Toronto vs. Edmonton: What’s the Difference? 

Toronto View From CN Tower
Toronto and Edmonton are both capital cities of their respective provinces. They’re both large, beautiful Canadian cities that each have so much to offer. Toronto, the country’s most populated city, offers an international hub. Edmonton, a northern hub in Canada’s west, is known for its oil production and vast greenery and parks. 

 

Toronto vs. Edmonton: what’s the difference? Toronto and Edmonton are different from each other in the following ways: 

Toronto Edmonton
Geographic Location Ontario Alberta
Size (Area) 243.3 square miles 264.1 square miles
Population 2.93 million 981,280
Cost of Living (Monthly) $1,600 (medium apartment) $1,100 (medium apartment)

 

While these are the most major differences between the two major Canadian cities, there are more that distinguish the two from each other. People living in Toronto have a completely different experience than those living in Edmonton, but both cities are large, bustling, and stunning. 

 

The Main Differences Between Toronto and Edmonton

Location, size, population, and cost of living define the major differences between these two great cities. Toronto’s population makes it one of the largest cities in North America, and its size is comparable to that of Los Angeles or New York City, making it an urban jungle waiting to be explored. Edmonton is much smaller, more affordable, and close to acres of natural wonder.

 

Geographic Location: Different Provinces, Contrasting Weather, Distinct Landscapes

The first main difference between Toronto and Edmonton is their geographic location. Toronto lies to the southeast near Niagara Falls, while Edmonton is to the west and the northernmost metropolitan area in North America. Their distinct locations create vast differences in the experience of someone living in each city might have. 

 

Ontario vs. Alberta

Toronto may be more well-known on the international front, particularly for its proximity to Niagara Falls and the United States. Situated on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Torontonians can drive to a world-famous natural landmark or a road trip to an entirely different country. 

 

As the most populated province in the country, Ontario is Canada’s economic hub and is home to beautiful forests and parks and borders four of the five Great Lakes. On the other hand, Alberta also offers access to vast mountains and fields. 

 

Located in the west, Alberta is known for oil production and abundant cattle farming. Its vast landscapes with mountains, forests, and year-round sunshine attract visitors from around the world. Located near the center of the province, Edmonton provides a gateway to the adventures the province provides.  

 

Weather in Toronto vs. Edmonton

Because Toronto sits on the shores of Lake Ontario, the weather changes drastically with each season. While Toronto is in a very northern part of North America, the waters of Lake Ontario keep the winters warmer and summers more humid than expected. 

 

Winter in Toronto brings snow from December through March, and snow accumulations of more than 1 centimeter occur around 65 days each year. In the summer, locals enjoy many warm days with lots of sunshine, though smog and air quality from Canadian and U.S. industrial plants hinder some of the hot, sunny days. 

 

In contrast, Edmonton (and most of Alberta) is known for some of the most beautiful, diverse weather in Canada. The province is known for abundant sunshine throughout the year thanks to its dry climate as compared to the humidity in Ontario. 

 

While summer days are warm, nights in Edmonton are cool. In the winter, the temperatures drop drastically, and snow accumulations more than 1 centimeter occur around 141 days every year. The weather often changes drastically and can be hard to predict from day to day.

 

Landscapes: Eastern vs. Western Fronts

Toronto is a typical lakefront eastern city with a beautiful, lit-up skyline that can be seen from across the lake. According to Britannica, the city’s access to the Great Lakes, position on the edge of great farmland, and favorable climate make Toronto a transportation, distribution, and international trading hub. 

 

Toronto is the most populated city in Canada, and while its citizens will get a fair share of urban living, the area provides an escape, with Niagara Falls nearby and the tranquil Toronto Islands scattered in Lake Ontario. Businesses, housing, and entertainment are all so close and public transportation so abundant that many Torontonians don’t own a car. 

 

Edmonton is a typical western city with a spread-out layout. As the northernmost major city in North America, it’s known as the “Gateway to the North” (The Canadian Encyclopedia). The North Saskatchewan River cuts through the city’s downtown area. The city is also a hub for the oil and gas industry. 

 

The city is also home to miles of connected parks and trails. The smaller population and ease of transportation makes it easy to get around. However, because the city is so spread out, owning a car is more of a necessity than a choice.

 

The wilderness is in Edmonton’s backyard, so an escape from the urban landscape is an easy one. The city is also home to dozens of festivals each year, making it a cultural hub for the arts, music, and theatre. 

 

Cost of Living in Toronto vs. Edmonton

If you’re deciding between settling down in Toronto or starting roots in Edmonton, the cost of living may be a major factor in your decision. While Toronto has higher rent prices, each city’s daily living costs vary. These charts with information provided by Teleport.org outline the average cost of living for Toronto and Edmonton. Teleport provides the cost of living comparisons of cities around the world. 

 

Toronto Cost of Living Average Price Comparison to Average Price of All Cities
Large Apartment (Monthly) $1,900 +38%
Medium Apartment (Monthly) $1,600 +44%
Small Apartment (Monthly) $1,300 +53%
Daily Living Items Prices
Bread $0.88 +14%
A Cappuccino $3.70 +9%
A Beer $2.30 +17%
Lunch $14 +20%
Public Transportation (Monthly) $110 +90%
Movie Ticket $12 +20%
Gym Membership (Monthly) $48 -2%

 

Source: Teleport

 

Edmonton Cost of Living Average Price Comparison to Average Price of All Cities 
Large Apartment (Monthly) $1,200 -13%
Medium Apartment (Monthly) $1,100 -1%
Small Apartment (Monthly) $980 +16%
Daily Living Items Prices
Bread $1.20 +55%
A Cappuccino $3.60 +6%
A Beer $2.40 +23%
Lunch $15 +29%
Public Transportation (Monthly) $72 +25%
Movie Ticket $11 +10%
Gym Membership (Monthly) $48 -2%

 

Source: Teleport

 

What is There to Do in Toronto and Edmonton? 

Toronto and Edmonton are both bustling cities with their versions of nightlife, restaurants, shopping, sports, and other entertainment venues. They’re both popular cities for tourists to visit, each with a variety of places to go and things to see. 

 

Things to Do in Toronto

As a major city nestled on a Great Lake, visitors and locals never run out of things to do in Toronto. From a view atop the CN Tower to a stroll through Kensington Market, Toronto’s diverse neighborhoods and attractions offer something for all.

 

Most Popular Attractions

Perhaps the most famous attraction near Toronto is Niagara Falls. You can take in the view at the top from Table Rock or take a bike tour near the falls. There are boat tours, restaurants, and plenty of shopping near the falls. According to Niagara Falls Tourism, the region is secretly famous for producing great wines, and visitors can spend hours tasting wine around the area. 

 

Another famous attraction is CN Tower, located in downtown Toronto. The big space-like tower is hard to miss and is a must-see for Torontonians and tourists alike. Visitors to the tower can walk on a glass floor and take in views at the top of the tower: the SkyPod. 

 

Toronto also has miles of beaches along the Great Lakes that beach goers enjoy during the summers. The harbor overlooking Lake Ontario is unrivaled, where you can enjoy dinner while overlooking the water. 

 

Every September, celebrities and film gurus flock to the city for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where the TIFF theatre showcases some of the best Canadian and international films. 

 

If you’re looking for an escape from the city, head out to the Toronto Islands. Just a short ferry ride across Lake Ontario, the islands offer scenic trails, sailboats, and even a café with live music. 

 

Restaurants/Shopping

Toronto is known as a foodie city, and there is no shortage of diverse eats to please your palate. For two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter, the city partners with at least 200 restaurants for two big festivals known as Summerlicious and Winterlicious. Participating restaurants offer prix-fixe menus to showcase their best recipes.  

 

St. Lawrence Market is known as one of the world’s best markets. With three main buildings and hundreds of vendors, you’ll find local farmers, artisan products, and an area reserved for weddings and special events.   

 

One of Toronto’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods is Kensington Market, where you’ll find fun shops like the vintage store, Bungalow, to unique restaurants like Bacon Nation (no explanation required). It’s a great neighborhood and market to explore, shop, and dine. 

 

The Distillery District is a cultural hub in Toronto and features more than 40 boutiques and shops. The neighborhood also offers diverse restaurants and many coffee shops and bakeries. 

 

Cultural Attractions

As an international city, Toronto is home to numerous museums and cultural attractions. 

 

Located in the Grange Park neighborhood of downtown Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America. The gallery features more than 90,000 works of art, from Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room to galleries of historical Canadian art, you can spend hours to days exploring and taking in masterpieces. 

 

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s largest museum and home to 13 million pieces of art, cultural objects, and historic specimens (Source: ROM). The museum also funds research to advance understanding of the world. There’s always something to learn at the ROM, from an exploration of Winnie the Pooh to an exhibition about the first nations of the Great Lakes. 

 

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is where you can go to find all the best live performances the city has to offer and take in a historic, beautiful building. Opened in 1913, the historic theatres are stacked to create a double-decker complex and is the last vaudeville double-decker theatre in the world (Source: Ontario Heritage Trust).

 

Nightlife 

Toronto makes it easy to enjoy a night on the town with its Entertainment District. It’s not only home to some of the city’s best bars/restaurants, theatres, and hotels but is where thousands of locals and visitors go to enjoy the weekends at the many night clubs in the neighborhood. 

 

Professional Sports Teams

If you like sports, Toronto is home to several major professional sports teams. Fans flock to the stadiums and sports bars to enjoy games and cheer on their favorite Toronto Teams. 

 

What’s a Canadian city without good hockey? The Toronto Maple Leafs is the city’s legendary local team, known for its rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens. The NHL team is one of the league’s original six, so it’s no surprise, locals love a good Maple Leafs game at the Scotiabank Arena. 

 

When the NBA expanded into Canada for the first time, they set eyes on Toronto. As the first Canadian NBA team, the Toronto Raptors have become a contender in major playoff games. Fans can watch home games at the Scotiabank Arena or enjoy a beer and meal at a good Toronto sports bar. 

 

Professional soccer officially came to Toronto in 2007 and has become a popular sport in the city. The Toronto Football Club is a Major League Soccer team that regularly sees sold-out games at Toronto’s BMO Field. 

 

With so many sports, it would be amiss if Toronto didn’t have a baseball team as well! The Toronto Blue Jays are the only MLB team outside the United States. The Rogers Centre also has an all-weather retractable roof, so there’s no worry about dressing for rain (or snow in extreme cases!). 

 

While football is a majorly American sport, Canada has been a fan of the sport since the 19th century. The Canadian Football League (CFL) has several teams, including the Toronto Argonauts, whose home games are at BMO Field. 

 

Things to Do in Edmonton

While Edmonton may have a different vibe from the big international city life found in Toronto, visitors and locals never run out of museum exhibits to wander, nature to explore, and shops and restaurants to enjoy. 

 

Most Popular Attractions

As the “Gateway to the North” and the starting point for uncharted adventures, it’s no surprise Elk Island National Park is just a short drive from the city. The park welcomes hikers, campers, and overall explorers year-round for an up-close experience with many wild animals, including moose, elk, and especially buffalo. 

 

Like Toronto, Edmonton is home to its fair share of festivals, including its famous K Days. This 10-day event typically held in July celebrates the 1890 Klondike Gold Rush. The festival features parades, live entertainment, gold rush activities like gold panning, and more. 

 

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is another one of the city’s greatest attractions. The zoo’s mission focuses on conservation, and more than 350 animals call it home. 

 

If you’re up for a road trip, two of Canada’s most visited national parks, Jasper National Park and Banff National Park, are just a few hours away and offer unforgettable sights and numerous outdoor activities.

 

Restaurants/Shopping

The ultimate shopping, dining, and entertainment experience is at West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping center in North America. It’s one of Alberta’s most popular tourist attractions and features more than 800 stores, including a water park, mini golf, indoor amusement park, aquarium, and so much more. 

 

Cultural Attractions

Toronto has ROM, and Edmonton has RAM, the Royal Alberta Museum. Relocated to downtown Edmonton in 2017, RAM is western Canada’s largest museum and home to a collection of cultural objects and specimens related to Alberta’s history and natural environment (Source: RAM). 

 

Explore Edmonton’s history in one of its open-air museums, Fort Edmonton Park. The buildings have been reconstructed to represent Edmonton’s rise to become a provincial capital. Edmonton is also home to the Art Gallery of Alberta, where visitors can take in more than 6,000 works of art (Source: Art Gallery of Alberta).

 

If you’re an aviation junkie, the Alberta Aviation Museum has 40 aircraft on display and other historic aviation exhibits. If you love to be outside, the University of Alberta’s Botanic Gardens features hundreds of acres of flowers and gardens, including a Japanese Garden, butterfly garden, and more.

 

Nightlife

Edmonton has a great nightlife. As soon as the sun goes down, the clubs start bumping and the bars start pouring drinks. From classy bars perfect for special occasions to night clubs with packed dance floors, there’s a place for everyone to enjoy a night on the town. There’s even a café where friends can play board games while enjoying a craft cocktail. 

 

Sports

Edmonton is home to two active professional sports teams. While sports are less prevalent here than in Toronto, the fans of these teams are just as passionate. 

 

 You can argue that hockey is in the heart of most Canadians, and Edmonton is no different. The Edmonton Oilers is the city’s beloved NHL team. They’ve won five Stanley Cup Championships and are the home team of Wayne Gretzky. The team’s home games are held atRogers Place. 

 

The Canadian Football League also has a home in Edmonton. The Edmonton Eskimos are a celebrated football team for the city. They’ve won the Grey Cup 14 times and call Commonwealth Stadium home. 

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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