The World in Toronto
Like their 65,000 Latin American counterparts who have also settled in Toronto, the Argentine community has brought a welcome flavour and colour to the city’s diverse landscape.
Indeed, Argentina’s full-bodied wines, alluring dance and savoury cuisine are much sought-after among expatriates and other residents alike. The community is also strongly linked to other Spanish-speaking cultural organizations that promote the Latin language, arts and culture. One of these is the Spanish Centre, in the city centre at Bloor and Yonge Streets, where Torontonians are welcomed to explore and participate in cultural activities, Latin dance lessons, business services, social events and casual gatherings.
Wine enthusiasts are not only familiar with the extensive offerings of wine varieties—most recently, malbecs—from Argentina, but also look forward to discovering new favourites at several wine and gourmet shows held throughout the year in the city. The annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is held in November at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and features a host of wines from Argentina from the more than 1,500 wines available for sample. Argentinean wines also make an appearance at the Salut Wine + Food Festival in May.
Of course, wine goes best with delectable dishes made with fine cuts of beef, cheese and pastas. And Toronto is home to several locations offering Argentine cuisine. At Casa Mendoza, the menu is steak and seafood classics peppered with Argentine cooking, including homemade empanadas with seasoned beef, olives and chopped egg, spicy chorizo sausage with chimichuri sauce and grilled cuts of beef. For the past 20 years, the Sky Ranch restaurant has been serving authentic favourites like Argentine-style skirt steak, sweet breads and blood sausages, along with grilled salmon and spicy pasta dishes
To ensure expatriates don’t miss the tastes of home, Argentinean-born Fernando Massalin founded TIFCO – Latinamerican Foods Inc. when he immigrated to Canada from Argentina 1989. Today, it is the leading importer, manufacturer and distributor of Hispanic foods products in Canada, bringing in such labels as Sancor, Arcor, and Cruz de Malta.
Argentines have also organized with other Latin American communities to create of host of organizations, festivals and cultural programming to Torontonians. The CCIE - Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language helps to stimulate and promote mutual appreciation and awareness of the artistic contributions made by Latin Canadians. Fundarte Latinoamerica supports artistic development in the Latin American community. And at the Sí-Sí Cine Toronto Latin Film Festival, with the backing of the Consulates of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and others, internationally acclaimed films from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world take centre stage.
Tango is synonymous with Argentina, and Torontonians know it. Held in June, the Annual Toronto Tango Festival brings talented dancers over four days to the city. There are also a wealth of locations and dance studios that offer Argentine Tango classes, including Rhythm & Motion Studio and El Abrazo, where it promises to teach tango “as danced in the salons of Buenos Aires.”
Argentineans and Torontonians also enjoy a similar passion—soccer. And you can be sure to hear the cheers and honking horns when their favourite teams are playing. The two communities were all eyes when the Toronto FC soccer team played against two-time World Cup champion Argentina in an international friendly match in May in Buenos Aires before the team makes an appear at this year’s World Cup in South Africa.
The offices of the Consulate General of Argentina are also headquartered on the city’s Yonge Street.
There’s a long-standing relationship between Australia and Canada, and in one of the country’s biggest metropolises, it means many opportunities to enjoy the best of both countries.
To facilitate those relationships, the Bloor Street East office of the Australian Consulate-General and Trade Commission helps strengthen Australian interests by supporting alliances with local organizations. One such group is the Young Australian Canadian Association (YACA), which coordinates and endorses activities for the Aus-Can community in the city and throughout Canada. Through YACA, Aussies can attend wine tastings, sign up for golf tournaments and even stay in touch with Australian Native music, such as the recent release of Australian Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu.
Through Advance Toronto, Australian-Torontonians can connect with more than 20,000 members overseas, to build industry networks and relationships with global business, government and academia.
Australian corporations have already capitalized on Toronto’s diverse markets. For example, Computershare Investor Services, a leading investor service provider with more than 10,000 employees and 30,000 clients worldwide, has a branch office located in Toronto’s University Avenue.
But Australian connections to the city aren’t all about getting down to business. An appreciation for art, culture and sport is the basis for other ex-pat organizations. Tranzac (Toronto Australia New Zealand Club) has been promoting and supporting Oz culture since 1931. Its headquarters plays host to music performances and community theatre most nights of the week as well as poetry readings and other intimate events.
The Broadview Hawks, a football team that plays by Aussie rules, participates in a nine-team league called the Ontario Australia Football League (OAFL) and is a member of the Australia Football League (AFL) Canada. Several Aussie rugby players and their mates have even been influential in the city’s community theatre—they formed NAGs, an acting club performing in pantomime.
For a different taste of Australia—and one that continually grows—The Australian Wine Society (AWS) of Toronto encourages a greater awareness of the wine varietals, the diversity and the styles of Aussie wines.
Since the 1970s and ’80s, the Brazilian community has been growing in Toronto and today some 10,000 Brazilian immigrants call it home. The community’s considerable growth has influenced many aspects of city life, including Toronto’s commercial businesses, cultural diversity, music and dance programs, festivals, the film industry and local cuisine.
Clubs, cultural associations, religious congregations and radio and television programs largely link the diverse segments of the Brazilian community. In Toronto’s lively Portugal Village, along Dundas Street West beyond Bathurst, inhabitants and owners of local businesses happily speak their native tongue—unless it’s World Cup, when those voices are raised in some of the most jubilant and riotous cheering the City hears.
During the summertime, when Toronto celebrates dozens of festivals, there’s no shortage of involvement from the Brazilian community. In celebration of Brazil’s Independence Day on September 7, for example, the Yonge-Dundas Square in the heart of the city comes alive at the annual Brazilian Day Canada event, where musicians jam together and encourage participants to sway to the infectious rhythm. Those interested in studying an instrument or learning to dance the samba can register for a workshop held at The Royal Conservatory by the Escola de Samba.
Known as one of the largest and most spectacular galas, Toronto’s Brazilian Carnival Ball attracts the who’s who of the city. Founded by Brazilian native Anna Maria de Souza in 1966, revellers at this black-tie extravaganza have been mesmerized by local and international samba dancers, magnificent costumes, food and drink, all serving to benefit prominent charities.
Brazilian creative arts extend beyond music and dance in the city. The Brazil Film Fest, for example, celebrates four days of Brazilian multiculturalism every October.
Beyond culture, Toronto’s world-class business community has strong roots in Brazil’s commerce, most notably Brascan Corporation, a company that deals in real estate development, power generation and asset management.
The Toronto area boasts five separate and unique Chinatowns. It is home to one of North America’s largest Chinatowns, near Dundas and Spadina streets, the epicenter of Toronto’s rich history of Chinese culture dating back to the 19th century. With over 475,000 residents who speak Cantonese, Mandarin or another Chinese dialect, the city is a multicultural backdrop for a rich tradition of Chinese culture, arts, food and festivals.
The annual Toronto Chinatown Festival, which is held in the city’s largest Chinatown at Spadina and Dundas streets, will take place on Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29, 2010. It attracts over 100,000 people with its delightful combination of entertainment, exotic foods, colourful markets and community celebrations. The event is free to the public, and gives visitors an opportunity to experience a broad range of cultural activities, from folk art and bonsai to Chao Chow drum performances and martial arts demonstrations. Taste the wild and exotic flavours of the Far East and enjoy everything from Shanghai pot stickers to spicy Szechuan food.
Toronto hosts a wide range of festivals that celebrate Chinese culture, dance and theatre. Each year, about five thousand athletes from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia take part in the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival on Centre Island. Attracting about 120,000 visitors annually, this popular festival combines team and community spirit with sports, fun, food and multicultural performances.
Visitors to Toronto with a passion for dance will be delighted by the diverse range of events at the Canasian International Dance Festival. Featuring performances by groups from countries such as China, Korea and Japan, the repertoire ranges from traditional forms of Asian dance to modern interpretations of the classics. Aimed at keeping traditional forms of Chinese dance alive in Canada, the Toronto Chinese Dance Company focuses on classical, folk and contemporary Chinese dance. Past performances include interpretations of The Dragon Princess and Borrowed Arrows. Experience an art form thousands of years in the making with the classical Chinese dance and music of Shen Yun Performing Arts or catch a dramatic or operatic performance at the PC Ho Theater, located in the Chinese Cultural Center of Greater Toronto.
The Royal Ontario Museum, the largest museum in Canada, contains over six million items and forty galleries, including one of the biggest collections of Chinese architectural artifacts outside of China. From June to December 2010, the ROM will host an exciting new exhibit called The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army, including thousands of life-sized terracotta sculptures of Chinese warriors discovered in Shaanxi province in the 1970’s. The special exhibition is scheduled to open the same weekend as the G20 Summit.
Downtown Toronto is also home to the Memorial to Commemorate the Chinese Railway Workers in Canada. Dedicated to the more than four thousand Chinese workers who lost their lives building the Canadian Pacific Railway route through the Rocky Mountains, the wood and metal monument was created by artists Eldon Garnet and Franicis LeBouthillier.
Many prominent Chinese citizens call Toronto home, including Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Honourable Michael Chan. Winner of the Order of Canada, one of the highest honours this country can bestow, Tak W. Mak, PhD, was born in China and moved to Canada in the 1970’s. His award winning research examines the ways the human body fights immune disorders. A professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s departments of medical biophysics and of immunology, Mak is also a senior staff scientist at Princess Margaret Hospital’s Ontario Cancer Institute, founding director of the Amgen Institute, and one of the first Canada Research Chair holders. Mak is one of thousands of Chinese immigrants who contribute their expertise and passion to help make Toronto, and the world, a better place.
Home to about 35,000 francophones, French culture plays an important role in the cultural mosaic that is Toronto. Toronto’s close ties to France are evident in the city’s vital academic and cultural institutions, events and its passionate love affair with French cuisine.
In partnership with the government of France, the University of Toronto created Canada’s first Centre d'Excellence in 2007. The Centre d'Études de la France et du monde francophone/The Centre for the Study of France and the Francophone World is an interdisciplinary faculty dedicated to the study of French culture and language worldwide, including culture, history, literature, linguistics, political science, music, commerce and education.
Looking to live la vie française in Toronto? Le Centre francophone is a Toronto-based is an organization that connects French speakers in the city with everything from francophone festivals and events to language lessons and French news and information sources. Events and services include a diverse range of activities, from photography lessons to art gallery events and conversational meet-ups at local cafés.
With a full calendar of monthly cultural, musical and family friendly events, the Alliance Française of Toronto is another excellent resource for Francophiles. The AF works with other cultural institutions to organize events featuring French cinema, opera and culinary events.
Drama and passion take centre stage at the Théâtre français de Toronto. Dedicated to promoting French language and culture, as well as the development of French artists, the group features both classical and modern performances. From the works of Molière to modern comedy and drama, the TFT offers a wide range of performances for Francophiles.
Torontonians have a passion for fine cuisine, as evidenced by the more than 125 popular French restaurants. From the award winning artisanal baguettes at Bonjour Brioche to the charm of Le Sélect Bistro and the haute cuisine of Auberge du Pommier, Toronto has something to delight every palate and price range.
In addition to celebrating French culture, events and cuisine, Toronto is also home to many high profile French companies from a variety of industries. With offices in downtown Toronto, Capgemini is one of the top five IT services and consulting companies worldwide. Small Household Equipment, Groupe SEB, is present in two sectors: small domestic appliances and cookware. The headquarters of T-fal, one of Groupe SEB’s key brands, is in Toronto. Belonging to one of the top 10 ranked banking groups worldwide, BNP Paribas (Canada), also in Toronto, offers global financial expertise, combining a clear understanding of the Canadian economy and mastery of best performing financial techniques developed worldwide.
The city of Toronto is home to 72,850 German speakers—many of whom have left an indelible mark on the face of the city. From Spätzle and ale to the arts and architecture, Toronto’s German community is an integral part of the city’s multicultural mosaic.
Born in Braunsdorf, Germany, Toronto-based architect Eberhard H. Zeidler designed many of the iconic buildings that helped shape the skyline of this city, including shopping mecca Eaton Centre, Ontario Place on the shores of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
The vibrant arts community in Toronto also boasts a host of German-Canadians. Alexander Neef, who was born near Stuttgart, is the General Director of the Canadian Opera Company. The organization’s Music Director, Johannes Debus, is from Speyer, Germany. Other prominent German Canadians include Rosalie Silberman Abella, the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and NHL star hockey player Dan Heatley.
From goulash and schniztel to beer and pretzels, Torontonians love to savour German food and drink, and finding a taste of Bavaria or a sip of ice-cold bier is as close as a local gastro pub or bistro. The city is home to over ten breweries, and, for more than 20 years, German style beers like weissbier, wheat beer, and dunkel, a Munich-style dark lager, have been brewed right here in Toronto by Denison’s Brewing Company. Hip east-end hangout The Beer Bistro serves up a wide variety of German beers, like the current and caramel flavours of Paulaner Salvator and the smoky intensity of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier.
For all the comfort foods of home, transplanted Germans head to Little Bavaria Restaurant for homemade cabbage rolls and krainerwurst or drop into the The Musket Restaurant for one of the specialties of the house, Franz Josef Schnitzel. For a terrific Euro takeout, don’t miss Riether’s Fine Foods.
The German community in the city offers and ideal mix of business and pleasure: many high profile German companies choose to do business in Toronto. Employing about 900 people across the country, Bayer Health Care Canada is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, one of the world's leading companies in the healthcare and medical products industry. With head offices in Toronto, Bayer’s innovative developments in polyurethanes, polycarbonates, thermoplastic and many other materials significantly enhance the quality of Canadians' lives. Doing business in Canada for nearly a century, Siemens Medical combines the most advanced laboratory diagnostics, imaging systems and healthcare information technolgy to enable clinicians to diagnose disease earlier and more accurately, making a decisive contribution to improving the quality of healthcare.
Proud to host the largest Indian community in Canada, on the streets of Toronto you will meet more than 700,000 speakers of the many languages native to India, including Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati. In the Greater Toronto Area, the cities of Brampton, Mississauga and Scarborough are also home to sizable Indian communities. From the colourful, spirited and exotic atmosphere of Little India to the many delightful Indian festivals, events and restaurants, Toronto celebrates India’s culture, arts and people.
The Gerrard India Bazaar, also known as Little India, is located along Gerrard Street East between Greenwood Ave. and Coxwell Ave. Drop into Kala Kendar to admire the intriguing selection of traditional instruments, including beautiful teak harmoniums and custom made sitars or slip into a intricately designed sari at Chandan Fashions. From the casual curries and roti-to-go in Little India to fine dining in restaurants like Indian Rice Factory and Amaya, Toronto has something to please the palate in every price range.
Indian festivals abound in Toronto. On July 17th and July 18th, 2010, celebrating its 38th year, the Festival of India brings the ancient spiritual teachings and traditions of the East to the streets of Little India. The festival features a variety of cultural showcases, yoga demonstrations and free vegetarian food. On July 23 – 25, 2010, Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Is a celebration of South Asian culture featuring live music and dance as well as art and film by a variety of international artists. Just west of the city, Mississauga hosts the annual Mosaic Festival on July 9th – 11th, 2010 at the Living Arts Centre. An eclectic combination of music, art, dance and film, the event also features a colorful marketplace, delicious foods and midway and carnival rides.
Toronto is also proud to be the first city to host the International Indian Film Academy Awards, or “Bollywood Oscars”, scheduled for June 16th – 19th, 2011.
From November 20, 2010 – February 20, 2011, the Art Gallery of Ontario is honoured to host Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, an exhibition that explores the opulent world of the maharajas, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. More than 200 exquisite works of art created for India’s great kings, including paintings, furniture, decorative arts and jewellery, are displayed.
Many celebrated Indo-Canadians choose to live in the Toronto area, including best selling author Rohinton Mistry, entrepreneur and philanthropist Aditya Jha and Oscar nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who will also be a guest judge at the 2010 Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF). Born in Punjab, Harinder Takhar is the Minister of Government Services for Ontario.
The city is also home to a unique architectural monument, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir & Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadians. Made with more than 24,000 pieces of marble and stone, the museum pays homage to 10,000 years of Indian art, architecture and history. Toronto’s new Ismaili Centre, a project still in development, is being designed by celebrated Indian architect Charles Correa.
Many Indian-based companies do business in Toronto, including the Tata Group, a multinational conglomerate based in Mumbai, which is the largest private corporate group in India. Tata Consultancy Services, based in Toronto, provides IT and software solutions and has global sales of about $6 billion.
Over the last six decades, some Indonesians have migrated to Toronto. The latest census reveals about 4,000 people of Indonesian descent live in Toronto and surrounding regions. But despite their modest numbers, the community has made a considerable impact on the city’s cultural vibe—with its tangy culinary delights, colourful costumed dances and family-friendly festivals.
The Consulate General of The Republic of Indonesia (on Jarvis Street) plays an active part in promoting the community’s culture by sponsoring several events in and around the city. For example, the consulate supports Indonesian music, dance and cuisine at the Carassauga Festival in neighbouring Mississauga. Carassauga, one of the largest indoor festivals in the province of Ontario, includes several pavilions from various countries, including Indonesia, to showcase the best of each nation. At the Indonesia pavilion, guests enjoy traditional music and dance while munching on sate, fried noodles, fried banana, spring rolls, soto or vegetable fritters.
Even at the consulate’s own residence, expatriates and Torontonians alike are invited to participate in the once-a-year Indonesian Bazaar. Guests can browse the assortment of shirts, scarf and handmade artifacts from Indonesia.
But festivals aren’t the only opportunity to enjoy authentic Indonesian cuisine. There are a few restaurants in Toronto boasting several sought-after dishes for discriminating taste buds. Garuda Restaurant is a favourite, famous for its rijsttafel (rice table) as well as spring rolls, spiced pickled vegetables, spicy satays and fried banana with rum sauce. At the Matahari Bar & Grill, the cuisine is fused with exotic elements of Malay, Chinese and Indian cooking.
To help unify the Indonesian community in the city and throughout the country, the Indonesian Canadian Community Association (ICCA) was created in Mississauga in 2003. It not only brings expats together through dances and fundraising events, but it also works in cooperation with other communities and governments to build a relationship between nationalities. A similar organization was formed a year later in Toronto – the United Indonesian Canadian Society (Unicas) to promote and support Indonesian culture and commerce. Unicas holds a regular monthly Warung Kopi event where the community at large can gather to enjoy traditional fare, participate in a board game or meet people.
Links to other multicultural associations also help strengthen the community’s presence. For example, it participates in Asian Heritage Month, promoted by the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture; it has also been involved in the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, which showcases films and videos by East and Southeast Asian artists in Canada, the United States and all over the world.
Toronto is home to nearly half a million Italian-Canadians, many of whom live in the city’s two largest Italian neighborhoods, Little Italy (on College Street from Euclid Avenue to Shaw Street) and Corso Italia (on St. Clair Avenue West between Westmount Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue). Like its sister city Milan, Italy, Toronto has long had a passion for la dolce vita, from Italian food and wine to fashion and design.
From the laidback, Euro style of Little Italy to formal fine dining, Torontonians love to mangia bene. The city is packed with trattorias and bistros: treat yourself to the wafer-thin crust pizza at Terroni or the taglioline with brandy-flamed lobster at Biagio Ristorante, located in the historic St. Lawrence Hall. Café Diplomatico has been the place to see—and be seen—sipping a cappuccino since 1968. For an enormous selection of imported foods, home cooks flock to Pusateri’s, where foodies find everything from soppressata to mozzarella di bufala.
Italian design is synonymous with high style in the Toronto area. Whether you’re looking to slip into Gianfranco Ferre or you’ve got a passion for Versace, find fabulous Italian shoes for men, women and children at Rina’s Boutique. Take home in the latest looks for men at Borgo Uomo or indulge in classic Italian fashion, shoes and handbags at Gucci.
One of the most popular food festivals in Toronto is A Taste of Little Italy, which runs from June 18th – June 20th, 2010, an event that draws big crowds with Italian folk songs and choirs, delicious food and fun family activities. On July 3rd and 4th 2010, enjoy or a different taste of Italy with the Corso Italia, featuring more than 30 musical acts, terrific food and an all-day sidewalk sale. Cinema lovers won’t want to miss the latest Italian films being screened at the Toronto Italian Film Festival from September 1st to the 5th, 2010.
Keeping up with current events is simple with the Corriere Canadese, Canada’s only Italian language daily newspaper, which is published in Toronto. In 1966, Canada’s very first multicultural radio station, CHIN, was launched by Italian-Canadian Johnny Lombardi, who grew up in Little Italy. Lombardi was a multicultural pioneer: he was the first to produce Italian language programming in Canada. Still in operation, today CHIN broadcasts in over 30 languages. Italian programming is also available on the telelatino and OMNI networks. David Rocco, Italian-Canadian TV host, producer and cookbook author, learned to cook in his Mother’s Toronto kitchen. An exuberant champion of Italian food, family and music, Rocco promotes authentic Italian cuisine—and culture—with his passion for fine food and zest for life. Ivana Santilli is another intriguing Italian Canadian. An award winning R&B recording star, Santilli’s says her unique trilingual vocals (Italian, French and English), are a result of living in Toronto, London and New York. Her newest album is due out in the summer of 2010.
The Japanese community may not be the largest ethnic group in the city—about 19,000 strong in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)—but its influence is great. From its distinctive cuisine and culture to its corporate involvement, Japanese-Torontonians bring much to the Toronto mosaic.
Japanese firms are well rooted in the city’s big business landscape. One of them is Mitsui & Co. Ltd., a diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprise. Mitsubishi Canada Ltd., which is located in the city’s Financial District, is recognized for its development of renewable energy, such as wind power and solar photovoltaic energy. You’ll find Tecmo Koei Canada Inc., the makers of Fatal Inertia, a combat racing game for Xbox 360, in the Entertainment District of downtown Toronto. Corporate giants like Honda Canada, Miura Boiler and Takeda Pharmaceuticals are also headquartered in the GTA.
Japanese descendants who make Toronto their home have also helped to beautify the city’s landscape. Renowned architect Raymond Moriyama and his award-winning firm, Moriyama & Teshima Architects, are known for creating the city’s Ontario Science Centre and the soon-to-be-built Wynford Park – Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre. Bruce Kuwabara, a partner with Toronto’s Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, is the successful designer behind a number of the city’s buildings, including the award-winning National Ballet School and the renovated Gardiner Museum.
In the arts community, Japanese-Canadians have a solid presence. Prize-winning pianist Shoko Inoue, who has performed around the world and has had many solo concerts at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, makes her home here. Mayumi Seiler is a lead violinist, artistic director and founder of Via Salzburg Chamber Music, a Toronto-based chamber music organization. And at the National Ballet of Canada, Keiichi Hirano, a native of Osaka, Japan, has been performing as first soloist since 2006.
Several organizations throughout the city also advance the traditions and pastimes of the Japanese culture. The 40-year-old Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, for example, offers courses in martial arts (Karate, Judo, Aikido) and workshops in Japanese cooking, origami and taiko drumming. The Nagata Shachu (formerly Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble), with its heart-pounding performances of the Japanese drum (taiko), is also stationed in Toronto. Courses and membership to Ikebana International—a Tokyo organization that teaches the Japanese art of flower arranging—also holds meetings at the Civic Garden Centre (Edwards Gardens) in the North York area. Speaking the Japanese language is also possible, with courses taught in several schools, learning centres, organizations and even at universities. The Consulate-General of Japan (on King St. West) provides access to a wealth of other organizations that promote and enhance the community’s cultural and business interests.
The Toronto Japanese Short Film Festival, now in its seventh year, has introduced Toronto to more than 160 films made by Japanese filmmakers. More historical films can be viewed at The Japan Foundation Toronto Library on Bloor Street West. It also maintains a collection of 16,000 Japan-related print and audiovisual materials in English, Japanese and French, emphasising language study, art, literature, history and culture.With a wealth of international fare in the city, there’s no shortage of fine Japanese restaurants, serving everything from tempura and teppanyaki to sushi and sake. A few good bets are the popular Guu Izakaya on Church St. or Ki Modern Japanese + Bar on Bay Street.
Toronto may be far north of the border, but it’s not hard to find Mexican music, culture, dance and food in this city, which is home to over 170,000 Spanish speakers. Running September 3 – 6, 2010, the Hispanic Fiesta is a celebration of la vida latina. Featuring more than three hundred performers from around the world, the event includes Flamenco dancing, folklore, live music and spicy, sensational food. Festival guests love the colourful costumes, lively dancing and traditional music.
If the Latin rhythms get your toes tapping, try dance lessons at the Spanish Center, an institution dedicated to Latin American language and culture. Don’t miss the wonderful bookstore at the Spanish Centre, Libros del Sol, which carries a large selection of fiction, non-fiction, business and children’s titles. Toronto is also home to Antares, the only trilingual publishing house in North America, which produces works in Spanish, English and French. Antares also sponsors a variety of local events, including social evenings, book launches and cultural forums.
From spicy burritos to savoury enchiladas, the fiery flavours of Mexico can be found all over Toronto. Inspired by the cantinas they frequented growing up in Mexico City, brothers Andrés and Arturo Anhalt opened Milagro, which serves up classic Mexican dishes like Atun Jalisco and Barbacoa Hidalgo in a casual, friendly atmosphere. Located in the lively entertainment district, the long line-ups at Burrito Boyz are a testament to their high quality ingredients and generous portions. Their signature halibut burrito is incredibly popular.
In November 2010, Toronto will host a Day of the Dead celebration on the shores of Lake Ontario at Harbourfront Centre, This free event, featuring arts and crafts, food and live entertainment, honours El Dia de Muertos in Mexico, and teaches about the Latin tradition of honouring dead family members and loved ones.
Dedicated to showcasing the very best of Latin films from around the world, the Toronto International Latin Film Festival is scheduled for sometime in October 2010. The festival aspired to examine films from two different perspectives: the audience and the critics. Past TILFF events have featured Mexican films like Morirse en Domingo, by Daniel Gruener and Al Otro Lado by Gustavo Loza.
Toronto is home to the majority of the more than one million people of Dutch origin who call Canada home. And there’s no denying the special bond between the peoples of Canada and the Netherlands. After all, this year marked the 65th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland by the Canadian and Allied Forces. In May, Toronto’s Denison Armoury hosted a conference to celebrate that liberation, with members of Dutch-Canadian community and 250 war veterans.
Over the decades, the Dutch have fostered other strong relationships. Dutch Treat Canada, for example, is a social and cultural club for the Dutch-Canadian community in Toronto and surrounding areas. It celebrates national holidays like Queen’s Day, organizes monthly borrels (pub nights), hosts cultural outings, and keeps a pulse on local events in the community. In honour of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Dutch soccer fans will participate in the club’s soccer parties.
The city’s Netherlands Luncheon Club also reaches out to the community by hosting a series of events with prominent speakers. Most recently, it invited Gé van Schaik, former CEO of Heineken N.V. Amsterdam, to address its membership.
Dutch artists continue to make Toronto a favourite stomping ground. Renowned violinist and orchestra conductor Andre Rieu makes regular stops to Toronto. New ensembles, such as classical musical group Trio Désirée, also regularly play for audiences in the city.
Helping to foster business relationships, The Toronto-based Canadian Netherlands Business and Professional Association (CNBPA) brings prominent business speakers to the city and provides a strong networking forum for both Dutch expatriates and Canadian business people with Dutch interests. The CNBPA membership includes an impressive list of corporations, including Philips Electronics Ltd. Canada, WES Canada (Wind Energy Solutions), and DUCA Financial Services Credit Union.
One of the most popular Dutch-Canadian corporate collusions comes in the form of Cérvelo Cycles. Dutch immigrant Gérard Vroomen, in partnership with another Toronto engineer, started the company in 1995. The manufacturer of time-trial bikes became renowned after one of their creations won the 2008 Tour de France.
Building on the strong bicycle culture of The Netherlands, the Consulate General of the Netherlands was instrumental in the "Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike!" initiative that began three years ago. The event promotes the use of bikes for recreational purposes, but also as a daily mode of transportation to and from the workplace. Money raised from the event is used to buy new bikes for underprivileged Toronto children.
Toronto has the second-largest Russian population in North America, after New York. More than 200,000 Russians are reported to speak their native tongue here.
Together with the Ukraine, Belarus and other former-USSR communities, the Russian population has settled in several neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but most notably in North York in the Steeles and Bathurst intersection, in the High Park region and just north of the city in Richmond Hill and just west in Mississauga. They’ve established orthodox churches, synagogues, delicatessens, media outlets, Russian-speaking schools and cultural societies and associations.
Their strong tradition in sport, classical and folkloric dance and music and have greatly influenced cultural life in the city. As far back as 1950, for example, The Russian-Canadian Cultural Aid Society (RCCAS) organized concerts, lectures, folkdancing, drama clubs, among other activities to help promote Russian heritage. Today, it continues to participate in cultural festivals in and around the city. Other newcomers to the cultural scene include the Kino Art Festival, which is in its third year, will bring Toronto audiences films that highlight traditional and contemporary Russian culture.
And just recently in May, Torontonians were invited to delve into the unique world of post-Soviet cinema at the first ever Toronto Russian Film Festival with 11 titles of Russian and Russian-language feature films, documentaries and animated works.
You’ll also find the Wonderful World of Circus, established in 1996, just north of the city in Thornhill. Former Moscow State Circus and Cirque du Soleil performers Oleg Kantemirov and Tatiana Zoubrilina engage children in creative physical activity and expose them to the spirit of the circus.
Other notable “imports” from Russia include violinist Arkady Yanivker, who joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1978. His concert performances in Canada have been heard on CBC, CMFX, and CJRT radio broadcasts.
Of course, Toronto is a huge hockey town, and the city continues to pin its hopes for a Stanley Cup on young stars like Russian NHL forward Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto will celebrate all that is Russia in the city by hosting the Russian Canadian Festival while the G20 is in Toronto. The festivities begin on June 27 in the heart of downtown—at Yonge-Dundas Square. Featuring street and on-stage performances, dancers, comedians and rock bands, traditional Russian fare and books, the festival combines the efforts of Russian Carousel, NTV Canada, Embassy of Russian Federation in Canada, Russia Federal Agency for Tourism, YYZ Travel/Canadian Gateway and Canada-Russia Association of Tourism, Culture and Sport, all with links to the city.
Strong business and economic ties also bind Toronto and Russia. Organizations like the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association, for example, help foster them with a network of six chapters, one of which is located in Toronto. It has a membership base of more than 200 corporations and individuals in a wide range of sectors. Other notables include Russian-born businessman Alex Shnaider, considered one of the youngest billionaires in Canada. He continues to put his stamp on the city by partnering with Donald Trump in the construction of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto.
Toronto is home to the largest Muslim community in Canada. Featuring more than thirty mosques and a wide range of family, community and cultural events, Toronto’s vibrant Arab community is home to more than 75,000 Arabic speakers and over 250,000 Muslims. The city hosts a variety festivals and events that celebrate Arab culture, as well as a range of specialty restaurants and halal markets.
Toronto is an important centre of Islamic culture and worship in Canada, with places of worship scattered all over the Greater Toronto Area. The city is home to many well respected Islamic institutions, including the Islamic Institute of Toronto, a federally registered not for profit institute dedicated to education, scholarly research and community outreach.
Now under construction is a seven-hectare, $200 million cultural campus and museum that, once completed, will be one of the most significant Ismaili spiritual sites in North America. Located centrally at Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave., the site will boast some of the Aga Khan’s most sacred art and artifacts, housed in an awesome example of contemporary architecture.
A sparkling showcase of art, food, and fun, MuslimFest is Canada’s largest festival dedicated to Muslim culture. This year’s event will be held on July 31st and August 1st, 2010. With more than 50 international artists, the event features the best in Muslim arts and entertainment, including performers and comedians, multicultural bazaar, film festival, women’s program and a kids’ carnival.
Ontario Place, situated on the shores of Toronto’s Lake Ontario, hosts the annual Muslim Heritage Weekend each summer. In addition to a bazaar, fashion show, delicious food, and loads of family fun, the event will feature showings of the film Journey to Mecca on the six story high IMAX screen.
Arabic culture can be found in all types Canadian media. For movie lovers, Arabic language films can often be seen at the Canadian documentary film festival, Hot Docs, or at the Toronto International Film Festival. For Arabic news with a Canadian perspective, look to the print and online editions of The Arab News, or the Iqra website for stories from across the country. For a pleasant afternoon of book browsing, drop by Habib’s Islamic Bookstore for a fine selection of books as well as gift items.
For exotic Arabic cuisine, Toronto has a banquet of delicious choices, from casual cafés to fine dining. Whether you’re looking for a quick shawarma to go or an elegant sit down meal, check out Toronto Life Magazine’s guide to the city’s notable Arabic restaurants. And log onto zabihah.com for an interactive map of Toronto’s halal restaurants.
Living in one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet, Torontonians have developed an international palette and love of African foods. Whether you’re craving boerwors and biltong or you miss the sweet crunch of Baker’s Tennis Biscuits, the perfect place to stock up on South African foods is Memories of Africa. Put together a whole meal that tastes like home with the great selection of meat, fish, sweets and other grocery items at Eat-Sum-More.
Born in South Africa, Toronto-based architect Jack Diamond has designed some the city’s iconic landmarks. Located in downtown Toronto, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the home of both the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The structure takes up an entire city block and features a translucent glass staircase and a glass-enclosed main lobby with spectacular views of the city. Diamond also designed the central YMCA in Toronto and the York University Student Centre
To be held on July 10-11, 2010 in Queen’s Park, AFROFEST is a free event that celebrates African music and culture through song, dance, drumming and theatre. Enjoy the bustling African marketplace, food and craft vendors, art, workshops, and educational activities for kids. This year, the festival features performances by South Africa's Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo. Dizu played at Nelson Mandela's famous birthday concert at Wembley Stadium in 1988 with his band Amampondo; later they were made official ambassadors of South African music.
Each year, the city also plays host to the Toronto African Film and Music Festival, which is dedicated to promoting and preserving African culture and history. Many South African films have been screened at the festival, including Jesus the Giant, directed by Akin Omotoso.
A number of high profile South African companies choose to do business in Toronto. Producing about 40 percent of the world’s diamonds, De Beers has been active in Canada for nearly 50 years, growing from a small group of geologists in the field to having multiple offices and operations across the country, including the head offices in Toronto. Based in South Africa, Earthchild, which produces environmentally friendly, socially responsible clothing, has brought its own brand of ethical business values to Toronto.
Korean-Torontonians are a well-organized community and growing strong. Perhaps its presence is most prominent in one of Toronto’s many bustling neighbourhoods—Koreatown, along Bloor Street West between Christie and Bathurst Streets. It’s the ideal place for a taste of bulgogi (thinly cut marinated beef) or bibimbab (vegetables, meat and egg over rice). It’s also a great locale for Korean culture and business, offering a range of fashion boutiques, karaoke rooms (no-rae-bang) and alternative medicine services like acupuncture.
Over the last decade, a secondary Koreatown has also emerged in the central north section of the city, along Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and just north of Steeles Avenue into York Region.
In fact, the city’s connection to Korea runs deep. In nearby Brampton, just northwest of Toronto, stands the Korea Veterans’ National Wall of Remembrance, a national memorial at Meadowvale Cemetery. Visitors will see a list of military units who served during the Korean War, along with 516 bronze plaques commemorating those Canadians who died while serving in that war.
For the past 17 years, the annual Korean Dano Spring Festival, hosted by the Koreatown BIA, attracts thousands of people and hundreds of vendors. Honoring a traditional holiday in Korea, the event showcases Korean culture with live band music, dance, martial arts demonstrations (Taekwondo) and food.
Housed in one of the city’s local landmarks, the G.H. Ferguson House, is the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea. It supports its community’s protection of rights and interests and encourages economic and cultural exchanges within Canada.
Other organizations promote Korean culture and language, including the Korean Education Centre on Avenue Road. It offers Korean language programs and assists schools with teaching materials, among other initiatives.
Toronto continues to develop strong business ties with the Korean government. In 2002, for example, the Korean International Trade Association (KITA) entered into an agreement with the City of Toronto to promote mutual business opportunities. With more than 90,000 Korean representative companies, KITA is Korea’s largest and most influential economic organization.
Korean-Canadians have made a considerable contribution in performing arts, most notably in classical music. Some notable violinists such as Mi Hyon Kim and Hyung-Sun Paik have performed for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The Toronto Korean-Canadian Choir, founded in 1979, has performed in reputable venues and attracts some visiting Korean soloists to share the stage.
In a city with over 170,000 Spanish speakers it’s no surprise that Toronto hosts many Spanish festivals and cultural events. From the passion of Flamenco to Spanish film and Latin festivals, it’s easy to find a little slice of Spain on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Look no further than the Air Canada Centre, where Spaniard José Calderon holds court for the Toronto Raptors basketball team. In 2008/2009, Calderon led the Eastern Conference in assists per game and the league in free throw percentage.
Dedicated to showcasing the very best of Latin films from around the world, the Toronto International Latin Film Festival is scheduled for October 2010. The festival aspires to examine films from two different perspectives: that of the audience and that of the critics. Past TILFF events have featured Spanish films like Bienvenido a Farewell-Gutmann, directed by Xavi Puebla, and Zhao, directed by Susi Gozalvo. Films are also regularly shown at social evenings hosted by the Toronto Spanish Center.
Running September 3 – 6, 2010, the Hispanic Fiesta is a celebration of la vida latina. Featuring more than three hundred performers from around the world, the event includes Flamenco dancing, folklore, live music and spicy, sensational food. Festival guests love the colourful costumes, lively dancing and traditional music. Dance lovers won’t want to miss the Toronto Flamenco Festival, featuring showcases, workshops and live shows in July and October 2010. For an evening of great food, fabulous music, fiery Flamenco and sultry salsa, head to the Plaza Flamingo, one of downtown Toronto’s hottest nightclubs.
For a wide selection of sports, drama and popular Spanish programming, tune into telelatino for shows from Univision, Galavisión and CNN en Español. Stay up to date on current events with the Mercado News—a review of arts, business and culture with a Spanish touch or read local and world news on Correo Canadiense. Toronto is home to Antares Publishing House, the only trilingual publishing house in North America, which produces works in Spanish, English and French. Antares also sponsors a variety of local events, including social evenings, book launches and cultural forums.
From cantinas full of colour and character to elegant eateries, Toronto loves Spanish cuisine. Savour Andalusian specialties like salmorejo, salt cod croquettes or zesty gazpacho while flamenco dancers whirl past your table at the dark and sultry Embrujo Flamenco. House-cured meat—with Iberico ham as the star—is a specialty at Cava, where the menu offers a unique interpretation of modern Spanish cuisine. For a sweet treat, drop into one of Toronto’s Churrisimo locations for a fresh spin on a classic Spanish dessert.
High profile Spanish corporations choose to do business in Toronto, including Ferrovial, the world’s largest private manager of transportation infrastructure and a leading services provider. Focused on end-to-end infrastructure management, design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance, Ferrovial currently manages global transportation landmarks like Heathrow Airport, the Chicago Skyway and 407 ETR toll roads in Toronto.
Home to close to 15,000 Turkish speakers, and worlds away from where Europe and Asia meet, you’ll find a colourful variety of Turkish events and celebrations in Toronto. Each year the city is host to the Toronto Turkish Festival, to be held this year on August 7th and 8th, 2010. An energetic celebration of Turkish dance, exhibitions, arts, crafts, music shows and cuisine, this family-friendly event is free and open to the public. Enjoy fascinating demonstrations of traditional Turkish crafts like paper water marbling (Ebru), and carpet weaving, as well as whirling dervishes and Sufi music. The event is organized by the Canadian Turkish Friendship Community, an organization committed to the promotion of Turkish language and culture in Canada. The group also hosts colourful bazaars, dinners and auctions. The caring CTFC community helped build Toronto’s Turkish school, the Nil Academy.
The Turkish Society of Canada, also based in the Toronto area, frequently organizes cultural and social events and conferences. Music lovers will enjoy an evening with the Toronto Classical Turkish Music Choir. Founded in 1986, the group has performed traditional Turkish music in North America and Europe. You’ll also find high profile Turks in the world of sports: with legions of fans all over the world, NBA star Hedo Turkoglu, who hails from Istanbul, plays on the Toronto Raptors and makes the city his home.
From traditional Shish Kebab to the exotic elegance of Izgara Kofte, Beyti and sweet, creamy Keskul, Toronto’s Turkish restaurants have something to please every palate. For an unforgettable feast, visit Anatolia in the city’s west end. Chef Ayse Aydemir prepares a wide range of Turkish delights and even offers weekend cooking classes. For good eats to go, drop into one of Toronto’s many shawarma and kebab restaurants. Looking to create some traditional Turkish cuisine? Drop into Tahsin Market for sucuk sausage and halal meats, as well as homemade spicy börek.
The food, culture and spirit of the United Kingdom are evident everywhere in Toronto. The city’s roots are steeped in British tradition; originally an English settlement, the city was named the “Town of York” in 1793 by British colonial officials, later becoming the city of Toronto in 1834. The city’s love of all things native to the United Kingdom is apparent in everything from the architecture to the dozens of pubs, tearooms and specialty food stores scattered all over the city.
One of the main attractions of Toronto’s charming Distillery District, the historical Gooderham and Worts buildings are some of the best preserved examples of Victorian era industrial architecture in Canada. The buildings once housed the largest distillery in the country. Founded in 1831 by brothers from Suffolk, England, the facility, which originally covered about 13 acres in downtown Toronto, is now home to many delightful galleries, restaurants and boutiques. From the historical to the modern, UK entrepreneurs and architects continue to shape the Toronto skyline. The exciting new campus redevelopment at the Ontario College of Art and Design, called the Sharp Centre for Design, was designed by acclaimed British architect Will Alsop in partnership with Toronto-based Robbie/Young + Wright Architects. The striking design was one of the first buildings honoured with a Royal Institute of British Architects Worldwide Award.
Each year, Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Building at the Canadian National Exhibition plays host to the annual British Isles Show—an event that celebrates all things British, featuring traditional dance groups, tribute bands and a multitude of vendors. Excited fans meet with poplar Coronation Street actors, a show which has legions of Canadian fans.
Craving comfort food like bangers and mash, spotted dick or crispy fish and chips? You won’t have to go far for the culinary specialties of the British Isles—Toronto is home to dozens of pubs and restaurants that serve up the flavours of the UK. Drop by The Queen and Beaver, know for its comprehensive selection of beer and scrumptious seasoned terrine of smoked ham knuckle and walnuts or Lancashire hotpot of braised lamb chop. It’s no surprise, given the city’s English roots, that tearooms are popular. Oozing old world charm, the Tea Room at the Winsdor Arms has been serving high tea since 1927. Nibble on elegant watercress sandwiches while sipping a hot, delicious cuppa tea. For a modern, Asian fusion tea experience, drop by The Red Tea Box in the city’s hip west end.
With its welcoming corporate culture, many corporations from the UK do business in Toronto, including GlaxoSmithKline. A research-based pharmaceutical company devoted to discovering and developing new and innovative medicines, vaccines and health care products, GSK has been recognized as one of the 50 best companies to work for in Canada for the last six consecutive years.
United States of America
Staunch friends and allies to the south, the United States of America has a culture that reverberates through its northern neighbour. Indeed, Toronto plays home-away-from-home for a plethora of Hollywood’s A-list starts that come to Hollywood North (Toronto) to shoot movies and attend its famous Toronto International Film Festival. But the city is also a permanent home to some of the greatest imports from the USA—talented and passionate thinkers, athletes, artists and entrepreneurs.
Celebrated urban studies theorist, best selling author and professor, Richard Florida is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and professor of business and creativity at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. A native of Sarasota, Florida, Bridgett Zehr is a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. Trained in both the U.S. and Canada, she has danced the title roles in Giselle and Carmen and performed lead roles in IN COLOUR and Emergence. The city’s professional sports franchises have also brought American talent to Toronto, and is home to the only Canadian team in two U.S. professional leagues—the NBA and major league baseball—and the city also hosts an annual regular season NFL game.
From the spicy flavours of the southwest to the seafood specialties of the East coast, Toronto is a city rich in American food culture. A clever combination of Cajun and Creole, Southern Accent, at Bloor and Bathurst Streets, exudes Louisiana charm. Savour spicy Cajun catfish and finish the meal with a succulent slice of southern caramel pecan pie. With locations in the eastern and western parts of the city, it’s easy finding the flavours of Harlem in downtown Toronto. Succulent soul food with a Caribbean flair, enjoy the speak-easy style of the restaurant while savouring a rack of signature spare ribs. Take a bite out of the southwest at Coyote Willie Tex Mex Diner, where you’ll find a delicate balance of fiery spices and creamy, smooth flavours. Modeled on the classic steakhouses of Chicago, Morton’s has been serving up USDA prime aged beef for more than thirty years. Tuck into a 24-ounce porterhouse and check into carnivore heaven.
The United States Consulate General Toronto hosts events and offers U.S. visitors other vital information.