Financial District, Toronto

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Financial District
View of the Financial District from the north east at the Pantages Tower
View of the Financial District from the north east at the Pantages Tower
Location of Financial District
Financial District, Toronto is located in Toronto
Financial District, Toronto
Location within Toronto
Coordinates: 43°38′52.565″N 79°22′54.308″W / 43.64793472°N 79.38175222°W / 43.64793472; -79.38175222Coordinates: 43°38′52.565″N 79°22′54.308″W / 43.64793472°N 79.38175222°W / 43.64793472; -79.38175222
Country Canada
Province Ontario

The Financial District is the central business district of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was originally planned as New Town in 1796 as an extension of the Town of York (later the St. Lawrence Ward).[1] It is the main financial district in Toronto and is considered the heart of Canada's finance industry. It is bounded roughly by Queen Street West to the north, Yonge Street to the east, Front Street to the south, and University Avenue to the west, though many office towers in the downtown core have been and are being constructed outside this area, which will extend the general boundaries. Examples of this trend are the Telus Harbour, RBC Centre, and CIBC Square.

It is the most densely built-up area of Toronto, home to banking companies, corporate headquarters, high-powered legal and accounting firms, insurance companies and stockbrokers. In turn, the presence of so many decision-makers has brought advertising agencies and marketing companies. The banks have built large office towers, much of whose space is leased to these companies.

The bank towers and much else in Toronto's core are connected by a system of underground walkways, known as PATH, which is lined with retail establishments making the area one of Toronto's most important shopping districts. The vast majority of these stores are only open during weekdays during the business day when the financial district is populated. During the evenings and weekends, the walkways remain open but the area is almost deserted and most of the stores are closed.

It is estimated 100,000 commuters enter and leave the financial district each working day. Transport links are centred on Union Station at the south end of the financial district, which is the hub of the GO Transit system that provides commuter rail and bus links to Toronto's suburbs.


The district's origins date back to the mid to late-19th century when several early banks had head offices located in Toronto. Most of these banks were regional and came and went. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the district became a centre for the Big Five Canadian banks.

The Financial District from the air, 1920.

Of the Big Five banks, only CIBC and Toronto-Dominion Bank (including the banks existing before mergers) had full head offices in Toronto: Among the Big Five banks, two of them were established in Toronto, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD). CIBC was established in 1961 with the merger of two Toronto-based banks, the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada; whereas TD was established in 1955 with the merger of two other Toronto-based banks, the Bank of Toronto and The Dominion Bank.

The other three Big Five banks were established outside of Ontario during the 19th century, and moved their headquarters to Toronto in the 20th century. Two of the banks, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Scotiabank, were established in Halifax. Scotiabank relocated to Toronto in 1931, while RBC relocated its head office to Montreal in 1907, and later to Toronto in 1976. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) was also established in Montreal, although the bank relocated its head offices to Toronto in 1975. While First Canadian Place in Toronto serves as BMO's operational headquarters or "executive offices," its legal head office remains in Montreal.[2] Similarly, Royal Bank Plaza maintains two headquarters in Montreal and Toronto, with RBC referring to Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto as its "corporate headquarters".[3]

In addition to major financial institutions, several Toronto-based law firms, most notably the Seven Sisters, have also based their offices in the Financial District.

The Toronto Financial District Business Improvement Area was later retained order to represent all commercial businesses within the district. The organization engages in streetscape improvements, addressing key issues that impact the area, and promoting the area's businesses online.

With much business activity and demand, there are new residential and condominium/towers built inside and around the edges, many of them are connected to the PATH system. In the southeast of the financial district, a new tunnel is under construction from Union Station to connect to Backstage Condo on Yonge and The-Esplanade.

Lost historic buildings[edit]

Completed in 1929, the Art Deco Toronto Star Building was one of several historic buildings torn down as the district developed in the mid-20th century.

Developments during the mid-20th century led to the demolition of several 19th and 20th Century buildings including:

Notable landmarks[edit]

Buildings 200m+[edit]

A worm's-eye view of the Financial District's tallest structure, including three of Canada's tallest buildings.

The following is a list of buildings in the Financial District over 200 metres (660 ft) in height.

Name Image Height
m / ft
Floors Year Category Notes
First Canadian Place First Canadian Place reclad 2015.jpg 298 / 978 72 1976 Commercial
  • Tallest building in Canada since 1976
  • 8th tallest building in the world at the time of its completion
  • Tallest building in the world outside Chicago and New York City at the time of its completion
  • Tallest building completed in Toronto in the 1970s
  • Formerly known as First Bank Tower[4][5]
The Adelaide Toronto Trump Toronto June 2012.jpg 277 / 908 57 2012 Hotel & Residential
  • Tallest mixed-use building in Canada
  • 776 ft (237 m) to roof
  • Tallest building completed in Toronto in the 2010s as of 2017
  • Formerly known as Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto
Scotia Plaza Scotia Plaza 2009.JPG 275 / 902 68 1988 Commercial
  • Tallest building completed in Toronto in the 1980s[6][7]
TD Canada Trust Tower TDCTtower1.JPG 261 / 856 53 1990 Commercial
  • The tower is a part of the Brookfield Place office complex
  • Tallest building completed in Toronto in the 1990s
Commerce Court West Toronto - ON - Commerce Court West.jpg 239 / 784 57 1972 Commercial
TD Bank Tower TD Centre View from Yonge and King.JPG 223 / 731 56 1967 Commercial
Bay Adelaide Centre West Tower Bay Adelaide Centre 3.jpg 218 / 715 51 2009 Commercial
  • The tower is a part of the Bay Adelaide Centre office complex
  • Tallest building completed in Toronto in the 2000s
Bay Wellington Tower Bay Wellington Tower.jpg 208 / 682 49 1991 Commercial
  • The tower is a part of the Brookfield Place office complex

Other major skyscrapers and complexes in the financial district include:

Opened in 1929, the Fairmont Royal York is a hotel that sits on Front Street, the District's southern boundary.

Diplomatic and economic missions[edit]


  1. ^ Historical Atlas of Toronto, Derek Hayes, 2008, ISBN 978-1-55365-290-8, Pg 26
  2. ^ "Note 1: Basis of Presentation" (PDF). The Bank of Aiming Higher: BMO 201st Annual Report 2018. Bank of Montreal. 2019. p. 148. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Royal Bank of Canada: Annual Report 2015" (PDF). Royal Bank of Canada. 31 October 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "First Bank Tower". Archived from the original on January 1, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  5. ^ "First Canadian Place". Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  6. ^ "Scotia Plaza". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  7. ^ "Scotia Plaza". Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  8. ^ "Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  9. ^ "Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower". Retrieved 2008-02-18.

External links[edit]