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Toronto Basics

Toronto

Located in southern Ontario on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. A capital of diversity, Toronto is made up of colorful neighborhoods and regions where more than 100 cultures are represented. Indeed, almost half of the population was born outside of Canada and just over 30 percent of Torontonians speak a language other than English or French at home.

In the last decade, the city’s landscape has dramatically changed (for the better), thanks to projects by leading architects from around the globe. In fact, Toronto has become the go-to city for Hollywood directors and producers who see it as a cleaner, safer, friendlier alternative to Chicago or New York. X-Men, Cinderella Man and even Chicago were filmed in Toronto. But it’s not just about the film industry; music, design, fashion and art are driving the city with newfound creative energy.

A lively downtown with glass-and-steel edifices and the soaring CN Tower (aka the World’s Tallest Tower) gives way to charming tree-filled neighborhoods whose populace has a strong notion of community. There’s Kensington, a maze of narrow streets and alleys where hipsters live and work in pretty Victorian houses. The Distillery Historic District, meanwhile, has been developed as a center for arts, culture and entertainment. Wander around Little Italy in summer and you’ll find Vespas, old and new, parked in front of sunny patios. Pick a neighborhood—any neighborhood—and you’ll come upon chic boutiques and happening art galleries that flaunt the creations of up-and-coming designers and artists, historical areas where mixologists pour yummy concoctions to an eclectic (and seriously unpretentious) crowd at trendy little bars and outstanding restaurants helmed by local celebrity chefs—Jamie Kennedy, Mark McEwan, David Lee to name but a few—who take pride in cooking with fresh local ingredients.

Toronto is a city that celebrates a kaleidoscope of cultures and lifestyles, where you’re just as likely to find yourself rubbing shoulders with a Prada bag toting exec at a kitschy watering hole as you are to strike up a conversation with a newly arrived couple from Italy or the Philippines standing in line for tickets to a Maple Leafs hockey game. In Toronto, diverse visions and traditions mingle and flourish. This is a city where memorable experiences unfold like happy accidents in a blockbuster movie.

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