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Interesting Facts on Toronto

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Travel Features >> Interesting Facts on Toronto

Interesting Facts on Toronto

March 14, 2012

Toronto is the city I call home and here are a few interesting facts and a review as seen through my eyes.

Standing on a Yorkville sidewalk, I try to look uninterested as I squint my eyes against the sun and try to figure out if Denzel Washington is indeed the man inside the limo parked nearby. It is early September – Film Festival time in Toronto – and so red carpets have been rolled out, shmoozers have donned their chi chi-est garb and best kissy-kiss faces, and thousands of regular Torontonians have lined up to see their picks of over 300 international films.

Stars from Hollywood and Bollywood have come to town to promote and party. In the first two weeks of September, Toronto becomes glamour central. I never do learn if it is Mr. Washington –the star of my choice – in the car. I know that he is in town (as are Michelle Pfeiffer, Antonio Banderas, and Dennis Quaid). And when in town, the beautiful, rich, and or famous like to play in Yorkville.

In the 1960s, Yorkville was the centre of Toronto’s hippie scene – packed with young and creative types of the dirty and not-so-wealthy variety. Times have changed, and those same streets are now lined with designer boutiques, expensive salons and restaurants; home to what is more than likely the highest per-capita population of bleached blondes, wrinkle-free middle-agers, winter tans and Mercedes Benzes in the city. For those on more realistic budgets, it is a nice place to walk around, window shop, and maybe splurge on a fancy meal. Yorkville is a place to be seen, but it is only one small part of Toronto.

Toronto has been the victim of many unflattering stereotypes: “New York run by the Swiss,” clean and full of friendly (but rather bland) people, and “boring and business-focused,” the result of its role as the nation’s financial centre. The city is also often described as a “ harmonious, idyllic multicultural utopia” –a result of it being a city of immigrants or descendents of them.

There may be aspects of truth in these generalizations, but Toronto is much more complex and much more interesting than they imply. For visitors, here are some facts about the city that might not, but should be known:

• Toronto’s Caribbana Parade – an event finishing off a week of festivities, is held annually in August. It is the largest celebration of Caribbean culture in North America and one of the largest in the world. The parade attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city, all of who are ready to party.

• The city’s Gay Pride Parade also caps off a week of festivities, and attracts about a million revelers from all backgrounds every summer. It is one of the largest Pride Parades in the world.

• The Yorkville district offers designer boutiques and fashionable labels, but Queen Street and Kensington Market attract young and trendy types on more limited budgets. Kensington Market is crammed full of second-hand “vintage” shops, while Queen Street West – including the city’s “fashion district” features fashions for those who set and immaculately follow the trends.

• Toronto’s electronic music scene is one of the most eclectic and cutting-edge, producing some world-renowned DJs. The city is also home to a diverse club scene.

• Toronto acts as a base for a day-trip to one of the world’s most visited sites – Niagara Falls. The Toronto islands – only a short ferry ride away, provide a pretty setting for a picnic, especially at night. A few hours away by car are some of the Province’s best parks, settings for some of the best camping and hiking ops.

Toronto’s many festivals and parades are fully enjoyed by residents and visitors, yet they do pass. Even without a major event, however, Toronto’s appeal remains strong. I’ll admit, this is my city, and though I don’t spend much time here it is the place that I choose to call home. Having lived in and visited many cities around the world, and having chosen to settle in Toronto, I am more than convinced of, and ready to extol the appeal and many virtues of this diverse city that works, plays and grows - this living city.

- This article has been contributed by Sherry Chopra




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