The area in which the city now lies had been home to Native Americans for over 10,000 years when France first claimed the territory in 1615. Britain drove the French away in 1760 (in the midst of the French and Indian War), and the Toronto Purchase in 1787 gave the land to the Crown.
The Mississauga Indians received £1700 and some freight, and the British took possession of over a quarter of a million acres of real estate. Not a bad deal.
The town centre was built in 1793, and was named York in honor of King George III’s son Frederick, the Duke of York, a general who commanded the British Army at the time. Four years later, the first unofficial census indicated a population of about 250.
Toronto was formally adopted as the city’s name in 1834, based on a Huron Indian word that literally means “meeting place.”