things about toronto

15 things you have to explain to visitors about Toronto

Toronto can be a confusing place for visitors, thanks to our strict liquor laws, a sometimes bewildering set of transit rules, and, among its denizens, a puzzling and intense affection for weekend brunch. 

With that  in mind, welcome to Toronto, dear guests. Here are a few things you should know.

We love craft beer & local wine, but the LCBO thinks it's 1927

The LCBO's opening hours are designed to catch you out, or so it seems. Only a limited number of grocery stores carry booze and The Beer Store has a definite article for a reason. Although most independent bottle shops - and even the Wine Rack - stay open until 11 p.m.

Toronto exported so much peameal bacon it earned a nickname

Hogtown used to be a pejorative term other cities levied at Toronto, mainly because of the excess amount of resources and attention the city commanded in the late 1800s. The name became a term of endearment when the William Davies Company made peameal bacon an international delicacy.

construction toronto

Construction plagues Toronto during the summer. Photo by Marcanadian.

Everything is under construction

Sometimes moving around than city feels something like taking a tour of a live-in construction site. No-one remembers the last time the streetcar and bus lines were completely free of diversions.

The CN Tower is the best compass

Travel writer Bill Bryson was talking about the Sydney Harbour Bridge when he wrote: "you can see it from every corner of the city, creeping into frame from the oddest angles, like an uncle who wants to get into every snapshot," but the observation is also be true of Toronto's most famous landmark.

It's pronounced "Young"

But everyone has their own way of pronouncing Roncesvalles. Stick with Roncey to sound like a local.

We stole poutine from Quebec and we're not sorry

Fries, gravy and melty cheese curds are ours now, too. We do it quite well.

Cars won't stop at pedestrian crossings unless you hit the button

Some signs tell you to point, but it's really not necessary if everyone has already stopped.

No-one is safe from the dreaded short turn

The TTC says short turns - the practice of kicking everyone off the bus, streetcar or subway train so the driver can turn around - are a necessary evil, a way of benefiting many by inconveniencing a few, but that's scant consolation.

Main Street station isn't downtown and Royal York isn't near the hotel

Painful and sometimes costly mistakes to make.

ttc streetcar toronto

Don't get caught without proof of payment (POP). Photo by Ravi Pardesi.

Make sure you grab a transfer

You can board TTC streetcars from any door, but if you don't have a metropass - or tap your Presto card - make sure you pay and take a transfer to avoid a hefty fine.

Nudity is strictly limited to the Hanlan's Point Beach

Those clothes had better be back on by the time you step off the sand. City council spent several months in the early 2000s wringing its collective hands over the consequences of allowing too much skin at Hanlan's Point. 

But the city has other, excellent places to catch a tan

The Beaches neighbourhood has spectacular sand that would be worthy of a city with a more fortunate ocean-side position. And let's not forget the city's other beaches too.

Raccoons rule the city after dark

This city is home to anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 raccoons, depending on the source. After dark, Toronto becomes Raccoon City, a giant playground for dexterous critters to forage, fight, and err... procreate.

toronto maple leafs

Big games are often screened for free right outside the ACC. Photo by Lee Chu.

No, you can't afford to see the Toronto Maple Leafs

Things have been disappointing around Maple Leaf Gardens and the Air Canada Centre the last 50 years or so anyway. Blue Jays tickets, however, are much cheaper and they've won a championship in the last 30 years.

We're sensitive - tell us we're the best

No world class city spends more time worrying about what other people think as much as Toronto. Even though we seem to have made it, we're self-conscious about our status. Please, be nice to us.

Lead photo by

Marcanadian


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