How Toronto Earned the Moniker "The Big Smoke" - The Intrepid

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Toronto Earned the Moniker "The Big Smoke"

Toronto The Big SmokeToronto The Big SmokeToronto's shoreline. Top photo: ca. 1912. Bottom photo: March 2, 1904.

In his book, Naming Canada: Stories about Canadian Place Names, Alan Rayburn suggests that the name was bestowed on Toronto in 1975 by Maclean's writer Allan Fotheringham, after he'd heard Australian aboriginals apply the term to their cities. Fotheringham felt that the phrase suited Toronto, as it had a "big reputation, little to show for it."

Rayburn doesn't explain how it caught on though, and the photos above make it hard not to think about the nickname literally.

Both photos are from the City of Toronto Archives. Background information from Torontoist.