The amalgamation of Toronto was the creation of the political borders of Toronto, Ontario, Canada after amalgamating, annexing, and merging with surrounding municipalities since the 18th century. The most recent occurrence of amalgamation was in 1998, which resulted in Toronto's current boundaries.
The city retained the same boundaries until 1883, when it began to amalgamate with the small surrounding communities. This continued until 1914, after which no more expansion of Toronto would take place until 1967.
In 1954, the City of Toronto was federated into a regional government known as Metropolitan Toronto. Metro Toronto was composed of the City of Toronto, the towns of New Toronto, Mimico, Weston, and Leaside; the villages of Long Branch, Swansea, and Forest Hill; and the townships of Etobicoke, York, North York, East York, and Scarborough.
The postwar boom had resulted in rapid suburban development, and it was believed that a coordinated land use strategy and shared services would provide greater efficiency for the region. The metropolitan government began to manage services that crossed municipal boundaries, including highways, water and public transit.
In Canada, the creation of municipalities falls under provincial jurisdiction. Thus it was provincial legislation, the Metropolitan Toronto Act, that created this level of government in 1953. When it took effect in 1954, the portion of York County south of Steeles Avenue, a concession road and common township boundary, was severed from the county and incorporated as the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. The area north of Steeles remained in York County, which ultimately became York Region in 1971.
The Metropolitan Toronto Council initially consisted of 12 councillors from Toronto (including the mayor), and one representative (usually a mayor or reeve) from each of the surrounding municipalities. Metropolitan Toronto also had planning authority over the surrounding townships such as Vaughan, Markham, and Pickering for up to 45 meters from a metropolitan road, although these areas did not have representation on Metro Council.
A round of merging was conducted among the municipalities in Metro Toronto in 1967. The seven smallest municipalities of the region were merged into their larger neighbours, resulting in a six-municipality configuration that included the old City of Toronto and the surrounding municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York.
Forest Hill and Swansea were annexed by the City of Toronto, Leaside was merged with the township of East York to become the Borough of East York. Weston was combined with the Township of York to form the Borough of York. The Village of Long Branch and the towns of Mimico and New Toronto merged with the township of Etobicoke to form the Borough of Etobicoke. North York township was promoted to the Borough of North York. Scarborough was also transformed into a borough.
Concurrent with the creation of Durham Region, the West Rouge area of Pickering south of Twyn Rivers Drive (the original course of Sheppard Avenue) and east of Port Union Road was annexed into Scarborough.
On January 1, 1998, Toronto was greatly enlarged, not through traditional annexations, but as an amalgamation of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and its six lower-tier constituent municipalities; East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York, and the original city itself. They were dissolved by an act of the Government of Ontario, and formed into a single-tier City of Toronto (colloquially dubbed the "megacity") replacing all six governments. The unified city became the fifth most populous city proper in North America, behind Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. In 2013, it surpassed Chicago in population.
The merger was proposed as a cost-saving measure by the Progressive Conservative provincial government under Mike Harris. In 2007, Barry Hertz reported in the National Post that cost savings never materialized. He also noted that government staff had grown, with the city employing 4,015 more people in 2007 than it did in 1998 Before amalgamation, 73% of the expenses taken over by Toronto came from Metro Toronto, and were thus already integrated programs. Additionally, municipal affairs minister Al Leach touted it as a measure that would produce a stronger, more unified Toronto better equipped to compete in a global marketplace.
The amalgamation was widely opposed in Toronto and the other municipalities. The amalgamation occurred despite a municipal referendum in 1997 in which over three-quarters of voters rejected amalgamation, with one third of eligible voters participating. Mayor Mel Lastman of North York, and Barbara Hall of Toronto both campaigned against the merger, as did former mayor John Sewell. Subsequently, Lastman defeated Hall in the 1997 Toronto municipal election to become the first elected mayor of the megacity. However, Canadian municipal governments are legal creations of the provincial governments and local referendums have little to no legal effect. The Harris government thus had the power to ignore the results of the referendum and went ahead with the amalgamation. Opposition parties in the provincial parliament engaged in a unique form of filibuster, tabling thirteen thousand amendments to the amalgamation bill, which lasted two weeks, but did not prevent passage of the bill. Each amendment named an individual street in the city, whose residents the government would be obliged to personally consult for input on the amalgamation proposal; one such amendment, granting consultation rights to residents of Cafon Court in Etobicoke, was successfully passed as not enough members of the Progressive Conservative caucus were present in the chamber to defeat it, but the government later tabled and passed another amendment to rescind the Cafon amendment.
Since amalgamation, many organizations and individuals continued to use the names of the old municipalities instead of using "Toronto". For example, Canada Post mail standards continued to use Etobicoke and added Toronto listings for addresses within the former Etobicoke. Similar standards apply for addresses in the former Scarborough and North York. Although all municipalities were amalgamated, several old street names were retained, resulting in duplicate street names that are disambiguated only by referring to the former municipalities or by the postal code of a particular address.
That part of York Township between the old eastern limits of the city and what was formerly called East Toronto, better knows as "The Midway" and also a small strip east of East Toronto come into the city to-morrow