Toronto's history, from the end of the last Ice Age to the arrival of the Europeans, encompasses many different periods and cultures, including ancestors of the modern First Nations. Nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters, fishers and gatherers arrived first, 10,000 years ago, followed by Archaic peoples. Ontario Iroquoians were the area's original farmers, growing corn, tobacco and other crops. The name "Toronto" is thought by many to be derived from the Native expression for "place of meeting."

French explorers, traders and missionaries came to Toronto in the 1600s. Some visited fur-trading villages established by Seneca Iroquois; eventually, France built its own. The last, Fort Rouillé, was burned in 1759 by the retreating French garrison at the British advance. Nevertheless, Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War, and gained control of Canada in 1763. In 1805, the British completed the Toronto Purchase, buying approximately 250,000 acres from the Mississauga Indians.