Canada for Kids: Living in Toronto, Canada’s Most Diverse City

Welcome to Canada! In this Go With Nugget for Kids podcast episode we’re headed to Toronto, Canada’s biggest and most culturally diverse city. With the help of 14-year-old Cameron, we’ll learn about Canada’s two official languages and the many different types of foods Toronto has to offer. We’ll explore Maple Leaf Square (also known as Jurassic Park) and have dinner in a revolving restaurant high in the sky. We’ll also learn about when Cameron got to meet a real-life astronaut and the prime minister of Canada. If you love food, basketball and space, you’ll love this episode all about Toronto, Canada for kids!

25 min
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CANADA GEOGRAPHY: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS TORONTO?

Canada, often called “The Great White North,” is the country at the top of North America and is divided into ten provinces and three territories. It is the second largest country in the world after Russia and has a population of nearly 38 million people — that’s a bit less than the state of California with 39.5 million people! Most of the population of Canada lives along the border with the United States — this border is the longest international border in the world at 8,891 km (5,525 miles) long! In the northern part of the country, there are vast forests, tundras and thousands of lakes that contain 20% of all the freshwater on Earth!

Toronto is on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, which is one of the five Great Lakes. These lakes are all connected by rivers and the famous Niagara Falls. Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario and is Canada’s biggest city — with over 2.9 million people. Many people live outside the city center but still call Toronto home. If you include the Greater Toronto Area the population of Toronto rises to 5.9 million people!

Canada for Kids: Toronto city hall at night

A view of Toronto’s city hall at night.  Photo: Cornelia Schneider-Frank from Pixabay

FUN FACTS ABOUT CANADA: TWO OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

One of the things that makes Canada unique is that there are two official languages, English and French. Everything you see and read has both French and English writing on it  — like street signs, groceries and even a tub of peanut butter. Most children in Canada learn French in school starting in kindergarten, and some schools start off all in French and then gradually add more classes in English as the children get older. This is called a French Immersion school and is the kind of elementary school that Cameron went to in Toronto.

Canada for Kids: Welcome to Ontario bilingual sign

Signs in Canada are usually in English and French.
Photo: IG Canada

Canada for Kids: Bilingual Stop Sign

Bilingual stop sign in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
Photo: MPD01605 on Flickr.

Canada for Kids: Cameron with his bike on his way to school

Cameron is ready to ride to school.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Canada for Kids: Tub of Bilingual Peanut Butter

Check out this bilingual tub of peanut butter.
Photo: Veronique Langlois Kinsey.

FUN FACTS ABOUT CANADA: TORONTO IS CANADA’S MOST MULTICULTURAL CITY

Although Canada has two official languages, about 20% of the population of Canada speaks a language other than English or French at home. This is because Canada has a large population of immigrants from other countries, and Toronto is the most culturally diverse city in Canada and the world! There are over 250 ethnicities and 170 languages in Toronto. Cameron has neighbors with cultural heritage from all around the world, including Greece, Malaysia, Italy, Vietnam and Southeast Asia. This diversity of cultures is one of the things that makes Toronto such a wonderful place to grow up.

Cameron’s school recently celebrated Tamil Heritage month. Tamil Heritage month celebrates the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canadian society. The Tamil people are originally from southern India and northern Sri Lanka. During this celebration, the students learned about the Tamil language and culture, and Cameron even got to shake hands with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau!

Canada for Kids: Prime minister of Canada at a Tamil Heritage Month Celebration

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting kids during Tamil Heritage Month.
Photo:  Lanka Reporter.

CANADA FOR KIDS: EXPLORING DIFFERENT FOODS IN KENSINGTON MARKET

One of Cameron’s favorite places to explore in Toronto is Kensington Market. It is a wonderful place to see, hear, smell and taste the diversity of the city. Kensington Market is a neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops and cafes where you can taste the cuisine of so many different cultures. Cameron’s favorites are Chinese dim sum (steamed dumplings), Indian food, especially a curry dish he calls butter chicken (similar to Chicken Tikka Masala) with naan bread, and Jamaican patties. Yum!

Canada for Kids: Outside a noodle restaurant in Kensington Market

Ready for some yummy noodles and dim sum.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Canada for Kids: The Big Burrito Kensington Market

 Cameron’s favorite, the Big Fat Burrito restaurant in Kensington Market.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Canada for Kids: Shops in Kensington Market

You can find bakeries, a cheese shop and more in Kensington Market.
Photo: ©Gura/Wikicommons.

NUGGET TIP

If you’d like to try some of these amazing foods in your city, ask your grown-ups to explore new foods together. You’ll have an adventure and make great memories.

CANADA FOR KIDS: EXPLORING TORONTO

Toronto is a great place to grow up — it has loads of activities for kids including cool museums, aquariums, sports stadiums, towers, amusement parks and so much more! Cameron has some great places he loves to explore and would recommend to any kids coming to Toronto to visit.

Canada for Kids: CNE in the summer

View of Toronto from the annual summer Canadian National Exhibition.
Photo: CNE.

ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS IN TORONTO: CN TOWER

The CN Tower is one of Canada’s national landmarks. Over 2 million people visit the tower every year to get a bird’s-eye view of all of Toronto, Lake Ontario and the Toronto islands. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to the state of New York! The CN Tower is the 9th tallest freestanding structure and it’s 553 meters high. That’s 1,814 feet! For those brave enough, you can get to the observation deck, a 360-degree rotating restaurant and a glass floor from one of the six glass elevators in just 58 seconds!

Canada for Kids: The CN Tower

Cameron is ready to head up the CN Tower. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

Canada for Kids: On the glass floor of the CN Tower

Cameron on the glass floor, not afraid of heights….
Photo: Cameron

Canada for Kids: CN Tower

Way up high is the observation deck.
Photo: Glenn Slingsby from Pixabay

DID YOU KNOW

Lightning strikes the CN Tower around 75 times a year! Luckily, there are copper “grounding” rods that run down the side of the tower into the ground, to help prevent damage caused by the electricity.

ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS IN TORONTO: MAPLE LEAF SQUARE

Maple Leaf Square is a public space in Toronto where fans get together to watch live hockey and basketball games on the big, big screen. Toronto is home to NHL hockey team the Maple Leafs and NBA basketball team the Raptors (the 2019 NBA Finals champions). When the Raptors are playing, Maple Leaf Square is called Jurassic Park. He loves the energy and excitement of watching the games there with the crowds of fans. Cameron plays on his school’s basketball team and is a huge fan of the Raptors. Whenever he can, he goes to the games with his father and older brother.

Canada for Kids: Jurassic Park at the NBA Finals

Jurassic Park for Game 6 of the NBA Finals when Raptors won in 2019.
Photo: Fareen Karim for BlogTO

Canada for Kids: Enjoying a Toronto Raptors Game

Cameron at a Toronto Raptors game with his dad and brother.
Photo: Cameron.

Canada for Kids: Shooting hoops in your driveway

Cameron loves playing basketball.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS IN TORONTO: CENTRE ISLAND & CENTREVILLE

Centre Island is one of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario and is a great summer destination for locals and visitors to Toronto. You have to take a short 10-15 minute ferry to get there, where you will see great views of the Toronto skyline.

Canada for Kids: Ferry to Centre Island Toronto

View of Toronto from the ferry to Centre Island.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

When you arrive on Centre Island, you’ll find parks, fountains, gardens, picnic areas and a great beach where Cameron likes to go swimming on a hot summer day. You can rent bikes or quadricycles and explore the island. There is a fun amusement park called Centreville with rides and games, as well as Far Enough Farm, where you can get up close to over 40 species of farm animals and exotic birds. Spending time on Centre Island makes you feel like you’re not in Canada’s biggest and busiest city, but instead on a beautiful, peaceful island in the middle of a lake!

Canada for Kids: View from Tony Thompson Park

Greenery in Tony Thompson Park on Centre Island.
Photo: Alice Cussler from Pixabay

Canada for Kids: Friends enjoying a sunny day on Centre Island

Cameron with his older brother Ethan and their friend George at Centre Island.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS IN TORONTO: ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE

Another one of Cameron’s top places to go to in Toronto is the Ontario Science Centre. There are over 500 interactive experiences, as well as live science demonstrations and an IMAXⓇ Dome theatre.

Canada for Kids: Ontario Science Centre

Outside the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.
Photo: Ontario Science Centre.

In this Go With Nugget for Kids podcast episode, Cameron tells us about when he visited the Space Hall and Planetarium, where he got to meet Canada’s first female astronaut, Roberta Bondar. Roberta Bondar is a neurologist and a pioneer of space medicine research. She was one of the very first Canadian astronauts and flew on the American space shuttle Discovery in 1992. As a neurologist, she went to space to research how the human nervous system adapted to low gravity. Gravity is what keeps us on Earth from floating up off the ground — in space, there is little to no gravity. So, this research was important to help future space missions.

Canada for Kids: Interactive Space Exhibit

“Cameron the astronaut” at the space exhibit.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Canada for Kids: Meeting a real astronaut

Meeting Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

FUN FACTS ABOUT CANADA: SUMMERS ARE HOT AND WINTERS ARE COLD

Toronto has four distinct seasons with nice, hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Summer temperatures in Toronto can range anywhere between 20-35 degrees Celsius (68-95 degrees Fahrenheit) and can get bitterly cold in the winter, sometimes even dropping to -22 degrees Celsius (that’s -8 degrees Fahrenheit)! Brrrr! And because Toronto is next to the lake, it can get very windy and humid! If you want to visit in the winter, it is best to be prepared with some good snow boots, mitts, scarf and a tuque (the Canadian word for a wooly winter hat!). One of the best things about being a kid in Canada is getting to play in the snow all winter long and then enjoy long, hot, summer days.

Canada for Kids: Family fun in the cold

Taking a family portrait while ice skating in Nathan Phillips Square. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

Canada for Kids: Centre Island Beach on Lake Ontario

Running along the beach after a swim in Lake Ontario.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Canada for Kids: A nice snowman

When there’s snow, build a snowman!
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

TORONTO FOR KIDS: A BIT ABOUT CAMERON

Cameron loves living in Toronto — he thinks it’s an amazing place to grow up and would love for kids everywhere to come and explore his hometown of Toronto, Canada. One of the reasons he really appreciates where he lives, is that he and his family have travelled together to over 47 countries! His favorite was learning about all the culture and history of China.

Canada for Kids: Exploring Beijing

Did someone say something funny? Visiting the Olympic Village in Beijing, China.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

Canada for Kids: Meeting locals in China

Cameron with his brother and local kids in China.
Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis.

Cameron feels that his travels have made him more open-minded and willing to try new things. He was so inspired by his travels, and even started his own YouTube channel called Cameron Travels, where he encourages kids to get out of their comfort zone and explore! Check it out!

Here is his YouTube video about his top 5 things to do in Toronto. Enjoy!

SPECIAL THANKS

This episode would not have been possible without the help and generosity of Cameron’s mother, Heather Greenwood Davis, for sharing their travels and the places they love to visit in their city. Heather is also a writer and editor for National Geographic Traveler and The Globe and Mail, a TV Travel Expert on The Social on CTV and founder of Globetrotting Mama.

A special thanks to Shotsbyfareen and BlogTO for the great image of Jurassic Park (Maple Leaf Gardens) and RubanCam for the audio for Tamil Heritage Month.

The theme song for Go With Nugget for Kids was written and composed by Andrew & Polly from the musical kids podcast Ear Snacks.

Go With Nugget for Kids is a proud member of Kids Listen, an international organization of advocates for high quality audio content for children. If you love kids podcast, go check them out!

Go With Nugget for Kids is part of Nugget, a global community for parents to share and discover unique travel itineraries for memorable family vacations.

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