A City for All

The first immigrants came by boat. If today you stand with the lake behind you, imagine the original shoreline located all the way north of the rail lines. To the east was Dr. Rees' wharf, which served the first immigrants.

One of The Arrival sculptures by Rowan Gillespie at Ireland Park, c 2012 (photo by Roger Kohn).

When Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe established York (Toronto), the new capital of Upper Canada, in 1793, the seeds of diversity were already planted. The conclusion of the War of 1812 set the stage for Toronto’s evolution into a major economic and cultural centre. By remaining British, Toronto became a destination for British, mainly English, immigrants. This changed dramatically with the arrival of the Irish in 1847, refugees from famine and disease.

Subsequent immigration came in sporadic waves, each providing opportunities for the newcomers and challenges for the city, which in time became inclusive and one of the most multicultural cities on Earth. The sites included in this theme provide a sense of immigrant experiences, including Ireland Park and its story of the 1847 famine, and Kensington Market, at various times home to waves of Jewish, Caribbean, Asian and South American immigrants.

A selection of sites from this theme is laid out in the trail Immigrant Toronto.

The Stories