[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Toronto (/tɵˈrɒntoʊ/, locally /ˈtrɒnoʊ/) is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The history of Toronto began in the late 18th century when the British Crown purchased its land from the Mississaugas of the New Credit. The British established a settlement there, called the Town of York, which its lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, designated as the capital of Upper Canada. The city was ransacked in the Battle of York during the War of 1812. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. It was damaged in two huge fires in 1849 and 1904. Over the years, Toronto has several times expanded its borders through amalgamation with surrounding municipalities, most recently in 1998.
The city has 2.6 million residents, according to the 2011 Census. Based on these official census figures, it is currently the fifth most populous city in North America. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,583,064, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) had a population of 6,054,191 in the 2011 Census. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, and of the densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. Its cosmopolitan and international population reflects its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, with about 49% of the population born outside Canada. As Canada’s commercial capital, it is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange and five of the nation’s largest banks. Toronto will host the 2015 Pan American Games.
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 had 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. A portage route from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron running through this point, the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, led to widespread use of the name.
French traders founded Fort Rouillé 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 km2) 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 intersection of Parliament Street and Front Street (in the Corktown–St. Lawrence area).
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 to the parliament buildings during their five-day occupation. The sacking of York was a primary motivation for the Burning of Washington by British troops later in the war. York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name.
The population of only 9,000 included escaped African American slaves and slaves brought by the Loyalists, including Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. Slavery was banned outright in Upper Canada in 1834. 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 when the Great Irish Famine brought a large number of Irish to 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 and long lasting influence over Toronto society.
Toronto was twice for brief periods the capital of the united Province of Canada: first from 1849 to 1852, following unrest in Montreal, and later 1856–1858 after which Quebec became capital until 1866 (one year before Confederation); since then, the capital of Canada has remained 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, the seat of government located at the Ontario Legislature located at Queen’s Park. Because of its provincial capital status, the city was also the location of Government House, the residence of the vice-regal representative of the Crown in right of Ontario.
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 Northern Railway of Canada joined in the building of the first Union Station in downtown. The advent of the railway dramatically increased the numbers of immigrants arriving, commerce and industry, as had the Lake Ontario steamers and schooners entering port before which enabled Toronto to become a major gateway linking the world to the interior of the North American continent.
Toronto became the largest alcohol distillation (in particular, spirits) centre in North America; the Gooderham and Worts Distillery operations became the world’s largest whiskey factory by the 1860s. A preserved section of this once dominant local industry remains in the Distillery District, the harbour allowed for sure access of grain and sugar imports used in processing. Expanding port and rail facilities brought in Northern Timber for export and imported Pennsylvania coal, industry dominated the waterfront for the next 100 years.
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.
The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed a large section of downtown Toronto, but the city was quickly rebuilt. The fire caused more than $10 million in damage, and resulted in more stringent fire safety laws and 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, French, 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 Ward» which was centred on Bay Street, now the heart of the country’s finances. 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 and Chinese job-seekers arrived, as well as 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 owing 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 Western Canadian cities.
In 1954, the City of Toronto and 12 surrounding municipalities were 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, police services, water and public transit. In that year, a half-century after the Great Fire of 1904, disaster struck the city again when Hurricane Hazel brought intense winds and flash flooding. In the Toronto area, 81 people were killed, nearly 1,900 families were left homeless, and the hurricane caused more than $25 million in damage.
In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto 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 by the Provincial Government in the face of vigorous opposition from the smaller component municipalities and all six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto, with Mel Lastman as its first mayor (after being mayor of North York). David Miller was the second mayor and Rob Ford is the third and current mayor.
The city celebrated its 175th anniversary on March 6, 2009, since its inception as the City of Toronto in 1834. Toronto hosted the 4th G-20 summit during June 26–27, 2010, for which the largest security operation in Canadian history took place amidst large-scale protests. On July 8, 2013, severe flash flooding hit Toronto after an afternoon of slow moving, intense thunderstorms. Toronto Hydro estimated that 450,000 people were without power after the storm and Toronto Pearson International Airport reported that 126 mm (5 in) of rain had fallen over 5 hours, more than during Hurricane Hazel. The city will host the Pan American Games in 2015.