My first impression of this city is that it is a college or university town, for I remember hearing of it for the first time when one of my aunties went to further her studies there. However, to my surprise, Toronto is indeed more than just that, boasting many attractions that make it worthwhile to visit.
Historically, the English speaking town of Toronto is already 11000 years old (if you count the early inhabitants of the Neolithic settling there just after the last Ice Age). It was originally named “Town Of York” by British colonial officers who founded it back in 1793. It later on attained the title “City of Toronto” in 1834 and is now also known as the capital of the Province of Ontario, where more than 5.6 million people dwell and a further 7 million make the surrounding areas their home. It has been reported that it has the highest number of the college educated amongst its population than any other country in the world, hence the misconception of it being a university town.
A Busy, Bustling Modern City
But Toronto is also known as “Hollywood North”, with a sizeable film and television industry that comes third only to Los Angeles and New York in the USA. It is also known as the gateway to Canada’s Silicone Valley. Thus it tells us a lot about it being Canada’s cultural, educational, financial, high technology, commercial, and industrial as well as entertainment centre. Bay Street, the equivalent of USA’s Wall Street, where the country’s major Stock Exchange is located, is Toronto’s financial and business district and the base for Canada’s major banks. Also located in the city is a conurbation of the country’s industry and automobile manufacturing facilities such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Honda etc.
Natural Wonders Abound
But what really attracts me to Toronto the most is definitely its natural wonders. With its geographical location overlooking the Great Lake Ontario, Toronto has a set of 14 picturesque islands flanking its coastline. These are a mix of parklands, nature reserves and protected wetlands, and all of these are maintained by the city’s administration, which is solely responsible for this unique, natural resource.
To protect its pristine beauty from the ravages of pollution, the city’s administration has declared that no private vehicles are permitted onto these islands, and they are accessible to the public only by ferry boats plying daily to and from Toronto Harbor. But despite all the inconveniences, it was all worth it, for here on these islands, separated only by a mile of water, will the city and all its vibrant and exciting downtown areas seem far removed, and a feeling of being in the country prevails as if one is back re-living the old formative years of this city.
Natural and Man-Made Wonders
But that’s not all there is to see here! A two hours drive north of Toronto and one would immediately encounter the “Muskoka Lakes” region. An area of beautiful lakes, rivers and forests so breathtaking and natural it’s as if we are looking through time to an ancient piece of land many hundreds of years ago. And if you couldn’t guess it already, one of the natural wonders of the world, the Niagara Falls is also just over an hour’s drive away from this city! Come and be amazed by the sheer amount of water curtaining off a prehistoric cliff spilling over the Canadian’s side of the “Horseshoe” Niagara Falls as you take a cruise on board the “Maid of the Mist”.
And then, take another drive back to the outskirts of the city to visit the only real castle in all of North America, the “Casa Loma” (or “Home on the Hill” as it is also known to the locals) and gape at all the wondrous views of the Toronto’s skyline and the spanning horizon across the Great Ontario Lake.
Finally, if you happen to be there from November 29th to December 31st of any year, you can catch the stunning “Cavalcade of Lights” festival, a month long nightly event of beautiful fireworks display over much of Toronto’s most picturesque neighborhood, an event that will be much treasured by all the visitors to this fine city. Well, all I can say is, for a country well-known for lumberjacks, maple syrups and log cabins, Toronto really opened up my eyes to what this country has to offer. I’m glad I got to know this city up-close, and I’m sure you readers would be too!