Shopify Unite 2018: Your One-Stop Guide to Toronto!

After two years of holding Shopify’s annual partner and developer conference abroad, Shopify Unite 2018 is coming home to its Canadian roots… and bringing a crowd of passionate people along with it! This year’s show is being hosted by the proud city of Toronto, right in VL OMNI’s own backyard!

For those lucky enough to score the hottest ticket in town, you likely already know that Shopify Unite is packed to the brim with exciting announcements, targeted streams to speak to speciality areas around the powerful eCommerce platform, and networking, networking, networking.

Don’t have Shopify Unite tickets? Watch a Live Stream near you.

But if you’re coming from out of town (like most Unite attendees will be), you’re not just flying in for Monday, May 7th for the start of Unite, only to leave as soon as the conference wraps up on Wednesday, May 9th.

So VL OMNI is here to help you with our official guidebook to Toronto for Shopify Unite 2018. Read on!


Speak Like A Local

First thing’s first: let’s cover off some local slang! If you’ve never been to Toronto before, there’s a very important rule on the pronunciation of the city’s name itself, lest you be slapped with the dreaded ‘tourist’ label.

Toronto = “Toronno”

Local Torontonians (and plenty of Canadians across the country) never pronounce the second ‘t’ in Toronto. Add this proper, local pronnouciation into your vocabulary, and blend in with even the most hardened locals!

There’s plenty of other local jargon you could adopt, but here are some other important ones you can practice on your plane right into our lovely city, along with some other Pro Tips:

  • GTA: “Greater Toronto Area”. Toronto was amalgamated into a single city in 1998 from six constituent municipalities.
  • The Six: A term coined by our beloved local superstar, Drake. Rumour is that The Six refers to either the 6 municipalities that joined forces in 1998 to become the Toronto of today, or the 6 in the original Toronto area code, ‘416’.
  • Local stars: Toronto’s becoming well-known internationally for our music scene, as well as our homegrown stars. We love to gush about Drake and The Weeknd, but tread lightly in mentioning Justin Beiber; most Canadians like to think he’s America’s problem now, and technically, he’s from Stratford, Ontario and not Toronto proper.
  • Timmies/Tim’s: Our beloved Tim Hortons, a Canadian establishment and iconic coffee house. Most Canadians have a love/hate relationship with Tim Hortons on a personal level, but we’ll defend the honour of Tim’s to the death if challenged.
  • Double-Double: How most Canadians order their coffee from Tim’s; shorthand for two creams, two sugars.
  • Touque: Canadian slang for what other people call a ‘hat’, specifically referring to those that are knit and fit snugly on the head without a brim. We’re hoping that the weather stays nice and you won’t need this one!


Dressing for the Local Weather

While you don’t need to bring your snow gear (including your touque!), if you’re coming from down South you may want to pack a light jacket or some spring sweaters — and maybe an umbrella! Spring is in full swing in Southern Ontario, which means you can expect weather as warm as 20°C+ (68°F+) during the day, and lows around 5-10°C at night (41-50°F).

Toronto Night Life

Toronto has a constantly evolving nightlife scene. A decade ago, Peter Street was the place to be if you wanted drinks, dancing, socialization, and a fun night out. These days, Toronto’s entertainment district has moved South to King Street West. Luckily, Shopify Unite and select sponsoring partners have you covered in getting you acclimated to this area of the city: Shopify Unite’s Day 0 Happy Hour is right in this area!

VL OMNI is one of the lucky few to sponsor one of these bars: we’ll be at the incredible Portland Variety on Monday, May 7th from 6-8 PM (and beyond!). Here’s a handy map of all the Day 0 Unite Happy Hour bars: we hope to see you there!

Map of the Day 0 Happy Hour bars – Join VL and Swell at 587 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M5

Aside from King Street West, other trendy neighbourhoods in Toronto include Queen Street West (we highly recommend The Drake for food, eclectic shopping, and very interesting special events), which has the unofficial reputation of being the hipster part of the city. If you’re venturing to the East side of Toronto, be sure to check out The Distillery District for dining, shopping, photo ops, and more.

Arts & Culture

If you’re into fine art, new art, underground art, or any kind of art, Toronto’s your city! If you’re in the town for only a short stay, we recommend you stop in at the ROM or AGO. And if you’re staying around a bit longer, well — you’re going to be disappointed you’re not staying longer! Toronto is absolutely brimming with cool little galleries, exhibitions, installations and more. Here’s a great place to start in exploring Toronto’s diverse arts scene for the adventurous with a bit more time on their hands around Unite.

If movies and film are more your speed, Toronto is home to the yearly Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), attended by actors and artists world wide. While the actual festival isn’t until September, if you’re staying at one of the official Shopify Unite hotels, you’re actually right around the corner from the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which is a cool venue year-round. Maybe stop in, check out the museum, and catch the latest blockbuster!

Best Places to Eat

Toronto has really embraced our multicultural roots (we’re one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world!), bringing international cuisine to the forefront. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), because of this, it’s difficult to recommend restaurants at large. Depending on your budget, tastes, and how far you’re willing to travel, there’s literally hundreds of choices in Toronto.

For where the official Unite hotels are, we highly recommend walking around the Spandia/Queen Street West neighbourhood — you’ll likely stumble upon something great in no time! And if you can somehow wrangle a reservation from Alo, one of Toronto’s best restaurants where you usually have to make reservations three months in advance, you’ve hit the jackpot!

Tourist Stops You Should Strongly Consider

And, of course, if you’ve never been to Toronto before and want to hit all the ‘must see’ and highly-Instagrammable spots, you should definitely:

  • Go up the CN Tower. There’s a restaurant at the top, and you can also do the EdgeWalk around the top of the tower if you’re feeling brave! The view of the city and beyond is absolutely worth it.
  • Check out a baseball game at the Rogers Centre – Home of the Toronto Blue Jays
  • Take a tour of Steam Whistle Brewery 
  • Ripley’s Aquarium is a great way to spend an afternoon or even just a couple of hours. Don’t forget to take a selfie in front of the Jellyfish Tank!
  • And if you have the time and the means to get there, absolutely do Niagra Falls. Only a hour-long drive outside of Toronto, it’s one of the 8 Wonders of The World.


See You At Unite!



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