Sunday, November 04, 2007

Toronto the Great

I have a confession: When I first moved to Toronto to attend York University, it wasn't my number one city of choice. In fact, I had never been here before and didn't even realize that York was far (very far) from downtown.

I had my sights set on the U.S. (Minneapolis, NYC). And while I got to know and enjoy 'Toronto the Good' (aka Hogtown), I always felt it would be a place I'd pass through and not settle in (or for).

I was so wrong about that.

Today, I am just plain excited to be living in Toronto. So, it seems, is author, academic and transplanted T.O.'er Richard Florida who sings the city's praises in the Globe and Mail (subscription required). Like Mr. Florida, I find the city to be vibrant, fast-paced and with an incredible energy all its own.

It doesn't matter what I'm doing or where I am: walking down Yonge, taking the subway (mostly), navigating the lunchtime hordes in PATH, observing an archeological dig at a condo construction site, marveling at the cultural architecture of the ROM, Four Seasons Centre, Royal Conservatory of Music, AGO, Gardner Museum, gazing at clubbers and tourists in the entertainment district, students and neighbours in the Annex (where I live), entrepreneurial street vendors at Yonge and Dundas, serious mall shoppers at Yorkdale... I get a thrill just stepping onto the street every day.

It feels like the world is in Toronto. It feels big and bustling...it feels (dare I say it?) world class.

Sure it isn't perfect and there's still lots of work to be done (sustainable planning, expanding the subway). But it's come a long way from its humble beginnings as a place where you couldn't watch a movie on Sunday, where residents would head to Buffalo for fun.

Nowadays, I feel proud to call myself a Torontonian. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else*.

But isn't it so very much like us that we need an American to make the proclamation? I say, thank you Richard Florida, for pointing out the gem in our own backyard.


*OK, I'd certainly consider NYC, Miami or LA.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Thanks for sharing, Martin. PEB

Anonymous said...

I like your blog, but I just wanted to say, in my 28 years living in Toronto, nobody ever went to buffalo for fun, I wonder where you got that came from.

Toronto has dramatically changed in the past couple of years, and yes it is a world class city now. Prior to this year, toronto had zero 5-star hotels, and now there are 8 under construction... it has come along way in the past couple of years, cant wait to come back!

Martin Waxman said...

Thanks for your comments. I certainly agree that the city's changed - grown up, really. (I've lived here pretty much since 1974.)

The notion of going to Buffalo for entertainment dates back to the '50s. A friend of mine told me his newly-married parents and their friends would drive to Buffalo to partake of the local nightclub scene. Things have really changed...

Check out the city's history: http://www.toronto.ca/culture/history/history-1951-onward.htm

Here are two interesting facts from the site:
1)'Some Torontonians first received TV signals from stations in Buffalo in 1948. The CBC began broadcasting in Toronto in 1954, followed by CFTO in 1960.'
2) '...It was not until the 1960s that horse races, theatre performances, and similar activities became legal on Sundays.'

Bill Smith said...

Thanks for sharing Martin, I have lived here for 27 years after my family relocated from Montreal during the second wave of Anglophone migration. I love living in Greater Toronto and I appreciate what we have here.