Comparing Cape Town and Toronto

In this post I’ll compare and contrast some things comparing Cape Town, South Africa with Toronto, Canada!

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According to Google Toronto is 630.2 km² while Cape Town is 2,445 km². In terms of population the City of Cape Town has 3.74 million people living in it while Toronto has 2.73 million people living in it.

However, while there are only a handful of towns surrounding Cape Town, Toronto is surrounded by large towns and small cities in their own right. This are surrounding the city is known as the ‘Greater Toronto Area‘ (GTA) and is (according to Google) 7,124 km² in size and according to Wikipedia has a population of 6.4 million.

Cape Town is the twelfth largest city in Africa by population. Toronto itself is listed as the fourth largest city in North America (after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles) and the GTA is listed as the seventh largest metropolitan area in North America.

Local Government

Cape Town is governed by the City of Cape Town. At the time of writing the mayor is Dan Plato. Toronto is governed by the City of Toronto and at the time of writing the mayor was John Tory.

Left image credit: City of Cape Town | Right image credit: City of Toronto

New City Hall

The City of Cape Town’s headquarters are located in the Cape Town Civic Centre, a large tower block completed in 1978.

The City of Toronto’s headquarters are located in the Toronto City Hall which was completed in 1965.

Left image credit: Wikipedia

Old City Hall

Both Cape Town and Toronto have an “old city hall” which is no longer the functional city hall building of either city.

Cape Town’s city hall was built in 1900 while Toronto’s former city hall was built in 1899.

Iconic Landmark

Each city has one landmark by which it’s recognizable. For Cape Town, it is Table Mountain. The mountain stands 1,085 metres tall and overlooks the city centre. The original inhabitants of the Cape Peninsula called Table Mountain Huriǂ’oaxa – “ocean-emerging (mountain)”.

Toronto’s CN Tower stands 553 metres tall and overlooks the city. Completed in 1976 it is the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world and the tallest free-standing structure on land in the Western Hemisphere.

City Centre Parks

In Cape Town the main park in the centre of the city is the Company’s Garden. The Dutch East India Company established the garden in Cape Town for the purpose of providing fresh vegetables to the settlement as well as passing ships.

Toronto’s major park close to the city’s downtown core is the Toronto Island Park on the Toronto Islands, a short ferry ride away from the downtown core.

Big Shopping Mall

In Cape Town one of the largest shopping mall is Canal Walk, with a total retail area of 141,000 m².

In downtown Toronto one of the largest malls is the Eaton Centre with 201,320 m² of retail space.

Public Transport

Cape Town has four main forms of public transport; MyCiti buses, Golden Arrow buses, Metrorail trains and minibus taxis.

Toronto’s transit agency, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), operates the third-largest public transport system in North America. The TTC includes subway trains, street cars, buses and other forms of transit. In addition there is GO Transit which provides transport to outlying towns, suburbs as well as the airport.

Left image credit: Wikipedia | Right image credit: Nathalia Segato


Cape Town has one commercial airport in the city; Cape Town International Airport. Toronto has four commercial airports in the greater Toronto area, of which Toronto Pearson International Airport is the largest and has the most flights. In 2019 Cape Town International served 11 million passengers while Toronto Pearson International served 50 million passengers.

Right image credit: Wikimedia commons


Both Cape Town and Toronto have several great museums. In Cape Town the organization Iziko runs 11 museums, of which the most prominent is the South African Museum in the city centre. Founded in 1825 the museum moved to its current building in 1897. It houses houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance.

In Toronto the most well-known museum is the Royal Ontario Museum commonly known as the ‘ROM’. The ROM was founded in 1914, and showcases art, culture and nature from around the world and across the ages. The ROM is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, and is one of the top ten cultural institutions in North America.


Both Cape Town and Toronto have large stadiums that dominate their respective skylines.

Cape Town Stadium was completed in 2009 ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It has a capacity of 55 thousand. It is the home ground of Premier Soccer League clubs Ajax Cape Town (since 2010) and Cape Town City (since 2016).

In Toronto the Rogers Centre sits close to the downtown core. It opened in 1989 and was originally known as ‘Sky Dome’. The stadium has a retractable roof and has a capacity of 49,000 for baseball and 55 thousand for concerts. It is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB).


Summer in Cape Town typically lasts from December to March. It is warm and dry with an average maximum temperature of 26 °C and a minimum of 16 °C. Strong winds are common during the summer. People typically flock to beaches, public swimming pools. There is typically low humidity. The record high temperature in Cape Town is 43 °C.

Summer in Toronto typically lasts from June to September. Temperatures are usually above 20 °C and often rise above 30 °C. They can occasionally surpass 35 °C accompanied by high humidity. The record high temperature in Toronto is 44.5 °C. People flock to beaches and public swimming pools, or escape the city to a lakeside ‘cottage‘ for the weekend.


Winters in Cape Town are typically cold and wet. Winter lasts from June until August. July, the coldest month, has an average high of 17.5°C and average low of 7 °C. Most homes do not have central heating and are not well insulated. The record low temperature for Cape Town is −1.3 °C.

Winters in Toronto are very cold with dry air and regular snowfall. Winter lasts from November until March. January, the coldest month, has an average high of −0.7°C and average low of −6.7 °C.. Most homes have central heating and are well insulated. The record low tempatrue for Toronto is −32.8 °C.

Right photo credit: Andre Furtado

Cute Furry Animals

Cape Town has the Dassie while Toronto has the Raccoon.

Dassies (also known internationally as rock hyraxs) are small mammals who’s closest living relative is the elephant. They generally live in the mountains, near beaches and generally away from urban areas.

Raccoons live in and around Toronto and are considered by many to be pests who regularly raid garbage. Their appearance and eating habits have earned them the nickname ‘trash pandas‘.

Right image credit: Richard Burlton

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Michael Howe-Ely