"Toronto has two seasons: winter and construction."—Torontonian joke
Toronto is the largest city in Canada by population (2.7 million people lived in the city itself and 5.9 people lived in the metropolitan area as of the 2016 census) and the capital of the province of Ontario. It is not, however, the federal capital - that's Ottawa (which is also in Ontario). Non-Canadians don't always remember this.
In addition to its many charms, the Greater Toronto Area (nobody who lives there thinks of games first when they hear "GTA") is also one of the great stand-in cities of movie and television fame as filming in Canada is quite a bit cheaper than in the US. The City with No Name is often Toronto. Several times, they've forgotten to remove Toronto landmarks in the movies, leaving Canadians watching what's obviously Toronto when it's supposed to be set in the United States. In Canada, it's often (derisively) nicknamed "the centre of the universe", partially because it's the first city anyone outside of Canada will think of. Oh, and everybody in Canada who lives outside of the Greater Toronto Area hates Toronto - and sometimes the people who live inside it. This is largely because of a perception, true or false, that Torontonians are oblivious to the country outside of their city.
One can easily detect outsiders in Toronto by hearing them pronounce it "Tow-Rawn-Tow". City natives, or those from closely neighbouring regions who talk with city natives constantly, typically drop the last T, and sometimes the first O, so it's "Toronno", "T'ronno", or even "Ch'ronno" (with the first consonant being the "ch" in "chair"). Nicknames include T.O. (an acronym of Toronto, Ontario), the T-dot (a shortening of the former), Hogtown or The Big Smoke (names arising from historic industries associated at different times with the town), and "Toronto the Good". Peter Ustinov famously described it as "New York run by the Swiss", though the appellation isn't quite as accurate as it once was.
Toronto is actually a "mega-city"; in 1998 the downtown core of Old Toronto and its neighbouring municipalities, all of which were their own cities at the time, were amalgamated into one single City of Toronto. This has generally been regarded as a serious dick move by the offending Tory provincial government, and lead to all kinds of confusion and annoyance. For convenience's sake, the post office still treats residents of the City of Toronto as residing in the no-longer-extant former cities they would have been inhabitants of before amalgamation, and claiming you live in Etobicoke on government documents is perfectly licit, meaning exactly the same thing as claiming you live in the City of Toronto. This explains why one still finds, for instance, "North York Hydro" written on manhole covers in streets north of the core.
Not all of Toronto's suburbs are part of the mega-city; cities like Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Mississauga and Brampton are sizable cities in their own right. The whole giant monster is known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA for short). In general the core is known as the 416 area and the surrounding GTA as the 905 (these being the dominant phone area codes in the two segments). The term "Golden Horseshoe" is also used for a larger area surrounding Toronto, containing the GTA and nearby towns and cities wrapped around the north-western shore of Lake Ontario. Particularly expansive definitions of the Golden Horseshoe include most of Southern Ontario as well as Buffalo, New York. The question about which cities or suburbs are part of Toronto or not has led to some confusion and general mockery among Canadians. The consensus has become the farther away one is from Toronto, the larger the city becomes. For example, while in southern Ontario, a citizen of Mississauga is not from Toronto and will be insulted if you declare them as such. However that same Mississaugan will claim to be from Toronto while traveling overseas (or more than two provinces away) just to keep things simpler. And, as mentioned, if you happen to live in the amalgamated megacity, some of your neighbours may well be willing to fight you to the death over whether you're both residents of Toronto or not.
In The Seventies, just as the rest of the Great Lakes region was beginning its long, slow decline, the city received a huge boost from the provincial government - of Quebec, whose newly-passed language laws and talk of separatism led to a flood of formerly Montreal-based Anglophones and businesses leaving for Toronto, including most of the Canadian banking industry.
Toronto is an exceptionally multicultural city: 47% of its population consists of "visible minorities"; soon, "white" will be a "visible minority" by census, and already is within North York, the largest, second most populous, and most multicultural zone in the megacity. Furthermore, Toronto's multiculturalism is exceptionally non-nominal, as the city has the highest proportion of recent immigrants of any of the world's major cities; Toronto is thus thought of as quite immigrant friendly and harbours many distinct cultural communities from diverse regions of the globe. As such, the city is known for all sorts of cultural festivals such as Caribana, A Taste of the Danforth (Greek food) and the world's largest Gay Pride Parade, which is the last of three such parades, including the Trans March and Dyke March, which close off a week long celebration known as Pride Week annually. The city will be host to the World Pride festival in 2014. It even has its own film festival, TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), an event that is second only to Cannes.
The popular saying is that Toronto has only two seasons: winter and construction. It's not always completely true, but spring and fall do seem to be pretty short, and sometimes snowstorms are separated from sweltering, smog-filled furnaces by as little as a month. (And yes, there are very hot days during the summer; it's not all Eskimos and igloos. Come to Toronto in July and August dressed in long sleeves and you will most likely suffer from heat stroke.) As for the construction, because of all the snowfall Toronto has to concentrate all its road work in the summer months, add the fact that Toronto's highways are some of the busiest in the world (the main crosstown route, Highway 401, is by most measures the busiest highway in the world), so that when construction starts forcing lane closures, things get gnarled very quickly. Luckily there are fewer people in the city during the summer, as many go off to "cottage country" or elsewhere for vacations.
The snow thing is a bit of a sore point. Back in 1999, a particularly huge (by Toronto's standards) snowfall had Mayor Mel Lastman so worried, he called in the army to help to clear it away. This became a goldmine of mirth for other places in Canada like Montreal and Ottawa, which get an average of almost twice as much snow as Toronto does and get ice storms as well.
- CN Tower (Canada's National Tower, previously Canadian National Tower)  - Tallest free standing tower in the world (losing the "tallest freestanding structure" title to the Burj Kalifa (aka. Burj Dubai) in 2007) and the very symbol of the city. They forgot to airbrush it out in the original theatrical release of Resident Evil.
- City Hall - Two curved towers that would look right at home in any futuristic show like Star Trek
- And, in fact, did appear as a "futuristic" building on Star Trek TNG at least once.
- And, before that, appeared as a "futuristic" building on Star Trek: The Original Series, just a few years after its construction.
- Also appeared as the Umbrella Corporation's headquarters in the second Resident Evil movie.
- As a Torontonian, one of the joys of watching that movie is seeing city hall blow up.
- And, in fact, did appear as a "futuristic" building on Star Trek TNG at least once.
- Royal York Hotel - Swankiest hotel in the city; one of Canada's grand railway hotels.
- Air Canada Centre - The hockey arena for the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team so lucrative they haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1967 and they still
almost always earn the most of any team in Canadaalways earn the most by far of any team in the NHL. The franchise is worth nearly double the next most valuable...every game is a sell-out and the waiting list for season tickets is tens of thousands long.
- Rogers Centre (originally called the Skydome; most locals still refer to it as such) - first stadium to be built with a retractable dome. Also has a hotel built right into it--remember to close your blinds if you stay there.
- If you want a room facing the stadium, you have to sign a form stating that you won't do anything lewd in front of the cameras.
- Exhibition Place, aka The Ex.
- Casa Loma, a late-medieval style castle built by an eccentric millionaire more or less in the middle of the city. While it was originally an actual place of residence, the castle is now (by order of the owner's will) a public museum, complete with tours of the many rooms. And yes, it has secret passages.
- The Ontario Science Centre.
- The Royal Ontario Museum, which recently was given an overhaul with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, an architectural monstrosity which sticks out over the sidewalk and is decried by a large population of museum-goers and city residents.
- It was designed by Daniel Libeskind, which should say something.
- The Crystal doubled for the Massive Dynamics HQ on Fringe
- The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which has just completed an overhaul of its own with a new design by Frank Gehry, and is one of the largest art museums in North America
- Ontario Place, a large festival and exhibition area on the lakeshore, built on a series of artificial islands as part of a failed plan (one of many) to expand the city into Lake Ontario
- Eaton Centre, a big, pretty, tourist-filled mall.
- Harbourfront Centre, another big, pretty, tourist-filled mall.
- Ontario Legislative Building, the seat of government for the province of Ontario. It's a beautiful century-old structure, surrounded by the University of Toronto.
- The University of Toronto - tends to get used as a stand-in for Oxbridge or Ivy League colleges in movies (especially the St-George campus, which combines modern architecture with old, ivy-covered buildings).
- Yonge Street: The major street in downtown Toronto, formerly host to the historic Sam the Record Man store (which closed recently, the trademark neon record signs have been removed for refurbishing and will return attached to a Ryerson university student centre), and the surprisingly-visible-in-the-Hulk-Movie Zanzibar strip club, one of the biggest and brightest strip club signs you'll ever see. It runs North-South, and all thoroughfares crossing it are bisected into "West" and "East".
- It is also, technically, the longest street in the world at 1,896 km, even if the Guinness Book of World Records doesn't agree anymore.
- Honest Ed's: The most famous discount store in the city, founded by the late Ed Mirvish, marked by a massive, garish flashing light sign display. The store has been featured - not just seen - in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight and in the Scott Pilgrim comics. Alas, it's due to close forever on December 31, 2016. (Ed Mirvish himself was renowned as a patron of the arts such as helping established artist facilities in the neighbourhood of his store, and for his well-known turkey giveaways to the poor of the city before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Furthermore, he was most famous across the country for being a theatre impresario, putting on the biggest stage productions in the country such as Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.)
- The ironically (though not inaccurately) named Church Street, one of the most famous gayborhoods in North America.
- The street name actually comes from three major church buildings all located on or just off the thoroughfare, all dating back to the 19th century and all beautiful examples of neo-Gothic style; in order going northwards, these are St. James' Anglican Cathedral, the Metropolitan United Church, and St. Michael's Catholic Cathedral. The section of Church Street most historically known as the "gayborhood" is actually several blocks further north, centered around the intersection of Church and Wellesley Street East.
- The Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Home to Fan Expo Canada, basically "San Diego Comic-Con North".
- Massey Hall, Toronto's oldest still-open concert hall. This venue has the same reputation in Canada that Carnegie Hall has in the United States.
- Being Erica
- Blood Ties
- Bon Cop, Bad Cop
- The Border
- Canadian Bacon
- All incarnations of the Degrassi franchise
- The 1986 version of The Fly
- Fraggle Rock
- Forever Knight
- Last Night
- The Listener
- Red Panda Adventures
- Repo Men
- Blown up in episode 19 of Robotech.
- Murdoch Mysteries, set in 1890 Toronto.
- The Scott Pilgrim comic series, movie, and video game.
- Also told elsewhere in Ontario and the Great Lakes region.
- (See this article for why.)
- Similar to the American concept of Flyover Country, but where that has the two largest and most diverse population centres hogging the spotlight of national culture, here's it's just Toronto.
- This fact trips up quite a few actors portraying Canadians, e.g. in The Proposal, where Sandra Bullock's character is supposed to be a native Torontonian but immediately spoils the fact by prononcing the city name as it is spelled
- though as mentioned above, few people living outside of Toronto will show any recognition to a name other than T.O.
- and to any Americans or Europeans who may wonder why "multicultural" comes up so much in discussions of Toronto, remember that in Canada this is always considered a selling point
- Sometimes there's construction during the winter.
- The concern was at least partially justified as, while Toronto is used to snowfall in general, there's really nowhere to put all that snow: snowplows would cover the sidewalks, and sidewalk cleaners would push it back onto the roads. The eventual solution was to just dump it all in Lake Ontario.
- Named after the CN railway company which paid for it
- Pronounced "Young"
- The corresponding episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross doesn't specify which city in the "Ontario Autonomous Region" was destroyed, but since everybody in Canada who lives outside of the GTA hates Toronto, the perception's there.