Just like in any other place, you should treat Torontonians with respect and kindness. The community is also very diverse so it’s best to keep an open mind.
Folks here are known to be friendly and welcoming, so exert some effort to put your best foot forward and make a good impression.
Really want to fit in? Here are some unwritten etiquette rules to help you act like a local:
How to Deal with Torontonians: An Etiquette Guide
1. Be mindful of fellow commuters when using the TTC
When using the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), make sure to let people exit first before you squeeze yourself into a ride. This way is more organised and it saves people’s time.
You also need to be patient. If the train or bus is full, don’t force your way in and just wait for the next one.
2. Queue up
Whether you’re waiting in line at a coffee shop, a food truck, or any other place, respect the queue. Cutting in line is rude and unacceptable.
3. Practice sidewalk courtesy
Toronto sidewalks can get busy, so keep to the right if you’re walking slowly or standing still. Make sure to give way for others to pass if you’re stopping to take photos or check your phone.
4. Follow escalator rules
Walk on the left side of the escalator and stand on the right side. This is especially important in Toronto, where the TTC is crowded during rush hours.
5. Don’t jaywalk
Although you may see some locals doing it, jaywalking is officially prohibited in Toronto. Make sure to cross at marked crosswalks and wait for the pedestrian signal before crossing.
6. Keep your voice down in public places
While it’s okay to chat with friends, loud or disruptive behaviour is generally discouraged in public spaces, especially on public transit.
7. Leave a tip
It’s customary in Toronto to tip around 15-20% of the bill in restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.
8. Hold doors
Holding the door open for the person behind you is standard politeness, especially if they are carrying something or wheeling a stroller.
9. Engage in conversations about the weather
In Toronto, the weather is a major topic of conversation. So, don’t be surprised if someone brings up the current weather forecast.
10. Follow traffic rules
To keep everyone on the road safe, drive on designated lanes and don’t forget to use your signals, especially when changing lanes or exiting Ontario Highway 401.
11. Don’t litter
Toronto is a clean city, and it’s important to keep it that way. Don’t litter and don’t be a slob!
12. Be on time
The majority of Canadians take time and schedules quite literally. Don’t waste other people’s time and make sure to always be on time.
13. Don’t compare them to Americans
While Canada and the United States of America are possibly the world’s two most similar countries because of their proximity and shared cultures, many Canadians find it offensive when they’re likened to Americans.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing racist. Canadians just want to be known for who they truly are as a nation.
14. Use “please” and “thank you”
The words “please” and “thank you” are highly valued in Toronto, so make sure to use them. Sincerely, of course.
15. Respect personal space and boundaries
While Toronto is very welcoming, people still value their personal space. Avoid bothering people who want to be alone and standing too close to others unless it’s crowded, in which case, it’s inevitable.