Toronto 184 birthday

Toronto is actually a lot older than 184

On this day, March 6, in 1834, the town of York was officially incorporated as the City of Toronto.

That would make our city, as it is known today, 184 years old. But this land, this space, these rivers and lakes – they didn't just pop into existence when the city was incorporated. 

Toronto has been around for a very, very long time, under various names and with various inhabitants, though the history of this land prior to its European settlement doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. 

Modern day Toronto is situated upon traditional territories, including those of the Wendat, Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations, and the Métis Nation. 

The very name of this city (borrowed from a narrow stretch of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching) is an Anglicization of the Mohawk word tkaronto, which is used to describe an area where trees grow in shallow water.

Reflecting this, many people have been wishing both Toronto and Tkaronto a happy birthday today – so many that latter word started trending locally on Twitter.

This land has been a site of human activity for at least 15,000 years, according to U of T.

A lot has happened in the area since then, including the Toronto Purchase of 1787 – when Loyalist settlers bought 250,880 acres of land from the Mississaugas for just 10 shillings (about $60 today).

If you care to look, Toronto's deep history is actually visible across the city, from the winding route of Davenport Rd. (once an offshoot of the Portage Trail) to the name Spadina, which derives from the Ojibwa word ishpadinaa, meaning high place or ridge.

On this municipal anniversary, it's worth pausing to consider Tkaronto and the peoples who first called this place home. 

Lead photo by

Julian Menezes


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

This was the most expensive home sold in Toronto last year

Man recognizes himself in old photo of Children's Village at Ontario Place

The top 10 options for moving boxes in Toronto

Toronto LifeLabs location comes under fire for xenophobic sign

Humber Bay Park in Toronto spans two kilometres of the city's shoreline

Buy nothing groups in Toronto are bringing neighbours together during the pandemic

The history of the Humber Heights-Westmount neighbourhood in Toronto

The Guinness World Records museum in Niagara has closed and is auctioning off everything