A scenic view of Toronto City from above. Toronto is the largest city in Canada but why is Toronto called the Six? A scenic view of Toronto City from above. Toronto is the largest city in Canada but why is Toronto called the Six?

The Six Revealed: Decoding the Origin of Toronto’s Unique Nickname

Hi Friends! If you have ever wondered about the connection between Toronto and the popular nickname “The 6ix“, you are on the right page.

The same question was Toronto’s most googled question in 2019 and is the basis of my article today. “Why is Toronto called the Six?” Although there have been other nicknames for the city of Toronto, like “T- Dot,” “Tuh-ron-oh,” “The Big Smoke,” Hogtown,” and “T.O.,” But “Why is Toronto called the 6” is worth unearthing.

Inscribed in the hearts of Torontonians as “The Six,” “The 6ix“, or “The 6” has a lot of stories, myths, and inspiration behind this moniker. So let us find out what lead to this nickname of the city of Toronto.

Before we dive into Why is Toronto called the Six, let us descend and see why Toronto is called Toronto?

1. How Toronto Got Its Name?

There stands a pile of information behind Toronto’s name. Let us refurbish our minds and learn the history behind the word Toronto.

Two different aboriginal groups inhabited the current city that today we call Toronto. The name lies origin in the following two early settlers:

  • Wendat(Huron)- It means meeting place.

So let us determine whether it stands for the meeting place of the six municipalities sharing common borders or for other reasons.

  • Mohawk inhabitance-“Tkaronto”.

Tkaranto” refers to the narrow stretch of water between Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Literary, it means a place where trees are standing in the water.

The capital of Ontario, Toronto, grew into a metropolitan city with mega opportunities for business, shopping, education, entertainment, and residence for Canadians and immigrants. So let us see what all towns made Toronto the most sought-after metro city.

The Icy Canada team talked to Kim Christink, Founder and Owner of  Bayridge Counselling Centres, about the significance of the nickname “The 6ix” for Toronto. Here is what he said:

Kim Christink - Featured
Kim Christink

“When the term “The 6ix” scrawled across tourist souvenirs and stamped across the fronts of marketing campaigns by big corporations, I found myself rolling my eyes. Had a symbol of local pride become a cliché? But then something curious started happening.

A small, independent streetwear brand began sprinkling “The 6ix” into their designs, ironically sending up Toronto tropes of pigeons, construction delays, etc. To my great surprise, these were the items that later suddenly started selling like hotcakes to the local market.

The nickname was now signaling an insider’s understanding of the city, at once poking fun affectionately at its foibles and heralding its distinction.

Around that same time, I happened to be at a multicultural arts festival where young poets used “the 6ix” to symbolize the intersection of their diverse heritages and shared experiences with a Toronto upbringing.

The nickname had outgrown its origins; it became a canvas for the expression of nuanced, hyper-local identities within the wider city.

This case study shows that cultural symbols are not static; those who use them and how they are used end up defining their roles.

“The 6ix” may have even felt overused in some contexts very recently, but it is undoubtedly morphing in ways that reflect the complex, dynamic identity of Toronto.”

2. Toronto’s Nickname and Its Six Municipalities

Before January 1998, Toronto was not the whole city we see today. It was a town and had many municipalities bordering it. They were

An event happening in the city of Toronto, Canada. The word 'Toronto' is written in capitals below the stage. Six Municipalities make up the largest city in Canada, Toronto.
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash/ copyright 2017
  1. City of Toronto or Old Toronto
  2. Etobicoke
  3. East York
  4. North York
  5. Scarborough
  6. York

These six together today made Metro Toronto or Greater Toronto Area. There are fascinating stories behind each of these and why their amalgamation is called Metro Toronto today. You definitely will enjoy learning the below facts. Let us take all of them one by one.

2.1. City of Toronto or Old Toronto

Established in 1834, the town with boundaries to York in the north, Etobicoke in the west, and in the east lies East York. Famous landmarks like CN Tower, Yonge Dundas Square, Royal Ontario Museum, and the downtown core were part of Old Toronto.

This was in 1998, and due to The City of Toronto Act, Old Toronto became part of Metro Toronto.

2.2. Etobicoke

Etobicoke was set up as a town in the year 1850. Etobicoke is a beautiful location surrounded by water bodies like Lake Ontario in the south, Humber River in the east, and Etobicoke Creek in the west, with cities like Mississauga and Brampton. The City of Vaughan in the North completes the overall independent suburbs.

It later became part of Etobicoke when the Metropolitan Toronto was formed. With a multicultural population and several highways, Etobicoke gave the best connectivity to the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Today, Etobicoke is home to Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.

2.3. East York

East York holds a prominent position in making Toronto what it is today. It is an integral part of Metropolitan Toronto in Ontario, Canada. The affordable societies to live in, excellent schools, and the astonishing beauty of the neighbourhood all add to East York’s worth.

The Scarborough to the east, North York to the north, and Old Toronto to the west make East York an amiable place to live in.

2.4. North York

North York is placed between east and west prime locations. Scarborough is formerly located and Etobicoke to the west. It is located to the north of York and East York and is the fastest-growing town due to its nearness to Old Toronto.

North York has gone through a long existence battle, from the Township of North York layered from the rural Township of York to its amalgamating into Metropolitan Toronto. The events led to the city’s growth into a corporate and business hub.

North York City Centre is Toronto’s central business hub, Downsview Airport, which is also part of Centennial College aerospace campus, boasts of city influence on the six significant towns of Toronto.

Toronto’s two major shopping malls out of the main five are located in North York. Yorkdale Fairview Mall and Shopping Centre.

2.5 Scarborough

Scarborough was established as an English township inspired by a town in North Yorkshire. After the English settlement in 1790, it grew into a town in 1850. It became popular with immigrants in Canada due to its diverse cultural background. Today it is the most sought-after multicultural city in the Greater Toronto Area.

You may ask, Why? It has many continents breathing in a single place. For example, you can find Chinese restaurants in Agincourt; Caribbeans are settled at Lawrence Ave E and Kingston Road and along with many African and Indian shops.

2.6. York

York is located northwest of Old Toronto. The place is not only rich in history and culture because of a single township created by combining many villages in 1793. York is believed to have the earliest Black communities living in Toronto’s domain.

At one point, six diverse areas now amalgamated into one related common boundary, which probably led the rapper to call it
The 6ix“.

3. Origins Behind Drake’s Famous Moniker

Why Is Toronto Called The 6 - CornerFour

Where does six come as a nickname in Drake’s mind has interesting stories? Let us learn about the Toronto-born musician rapper Drake’s version, Why is Toronto called the Six?

3.1. Acknowledging Hip-Hop Artists

The local rappers’ Jimmy Prime and Oliver North were ideating about something unique. Then maybe because of two popular area codes, 416 and 647, they called the city of Toronto six.

Drake acknowledges Jimmy Prime, Oliver North, and fellow Torontonians for the 6. Drake said he just used and popularized it after a mutual understanding with Oliver North and Jimmy Prime.

Another popular belief is that six has nothing to do with area codes or six areas, but it is Jimmy Prime’s version of how the CN Tower next to SkyDome looks.

A skyline view of city of Toronto. The CN Tower with Dome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Marcin Skalij on Unsplash copyright 2019

So Drake confessed that he never created the nickname six; he just popularized it by using it in his pop music.

The credits to the local Toronto rapper Jimmy Prime or Oliver North are well established. In his interview with Nardwuar and Jimmy Fallon, Rapper Drake said that honour belongs to the local rappers.

We interviewed Bennett Heyn, CEO of Sell House Columbus Ohio, on how the 6ix has become such a cool nickname for Toronto. Here is what he had to say:

Bennett Heyn - Featured
Bennett Heyn

“The 6ix has become such a cool nickname for Toronto, and it’s not just catchy—it represents the city’s identity. Drake popularized it, drawing from Toronto’s area codes (416 and 647) and its six original boroughs.

When you say “The 6ix,” it’s like you’re capturing the whole vibe of the city: the diversity, the unique neighborhoods, the music, the art, everything that makes Toronto feel like home.

It’s crazy how much the nickname has taken off. Locally, it just clicks with people—whether you’re a die-hard Raptors fan or just someone who loves exploring the city. You see it on shirts, hear it in conversations, and it’s even used in marketing campaigns.”

4. List of Toronto’s Nicknames

Many nicknames call Toronto. But some become more popular than the rest. Here is the list of popular nicknames often used by Canadians.

4.1. La Ville-Reine (the Queen City)

Though not used now, the queen city moniker point to Toronto’s Victorian-era backdrop.

4.2. TO

No doubt the name is derived from Toronto, Ontario. It is a short form to it.

4.3. Tdot

It is the further shortened form of T.O.

4.4. The 416

The 416 is the first official area code for Toronto. “The Six” is said to be derived from the two area codes 416 and 647.

4.5. The Big Smoke

Australian writer Alan Rayburn in the early 1900s called Toronto “The Big Smoke.” Now the reason behind this is very valid. He called it so because Toronto had a mammoth reputation but nothing to showcase. Alan Fatheringham, a Canadian journalist, popularized the name.

4.6. Hogtown

Because hog processing was once dominant in Toronto City, Toronto got the nickname Hogtown.

4.7. Baby New York

Toronto, Ontario, is often called Baby New York. Well, everything for everyone, entertainment, the culture, Yonge-Dundas Square, resembling Times Square, in New York, USA rightly calls the city so.

Although each of the monikers for Toronto has a unique version behind it. Hogtown and The Big Smoke are no longer visualized as they are images of the city’s past. But “The 6ix” remains the city’s favourite nickname. Don’t you think it forms another basis, why is Toronto called the Six?

Robert Fausette, Owner of Revival Homebuyer, shared his views about the nickname “The 6ix”. Here is what he said:

Robert Fausette - Featured
Robert Fausette

“The nickname “The 6ix” has become a symbol of pride and identity for the city of Toronto.

It originated from rapper Drake’s album “Views,” which was released in 2016 and featured various references to the number six, representing Toronto’s area code (416) and the amalgamation of its six former municipalities. 

Since its adoption, “The 6ix” has become a popular term used by Torontonians and visitors alike to refer to the city. It has been embraced in various forms, from clothing and merchandise to social media hashtags and art installations.

This widespread usage of the nickname has solidified its place in Toronto’s cultural identity.

One significance of “The 6ix” is its ability to unite diverse communities within the city. Toronto is known for its multiculturalism, and “The 6ix” serves as a unifying factor, representing all inhabitants of the six boroughs that make up the city.

It has created a sense of belonging and pride among residents, regardless of their background or neighborhood.

Moreover, “The 6ix” has had a significant impact on Toronto’s global image. It has become synonymous with the city, representing its vibrant and diverse culture, music, and arts scene.

The adoption of “The 6ix” by Drake, a globally recognized artist, has also put Toronto on the map as a major hub for entertainment and creativity.”

5. Frequently Asked Questions

5.1. Why Toronto has several nicknames?

The rich history behind the queen city of Toronto embellished it with numerous nicknames.

5.2. Why is there so much mayhem about Toronto being called the 6?

As per the news release, in 2019 Canada, the top Google trending question was, “Why is Toronto called the Six?. Most of the Torontonians were unaware of the new moniker.

5.3. Who popularized the nickname “The 6ix“?

The answer, the Toronto, is called six, coined by Prime but popularized by rapper Drake when he used it in his album “Views from the 6“.

5.4. Is the big six the same as “The 6ix“?

No, the big six refers to the six big banks of Canada, where The 6ix is the moniker of Toronto.

5.5. Did each Torontonian like the nickname six?

No, initially, it faced lots of criticism, but eventually, it became famous.

6. Takeaway

Drake’s branded version in light of area codes 416 or 647 and, later on, the six areas of Toronto. Whether “The 6ix” point Toronto Six Municipalities or the dome along with CN tower or the area code for Toronto 416 or 647, all are well quoting Toronto’s most famous nickname.

All in all, business, shopping, education, health, skyscrapers, and transit options are my take on “Why is Toronto called the Six?” and shall I say, sixes or successes for Canada’s most talked about city, Toronto.

I hope the world and Canadians like my take on “The 6ix”.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on by Saket Kumar


  • Sonal Goel

    Sonal is an avid reader and loves to travel to places. As a keen and silent observer, she can pen her deep thoughts. Sonal has a Master's in English, Education, and Computer Software. The diverse areas help her touch the minute details that sometimes remain unnoticed in the real world. She loves writing poetry.

  1. “The Six” is a colloquial name for Toronto, coined by rapper Drake. It refers to the amalgamation of the city’s six boroughs into one in 1998: Toronto (Scarborough), Toronto (North York), East York, York and Etobicoke.

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  4. This article provides a comprehensive exploration of why Toronto is called “The 6ix,” delving into the city’s history, the amalgamation of six municipalities, and the influence of rapper Drake. The detailed breakdown of each municipality’s role in forming Toronto adds depth to the understanding of the nickname. Overall, it offers an informative and engaging account of the origins and significance of “The 6ix.”

  5. This article provides a fascinating journey into the history and cultural aspects that contributed to Toronto being nicknamed “The 6ix.” The inclusion of details about the six municipalities and Drake’s role in popularizing the term adds layers to the city’s identity. It’s an insightful and well-researched piece that captures the essence of Toronto’s unique moniker.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the diverse historical and cultural elements that led to Toronto being nicknamed “The 6ix.” The article’s comprehensive exploration of the six municipalities, the indigenous origins of the city’s name, and Drake’s influence provides a rich tapestry of Toronto’s identity. It’s a well-crafted piece that combines history, local culture, and pop culture to tell the story behind the city’s popular moniker.

  7. It was fascinating to know that that the name ” the six ” for Toronto was popularized by a Drake album through this article. An insightful read about the pop culture behind this now famous name of Toronto.

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