A sophisticated metropolis of global business, ethnic diversity and distinct neighbourhoods, Toronto is a world-class city of almost 2.8 million Canadians. Like its counterparts of New York City and Chicago south of the border, Toronto is a major business center, with a strong economy and an infrastructure of academics, cultural pursuits and luxury lifestyles. The urban core is quite compact and easy to navigate, on the shores of Great Lake Ontario. The city experiences four distinct seasons, with snowy winters and hot, humid summers. The principal language is English, but Toronto is characterized by pockets of communities from the world over. This is evident in the variety of faces, languages, customs and range of foods found in our city.
For the business woman with limited leisure time, Toronto can be discovered indoors and out. Shopping districts are organized in clusters around the city. Exercise gyms and running routes are abundant. Spas, restaurants and movie theatres offer escapes and experiences. Museums regularly rotate exhibitions and Broadway-style shows get rave reviews. Social and business clubs, arts and cultural memberships, as well as current events publications are tools that resident business women utilize and are happy to share with like-minded visitors to our vibrant city.
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT
Toronto’s international airport is Pearson (YYZ). It ranges from 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes in heavy traffic periods to commute to downtown by taxi or rented car. Taxis cost $50 to $70; more for limousines. There are no dedicated women’s taxis; such service requires private booking. Public transit (TTC) is a 1 hour $3 bus-subway commute. Buy tokens on Arrivals level, or pay on bus cash in exact change. I use TTC because I travel with only a rolling carry-on suitcase that is easy to manage on escalators and elevators. Inquire if your hotel operates a shuttle for convenience. Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) is a much smaller but downtown facility.It operates a free ferry and shuttle connecting the island airport to the city and TTC. Taxi fares to hotels are less than $30 and 30 minutes. The flat $3 TTC fare covers all city destinations.
local business etiquette and customs
Toronto is an amalgamation of citizens from around the world. You may hear languages from all five continents. As such, customs vary across households and neighbourhoods. Business is typically conducted in English. Although French is an official national language, signage and menus are English. Office hours are Monday to Friday, while retail remains open seven days. There are no pauses or public acknowledgments for religious observances, nor any siesta closing hours midday.
It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone and to exchange business cards. It is normal to conduct meetings over coffee or a meal. Having established a business relationship, it is common among women to hug or offer a cheek kiss after an initial handshake. Although not boardroom practise, this gesture is simply friendly. Oddly enough, people rarely make eye contact on streets or in elevators. Meal gratuities are not included; add 15 to 20%. Tip taxis and hotel staff based on service.
Streets, neighbourhoods, parks and public transit are completely safe to navigate during daytime. Police are to be trusted. There is little crime in the financial and urban core, day or night. As with any large city, take care after dark and exercise common sense.
ambassador: TAMARA BELL
My modus operandi has always been to discover what is unique and memorable about the cities that I travel to. In Miami, I once started my day with Cuban coffee served through a take-out window lined up with local moms and police officers. I got to practice my Spanish and savour a cafe con leche surrounded by the aroma of freshly baked pastelitos de guayaba, empanadas and croquettas. I have used a 30-minute break to dash out for a bubble tea in Kowloon, where the owner’s little girl lunched on ramen noodles and smiled for my camera.
I returned home from Kyoto with toothpaste lettered with Japanese characters that sits on my vanity and reminds me of kimonos and temples. Nobu restaurant in town? I must go. My boys and I keep count of which locations we have been to around the world: 10. I have taken advantage of late museum hours to see another Warhol in Paris and the Van Gogh collection in Amsterdam at 9 PM. The list goes on. I am your Ambassador in Toronto. Whether you have an entire evening or just an hour to spare, I have a thousand recommendations to share. Contact me here
Networking: See who is networking in Toronto now
Read the doing business in Canada guide.