A city as big as Toronto is bound to have a few secrets and surprise you every now and then.
Which is why in honour of Toronto’s 186th Anniversary, on March 6, we wanted to share some stand-out Toronto facts that you should probably know, if you don’t already:
1. The PATH is the largest underground pedestrian system in North America
With over 1,200 stores and restaurants, and over 30 km of connected walkways, it’s no wonder that more than 200,000 people use Toronto’s underground PATH system daily.
2. Yorkville was originally a cemetery
Before Yorkville became Toronto’s poshest neighbourhood, it was the city’s first public non-denominational cemetery, known as the Potter’s Field. Reports say that 6,700 people were buried north and west of Yonge and Bloor Street until the cemetery closed in 1855. Yorkville was later built on top of it.
3. What Toronto actually means
Originally, the term “Taronto” referred to a channel of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, and it’s an Iroquois word used to describe an area where trees grow in shallow water.
4. There’s a hidden subway station below the city
When the Toronto subway system was originally being constructed, a corridor was hollowed out underneath Queen station. It was initially meant to house underground streetcars but was abandoned. Today, you’ll discover the shell of a streetcar subway station and is often referred to as Lower Queen or Queen Lower.
5. A former psychiatric hospital was converted into a college campus
Before becoming a place to shape young minds, Humber College Lakeshore was home to a string of asylums, psychiatric institutes, and hospitals for those facing mental health issues. While in operation, the hospitals would use a ‘cottage system’ to help classify the patients, and used a series of underground tunnels to connect the various buildings.
6. The Toronto Islands weren’t originally islands
The main island of the Toronto Islands wasn’t always an island. The area was once attached to the mainland. An aggressive storm in 1858 blew a hole at the base of the then peninsula, separating the end of it and creating an island. More storms and landfill eventually created other islands.
7. The Toronto Islands used to attract major athletes
Over 100 years ago, Centre Island became the place where one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Babe Ruth, hit his first professional home run.
8. The city’s entire electrical grid used to run above ground
During the great fire of 1904, which ended up destroying over 100 buildings in downtown Toronto, aerial equipment wasn’t able to get past the electrical wires. Within 15 years, all downtown poles were removed and the wires placed underground.
9. The Toronto streetcar system is the largest in the Western world
The Toronto streetcar system is both the largest and busiest system in the Western world in terms of regular riders, length of track and number of cars.
10. Today’s weather doesn’t even compare to the past
While this winter has been chilly, the coldest winter of the 20th century was 1934 when Lake Ontario froze over completely. The hottest day recorded in Toronto was two years later on July 10, 1936, when temperatures hit 40.6 C. That heatwave killed 80 people in the city and hundreds in the province.
With files from Ainsley Smith.