Cosmopolitan Toronto is the heart of the Golden Horseshoe, the huge megalopolis that stretches in a crescent shape around Lake Ontario. Running in Toronto is above all visiting a modern city, with its heterogeneous architecture and phenomenal number of skyscrapers.
"I like B.C. because it’s so beautiful, but I think Toronto’s the greatest place because every corner of the world is here" says Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet, writer and feminist, known as "Instapoet".
Canada's most populous city and the capital of the province of Ontario, Toronto's colonial history began as a simple fortification called Fort Rouillé, built in 1750 by the French. Prior to that, the Iroquois inhabited the area, and the existence of Aboriginal peoples can be traced back almost 10,000 years.
During the American Revolution, Toronto was host to cohorts of British Loyalist settlers. This led to the Constitutional Act of 1791, which divided the Province of Quebec into two parts, establishing the colony of Upper Canada. In 1793, the site of Toronto was purchased by the British Empire - controversially - from the Mississauga people.
The city was then founded under the name of York, which is found in the name of some of its present-day neighbourhoods, and soon became the capital of the province. It did not become Toronto until 1834, the year slavery was abolished in Upper Canada. Its name comes from one of the rivers that runs through the city, now called the Humber. Very descriptive of its islands created by the confluence of the Humber and the Don, its name means "The place where the roots of the trees dip into the water" in a Mohawk dialect.
From Yorkville to the banks of the Don
As a financial, artistic, banking and commercial centre, Toronto is considered "one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world". Indeed, it has played a historic role as an immigration destination, which is reflected in its inhabitants: it would seem that they belong to "more than 200 distinct ethnic origins", and "more than 160 languages" are spoken there!
This cultural richness is reflected in the existence of numerous institutions, including museums, art galleries and festivals. As you stroll through Toronto, you'll discover the Royal Ontario Museum in Yorkville, which immediately catches the eye with its surprising deconstructivist architectural mix. From there, you'll be on the outskirts of Queen's Park, home to the Ontario Legislature!
Climbing up Davenport Hill, you will discover the impressive Casa Loma, built at the beginning of the 20th century, which combines various styles: Norman, neo-Gothic, Scottish baronial...
Nearby Rosedale and its trails on the banks of the River Don are waiting for you. You can even stop off at Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, made up of fully restored 19th century buildings, including an old brewery. Then, along the river, up to the huge, modern Ontario Science Centre, you'll be in a pleasantly wooded area. A cool walk perfect for summer days!
Getting to the historic heart of the city is easy: when visiting Toronto, keep an eye on the CN Tower. A symbol of the city, the 553-metre high CN Tower towers over the harbour on Lake Ontario. It is the tallest tower in the western hemisphere! Used as a communications tower by various media, it is possible to visit its platform... and experience the thrill of looking down through its glass floor.
If you like to run at night, you will especially appreciate the retractable illuminated dome of the Rogers Center (previously aptly named "Skydome") at the foot of the tower. A true marvel of technology, it was the first motorised roof of its kind to be installed on a stadium!
From the port, there are many options. One is to head for Fort York, the scene of the American invasions during the War of 1812. You could then head up to Chinatown, or take a diversion to see Osgoode Hall, built around 1830 in the Palladian and neoclassical architectural styles. It has a major function, as it houses the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Ontario Divisional Court and the Law Society of Upper Canada!
Nearby you will find the old Town Hall and St Michael's Cathedral Basilica, two iconic buildings. It would also be worth taking the short ferry ride to the islands to enjoy the beaches of Hanlan's Point and Gibraltar, as well as the various parks they contain.
All this with a breathtaking view of the Toronto skyline!
Run with Runnin'City from the CN Tower to the banks of the Don!