Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will hand out his first key to the city on Thursday, giving the honour to McDonald's Canada chairman George Cohon.

Cohon, the chairman of McDonald's in Canada and Russia, will receive the honour for his philanthropic work with the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The Chicago-born Cohon became a Canadian citizen in 1975 and was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2000. Cohon is also an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Cohon has also been awarded Russia's Order of Friendship.

He founded the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides shelter for families whose children are receiving medical treatment in Russia and Canada.

His son, Mark Cohon, is the commissioner of the Canadian Football League.

It is the first honourary key to the city presented since Ford became mayor in 2010.

Previous key recipients include actor Jackie Chan, current Member of Parliament and former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino, and musical groups Blue Rodeo and Barenaked Ladies.

The Barenaked Ladies were famously given the key to Toronto in 2000, eight years after they were banned from performing in the city because of the perception that their name objectified women.

Cohon will receive the key during a ceremony at city hall at 3 p.m.