In the midst of a city-wide renaissance, Toronto embraces the arts to emerge as a premier international destination.

Toronto is a rich and colorful quilt, each square representing a different ethnicity, culture, type of art, or piece of history. Since the turn of the century, renovation projects have embellished the diverse fabric of the city, turning it into a multi-faceted destination that offers something for everybody.

The Huron tribe originally inhabited the area now known as Toronto. A steady trickle of British settlers descended upon the city, and in 1793 York was established as a military post and civilian town. The city grew slowly and faced countless hardships, particularly from American attacks. The 20th century brought industrialization, and Toronto’s boom began. By the 1940s, the city had a population of more than 600,000 and was finally beginning to hold its own against Montréal. But even then, it was predominantly British and Protestant.

It is difficult to believe that the diverse Toronto of today — heralded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world — is the same city of just 60 years ago. A huge immigration wave in the late 1940s changed the face of Toronto; and today the city, with a population of approximately 4 million, is ethnically and culturally diverse. More than 152 languages are spoken here, and more than half of the current population was born outside of Canada. Within the city, 200 distinct ethnic origins exist and are celebrated in cultural districts throughout the city. And you will not just find a variety of cultures and races but a diversity of religions and lifestyles peacefully coexisting.

Toronto has also realized a rebirth in its arts and cultural scene. Previously known for its annual film festival, the city is positioning itself as one of the premier international destinations for culture. In 2003, the city council launched the Culture Plan for the Creative City, a strategy designed to grow the city into a global cultural capital. The 10-year plan will see the transformation and development of 11 major arts and cultural institutions. This unprecedented renovation is coming to fruition with the recent grand opening of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the reopening of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Not only did the city embark on a major undertaking, but it also brought along world-famous architects — Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Will Alsop — to dramatically reinvent the layout and look of the city. Part of that redesign included making art accessible. Frank Gehry’s design at the Art Gallery of Ontario includes a distinctive Douglas fir-clad sculptural staircase that rises from the second floor through the glass ceiling and extends to the fifth floor: a utiltarian building component turned work of art.

Toronto is a hodgepodge of different elements right down to its style. The financial center is all business with skyscrapers and modern buildings. Nicknamed the “City of Neighborhoods,” it’s a place where all the different styles — classic, old world, trendy and funky — blend seamlessly.

In addition to its cultural fabric, Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is the capital of Ontario. As one of the top financial cities in the world, it thrives in a variety of industries such as telecommunications, film and education. Toronto is home to Canada’s largest university, the University of Toronto, which is nestled within the city near the fashionable Yorkville shopping district. It is also considered one of the most livable cities because of its low crime rates, cleanliness, higher standard of living and general attitude of acceptance. Situated on Lake Ontario, Toronto is ideally poised to take its place as an international destination for the arts, business, culture and technology.



This large, historic downtown property is intrinsically linked with Toronto’s history. The Fairmont has been around since 1862, when Capt. Thomas Dick remodeled it and dubbed it Queen’s Hotel. In 1929, the property became the Royal York and, with its 28 floors, 1,048 guestrooms and countless other facilities, was quite impressive for its time. After undergoing a $100 million renovation from 1988 to 1993, the current property is home to 1,365 guestrooms. Explore the photo gallery on the mezzanine level for great prints from Toronto’s early history and shots of the Royal York’s famous guests.