Toronto, ON is Canada’s biggest city and is home to just under six million residents (more if you include the population of the Greater Toronto Area). A city this large has its fair share of quirks—things that make a city unique and appealing in an interesting “I didn’t know that” kind of way. So, what makes Toronto so different from just about any other Canadian city? Here are four little-known facts about Toronto—or as Drake calls it, “The 6”—you may not already know.
Underground city paths
Like just about any other city in Canada, the winter season in Toronto can be merciless. Winds blow in at face-numbing speeds and the slush, ice mounds and dirty snow are 100% unbearable. To help workers in the city’s downtown, developers created the PATH system, North America’s largest underground pedestrian walkway. The network connects office towers, subway stops, shopping centres, parking garages, and more. The best part? The entire system is lined with a variety of commercial spaces from liquor stores to gift boutiques to shoe shine shops to restaurants and produce stands. There are even tour groups devoted to exploring the PATH and helping people make sense of it (although novice path users can also try and muddle their way through using the centrally located maps).
Lost subway stations
Toronto’s subway system was the first in Canada, but it hasn’t come this far without its fair share of hiccups. There are actually three “lost” subway stations in Toronto: Lower Bay, Lower Queen, and Allen Station. These stations were initially constructed to supplement further public transit demand, but finances and changing demographics led to the unfortunate demise of these stations. Nowadays, these “lost stations” are used for shooting music videos, movies (mimicking New York’s subway system), transporting goods, or for urban explorers who feel extremely daring (and want to maybe get arrested in the process).
Ask any Torontonian about the neighbourhood of Yorkville these days, and you’re likely to hear praise or derision for fine restaurants, upscale food stores and boutique stores that appeal to fashionistas with deep pockets. Yorkville continues to be an appealing neighbourhood because of its proximity to the city’s downtown hotspots. Minutes away from the Annex, the University of Toronto main campus, as well as an upscale retail spot, Yorkville is a beautiful place to live, work, and play. However, it once had a completely different feel. Back in the 1960s, the area attracted a different kind of crowd. Some of that era’s biggest hippies would live and hang-out in the area, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot. As a result, Yorkville was once ground-zero for Toronto’s bohemian scene. While it’s changed a great deal over the last three or four decades—and, in that time, traded hippies for handbags—you can sometimes spot the spirit of “Old Yorkville” in the narrow alleyways and the whimsical looking homes and businesses.
Toronto’s multiculturalism knows no bounds
Everybody knows that people flock from all over the world to visit and live in Toronto. It has become one of the world’s most multicultural cities and has made a name for itself because of its inclusivity. What’s great is that this inclusivity doesn’t absorb cultures and heritages, but helps celebrate our differences by sharing and making them accessible to anyone. The best way Toronto does this is by inadvertently helping to create little ‘hoods. Well-known cultural neighbourhoods in Toronto include Little Portugal, Chinatown and Greektown (otherwise known as the Danforth). But, there’s also Little Tibet, Little Malta, and a Little Poland (otherwise known as Roncesvalles Village). Add in Little Korea, Little India and even Little Somalia, and you get a global mix of cultural identities.