3.08.2009

happy belated birthday toronto

I didn't realize I missed Toronto's 175th birthday. The city itself has existed much longer than that, first as a native settlement, then a French trading post, then as a British town. But on March 6, 1834, the Town of York officially became the City of Toronto.

The more I get to know Toronto, the more I like it. It's vibrant, incredibly diverse, friendly (yes, it is!) and manageable. There's great food, parks, art, universities, culture, sports, activism and everything else that makes a city interesting. Toronto struggles with the same problems as all modern urban environments, where real estate development is king and profit takes priority over people. But the city itself, the people and the energy they create, has so much going for it.

Canadians love to put down Toronto, but the complaints usually fall under two categories: people who hate cities generally, and people who have never been to Toronto, or were here once 30 years ago for two days.

Some people claim Toronto is an "Americanized" city, not truly Canadian. I question what those people know about US cities. I recently heard a Canadian complaining about Toronto: the congestion, the traffic, the high rents, homeless people, blight. His preference? Boston. Yeah. Complain about congestion, traffic and slums, and praise Boston? Only a strictly tourist perspective on Boston could come up with that.

Another commonly heard perspective is, "Toronto used to be a good city, but it's changed so much." It's changed. That's what happens. Would you like to live someplace that never changes? Does such a place exist?

I wish Torontonians would adopt the attitude New Yorkers take towards USians dissing their city. New Yorkers enjoy the hatred. They eat it for breakfast. When people say, "New York's a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there," New Yorkers say, "Good, who needs you."

Happy Birthday, Toronto!

7 comments:

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Well, I'm a western Canadian who actually likes Toronto. Happy birthday, you crazy big sprawly central Canadian city!

Robyn said...

I'm another western Canadian who, suprise, surprise - has never been to Toronto! I've never bashed Toronto, I swear. :) I have, however, visited Ottawa and have spent a lot of time in Montreal.

The only time I say anything less than nice about Toronto is when I'm talking to people who also haven't been there, but are hoping that by basing themselves out of Toronto, they're going to experience the Rocky Mountains, log cabins, and the northern lights. And then I politely tell them, well...

Cornelia said...

I like big cities, so I think I would have enjoyed Toronto, too...never been there, though!

David Heap said...

"I wish Torontonians would adopt the attitude New Yorkers take towards USians dissing their city. New Yorkers enjoy the hatred."

Of course we (have to?) take a much more typically "Canadian" response: as an exiled Torontonian permanently in love with my home town, I have learned to be almost apologetic about it and try to understand other Canadians' (various) points of view on Toronto. Luckily I am close enough I can scoot back (though perhaps not as often as I might like) for a quick dose of the LTA (Lesser Toronto Area) when I need it. And I have to admit that, starting from my initial position as a big-city bigot, I have come to appreciate small-city life away from TO much more than I ever expected.

Cid said...

When we lived in Vancouver I used to say that if everyone out there used all the energy they wasted Toronto-bashing on something else the world would probably be a better place. I am a Torontonian, born and bred and proud of it!

Cornelia said...

Many things are a matter of taste. I like big cities and at least London, Western Ontario has an university and thus can't be that small either, David...

Luckily I am close enough I can scoot back (though perhaps not as often as I might like) for a quick dose of the LTA (Lesser Toronto Area) when I need it.

That is good!! Being able to talk back fast enough can be a great relief in unpleasant situations...

richard said...

Let me be a bit contrarian here, just because. Twenty years ago I had a choice between living in Boston and living in Toronto. I thought it was a no-brainer and chose Boston. I would gladly make the same choice today*. And they have better sports teams ;-)

Anyway, happy birthday to the Big Smoke!

* for a short term, I mean. I would not want to permanently leave Canada.