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The top 20 ways to meet new people in Toronto

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / June 24, 2014

meet people torontoWant to meet new people in Toronto? It's often a strange roll of the dice. As we flow around Toronto, from home to work to school, there's no predicting how the fates will carelessly mush us, their helpless playthings, together over the course of a day. Think about the strangest way you ever met a friend or an old flame: Jury duty? A CPR class? A single shy glance on the TTC? (Ah, shy glances on the TTC.)

Of course, by and large, we meet the people in our lives through pretty pedestrian channels: Classes, work, mutual friends. But sometimes, your social life needs a little bit of a jump-start. Let's say you've just moved to town, or, you're feeling stifled by your existing social group, and you lack a school/job/pre-established friends that can do all that heavy lifting for you.

Basically, there's a hole in your weekend schedule (and, possibly, in your soul) that needs filling, and it's not going to happen while you're sitting around, waiting for someone to invite you to lunch.

Fortunately, Toronto is a huge city, with lots of rec leagues to join, skills to learn, cultural events to check out, and people to meet. Start practicing your handshake now.

Here are my picks for the top 20 ways to meet new people in Toronto.

Take a fun class
Nothing like sparks a conversation like a bemused look that says "are we really learning to do parkour / throw a battle-axe / ride a unicycle right now?" Points for skills that involve teamwork. For a whole list of ideas, check out our summer-specific and year-round lists of new wacky skills you can learn.

Go to a networking event
If it's business contacts you're looking for, there are networking events happening every single day in Toronto (check out Eventbrite for proof), with all kinds of industries represented - mostly in the business and tech fields, though Six Degrees of Social Innovation at CSI Toronto is a popular draw for those in the social change sector. For lower-impact networking events, check out Here's My Card: Mixers For Awesome People, which features liberal amounts of colouring and decorating things with stickers, or Beerworking, which features beer. Lots of beer.

meet people torontoWork up a sweat
Some fitness classes are better for meeting folks than others - if you're busy huffing and puffing while someone barks orders at you, it might not leave a lot of room for chitchat. Martial arts classes are good, however, because you will inevitably have to divvy up into pairs and punch one another. Also worth a shot: Yoga, boxing, spinning classes, and specialty fitness classes.

Practice a language
This is a good one for shy types, because you are literally forced to speak to other people. Every Wednesday, Torontonians of all native tongues get together for the TorontoBabel meetup at the Rivoli to shoot the breeze (and maybe some pool). On any given night, over a dozen languages are represented, from French to Portugese to Farsi to Mandarin, with all skill levels welcome.

Stake out your local karaoke night
Weekly karaoke nights in Toronto tend to draw a lot of regulars, making for a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The performative nature of karaoke makes everyone in the room a little more aware of one another, which helps bust down that everyone-keeps-to-themselves thing people like to bag on Torontonians for. Say hi to some new folks, wow the crowd with your favourite number. Eventually, someone is gonna need a duet partner for "Islands In The Stream".

Join a choir
Time to get that singing voice out of the shower. For indie snobs worried about having to sing Gershwin medleys: Choir!Choir!Choir!'s Soundcloud looks like the best mix CD ever created by man ("I'm On Fire" next to "Heart Shaped Box" next to "September Gurls"). They meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays - evidently, they got so popular they had to create two separate groups. Meanwhile, Singing Out! is currently seeking LGBT folks (and allies) to help them belt out everything from show tunes to pop songs to challenging contemporary and classical choral works. (There will be drag.)

Go to a drink tasting event
Want to meet people with taste as excellent as yours? Toronto's top whiskey bars often hold tasting events, wine classes are common - and don't even get us started on beer events. There are also tons of women-specific and woman-friendly drinking events - notably, the Society Of Beer Drinking Ladies - if that's an atmosphere you crave.

Best Summer Sports Leagues in Toronto TUC UltimateJoin a sports league
If you're the team-sports type, there's absolutely no shortage of relaxed rec leagues in the city. In the warmer months, there's a whole gamut of summer sports leagues - I can personally attest to the people-meeting joys of Toronto Kickball. There's also roller derby, and a ton of soccer leagues, and these wacky sports. (Unicycle hockey, anyone?) Toronto's YMCA locations also play host to scheduled pickup games.

Get some Internet friends
I realize I'm supposed to be getting you away from the computer and into the world, but the Internet is just as good a place to meet folks as any (the key here is to transition those friendships successfully into meatspace). Sometimes, those communities make it easy: The r/Toronto subreddit hosts monthly meetups for frequent posters, and a Toronto-based startup called Spot has created an app that makes it easy for university students to find folks on campus for study groups or pickup games. (On a personal note, can someone organize a blogTO commenters' meetup? I will attend in a fedora and trenchcoat.)

Go gaming
Nobody is ever allowed to call geeks antisocial ever again. Gamers, you've got options: hang out at A&C World, join Toronto Area Gamers for board and tabletop games, check out the Bit Bazaar fair or Games With Friends gaming events at the Bento Miso co-working space, or join Toronto Gaymers to meet fellow queer gaming enthusiasts.

Get crafty
We tend to think of crafting as more of a solitary exercise, but when you're learning a new skill, you and your fellow newly-minted makers can bond over how difficult it is to thread a damn sewing machine - and boom, instant friendship. DIY spaces all over town host courses that range from knitting to metalwork, and The Workroom holds a weekly stitch 'n' bitch night once a month where crafters can bring a project, show off something they made, or just stop by.

CanzineBuy some comics and zines
Toronto has a vibrant indie publishing scene, and even if you can't draw, write, screenprint, or hand-bind books, you can still get in on the fun. Zine fairs like Canzine and Zine Dream can be a great place to meet new folks - odds are, someone will be exhibiting a zine or indie comic about your hometown/your favourite band/a shared wrenching life experience/pizza. If you've ever held one-tenth of a shred of interest in comics, block off the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) on your calendar - in addition to the tons of tables at the Reference Library, there's usually a slew of mixers and parties happening the same weekend. And if you're the fashion-loving type, WORN Fashion Journal's issue launch parties are always a great time.

Go to a costume party
Granted, you'll see more of these around Halloween than during the rest of the year. But costumes make for a fantastic instant icebreaker - I mean, you already know that person shares your affinity for Andy Warhol / David Bowie / Hal Johnson or Joanne McLeod, because they're freaking dressed up like them. Of particular note: Church St.'s legendary Halloween block party.

Go to a trivia night
You were king of the Reach For The Top team in high school, and by God, your knowledge of what that plastic thing on the end of a shoelace is called will bring you glory once again. Toronto has a number of popular recurring trivia nights: Faves include Simpsons Trivia, Trivia Nights at the Drake Hotel, and Brass Facts.

Become a volunteer
While volunteerism sees a big spike around the holidays, there are tons of organizations in need of your help year-round. Check out Volunteer Toronto for tons of short-term (like one-day events) or recurring opportunities. Some of the city's biggest volunteer draws include recurring cultural events like TIFF, Hot Docs, World MasterCard Fashion Week and NXNE.

Hire a matchmaker
If a romantic connection is what you're after, and you're among the literally zillions of people who have decided that online dating is lame, it might be time to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for you. Friend Of A Friend, a matchmaking enterprise launched by Toronto writer Sofi Papamarko, has set up over a dozen happy couples since its inception a year ago. (And look at it this way - even you don't find true love, you've at least met more people in the city, right?)

Slow dance like it's 1999
As nerve-wracking as middle-school slow dances were, there was something beautifully direct about them: You walked up to someone, asked them dance, and then the two of you spent the next three minutes rotating slowly on the spot. Easy. The Queer Slowdance, hosted by Chat Perdu Productions, aims to bring back that sweet-if-awkward magic in a low-pressure, queer-positive environment (no one is obligated to dance with anyone else). You can also volunteer to be a designated dancer and try to gently pry those wallflowers from the sidelines. Want more ideas? Balfolk and Contra dancing are good options too.

meet people torontoGet a local
Go for a walk. Find that weird dive bar near your house. You know, the one that's one smallish room, with the same 2.5 people always tending bar, and the flyers for cheap live shows, or dance nights, or projector-screen video game tournaments plastered an inch deep on the door. (Cafes also work.) Pop by a couple times a week (the drinks are cheap, so it ain't an expensive investment), trade names with the barkeeps, slide your way into a conversation. Before you know it, you'll be like Norm from Cheers up in there. Really, just get to know your neighbourhood. All it takes is a little patience.

Team up with a furry friend
I'm a cat person, and we are known to hate pretty much everyone. Those who prefer walks and playing fetch to long periods of staring can head down to Toronto's dog parks and let your four-legged friend do the ice-breaking for you. Another option: Check out Sniffr, an app that connects dog owners (perfect for setting up play dates), or head on down to Woofstock.

Go to an all-ages show
This one's for the kids whose love of music is as strong as their drivers' license is incriminating. No, you can't get into most of the rock bars in town, at least not without some subterfuge (disclaimer: we are not advocating stooping to subterfuge). But AA shows happen constantly in Toronto, whether at blockbuster venues like the Danforth Music Hall and Sound Academy or DIY spaces like Double Double Land and 918 Bathurst - and unlike the rest of us, you're not so crusty and jaded that you can't say hi to the kid next to you wearing your favourite band's T-shirt. Check out our comprehensive list of ways to find all-ages shows in Toronto.

Do you have any more ideas? Leave them in the comments below.

Discussion

39 Comments

Bay St. Guy / June 24, 2014 at 03:51 pm
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Whoa! Where can I meet the lovely lady in the top pic. I'll sign up for whatever.
ok / June 24, 2014 at 04:07 pm
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Go to a bar, pick up.

Tried and true method.

But except now the trick is to try and get the broad to pick her head out of her phone.
ok / June 24, 2014 at 05:05 pm
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Im spoken for.

I was providing the most time tested method on how to meet someone. Its worked for generations.

Now all of a sudden its just stopped working and people need a list of ways to meet people ??
joe shmoe / June 24, 2014 at 05:14 pm
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The YELLOW sidebar is hurting me eyes.
CJR / June 24, 2014 at 05:24 pm
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The people in the top photo are both so attractive. How do I become friends with them? I need more attractive friends.
They are... replying to a comment from CJR / June 24, 2014 at 05:32 pm
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Hired models.
Kris it I am / June 24, 2014 at 06:48 pm
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join any groups on meetup...as simple.as that .....
Juju replying to a comment from Ryan / June 24, 2014 at 07:31 pm
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Ryan ... U read the post though ... Lolol
Luigi / June 24, 2014 at 07:56 pm
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A friend of mine spoke to me about a new website called www.beasybee.com. It will be launched soon... Fun activities, outings and more. Check this!
giving you the stink eye replying to a comment from yumm / June 24, 2014 at 08:04 pm
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'Broad"? "Axe wound"? Who let you guys in here? And also, what era are you from?
d / June 24, 2014 at 09:16 pm
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And what about people in their 50s? Where do they go, other than the bar scene? :/
Pat / June 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm
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You can't do this like before in Toronto. Time is wasted stuck in constant traffic, far distances (incl. sprawl) and lack of transit and road options. Most of all, too many people are hunched-back with faces glued to their phone, laptop or electronic leash. It doesn't matter what the person feels inside, but this is a signal that they're not looking or aren't interested. This isn't going to cut it.
Leah / June 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm
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What about Supper clubs? The depanneur has tons of awesome drop in and sign up dinners per week with different chefs http://thedepanneur.ca/ or Urban Acorn does a monthly vegan supper club http://ow.ly/yq0NF
EDGE replying to a comment from Leah / June 25, 2014 at 12:28 am
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Absolutely correct. Some really interesting people attend The Depanneur's events. But the simplest way to meet new people (at least in Toronto) is just to start speaking to them: at a bus stop, in line at a movie theatre, wherever. Never mind their age (unless of course it's a kid) or whether they meet some criterion of attractiveness to you. Just be nice, do something nice, say something friendly, or funny, and people will tend to respond positively to your effort. Two things, however: if you don't sense your approach is welcome, don't go all hostile on them (or me). And don't stand too close to them when you can avoid it. I meet new people all the time. Some go on to be good friends, sometimes it's just a nodding acquaintance when you pass each other on the street. But, dammit, somebody has to take the initiative or nobody would know anybody.
erika / June 25, 2014 at 12:40 am
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Simpson's Trivia night at Cadillac Lounge
DKF replying to a comment from Ol' School / June 25, 2014 at 12:51 am
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Thanks for confirming the suspicion, Ol' School, that when people like you bitch and moan about "hipsters" you are covertly bitching and moaning about sexual orientation in code, which makes you a jackass.
jiggles / June 25, 2014 at 03:23 am
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Use this site and find various types of meetup events
http://www.meetup.com/
jill / June 25, 2014 at 07:44 am
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Lots of free/pwyc walking tours in the city where people meet each other, chat learn while walking. ROMwalks, Lost Rivers, Jane's Walks (which are starting to run a few walks outside the festival weekend), Heritage Toronto (pwyc), and the Toronto Field Naturalists, which run all year.
There are also a few nearly free walks with LEAF ($5) and the High Park organization. All are very popular with people who are on the shyer side.
Holden / June 25, 2014 at 08:52 am
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What a great list! Loved the trench coat comment :-)
a.p. replying to a comment from d / June 25, 2014 at 08:53 am
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meet up to what your interests are, i is flexable and meet all ages to what you are interested in.
sonya / June 25, 2014 at 09:46 am
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Whatever happened to MeetMarket Adventures?!
still? / June 25, 2014 at 09:57 am
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Pretty sure that Limelight has singles nights
The End / June 25, 2014 at 10:41 am
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There is simply only one option needed and will end this conversation for good.

David Bronstein, The Prince of Love.

He could get even the biggest of ditch pigs a date.

"Now pick up your phone and call.."
bobbyc replying to a comment from giving you the stink eye / June 25, 2014 at 11:16 am
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ha. My thought exactly.
Larissa / June 25, 2014 at 11:20 pm
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Very true about martial arts :)!
Larissa / June 25, 2014 at 11:20 pm
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http://www.realisticselfdefense.com/
Julia / July 9, 2014 at 07:16 pm
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You can check on http://www.beasybee.com.
Paula / August 28, 2014 at 05:02 pm
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I recommend joining meetup groups like this one: http://www.meetup.com/funlovinfriends/
Vineta replying to a comment from Bay St. Guy / September 1, 2014 at 04:13 pm
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I meet a loot of new people on heatfeel.com
Vineta / September 1, 2014 at 04:14 pm
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I meet a loot of new people on https://www.heatfeel.com/

Graeme / September 8, 2014 at 01:32 am
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We'll be starting up our We Should Know Each Other event again at #Hashtag Gallery this fall. It's all about coming and meeting new people for a good conversation (or 7). We'll post details/dates etc. on our site.
SR / September 8, 2014 at 01:58 am
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When I first moved to Toronto, I thought people were snobbish and cliquey, but in time I've realized that's not so- there's a cloud of self-conscious insecurity over the city. People are so damn awkward! Not rude, just insecure and uncomfortable. It's a weird mix of jumping on trend bandwagons to fit in or be cool yet at the same time seeming embarrassed a lot; especially about things the rest of the country/world doesn't care about at all (ie) the mayor. People just need to relax, and maybe put down your phone.
chris / September 8, 2014 at 07:13 am
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The Toronto sub on reddit is full of horrible people. All they care is about the downfall of Rob ford, they don't consider anything north of College Toronto and I'm pretty sure there is a serial murderer on there. Anyways, the only way you'll meet any of them is if you go to an anti-ford rally in a crappy faux-dive bar
bar.
Buckley replying to a comment from chris / September 8, 2014 at 09:18 am
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Sounds like BlogTO.
Victor Carvalho / September 8, 2014 at 01:34 pm
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Portugese or Portuguese?

Cheers from Portugal!
Mandi / September 8, 2014 at 08:53 pm
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Swing dancing!
Tom / September 8, 2014 at 11:46 pm
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Your list completely misses probably the best way to meet people in Toronto. The Toronto Outdoor Club is a FREE member-run outdoor, sports and social club. Almost all the events are completely FREE, there is a much larger variety of events than other groups, and there is a good diversity of ages.
Kelly / September 10, 2014 at 10:15 am
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Make friends in Toronto it's very difficult. I from Montreal and it's the same. I found a website: www.beasybee.com I don't know iif it already launch but I am registered on last month. It's a very good concept. You can try the meetup too, it's very good but there are a lot of group.
Mara replying to a comment from Victor Carvalho / October 5, 2014 at 09:51 pm
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Hi Victor Carvalho. I am portuguese too.

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