Why Is Toronto Called the Six in 6 Must Know Points

Sonal Goel
Sonal GoelApril 29, 2023
Updated 2023/09/12 at 11:17 AM
A scenic view of Toronto City from above. Toronto is the largest city in Canada but why is Toronto called the Six?
Image by therise from Pixabay / copyright 2016

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.

2. Six Municipalities- Why Is Toronto Called the Six?

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. Famous Drake Version- Why Is Toronto Called the Six?

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.

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?

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”.

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