Port of Toronto
Review and History

The Port of Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and the capital of the Province of Ontario. It's Canada's commercial and financial center and one of its most important ports. Located on the northern shores of Lake Ontario just 94 kilometers northwest of Buffalo, New York, it has access to the Atlantic Ocean and major US trading centers by the St. Lawrence Seaway (it's over 860 kilometers to Quebec). In 2006, the city was home to over 2.5 million people, and more than 5.1 million people called the Toronto metropolitan area home.

Port History

Before Europeans founded the Port of Toronto, the area was inhabited by the Seneca and Mississauga indigenous peoples. It became a trading post in the 17th Century at the crossroads of ancient routes going to the Mississippi River to the west and Lake Simcoe to the north. These land and water routes were well-used by early fur traders, explorers, and missionaries.

By the middle of the 1700s, "Toronto" referred to three forts built by the French to defend their trade routes. Although the forts were destroyed around 1759, the settlement continued to operate as a trading post. Canada fell under British rule at the end of its Seven Years' War with France, and the area was a refuge for loyalists fleeing the American Revolution in the latter part of the Century.

Quebec's governor, Sir Guy Carleton, purchased the site for the Port of Toronto from three tribal Chiefs in 1787, trading axes and cloth for 100 thousand hectares of land. The modern location for the Port of Toronto was selected by Upper Canada's lieutenant governor, Colonel John Graves Simcoe, in 1793. Selected for its excellent harbor, it was also an important point for trade, military defense, and access to the rich natural resources of the wilderness. By 1795, Ontario's capital contained only 12 cottages and a small fortification at the border of the wilderness.

The United States declared war on Britain while it was still fighting the French in Europe, and the Port of Toronto was relatively defenseless. US forces overran the village and held it for 11 days in 1813. Today, the Royal Standard they captured is held in the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Great Britain retook the village, but it suffered financial distress after the Napoleonic Wars. English citizens began to migrate to the New World, and the Port of Toronto grew from 720 people in 1816 to around nine thousand people in 1834. That year, the city regained its original name of Toronto and was incorporated.

When the railroad arrived in the 1850s, the Port of Toronto began a period of development. A trade treaty with the US in 1854 further enhanced the area's prosperity. In the latter half of the 1800s, the Port of Toronto grew by leaps and bounds as timber was harvested and land was converted to farms. In 1861, the population had grown to 45 thousand. Over two hundred thousand people lived there in 1901, and by 1921, the city was home to more than a half million people.

Many of the Port of Toronto's historic buildings were built in the years between the city's incorporation and Canada's confederation in 1867. City size remained fairly stable during the 1800s, but annexations of nearby towns quadrupled its size by 1920.

The 1930s Great Depression brought difficult economic problems to the Port of Toronto. Public debt was high, and public works had to be postponed. Post World War II population growth added more stress to municipal services. In 1954, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto established a 25-member council and a federation of 13 municipalities that is unique in North America. This facilitated municipal financing and helped establish a common tax rate and a more stable source of revenues. The new form of local government allowed inter-city coordination and communication that eventually resolved many of the problems with sewer and water, transportation, education, and park systems.

The Corporation of Metropolitan Toronto was reorganized in 1967 by reducing the number of municipalities from 13 to six while increasing the number of members from 25 to 33. Increased again in 1975 and 1980, the council undertook additional issues like urban development and housing for the elderly. In 1998, Ontario's legislature approved combining the six municipalities into a single city.

Today, the Port of Toronto is Canada's economic capital and one of the world's top financial centers. Its strongest economic sectors include finance, telecommunications, aerospace, business services, publishing and entertainment media, software, education, sports, medical research, and tourism.

The modern Port of Toronto is an international, cosmopolitan city and a magnet for immigrants to Canada. Almost half of the city's residents were not born in Canada. The city enjoys a low crime rate, a high standard of living, and environmental health. It has been consistently rated as one of the most livable cities in the world.

Review and History    Port Commerce    Cruising and Travel    Satellite Map    Contact Information