Toronto is the largest city in Canada. In fact, with over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. The city proper lies at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census. This is part of a densely populated region in Ontario known as the "Golden Horseshoe", which runs around the western end of Lake Ontario.
Toronto is a major destination for immigrants to Canada. For this reason, it is one of the world's most diverse cities, with about 49% of the population having been born outside the country—not least of whom are Nick Knight himself, of course, and the other vampires in the series. Because of the city's low crime rates, clean environment, and high standard of living, Toronto is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities. About as many people get killed in downtown Toronto in one season of Forever Knight as are actually murdered in a year in the entire metropolis in real life.
- Motto: Diversity Our Strength
- Nicknames: T.O., Hogtown, Toronto the Good
- Coordinates: 43°39′N 79°23′W
- Area: (City) 630 km2 or 243.2 sq. mi., (GTA) 7,125 km2 or 2,751 sq. mi.
- People who live in Toronto are called Torontonians.
- Postal codes within the city proper always start with the letter M.
- At the time Forever Knight was being filmed, the only telephone area code for Toronto proper was 416, and for the outer suburbs was 905. When dialing within the city, it was not (at that time) necessary to include the area code with the phone number.
- Toronto is in the Eastern time zone (daylight savings time in the summer).
Physical GeographyEditToronto is bordered on the south by Lake Ontario, with a shoreline that is 46 kilometres (29 miles) long. Its eastern and western borders are, at least partly, determined by rivers (Etobicoke Creek to the west, with the boundary continued along Highway 427; and the Rouge River to the east). The northern boundary is a straight road, Steeles Avenue, running right across the city approximately 21 kilometres (13 miles) north of the lakeshore. Two rivers run through Toronto: the Humber River in the west end and the Don River east of downtown, both of which run roughly north to south toward the lake. They lie at opposite ends of the Toronto Harbour, which was naturally created by sediment that built up from the lake currents that created the Toronto Islands. The rivers create large tracts of densely forested ravine; and, since the flooding caused by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, these are not allowed to built in, but instead have been used for parks and recreational trails.
During the last ice age, the lower part of Toronto was beneath Glacial Lake Iroquois. Today, a series of escarpments mark the lake's former boundary, known as the Iroquois Shoreline. The escarpments are most prominent from Victoria Park Avenue to the mouth of Highland Creek, where they form the Scarborough Bluffs. Further west and inland, the grounds of Casa Loma sit above another portion of this escarpment.
Toronto has a continental climate that is moderated by its proximity to Lake Ontario, making the city among the mildest and least snowy regions in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. However, the climate is very variable from year to year, particularly during the winter months.
The city experiences four distinct seasons, with warm, humid summers, mild springs and autumns, and cold winters.
Winter usually starts with flurries somewhere between mid-November and early December; early snow typically melts, but later falls stay on the ground. Snowstorms can disrupt work and travel schedules. There are often short cold snaps when the sky is blue and sunny; at these times, the temperature remains below −10°C (around 15°F), and can get below -20°C (around -5°F), made to feel colder by wind chill. However, there are typically also some mild periods of winter (often in late January), when the temperature rises well above freezing and accumulated snow melts away.
Spring is locally considered to have arrived when the winter snows start to melt and the first flowers bloom, which may be anywhere from mid-March to mid-April. The ground at this time is usually very muddy, since drainage is affected by frozen subsoil. A late winter snowstorm is usual after about a fortnight of this early spring period. The mild spring weather then typically lasts until mid-May, when daytime temperatures can increase to as much as 20°C (around 70°F). However, summer is not usually considered to have arrived until mid June, by which time the night time temperatures have also warmed up.
Summer in Toronto is characterized by long stretches of humid weather. Although temperatures can fall to around 25 °C (75°F) on cooler days, there are typically also periods in which the daytime temperatures can reach 35 °C (95 °F) or more. The high humidity makes these heat waves feel oppressive. Summer is usually the wettest season, noted for thunderstorms in July and August. Even in a dry summer, water rationing is effectively unknown in Toronto, since its water supply comes from Lake Ontario.
Autumn is usually considered to arrive after Labour Day (the first Monday in September). However, temperatures typically remain moderately hot until the end of the month. After that, autumn is relatively mild until November. The season is marked by the changing colours of the leaves on the trees. Much of Toronto, especially the older areas of the city, is well forested with trees along the streets, as well as in parks and ravines.
In the centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America, the vicinity of the site of present-day Toronto was inhabited by a succession of different Iroquois nations, who were displaced around 1500 A.D. by the Wendat (better known as the Huron). However, until the advent of British settlers, there was no permanent occupation of the area. French traders founded Fort Rouillé in 1750, but abandoned it in 1759.
During the American Revolutionary War, many United Empire Loyalists fled north and built homes in the unsettled lands north of Lake Ontario. In 1787, therefore, the British Government negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of New Credit, thereby securing more than a quarter million acres (1000 km²) of land in the Toronto area. In 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe established the town of York. Fort York was constructed at the entrance of the town's natural harbour, sheltered by a long sand-bar peninsula.
In 1813, as part of the War of 1812, York was attacked and partly burned by American forces led by Zebulon Pike. Fort York was lightly manned at the time; and, realizing that a defence was impossible, the troops retreated and set fire to the magazine. Nevertheless, the town was forced to surrender, and was occupied for five days, during which time American soldiers destroyed much of Fort York and set fire to the parliament buildings. (The following year, British forces attacked Washington, DC, in retaliation, setting fire to the White House.) After the American forces departed York, a new fort was constructed; and another attack in 1814 was defeated with ease.
York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, reverting to its original native name to distinguish it from other North American settlements named "York", not least being New York City in the United States. Reformist politician William Lyon Mackenzie became the first mayor. At that time, the population was about 9,000, and included escaped African American slaves. Slavery was banned outright in Upper Canada the same year.
William Lyon Mackenzie led the unsuccessful Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 against the British colonial government.
The city grew rapidly through the remainder of the 19th century, being a major destination for immigrants to Canada. The first significant population influx occurred with the Irish Famine (1846 to 1849). By 1851, the Irish-born population had become the largest single ethnic group in the city. Most of them were Catholic, with smaller numbers of Protestant Irish immigrants. These were welcomed by the existing Scottish and English population, giving the Orange Order significant influence over Toronto society until the 1940s. In contrast, Irish Catholics arriving in Toronto faced widespread intolerance and severe discrimination, both social and legislative, leading to several large scale riots in the period from 1858 to 1878.
The city received new immigrant groups beginning in the late nineteenth century, particularly Germans, Italians, and Jews from various parts of Eastern Europe. They were soon followed by Chinese, Russians, Poles and immigrants from other Eastern European nations. Following the Second World War, refugees from war-torn Europe arrived, along with immigrants from Italy and Portugal. By the latter half of the 20th century, immigrants from many other parts of the world became the major source of immigration.
Toronto was the capital of Upper Canada from 1793; and, after the official creation of the province of Ontario at Confederation in 1867, it retained its position as capital. The Ontario Legislature buildings are located at Queen's Park in downtown Toronto. Because of its capital status, the city is also the location of Government House, the residence of the provincial vice-regal representative of the Crown.
In the 19th century, an extensive sewage system was built, and streets became illuminated with gas lighting as a regular service. Long-distance railway lines were constructed; and the Grand Trunk Railway and the Northern Railway of Canada joined in the building of Union Station. Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1891; and the public transit system passed into public ownership in 1921. The system now has the third-highest ridership of any city public transportation system in North America.
In 1954, the City of Toronto and the new surrounding suburban regions were federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto. The metropolitan government began to manage services that crossed municipal boundaries, including highways, water and public transit. In 1967, the seven smallest municipalities of the region were merged into their larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the old City of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. In 1998, the metropolitan government was dissolved and the six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality, creating the current City of Toronto.
The following information refers to the municipal government at the time Forever Knight was being filmed. Since then, things have changed. In 1998, the provincial government abolished the regional (metro) level of government, and the six municipalities were amalgamated into a single municipality or "megacity". Locally, this process is often referred to disparagingly as Toronto having been "megacitied".
In 1954, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (known more popularly as "Metro") was created as a regional government, encompassing thirteen smaller communities. The postwar boom resulted in suburbanization, and it was felt that a coordinated land use planning strategy, as well as shared services, would be more efficient. However, the original communities continued to have their own independent governments, and provided local services.
On January 1, 1967, several of the smaller municipalities were amalgamated with larger ones, reducing their number to six: Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, East York, York, and Scarborough. Initially, only Toronto was officially designated as a city; the other five were boroughs. However, starting with North York, one by one the boroughs declared themselves to be cities, until East York remained "the only borough in Canada".
It should be noted that "Toronto" is therefore potentially ambiguous: it can refer either to the City of Toronto or to Metropolitan Toronto (or today either to the old City or the new megacity). However, people outside the area use the term to refer to the entire metropolitan amalgamation of City and Boroughs (or the megacity). At the time Forever Knight was being filmed, people living within the area usually used "Toronto" for the City, while the metropolitan area was (and to some extent still is) called "Metro".
The old names for the boroughs (and, indeed, the names of the original towns amalgamated into Metro in 1954) are still in use as names for regions of the city.
During the time Forever Knight was on the air, municipal elections were held every three years.
Elections at the municipal level are non-partisan, meaning that candidates are not identified with any political party.
Originally, two aldermen were elected for each ward. The one who won the most votes was then designated as the senior alderman, and served on both the borough council and the Metropolitan Toronto Council (meaning that there were no direct elections for the metropolitan level of government). However, in 1988, the two tiers of government were severed. Thereafter, voters selected a councillor to sit on the Metro Council and a separate councillor to sit on the borough council.
Each borough had its own mayor, who also sat on the Metro Council. There was no mayor for Metropolitan Toronto. Starting in 1988, the Metro Council elected its own Chairman.
Each borough had its own civic centre. Toronto City Hall was the centre for the government of the City of Toronto. Initially, Metro Council and the Metropolitan Toronto government also worked out of City Hall, but moved out in 1988 to a separate building. (The government of the new amalgamated city once again uses Toronto City Hall.)
- Much of this information has been adapted from the Wikipedia articles on Toronto.