Toronto the Best
The rest of Canada hates Toronto, right? The venom is so virulent that it infects Torontonians who debunk their city as riddled with gridlock, run by a boor, has an affront for a waterfront and can’t mount a professional team that’s a winner. (Except for the Argos and they don’t count.) In recent days I’ve read disparaging things about the Ted Rogers statue at the Rogers Centre, a restaurant where the chef spent too much time in the front of the house and, of course, the weather. There’s always something wrong with the weather: too humid, too cold at night, too rainy.
Well, I beg to differ. And it took a couple of strangers to remind me that Toronto the Good isn’t just called that because we’re some goody-two-shoes place. I had dinner recently with a couple who had been introduced to me via an email from a mutual friend. I won’t embarrass the couple by naming them, but I will tell you that they were from the Deep South in the U.S. He was on business here for six weeks; his wife came along to see the sights.
We had dinner in Yorkville about halfway through their stay and they were abuzz with delight about Toronto. His contract work was in Vaughan but they had discovered that, of an evening, they could park the car at Yorkdale and take the subway almost anywhere they wanted to go. They were on the move every evening to the Distillery District, the jazz festival, the waterfront, the Mink Mile on Bloor Street. They were astounded by the Path, the underground retail labyrinth. They loved everything about the city and found everyone to be friendly and welcoming. As a typical denizen, I kept waiting for the “but …” but there wasn’t one.
Later, as I thought about their enthusiasm I realized that the Greater Toronto Area has become a lodestar for the rest of the world. We are, after all, the fourth-largest urban area in North America after Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York. We are a diverse haven for people who speak more than 150 languages. Fifty percent of all residents were born outside Canada, a huge proportion when you realize that Canada as a whole is 20 percent foreign-born and the U.S. – that mecca to so many – is only ten percent foreign-born.
So here, in celebration, are my ten favourite places, scenes or tastes of Toronto: the Edward VII equestrian statue in Queen’s Park; eating back bacon on a bun at Saint Lawrence Market; the Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place; the ferry ride to the Toronto Islands; the flatiron building on Wellington at Church; walking beside the Humber River in Etienne Brule Park; sitting in the Rogers Centre of a summer’s evening watching a Blue Jays game as half a dozen daredevils in red jumpsuits hang off an upper rim of the CN tower; riding the subway; the peregrine falcon nest opposite the King Edward Hotel; having a beer on the terrace at La Maquette and admiring whatever crazy thing is on display in the Sculpture Garden.
Make your own list. Spread the word.