Canada is a North American country stretching from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north. Major cities include massive Toronto, west coast film centre Vancouver, French-speaking Montréal and Québec City, and capital city Ottawa. Canada may be very different from your home country, which means there is a great deal to learn about and explore before you arrive here. These pages will introduce you to important features of this country, such as the Canadian climate and way of life. Canada's vast swaths of wilderness include lake-filled Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains. It's also home to Niagara Falls, a famous group of massive waterfalls.
Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, is a major Canadian city along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. It's a dynamic metropolis with a core of soaring skyscrapers, all dwarfed by the iconic, free-standing CN Tower. Toronto also has many green spaces, from the orderly oval of Queen’s Park to 400-acre High Park and its trails, sports facilities and zoo. Toronto is located on the shore plain beside its harbour. There is a fairly abrupt rise 4 km inland which marks the shoreline of Lake Iroquois, a lake formed by glaciers 12,500 years ago that had a much higher water level than Lake Ontario.
French fur traders had known about the Toronto Passage since the early 1600s, and in 1720 they built a small store on the Humber River. This post failed financially and was abandoned in 1730. In 1750 the French built another small trading post. Fort Rouillé (or Fort Toronto), located in Toronto’s present-day Exhibition Grounds, was burned in 1759 by its French garrison during a retreat from British forces.
Toronto’s economy has gone through the stages of commercial lake port, railway and industrial hub, financial nexus, and high-level service and information centre. At present its port and commercial functions remain important, though relatively less so, apart from heavy retail activity. Its railway role persists, but has been modified by air and automotive transport.