The Truth About Toronto

Toronto: why do people love to hate it so much?

Toronto: why do people love to hate it so much?

So, I just completed a four-day business and pleasure trip to Toronto. Upon my return, I called, emailed and texted my friends and family here on the West Coast to re-connect and plan my week. At some point in every conversation a common theme emerged: “Toronto sucks!” they all said. Interesting. West Coasters, Westerners, East Coasters, Maritimers, Quebekers, and, well, everyone else not from Toronto seem to fiercely dislike Hogtown, The Big Smoke and/or Tdot. There are even other people, like the Arrogant Worms, who think so. And, based on a recent trip to the Centre of the Universe, I am certainly of the opinion that the rest of the world couldn’t be more wrong about Toronto. Not only does it not suck, but it is, in fact, a wonderful place with more going on in a day than most Canadian cities experience all year. The following collection of facts and stories, I hope, will do a little to change your mind.

Here are some general observations:

  • If you’re a professional who really, really wants to maximize your earning potential, go to Toronto, a city with a true corporate culture and the multi-national-headquarters to prove it. A recent survey by the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) found that the average Toronto salary is between $8,000 – $10,000 higher than in Vancouver. For certain, Toronto is the centre of Canada’s economic universe.
  • Their sports teams suck so much that it’s time for the rest of us to transition from “reveling in their athletic ineptitude” to “pity.” I mean, the lowly Maple Leafs have a two per cent chance of making the playoffs, the Raptors are slowly sinking from mediocre into terrible, the Blue Jays are worse than the Detroit Tigers, and the Argonauts are so bad that the city is courting NFL teams as bad as the Buffalo Bills to compensate for the Big Smoke’s football void. The whole situation is bad enough without the teams getting a whole lot of media attention because, well, more people live in the GTA than Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton combined. It’s a sad time to be a Toronto sports fan, and we should be there for them.
  • The city is actually multi-cultural, fighting back and forth with London, England for the title of “most diverse city on Earth” – I’m not saying that the rest of Canada hates diversity, but perhaps we don’t not hate it.
  • Toronto has real-city grit that places such as Vancouver concentrate in one area like the Downtown Eastside to a point where “grit” transforms into “decay” or places like Calgary and Edmonton don’t actually see because the people there believe in pickups and hummers more than they do sidewalks and public transportation (fun fact: each day in Edmonton vehicles idle for about 3,000 hours collectively). Toronto spreads around its edge so that everyone can feel a bit like a ghetto superstar.
  • This blog is about building community, and, let me tell you, from East to West and North to South, Toronto has it all; and they’re great communities, too, like Commercial Drive and Mount Pleasant combined, five times Vancity’s Chinatown and a Yaletown-meets-Kits equivalent neighbourhood that truly showcases swanky culinary goodness at its best.
  • People are really, really nice in Toronto. Seriously. Streetcar drivers gave me a guided tour from an amazing farmer’s market on the West side to my friend’s house on the East side. I gave and received a healthy amount of hugs. My friends and I learned about the chocolate-making powers of local bicycles and the hippies that use them to grind cocoa and coffee beans. And a dude named Milan ignored his very cold girlfriend to buy my friends Jim and Katie and I four veggie dogs (my first one got knocked out of my hand when Milan got very excited as I hugged him to say thank you). He also gave me two pieces of advice about Toronto: “always act drunk, because then, when you say ridiculous and embarrassing things you can always say ‘I’m drunk’” and then “nice guys don’t have a chance in Toronto!” Fair enough, Milan. Even nice guys need a little grit.
  • Toronto is also the epicentre of the emo-hipster movement, and I was lucky enough to be tolerated by these rich people in poor peoples’ clothing when as we visited a beverage establishment on Queen Street West. Something I like about Toronto is that 84% of all hipsters reside in that city; and I hope the number increases.
  • The music scene is outstanding and amazing all rolled into one. On Saturday night I was lucky enough to take in a simply inspiring concert (Melissa McClelland and Justin Routledge) in a simply inspiring place. And it was a beautiful thing that, apparently, goes on all the time when Six Shooter Records has a say in things.

So there it is. It’s time to start building community with Toronto, people. And here is a great link to a travel blog about not hating Toronto. You can hate the suburbs around Toronto if you have to, but remember that suburbs everywhere already hate themselves. This was a West Coaster’s case for why we should love Toronto, or at least think a little differently about the city so that we can hate it a little less. But that’s just my opinion. In any case, after reading this, what are three things you love about Toronto?

- JCH