History of Toronto

The history of Toronto is brought to life through a number of excellent museums and attractions around the city. The many facts about Toronto surrounding its history are better understood through a wide variety of comprehensive workshops, exhibits, and special events hosted through such historic museums as Fort York National Historic Site, Historic Zion Schoolhouse, Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens, and York Museum.

The tale of Toronto begins with the First Nations people, or Aboriginals. There were once four distinct groups, who lived and farmed along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Aboriginal bands were the very first threads of culture in Toronto. Akin to many settlements throughout North America, the initial lasting group of European settlers arrived in the city (then known simply as York) in the mid-1700s, establishing their own distinct communities in the area.

At this time in the history of Toronto, the area was becoming well populated as a capital fur-trading region, thriving for a series of water routes and trails (called the Toronto Passage) leading from west and north to the Gulf of Mexico. Fur traders from France were particularly drawn to the large bounty of fur and established long-standing status within Canada’s strong fur trading days.

Facts about Toronto closer to the peak of the 1800s include the purchase of a huge parcel of land by British immigrants, seeking shelter within the safe haven enjoyed by the make up of the Toronto Islands, a natural harbor with a sandy, meandering peninsula featuring thriving wetland marches and defended by historic Fort York.

Culture in Toronto began changing significantly and diversified after the city was inaugurated as the capital of Upper Canada, a newly established Canadian colony. The capital was moved from Niagara-on-the-Lake, a politically volatile area exasperated by the its position on the Niagara River, close to American Fort Niagara.

Within the history of Toronto in this new era, there grew a large and diverse population expanding exponentially during the nineteenth century. Toronto’s status as a freedom-bearing, socially responsible, economic power drew large numbers of immigrants. The war of 1812 resulted with attacks on York by Americans and the shakedown of Fort York. Rebuilt and fortified with fervor after the attacks, a second advance by Americans on York was easily defended in 1814, affirming York’s redefined strength and military acumen. One of the significant facts revolving around the city’s name happened not long after the advance, in the early part of the 1800s. York changed to Toronto to better distinguish it from other quickly-growing cities like New York and other York-titled associations.

The Great Irish Famine followed the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, attracting thousands of Irish immigrants once again initiating change to the ever-changing culture in Toronto. Growth was rapid throughout the later nineteenth century as immigrants world-wide were enchanted by the appealing lifestyle and wide-ranging opportunities. Facts about Toronto today reveal it is second only to Miami, Florida in immigrant numbers reflecting an amazing cultural diversity seen all across the city.

Toronto’s population diversified even more to an astounding degree. Jews, Italians, Germans, and other eastern Europeans were slowly and steadily joined by Russians, Chinese, Poles, and Hungarians, and then followed by scores of refugees while British immigration remained steadfast. The massive influx was further solidified by numerous developing amenities. Streetcars and railways made travel easy, and once Union Station was built in downtown Toronto, inner-city transportation woes were left behind in the history of Toronto. Schooners and steamers traveled the shores of Lake Ontario and beyond, importing and exporting within a thriving economy.

Today Toronto’s cultural diversity is reflected in the vast network of lively ethnic neighborhoods. Cultural diversity is also demonstrated through dining in any area or Toronto where both visitors and locals are spoiled for choice. Several key landmarks, including the Rogers Center and the CN Tower, now define a skyline that has been called one of the most beautiful in the world. A lengthy list of attractions draw millions annually, beckoning an exploration of the modern-day metropolis.

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