Toronto Versus the World
It’s safe to say that there are some strong feelings on both sides of the equation when it comes to the European Union. France and Germany are often described as the twin engines of the EU, and they maintain that status today. Let's not even try to explain the UK's relationship to the EU at the moment. And then of course you have nations such as Russia that just can’t get enough of cursing its existence.
No matter how you feel about the EU, however, it gives members at least one nice perk—flexibility. Citizens of the EU are, generally, free to live and retire in other states, meaning that if you live in little Luxembourg but thrill to the bright lights of Gay Paris, or tire of slogging through the crowded London streets and would like to retire to the south of Spain, you can do just that,
With its enormous size and great variety in terms of landscapes and cities, Canada offers its citizens a version of that kind of choice as well. Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver—all of them register in one way or another on the world stage. Toronto is, without a doubt, is Canada’s premier city in terms of size.
So how do these selections stack up to the Best of the West, the biggest cities in North America and Europe in terms of population?
Well, for starters, we’re going to have to decide just what we mean by “West.” After all, Mexico City, Moscow, and St. Petersburg could all potentially rank in the Top 5 if we allowed them. However, as Mexico City and Mexico proper may arguably be said to belong to Latin America and Russia is, at once, on the eastern fringes of the West, the western fringes of the East, and an enormous entity unto itself, we’ll exclude these three selections from our list (with the exception of this honorable mention, of course.) Instead, we’ll be looking at the US, Canada (obviously) and Europe as Eastward as Ukraine. (And we’ll risk Vladimir Putin’s wrath by counting Ukraine among independent European nations.)
With that perspective, Quebec City gets absolutely dwarfed by its competitors. Sure, with more than half a million people living in the city, it’s far from being small, and is more than large enough to support an NHL franchise again, which is a goal it’s working towards with the construction of a new arena. That being said, while it looms large enough on the Canadian stage, Quebec City wouldn’t even remotely crack the Top 25 of the Largest Cities in the West, as that territory tends to be populated by those locales that can crack the one million mark. (To give you some idea, Toronto is barely in the largest 100 cities in the world.) As a result, while Vancouver is even larger than Quebec City with more than 630,000 residents living in the biggest city in Western Canada, it nevertheless cannot compete with the biggest cities in the West. What’s more, it’s not even king of its own domain, the Pacific Coast—that honor belongs to San Francisco, whose 880,000+ population puts it far ahead of Vancouver and likewise outstrips Seattle (724,000+). Vancouver is not even as big as Portland. (Obviously, the Greater Vancouver Area is significanlty bigger than the City of Vancouver.)
So what about Montreal?
The home of Les Habitants fairs slightly better, with its population of over 1.7 million topping major American cities such as Philadelphia, San Antonio, the aforementioned San Francisco and Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, and so on. In fact, not counting Latin American locales, Montreal ranks an impressive 6th overall in terms of the biggest cities in North America, not factoring in urban areas. Being the biggest bastion of Francophone culture and Catholicism in North America has definitely helped boost its profile over the years, as has the fact that it is one of the oldest and most storied major cities on the continent. That being said, population-wise it misses out on the Top 10 Largest Cities in the West, the lower rungs of which would be occupied by the likes of Warsaw and Budapest, both with 1.7 million-plus in terms of population to their name. Still, Montreal population-wise is the rough equivalent of Barcelona—and that’s not bad company to be in at all.
So where does that leave Canada’s heaviest hitter in terms of population and international recognition, Toronto itself? Congratulations, Toronto, you crack the list of the Top 10 Biggest Cities in the West!
- London - 8.8 million (urban area: 10.5 million)
- New York—8.6 million (urban area: 21.5 million)
- Los Angeles—3.9 million (urban area: 15.6 million)
- Berlin—3.6 million (urban area: 6 million)
- Madrid—3.2 million (urban area: 6.3 million)
- Kiev - 2.9 million (urban area: 3.3 million)
- Rome—2.8 million (urban area: 4.3 million)
- 8. Toronto—2.8 million (urban area: 6.6 million) - Rome and Kiev are larger population-wise by roughly 40,000-70,000+
- Houston - 2.2 million (urban area: 6.2 million) - barely beating out Paris
Surprised to see Toronto home to more people than Paris or Chicago? So were we. New York and London make sense as the largest cities in North America and Western Europe, respectively, and Los Angeles, as is evident from this list and the absolutely massive immigration and population boom that’s occurring in California in general and the LA area in particular, is starting to separate itself from the others below it as well. With reunification now long enough ago that there are college students of legal drinking age in the United States (21) who can raise a glass of German brew without ever having lived in a world of East and West Berlins,
- Germany in general and economically-powerful cities like Berlin in particular are likewise poised for a boom and
- You probably feel a lot older all of a sudden, don’t you?
Well, if you’re old enough to remember a Toronto Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup victory vividly…yeah, you’re getting up there in years as well. If it’s any consolation, however, we hope that you’ve aged and progressed as well as the city of Toronto itself, as quiet and humble Canada can now boast a city bigger than Paris, bigger than Chicago, and big enough to count among the Largest Cities of the Western World.