Life in Toronto and York Region

toronto

About Toronto
About York Region
What to do in Toronto
Shopping
Public Transport and Driving
Visiting the USA

About Toronto

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and is the capital of the Province of Ontario. Located on the North shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto has a population of approximately 2.5 million people, making it the fifth-most populous city in North America. It is an exceptionally multicultural city, with 49% of its population born in a country other than Canada. Toronto is home to world-class cultural institutions and infrastructure yet is only a few hours away from the iconic and rugged natural environment that Canada is known for.

Toronto is often called ‘a city of neighbourhoods’ because the large city is actually composed of many distinct, smaller areas that have their own unique culture. In Toronto, it is possible to enjoy the sights, smells, flavours and sounds of many different cultures for only the cost of a ride on transit.

To learn more about Toronto’s neighbourhoods and the special events that they host, visit Tourism Toronto’s Website and The City of Toronto's neighbourhood information page.

York University’s Keele Campus is located on the northwest edge of the city, while the Glendon Campus is located in mid-town. Both are easily accessible by public transit. York provides a free shuttle between campuses.

For more information about Toronto, see the city’s official website and the city’s online resources for newcomers.  Students can get discounts on travel on the train, or entrance to museums with an ISIC Card.

About York Region: north of Keele Campus

York Region, or the ‘Regional Municipality of York’, is the municipality that borders York University’s Keele Campus and the city of Toronto to the north. York Region is a part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but is distinct from the city of Toronto itself. It has a population of just over 1 million, and is a composed of 9 cities and towns. York Region has its own public transit system, called York Region Transit (YRT/VIVA), in addition to being partially served by the provincial transit system, GO, and Toronto’s TTC.

Vaughan

Vaughan is in York region, is Toronto and York University’s municipal neighbor to the north, and should not be overlooked. With a growing population of almost 300,000 residents and a strong commercial and industrial foundation Vaughan is the only municipality in York Region that has City status. It is home to world-class art galleries, excellent shopping and Canada’s largest amusement park.

For more information, see York Region’s official website and the region’s online resources for newcomers.

What to do in Toronto

General

Toronto is a world-class city that offers something for everyone. The following section is a small sampling of the countless entertainment options that are found in Toronto. Toronto is widely regarded as a safe city, and the public transit system makes it easy to get around without a car. Once you feel comfortable at York, it is recommended that you spend some time exploring the city.

Many entertainment options offer discounted ticket prices for students, so make sure to have your student card with you when purchasing tickets.

For more information about things to do while in Toronto, visit the website of Tourism Toronto.

Get to know Toronto's neighbourhoods through free walking tours organized by the ROM.

Additionally, there are many great online and print publications that report on the cultural events happening in Toronto. A partial list includes:

Sports

Toronto has many top-level sports teams, as well as excellent amateur athletes. The following is a list of the most popular professional-level teams in Toronto.

Museums and Galleries

Toronto has many museums, galleries and educational centres that have world-class exhibitions. In addition to discounted admission for students, many of these sites have discounted prices on specific days of the week or during specific hours. Visit their websites for more information.

Also, Toronto has many small, independent galleries, theatres and music venues that feature local and not-yet-famous artists. Be sure to visit these smaller sites as well as the large institutions listed below.

If you join the Toronto Public Library system for free, you can explore the best of Toronto's arts and cultural treasures for free.

  • The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
    • Featuring elaborate and often interactive displays on natural history (dinosaurs, bats, evolution and more) and anthropology.
    • Admission is half-price between 4:30-9:30, and admission is free for students with valid identification on Tuesdays.
  • The Art Gallery on Ontario (AGO)
    • One of the largest galleries in North America, with over 4000 works of art. Designed by renowned, Toronto-born architect Frank Gehery, the building itself is a work of art.
    • Admission is discounted for students with identification and free on Wednesday evenings between 6:00-8:30 (special exhibitions cost extra).
  • The Ontario Science Centre
    • The Science Centre aims to engage people with science that is important on local, national and global scales by featuring top science experiences, memorable exhibitions, engaging programs and informative films. Visitors are encouraged to interact and participate.
    • Student general admission is discounted every day
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
    • Ripley’s Aquarium is one of Toronto’s newest big attractions, featuring engaging and educational displays of a wide variety of undersea life.
    • Adult admission is the same price every day
  • The McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art
    • The McMichael gallery is located in York Regions, in the village of Kleinburg, just minutes north of Toronto. Beyond the signature fieldstone gates, you will find outdoor art, four floors of gallery featuring the best in Canadian art – all surrounded by 100 acres of beautiful conservation land which you can explore through a network of paths and trails.
    • Student admission is discounted with valid identification.

Music, Dance and Theatre

  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO)
    • Featuring world-class performances of both traditional and contemporary works.
    • If you are between 15-35 years old, discounted tickets are available through the TSO’s Soundcheck program
  • Canadian Opera Company (COC)
    • One of the largest and most esteemed Opera companies in North America.
    • If you are under 29 years old, tickets are available at a discount.
  • The National Ballet of Canada
    • One of Canada’s premier dance companies, featuring many classic and contemporary performances.
    • If you are between 16-29 years old, discounted tickets are available.
  • Nuit Blance
    • Occurring annually, for one night only at the end of September or early October, Nuit Blanche is a 12-hour event that makes contemporary art accessible to large audiences. From sunset to sunrise city spaces and neighbourhoods are transformed into temporary exhibitions and masses of people roam the streets taking in the wonderful sights.
    • This event is free for all.
  • Mervish Theatres
    • The Mervish family have established a world-class theatre empire that brings Broadway hits to Toronto. Check out their website to see what is being staged while you are in Toronto.
    • Ticket prices vary depending on the performance, but discounted tickets are often available. Check the website for more information.

Architecture/History

  • Casa Loma
    • Visit Canada's Majestic Castle, Casa Loma and step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour. The former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Canada's foremost castle is complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens (open May through October)
  • CN Tower
    • Perhaps the most iconic structure in Toronto, the CN Tower offers uncontested spectacular views of the city from its viewing platform.
  • Black Creek Pioneer Village
    • Located close to York’s Keele Campus, Black Creek Pioneer Village offers an opportunity to step-back in time and see how the early European settlers of Canada lived.
    • Student admission (with valid identification) is discounted.
  • The Distillery District
    • Home to many of Toronto’s hottest designer boutiques, unique cafes, artisan shops, breathtaking art galleries, performance venues and award-winning restaurants, The Distillery District is the place to see and be seen. An internationally acclaimed pedestrian-only village, The Distillery features more than 70 ground-floor cultural and retail establishments in the restored red brick, Victorian-era buildings of the renowned Gooderham & Worts whiskey distillery.
    • There is no admission, but bring spending money if you plan to shop or eat.
  • Doors Open Toronto
    • Doors Open Toronto is an annual weekend, generally in April, that offers the public a behind-the-scenes look into many of the city’s heritage and important buildings. Check the event’s website for a list of participating buildings and organizations.
    • Admission is free

Cinemas

From Hollywood blockbusters, to the best in independent documentaries and film, Toronto has venues for all types of movie fans. Often, cinemas offer discounted tickets on Tuesday nights, and some cinemas have lower prices if you show your students identification, or with the purchase of a membership. Check out their websites or ask in person at the ticket counter to find out how you can get a discounted admission.

Popular Movie Theatres for York Students

York Student Cinema – a student run cinema based on the York University’s Keele Campus. Location: P/X 001 in the Petrie Science Building. Admission is substantially lower than at other cinemas. www.yorkstudentcinema.org

Colossus Toronto – a mega-cinema, operated by Cineplex. Shows first-run, Hollywood hits. Location: 3555 Highway 7 West, Vaughan. Getting There: Take Viva Orange West and get off at the Weston Road Stop. Website

SilverCity Yorkdale – a mega-cinema, operated by Cineplex. Shows first-run, Hollywood hits. Location: Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Getting There: Take the TTC subway to Yorkdale Station. Website.

Bloor HotDocs Cinema - an historic cinema located in Toronto’s vibrant Annex neighbourhood. This venue shows first-run Canadian and international documentaries, as well as special documentary presentations and showcases, including the popular Doc Soup screening series. Location: 506 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Getting there: Take the TTC subway to Bathurst Station. Website

NOTE: if you are planning on seeing a movie at an AMC or Cineplex theatre, discount student tickets are available at the York Federation of Students (YFS) Office.

Outdoor Life

For a city of Toronto’s size, it features a surprising amount of green space for you to explore. The following list is a small example of the natural wonders that Toronto offers. Once you are settled into your new home, be sure to explore the parks, markets and gardens that are in your neighbourhood.

The Islands

Toronto’s Islands are an oasis of green space and solitude, located only minutes from the heart of downtown. Take the Centre Island Ferry from the foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay, and spend the day walking, rent a bicycle or rowboat, have a picnic or visit the zoo, amusement park or unique cottage neighborhoods.

Toronto Parks

Toronto has more than 1,600 public parks and 600 km of trails. The parks system covers 8,000 hectares, or roughly 13% of the city's land area. It includes about 40% of Toronto's natural areas, many of which lie within the ravine system and along the Lake Ontario shoreline. City parks also feature beaches, playgrounds, sports fields, gardens, conservatories, ice rinks, special events and much more for you to enjoy.

Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market

The philosophy behind Pedestrian Sundays is: remove the automobile and the streets become a cultural playground – an expression of our community’s diverse ethnicity, age and interests.

Pedestrian Sundays are homemade - from the signs, to the music, to the giant piñatas, it’s the human touch that sets these apart from other street festivals. Visit and listen to great live music, taste delicious food from around the world, see art and dance, and enjoy the feeling of a vibrant community celebrating itself.

Pedestrian Sundays generally occur on the last Sunday of the month, from May through October. Visit their website for exact dates.

Farmer’s Markets

Toronto is home to over 30 Farmer’s Markets, where you can buy fresh produce, direct from the people who grow it. Prices are often lower than in grocery stores, and the quality is often higher. Markets are more than places to shop though – they are a great place to meet your neighbours and get outside for some fresh air. Visit the Toronto Market Network website to find one located close to you.



Shopping

Shopping for Food

Supermarkets Close to Keele Campus

While there are many restaurants on York’s Keele campus, students often choose to buy some of their food from grocery stores.  There are a few grocery stores (or ‘supermarkets’) close to the Keele campus.

  • Food Cents     
    • University City Mall, Sentinel Road
      • Directions: Walk South on Sentinel Road (South of the Village).
  • Real Canadian Superstore
    • Dufferin and Steeles Avenue
      • Directions: From York Lanes, take the TTC #60 Steeles East bus to Finch station. Exit at the Dufferin Street stop.
  • No Frills (there are 2 locations close to York)
    • 3685 Keele Street. (Keele Street and St. Regis Crescent)
      • Directions: Take the TTC #41 bus. Exit at the St. Regis Crescent stop.
    • 1 North Gate Boulevard, York Gate Mall
      • Directions: From York Lanes, take the TTC #106 York University bus and get off at Finch Avenue. Cross Sentinel Boulevard and take the TTC 36B Finch West bus to Jane Street. Exit at the York Gate Boulevard stop.

Home Delivery of Groceries

For additional fees, it is possible to have your groceries delivered to your home. Grocery Gateway is one of many businesses who offer this service.

Specialty Grocery Stores in Toronto

There are many specialty grocery stores that can accommodate any specific diet. If you are looking for kosher, halal, organic or regional foods, you can find it in Toronto. Below is a partial list of Toronto’s specialized grocery stores.

Chinese

T&T Supermarket
1 Promenade Circle, Thornhill (905) 763-8113

Kiu Luen Co Chinese Grocery
341 Broadview Toronto (416) 465-4928
Ocean Chinese Food Products
26 Laidlaw Markham (905) 294-7775

Indian

Ali's West Indian Roti Shop & Halal Meat Fish & Grocery Shop
1446 Queen W Toronto (416) 532-7701

ASA Meat & West Indian Grocery Inc
10086 Hurontario Brampton (905) 846-6199

Rubini East & West Indian Grocery
31 Tapscott Rd, Scarborough (416) 297-5053

European

Mrs. Bridges British Bakery (2 locations)
185 Oakdale Rd Toronto (416) 661-8663 +
Eglinton Square Shopping Centre, Victoria Park & Eglinton, Toronto (416) 701-9851

Scheffler's Delicatessen
93 Front E, Toronto (416) 364-2806

Elka Food European Delicatessen
197    Lakeshore Rd E, Port Credit (905) 891-2125

European Sausage House
145 Norfinch Dr, Toronto (416) 663-8323

Holland Store
2542 Weston Road, Toronto (416) 247-8659

Neimeyer's Imports (Dutch Delicatessen)
10 East Wilmot Street, Richmond Hill (905) 764-0302

Podhale European Meat & Deli
2775 Lake Shore Bl W, Etobicoke (416) 252-5507

Polka European Deli Inc
3482 Lawrence Av E, Scarborough (416) 289-0379

Kosher

The Kosher Food Warehouse
75 Doncaster Thornhill (905) 764-7575

Chai Kosher Poultry
115 Saulter, Toronto (416) 462-1313

Hartman's Kosher Meats
5974 Bathurst, North York (416) 663-7779

Kolbo Kosher Foods Inc
11 Richelieu, North York (416) 633-8784

Kosher City Plus Inc
3468 Bathurst, 'No City' (416) 782-6788

Kosher And Natural Foods
3413 Bathurst, North York (416) 789-7173

Manor Kosher Meat Market
662 Sheppard Av W, North York (416) 636-2000

Toronto Kosher
3459 Bathurst, North York (416) 789-5333

African Caribbean

Caribbean Corner
171 Baldwin St, Toronto (416) 593-0008

Halal

786 Halal Foods
25 Overlea, (416)467-7867

Halal Meat & Grocery
45 Overlea, Toronto (416) 424-2034

Shopping for Essentials

“Essentials” is a flexible term that can include a wide-range of common items. You will likely need to purchase clothes, blankets, dishes, pillows, towels and other household objects. There are countless places to shop in Toronto for all of the things you will need for your new home. Below are a few popular stores that are easy to access from York’s Keele campus. You will learn about other shopping options at your orientation session

  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre
    • One of Toronto’s largest shopping centres, with over 100 stores.
    • Getting there: Take the TTC Subway to  Yorkdale Station
  • Walmart
    • 101 Edgeley Boulevard (Intersection of Highways #7 and 400)
      • A popular store due to its low prices. You can also buy groceries.
  • IKEA
    • 200 Interchange Way, Vaughan
      • Known for ready-to assemble furniture and home accessories at affordable prices.

Directions to Walmart and Ikea: From York’s Keele campus, take the VIVA Orange bus or YRT Route #20 (Jane-Concord). Exit at the Interchange Way stop. Walk North across highway #7 for Walmart or South for IKEA.

Click here for a map from York (Keele Campus) to Walmart and Ikea.



Public Transport and Driving

Public Transport in Toronto and York Region

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) - Toronto has a large and efficient system of public transit that can take you anywhere within the city via bus, streetcar or subway (metro/underground). The transit operator within the city limits is called the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). You will be able to recognize TTC vehicles by their distinctive red and while colour.

Typically, when travelling on a TTC bus or streetcar, you will need to ask the driver for a slip of paper called a “transfer” to be able to switch to another different vehicle without paying the fare again. On subways, transfers are dispensed from a machine near the exit of the station. The TTC from downtown Toronto to York University does not require transfers. The trip from downtown to York’s Keele campus takes approximately one hour.

Note: TTC prices are discounted with bulk purchases of tokens or a monthly transit pass. On Keele campus, TTC tokens and passes can be purchased at Ink Blots in York Lanes. You will require a TTC issued student identification card to use student metropasses. These identification cards are issued on campus and downtown. Visit www.ttc.ca  for more information. To get your discounted TTC pass, see the YFS webpage for more info or go to William Small Centre.

York Region Transit (YRT)/VIVA – York Region Transit (YRT) and VIVA are York Region’s municipal public transit system. YRT/Viva offers local and rapid transit services in all nine York Region municipalities. More than 120 routes keep residents connected within York Region, as well as connecting services in the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel.

Complete information about routes, schedules and fares can be found at York Region Transit/VIVA.

GO Transit -  Go Transit is a public transit system operated by the province of Ontario and servicing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. GO’s routes extend to communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Complete information about routes, schedules and fares can be found at http://www.gotransit.com.

Driving in Ontario

If you plan to drive in Ontario, you should obtain an International Driver’s Licence in your home country before coming to Canada. It will be valid for 60 days from the day you enter the province. After 60 days you must get an Ontario driver’s licence.

If you are bringing a car into Ontario from another province or outside of Canada please review this vehicle licensing checklist.

For more information about insurance regulations and driving laws, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website or DriveTest.

The closest driver and vehicle licence issuing office is:

Keele Campus

Ontario DriveTest Centre - Toronto Downsview

37 Carl Hall Rd.
Toronto ON, M3K 2E2

***This centre is located in Downsview Park. The entrance is located at the back of the building.

Hours of operation:
Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Glendon Campus

Ontario DriveTest Centre

1448 Lawrence Ave E

Toronto, ON M4A 2V6

Hours of operation:

Mon-Fri 8:30a.m to 5:00 p.m.

Parking on Campus

All community members and visitors are required to pay for parking while on York’s campuses.  You may either purchase a parking permit or pay the daily fee at our visitor lots/garages.  With approximately 9200 parking spaces, the Keele and Glendon campuses are comprised of 32 various lots/garages. They include permit only, visitor, and mixed usage lots.

Visit Parking Services for more information, to purchase a parking permit and to see the locations of York’s parking lots.


Visiting the United States of America

Many international students decide to visit the United States while studying in Canada. It is important to know what documents are required in order to be granted entry into the United States of America. For more information about visiting the U.S.A., please visit the United States Embassy and Consulate in Canada website.

Students with a valid Canadian government study permit do not require a re-entry visa (also known as a Temporary Resident Visa or TRV) to enter Canada from the United States. However, York International recommends applying for a TRV if expired.

To apply for a visitor's visa to the U.S. (if required), you must schedule an appointment with a U.S. Consular Office. Appointments can be scheduled online by visiting the NVARS website.

Note: A Canadian study permit does not guarantee entry into the United States. An immigration officer at the port of entry to the U.S. determines whether or not a person legally qualifies to enter the country.