Thursday, May 23, 2013

Proud To Live In Toronto

With the recent events in the news about Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, allegedly being captured on video smoking crack, Toronto has taken quite a beating in the media. Night time comedians are taking pot shots at Toronto, and my beautiful city seems to be the butt of everyone’s jokes.

Let me begin by saying that at first I was embarrassed.  Hands Down – our Mayor is an idiot. I do not know whether or not the allegations are true. And to be quite honest, at this point it really does not matter. In my opinion he needs to resign. His on-going antics are an embarrassment to the city and the people who live here.  With that said, I am a PROUD Torontonian. I was born and raised here and I hold my head up high and claim my home proudly, despite a handful of idiot politicians who happen to sit in office at the moment.  And let’s be honest – shall we?  Idiots are not exclusive to Toronto, or Canada. The World as a whole is full of them. And the vast majority of them were sadly elected into office by the people.

With all of that said, I want to dedicate this post to shining the spotlight on the beautiful city I call home.

With a mixture of historical and modern architecture, Toronto is truly a sight to behold. The core of the city with its skyscrapers and condominiums, are intertwined with tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian heritage buildings and homes.  Pictured above is our breathtaking skyline, which sits on the edge of Lake Ontario – one of Canada’s Five Great Lakes.

I heard one of the night time comedian’s comment that there is nothing to do in Toronto. Well, anyone who lives here or has ever visited here knows that is just nonsense. Toronto’s attractions and appeals are endless. I could write an entire novel on everything that Toronto has to offer, but let me list a few of the high points for you.

The CN Tower; which happens to be the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere. And if that isn’t thrilling enough, you can now live on the edge – quite literally, the Edge Walk is a new feature of the tower where by you can experience a thrilling hands-free walk around the ledge of the Tower overlooking Toronto.

The Toronto Islands, which offer a picturesque family fun spot just 20 minutes from the heart of the city by way of the Toronto Island ferry. With the skyline as the backdrop, you can enjoy beaches, biking trails, picnics, and spend the day with your children at Centerville, a seasonal carnival atmosphere with rides, eats, treats, where generations of families have shared good times and made memories together for decades.

St. Lawrence Market, which just happens to have been called the World’s best food market by National Geographic!

The Hockey Hall of Fame.  The Canadian Walk of Fame. Museums. Parks – including High Park, which happens to sit on 400 acres of land and boasts Canada’s largest Cherry Blossom festivals when the trees bloom in May. Our Beautiful Harbor front, Beaches – which are among the best in the world as proclaimed by the internationally recognized Blue Flag Program. Restaurants and dining experiences from around the world. The Theatre District. Entertainment District. Distillery District. The Pride District. The Canadian National Exhibition. Canada’s Wonderland. Casa Loma – North America’s only castle. The Toronto Zoo, which happens be one of the largest in the world!  I cannot fail to mention one of my favorite childhood places to visit; Riverdale Farm. Yes! A quaint sense of country in the middle of the City!  And opening this summer is Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada!

As I said, I can only name but a few of the gems of this beautiful city. But let’s take a look at some of the celebrations hosted in Toronto.

We can begin with our huge New Year Celebrations. Caribana, North America’s largest Caribbean Street Festival, drawing over 1.5 million tourists to our great city each summer. Toronto Pride Parade.  It should be noted here that Toronto will be hosting the World Pride events in 2014. The Pan AM and Parapan AM Games will be hosted by Toronto in July 2015!   We cannot forget about Jolly Old Saint Nick, who has visited Toronto in one of North America’s largest parades since 1905.  All of this and much more, including; Luminato, Summerlicious,, Nuit Blanche, The TD Jazz Festival, The Canadian International Autoshow,  The Toronto International Film Festival, which has put Toronto on the map as Hollywood North!

I want to end this post with some fun facts I found on the web about Toronto:

City Facts

1. Toronto is Canada’s largest city and home to over 5.7 million people
2. Toronto is the capital city of the province of Ontario
3. Toronto is the largest financial center in Canada.
4. There are 100 + languages spoken throughout the city of Toronto
5. Just over 30 per cent of Toronto residents speak a language other than English or French at home.
6. Over half of Toronto’s labour force has a university degree or college diploma
7. Toronto is Canada’s number one tourist destination
8. Toronto residents hold more university educations than in any other country, in the world, based on percentage of population. Source OECD – 2003
9. 180 million customers live and work within a day’s drive of Toronto, including 125 million Americans or roughly 40 per cent of the U.S. population.
10. More people live in Toronto than in Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces combined
11. Half of Toronto’s population (1,237,720) was born outside of Canada, up from 48 per cent in 1996.
12. Niagara Falls is just over an hour’s drive from Toronto
13. Toronto has over 8,000 restaurants
14. Toronto has over 35,000 hotel rooms

North American Facts

1. Toronto is North America’s 5th-largest city after Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
2. North America’s largest continuous underground pedestrian system PATH, connects about 1200 stores and restaurants, 50 office towers, five subway stations, Union Station, six major hotels and several entertainment centers under Toronto’s financial core.
3. Toronto’s public transit system is the second largest in North America and has the highest per capita ridership rate on the continent.
4. About 25% of films produced in Hollywood are actually filmed in Toronto, making it North America’s 3rd largest TV and movie production venue.
5. The Caribana parade is the largest single-day parade and largest Caribbean festival in North America.
6. Toronto has the only, real castle in all of North America. You will never forget “Casa Loma” (home on hill) with vista views of both, the downtown, skyline of Toronto and of Great Lake Ontario.
7. The TSX Group – the third-largest stock exchange in North American and seventh largest in the world based on market capitalization – is the world leader in mining sector listings.
8. The Direct Energy Centre (formerly the National Trade Centre) is the 3rd largest exhibit facility in North America with over 1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space

World Facts

1. Yonge Street is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world, stretching 1,896 km from the lakeshore in Toronto, north to Rainy River, Ontario, near the Minnesota border.
2. Toronto is home to the world’s second tallest free-standing structure, the CN Tower standing 1,815 feet (553 meters) tall.
3. The Toronto Zoo is the third largest in the world and is home to more than 5000 animals
4. Toronto is the third largest center for English language theatre in the world, behind New York City and London.
5. Toronto is a world leader in digital microwave transmission, satellite communications services and data distribution networks.
6. Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome) – the world’s first stadium to have a fully retractable roof

Economic Facts

1. Toronto is the largest and most important financial center in all of Canada and the fourth largest in North America. Only New York city, Chicago and Los Angeles are larger.
2. Financial center of Canada, 3rd largest in North America, employing 205,000 in financial sector
3. Toronto is home to Canada’s 5 largest banks, 50 foreign bank subsidiaries and branches, and 112 securities firms.
4. The film industry supports 28,000 jobs in Toronto and annually contributes $1.5 billion to the economy
5. Toronto’s tourism industry generated $3.34 billion in direct expenditures in the year 2000
6. There are about 87,900 tourism related jobs in Toronto

With all of that, let me just say once again that not only am I a proud Torontonian, but I am blessed to live in the best City, in the best Country in the World!  And if you have never had the pleasure of visiting our great city, I encourage you to do so!