Why is Toronto called the 6?

Whether it’s presented as the 6, the 6ix or the Six, Toronto is now called the 6, much to the chagrin of about 98% of Torontonians when it first started becoming popular.

Animated gif of an eye blinking inside a hand forming the number 6 with Summer Sixteen written underneath

Why is Toronto called the 6?

Toronto is called the 6 thanks to Forest Hill ‘hood rapper Drake, who refers to his hometown as the 6 when he named his album, Views from the 6. FYI, you can actually rent out the luxury condo he used to live in. 

At first, people were confused. But then we figured out it must be because of the two area codes, 416 and 647. Jury’s out on why the 4 didn’t make the cut. Now, it’s a permanent part of Toronto’s identity. Whether it’s called the 6, 6ix, or Six, “all of these various combinations of nicknames over the years suggest the identity of the city remains in flux and changes generationally”, according to George Elliot Clark, English professor at the University of Toronto. “The identity remains very unsettled, and I think that’s good. Part of the creative tension of Toronto is that it is such a mixture of various cultural influences.”

Drake fans thought it was cool, and adopted the term. But old-schoolers lamented it: What would happen to TO’s real nicknames?

Here’s Drake explaining it himself:

Remember the good old days of:

It seems that with each passing day, these nicknames further disappear from our Torontonian language. The 6 has taken over as the mascot of Toronto’s identity.

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When will Toronto’s reflection show who it is inside?

The most popular explanation of the term probably comes from thelemonwarrior via Urban Dictionary:

“The city of Toronto. Named of the city’s two area codes, 416 and 647. The term was popularized by Drake and is only used by Drake and people who don’t live in Toronto.”

Unfortunately for thelemonwarrior, that’s not true. TO kids have actually adopted the nickname. Not only is it being scrawled on walls across the city in crap “graffiti” tags, it’s also weaseled its way into everyday conversation.

It all got even more serious when Drake started putting sixes on his clothing line, OVO, or October’s Very Own. Observe these dope pieces.

Then other celebrities started thinking that the “6” was a real nickname for TO, and started using it too – including Will Smith when he was shooting Suicide Squad here in the summer of 2015, who Tweeted that he was “Lovin’ the 6.”

Why are people kind of loving the new nickname?

It might just be time for change. The Big Smoke and Hogtown conjure up images of years gone past. Tdot’s still good though, and no one can permanently shed TO from their vocabulary, but the 6 is making strides toward becoming the city’s favourite nickname. The “6ix” nickname has been popularised even more with the recent 2019 NBA Finals, where the Toronto Raptors proudly rep our city and Drake is the team’s global ambassador. RAPS IN 6IX! 🏀

Love it? Hate it? Let us know what you think.

Shameless plug: If you’re thinking of moving to the 6, check this out.

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Erin Cardone

Born on the Prairies, Erin Cardone grew up knowing there was more to life than canola fields and AAA Alberta Angus. So she escaped, living in Europe and Australia, white-knuckling it through plates of calf brains and raw horse meat, and learning languages she can't remember anymore. After a stint as a jaded, skeptical journalist, she changed tack and began writing rather awesome blogs and showing businesses that advertising is dead, so long live social media, with her businesses Legendary Social Media. She now splits her time between various Canadian cities, Costa Rica and wherever else the wind blows.

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