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I love my home state of Texas. But let’s face it: The heat at this time of year can induce dreams of escape in the minds of even the hardiest Texans. Fortunately, American Airlines’ network includes lots of cooler destinations worldwide, and I’d like to devote this month’s column to one of my favorites, Toronto. The capital of the Canadian province of Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s foremost financial and business center. Its economy is widely diversified, thanks to a robust manufacturing sector, the region’s immense natural resources, and the city’s trade-friendly location on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

First-time visitors to Toronto may experience déjà vu, as Hollywood often uses the city as a stand-in for New York and major European cities. But the city’s unique combination of bustling commerce, renowned architecture, beautiful parks, a diverse population, and a thriving arts community has earned Toronto its own prominent place on the world stage.

For the last few decades, waves of immigrants from all over the world have settled in the metropolis, creating a cultural mosaic few other cities can match. Toronto is home to numerous restaurants serving every kind of food imaginable, and the community’s diversity has fueled its emergence as a hotbed of art. The city hosts the Toronto International Film Festival in September and the International Festival of Authors in October, with each event attracting a who’s who of the film and publishing industries, respectively. The city’s thriving theater scene is compared to those in New York and London.

While the Toronto skyline features numerous skyscrapers, the first thing you’ll notice is the city’s best-known landmark, the CN Tower. At a height of more than 1,800 feet, it is one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Glass elevators transport visitors to observation decks that offer breathtaking views of the region. Back on terra firma, two equally inspiring -- if slightly less towering -- examples of Toronto architecture are St. James’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Cathedral, both of which date back to the mid-nineteenth century. St. James’s features the tallest steeple in Canada. The St. Michael’s boys choir is world-renowned, and visitors are moved by the four Masses the boys sing each week.

Art lovers revel in Toronto’s many museums and galleries, which include the Royal Ontario Museum, widely considered one of the best museums in the world, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has more than 15,000 paintings. The Ontario Science Centre is extremely popular (with more than 800,000 visitors a year) and offers exhibits and demonstrations on topics as varied as space, sports, and the environment.

One of the things you’ll notice about Toronto is the number of gardens it has. The Toronto Music Garden, which was cocreated by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, is unique. Located along the waterfront, it hosts concerts throughout the summer. From the water’s edge, you can take a short ferry ride to the Toronto Islands, where there are beaches, boat rentals, bike paths, and an amusement park for the kids. For a longer excursion, explore the lush farmland and parks that surround the city. Ontario is a sportsman’s paradise, offering camping, boating, and fishing in the summer, and skiing, hockey, and curling in the winter.

The idea of winter probably sounds good to a lot of my fellow Texans and to many of you who are sweating through August in a hot-weather locale. Of course, the beauty of operating a global network is that 365 days a year, there’s always someplace we can take you where you’ll feel comfortable. Wherever you’re headed today, I hope you have a great trip. Thanks for flying American Airlines.


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Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines