4 Neat Facts about Toronto
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Being that Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, with the largest and most diverse population (nearly 5.6 million residents speaking roughly 130 different languages and dialects), it’s only natural that the place, which locals affectionately refer to as “Hogtown,” has developed quite the storied legacy. Here are four fun factoids that may surprise even lifelong residents, and might have out-of-towners buying up real estate in Toronto just to get a taste of its unique homegrown history.
It’s the Hollywood of the North
New York City. Los Angeles. Detroit. Providence. Chicago. Boston. What do all these American cities have in common? Three things: 1. They’re all popular settings in movies and TV shows. 2. They’re all expensive to film in. 3. They’ve all been played by Toronto.
If Toronto was an actor, he would be “that guy.” You know, the one who seems to pop up in just about everything you’ve ever seen. Or at least one out of every four things you’ve seen. That’s because 25% of all North American movies are filmed there.
Without even knowing it, you’ve seen the city show up in everything from holiday classics like A Christmas Story and superhero blockbusters like The Incredible Hulk to teen comedies like Mean Girls and Oscar-winning masterpieces like The Shape of Water.
Its islands weren’t always islands
As the site of numerous scenic beaches, a popular amusement park, and the largest car-free community on the continent, the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario are one of the area’s biggest claims to fame and are together a huge tourist attraction. But they weren’t always that. In fact, they didn’t even exist until a couple hundred years ago.
Once a part of the Canada mainland, the Toronto Islands were first formed in 1858 when a cataclysmic storm carved an astounding 500-foot-wide channel across the Menacing peninsula (as it was known to the natives). Two hotels were destroyed in the process, but when the rain stopped falling and the wind grew calm, Toronto was left with its own set of picturesque islands.
Before stabilizing, the islands broke apart several more times over the years, giving us the 15 unique lake-locked landmasses we know today. Talk about finding the silver lining of a storm cloud.
It’s home to several world records
If you’ve ever met a Maple Leafs fan, you’ll know that Toronto natives are not shy about showing off their accomplishments (13 Stanley Cup wins and counting, woo!). Sports isn’t the only thing the locals are good at, though. Some of the city’s most celebrated deeds are a bit… weirder.
For instance, did you know that in 2014 alone, Toronto was the site of three of the most unique world record-setting events you could imagine: 1. Lia Grimanis pulled a 14,000-pound truck a distance of five meters by hand, while wearing 3-inch high heels. 2. No less than 817 junk food junkies unwrapped just as many chocolate Kinder eggs all at the same time. 3. Stephanie Hetherington finished a half-marathon run in an incredible one hour, 17 minutes, and 13 seconds, all while dressed like comic superhero The Flash.
Not all of Toronto’s boasts are quite so quirky, though. Some are just plain impressive, like the 1,815-foot-high CN Tower, which has been named one of the modern-day Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Then there’s the PATH, the Guinnesses-recognized largest pedestrian walkway in North America, which connects 50 office buildings, 20 parking lots, 5 subway stations, and 1200 shops and restaurants.
It hides a secret subway station
No, it’s not the classified headquarters of a globe-trotting spy agency (or is it?). Nor is the shadowy subterranean dwelling of a hideous race of mutant mole-men (at least I hope not). But that doesn’t make the secret underground cavern beneath Toronto any less fascinating.
Known by the nickname “the Lower Queen,” a forgotten stretch of train tracks lurks just feet below the bright lights and modern amenities of Queen Station. The hollowed-out trench comes complete with passenger platforms and an elevator shaft to nowhere.
Although built in the 1940s, the Lower Queen never formally opened. After numerous delays, the station somehow managed to avoid official abandonment until the 1970s. It remains there to this day, a hidden treasure for urban explorers and historians of the obscure.