Toronto has changed a great deal over the centuries. Initially the settled area of Huron tribes, it became a contested property in colonial wars. Though it was well situated near trade convenient waterways, Toronto’s development into a Canadian economic powerhouse was a slow building thing.
As part of New France, the initial economy of the area that now holds the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), was a loosely populated part of the fur trade. Even a switch to an agricultural economy did not begin until the territory was handed over to English colonists. An influx of settlers into Ontario, with the arrival of Loyalist refugees caused a population boom, while fears of an American invasion would make it the provincial capital. At the time it was called ‘York’ and was overshadowed by Kingston, but its status as a capital encouraged growth. In 1832 the area was finally given the familiar Toronto name with a municipal incorporation, the first in Canada. Still, administration relied heavily on imported labour. At this time it would be impossible to find much in the way of law or accounting courses in Toronto!
Toronto would also play a part in Confederation, being at the epicentre of one of the two revolutions that encouraged Canadian independence. Then the industrial revolution came to Toronto’s agrarian fueled economy as it did to other parts of the British Empire. Rail networks made it a major transportation hub, and businesses cropped up along the rail line, both manufacturing and the mail order catalogue central offices that defined consumerism in the period. The city became more established, and though it had had a university since 1827, the training options, from engineer to business administration college, greatly expanded. Still, most of the population thought of itself as affiliated with their home countries, often somewhere in the British Isles.
World Wars and Beyond
Two world wars rocked the planet. For the area, both times the country went on war footing and volunteers put aside civilian lives, whether farmer in the outskirts or half way through accounting courses in Toronto, and went across the Atlantic to fight. Factories churned out war products and supplies. By the end of the Second World War, Toronto was starting to look like the modern city we know today. Montreal still held greater economic prominence, but that would shift with language changes until Toronto would eventually become Canada’s economic capital.
Today, many national head offices, and international head offices are based here. Students flock from around the world to enroll in everything from the old university to tiny, to a private web design or business administration college. The population still has heavy immigration, but it’s global rather than mostly European. And the future continues to look bright.