per cent in 1996.
  • Two percent of Torontonians indicated multiple mother tongues other than French and English.

Aboriginal Peoples

Aboriginal Identity refers to those persons who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group (North American Indian, Métis or Inuit), or those who reported being a Treaty Indian or a Registered Indian as defined by the Indian Act of Canada, or those who reported they were members of an Indian band or First Nation.

Census counts for aboriginal identity include persons living in private households only. Individuals who lived in collective residences, institutions or were homeless at the time of the enumeration are not reflected. The results of the 2006 Census may be under counting actual population numbers. The number of urban aboriginal persons reported by the Census has historically been sharply lower than estimates from agencies serving this community. In 2006, Aboriginal agencies estimated that there were approximately 70,000 Aboriginal people living in the City of Toronto.


Canada and Provinces

  • In 2006, there were 1,172,785 aboriginals in Canada. Aboriginals accounted for 3.8 per cent of the total population of 31,241,030.
  • Nationally, 59.5 per cent of aboriginals were North American Indian, 33.2 per cent were Métis, 4.3 per cent were Inuit, 0.7 per cent had multiple aboriginal identities and 2.3 per cent were other aboriginal responses.
  • From 2001-2006, the aboriginal population in Canada increased by 196,475. Over this period, aboriginal population grew by 20.1 per cent, a rate five times that of the non-aboriginal population.
  • Across the country, the highest concentration of Aboriginal population can be found in Nunavut (85 per cent), Northwest Territories (50.3 per cent), Yukon Territory (25.1 per cent), Manitoba (15.5 per cent) and Saskatchewan (14.9 per cent).


  • While aboriginals comprise only 2 per cent of its population, in absolute numbers, Ontario had the largest aboriginal population of any province or territory. In 2006, there were 242,490 aboriginal persons living in Ontario, representing 20.7 per cent of the Canadian total.
  • From 2001-2006, the aboriginal population of Ontario increased by 28.8 per cent, a rate faster than that of Canada as whole. Over this period, the number of aboriginals living in Ontario grew by 54,175 persons.
  • Aboriginals are increasingly living off reserve. According to the census, 54 per cent of aboriginal lived in or near a city.
  • Despite this, only 15.7 per cent of aboriginals lived in one of the country's six major metropolitan areas. Among these, Edmonton had the largest aboriginal population (52,100 persons) followed by Vancouver (40,310), Toronto (26,576), Calgary (26,575), Ottawa (20,590) and Montreal (17,865).


The Greater Toronto Area and City of Toronto

Note: Agencies serving the Aboriginal community in Toronto estimate that there are 70,000 residents who belong to this community.

  • In 2006, there were 31,910 aboriginal person living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This represents 2.7 per cent of all aboriginal persons in Canada and 13.2 per cent of those in Ontario. From 2001-2006, the aboriginal population in the GTA went from 23.950 to 31,910, an increase of 33.2 per cent.
  • The aboriginal population of the GTA has a lower median age (31.7 years) than the non-aboriginal population (37.3 years). The GTA aboriginal population includes higher proportions of children (22.1 per cent vs 18.7 per cent) and youth (16 per cent vs 13.4 per cent). The proportion of seniors, meanwhile, is significantly lower (4.6 per cent vs 11.4 per cent).
  • At the same time, women outnumber men in all age groups except those fourteen years and younger.
  • 13,605 persons (0.5 per cent) of persons in the City of Toronto were aboriginal. Aboriginals in the City comprise 42.6 per cent of the aboriginal population in GTA. From 2001-2006, aboriginals in the City increases by 2,235 (19.7 per cent).
  • Among aboriginals in the City, 67.1 per cent were North American Indians, 26.8 per cent Métis, and 1.4 per cent Inuit.


4 Business and Economic Development

Toronto is Canada's financial and business capital. Rated as one of the top four global cities with economic clout (Cities of Opportunities Report, PwC, 2014), and topped the North American Cities of the Future, fDi, behind only New York, Toronto is a dynamic, diverse, rising city that provides the ideal business environment for companies looking for a competitive edge.

  • With 2.8 million residents, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America
  • One-quarter of Canada’s population is located within 160 km (100 miles) of the city and more than 60 per cent of the population of the USA is within a 90-minute flight
  • Toronto is one of the most livable and competitive cities in the world as demonstrated by various international rankings and reports
  • Toronto's more than 89,800 businesses choose from a large, highly skilled, multilingual workforce of 1.4 million people – one sixth of the country's workforce

Post-secondary education

  • 64 per cent of Toronto residents between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education
  • An impressive range of post-secondary educational facilities including five universities and four colleges offer training in virtually every discipline and skill
  • Toronto universities include:
    • University of Toronto
    • Ryerson University
    • University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
    • York University
    • Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD University)
  • Of the almost 150,000 students enrolled at Ryerson, York, UOIT and U of T in 2012, 12,074 students were enrolled in master's programs, 8,137 were studying for their PhD's and 129,352
  • were entered in undergraduate studies.
  • Toronto colleges include:
    • Centennial College
    • George Brown College
    • Humber College
    • Seneca College
  • In 2012, over 73,500 people were studying at Toronto's colleges

Economy and finance

  • Toronto's economy has twelve key sectors which work together to keep the city relatively resilient to economic downturns. Toronto's international competitiveness and strength in each of these areas combine to generate synergies and stimulate growth
  • Toronto's technology sector is comprised of 14,600 companies employing about 159,000 people
  • Canadian Banks have been ranked the world's soundest for six years in a row by the World Economic Forum
  • The financial services sector is a key driver of our local, provincial and national economy, employing over 245,000 individuals
  • Toronto is both the financial services capital of Canada and the third-largest North American financial services centre after New York and Chicago
  • Toronto houses the leaders in Canada's financial services industry including:
    • Headquarters for five of the nation's largest banks and the majority of foreign banks/subsidiaries/branches in Canada. Collectively our banks manage approximatley $3.4 trillion of the nations assets (CBA 2013)
    • 80 per cent of Canada's Mutual Fund industry, representing over $1.01 trillion in Assets Under Management (AUM), including $62.9 billion in Exchanged Traded Funds (ETFs), as well as the majority of the $35 billion hedge fund industry (source: IFIC and CETFA, 2014). The TMX Group which owns and operates the third largest equity exchange in North America and the eighth largest in the world based on market captialization
  • The City of Toronto's economy comprises 10 per cent of Canada’s GDP, with Toronto's GDP topping $157.3 billion in 2013

Toronto in a global context

In recent years Toronto has been ranked:

  • The world's most tax-competitive major city (KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2014: Focus on Tax)
  • The 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year (Intelligent Community Forum)
  • Fourth on PwC's Cities of Opportunity (PwC, 2014)
  • The world's most resilient city (Grosvenor Group, 2014)
  • Most youthful city among 25 global cities (YouthfulCities 2014 Index)
  • See how Toronto scored in other international studies

Information source from city of Toronto