Happy birthday, Toronto! That’s right, the city we know and love turns 190 today, March 6th. While Toronto is now a thriving city with millions of people, it had to all begin somewhere. Let’s look back at Toronto’s history in celebration of its 190th anniversary.

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The start of Toronto

On March 6th, 1834, Toronto was officially incorporated as a city. Royal assent was given to “An act to extend the limits of the town of York, to erect the said town into a city and to incorporate it under the name of the City of Toronto.”

Toronto was the first incorporated city in Ontario.

The city’s name, Toronto, derived from an Iroquoian term meaning “where there are trees in water,” referring to fishing weirs at the narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.

Back then, Toronto had a population of around 9,000 people, quite a change from its current population of around three million!

The earliest known city limits began at Bathurst Street on the west side, Parliament Street on the east, a line 400 yards north of Lot Street (now known as Queen Street) in the north and the lake on the south.

toronto public library invitation
Image via Toronto Public Library

The city’s first major event was fifty years to the day of Toronto’s incorporation as a city, March 6th, 1884, and was for the official opening of Toronto Public Library at the corners of Church and Adelaide.

Invitations were sent to “the foremost citizens in all walks of life.” Crowds filled the library’s many different rooms.

Earliest known photos

While we’re looking back at the early days of Toronto, why not take a peek at the city’s earliest photos? According to the City of Toronto Archives, these photos of Toronto are some of the earliest ever recorded.

trinity college
Image via City of Toronto Archives

This photo is of Trinity College on Queen Street West in 1856 or 1857, an area many people know today as Trinity Bellwoods!

king street east
Image via City of Toronto Archives

If you can’t recognize this area, we’ll help you out. This photograph shows King Street East looking west and was taken around 1856 or 1857.

second united presbyterian church
Image via City of Toronto Archives

This early photo is also from around 1856 or 1857 and shows the Second United Presbyterian Church under construction.

parliament buildings toronto
Image via City of Toronto Archives

These former Parliament buildings on Front Street West were demolished but the memory of them is preserved in these photos from around 1856.

Hanlan’s Point Stadium

hanlan's point stadium
Image via City of Toronto Archives

Another part of Toronto’s early history is something you may have not heard of – Hanlan’s Point Stadium. Yes, located on one of Toronto’s islands was a thriving baseball stadium.

Hanlan’s Point Stadium was built in 1897 for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team and according to the City of Toronto Archives, in 1914 Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run into the water of Lake Ontario from the stadium!

CN Tower

cn tower
Image via CN Tower

The CN Tower is likely the most recognizable landmark in Toronto but it wasn’t a part of the city until the 1970s.

According to the CN Tower’s website, construction crews began their work on the CN Tower on February 6th, 1973, and started to remove over 56 metric tonnes of earth and shale for the foundation.

Once the foundation was ready, work began on the CN Tower’s 1,100-foot concrete shaft.

By February 1974, the tower was already the tallest structure in Canada. In August 1974, work began on the seven-storey sphere that would eventually house the observation decks and the revolving 360 Restaurant.

The tower was officially finished on April 2nd, 1975, opening to the public on June 26, 1976.

Toronto’s 190th anniversary

Now that you know a little more about where it all began, let’s celebrate!

Celebrate Toronto is putting on festivities in honour of Toronto’s 190th anniversary including a free drone show at Casa Loma on Toronto’s birthday, March 6th, and a free fireworks show at Nathan Phillips Square on March 9th.

Here’s to 190 years, Toronto!