Toronto, the capital of the Province of Ontario, is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The word Toronto means “meeting place” in Huron language. Coincidentally, it is popularly known today as the “meeting place” of cultural, commercial, financial, and industrial life of Ontario. Its wonderful history allows us to understand how it developed into a great multicultural, vibrant city as what it is today.

Toronto Skyline

Ancient Toronto

After the last ice age 8,000 years ago, prehistoric people have begun settling in various areas in Canada, including what we now know today as Toronto. As they were nomadic hunters, there were no clear records of their settlement. A few pieces of evidence indicate that several tribes inhabited the land including the Iroquois Indians, the Seneca, the Huron, and the Mississauga.

Several years later, Europeans discovered the land. It was 1615 when Etienne Brule, a French explorer, came to Toronto. But it wasn’t until 1750 when the land was formally settled upon the construction of Fort Rouille (known today as Fort Toronto).

French people settled in the area. But due to the conflict with the English, they were soon driven out of the place and Fort Rouille was burned. Under the British command, the first governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, built a new town and named it Town of York, in honor of the Duke of York, son of King George III. The new town was also recognized as the capital of Upper Canada.   

Becoming a City

Toronto has been through a lot before becoming a city. It survived wars, fires, cholera outbreak, and even the Great Depression.

After the war, numerous immigrants came to Toronto. The economy improved and the Toronto University was built in 1827. But in 1832, the town suffered once more due to a cholera outbreak but quickly regained stability after more establishments were built in it. And in 1834, the town’s name, York, was finally replaced with Toronto.

More developments were pushed through the subsequent years including building of post office, schools, and small communities. Gas street lights, a new innovation at that time, was also put up. However, a huge fire broke in 1849, causing massive damage to the town. It slowly made its way up again, until it was declared as the capital of Ontario in 1867.

Modern Toronto

After the losses it suffered during the Great Depression, Toronto continued to survive and grow as a city. Its manufacturing and investment scope became larger and there were more notably significant changes after the metropolitan government began. The construction of the subway system, as well as the development of the suburbs, led to more business establishment and investors too.

In 1998, six municipalities including Old Toronto, Etobicoke, Scarborough, York, North York, and East York, merged to form what we know today as the megacity Toronto. The population rapidly increased, reaching up to 2.4 million which majority is made up of immigrants. Today, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America and is one of the most diverse cities in Canada.

Up next, try new popular cafes in Toronto for your next visit.

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