The history of Toronto begins approximately 12,500 years ago at the end of the Ice Age with the withdrawal of the ice sheet from the area of present-day Toronto. Soon afterward small groups of Indigenous people moved into the area. Prior to 1000 AD, the Wyandot people were likely the first group to live in the area, followed by the Iroquois. When Europeans first came to Toronto, they found a small Iroquois village known as Teiaiagon on the banks of the Humber River. The Mississaugas, a branch of the Ojibwa, moved into the area, drove out the Iroquois and settled along the north shore of the lake.
The French first set up trading posts in the area, including Fort Rouillé in 1720, which they abandoned as the British conquered French North America in the Seven Year’s War. After the US War of Independence, the lands of the Toronto area were purchased from the Mississaugas to provide land for a new settlement. In 1793, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe moved the capital of Upper Canada to Toronto, which he named York, not wanting an aboriginal name. Simcoe originally planned for York to be a city and military outpost and to set up a capital in the area of London, Ontario, but he abandoned the plan and York was named the permanent capital in 1796. The Mississaugas set up a settlement in the area of Port Credit to the west of York and eventually moved further west.
Simcoe directed York’s initial settlement on a gridiron layout near the mouth of the Don River. In 1797, the garrison which became Fort York was built at the entrance to Toronto Harbour. War between the British and Americans broke out in 1812, including a battle at the garrison in 1813. Peace came after only two years of the war which ended in a stalemate. During peacetime, York steadily grew in population, although its infrastructure lagged, leading to the nickname of “Muddy York”. As the village grew, tensions grew between the ruling class in York and growing merchant and worker classes who advocated for reforms. York was incorporated and renamed Toronto in 1834, leading to the first Toronto elections. Toronto’s first mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, a reformer, persisted in his efforts to reform Upper Canada, culminating in his organization of a rebellion in 1837. Upper Canada forces defeated the rebels, and Mackenzie and others fled to the United States.
The city steadily grew during the 19th century, a major port of distribution as Upper Canada was settled. Toronto businesses grew including the meat packing business, leading to the nickname of “Hogtown”. Toronto continued to grow by annexing outlying villages up until the early 1900s. After World War II, another major influx of immigrants came to the region, leading to a demand for new development in the outskirts of Toronto. To support the suburban growth, the Government of Ontario set up Metropolitan Toronto, a regional government encompassing Toronto and its suburbs, in 1954. The regional government, along with Ontario, invested heavily in infrastructure facilitating a boom in population and industry. In the second half of the 20th century, Toronto surpassed Montreal as Canada’s largest city and became the economic capital of the country. In 1998, the “megacity” of Toronto was formed by the dissolution of the regional government and the amalgamation of the Toronto municipalities into one municipality.
In the 21st Century, the central core has seen unprecedented office growth and residential growth, particularly of condominium apartments, while the former suburbs and further outlying suburbs have seen the bulk of new industrial investment. A major metropolis of just over 2.8 million people, Toronto is also one of the most ethnically diverse in the world. All of this growth took place on the lands of the original Toronto Purchase, of which final agreement was only finally reached between the Mississauga and the Government of Canada in 2010.