Toronto the Great: An Introduction

Toronto has adopted many names over the years — “Muddy York”, “The Big Smoke”, “Hogtown”, “TO”, “the T-dot”, “the T-dot-o-dot”, “Hollywood North”, and now “The 6ix”. Before Toronto became to be known as any of these aliases (and even “Toronto” for that matter), it was known as “The Town of York” and was the official capital of Upper Canada.

Although the human history of the area dates back thousands of years, the urban settlement of York didn’t start until 1793, when the British purchased land from the Mississaugas of the New Credit. Then in 1834, York became known as Toronto and our great city was born.

In the 181 years since its official birthdate, Toronto has seen quite a bit happen. We’ve survived hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods; we’ve outlasted crazy mayors and bad publicity; we’ve birthed national sports teams, local legends, and international celebrities; and now we’ve become the fourth largest city in all of North America, sitting behind goliaths like Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Toronto wasn’t always as big as it is now. Over the years it has expanded its borders, and the most recent expansion of 1998 amalgamated Metropolitan Toronto with its five surrounding boroughs of Etobicoke, North York, York, East York, and Scarborough, becoming the Greater Toronto Area (or the GTA).

Toronto may be considered young when compared to other cities on the world map, but there still is plenty of history to celebrate. I’ve always been intrigued by the historical tidbits I’ve learned about my city over the years, so I decided it was finally time to dedicate an on-going series of posts to my hometown that will allow me to dig deeper into Toronto’s strata.

With this series I aim to discuss historical sites, explore neighbourhoods of interest, and to share some of my favourite spots within the city. These will all be posted under the title “Toronto the Great”, which I chose to pay homage to the amalgamation.

I’ll be using the National Historic Sites of Canada list as a resource, as well as online sources and information gleaned from the Toronto Archives.

Below you’ll find a map of the thirty-six National Historic Sites found within the city. I will be visiting each of these on various walks over the course of the next few weeks, and will provide some more history on these places of great importance.


Toronto is an awesome city full of life, culture, and a vibrancy that can rival any of the other great cities of the world. I hope that I can do it justice by sharing it with all of you. I’m in the process of researching and compiling data, so stay tuned for posts!

In the meanwhile, check out my Instagram account which sometimes features inspired Toronto moments caught throughout my daily life.


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