Why is Toronto Called the Six? Notable Toronto Nicknames

Have you ever wondered why Toronto is called the six? The majority of Canadians, in fact, are asking the same question. According to a news release, the #1 trending question in Canada for 2019 was “Why is Toronto called the six?”.

In this article, I’ll be discussing some notable Toronto nicknames.

Why is Toronto Called The Six?

The 6ix (which is how the nickname is originally spelled) was coined by Drake, a Toronto-born musician, who introduced the moniker in his 2015 mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” and furthermore popularized it in his 2016 album “Views”.

2015 mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” by Drake

But Why Does Drake Call it the 6?

Drake used “The 6ix” to refer to a branded version of Toronto, and we have to give it to him: it’s stuck.

So what exactly is the six? It’s actually the first area code for Toronto – 416. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the famous rapper told him that he had actually been wondering whether to call it the 4 or the 6, but he eventually went with the latter.

Yet, there is still some debate on whether or not the nickname refers to the area code or if there is something else that this popular term implies. According to other sources, the term actually refers to the six cities that comprise the Greater Toronto Area as of January 1998, when the Municipality of Toronto issued the amalgamation of the 6 boroughs of Toronto:

  • Toronto
  • East York
  • Etobicoke
  • North York
  • Scarborough and
  • York.

However, according to Drake, the inspiration definitely came from the area code. Let’s watch him explain it himself:

What are Some Other Notable Nicknames for Toronto?

Aside from the 6ix, Toronto has had a variety of nicknames in its history, with some of them still being used as we speak. Let’s go over them.

Toronto City Down Town view


Toronto is still dubbed “Hogtown” by many people, due to the hog-processing industry that existed there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

T.O. or T-Dot

The use of T.O., TO, or T-Dot appears to stem from a desire to shorten the city’s name. Depending on who you ask, it stands for “TOronto” or “Toronto, Ontario.”

The Good?

Toronto the Good is a title that refers to the city’s stringent moral code in the 19th century. The original moniker was “Toronto the Good, the town that fun forgot”. Not the case anymore, eh?

Big Smoke

The term Big Smoke was coined by Australian writer Alan Rayburn to portray Toronto as a city that is all talk but no actual action. A different theory suggests that the name derives from the clouds that surrounded the city in the 1900s, caused by aggressive industrialization.


Before World War II, the letter Y was dropped in front of the two-character code used for the area. The Malton, Ontario, station’s code was YZ, which is where Pearson is today – hence YYZ.

Queen City

During Queen Victoria’s reign, Toronto rose from a secluded place to become an Upper Canadian rival to Montreal – the Lower Canadian capital. It’s no surprise, then, that Toronto began to refer to itself as the Queen City by the end of the 19th century.


Toronto is a city with a rich history, thus the appearance of various nicknames throughout the times.

Each nickname has its own unique story. Whether you call it The 6ix, Hogtown, or T-Dot, Toronto is a great place to visit.


Who coined the 6ix?

The term was introduced by Canadian-born rapper Drake in his 2015 mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” and furthermore popularized in his 2016 album – Views.

How do you pronounce the 6ix?

6ix is pronounced exactly like the number six.

Is Mississauga considered Toronto?

Yes, Mississauga is part of the 16 towns, two townships, and an Indian reserve that make up the Toronto CMA.

Is Scarborough considered Toronto?

Yes, Scarborough was recognized as a borough in 1967 and later in 1983 as a city. It was one of the cities that were merged in 1998 to establish the City of Toronto.

What does the word Toronto mean?

For many years, the recognized derivation was a Wendat (Huron) term that meant “meeting place,” but further research has indicated that the word may have Mohawk origins. The narrow stretch of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching in present-day Orillia was known as “tkaronto.”

The name means “where there are trees standing in the water,” and it was originally reported in 1615 by Champlain.

How old is Toronto?

Although people have lived in the Toronto area since shortly after the ice age, the urban town was formed in 1793 by British colonial officials on what was then the Upper Canadian boundary. In 1834, that small farming community evolved into the ‘City of Toronto.’

Why is Toronto called the six?

The nickname refers to the official area code for the city of Toronto, i.e. 416.


Mila is an English literature student and a devoted animal's rights advocate. Despite her love for the written word, she's a keen observer of the everyday world and an excellent researcher with a bright and fresh perspective. When she's not doing research, you're most likely to find her out for a walk with her dog or binge-watching a TV show.

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