La Ville Reine — the French underground is all around us in Toronto

the urban geographer

This post first appeared on Spacing Toronto, and was originally titled #FrenchTO

Last week I was driving along College enjoying a jazzy groove on 90.3 FM Espace Musique. When the song ended and the hosts returned to their banter, I found it strange to hear familiar Toronto neighbourhoods, streets, and venues spoken about in French.

This experience is definitely not restricted to the airwaves. I regularly overhear groups of people speaking French on the street or subway, talking about Toronto. It’s about the hundredth time hear College Street pronounced as “Rue de Collège” that I recognize Toronto as a thoroughly French city.

When you look into Toronto’s history, it makes sense that people would speak of Rue de Collège today. In fact, Toronto’s history is steeped in French. As plaques along the Humber River will remind you, the first Europeans here were French…

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