The City of Toronto was founded in 1834 when the former town York was renamed to distinguish the city from New York.

In honour of 180 years, CTV Toronto looks back on major events in city’s past:


March 6, 1834 - Town of York becomes City of Toronto

The former town of York is renamed 'Toronto' to distinguish itself from New York. The boundaries are Bathurst Street to the west, Lot Street (now Queen Street) to the north and Parliament Street to the east.


Nov. 1837 - Gooderham and Worts Distillery established

William Gooderham and James Worts Jr. expand their waterfront wind energy business to include the production of alcohol, which quickly becomes the firm's primary focus. (Photo from

Gooderham and Worts Distillery


1841 - First gas powered lamps installed

Most streets are left in the dark, but major roadways are lit by gas powered lamps. The city will later switch to electric lights in 1879.


Dec. 19, 1846 - First telegraph sent from Toronto

The Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Co, is formed in 1846. The first telegraph message transmitted in Canada is sent from Toronto to Hamilton.


May 30, 1849 - King's College renamed the University of Toronto

King's College becomes the University of Toronto, and the school begins to distance itself from religion, putting an end to religious tests for staff and students.


Oct. 27, 1856 - Rail route from Montreal to Toronto opens

The Toronto-Montreal section of the Grand Trunk Railway opens. The first trip takes 14 hours.


April 14, 1858 - Toronto Islands are formed

The Toronto Islands are formed when a storm disconnects the long, sandy beach from the mainland. Later, in 1973, the federal government will fund the dredging of the gap between the city and the islands to allow for more ship traffic. (Photo from Toronto Archives)

A lighthouse guards the Toronto Islands


Sept. 11, 1861 - Toronto streetcar service begins

Toronto’s first streetcar route starts operation. Streetcars are pulled by horses and operate from the Yorkville Town Hall to St. Lawrence Market.


July 1, 1867 - Canadian confederation

Three British colonies come together as the Dominion of Canada, and split into four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.


1869 - Eaton's department store opens

Timothy Eaton sets up a small department store on Yonge Street. The first store is only 7.3 m by 18.3 m, with two windows. (Photo from Archives of Ontario

1884 Eaton's catalogue


Sept. 1, 1879 - First Canadian National Exhibition

The first Canadian National Exhibition, then called the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, is held on what will become the CNE grounds.


1883 - Toronto Public Library opens

A library established by the York Mechanics’ Institute merges with a collection of books bought by Scottish-Canadian book publisher James Bain.


April 4, 1893 - Ontario Legislative Building opens

Ontario’s legislative hub opens with a price tag at approximately $1.25 million.


July 1, 1893 - Union Station opens

Grand Trunk Railway builds Toronto’s first Union Station, consisting of three wooden structures. At the time, it’s the largest railway station in Canada. (Photo from Archives of Ontario)

Toronto's first Union Station


Sept. 18, 1899 - City Hall opens

Toronto City Hall opens as one of the largest buildings in the city. It will hold city council until 1966, when a new city hall building will be built.


April 19, 1904 - Great Fire of Toronto occurs

A major fire destroys a large section of the downtown core, and takes nine hours to put out. Firefighters from as far away as Buffalo come to Toronto to help. The fire destroys 104 buildings, and claims the life of one person. It causes $10.3 million in damage. (Photo from Archives of Ontario, Edwin C. Guillet collection)

Toronto fire 1904


March 11, 1914 - Toronto Blue Shirts win the Stanley Cup

The Toronto Blue Shirts win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Canadiens. They will later be replaced by the Toronto Hockey Club, which will evolve into the Toronto Maple Leafs.


Sept. 1, 1921 - Toronto Transportation Commission is established

The Toronto Transportation Commission takes over all transit in the city, amalgamating nine existing systems.


Aug. 6, 1927 - New Union Station opens

Prince Edward and Prince George, among others, attend a ribbon cutting ceremony. Prince Edward himself cuts the ribbon, using a pair of gold scissors. (Photo from Library and Archives Canada)

Union Station - 1927


Oct. 29, 1929 - TSX suffers major loss

The Toronto Stock Exchange suffers its worst loss in history, plunging the country into the Great Depression.


Nov. 12, 1931 - Maple Leaf Gardens opens

The downtown hockey arena opens with a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Leafs lose 2-1.


Dec. 12, 1944 - Toronto hit by major storm

Toronto is hit by its worst storm in history, and 52 centimetres of snow falls in 24 hours.


Sept. 17, 1949 - Fire on the SS Noronic

The SS Noronic, a passenger ship, catches fire at 2:30 a.m. in Toronto's harbour. It is estimated that 118 to 139 people die. (Photo from Toronto Archives)

Fire on SS Noronic


March 30, 1954 - First subway line opens

A 7.4-kilometre subway line opens under Yonge Street, using four- and six-car trains that operate at about 32 kilometres per hour.


Oct. 15, 1954 – Hurricane Hazel hits Toronto

A total of 81 people are killed when the remnants of hurricane Hazel hit Toronto. The storm is unprecedented.


May 23, 1967 - GO Transit is established

GO Transit’s inter-regional transit system connects the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, with trains running from Hamilton to Pickering.


June 26, 1976 - CN Tower opens

The CN Tower opens as the tallest freestanding structure in the world. The tower is built so members of the Canadian National Railway could observe the entire railway switching yard. (Photo by Chuck Stoody / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

CN Tower construction - 1975


March 22, 1985 - Scarborough RT line opens

The TTC opens Scarborough’s rapid transit line as an extension of the Yonge subway line.


1991 - Toronto bomb plot is revealed

Canadian authorities arrest five men, and accuse them of ties to a paramilitary organization and plotting to bomb a Hindu temple and Indian theatre in the GTA. The case takes more than 10 years to pass through the court system.


Dec. 6, 2005 - Boxing Day shooting occurs

Toronto teenager Jane Creba is killed and six bystanders are wounded in a shooting just blocks from the Toronto Eaton Centre.


Aug. 10, 2008 - Toronto propane plant explodes

The Sunrise Propane facility at Keele Street and Wilson Avenue erupts in fire after a series of explosions. One employee dies and a firefighter dies of a heart attack the next day. (Photo by Angela Deluce / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Sunrise Propane fire


June 26, 2010 - G20 Toronto Summit is held

Outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, police cause controversy over their handling of security at the G20 Summit hosted in Toronto. Inside the meeting, leaders discuss global financial systems and the world economy.


Nov. 5, 2014 - Toronto mayor admits to smoking crack

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine in a 'drunken stupor' after months of speculation about a video appearing to show him smoking the drug.

With files from Toronto Archives, Library and Archives Canada and the Archives of Ontario