ARTS & CULTURE
ARTS & CULTURE
Back to Discover Toronto
Random Fun Facts About Toronto
Random Fun Facts About Toronto
Published Date: 1 April 2022
There’s plenty to discover about Toronto whether you’re a visitor or call the city home! We’ve rounded up some of the city’s most-interesting essentials and the weird, fun facts about Toronto, Ontario that you might not know.
Toronto Is Canada’s Largest City – And Growing
Toronto is one of the fastest-growing and most multicultural cities in the world. Over 180 languages and dialects are spoken in the city and while Toronto welcomes newcomers every year, the area has been home to Indigenous people for some 11,000 years. With a population around 3 million and rising, Toronto’s residents need to eat somewhere. A true destination for foodies, Toronto boasts more than 7,500 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, representing more than 8% of the city’s businesses. There’s truly something for every taste!
Toronto’s Yonge Street Is Not The Longest Street In The World
Sadly, we must debunk one of Toronto’s best-known boasts. Despite what you may have heard, Yonge Street isn’t the longest street in the world! The Guinness Book of Records rescinded the title in 1999 after Yonge Street was separated from Highway 11 in the 1990s. The Guinness Book of Records title of “longest continuous road” now sits with Australia's Highway One which circumnavigates the country in an impressive 14,523 km stretch. Despite losing its title, Yonge Street is still a pretty great place to explore from the waterfront near UP Express Union Station to Yonge-Dundas Square, north to Yorkville and beyond.
Downtown Toronto’s Iconic Skyline
Instantly recognizable, the Toronto skyline owes its iconic status to two of the city’s man- made wonders – the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. For over three decades, the CN Tower held the record as the tallest freestanding structure until it was dethroned in 2007 by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Opened in 1989 as the SkyDome, the Rogers Centre – home of the Toronto Blue Jays – was the first major sports stadium in North America with a functional, fully retractable roof. Both the CN Tower and Rogers Centre are connected to UP Express Union Station through the 500m glass-enclosed SkyWalk walkway.
Weird, Wacky, And Wonderful Toronto Inventions
Toronto has long attracted creative minds. The city is home to a number of inventors whose inventions were dreamed up and perfected right here in Toronto, some of which have made major contributions in a number of fields including:
- Science – the pacemaker, electron microscope, lightbulb, and insulin were all invented in Toronto while astronomer Dr. Tom Bolton proved the existence of black holes from in Richmond Hill.
- Technology – the two-way radio and pager were developed by Torontonian Irving “Al” Gross who also tried to sell Bell on the idea of a mobile phone in 1950 with no luck. Meanwhile, every sports fan has a 1955 CBC broadcast of Hockey Night In Canada in Toronto to thank for instant replay.
- Entertainment – the whoopee cushion, Canada Dry ginger ale, and 5-pin bowling were all created in Toronto. Plus, the hairless breed of cat known as the sphynx originated in Toronto in 1966 with the birth of a kitten named Prune. You might even recognize one of the city’s most-famous sphynxes! Mr. Bigglesworth from the Austin Powers movies was raised in the Roncesvalles area near UP Express Bloor Station in Toronto’s west end.
Toronto Islands Weren’t Always Islands
Located in Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands are a popular destination for visitors and residents alike, but the islands weren’t always islands like we know them today. First surveyed by the British Navy in 1792, the islands were originally a series of continuously shifting sandbars originating from the Scarborough Bluffs that were pushed westward by the lake’s currents. Already known as a popular leisure spot by Indigenous peoples and early settlers, a carriage path from the mainland to Gibraltar Point became highly popular in the 1800s. It wasn’t until a severe storm severed the carriage path from the peninsula in 1858 that the island was created.
Babe Ruth Hits A Home Run At Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point
Now known as Hanlan’s Point on the west side of the Toronto Islands, the area became a resort destination in the late 1890s with an amusement park and baseball stadium for 10,000 spectators. It was in that former stadium that legendary baseball player Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run! Today, Centreville, a small amusement park for kids remains on Centre Island.
Toronto Is A Green City Of Parks And Trees
With over 1600 named parks and 200 km of trails, Toronto prides itself on its green spaces. In fact, Toronto parks take up over 18 per cent of the city’s total land area. Though we haven’t counted, Toronto has more than 10 million trees -- 4 million of which are on publicly owned land. With all those trees, it’s no wonder the word “Toronto” comes from the Mohawk word “tkaronto” meaning “the place in the water where the trees are standing” as it was referred to by the Haudenosaunee and Huron- Wendat of the area. Pack a picnic and check out some of Toronto’s green spaces this spring and summer.
Trinity Bellwoods Park’s Buried History
Photo credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1540
There are a few hidden relics under Trinity Bellwoods Park’s expansive green lawn. Buried under one of Toronto’s most popular parks is the triple-span Crawford Street Bridge which crossed the Garrison Creek Ravine. During the excavation of the Bloor-Danforth subway line in the 1960s, the area was filled in with rubble, burying the bridge and creating a level green space. Also buried north of the park’s circular walk is the foundation of Trinity College’s original 1852 building. It was deemed beyond preservation and razed in 1952.
The History Of Toronto’s Underground Public Bathrooms
Bridges aren’t the only thing lurking underground in Toronto, there’s also a few subterranean toilets! Available to men-only, Toronto’s very first public washroom was built in 1885 in the middle of the street opposite the central post office located at 10 Toronto Street, near UP Express Union Station. A second underground lavatory was opened in the middle of the intersection at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue in 1905, with additional toilets to follow at key streetcar interchanges in the city’s east end. A bathroom attendant was on standby for boot cleaning and fresh towels for 5 cents a pop. Considered unsightly traffic hazards due to their location in the middle of the street, Toronto’s last subterranean toilet was filled in in 1939.
Who Knew Toronto Had So Many Fun Facts?!
Who knew Toronto had such a weird, wild, and fascinating past? While you might not be able to see the stadium where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run, you can still visit the Toronto Islands and many of the other interesting locations the city has to offer. From the historic Distillery District to the waterfront, Toronto’s leafy green parks, local craft beer breweries, restaurants, museums, and more, UP Express can help you explore all of Toronto’s must-see sites.