TORONTO, the capital of the province of Ontario, and the second largest city in the Dominion of Canada, situated on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, almost due north from the mouth of the Niagara river. It lies on a plateau gradually ascending from the lake shore to an altitude of 220 ft., and covers an area of nearly 20 sq. m. The river Don flows through the eastern part of the city, and the river Humber forms its western limit. The fine bay in front of the city, affording a safe and commodious harbour, is formed by an island stretching along the south of it. The city is well laid out for the most part, the streets crossing each other at right angles; Yonge Street, the chief artery, running north from the bay, was constructed as a military road in 1796, and extends under the same name for upwards of 30 m. to Lake Simcoe. It constitutes the dividing line of the city, the cross streets being called east or west according to the side of it they are on.
Toronto is the seat of government for the province, and contains the parliament buildings, the lieutenant-governor's residence, the courts of law and the educational departmental buildings. The parliament buildings are situated in Queen's Park, almost in the centre of [the city, and are an imposing structure of red sandstone in the neo-Greek style built at great cost. They are shortly to be enlarged, as the needs of the province have outgrown them. A little distance to the west stand the university buildings, the central one being a splendid piece of architecture in the Norman style. Stretching in a semicircle round the broad campus are the library, the medical building, the biology building and museum, the school of practical science, the geology and chemistry buildings and the convocation hall, their architecture varying very greatly, beauty having been sacrificed to more practical considerations; the magnetic observatory is also in the grounds, but is overshadowed by some of the more recent erections. It is one of the meteorological stations established by the British government on the recommendation of the Royal Society in 1840 and is now maintained by the Dominion government. The university of Toronto, for the support of which the province is responsible, includes faculties of arts, science and medicine, in the teaching of which it is strictly secular. But near at hand and in full affiliation with the university are Victoria College (Methodist), Wycliffe College (Anglican), Knox College (Presbyterian) and St Michael's College (Roman Catholic), wherein courses in divinity are given and degrees conferred. Victoria College, likewise, provides a course in arts, but none in science. Trinity College (Anglican), though some distance away, is also affiliated with the university, and her students enjoy its full advantages. Besides the university, Toronto is remarkably rich in educational institutions. Upper Canada College, founded in 1829, in many respects resembles one of the English public schools. It has over 300 students. St Andrew's College, also for boys, is a more recent establishment, and has about the same number of pupils. There are three large collegiate institutes, having some 300 to 600 pupils each, and in addition a number of schools for girls, such as Havergal College and Westminster College. Osgoode Hall, a stately structure in the heart of the city, houses the higher courts of law and appeal, and also a flourishing law school. The city hall and court-house is one of the finest civic buildings in North America. It is in the Romanesque style, and accommodates all the civic offices, the board of education, the police and county courts, etc. Many of the churches are worthy examples of good architecture.
Toronto is essentially a residential city. The houses of the better class stand separate, not in long rows, and have about them ample lawns and abundant trees. It is consequently a widespread city, the length from east to west approximating ten miles. An electric railway system provides means of communication. There are many parks, ranging in size from Carlton Park of one acre to High Park (375 acres) and Island Park (389), the latter being across the harbour and constituting the favourite resort of the people during the summer. In Exhibition Park there is held annually an industrial and agricultural exhibition that has grown to great magnitude. It lasts a fortnight in late summer. It is a municipal enterprise and the profits belong to the city.
The population in 1907, as shown by the police census, exceeded 300,000. The government of the city is vested in a council consisting of the mayor and four controllers elected annually and eighteen aldermen (three from each of the six wards into which the city is divided). The council as a whole is the legislative body, while the board of control is the executive body, and as such is responsible for the supervision of all matters of finance, the appointment of officials, the carrying on of public works, and the general administration of the affairs of the city, except the departments of education and of police, the first being under the control of the board of education, elected annually by the citizens, and the latter under the board of police commissioners, consisting of the mayor, the county judge and the police magistrate.
Toronto is one of the chief manufacturing centres of the dominion; agricultural machinery, automobiles, bicycles, cotton goods, engines, furniture, foundry products, flour, smoked meats, tobacco, jewelry, etc., are flourishing industries, and the list is constantly extending. The situation of the city is favourable to commerce, and the largest vessels on the lakes can use its harbour. It is the outlet of a rich and extensive agricultural district, and throughout the season of navigation lines of steamers ply between Toronto and the other lake ports on both the Canadian and American sides, the route of some of them extending from Montreal to Port Arthur on Lake Superior. Railway communication is complete, three great trunk lines making the city a terminal point, viz. the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern.
As a financial centre Toronto has made remarkable advance. The transactions on the stock exchange rival those of Montreal. The Bank of Commerce has its headquarters here, as have also the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Bank of Toronto, the Standard Traders, Imperial, Sovereign, Dominion, Crown, United Empire, Sterling and other banks.
The name of the city is of Indian origin, meaning "a place of meeting," the site in the days before the coming of the white man being an established rendezvous among the neighbouring Indian tribes. It first appears in history in 1749 as a centre of trade when the French built a small fort and started a trading establishment called Fort Rouille. Before long, however, British traders came up from the south and entered into active rivalry with the French, and in 1793 the fort was burned by the latter to prevent its occupation by their foes. A year later Governor Simcoe transferred the seat of government of the new province of Upper Canada from the town of Newark at the mouth of the Niagara River to Toronto, giving the new capital the Mame of York, in honour of the second son of George III. Under its new name it made slow progress as the surrounding country was cleared and settled. The entrance to the harbour was guarded by two blockhouses; provision was made for barracks and garrison stores; buildings were erected for the legislature; and there the members of parliament, summoned by royal proclamation to "meet us in our provincial parliament in our town of York," assembled on the 1st of June 1797. Sixteen years later the population numbered only 456. The town was twice sacked in the war of 1812. General Dearborn captured it at the head of a force of upwards of 2000. On their advance to the outworks of the garrison the magazine of the fort exploded, whether by accident or design, killing many of the invaders. The halls of legislature and other buildings were burnt and the town pillaged. On the restoration of peace the work of creating a capital for Upper Canada had wellnigh to begin anew. The organization of Upper Canada College in 1830, with a staff of teachers nearly all graduates of Cambridge, gave a great impetus to the city and province. In 1834 the population of York numbered fully 10,000; and an act of the provincial legislature conferred on it a charter of incorporation, with a mayor, aldermen and councilmen. Under this charter it was constituted a city with the name of Toronto. Since that time the progress of the city has been rapid and substantial, the population doubling every twenty years. In 1885 the total assessment was $69,000,000; in 1895 $146,000,000 and in 1906 $167,411,000, the rate of taxation being i8 mills.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)