Location
night_skyline_of_toronto__canada.jpg

The realms of the gods transcend physical places in the world; step into their office from New York or Prague and you are instantly in the same place, nowhere and everywhere. However, the base of operations for Legendary, so to speak — where a lot of activity happens to be building up under the surface the mortals see — is Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Don't underestimate the Canadians.

It's a city of approximately 2.6 million people, and like any big city, it has everything, good and bad. It has the busy, crowded, close-quarters-buildings and skyscrapers metropolitan feel of somewhere akin to New York City, with lots of parks and greenery interspersed. It's one of the most diverse cities in the world, is very multi-cultural, with 49% of the population born outside of Canada.

It has a lot of old, historical buildings as well as new developments.

You don't need a ton of info on Toronto to play in it — just a bit of big city knowledge — but here's some info for flavour!

More Fun Helpful Facts

  • TO has an extensive, bustling public transit system called the TTC that consists of the subway, buses, and red-and-white streetcars that run on most of the main streets. The subway closes around 2 AM while some of the streetcars and buses on certain streets run 24 hours. A lot of people who have cars will take the TTC anyway because traffic is a pain and parking is difficult and expensive. You can get from one end of the city to the other in about 2 hours depending where you are.
  • There are creepy abandoned subway stations underground.
  • There is a large film industry ("Hollywood North"). Actors everywhere. Also, people complaining about Resident Evil or Lost Girl blocking their way to work on a regular basis.
  • Also, music, fashion, art and theatre.
  • It's a very commercial city.
  • Starbucks on every corner, except the blocks that have Tim Hortons.
  • There's a lot of sports stuff going on and arenas and Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey and stuff.
  • Hockey really is that big in Canada. Toronto has the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • It has a Union Station that connects to buses/streetcars/trains to everywhere. It is huge and busy and horrifying, don't go there at rush hour. The area surrounding Union Station can be likened to Wall Street.
  • Everyone except Amy can get around the city without getting lost by looking at where the CN Tower is.
  • Toronto has very distinct neighbourhoods, which can change drastically block-to-block; you may be in a upscale, hip area with expensive cafes and art galleries one moment, walk a block and you're in a run-down shady area with a McDonalds and a herd of drug addicts following you for money the next.
  • "Downtown" refers to the heart of the city, where mostly… everything is.
  • It's rare to be downtown and not have something bizarre happen to you or around you.
  • Including at least one person talking to themselves.
  • There's a large psychiatric and research facility in the middle of the city.
  • Toronto has its own city police (plus an emergency services unit that is like SWAT) so you don't get to make RCMP jokes. However, you will occasionally see them patrolling on horses anyway. Also, on bicycles. They look silly on bicycles.
  • Toronto has a lot of bicyclists.
  • There's a low crime rate and the city is generally safe, but that said, there's still a lot of crime, especially gang-related, drug-related and theft. Illegal activity is basically everywhere. Toronto can be a hotspot for certain activities, especially being relatively close to New York City.
  • There is a very large homeless population.
  • There is a very large prostitute population. Brothels were made legal in 2011. Exploitation by pimps is still illegal.
  • Gun laws are different that the US, so it is less common for people to own them.
  • The place to buy alcohol is called the LCBO. Liquor isn't for sale in normal stores.
  • The wildlife you're most likely to see: pigeons and giant black squirrels.
  • It is very cold in the winter and very hot and disgustingly humid in the summer. Both extremes usually involve "don't go outside" warnings at least once.
  • There are large renowned universities like U of T. There is a massive amount of students in Toronto.
  • Everyone is generally polite and even though everyone tends to be busy-busy and in their own world (if you make eye contact too long or smile you WILL be looked at like you're the threat), people holding doors open and giving you back things you dropped is the norm; however, it's kind of hit or miss. You may get a really nice Canadian, a gangbanger who wants to swear at you, or a crazy man who wants to take his pants off. There's not really a middle-ground.
  • While everyone is different and obviously has their own opinions, good or stupid, there's a general "do whatever you want" feel in Toronto, leading to more open diversity of culture, lifestyle and sexuality.
  • It is legal for women to be topless in public.
  • Nightlife is huge: there are bars for every crowd that could possibly want a bar, from shady dive bars to an Elvis themed bar to the most hipster of hipster and a lot that have burlesque. There are a ton of nightclubs, from the extremely upscale to the gayest of gay to the gothiest of industrial fetish BDSM sex rooms. There's a whole section of Queen Street where the tourism flags involve dominatrixes, leashes and bar stools.
  • WELCOME TO TORONTO

Areas

  • Toronto is spoken about in terms of "West" and "East".
  • Yonge-Dundas Square is like a mini Times Square, and is home to the Eaton Centre, a giant shopping mall with a subway station under it. The area around Dundas Square is full of shopping, stores and restaurants.
  • There's a river, so you can go to the Toronto Harbourfront (with a u, because it's Canada). People bike, walk and hang out near the river on Lakeshore.
  • The biggest "main" streets are Queen Street, King Street, and Yonge Street.
  • There are a bunch of suburbs where you can find the more "traditional" houses with yards.
  • There are a lot of cities just outside Toronto that people commute from a lot. They can be reached by trains called GO Trains.
  • Nature is never far away. There's a lot of forest and fields and farmlands outside of the city.
  • There's also High Park in the middle of the city which seems like the middle of nowhere.
  • Graffiti Alley, accessible from Queen Street West to Spadina (downtown), is a series of alleys where graffiti artists are allowed to go crazy and make art. Every TV show filmed in Toronto ever films a scene there. A L L OF THEM.
  • There's a Chinatown, as well as Koreatown, Little India, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and Greektown as well as neighbourhoods that are known for being hubs for Mexican, Eastern European and Jewish communities.
  • TV shows set realistically in Toronto: Flashpoint, Rookie Blue

Toronto Neighbourhoods

Toronto is known as the city of neighbourhoods for its distinct, diverse and colourful areas. This list isn't complete because there are so many!

West

(from furthest west)

The Junction

A budding neighbourhood (ever since the elimination of prohibition), full of warehouses and converted industrial sites the city is trying to clean up. It's a draw to artists and those looking for cheaper rent (and because living in a warehouse is hip). It's named so because of its proximity to the junction of railway lines.

Roncesvalles

Mostly residential, with some commercial with a growing mix of cafes, restaurants and cinemas, Roncesvalles is culturally the Polish center of Toronto. Although, like every Toronto neighbourhood, it is also very ethnically diverse, it is still Little Poland, with lots of authentic butchers and bakeries amidst the growing number of lattes and vegan desserts. But have fun pronouncing it if you're from out of town.

Liberty Village

Next to Parkdale to the south, the smaller neighbourhood tries to distinguish itself from Parkdale (and does just on account of trying to be more posh or something). It's home to art, galleries, and media and tech businesses among others, and a new farmer's market. It's a short walk from Lakeshore and the water.

Parkdale

Parkdale was, up until even recent years, a bit of a run-down, low-rent area, but has experienced growth and transformed considerably into a welcoming, artsy community of mixed low and high incomes — lots of artists, hipsters, hipster artists, and young working professionals. Becoming a new "gay village", it's also known as "Queer West Village". A colourful neighbourhood, West Queen West — quieter than its downtown counterpart — runs through it, home to a buoyant assortment of art galleries, cafes, restaurants from a wide variety of cultures, vintage shops and everything in-between, as well as trendy hotels/bars The Gladstone and The Drake, both of which are go-to places during TIFF time.

Trinity-Bellwoods

With College Street to the north and Queen West to the south next to West Queen West on Queen West … just … roll with it, Trinity-Bellwoods is an established neighbourhood in the inner-city. It's an old area, full of tall bay-and-gable homes and Gothic Revival architecture. It's home to Trinity-Bellwoods Park, a huge, well-kept area of greenery interspersed with tall Victorian iron lamp poles along the main paths. It includes a centre with indoor walking/running trails, pools, etc. There's a children's wading pool near the centre, as well as a volleyball court, tennis court, skating rink, and fields for all sorts of sports. Outdoor classes, performance art, dog-walking and activities for adults and children alike are just a few of the things going on in Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Besides that, it's gotten a reputation for being a mini-Woodstock in the summer, with "hipsters" flocking to lounge there in the summer upon blankets with picnics and drinks among other things. The park is vibrant and always busy but with plenty of room to find peace, most of the time. It's generally unwise to stay there late at night, however, as it becomes a home for the homeless and illicit activity.

The park is also home of white squirrels, the subject of urban folklore in the city.

Little Italy

Sometimes referred to as College Street West, Little Italy is known for its numerous Italian Canadian restaurants and businesses. A tourist attraction of the area is the Italian Walk of Fame. Granite and brass stars line the sidewalk with the names of noteworthy Italians. While the main strip is mostly commercial, the side streets are mostly detached or semi-detached single family homes dating to the early-1900s Edwardian period, with front porches and smaller lots. A vibrant neighbourhood, especially at night, it's close to the downtown core and popular for nightlife, drawing a youthful crowd.

High Park

High Park, the neighbourhood, is a nice, residential area — the oldest residential houses were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s and are mostly Victorian, Edwardian and Tudor-style. The houses are typically two- and three-storey, built with detached brick. Among remarkable architectural details and ornaments are leaded and stained glass windows, lush wood trims, French doors, hardwood doors, and fireplaces. It has some high-rises as well.

High Park, the park, is a 400 acre area of wilderness in smack-dab in the midst of city life — the city's largest. It's hilly, with ravines, trails, gardens, a pond, plain and oak savannah; in many areas, one can't even see or hear the bustling city so close-by. It also has a zoo, playgrounds, sporting centres and Shakespeare in the Park.

Wendigo Creek, Wendigo Pond and Wendigo Way are likely named after the wendigo, mythical cannibalistic creatures of Algonquian mythology.

Downtown Core

The Annex

The Annex is a hotbed of students, sushi, pubs, cafes, cheap pizza and — as some put it — yuppies. Most of U of T is in the Annex.

Queen West

While not as "hip" as West Queen West, this strip of Queen Street still has a lot happening on it — mostly tons and tons of retail shops — and is a distinct neighbourhood … sort of. Things get a little weirder and varied as it stretches toward Spadina (the beginning of Chinatown and near the quirky Kensington Market), with oddly named places like Tequila Bookworm and Bovine Sex Club.

CAMH (the Center for Addiction and Mental Health) is on Queen West, as well as the MuchMusic and CityTV headquarters (major Canadian TV stations). Part of Queen is the Art & Design District — the Fashion District (known to sell clothes straight from the manufacturers) is here, as well as the Garment District, where the amount of fabric stores neighbouring each other appear seemingly endless as you walk through it.

The Entertainment District

stuff

Cabbagetown

hahahaaa

Chinatown

IT'S CHINATOWN

Kensington Market

weeeeeeird

Church and Wellesley

Gaaaaay.

East

North

South

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