Saturday, July 22, 2006

Toronto the not so bad

It was a year ago this week that I arrived in the heat and humidity of Toronto from British Columbia to find an apartment and start a new job on the East side of Younge, er, Yonge Street. (It’s not my blogaversery though, that’s in November) And, all in all, it’s been a pretty good year and I think I may finally be getting over my anti-Torontoness.

Which is sad in a way, because my Toronto hatred had been nurtured so carefully over the years. Particularly during five years in Ottawa (watching Sens/Leafs playoff disasters), and growing-up in oh so alienated Western Canada. I think the combination of the cool mountain air and the salty breeze off the ocean creates some kind of hallucinogenic anti-Toronto feeling.

After spending a year in the Centre of the Universe though, I have to say it’s really not all that bad. It was a tough start. My arrival seemed to coincide with Toronto’s “summer of the gun.” Freaked me out a bit, but I’ve never really felt unsafe here. I was just glad my Mom doesn’t watch the national news too much.

While I can’t say much for the humid summers and the cold, snowy winters, I have come to like it here. Particularly in the warm weather months. I like the multicultural feel of the city and how there’s always some festival or celebration happening somewhere every weekend. I like the hustle and bustle, although I don’t have to drive in it. If I did, maybe not so much.

I like hating the Maple Leafs, particularly when they’re loosing. But I also love the Blue Jays. I’ve caught 12 or so games this year so far, including three in the current series against the Yankees. I know people here love to hate the Skydome, but on a sunny Saturday afternoon with the roof open, hot dog and coke in hand and the Jays on the field, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

So now, one year later, when the jumbotron directs the fans to “get loud because We Are Toronto!” I no longer feel queasy. And when I am driving around the city I no longer avert my eyes from the CN Tower in an attempt to make myself forget where I am. Denial is for me once again just a river in Egypt.

While I will always remain at heart a BCer in Toronto, I think I’m finally ready to admit to myself that I do live in Toronto now, and hey, it ain’t so bad.

However, the Maple Leafs still suck.

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Kelly Murdock said...

Geez Jeff, going all soft on the anti-TO... I don't know if you'll be welcome back in the valley ;). Seriously though, congrats on making it through a year in the big smoke, from one ex-comoxite (comoxian? help me out here) to another.

Red Tory said...

Toronto is a great city in many respects. Too big and sprawling for my tastes, but that’s another matter. The anti-Toronto thing is completely attitudinal and the resentment of it is hardly restricted to the west. There is a certain degree of arrogance and presumption amongst those who live in TO, most definitely within corporate circles. I suppose it’s only natural when everything is viewed as orbiting around you in terms of power and influence. As far as some there are concerned if you’re in Winnipeg or Comox or Windsor for that matter, you might as well be on the dark side of Pluto.

Robert said...

Does anyone really expect the national media to focus on Winnipeg for anything longer than it takes to do a story on an 'out-of-control mosquito population' or the 'bites-per-minute' count there? (and I've lived in Winnipeg, and have a rare affection for that city).

Windsor is so blissfully boring that they just had their first fatal shooting of a police officer; considering they're accross a river from Detroit, that's amazing; but that kind of safety does not make for lots of national attention.

I think it's a population thing. They next Canadian city to grow nearly as large as TO will get oodles of attention (Fort McMurray next year or so?).

Robert said...

btw... I'm starting a support group for overusers of the semi-colon.

Anonymous said...

Isuspect those that hate Toronto don't even know anything about Toronto or have ever been there, but hate by word of mouth.

It's just a city with just people in like any other city with just people in it.

Imagine hating a city - a piece of real estate with people living there.

Kinda stupid isn't it.

Zac said...

Hey Jeff, I moved from BC when I was a kid, around 12 I think. But my family moved to Mississauga, just outside of T.O. not the actual city.

I hated Ontario at first. Too different. Plus, I really, really, missed B.C. Plus, there is too much snow.

BTW, you get to like the Leaf's. Eventually you'll become Canucks/Leaf's hybrid fan who cheers for both. I was reluctant at first but a few random street party's in Toronto to celebrate Leaf victories and you quickly learn to love the blue and white.

Jeff said...

Thanks Kelly. Say, what happened to your blog? I've been waiting for tales from tofu and granola land...

Red, unlike the myth of western alienation that was discussed on your site awhile back, I think the anti-Toronto feeling is indeed somewhat real, although it shares some of the alienation characteristics. I wonder about its roots though. I think many of the most radid anti-Torontonians are people that have moved from Toronto to the West Coast. I think many West Coast natives could care less. Like alienation, it's easy to just blame Toronto or Ottawa for any troubles.

On the media, as part of my denial over the past year I've avoided reading the Star or the Sun or watching local news, sticking instead with the Globe and the National on CBC. Frankly, I haven't found them overly Toronto-centric, and I've been able to avoid hearing too much about local doings.

I love the old joke about the Star though, they're another story. Their headline when Jesus returns to earth: "Rapture snarls traffic on the 401"

Zac, not a chance! I went to two Leafs games this year (corporate seats) and enjoyed cheering for the Habs and the Devils. It's Canucks #1, Sens #2 for me. I have too much history hating the Leafs to ever change. When I moved here I told my friends if I ever become a Leafs fan come and kill me, and I'm going to hold them to that. :)

Zac said...

I don't know Jeff...

You sound a bit like me a few years back. Trust me, you'll come around.

Jeff said...

Hey, stop it Zac! You're scaring me man! :)

Anonymous said...

How can a leftie hate the

It is a Liberal utopia. Now to go dodge bullets in Rexdale.


I have lived in Toronto and the GTA for 26 years and toronto is turning into a shit hole. It is what it is my man. Now I spent 6 years living in the Jane and finch area (Albion and Martin Grove)and Buddy the shit I seen would blow your mind.

Jeff said...

Well, I tend to avoid Jane and Finch. Every city has its bad areas though. I lived in downtown Vancouver (Robson/Cardero), very nice area. When I would take the bus down Hastings though for a Giants game at the Pacific Coliseum, looking out the bus along the way it was like another world. I was just glad I didn't have to get off. Didn't go out to Surrey all that much either. Doesn't make me love Vancouver any less.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I moved from Toronto to B.C. one year ago. After a summer in Vancouver I can honestly say I will never miss Toronto again... here's the deal: you stay there to offset my immigration here.

Red Tory said...

Robert -- I was speaking more from personal experience as one who has been on the receiving end of corporate decisions made in Toronto. To me, it seemed there was a very, for lack of a better expression, “colonial” attitude towards the far-flung corners of the empire as it were. It’s really no different in other countries. I know that in the “heartland” of the U.S. there’s a lot of resentment towards NYC and LA and little doubt that in Lyon, they probably curse Paris on a regular basis.

Jeff -- I have a friend who lives in the East End of Vancouver. Down the block from his house these people have wolves in their front yard. I kid you not. The property is surrounded by a 10 foot high chain-link fence. And they howl at night. It’s the most bizarre thing. Bad neighbourhoods indeed!

Jeff said...

After a summer in Vancouver I can honestly say I will never miss Toronto again... here's the deal: you stay there to offset my immigration here.

Sorry, no deal. While my Toronto hatred may have subsided, by Vancouver love continues to burn strong.

Red, I've heard of wild cougars stalking East Van, but people keeping wolves as pets? Yowza.

Red Tory said...

I wouldn't have believed had I not seen it for myself.

carmilevy said...

And Toronto's lucky to have you. Your perspectives on this burg are refreshingly different from the usual silliness that comes from City Hall.

Good move on staying away from cars. It's the driving that drives me absolutely insane every time I come to town. I can feel my blood pressure begin to climb as I close in on the 401.

That's telling given the fact that I come from Montreal.

Happy cityversary, Jeff! Here's to the years ahead.

Anonymous said...

Salutations from the slomox valley, we really miss you guys, hey Kelly if your home for the summer get in touch.
The latest realestate stats show a very interesting trend in the BOOM we are experiencing in Comox. sometime between the 2004 - 2006 federal elections there were close to 5,000 new voters registered and we know they weren't all 1st time voters, 10 additional polls were created to accommodate that vote. In some of the strategic planning sessions I've attended the talk is for much the same continuous growth in the foreseeable future.Winchester has created an affordable Housing committee with representation from Habitat for Humanity who have just finished building another residence. What does all this mean? ROC (Rest of Canada)has discovered us. some say "we're starting to look like Toronto". gawd forbid that.

Jeff said...

Noel, i think BC has all kinds, just like TO. It defies easy categorization, and it's hard to draw the divide around geographical lines either. You've certaintly got your Conservative types, your progressives and lefties, and, while we're a rare breed, some Liberals in hiding here and there as well.

As for the Toronto hatred, as I mentioned earlier I think it ties into the alienation/blame game. Now, Torontonians, I just don't think they spend too much time thinking about the rest of the company actually. Not love, not hate, just indifference.

Anonymous said...

Toronto "used" to be labelled Toront-the-Good, City of Trees. I was born in Toronto and grew up there, but now live in a quiet rural area of Ontario. The City has changed (not for the good) and I'd never move back.

Funny, Ontarionians don't hate the west. This stigma of hate comes from a long time ago because Toronto was the financial capital of Canada and other provinces resented it....but fortunately Alberta is more than financially sound, and B.C. is getting. Funny, Toronto doesn't resent their success.

Time for the west to stop thinking in the past. Look what hate is doing to the Middle East - will we never learn.

Nicole said...

Where do you originate from in BC?
Glad to hear you are finding's short.
Cheers and all the best even though you are a Lions fan :-D

Jeff said...

Thanks Nicole. I grew up in the Comox Valley, and also loved in Vancouver for a year and a half after school in Ottawa. One day I shall return!

Anonymous said...


I spent a couple months out in Van-city And all I have to say is East Van is crazy.

I was 17 when I went out there and all I can say is that after going through that area I'm not really into the drug seen.

Whats up with people shooting base behind that libary on Hastings?

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Ive lived in Toronto since 1990 and initially I really liked the city. I was amazed by SkyDome, the Toronto International Autoshow, formula 1 (before that 1995 accident). But over the years the city has turned into a humid, crime filled, urban sprawl, traffic nightmare that I had to flee. The worst part about Toronto is just the shitty people. Calgary's my home now and to be honest with you I'm seeing parts of Toronto spring up here and there. I guess Saskatoon is where I'll move to next...