Super Hall of Fame Top Producer Albert Lai
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The History of Toronto Ontario Canada


Toronto is a Huron people's word meaning 'Meeting Place'. The first settlement in the entire Toronto area, was Teiaiagon, which was populated by the Seneca Indians and then later by the Mississauga Indians on the east bank of the Humber River.


French Fort (1615-1760)

The first European to stand on the shores of Lake Ontario in the vicinity of what is now Toronto was French explorer Etienne Brule. Toronto was very crucial for it's series of trails and water routes that led from northern and western Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the "Toronto Passage", it followed the Humber River, as an important overland shortcut between Lake Ontario and the upper Great Lakes. For this reason Toronto became a hot spot for French fur traders.

Hostilities existed in Europe between Britain and France that were carried over into the colonial settlements and intense rivalries developed between the two as they vied for control of the fur trade and other resources. By September 1760 the British had defeated the French who withdrew from North America spelling the end of French rule.



Governor Simcoe (1793-1812)

The American Revolution from 1776-1783 sent loyalists northward to remaining British territory. Their settlements along the upper St Lawrence and lower lakes led to the creation of the province of Upper Canada in 1791. Plans for a town at centrally located Toronto, were effected by Upper Canada's first governor, John Graves Simcoe.

Simcoe mainly viewed the village as a commanding position to guard a troubled American boundary. In 1793 he had a little town laid out by the harbour, naming it York (Toronto was actually named York for a brief period), and soon he was using it as the capital of Upper Canada, erecting parliament buildings and cutting roads inland. Yonge Street was created in 1796, named by Simcoe for then the British secretary of war Sir George Yonge. The street is now recognized as the longest street in the world at 1,900 kilometres (1,190 miles) and stretches from the edge of Lake Ontario all the way up past Lake Superior. In the fall of 1796 Simcoe returned to Britain on leave and was reassigned to military duties in the West Indies.



War at York (1812-1815)

On June 18, 1812, James Madison, the President of the United States, signed a declaration of war against Great Britain. This war was an outgrowth of conflict by Britain who were blatantly disregarding the naval and trade rights of the United States. American citizens also believed that the British territory in North America was rightfully theirs and should have been taken during the Revolutionary War (1776-1783).

During the War of 1812, York was raided twice and even briefly taken by US forces in 1813. Peace was signed in December 1814, although the news didn't reach York until February 1815. After the war of 1812, York felt the rising wave of British immigration to Upper Canada. Its hinterland trade mounted with expanding farm frontiers, as its merchants supplied country dealers as wholesalers, and it became the province's banking centre.



From York to Toronto (1815-1834)

By 1834 the fast-growing town of over 9000 inhabitants was incorporated as the city of Toronto, with an elected civic government led by William Lyon Mackenzie as first mayor. Toronto then flourished.



The 1800's

In the 1840s Toronto increased its commercial lead, as steamboat port activity and gaslit, sewered main streets marked its urban rise.


In the 1850s railway building brought the city a radiating web of tracks connecting it to New York and Montréal, the upper lakes at Georgian Bay, and across western Upper Canada to Detroit and Chicago.


In the 1850s its own regional grasp was widely extended; wholesaling, banking and railway entrepreneurship grew accordingly.


The city was made capital of the new province of Ontario at Confederation in 1867, and by the 1870s it was becoming markedly industrialized.


A city of 30 000 in 1851 was over 5 times bigger by 1891, aided by industrial tariff protection after 1879 and the promotional drive of leaders such as railway builder Casimir Gzowski and department store builder Timothy Eaton.



The 1900's

From the later 1890s into a booming early 20th century, the settlement of the Canadian West and the tapping of northern Ontario's forests and mines opened further markets and resources to Toronto.


In 1911, Hydroelectric power provided by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario from Niagara Falls gave cheap energy for more factory growth, the city's banks, investment and insurance companies invaded regions well beyond Ontario.


World War I expanded Toronto's investment and manufacturing scope.


In the prosperous 1920s development continued as new suburban municipalities rose around an overflowing city of some half million.


Toronto was hit by the Great Depression of the 1930s, yet Toronto suffered proportionately less than many other Canadian centres.


World War II revived growth, shaping electronic, aircraft and precision-machine industries. And in the postwar era Toronto boomed, as a ravaged Europe renewed its material stock. Population swelled further, to over a million in Greater Toronto by 1951.


A Metropolitan government was set up in 1953 under a vigorous first chairman Frederick Gardiner. The Metropolitan Toronto Authority handled area-wide requirements. The subway system begun by the city in 1949 was built up, parks and drainage projects were effected and material through roads constructed.


In 1967 small suburbs were amalgamated, leaving a Metro structure of the city of Toronto and 5 boroughs, of which all but East York had also become cities by 1991, as their populations soared.

On June 26, 1976, after 40 months of construction the CN Tower is open to the public. The CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable and celebrated icon and the world’s tallest building at a height of 553.33m (1,815 ft., 5 inches). The CN Tower has become the symbol of Toronto. 


In 1998 the new "megacity" of Toronto came into existence. Toronto then became the 5th largest city in North America at 2.4 million, which is more people than the populations of most of the provinces and territories in Canada.



For Toronto Real Estate Services, Please contact ALBERT LAI, B.Math, FRI, MVA, RRS, CLO at 905-272-3434

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