Finding WiFi (free or not) is certainly not the hunt it was even 5 years ago. Torontonians have a lot of options from most chain coffee shops (even Tim's now) as well as many chain restaurants.
Here are some options:
Toronto Public Libraries
With 99 locations right across the city, Toronto’s public libraries are one of the more convenient ways to get free Internet usage with only a library card needed to access them. Computers are available on either a first come, first serve basis or by making a reservation and some libraries also have WiFi available as well.
Getting access only requires a library card (it’s free, takes about 5 minutes to get set-up and all you need is some identification with your Toronto address). On the downside, you pretty-much only have a web browser (Internet Explorer) available and they tend to be in high-demand. Library hours are generally from 9am to 5 or as late as 8:30.
Since 2009, most Second Cups and Starbucks coffee locations have offered free WiFi provided by provided by Boldstreet. To access it, simply look for the SSID (network name) with either Second Cup/Star Bucks or a phone company (e.g. Rogers, Bell). On connecting, you’ll be directed to a log-in screen where an account can be set-up, either though FaceBook or creating a Boldstreet account. Time is currently limited to 2 hours, but you are able to re-login and start another 2 hour period.
Other chains such as Timothy’s, Select Sandwich, Dark Horse, Urbana Coffee and others offer free wireless without an account, but you’ll need to get a password from the counter.
For other coffee spots with WiFi, Blog.TO has a list too.
Wireless Toronto Hot-spots
Wireless Toronto is a volunteer group that sets-up free wireless at locations both inside and out. According to their website, they have about 30 venues ranging from restaurants to Harbourfront Centre and The St. Lawrence Market. You do need to set-up a free account as well.
As well, a number of the chain bars and restaurants do have wireless, typically limited to anywhere from 45 minutes to 1-2 hours. You usually need to ask your server for the password if on is required.
Link: Some places in Toronto with WiFi
Both Person and Toronto Island airports currently offer free WiFi, however there are some restrictions on time.
The Small Print
Service depends on a number of things including the number of people using it and the location of the transmitter (router). In most cases the staff are not IT support people but they might have some practical tips, after all you’re probably not the first person to have problems connecting to their network so it never hurts to ask. In some cases you might ask the staff where the best place to sit is or even just look where other laptop users are parked.
Also before setting up your mobile office, keep in mind that some places are more laptop-friendly than others. Most places probably don’t mind you spending 20-30 minutes checking your email, but might frown on you making their coffee shop your second office if you’re only buying one or two small coffees a day.
Blog.TO has a list of hotels with WiFi