A portrait of Canada in all its splendour unites wild rural landscapes with pulsing urban centres. The diversity of our country is at the heart of the FlyOver Canada experience.
For this scene, we zoom in on Canada’s most populated city, Toronto. Home to more than 6.3 million people in the greater region, it’s a kaleidoscope of languages and cultures, reflected in each of its 140 unique neighbourhoods.
Where do we begin this Canadian urban adventure? At the Royal Ontario Museum exhibit of Chinese architecture, or cruising the aisles of the spectacular St. Lawrence Market?
Let’s start downtown. Looking down, from the top of the CN Tower.
Hover above it all and you get a superhero’s view from the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, a Front Street monolith stretching more than 553 metres (1,800 feet) into the city skyline.
The tower stands in good company, close to First Canadian Place, the country’s tallest high-rise, peering out from the core of Toronto’s financial district. Below, on a walk through Toronto on any given day, the city streets come alive with conversation. Words in Punjabi, Italian, Tamil, Cantonese, Korean and Farsi float around in the city air.
Not far from the CN Tower, at Canada’s busiest transport hub, all walks of life intersect. Inside historic Union Station, passengers buying their transit tickets in the “Great Hall” can pause to revel in the monumental architecture. A throw-back to the golden age of train travel, Union Station is a beautiful building that dates back to the First World War.
Occupying a full city block of downtown Toronto, massive 40-foot stone columns line the building’s façade along Front Street. As the country's biggest public transportation structure, Union Station averages about 200,000 passengers on a daily basis.
Like other railway stations built at that time, Union Station was designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style—and deemed one of the finest examples of this design in the country. The grandeur of the archways, intricate stonework and four-storey cathedral windows provide a captivating backdrop for inter-city travellers.
Almost one quarter of Canada’s population lives in proximity to Lake Ontario. For Torontonians, this Great Lake offers a vibrant 46-kilometre waterfront that serves as the city’s southeast border. Lovely beaches and parks speckle the shoreline. Great outdoor performance venues are set up here as well, alongside colourful markets and marinas.
Millions of visitors find their way to Harbourfront Centre every year to see the new works of artists from all genres—dance, music, film, literature, the list goes on. This cultural landmark spans just over 4 hectares (10 acres) along the waterfront and collaborates with hundreds of community organizations to bring arts and culture to the masses. Popular Canadian musicians, k.d. lang, Celine Dion, Feist and Gordon Lightfoot have all played there.
All these fabulous cultural events happening along the water get to benefit from the natural wonders of Lake Ontario: sprawling views, wetland wildlife and the awe-inspiring Scarborough Bluffs rising up 100 metres from the lake—not quite to the heights of Toronto’s skyscrapers but beautiful in their own right!
The shot that features Toronto during FlyOver Canada was particularly challenging, says Rick Rothschild, creative lead for the production.
The helicopter flew at a particularly slow speed to give the effect that the world is moving all around you. "You've got a very interesting perspective where it feels like you're flying gracefully across the city and yet the city itself is a cacophony of activity."
Since it's often compared favourably to New York City, Toronto is sometimes referred to as "the Good". But that's just one of many nicknames it has. Locals affectionately call it the "T dot", historically it was called "Hogtown". Other names include The Six, The Big Smoke, 416, Little York, Queen City and finally, YYZ.
Once you've enjoyed the incredible footage of FlyOver Canada as it zooms next to the CN Tower and amidst skyscrapers in an evening sky, you'll be tempted to take a trip to the "Big Smoke" yourself. Visitors to Toronto can get to Union Station via the UP Express from Pearson International Airport in 25 minutes. Union Station is walking distance to the Rogers Centre, the financial district, St. Lawrence Market and all sorts of other downtown landmarks.
Or choose to land at the Billy Bishop Airport on the Toronto Islands and a shuttle will whisk you straight into the heart of the city.
And call it whatever you like. We call it one wonderful city!