Key to the City
The Key to the City is bestowed upon distinguished citizens and residents as well as honoured guests of the City of Toronto.
In Toronto, the act of giving the Key to the City is symbolic, since the city has no gates to unlock. The presentation of a ceremonial key and certificate honour the outstanding civic contributions of each recipient.
Historically, it has been at the discretion of the Mayor to determine who receives the Key to the City. The Mayor has given the key to people who have changed how Toronto feels about itself and those that have contributed positively to the city and the lives of its residents.
Officially presented on September 5, 2019
Citation: The Mayor is presenting this key to Robbie Robertson in recognition of his enduring contribution to music and the arts in Canada and around the world. Born and raised in Toronto, Robbie Robertson was inspired to make music while visiting the Six Nations of the Grant River, beginning to write songs at a very young age. His incredible talent for songwriting propelled him to stardom with The Band and ensured his status as a music legend. A member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his work continues to influence artists here in Toronto and around the globe. It is a point of national pride that a remarkable Canadian contributed to the establishment of a musical genre known as Americana. We thank him for continuing to be an inspiring Torontonian.
The 2019 NBA Champions Toronto Raptors
Officially presented on June 17, 2019
Citation: This Key to the City is presented to the Toronto Raptors in recognition of the team’s 2019 National Basketball Association Championship win. The 2019 team won the first NBA title in franchise history and brought the Larry O’Brien trophy north of the border to Canada for the first time ever.
This season, the Raptors captured the Atlantic Division regular season title for the sixth time, propelling them to an incredible postseason that saw the team win the Eastern Conference Finals and continue on to win the NBA Finals.
This historic playoff run galvanized and united not only Toronto, but all of Canada, bringing together fans from coast to coast to coast. The victory itself and the events surrounding it will inspire Torontonians, especially young people, for years to come. This key is presented with great joy and gratitude.
Wilmot and Judy Matthews
Officially presented on July 25, 2018, at Toronto City Hall.
Citation: Judy and Wilmot (Wil) Matthews are civic leaders and philanthropists who give to a wide variety of Toronto-based organizations that support education, medical research and advancement, culture and city-building initiatives. As passionate Torontonians, they are deeply committed to enriching the city and its residents. Wil and Judy are presented with a Key to the City to honour their philanthropic work including their $25 million donation to The Bentway, a unique and innovative public space that transforms 1.75 km underneath Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway into a vibrant new gathering place for our city’s growing population.
Officially presented June 30, 2018, on Pat Moore Drive in Thorncliffe.
Citation: Patricia Moore has lived in Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park for more than 40 years. Patricia is presented with a Key to the City for working tirelessly to ensure that those without a voice in our city, have one. She is known as an advocate for the underdog on issues related to housing as well as youth and women’s rights. Over the years, her work has contributed to the creation of tenants’ associations, which help to protect the rights of tenants, as well as more available co-op housing within the community. She has raised awareness of the need to stop violence against women and has created community programs to support the growing youth population in her neighbourhood.
Officially presented June 25, 2018, on Nathan Philips Square.
Citation: Fran Sonshine is presented with a Key to the City for being a philanthropic and volunteer leader in Toronto. She is the National Chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, which seeks to promote awareness of the Holocaust and its universal lessons through educational and commemorative programming, and played a key role in fundraising to build Canada’s Holocaust Monument in Ottawa. Fran has participated on several boards in Toronto including the Baycrest Centre Board, North York General Hospital Advisory Board, the ROM Board of Governors and the Toronto United Jewish Appeal’s Annual Campaign. Fran has been honoured with numerous awards for her contributions to many organizations and campaigns.
Officially presented June 23, 2018, at the Harbourfront Centre.
Citation: After serving for many years as an educator, Zanana Akande was the first Black woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the first appointed as a Cabinet Minister. She has served many organizations over the years including the YWCA, Centennial College, Harbourfront Centre and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Zanana is presented with a Key to the City for dedicating her life’s work to addressing equity issues in the community and improving the social, economic, cultural and political status of women in Toronto.
Officially presented June 22, 2018, at Roy Thomson Hall.
Citation: Peter Oundjian began studying the violin at age seven, before shifting his focus to conducting. After serving as Artistic Director of several international festivals and orchestras, he was named Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in January 2003 and became the first Canadian to hold the position since 1973. Peter is presented with a Key to the City for invigorating the TSO with recordings, tours, and innovative programming during his tenure. He found ways to grow the audience and improve appeal of the TSO which has strengthened the ensemble’s presence and popularity around the world. As Conductor Emeritus, his final season culminated in June 2018 as part of a month-long musical celebration of his career.
Officially presented May 17, 2018, at Toronto City Hall.
Citation: Susan Gapka is well-known as a tireless and effective campaigner for social justice. Susan is presented with a Key to the City for her long and proud record of addressing issues related to affordable housing, education, mental health, and community safety in the LGBTQ2S community. Susan has actively contributed to organizations such as Central Neighbourhood House, the 51 Division Community Liaison Police Committee, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Save Our Structures, and the Toronto Trans Coalition Project.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj
Officially presented July 22, 2017, at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple.
Citation: This recognition honours His Holiness as the sixth spiritual guru of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). His Holiness travels the world inspiring people with his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. The virtuous lifestyle and ideals to which His Holiness adheres are what many people strive to achieve, and he is an inspiration for youth.
His Holiness is the head of a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony through Hindu principles. Toronto has been enriched by many contributions from BAP Charities Canada to health and disaster relief causes. The unique BAPS Mandir, located in Toronto, serves as an architectural masterpiece and adds to the multicultural mosaic of the city and Canada
Officially presented September 28, 2016, at Toronto City Hall.
Citation: Arguably the greatest sports executive in the history of Toronto, Beeston was the first employee the Toronto Blue Jays hired in 1977. Over parts of five decades he served in various senior capacities and retired following the 2015 season. Beeston was team president and CEO during the early 1990s when the Jays won back-to-back World Series championships. He returned to the club in 2008 and helped re-invigorate baseball and its fans, leading the Jays to their first playoffs in more than 20 years. His work has contributed to a powerful sense of civic pride and has inspired young athletes.
Rush – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
Officially presented September 17, 2016, at Lee Lifeson Art Park in Willowdale.
Citation: Rush played a vital role in defining Toronto’s musical identity and have contributed a lot to Toronto through their music, live performances and generous charity support. For more than 40 years, the Rush trio of Lee, Lifeson and Peart defined rock music while inspiring fans and musicians worldwide. Rush ranks third in the world, after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, for most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band. Their massive international fan base has put a spotlight on Toronto as a music capital.
Aubrey Graham a.k.a. Drake
Officially presented February 12, 2016, at a Toronto Raptors game.
Citation: Drake is one of Toronto’s biggest champions in music, mentorship of local talent and presence on the world stage as an international recording artist, record producer and actor. In 2009, he founded OVO Fest, an annual music festival held in August and in 2013, he was named the global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. He is involved in various charitable activities, is committed to promoting Toronto’s music industry and contributing to the city’s social harmony and wellbeing, especially as it relates to youth.
- Doug Holyday – August 20, 2013
- George Chuvalo – March 26, 2013
- George Cohon – June 21, 2012
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – October 22, 2010
- Former Police Chief Julian Fantino – April 14, 2005
- Mike Myers – June 25, 2003
- Eng. Ferro Rodrigues – July 8, 2003
- The people of Prince Edward Island – July 28, 2003
- The Rolling Stones – Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Michael Cohl – July 30, 2003
- The Anson Carter Family – July 31, 2003
- Nickelback – Ryan Vikedal, Ryan Peake, Chad Kroeger and Mike Kroeger – September 19, 2003
- Deputy Mayor Case Ootes – September 23, 2003
- Tiger Woods – May 27, 2002
- Dr. Carlos Cesar – June 8, 2002
- Father Tom Rosica – July 31, 2002
- Ronnie Hawkins – October 4, 2002
- Muhammad Ali – October 20, 2002
- Tony Dionisio – November 2, 2002
- Boris Spremo – January 22, 2001
- King Constantine – May 23, 2001
- Sylvester Stallone – May 26, 2001
- Sophia Loren – June 5, 2001
- Margaret Atwood – October 19, 2001
- Joni Mitchell – October 19, 2001
- Jackie Chan – November 18, 2001
- Blue Rodeo – November 30, 2001
- Sharon, Lois & Bram – February 11, 2000
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu – February 16, 2000
- David Boothby, Chief of Police – February 1, 2029
- Neil Young – March 30, 2000
- Donald Sutherland – March 30, 2000
- His Excellency Constantinos Stephanopoulos, Pres. of the Hellenic Rep. of Greece – June 1, 2000
- Pastor Jan Paulsen – June 2, 2000
- Pastor Orville Parchment – June 29, 2000
- His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – July 23, 2000
- Barenaked Ladies – September 21, 2000
- J.K. Rowling – October 22, 2000
- Yo-Yo Ma – January 15, 1999
- David Gunn – February 11, 1999
- Norman Jewison – April 14, 1999
- Mickey Mouse – July 21, 1999
- Frank Alvarez – August 29, 1999
- Jorge Ferreira – August 29, 1999
- Celine Dion – September 17, 1999
- Jose Lello – September 23, 1999
- Ron Huldai – September 29, 1999
- Joe Foti – October 5, 1999
- Mickey Rooney – June 5, 1998
- Bobby Curtola – July 4, 1998
- Sheldon Kennedy – July 8, 1998
- Bobby Rahal – July 19, 1998
- Ed Mirvish – July 26, 1998
- Roberto Leal – August 30, 1998
- Charles Adler – August 27, 1998
- Nelson Mandela – September 25, 1998
- Barbara Ann Scott-King – November 27, 1998
- Johnny Lombardi – December 4, 1998