Toronto, Ontario – General Info
Toronto is in Southern Ontario on Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes. It is about 90 minutes by road from the U.S. border (New York state), about 4 hours from Ottawa and five from Montreal, Quebec. The city is quite spread out from east to west and also north but about all the main tourist attractions are accessible by TTC (public transit: bus, streetcars and subway: a third subway line is being completed).
Lake Ontario tends to moderate the city’s climate especially near downtown so that both the winters and summers are not extreme (with some brief exceptions to the rule!). Spring is brief but fresh and the fall is filled with the glorious colours of maple leaves from mid-September to mid-October approximately.
The Airport Express Bus (frequent departures from all three terminals) runs from Pearson International Airport to downtown and three subway stations at a reasonable cost. The subway runs about 20 hours weekdays, less frequent on weekends If you arrive by bus or train, you are right downtown. Pacific Western has excellent, clean coaches with helpful drivers and even runs a van after hours downtown (0100-0500).
Currency and Measurements
There is a Canadian Dollar (x-change rates) with circulating paper bills (multi-coloured) of $5, 10, 20, 50, and $100. The last bill is difficult to change everywhere.
There are 100 cents to the dollar and coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 (called a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter). There are also two larger coins: a ‘loonie’ ($1) and a ‘twonie'($2).
Canada uses the metric system on the whole, but clothing sizes are often still in inches. Remember that a kilometre is only 6/10 of a mile!
Travellers cheques in Canadian Dollars should be available in your home country and are readily accepted for payment. There are many banks with good hours and also “Bureaux de Change” such as Thomas Cook in many tourist areas.
Neighbourhoods to Explore
Yorkville, The Annex (University of Toronto area), College Street, Corso Italia, The Danforth, Dundas-Spadina/ Kensington Market (Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese), High Park and Bloor West Village, The Beaches and others to discover on your own. All of the above have ambiance and interesting places to eat.
Click here for a map of Toronto’s neighbourhoods in a new browser window.
About the Author
I was born and brought up in Montreal and worked as a driver-guide at Expo ’67, the World’s Fair to celebrate Canada’s Centennial Year in 1967 – what a memorable summer!
I’ve lived in Israel and taught English there before moving to Toronto in 1976. I left teaching 12 years early in middle age to enjoy more adventurous travel, writing and learning.
Some countries/regions I’ve traveled to on my own without a fixed itinerary in the past 5 years are: Morocco, Tunisia, Ecuador, Sicily, Bolivia, Peru, Cuba and the island of Carriacou (find this one!). An upcoming trip is to Greenland at the end of June.