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Home to both a vast Italian population and the largest sports organization in Canada, Vaughan is rich in hometown pride – a sentiment that's grown by leaps and bounds as the town nearly doubled in size in the span of ten years.

Named Canada’s fastest-growing city from 1996 to 2006, Vaughan experienced a population boom of more than 80 percent, and the Vaughan real estate market boomed right along with it. Having almost doubled its population since 1991, it’s the fifth-largest city in the greater Toronto area and the 17th largest in Canada. It also boasts the country’s largest Italian population by percentage – nearly half of its 288,000 inhabitants.

2011 Census data shows its demographics as being about 44 percent Italian, 17 percent Jewish, 10 percent Canadian, 5 percent English, 5 percent Canadian and 4 percent Chinese, with many more nationalities making up smaller pockets of the population. Roughly 46 percent of Vaughan residents speak English as a first language, followed by 14 percent for whom Italian is their native tongue.

Vaughan doesn’t have its own university, although it borders with Toronto to the south and York University sits just on the Toronto side of the line, boasting more than 43,000 students. The city has two school boards: one overseeing Catholic elementary and secondary schools and one overseeing secular ones. The largest private school serves around 600 Jewish high school students. Cultural touchpoints include the Boyd Conservation Area, the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Reptilia Zoo.

With more than 9,000 businesses employing over 170,000 people, Vaughan had one of Canada’s top-performing economies as of 2010, and as of 2011, nearly 80 percent of its businesses were small businesses. In 2013, four Vaughan-based companies were recognized among the 50 Top Best Managed Companies in Canada: Burnco Manufacturing Inc, Construction Control Inc, Kii Naturals Inc, and Mircom Group of Companies.

Vaughan has no fewer than seven sister cities, three of which are in Italy: Sora, Delia and Lanciano. Back at home, The Vaughan Citizen is the city’s sole newspaper.

Six proposed stations are expected to open on the extension of the Spadina branch of the Toronto subway system in late 2016: Black Creek Pioneer Village, Downsview Park, Finch West, Highway 407 Transitway, Vaughan Corporate Centre and York University, making it easier than ever for folks to get around town.

In the meantime, a highly-interconnected system of public transit exists among the Toronto Transit Commission, York Region Transit, and Viva buses, which are made possible through a public-private partnership consortium. Many lines connect to the Toronto subway system in some way, giving Vaughan residents easy access to the city.

Vaughan’s roads mimic the gridlike concept used in Toronto, and while Vaughan’s local government controls most of the smaller roads, York Region oversees most main arteries and highways. The area also has two provincial highways funded by the Ontario government: Highways 400 and 427. Highway 400 in particular links Vaughan, Toronto and northern Ontario.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the preferred means of air travel for locals, thanks to the major airport’s proximity to town.

From a municipal standpoint, Vaughan is divided into a five-ward structure, with an elected councillor from each ward representing his or her community on the Vaughan City Council along with three regional councillors and the mayor. Within those wards, six primary communities exist: Woodbridge, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Maple, Thornhill, Concord and Kleinburg.

Woodbridge boasts some of the most affluent homes for sale in Vaughan. Its abundance of schools and green spaces make it an ideal location for many families, and it experienced a tremendous housing boom in the 1970s, thus rendering the style of much of the architecture seen there today.

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is an up-and-coming mixed-use development in Vaughan’s downtown area. The high-density commercial and residential district is still in its planning stages.

Maple provides an archetype of what some call sprawl and others call the ideal of suburbia. With a substantive period of growth in the 1990s and early 2000s came an abundance of residential development, which today composes a good portion of Vaughan homes for sale and offers fast access to Toronto thanks to its placement along busy transit corridors.

Thornhill, which is split between the towns of Vaughan and Markham, is an ethnically diverse area with architecture dating back to the 1960s and 70s. Many homes on the Vaughan MLS are found here, given the community’s bustling population of well over 100,000 residents.

The small suburban industrial community of Concord, with just over 8,000 residents, is poised for a GO transit centre with multiple modes of transportation access, cycling trails, and mixed-use residential/commercial/recreational areas. Plans were presented in late 2013 and are still under review.

And finally, the tiny village of Kleinburg, home to just 4,500 inhabitants, is a tight-knit community that hosts one of southern Ontario’s most popular annual festivals: the Binder Twine Festival, which marks the beginning of the harvest fair season each year.

There’s no shortage of things to do in Vaughan. A great first stop for newcomers is the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum, especially since Vaughan hosts the Ontario Soccer Association with more than 500,000 registered players, making it the largest sports organization in Canada. Ice hockey games abound as well, thanks to a plethora of amateur and professional leagues throughout the city, and there’s even a World Series Slo-Pitch league.

Outside of sports, of course, there’s plenty of recreation to be found, from visiting Reptilia, a 25,000 square foot zoo and education centre, to strolling around the Boyd Conservation Area to enjoy nature uncontained. And for those looking for less natural, more thrill-seeking diversions, there’s always Canada’s largest amusement park: Canada’s Wonderland, located in Maple.

For shoppers, Vaughan Mills offers an array of shops and outlets ready to provide endless retail therapy. Its anchor stores include Bass Pro Shops, Toys ‘R’ Us, Legoland and H&M.

Locals frequent popular restaurants serving Italian, Korean and Middle Eastern fare, as well as sushi and burgers. Favorite restaurants include Spinello (Italian) on Rowntree Dairy Road, Hub Sushi Japanese Fusion Restaurant on Yonge Street, The Burger’s Priest on Weston Road, Song Cook’s (Korean) on Steeles Avenue West, and Me Va Me (Middle Eastern) on Bathurst Street.

And for additional distraction at week’s end, Vaughan offers flight simulations, bowling, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, a trampoline park, movies, golf clubs, art galleries and more.