University of Toronto has three distinct campuses and communities. This page is about the City of Toronto proper and is therefore most relevant to students who will be studying at the St. George campus. Students at the University of Toronto Mississauga and the University of Toronto Scarborough are encouraged to research their surrounding neighbourhoods.
A Few Words About Toronto
Toronto is the largest city in Canada with a population of 2.5 million (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area). It is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario and covers an area of 632 km². The city is very young by historical standards and much of it was constructed in the last few decades. Founded as the Town of York in 1793 by the Lieutenant-Governor of what was then called Upper Canada (now Ontario), John Graves Simcoe, the area had achieved city status and been renamed Toronto by 1834. It is often stated that the name Toronto derives from a Huron Indian word meaning "place of meeting" or "land of plenty." For a fuller account of the etymology, please see "The real story of how Toronto got its name."
Toronto has extensive social and cultural resources. Cinemas and live theatre, the latter involving everything from internationally famous performers to amateur groups, are readily available. The Art Gallery of Ontario is located near the University and houses a substantial permanent collection, as well as hosting excellent special exhibitions. Smaller galleries are scattered throughout the city. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, along with many smaller orchestras, ensembles, and choirs, provide ample opportunities for students interested in music to listen or participate. The Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Parliament Buildings are all located in the area of the University.
Excellent sports and recreation facilities are available on campus (memberships are included in the incidental fees you will pay with your tuition) — at both Hart House and the Athletic Centre — as well as in the community. Students may wish to take advantage of Toronto's relatively long winters to enjoy one or more winter sports - skating, skiing, etc. The Centre for International Experience organizes many winter recreation trips during the winter months and many excursions in the summer too!
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is one of the best public transit systems in North America and includes subways, buses and streetcars. The TTC also meets up with the GO Transit and Viva systems at various points, providing convenient access to Toronto and the surrounding area for commuters. Toronto also enjoys excellent rail and bus connections with all major North American cities. There are now two commercial airports in Toronto: Porter Airlines, which provides short-haul flights to several destinations within Canada and the U.S., and Pearson International Airport, which is served by a large number of major airlines.
Although Toronto is not immune to the problems faced by all major cities, it is quite safe in comparison to many North American cities. The University's Community Safety Office provides advice and services to students in order to promote safety and security on the campus.
Many different cultures are represented in Toronto and have their own social and cultural communities. It is said that more than half of the people living in Toronto were not born in Canada. This has helped to make it one of North America's most culturally diverse and exciting cities. Restaurants and shops reflect this diversity and international students will find it possible to buy many familiar items.
Living in Toronto means living in a city of vibrant neighbourhoods. You can imagine Toronto as a quilt with different cultures contributing to its fabric.