Toronto, Ontario

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Toronto, Ontario, has become Canada's best-known city. Once saddled with a reputation stodginess, it has been reborn and revitalized and now stands as one of North America's leaders at the arts, entertainment, and business.

Toronto boats a vast multicultural mix, with large groups of Italians, Germans, Portuguese, Ukrainians, Asians, and West Indians, each contributing to the city's mosaic. The cosmopoli- tian blend offers visitors fine dining from a seemingly endless range of the cultures. Shoppers can browse through funky boutiques on Queen Street West, admire the best of designer fashions in the renovated district of Yorkville, or visit Eaton Centre, a four-level $25-million retail complex. For people- watching and plenty of culinary delights, there's Kensington Market, which features fresh produce, fish, and plenty of friendly conversation. The city was designed and, since, renovated to make the most of its settings on the store of Lake Ontario. The best view is from the CN Tower, a 553-metre spire that is considered the world's tallest free-standing structure. Nearby is Harbourfron, a lakeside shopping, dinning and entertainment area whose restored warehouse is a centre for flea markets, art studios, and crafts shops. Much of the appeal of Toronto lies in its sence of history, which dates back to 1749 when French fur traders from Quebec established a ford on the site. The residents have worked to ensure the survival and revitalization of such areas as St. Lawrence Market (the place to be on a Saturday when the farmers bring in their wares) and a booming Chinatown, chock-full of restaurants and grocery stores.

Toronto is a cultural bastion, with the ultra-modern O'Keefe Centre, which is home to the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada; the Art Gallry of Ontario, with more than 15,000 works - from Old Masters to contemporary art - in its permanent collection; and the Royal Ontario Museum with its vast array of art and artifacts from cultures the world over. business and finance from another important element of the city, and Toronto's skyline is dominated by the high-rise towers of financial institutions. Among the most notable is the Royal Bank Tower, with its distinctive gold-embedded windowpanels. CN Tower

At 553.33 meters the CN Tower is considered the world's tallest free-standing structure. Construction took 40 months, cost $57 million, employed 1,573 workers, and was completed in June 1976. A slender column resembling a giant needle, it weight 132,080 metric tons - the equivalent of roughly 23,214 large elephants.

Visitors can step inside one of four glass-faced elevators and be whisked to the Skypod Observation level in under a minute. In all, there are three observation decks, at 342, 346, and 447 meters aboveground, the world's highest public observation galery. Each of these offers panoramic views of greater Toronto, Toroto Islands, and, on a clear day, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New york. Spectacular views are also to be had from Top Of Toronto, a restaurant at the 350-metre level that makes a full revolution once every 72 minutes, and Sparkles, a nightclub at the 346-metre level. Those who prefer to dine on the ground level can enjoy a snack in the family-style restaurant. The tower is a stroll away from the lakefront and a walking tour of Harbourfront parks and marinas.

As any famous structure might, the CN Tower has inspired legions of would-be record setters. It has the longest metal staircase in the world (2,570 steps), which is made available to the public each year for a charity stair climb. Stuntman Dar Robinson has jumped from the top of the tower twice - once with a parachute for the filming of the movie HIGHPOINT (1979) and once using a wire cable for the TV show "That's Incredible." On the tower's tenth anniversary, "Spider Man" Goodwin completed two free-style climbs outside the glass elevator-shaft window. SkyDome

SkyDome is the world's greatest entertainment center. It's a home to the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts as well as host to wide variety of other sporting spectaculars, concerts, family shows and consumeers shows.

Just how big is Toronto,s SkyDome? Well, you could put eight Boeing 747s on the playing field. Or all of Eaton Centre. Or a 32-home subdivision. Or the Roman Colosseum. Even with the retractable roof closed, a 31-stoerey buildings could fit inside the structure.

The $500-million buildings opened on June 3, 1989, after 32 months of construction. On that day, inclement weather forced the developers to prove that the multi-panelled roof could be closed in just 20 minutes. The roof runs on a series of steel track and bogies, weighs 11,000 tons - the equivalent, roughly, of 3,734 automobiles - and is made up of steel tresses covered by corrugated steel cladding.

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