Photo: Downtown Toronto


Toronto, capital and largest city of Ontario and second city in size in Canada, is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, opposite the mouth of the Niagara River, 333 miles s.w. of Montreal. It has a water frontage of about 10 m. from e. to w. and extends inland from s. to n. about 6 m. The harbor which recently has been greatly improved, is protected by a sandy islet, extending into the lake to a distance of 5 miles. The port accommodates the largest vessels that come through the Welland Canal. The Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways pass through the city. Surrounding it is a fertile agricultural region, of which it is the distributing point and outlet.


The streets are wide, well paved and lined with private residences, churches and public buildings of imposing architecture. The 55 parks have a total of 1879 acres. Chief of these are High Park, Exhibition Park, and Humber Boulevard, within the city limits. The annual Canadian National Exhibition, famous for its agricultural, industrial, and art exhibits, is held at Exhibition Park. The zoological gardens are in Riverdale Park. Sunnyside is a favorite promenade. Island Park, a picnic resort, and Hanlan's Point, an amusement park, are located on the sandy bar in front of the city.


Toronto has 263 churches, the most notable being St. James's Cathedral (Anglican), St. Paul's and Church of the Ascension (Anglican), St. Michael's Cathedral (Roman Catholic, St. James and St. Andrews (Presbyterian), the Metropolitan (Methodist), Jarvis Street(Baptist), Bond Street (Congregational), and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church (Methodist). A group of buildings noted for their beauty are the Provincial Legislative Building and the University of Toronto, at Queen's Park. Important other buildings are the courthouse, new city hall, the custom house Parliament Buildings, post office, public library, the Royal Alexandria Theatre, the Massey Music Hall, King Edward's Hotel, the Royal Bank Building, the Canadian Pacific Railway building, and the new Union Station.

The University of Toronto is the center of learning in Canada. Its group of buildings are among the most attractive in the city. Several new departments have recently been added, and its attendance is over 5,000, the highest enrollment in the British Empire. Other fine educational buildings are McMaster University, Trinity, Upper Canada and St. Andrews colleges. The Technical School is one of the best equipped in the world. Toronto maintains an excellent library system, including a reference library and 19 branches, with 250,000 volumes. It has three colleges of music and creditable art galleries. The Royal Art Museum contains valuable collections of historical and geological relics.


Toronto is the chief distributing center of Ontario, particularly in grain, fruits, and live stock. It is the wholesale jobbing center of Canada and mecca of its trade and commerce. It contains about 1500 factories, employing 85,000, with an annual value of its products, $300,000,000. It is the automobile center of Canada, and its industrial plants include iron and steel foundries, shipbuilding and meat packing establishments, agricultural implement works and railway shops. The five meat packing establishments have given to the city the name of the Chicago of Canada, and its civic abattoir is a successful municipal enterprise. It possesses water, gas, electric light plants and draws light and much of its heat and power from Niagara Falls. The Toronto hydro-electric system is one of the largest municipal supply undertakings in America. It has six daily newspapers, of which the Globe, was founded in 1846.

Being the second financial and commercial center of Canada, it has an active shipping trade. An average of 3,000 vessels with a tonnage over 4,000,000 arrive annually at the port. Steamship lines connect Toronto with Canadian and American lake and river ports from Port Arthur to Montreal, and because of this it is known as the "Queen City of the Lakes." Fourteen of the chartered banks of Canada have their headquarters here, and the annual bank clearings are over $6,000,000,000. Toronto has an active mining stock exchange and a large industrial stock exchange.


Originally the site of Toronto was the junction of a number of Indian trails and was the terminal point of those which formed the shortest and most convenient route between lakes Huron and Ontario; hence the name Toronto, of Indian origin, meaning place of meeting. It was chosen by the French in 1749 as the location of a fort and trading post and was called Ft. Rouille. Later it was burned to prevent its falling into the hands of the British. It was the scene of continual strife between the French, British and Indians in the half century which followed. In 1794 John Graves Simcoe, the first governor of Upper Canada, removed the capital from Newark to Toronto, calling the new seat of government York in honor of the son of King George III. During the War of 1812 the city was twice captured and was partially burned by the Americans. It was incorporated, under its present name, in 1834. Aside from a rebellion under William Lyon Mackenzie and several disastrous fires, the subsequent history of Toronto has been purely civic - a history of rapid and substantial growth. Population 550,000.
From The Source Book, Vol. VII., Perpetual Encyclopedia Corporation, Chicago, 1926.
Rev 2000-02-18 [Return to Diary]