Toronto’s skyline at dusk(Stock photo)
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 8.1 million residents. The Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census.
Toronto’s population is cosmopolitan and international, reflecting 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, as about 49 percent of the population were born outside of Canada. Because of the city’s low crime rates, clean environment, generally high standard of living, and friendlier attitudes to diversity, 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
As Canada’s economic capital, Toronto is considered a global city and is one of the top financial cities in the world. 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 (TSX) , the world’s seventh largest, is headquartered in the city, along with a majority of Canada’s corporations.
Planning Your Trip to Toronto
Before visiting Toronto, it is recommended to contact See Toronto Now, which is the official website of Toronto Tourism. The site provides a wealth of information about the city of Toronto. They provide targeted itineraries, neighborhood highlights, a calendar of events, coupons and information about hotels, transportation, sightseeing, cultural attractions, nightlife, shopping, sports and services.
Safety Tips in Toronto
Toronto is a relatively safe city with very little crime compared to other large cities. Toronto has a relatively low crime rate. However, it is a large city and you should remain vigilant about your possessions and your person. There are a few sketchy parts of town but none that are categorically dangerous.
Smoking and Drinking in Toronto
Smoking is prohibited in all office buildings, public areas, taxis, bars, restaurants and stores. It is also prohibited on all public transportations. You must be 19 years or older to buy tobacco in Toronto and the province of Ontario. The minimum legal age to buy or drink alcoholic beverages is 19.
Tipping in Toronto
The tip for services rendered is usually 15%. Bartenders, waitresses and waiters usually get 15% tips. Tipping in Toronto vary depending on the services provided. In bars, the tip tends to be offered as you pay for each drink or round. Taxi drivers also normally get a tip of 10 to 15%.
Newspapers in Toronto
The Toronto Sun and the National Post are the two major newspapers published in Toronto.
Wheelchair Accessibility in Toronto
In Toronto, most public buildings, attractions, hotels and restaurants have wheelchair access. Toronto’s public transit system also provides wheelchair access.
Toronto Tourist Information Services
The INFOTOGO Toronto Desk provides face-to-face counselling, plus access to maps, brochures and services to help you plan your time once you arrive in Toronto. During the summer months, the INFOTOGO Mobile Unit travels around Toronto to events, festivals and attractions helping visitors decide what to see and do.
Printed tourist guides are also available. You can click here for a list of printed tourist guides for the city of Toronto
Other Toronto Tourism Websites
The following are some of the most important websites that you should visit before planning your visit to Toronto. These sites contain valuable information about Toronto and Ontario:
Toronto is on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. It is the capital of Ontario, 352 kilometers west of Ottawa and 504 kilometers west of Montreal.
2.5 million People live in the city of Toronto, 5.6 million in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
The city of Toronto is composed of very culturaly diverse neighbourhoods. It is called “the city of neighbourhoods” because of the strength and vitality of its many communities.
Toronto is on Eastern Standard Time (EST), which corresponds to GMT -5 hr. From the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is observed. During Daylight Saving Time, clocks are moved one hour ahead of standard time.
Toronto’s official languages are English and French.
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the World.
Toronto’s weather is tempered by Lake Ontario, which softens the winter bite and eases the summer heat. Average temperatures range between 0 and -10 degrees celcius, with snow usually on the ground between December and March. Summer in Toronto usually hovers around 20 to 30 degrees.
Toronto observes the following holidays. During these holidays, most government builings, banks and many stores are closed. Some stores open on holidays, although Christmas is all but universally a closing day. Boxing Day, Dec. 26, is commonly given as a holiday.
Money & Currency
The Canadian dollar is the main currency used in Toronto. The “$” symbol is the symbol used to denote the Canadian Dollar. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents, and $1 (a large gold-colored coin) and $2 (a large bimetallic coin). Bills in $5 (blue), $10 (purple) and $20 (green) are in common circulation and you can get $50s (red) and $100s (brown)
Most goods and services in Ontario are subject to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which is currently 13%. A tax of 3% per night of hotel stay is also charged.
Passports & Visas
A valid passport is required for anybody entering Canada by air travel.
If visiting from another country other than the U.S.A, visitors should obtain an international driving permit. Drivers are required to carry a vehicle registration card or rental contracts and proof of photo insurance at all times. You are not permitted to turn right on red lights in Toronto, although it is permitted in surrounding areas.
Toronto has one of the best public transit systems in the world. It is served by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
The Greater Toronto Area is served by seven distinct area codes, with 416 and 647 being the two most common area codes.
For any emergency (police, fire or ambulance), dial 911. It is a toll-free number from any phone. For directory assistance, dial 411. For all non-emergency government agencies, dial 311.
Voltage in Toronto, as well as the rest of Canada is 120 V AC at 60 Hz.
Weights and Measures
Officially, Toronto and Canada uses the metric system. Temperatures are given in Celsius and distances and speed limits are in kilometres.