Top ten things about Toronto

Christopher Hume has written a piece in the Toronto Star listing the ten things he hates about Toronto. Who cares? Let’s celebrate our city. Here are the ten things I love.

1. The TTC. As a senior, I ride for half price. I take the car downtown rarely, less so with the Gardiner under construction. But I’m downtown three times a week on average. The service disruptions are infrequent and even then I always have plenty to read to while away the time. 

2. The interior of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, North Tower. Formerly a branch, it now houses wealth management offices, and paintings of former CIBC CEOs. I often go in, admire the domed ceiling and look at the oil paintings of executives I interviewed: Page Wadsworth, Russell Harrison, Don Fullerton, and John Hunkin. Not all of them liked me, but I make no faces.

3. The Toronto Islands. Once a year I start at Ward’s Island and walk all the way to Hanlan’s Point, usually during spring migration. On a good day, you might see 50 different birds. I pack a lunch, meander, and enjoy peace and quiet for eight hours.

4. The Flatiron Building. Meant to be the office of George Gooderham at the beginning of the twentieth century, he died before he could occupy it. He didn’t dwell long in his Romanesque house at the corner of Bloor and St. George, either, now home to the York Club. The front view of the Flatiron Building with the downtown skyline behind is breathtaking.

5. A few food items come mind: bacon on a bun at St. Lawrence Market; fish and chips at Kingsway Fish and Chips in my west-end neighbourhood; Dover sole (baked) and the rice pudding at the Toronto Club; ribs at St. Louis; a hot dog and fries from Don Juan on Front Street before the Blue Jays game.

6. The TD Centre buildings, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and overseen by Allen Lambert, then the bank’s Chairman and CEO. New York has only one Mies; we have have five. Lambert single-handedly ensured King and Bay would be the focal point of downtown Toronto, not the pretender intersection of Bloor and Yonge. Lambert lived into his 90s, never lost a step, and once told me: “There are three ages of man: youth, middle age and ‘You’re looking well.'”

7. The ravines. It doesn’t matter where you live in Toronto, a walkable ravine is not far away. Leave urban stress behind, traipse with your eyes open, and see what you see. Plus there’s The Path for underground walkability in the winter.

8. The hospitals. Every family has at least one amazing story to tell of how a child, a mother, a father, was saved from a likely death or cured of a difficult disease.

9. Culture with the Toronto Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet and other fine musical emporiums like Massey Hall.

10. The Gardiner Museum, particularly The Monkey Band and the decorated trees at Christmas.

I feel like I’m just clearing my throat.


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