Ontario, situated in central Canada, is Canada’s most densely populated province, with close to 13 million inhabitants. Over a million square kilometres in size, it is so vast that it is sometimes referred to as two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The majority of people live in urban centres in the more densely populated Southern Ontario region, while Northern Ontario still remains relatively sparsely populated and is great for outdoor adventure.
Ontario is home to Toronto, Canada’s largest and most cosmopolitan city of over four million people, Ottawa, the nation’s stunning capital, spectacular Niagara Falls, and six other urban centres of note that are in the top 15 most populous in the country. If urban exploration is your preferred choice for travel adventure, Southern Ontario is a great place to start.
Ontario was also the first province in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage in June 2003, is home to twelve separate community Pride festivals, including Toronto Pride, one of the largest in the world. World-class wineries in the Niagara region, numerous attractions, exciting outdoor adventure, exciting nightlife and a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, make Ontario a top choice for both Canadian and international LGBTQ travellers.
Toronto, Canada’s largest city is a thriving megalopolis of over 5 million, situated in the Southern Ontario, is a world-class city by anyone’s standards and consistently ranks in the top tiers with other global cities in categories for livability, opportunity, financial centres, economic powerhouses, green index, innovation and business competitiveness, among others.
Toronto is also a world-class tourism destination, with a myriad of attractions, including Toronto’s most extreme attraction, Edgewalk at the CN Tower, which opened to the public on August 1, 2011. “EdgeWalk is CN Tower’s most thrilling attraction in its 35 year history, and the first of its kind in North America. It is the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod. Visitors will walk in groups of six, while attached to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system. Trained EdgeWalk guides will encourage participants to push their personal limits, allowing them to lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath them.”
Home to Canada’s largest LGBTTQ population, Toronto also puts on one of North America’s largest annual Pride celebrations, rivaling such powerhouses as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Toronto Pride Week is an economic force to be reckoned with in its own right, with an estimated one million attendees taking part in the celebrations in 2011. One of the largest festivals in the city, it also is a major financial boost for many local businesses and services, attracting out of town visitors from around the world. And speaking of visitors from around the world, Toronto has won the right to host World Pride 2014, which is expected to bring in even larger crowds.
The epicentre for LGBTQ life in Toronto for many is the Church-Wellesley Village. Home to the largest percentage of LGBTQ focused businesses, including world-renowned bars and clubs, gay bookstores, saunas, cafes, restaurants, clothing stores, hair salons, music stores, sex stores, travel agencies, and more, all conveniently located in a multi-block area of downtown. The village is also within walking distance of major downtown hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and several stops on the Toronto subway line.
West Toronto is another neighbourhood of substantial interest to the LGBTTIQ community, known as locally as the Queer West Village. Toronto’s second gay village exists without the usual core of gay bars found in most gay villages, with many gay friendly bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes. The Queer West Arts & Culture Centre, is home to the Toronto Queer West Arts and Cultural Festival, which runs from August 8 - 14, 2011.
Check our resource recommendations for detailed information on events, neighbourhoods, and more on this fascinating part of Canada.
|DELTA CHELSEA DOWNTOWN TORONTO|
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Ottawa, the fourth largest city in Canada, is also the country’s stylish and attractive capital city. The impressive Gothic Revival styling of the buildings on Parliament Hill is complemented by the contemporary styling of the National Arts Centre, National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights Monument, the stunning Rideau Canal and other national institutions of interest. This is also the seat of national government, where legalized same-sex marriage was proclaimed into law nationally, on July 20, 2005.
Ottawa is also a city of festivals, including the Capital Pride Festival, which celebrates 26 years of being Ottawa’s most colourful festival, August 19 – 28, 2011. Other festivals of note are the annual Canada Day Celebrations on July 1, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Winterlude, Rideau Canal Festival, Canadian Tulip Festival, Bluefest, Sound of Light, Capital Hoedown, and Ottawa Folk Festival to name a few