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6 March 2011

On this day in history: Toronto incorporated, 1834

In the middle of the eighteenth-century the French established a trading fort on the north-western shore of Lake Ontario called Fort Rouillé, which remained occupied for around a decade. Later that century, following American Independence, many of those colonists who remained loyal to Britain chose to leave the United States, some of whom settled in Upper Canada founding the township of Toronto. The name probably derives from the Mohawk word tkaronto, which refers to an area with trees standing in water.

In 1787 the British Crown bought over 250,000 acres (over 100,000 hectares) of land around the settlement from the native population of Mississauga Ojibwa. Six years later the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, renamed the township to York in honour of George III's second son, Frederick, Duke of York. At the same time, York became the capital of Upper Canada, in place of the less-defensible town of Newark.

Over the next four decades, York expanded into a city of more than 9,000 residents. This growth created a need for local amenities and a government to manage them. This required the incorporation of the city, which happened on 6th March 1834. In order to distinguish the city from New York City as well as the many other places with that name in the province the newly incorporated city reverted to its former name, Toronto.

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