Toronto, striated by rivers, tributaries and plunging ravines, is Canada’s largest city and financial hub. Dramatic vistas provided by the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario coupled with the city’s startling terrain, provide a constant source of inspiration to Toronto’s residents.

Passionate about performing arts, the city hosts no fewer than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, two symphony orchestras and a host of theatres. The city also boasts a thriving local and foreign film industry and Toronto’s international film festival is esteemed the world-over.

Pockets of pedestrian areas throughout Toronto make it an accessible and approachable city. The Distillery District is perhaps its most famous; numerous, restaurants, and shops are ensconced within heritage Victorian-era buildings-the largest collection in North America.

Not only is it a pleasant city to explore ‘a pied’, Toronto is one of the few North American cities where you could feasibly opt out of owning a car altogether. The city boasts the third-largest mass transit system in North America. In a bid to pare down its carbon footprint – and to clear the air – Toronto recently introduced hybrid-electrics buses, underscoring its reputation as a progressive city.

Business centric, boldly creative, and big on partying, Toronto is also home to one of North America’s biggest street parties, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival, and one the world’s biggest LGBT pride festivals.

Toronto’s work hard, play hard ethic is buoyed by a backdrop that is at once stunning and serene, making Toronto one of the easiest cities in which to nail down that elusive work-life balance.

What is special or unique about your city?

Fortune Magazine described Toronto as "the best international city for work and family,” and according to Newsweek : 'Its streets are safe, its downtown core is lively and lived in, and its shopping, theater, sports and art facilities are unrivalled in North America."

Toronto and its surrounding areas are collectively called the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The city's population numbers are more than 5 million, and its residents come from countries all over the world and from all ethnic backgrounds. On any given day, over 100 different languages can be heard on the streets.

Toronto is also home to:

  • CN Tower – The tallest free-standing structure in the world. Near the top of this tower sits a restaurant that revolves 360 degrees, allowing patrons to enjoy dinner with an unrivalled view of the city.

  • Rogers Centre – Home of baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays.

  • Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – One of the best museums in North America. It displays over 6 million objects in over 40 galleries.

  • Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) – Toronto’s largest and most well-known gallery is also one of North America’s Top 10 Art Museums.

  • Underground City – An 11km (7mile) subterranean walkway lined with eateries, shops, banks, medical offices and theaters.

  • The Air Canada Centre – Toronto's major sports and entertainment facility is home to basketball's Toronto Raptors and hockey's Toronto Maple Leafs. It plays host to many large concerts and events.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?

Toronto is huge. It's exciting. There are so many people with different lives whose stories need to be heard. There are so many activities and events that you'll probably never get a chance to experience them all. There is such diversity in social status, wealth, health, education and religion.

Are these impressions likely to change?

Even lifelong residents of Toronto remain impressed by this city.

What is the local language?

The primary language in Toronto is English. Canada, however, has two official languages: English and French.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?

Street signs in Toronto are mostly in English. However, weekly and daily newspapers are published in a variety of languages, and OMNI (local television station/channels) offer foreign language programs, news broadcasts and movies that cater to a broad range of ethnic groups. In addition, the Government of Canada and the Ontario Government provide free information in English, French and may also provide information in your own language.

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?

The best way to avoid offending residents of Toronto is to abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

This is the provincial law that provides everyone with equal rights and opportunities in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services.

Some other tips to avoid offending residents of Toronto are:

  • Canadians usually hope that visitors will recognize how different their country is from the United States.

  • Canadians quickly move to a first-name basis, although you should wait until you have been invited to do so.

  • The order for Canadian names is first name, middle name and last name.

  • A firm handshake makes a very good first impression.

  • Keep a distance of several feet when talking to another person.

  • Do not show emotion in public.

  • It is okay to use the "O.K." sign and the "thumbs up" sign, but the "V" sign with the palm inward and pointing are considered offensive.

  • Holding doors open for the person behind you is appreciated and often expected.

  • Being punctual should be a priority especially for business-related meetings. However, being 15 minutes late for an evening social engagement is acceptable.

  • Some professions allow for casual dress, but if you are not sure then dress on the formal side.

  • Canadians in general do not wear any type of scent in a business setting. Perfume, aftershave and heavily scented personal care products such as shampoo and hairspray should be avoided.

  • It is considered rude to speak in a foreign language in the presence of others who do not understand what is being said.

  • If you see someone you know at a distance, a wave is an appropriate acknowledgement.

  • People using the ATM machines expect the next person waiting in line to stand a few feet behind them.

  • Smoking is not permitted in any enclosed work or public place or on any patio that is covered.

  • With the exception of the streets, you will find that smoking is restricted in most public places. In private homes, you should always ask permission from your host to smoke.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?

Most of Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Canada measures temperature using the Celsius thermometer expressed as degrees Celsius (C). The best way to cope with Canada’s changing weather is to be prepared. Read or listen to weather reports in newspapers or on the radio and television. If you have cable television, you may have a channel that broadcasts weather information 24 hours a day.

Spring (March 21 to June 20) is mild and sunny. The air is refreshing as the city awakes from its long winter slumber. The snow gently melts away beneath a fine drizzle of rain.

Summer (June 21 to September 20) is wonderfully warm and can be swelteringly hot during heat waves. Temperatures hover in the mid to high 20sC (68F) during the day and at night. Volleyball players and sun seekers flock to the beaches, musicians of every style cluster along the lake's shoreline, and restaurant patios entice you with thirst-quenching beverages.

Autumn (September 21 to December 20) is when green leaves on trees turn into luscious reds, oranges yellows and browns before falling to the ground. The cool, crisp air combined with the colors is what makes fall breathtakingly beautiful.

Winter (December 21 to March 20) in Toronto is cold. Temperatures usually remain below freezing.

The wind chill temperature tells you how cold the air feels when it is windy. This is the perfect time to take a stroll down the city streets with a hot beverage (try a cup of hot Macintosh apple cider). Make sure you try to enjoy some of the outdoor activities such as skating, skiing and snowboarding.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?

Residents of Toronto are very concerned with environmental issues. Simple things you can do to help include disposing of garbage properly into recycling bins, trash cans and designated waste disposal sites. Also, walk, cycle or use public transportation whenever possible.