Breaking down a few of the demographics in the GTA

By: Anson Wong

Published on August 19, 2022

Photo: vait_mcright

Newcomers settling in Canada will have plenty of options to choose from. Canada is home to many diverse ethnic populations. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is one region filled with diverse groups and cultures. A 2016 census by Statistics Canada found that 5.8 million ethnic people inhabit the region. Many newcomers may find some comfort in meeting those of similar backgrounds and wish to know where those communities can be found. Below is a breakdown of some of the key demographics.

English Canadians

English Canadians make up one of the largest groups in Toronto with more than 740 000. The highest concentration can be found at Beaches-East York. There are a number of bars and restaurants in Toronto featuring British Cuisine such as The Queen & Beaver Public House located on 35 Elm Street. You can also visit the Distillery District, a national historic site and examine the Victorian-era industrial buildings. Every year, the district hosts the Toronto Christmas Market with shops and attractions. 

French Canadians

French and English are the two official languages of Canada, making both languages mandatory for elementary and secondary schools. 247 000 French Canadians live in Toronto with a notable presence in Parkdale-High Park. French Canadians hold a significant presence in theatrics with the Théâtre français de Toronto performing shows for 55 years primarily at the Berkeley Street Theatre. There is Bastille Day which celebrates France’s national day every July 14th. These events feature music, markets, and sports for anyone to enjoy.

North American Aboriginal Canadians

Toronto holds the largest Indigenous population in Ontario with over 73 975 people of Aboriginal origin. Out of that 73 975 figure, 56 655 people identify as First Nations while the Inuit and Métis hold 1 360 and 17 860 respectively. However, the City of Toronto acknowledges that these figures may not account for every single Aboriginal. These statistics rely on a fixed address and First Nation members may move locations or some are homeless. Another reason can be a reluctance to partake in the census.

Nonetheless, Toronto holds a significant presence for First Nations people. The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is a membership-based charity organization to uphold Indigenous culture through programs. There is also the First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto which offers to teach Ojibway as part of its Indigenous program. These efforts are part of preserving First Nations culture.

Black Canadians

Black Canadian refers to a wide range of people who are of African or Caribbean descent. The majority of Black Canadians are of Caribbean origin and are the third largest visible minority group in Canada. One of the largest groups in the GTA is Jamaican Canadians with a population of 200 000. Neighbourhoods with a Black presence include Jane and Finch, Brampton, Ajax, and far more. 

Black Canadians hold a major impact on music culture. Toronto is home to many talented artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Tory Lanez, and more. All of whom greatly expanded Canada’s hip hop scene and set the trend on a global level. The city is also hosting the Little Jamaica Signature Projects which celebrates the history of Eglinton West, also known as Little Jamaica, through various events from July to September. 

Chinese Canadians

Chinese Canadians make up the largest immigration group from Southeast Asia, totaling 631 000 in 2016. They inhabit many areas in the GTA including Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Downton Toronto, and more. Several businesses owned by Chinese Canadians also offer their services in Cantonese and Mandarin. There are hundreds of restaurants that serve Cantonese cuisine across the GTA, and shopping malls like Pacific Mall that sell commerce. In addition, ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown are located at the intersection of Dundas Street and Spadina Avenue. Consider attending the Chinatown Festival with food and events lasting from August 20th to 21st

Greek Canadians

99 000 Greek Canadians are living in the GTA and have the highest concentration in all of Canada. Toronto has the largest number at 57 000 but other populations can be found in Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and more. Greektown is located on Danforth Avenue serving as both a residential neighbourhood as well as a commercial area. It has undergone the process of gentrification, with the neighbourhood hosting multiple businesses including residency. Every year the Taste of the Danforth event takes place where Greek food is sold. While these events draw thousands of visitors, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a cancellation over the past three years. 

Italian Canadians

Toronto holds the fourth largest population of Italian descendants in the world. There are 484 000 living in the GTA. Little Italy, located in College Street, offers a wide variety of Italian restaurants and businesses. The Royal Cinema is located in the area and hosts a variety of performances and festivals. Outside of Toronto, the three largest populations are in Vaughn, Mississauga, and Brampton. The supermarket chain Longo’s was founded by Joe, Tommy, and Gus Longo, who immigrated from Italy. Longo’s features 36 locations all over the GTA. Media is a prominent part of Italian Canadian culture with various newspaper and television programs. The Corriere Canadese is Toronto’s only Italian-language daily newspaper. 

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