Spawned out of post-glacial alluvial deposits and bluffs, the area was populated at different times by Iroquois and later Wyandot (Huron) peoples. The settlement by Europeans started with the French building a seldom occupied fort near today’s Exhibition grounds in the mid-1700s, then grew out of a backwoods English trading post established as York in 1793. Later in the 19th century, it grew to become the cultural and economic focus of Canada. Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. More than 80 ethnic communities are represented, and over half of the city’s residents were born outside Canada.
Toronto’s climate on the whole is on the cool side and variable conditions can be expected. Downtown temperatures average -3.8°C (25°F) in January, but the extreme cold experienced further north typically lasts less than a week at a time. Despite this, come prepared. Winters are still cold and mostly cloudy, at some times snowy and uncomfortably windy and at other times, damp. At times, severe storms can impact flights into and out of the city, as well as slow down transportation and activities in the city for a day or two.
The best times to visit for the weather are late spring/early summer or early fall, with comfortably cool nights and less crowds. Mid-summer is the peak tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto’s vibrancy extends throughout the winter with outdoor ice rinks and bundled up clubgoers. Air conditioning and heating are standard in Toronto’s public buildings.
Ontario Travel Information Centre, 20 Dundas St W (at Yonge inside the Atrium on Bay; Subway: Dundas), (firstname.lastname@example.org). M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM.
Toronto is huge, and most roads run for very long distances. Streetcar rail, subway rail, and intercity rail services are clean and efficient but overcrowded, and it’s entirely possible to get around Toronto without a car, especially downtown. You may find it quicker and easier to drive, but be aware that traffic congestion is severe at almost any time of day, especially during rush hour. Toronto has plentiful parking garages downtown, most of which can be identified by the prominent green P signs, but they are very expensive, particularly on weekdays.