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Toronto is a city in southern Ontario, Canada, and is the capital of Ontario. Toronto is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and is the largest city in Canada and the fifth largest city in North America. As of the 2011 Canadian census, the city's population is 2,615,060. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which includes many of the cities and towns surrounding Toronto had a population of 6,059,280 at the 2011 Canadian Census.
The modern day city of Toronto was formed in 1998 when the metropolitan government representing the municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto - the old City of Toronto and East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York - was dissolved by the Provincial government and the six municipalities were amalgamated into a single megacity. These six former municipalities now represent the main districts of Toronto, with the names and much of their former identities intact.
Known variously as the old City of Toronto, the former City of Toronto, the South or Central District or Downtown, this district which incorporates the Bay and Toronto City Airport, is the main business and administrative centre of the city. It is also the most densely populated district of Toronto. The Old City is further divided into the Downtown Core, the North End, East End and West End. As the oldest part of Toronto and also the financial centre, the Old City has a diverse range of architecture from very early buildings and the uniquely Torontian bay-and-gable style houses to modern steel, concrete and glass structures.
Etobicoke spans the Western edge of the City of Toronto and despite it's size, has the lowest population density of the six districts, due in most part to the largely industrial make-up of the district. The area isn't well served by public transport, with few rapid transit connections. Toronto Pearson airport is located on it's Western edge, so it is likely to be the first district you see when you arrive in Toronto. Despite it's heavy industrialisation, Etobicoke is home to several public parks such as James Gardens and Humber Bay park.
York is located North West of Old Toronto, separated from Etobicoke by the Humber River running along it's Western border. Despite being the second smallest of the districts by population, it is also the most ethnically diverse.
North York makes up the Northern boundary of Toronto, and is one of the most diverse areas of Toronto being home of the most affluent and poorest areas of the city. It is also home to several popular visitor attractions including the Black Creek Pioneer Village, the Ontario Science Centre and shopping malls such as the Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Fairview Mall.
East York is located on the East side of Old Toronto, between the Don River and Victoria Park Avenue and is mainly comprised of middle-class residential neighbourhoods.
Scarborough dominates Eastern Toronto, bordering the edges of North York, East York, Old Toronto and a long stretch of Lake Ontario. Popular with new immigrants to Toronto, Scarborough is rich in multicultural diversity. With two rivers running through it - Highland Creek and the Rouge River - you can find many of Toronto's popular natural landmarks in Scarborough such as Rouge Park and Scarborough Bluffs, running about 14Km along the shore of Lake Ontario and is considered Toronto's 'greenest' district. This has also made it a popular location for Golf course developers as well as being the home of the Toronto Zoo.
Like many large cities, Toronto is a very diverse place. Many of the charms of Toronto lie in the numerous ethnic neighbourhoods. From the hippies in Kensington Market, the college scene around the Annex, great food in Little Italy or the Greek area of the Danforth or finding great bargains in Chinatown, check out more on Toronto's best neighbourhoods.
The Toronto CityPASS is a cost effective way to visit five of Toronto's must see attractions. Valid for 9 days from first day of use it gives you access to CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Toronto Zoo and Ontario Science Museum for $65.99 CAD for Adults and $38.99 CAD for children, saving about 42% on the normal cost for visiting all five attractions. It also allows you to skip the ticket lines at these attractions.
The CN Tower was record holder for being the world's tallest free-standing structure for more than 30 years. However, in September of 2007 the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates snatched the record when they added the floor to take the tower above 555 mmetres on its way to being over 800 metres tall (finised in 2010, 828 metres high). However, at 553 metres (1815 feet), the CN Tower is still one of the tallest structures in the world, and offers visitors the opportunity to see much of Toronto and Southern Ontario from a unique vantage point - really high up in the air. Visitors can see the view from the observation deck at 342 metres/1122 feet, or pay a little extra to visit the sky pod at 447 metres/1465 feet. On clear days, visitors can see the mist coming off Niagara Falls. Those feeling brave can stand on a glass floor. Open 7 days a week from 9am until 10pm, tickets range from $19 to $32, depending on the attractions you want to see. Check out the CN Tower website for more details.
Toronto offers the chance to see live major league sports like Blue Jays Baseball at the Rogers Center (formerly Skydome), Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey or Basketball's Raptors at the Air Canada Center, Argos of the Canadian Football league, also at the Rogers Center, The Rock of the National Lacrosse League and the FC of Major League Soccer both at BMO Field. You can also visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is near Union Station and is the permanent home of the Stanley Cup. All the sports complexes are conveniently located downtown. Check out more on Toronto's sports scene.
Toronto has a number of museums. The largest and probably most popular is the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), holding a diverse collection of artefacts related to world cultures and natural history. With more than six million items in over 40 galleries, the ROM has something for everyone.
In addition to the scheduled events and festivals, Toronto has many clubs and galleries offering music, theatre, art installations and dance. Pick up free copies (or check the websites) of either the Eye Weekly in the black and yellow boxes or Now magazine in the green boxes for listings. Both are published on Thursdays and contain extensive listings.
Winter (December through March) is cold, with temperatures between 0 °C and -10 °C on average, though temperatures can drop much colder some days. There is generally some snow, with an average of 6 cm of ground cover during the winter months.
Beginning at the end of March, the spring season sees temperatures climbing (average temperatures during April is 6 °C, May is 12 °C and June is 17 °C), though temperatures can vary wildly from day to day. Snow is still possible even into May, though is very infrequent and often does not stay on the ground. Rain is possible during this period.
In summer, the weather turns warm, and the humidity can get quite bad, especially in July and August. Average temperatures are in the high 20s ºC, with some days climbing over 30 °C. Early autumn (September and early October) is usually quite pleasant, with temperatures around 20 °C, many days of sun and low humidity. Temperatures start to drop in late October, and temperatures can vary quite drastically from day to day during this period, spaning from 0 °C to 15 °C.
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Most commercial flights will fly into Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Pearson airport is located in Mississauga, 27 kilometres to the north-west of Toronto's downtown. There are two terminals handling both domestic and international flights. Some of the main destinations include Los Angeles, New York City, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Paris, London, Moscow, Istanbul, Vancouver, Miami, Seoul, Mexico City, Delhi, Brussels, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Reykjavik, Frankfurt, Rome, Vienna, Hong Kong and Dublin.
A small number of flights, mostly from domestic locations like Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax and US cities like Chicago and New York, fly into the Bill Bishop Toronto City Airport (also called the "Island Airport") on Porter Airlines.
Airport Express takes passengers to downtown Toronto locations. It runs every 20 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes during off-peak periods. A one way fare is $18.50 and a round trip is $29.95.
Intercity buses arrive at the Bay Street bus terminal (subway: Dundas). Greyhound Canada and Coach Canada are the main intercity bus companies servicing Toronto. These companies service destinations such as Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, London (Ontario) and Windsor. MegaBus and Neon Bus offer cheap fares to New York and Buffalo.
Transportation to the suburbs of Toronto and surrounding cities is available on GO Transit, arriving at Toronto's Union station. GO Transit serves close communities like Mississauga, Hamilton, Guelph, Barrie and Oshawa.
All domestic and international train service arrives at Union Station in downtown Toronto. Union station provides easy connections to the subway network.
Via Rail Canada providing domestic service, including services to Montreal and to the west on the trans-Canadian train service. Trains to Montreal take between 4 and 5 hours (depending on number of stops), and prices start as low as $77 for comfort class seats booked on Supersaver fares (booked 5 days in advance).
Amtrak provides service to the United States, specifically to Chicago and New York. Trains to New York depart daily at 8:30am, arriving at 7:40am in New York City. To Chicago, trains depart at 8:30am, with a change of trains in Buffalo. Fares are dependent on travel dates and times, so check the Amtrak website.
Ontario Northland provides train service from Toronto to northern Ontario, stopping at Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River and North Bay.
International cruise ships or ferries docking in Toronto will arrive at the International Marine Passenger Terminal, on Cherry Street. Passengers will clear Canadian customs at the Terminal. Passengers can then board a TTC bus for Union station (cost $2.75). There is currently no schedule service arriving at the International Marine Passenger Terminal. Check
information on the International Marine Passenger Terminal.
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The Toronto Transit Commission operates subways, streetcars (trams) and buses within Toronto. The adult, single ride fare is $3.00 ($2.00 for Students and Senior Citizens, $0.75 for Children), flat fare anywhere in the city. Entry can be paid by cash, tickets or tokens. Tokens can be bought in bulk for $7.80 for 3 tokens or $18.20 for 7 tokens ($2.60 per ride) for Adults, 5 tokens for $8.75 or 10 tokens for $17.50 ($1.75 per ride) for Students and Senior Citizens and 10 tokens for $6.00 ($0.60 per ride) for Children.
Daily, weekly and monthly passes offering unlimited travel for that period can be purchase from booths at subway stations.
At some subway stations, and some bus and streetcar stops, passengers pay upon entering the station. If transferring, passengers should take a "transfer" (a slip of paper) from the transfer machine (bright red machines about 4 feet high). This will allow the passenger to use any amount of services as long as they are continuing in the same direction.
At above-ground streetcar or bus stops, passengers must enter through the front door and pay the driver. Exact change is required if paying cash. Passengers can then get a transfer from the driver. Passengers can exit at any door, and do not need to show proof of payment on exiting. Passengers transferring to another service can show the driver or station attendant their transfer for entry. Routes, hours of operation and pricing can be found at the Toronto Transit website.
To Surrounding Communities and Suburbs
GO Transit provides train and bus services to the cities and towns surrounding Toronto. All trains leave from Union station. Buses leave from Union station as well as other areas in the city, depending on the route. Routes, hours of operation and pricing can be found at the GO Transit website.
Toronto Island Ferry:
The Toronto Island Ferry service, operated by the city of Toronto, offers 3 routes from Toronto mainland to the Toronto Islands.
Prices for return service are:
Passengers pay the fare only once when travelling from the mainland to the islands. There is no additional charge for the return trip.
Monthly Passes can also be bought at the following rates:
The Toronto Ferry Docks is located at the foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay, just West of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. It is a 10 minute walk south from Union station, or just steps from the Queen's Quay streetcar stop on the 509 or 510 streetcar. Check out the Toronto Ferry Page for schedules.
Taxis can be identified by the lighted, rooftop signs on the cars. A rooftop sign that is lit indicates the taxi is available to take passengers. Taxis can be found at taxi stands (usually around hotels) or can be flagged off the street.
All taxis within Toronto (except airport taxis) have meters, and the passenger pays the amount on the meter. A 10-20% tip is generally expected.
Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road. Except where posted, speed limits within the city will be 50 km/hour maximum. Highways are normally 100km/hour. Right turns are allowed on red lights after a full stop. Drivers turning right or left must yield to pedestrians crossing the street. All passengers within a vehicle are required to wear seat belts. No alcoholic beverages are allowed while driving, and driving while intoxicated is illegal.
There are 3 east-west highways and 2 north-south highways:
For driving directions, maps are available for sale in most gas stations and book stores, or online can be obtained from Google, mapquest or MSN maps. Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:
Toronto offers everything from cheap street eats to fancy dining. The Danforth (Danforth Avenue, subway stop: Broadview) offers Greek and international cuisine. Chinatown (Spadina and Dundas - street car route 510) offers inexpensive and plentiful Chinese and Asian cuisine. Little Italy on College Street at Bathurst offers Italian, European and world cuisine.
Toronto has many bars and restaurants located throughout the city. The Entertainment District, centered around King Street and John Street, contain a wide array of nightclubs, offering everything from dance music to classic rock and roll. The area is very busy on Friday and Saturday nights, and can sometimes get a little out of hand. The crowd is mostly young (18-25). Listing of clubs can be found at the Entertainment District's website.
For travellers in the 25-35 age range, the Distillery District (approximately 10 minutes east of downtown along King Street) or the Esplanade (Yonge and Front street) offers bars and restaurants catering to their age ranges. In the summer, most of the bars have patios. Further north, Yonge and Eglington has a number of clubs and restaurants (subway station: Eglington). The Toronto neighbourhoods section contains additional information on various areas in the city and the types of bars and restaurants you will find there.
The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in Ontario is 19. Bars, restaurants and stores will ask for ID for purchasers appearing underage. Alcohol can be purchased in bars and restaurants, but must be consumed on the premises. Alcohol is sold in government controlled liquor stores called "LCBO" (beer, wine and hard liquor), brewery run beer stores called "The Beer Store" (beer) and winery controlled liquor stores, branded by different names depending on the winery and usually only selling local Canadian wines. Alcohol cannot be consumed in public places (on the street, in parks, etc.)
Hostels in Toronto (shared dorm accommodations) run $25-$35 a night. Travellers should be aware that the word "hostel" in Canada also has the implication of being a shelter for homeless people, and should verify that the hostel they are checking into is a "backpacker hostel." Single room accommodations run from $60 upwards.
A complete list including travellers ratings can be found here:
|525 Inn||525 Dundas Street, West||Guesthouse||72|
|Accommodations at St. Lawresidences||137 Jarvis Street Toronto||Hostel||69|
|Alexandra Hotel||77 Ryerson Avenue||Hotel||72|
|Backpackers on Dundas||126 Chestnut St 2nd Floor||Hostel||71|
|Canada's Best Value Inn||650 Evans Avenue||hotel||-|
|Canadiana Backpackers Inn||42 Widmer St. Toronto||Hostel||83|
|Chinatown Travelers Home||31 Grange Avenue||Hostel||67|
|Clarence Castle||8 Clarence Square||Hostel||83|
|Global Village Kensington||280 Augusta Avenue||Hostel||66|
|Comfy Guest House and Suite||250 gerrard St E||Guesthouse||80|
|Deluxe Inn||1554 The Queensway||hotel||75|
|Downtowner Inn||117 Pembroke Street||Hostel||67|
|Toronto Garden Inn Bed&Breakfast||142 Seaton Street||Guesthouse||79|
|All Days||5 Selby St||Hostel||79|
|Global Guest House||9 Spadina Road||Guesthouse||-|
|Global Village Backpackers||460 King St West Toronto||Hostel||69|
|HI-Toronto||76 Church St. Toronto||Hostel||83|
|Jacob 22 B&B||22 Monteith Street||Guesthouse||79|
|Jun Jun Hotel||374 College St||Hotel||71|
|Kashaneh Guest House & Motel Toronto||45 Sheppard Ave. East Unit 90||Guesthouse||-|
|Linden on the Lake||14769 Ninth Lane||Guesthouse||-|
|Neill-Wycik Summer Hostel||96 Gerrard Street East Toronto, Ontario||Hostel||71|
|Pacificmall Travelers Home||112 New Forest Sq||hostel||-|
|Grange Hotel||165 Grange Ave Toronto||Hotel||77|
|House on McGill||110 McGill St||Guesthouse||80|
|Toronto Travellers Home||588 Dundas St West||Guesthouse||62|
|Turtle Inn Toronto||18 Stornoway Court||hotel||-|
|University Apartment||16 Willison Square||Apartment||57|
|University of Toronto New College Residences||40 Willcocks Street||Hostel||73|
|York University Home||389 Murray Ross Pky||hostel||64|
|Sage Wellness Hostel||1849 Eglinton Ave West Unit A||Hostel||80|
|kaisar Guest House||372A College Street||Guesthouse||75|
|George House Toronto||281a George Street, Toronto||Guesthouse||69|
|Best Western Plus Travel Hotel Toronto Airport||5503 Eglinton Avenue West Toronto, ON||Hotel||-|
|Annex Quest House||83 Spadina Road||Guesthouse||-|
|Planet Traveler||357 College Street Toronto, Ontario||Hostel||88|
|Pembroke House Toronto||94 Pembroke Street||Hostel||71|
|Sherbourne House Toronto||572 Sherbourne Street||Guesthouse||73|
|The Only Backpacker's Inn||968 Danforth Ave||Hostel||83|
|Castlegate Inn||219 Spadina Road||Guesthouse||66|
|City Guesthouse||306 Wellesley st E Toronto||GUESTHOUSE||79|
|Quality Inn & Suites Airport - Toronto||5599 Ambler Drive Mississauga||Hotel||-|
|The Winchester Tourist Home||137 Winchester St.||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Toronto North Self-Service Travellers Home||324 Cook Rd., North York, ON M3J 0C2||HOSTEL||-|
|North York Self-Service Travellers Home||375 Assiniboine Rd, North York, ON M3J 1L4||HOSTEL||-|
|University Visitors Home||332 Cook Road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|York University Home||389 Murray Ross Pkwy, Toronto, ON M3J 2Z3||HOSTEL||-|
Toronto offers a number of mid-range options. Bed and breakfasts are a good place to look for accommodations starting around $80 per night, providing an intimate setting and a free breakfast. Check Bed and Breakfast in Toronto, Ontario. In addition, there are a number of chain and boutique hotels in the downtown area that offer special rates. Check travel search engines for specials.
Those wishing to work in Canada who are not Canadian citizens will need a work permit. See the visa section in the Canada article for details on obtaining the proper documentation.
The youth hostels in Toronto will often have boards where local establishments looking for part-time or casual labour will post jobs, usually in the hospitality industry (waiting, bar tending, dish washing, etc).
There are jobs in the summer and early fall in the Niagara region picking fruit. The Toronto Star and Toronto Sun newspapers have large classified sections with job listings. Jobs can be researched on the internet via Workpolis or Monster.
There are three major universities within Toronto's boundaries:
In addition, there are a number of colleges, offering 2 or 3 year practical programs:
Internet cafés are common along major streets, and usually charge between $3 and $4 for an hour, usually in 20 minute increments.
See also International Telephone Calls
International phone cards can be purchased at many variety and dollar stores. Public phones are becoming less and less common as cellular phone use grows.
Cellular phones can be purchased from:
Postal service is provided by Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government but run as an independent business.
To format the envelope of a letter sent within Canada, put the destination address on the centre of its envelope, with a stamp, postal indicia, meter label, or frank mark on the top-right corner of the envelope to acknowledge payment of postage. A return address, although it is not required, can be put on the top-left corner of the envelope in smaller type than the destination address.
The lettermail service allows the mailing of a letter. The basic rate is currently set at $0.63 for one standard letter (30 grams or less). The rates for lettermail are based or weight and size and determine whether the article falls into the aforementioned standard format, or in the oversize one. The rate is the same for a postcard.
Mail sent internationally is known as letterpost. It can only contain paper documents. The rate for a standard letter is of $1.10 if sent to the United States, and $1.85 if sent to any other destination. Oversize or overweight letters may be charged a higher fee
Larger parcels can be shipped via Canada post both domestically and internationally, the rate is dependent on the weight and destination. 
Canada's largest botanical garden lies 30 minutes to the west of Toronto. Enjoy garden areas, nature sanctuaries and over 30 kilometres of walking trails.
Algonquin Park is located 210 kilometres northeast of Toronto. Enjoy some of the best preserved wildlife and wilderness areas accessible to the general public. Activities include camping (many fully equipped sites are available on the main HW60 corridor as are electrical hookups and yurts), canoeing, dogsledding (winter), and hiking/backpacking trails. Maps are available at the park store.
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Located 145 kilometres northwest of Toronto. Enjoy skiing, winter sports, wildlife, rare orchids, hiking on the Bruce trail, boating & watersports, and the world's longest fresh water beach (Wasaga Beach).
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