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How do you get a key to Toronto? Depends on who the mayor is

Last Updated Feb 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm EST

Drake from his Super Bowl T-Mobile commercial. YOUTUBE.

International rap superstar Drake started from ‘The 6′ and was given the key to Toronto on Friday, the city’s highest honour.

The former Degrassi star has never shied away from representing (or reppin’) the city. And Mayor John Tory agrees.

In a video posted to Twitter on Thursday, Tory said the “Hotline Bling” singer makes “people across the city feel good about themselves and about their city.”

The key presentation is a first for Tory during his tenure as mayor, and he had a conversation with Drizzy before making his final decision.

“I wanted to meet him, I hadn’t. He’s a very nice young man. His heart is in the right place about this city, and that’s very important to me,” Tory said on Breakfast Television on Friday.

So, how does the city decide who gets the key to Toronto?

“We’re looking for people who inspire others in the city and who inspire people about Toronto,” Tory said.

“I think there’s no question he’s probably right now the world’s most famous Torontonian. He loves the city and he really wants to do good for the city.”


Keys have been given out to well-known Torontonians and residents of the city including former deputy mayor Case Ootes, former police chief Julian Fantino, Mike Myers, Margaret Atwood, Barenaked Ladies, Ed Mirvish, and Norman Jewison.

In medieval times, a key allowed for free entry to a city, which at the time was hampered by walls and locked gates. But today, the practice of giving out a key is purely symbolic.

The city says the ceremonial key honours the “outstanding civic contributions of the recipients.”

On its website, the city states the key is bestowed to “distinguished persons and honoured guests of the City of Toronto,” so that would also include people who don’t live here.


Toronto’s mayor has the final say in deciding who gets such an honour, and it seems former mayor Mel Lastman was quite good at it.

From 1998 to 2003, Lastman gave out a slew of keys to authors, comedians, actors, politicians, musicians, and sports figures, including Nelson Mandela, The Rolling Stones, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Ali, and Joni Mitchell. Love them or hate them, even Nickelback made the list.

Rob Ford and David Miller were more stingy with their keys, only giving them out to a handful of people, including former deputy mayor and MPP Etobicoke-Lakeshore Doug Holyday and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

And of course, who can exclude Mickey Mouse? Lastman gave the key to the mighty cartoon character in 1999.

Click here for a full list of honourees.