10 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About Toronto, Canada

If you plan to visit Toronto, Canada this year, you’ll be visiting one of the world’s greatest cities. But just how well do you know the vibrant capital city of Ontario? Sure, you might know it lies along Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls is not far away. But don’t you want to learn more facts …

10 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About Toronto, Canada Read More »

Fireworks over the new Toronto city hall with the Toronto sign in the forefront

If you plan to visit Toronto, Canada this year, you’ll be visiting one of the world’s greatest cities. But just how well do you know the vibrant capital city of Ontario? Sure, you might know it lies along Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls is not far away. But don’t you want to learn more facts about Toronto before you arrive? After all, isn’t that why this story caught your attention? By learning as much as you can prior to your visit, you’ll be better prepared and certainly more knowledgeable about this magnificent city. Thus, without any further delay, here are some interesting facts you might not know about Toronto.

How Do You Pronounce Toronto in Canada?

If you’re like most people, you’ll pronounce Toronto the way it’s spelled. In other words, most people will say it’s Trr-ann-tow. However, if you want to sound like a Canadian or better yet a local, you’ll want to pronounce it as Trono or Tuh-ronno. That’s because the second t is silent and not used. In spite of this, you shouldn’t have to worry about the pronunciation since many locals will say it the way you think it should be. What’s more, if you see the word “Torontonian”, it’s pronounced exactly that way. In this case, it’s Tor-on-tonian! As it is, the city name isn’t the only word you might have difficulty with. For example, how do you think you should pronounce Queens Quay?\

Related: Day Trip From Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario

It’s the Fourth Largest City in North America

It’s widely known that Toronto is the largest city in Canada. Despite this, many people do not realize that it’s the fourth largest city on the entire North American continent. The largest city is by far Mexico City, followed by New York City and Los Angeles. But with nearly 2.8 million residents, Toronto’s population is higher than Chicago or Houston. Of course, if you count the population in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s nearly 6 million.

Evening image of the Toronto, Canada skyline with the CN Tower on the left
CN Tower (credit: James Wheeler)

Tallest Free-Standing Structure in the Western Hemisphere

With a height of 1,815 feet (553.3 meters), the CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. By comparison, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is New York City’s One World Trade Center at 1,776 feet. On the other hand, New York’s skyscraper has a taller observation deck than the main observation deck at CN Tower. But if you were to go further up to the SkyPod, you’ll be at a height of 1,465 feet! Even at the observation deck level at 1, 136 feet, you might be able to see Niagara Falls! If that’s not enough, you can go out on the EdgeWalk, if you dare. At 116 stories above ground level, EdgeWalk is the “ world’s highest full circle hands-free walk and the first in North America.

Save on Top Local Attractions with the Toronto CityPASS

If you plan to visit the tower’s observation deck and other attractions, you might want to consider a Toronto CityPASS. The company to bundle attraction tickets in the U.S., CityPASS can save you up to 42 percent off the admission of five major Toronto attractions. In addition to the CN Tower, you have access to four other attractions, including Casa Loma and the Toronto Zoo. You can make a reservation online and then access your pass via the My CityPASS app

Yonge-Dundas Square is Canada's version of New York's Times Square
Yonge-Dundas Crossing (credit: Canmenwalker)

One of the World’s Longest Streets is in Toronto

Extending nearly 35 miles, Yonge Street is by far the longest street in Toronto. However, there was once a time when it was thought to be the world’s longest at 1,896 km or 1,178 miles. What’s more, if you were to Google the words “world’s longest street” you’ll often see Yonge Street pop up on your search. What’s more, even the Guinness Book of Records said Yonge was the world’s longest. That all changed in 1999, when Guinness removed that record because Canada’s Highway 11 was a part of that lengthy record. Either way, Yonge Street remains one of the world’s longest streets and is of historical importance to Canada. In the event you want to see Canada’s version of New York’s Times Square or London’s Piccadilly Circus, that’s at Yonge-Dundas Square.

The World’s Most Culturally Diverse City

Toronto is the city most often known as the world’s most culturally diverse. That’s because over 200 ethnic groups reside in the city and over 140 different languages are spoken. For instance, among the languages you might hear are English, French, Spanish, Tamil (South Asia), Cantonese and Mandarin. What’s more, if you were to Google the world’s most culturally diverse city, the fact is that Toronto is the first to appear on your search. With this in mind, you can enjoy a wide variety of ethnic cuisines during your visit, particularly Chinese and Italian.

Third Largest Public Transit System in North America

When you visit Toronto, you really don’t need to rent a car to get around. That’s because the city has a very efficient public transit, with buses, streetcars and subway routes. What’s more, the city’s traffic can often be quite problematic. Fortunately, the city is known for having the best public transportation system in North America. That’s according to a recent survey by the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS). While residents may argue the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is unreliable, the facts prove otherwise. In all, the TTC is the third largest public transit system on the continent, behind only New York City and Mexico City. Moreover, the annual subway ridership is more than double the ridership on Chicago’s L subway.

Related: How to Get Around Downtown Toronto with Public Transportation

A surprising fact about Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada is that it's the only full scale Gothic castle in North America
Casa Loma (credit: Tommao Wang)

It’s Home to North America’s Only Full-Sized Gothic Castle

There are many well-known castles throughout the United States and the rest of North America. For instance, there is Hearst Castle in California and the Belvedere Castle in New York’s Central Park. However, Toronto’s Casa Loma is said to be the only full-sized Gothic castle on the continent. That is to say that it replicates the sizes of gothic castles commonly seen in Europe, such as Balmoral and Neuschwanstein. Originally a private residence, Casa Loma now serves as a museum and major local attraction. Casa Loma is so popular that it has appeared in several movies, including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “Beauty and the Beast”.

Related: Biltmore Estate Day Trip From Greenville, South Carolina

One of Five North American Cities with Five Professional Sports Titles

Did you know that Toronto features a sports team in every North American professional league? Sure, the Toronto Blue Jays come to mind, as does the Toronto Raptors and the Maple Leafs. But don’t forget other teams like the CFL’s Argonauts and MLS’s Toronto FC. Equally important is that the city is just one of five North American cities to win five professional titles. This includes 18 CFL Grey Cups, 13 Stanley Cups, two World Series and one NBA title. While there is no NFL team, the Argonauts is oldest team in the current CFL. If that’s not enough, the Argonauts are also North America’s oldest team in professional sports that uses its current name. In all, there are 12 professional sports organizations in Canada’s largest city.

Interesting Babe Ruth Baseball Fact:

You might think Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run on American soil, such as at Boston’s Fenway Park. But before this legendary Hall of Famer was on the Red Sox or Yankees, he was a member of the Providence Grays. While the Grays were just a minor league team in the International League, the Babe hit his first homer in Toronto. Playing against the Maple Leafs baseball team in September 1914, that was the only home run he hit in the minor leagues. To mark that historic occasion, there is a plaque at Hanlan’s Point honoring the then 19-year-old Babe Ruth. Incidentally, that baseball was never recovered and lies at the bottom of Lake Ontario.

Related: San Simeon: Where to Stay Near Hearst Castle

The Toronto Zoo is Among the World’s Largest

Encompassing more than 700 acres, the Toronto Zoo isn’t just Canada’s largest, it’s among the world’s largest. In some accounts, it’s known as the third largest, but in other accounts, it’s behind the Bronx, Berlin, Beijing and Henry Doorly. Regardless, the Toronto Zoo is a major attraction, with over 5,000 animals representing nearly 500 different species. Drawing over one million visitors annually, it features not only animals but animal encounters and family friendly amusement rides. That’s to say nothing of additional options like overnight adventures and VIP tours.

The World’s Largest Underground Shopping Complex

One interesting fact you might not know about is that Toronto has on average, 305 days of sunshine annually. However, during the wintertime, it can get very chilly, with January highs of 30 degrees and a low of 19 degrees. With this in mind it’s why the city’s PATH was built in 1900 to connect the Eaton Co.’s main store to its discount store. Today, PATH connects over 70 buildings via 19 miles (30 km) of pathways, tunnels and shopping centers. PATH also connects many of the city’s top attractions without walking on the sidewalk. Among these attractions are the Rogers Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the CN Tower. That’s not to mention Yonge-Dunas Square, Union Station and six subway stations.

Bonus Fact: No Cursing in Public Parks

There are plenty of other interesting facts about Toronto, Canada. Take for instance that it was originally known as York or that 25 percent of Hollywood movies are filmed in the city. But one fact you might want to know is that it’s illegal to swear in public parks. That’s right, if you are caught swearing, you could receive a fine of over $200 Canadian. The municipal code also extends to any type of boisterous, violent or threatening behavior. While these infractions are said to be rare, a good rule of thumb is to simply behave yourself in a public park!

Related: See Five Top Montreal Attractions with Passeport MTL

About the Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 stories still appear in syndication across over 20 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.