Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I HATE TO SAY IT BUT...Toronto rocks, sort of

Lauren and I noticed it at exactly the same time.
The flashing neon lights, clusters of huge, colorful billboards, jam-packed sidewalks, bumper to bumper traffic...
"Hey," I said, "this reminds me of..."
"New York," she finished.
We were on Yonge St. in Toronto.
Honest to sweet baby Jesus. My daughter and I were looking south down Yonge at Dundas in the heart of downtown Toronto, but at a glance, we might have been at Broadway and 40-somethingth.
I've been to New York, and I know Toronto isn't New York, but as much as it pains me to say this as a Montrealer, there's no (honestly) denying that Toronto has a New York veneer, especially in parts of downtown and the theatre district. It is a massive, thriving, multicultural metropolis that in many ways puts our provincial burg to shame. Not in every way, just in many ways.
Don't get me wrong. I'm from neither Toronto nor Montreal, but I've lived in both and I prefer Montreal by a significant margin. But I'm not going to pretend that Toronto is any longer the dull and tedious Hogtown of old. It's a world class city and a jewel in the Canadian crown.
The biggest problem with Toronto is Torontonians. They're a decent enough bunch, but they're still in search of an identity. They're not abrasive like many New Yorkers or as offensive as some Parisiens. They're really not much of anything except whitebread bland - even a lot of the ones who aren't white but whose familes have been there long enough that they've assimiliated into the mainstream vapidity. A lot of them are still my friends, but as a group, the cool social reserve of the people who live there makes Toronto a city with everything except a soul.
It's small consolation, but Montrealers can at least take a measure of perverse pleasure in knowing that the local alumni has had a considerable hand in making Toronto the country's center of business, commerce and real political power. In the afterglow of Expo 67, Montreal was poised to become the most dynamic city in North America, until Quebec politics intervened and chased the future down the 401. Ironically, the PQ was the party that built Toronto.
Makes you wonder what they could have accomplished if they'd had Montreal's best interests at heart.


  1. Are they still rolling up the streets at 11 pm there? And having travelled and lived in To as well as MTL. sorry, its still hands down for the culture, night life, taxes, and let's face it your own beautiful wife included, the style and beauty :) And everything cooked in NYC smells and tastes like it's counterpart NJC. Sorry. It's in the water.

  2. I dunno, Tedster. Toronto in my rear-view-mirror is the best thing I say every day....

  3. I totally agree T-Bird. TO just isn't as bad as everyone says it is. Don't get me wrong ...Its Bad Just not AS Bad.
    Once again nice work.

  4. Or see every day, even.

  5. well said muriel..

    ted lost his head i think..

    T-Os been dead and will remain that way..
    hey i got family there and each time i visit
    theres nothing to do..boring as hell
    sitting around the house..

    what could i do anyways hang around bars that
    the people think labatt blue is the only beer
    or go see the leafs game..

    ill take mtl hands down..

    habs and well i cant mention all the other good
    things because theres so many..

    Ted..are you awake now..?


  6. Well Ted I agree, if only the people in Quebec,Montreal would realize that BILL 101 is the BILL that built Toronto, went after 20 years and like you said it has a NY feel, I can say this because I lived in Manhattan, love the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  7. Toronto has grown up over the years and has great shopping and many fantastic clubs. Trouble is most Montrealers when visiting are to scared too venture out and find them while visiting.

    I was told when I moved to Ottawa from Montreal many years ago that the bars close early, what are you going to do? I told them I did not move to Ottawa to drink! It seems that some judge a city by its bar hours.

  8. There are some good parts to TO but you have to look, whereas in MTL it's all around

  9. Well said, I have said this many times, head offices/companies and people high tailed it to the next big city, taking jobs and their tax dollars with them, but you said it best when you wrote the PQ built Toronto. Montreal is still a great city and will continue to be.

  10. Great post Ted. As a lad from Greenfield Park I move to Toronnaa in the 80's for what I thought was going to be a couple of years.....stil here and enjoying it.

  11. After this week's budget in Quebec, Toronto has much more appeal