We all know that Toronto is the greatest city in the world. What? We’re not biased… Okay, okay, we’re super biased. But that doesn’t make it any less true! But did you know that on top of being fabulous, there are also some very cool facts about our city? Yeah, it turns out we’ve got some wild history and a ton of little info gems just waiting to be discovered! Well, lucky for you, we went and discovered some.
Here are 14 cool and interesting facts about Toronto that we bet you didn’t know already!
If you’ve stopped by this high-end area of Toronto recently, this weird fact might be hard to believe. What is now one of the boujiest shopping spots of the city used to be a cemetery! It was in the 1850s, so it was a pretty long time ago. But still, that’s pretty spooky! And the eeriest part? Apparently, during construction bodies are still known to show up today. Yup. Sorry if we just ruined your next shopping trip there…
Where: Yorkville, Toronto
Out of all the Canadian cities, Toronto is the most athletic. How do we know? Well, Toronto is the only Canadian city that participates in the 7 major sports leagues. These include Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, Canadian Football League, National Lacrosse League, Major League Soccer, and American Hockey League. Go Toronto go!
Okay, this might seem gross but it’s actually kinda cool. Underneath Toronto lies a network of wide, well-planned, and elaborate tunnels that seriously look like they’re right out of a movie. And you can take a tour of them! You’ll feel like Harry Potter searching for the Chamber of Secrets when you’re down there.
Where: Check them out here
Via National Post
Yup, we’re talking about Casa Loma, baby. This tourist staple is extra special cause it’s the only one in the continent! No other North American city has a real full-size castle. What can we say? We like to feel like royalty in our city.
More neat facts about Casa Loma... When it was constructed it was North America’s largest private residence, and it had so many telephones (59) that the castle’s switchboard operator handled more calls than the operator for the entire City of Toronto!
Where: Casa Loma, 1 Austen Terrace, near the corner of Davenport Rd and Spadina Ave
We’re just out here breaking records people! At 1896 km, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Yonge Street as the longest street in the world. Well, it did officially until 1998. Now apparently there a bit of debate cause of some construction going on in Barrie. But still, that’s pretty impressive!
Where: Yonge Street, Toronto
Back at it again with a sports-related fact! Did you know that the Rogers Centre was the very first stadium to have a retractable roof? Yeah, like first in the world. Feeling pretty innovative, eh Toronto?
Where: Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way
Yup, you read half house and we meant it literally. Half a house. It was built in the 1890s, but at some point it was chopped right down the middle! The reasoning was a combination of stubborn ownership and legal issues surrounding the company that bought it… Well, half of it. And the part that wasn’t bulldozed is still standing today!
Where: 54 1/2 St Patrick’s St
Who doesn’t love heading to the islands on a hot day? But once upon a time, they weren’t islands at all. Yup, this Toronto tourist staple used to be attached to the Scarborough Bluffs. And they certainly weren’t quite the popping place back then. Lake Ontario currents separated the land and formed the islands we know today!
Where: Toronto Islands, Toronto
Speaking of the Toronto Islands... Back in the late 1800’s Hanlan’s Point, near Toronto’s current Island Airport, was Canada’s answer to Coney Island. Named for world-record rower Edward ‘Ned’ Hanlan, it had a vaudeville theatre, dancing, an amusement park, and popular roller coaster called ‘The Big Scream’. In 1909 a stadium was built where the airport is now. It was destroyed in a fire, but rebuilt a year later, and it was here on Sept 5,1914 that a 19-year-old Babe Ruth hit is first professional home run. It’s believed the ball is still in the lake.
Where: Toronto Islands, Toronto
A list of the cities with the most skyscrapers was made in 2019. And Toronto came in 9th! Our city had 294 fully constructed skyscrapers at the time. But with the rate at which those things seem to be popping up, we’re sure by now there’s more. We were the highest Canadian city on the list, with Calgary coming in 63rd and Vancouver coming in 68th.
Where: Pretty much everywhere, Toronto
Via Toronto Storeys
Hidden below the Queen subway station is… another subway station? The spot is referred to as Lower Queen Station. And it was originally built for an underground streetcar route that never ended up happening. It’s an abandoned underground area that has super spooky vibes. Sure wouldn’t want to get stuck down there, would ya!
Where: 8 Queen St W
Known as "Hollywood North", Toronto is the third largest TV and film production centre in North America.
Chicago, X-Men, Hairspray, Cinderella Man, Total Recall, The Incredible Hulk, Good Will Hunting, Blues Brothers 2000, The Hurricane, Police Academy, The Skulls and Cocktail, are just some of the many major feature films that have been produced in the city.
One of the busiest location sites is The Distillery Historic District, originally the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. With 40 buildings spread over 13 acres, this was once the largest distillery in the British Empire. It ceased operation in 1990 after 135 years, and since then has served a location for more than 800 films and TV shows.
Where: The Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St
Via Toulouse on the Loose
When One King West was built, it was the World’s Narrowest Condo tower and the tallest residential Tower in canada
One King West rises from a designated Ontario Heritage Building, which originally served as the Toronto Dominion Bank in the late 1800’s.
While most towers go up 4 or 6 feet for every foot of width at the base, this 51-storey tower shots up 11 feet for every foot of width at its base. In addition to being the world’s narrowest condominium tower when it was built, it was also the tallest residential tower in Canada.
Another really cool feature of this former bank building is that it still has its original room-size bank vault, which can be seen at the bottom of a flight of steps in the centre of the Lobby. When the vault was originally hauled by 25 horses along Yonge St to the bank, the street was so chewed up it had to be repaved. The vault is actually large enough that it’s used today for small events and dinner parties.
Where: 1 King St W
This one may be slightly out of the city, but we think it's close enough - and way too interesting to not include!
In 1972, 28-year-old Dr. Tom Bolton, a Toronto astronomer, proved the existence of black holes while working at the David Dunlap Observatory, 25 km north of downtown Toronto.
You can even visit the 23-ton Great Telescope that he used to make the discovery! At one time this was the second largest telescope in the world, and it is still the largest in Canada. How cool is that?!
Where: David Dunlap Observatory, 123 Hillsview Dr, Richmond Hill, ON
So there ya have it, folks. You learn something new every day. Who knew Toronto was this interesting?! Well, anyone who’s ever lived here or visited already knew that. But you get what we mean!
Sources: Curiocity Toronto, Canada Cool
Lead Photo by Nick Kernick