Travel

Canada’s cultural capital Toronto sure to impress

Our world tour continues with a particularly long journey this time around. Our plane left İstanbul, soaring into the air for a voyage that lasted 10-and-a-half hours before finally landing in the Canadian city of Toronto.

We find ourselves in Canada, a North American country which, based on land mass, is the world’s second largest country after Russia, measuring 9.984 million square kilometers. Canada has a population of 34 million and its capital is Ottawa.

Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with incredibly rich resources both above and below ground. Some of the underground resources include gold, diamonds, silver, copper, coal, petroleum and natural gas. There are endless forests as well, which means that Canada has a plentiful supply of timber. It is a modern and developed country, with all sorts of new discoveries in the technological field. Canada is a member of the G8 and boasts one of the strongest economies in the world; in fact, it is one of the world’s top 10 economies. Interestingly, Canada has not been greatly affected by the global economic fluctuations compared to other countries.

There are around 50,000 Turks living in Canada. Relations between Canada and Turkey are constantly developing. In just the first six months of 2012, 5,404 Turks visited Canada while 70,950 Canadians entered Turkey, which reflects a significant increase in the number of Canadian tourists visiting Turkey and who now know more about Turkey.

The only neighbor that Canada has is the United States. We head towards the border and stand at a spot where we are looking out at American land. The border between the US and Canada is the longest in the world, stretching approximately 9,000 kilometers. This is not surprising, considering that the countries in question have the world’s second and third largest land masses.

Very notably, 90 percent of the Canadian population lives within an area just 160 kilometers from the border with the US. The northern reaches of Canada, which are colder and much more uninhabitable, have far fewer people living there.

The United States plays a very important role in exports from and imports into Canada. In fact, 75 percent of exports from Canada go to the United States, while 51 percent of their imports are from the United States.

There are two official languages in Canada: English and French. The currency used here is the Canadian dollar, which comes in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50 and 100.

A country of immigrants

Canada has many immigrants who make up its population. In fact, it is estimated that half of Toronto’s residents were not born in Canada. As a result, there are around 100 languages spoken throughout Canada, which points to the different countries and regions from which all the immigrants came. Canada is a very cosmopolitan place, and respect for all its various languages, religions and races — as well as gender — is evident in its laws. The many immigrants who populate Canada live in harmony. There is very little cultural tension and you really can find people from everywhere here. Just one small example: Our taxi driver, named Omer, came here from Ethiopia and has been driving a taxi in Canada for 17 years. It has been 12 years since he last went back. When he learns that we are from Turkey, he tells us he is from the Ethiopian city of Harar and goes on to describe some of the wonderful traces of Ottoman times in his city. We are of course pleased to hear such glowing comments on the Ottoman era during just a brief taxi ride.

Toronto is actually one of Canada’s largest and most important cities. It has a population of 5.5 million and is the capital of the state of Ontario. We have the luck of being in Toronto on a sunny and beautiful day. Toronto is the financial, trade and cultural capital of Canada. It is the fifth largest city in all of North America following Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. It is also one of the world’s safest cities, with one of the lowest crime rates of any city in North America. It is estimated that around 10,000 Turks live in Toronto.

We arrive at Dundas Square, the most famous square in Canada. If Toronto can be called the heart of Canada, then this square can be called the heart of Toronto. In recent weeks, this square has been particularly lively. This spot is a favorite place for street musicians, with artists in every corner displaying their talents for all to see and hear.

We head from Dundas Square over to Yonge Street, which was formerly listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest street at 1,896 kilometers. It starts in Toronto and heads north into the northern reaches of Canada.

During our tour of Toronto, we arrive in front of the CN Tower, which is one of Canada’s most important symbols and one of the world’s tallest buildings at 553 meters. Its construction began in 1973 and was completed in 1976. The CN Tower draws a huge crowd of tourists, boasting an elevator that travels to the top at a speed of 22 kilometers per hour. We get in and feel as though we are shooting upwards into the sky. In fact, our ears even get blocked from the pressure. Looking out from the top of the tower, we can see the entire city beneath us; it is a great spot for looking out as you are 447 meters up, which gives you an unforgettable view of the city.

Atop the tower

There is also a viewing terrace below us about 342 meters high. There is a glass floor underneath and around the terrace to provide amazing views of the city. At first, visitors are tentative about stepping on the glass floor but when they get used to it, they start posing for photos, even lying on the floor to show that they are not afraid. It costs 24 Canadian dollars to go up to the top of the tower, though prices are different depending on which parts of the tower you visit.

In recent years, a thrilling activity called “EdgeWalk” was organized at the tower which attracts adrenaline lovers. Outside the glass partition of the tower, 356 meters up, visitors are roped to a rail system for safety and can walk around on a one-and-a-half-meter wide ledge, looking at the 360 degree views all around. Groups of six at a time are allowed and the edge walks last for 30 minutes. When there are strong winds or chances of lightning, these special walks are cancelled. The cost of these walks is 175 Canadian dollars, and though the price is steep, it is not something that you can really do anywhere else.

Nurdan ARSLAN
Email: 
nurdan@thelondonpost.co.uk

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