It gets a bad rap in the media, my city. Toronto is rife with murders, shootings, theft. It’s got a garbage problem and a stupid buffoon of a mayor. There’s the casino issue currently tearing up the papers. People are rude, cold and uncaring. There are too many condos. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC, or our subway system) sucks. On and on and on.
But I always refer to Toronto as “Toronto the Good“, and I recently was asked why I do it. Is it a nickname for the city? (Hint: it is.) Am I just looking at it through rose-coloured glasses? Why Toronto the Good?
Here are five reasons why:
1. When I moved to this city five years ago, I was fulfilling a lifelong dream to live and work here. So yes, perhaps I was looking at it through rose-coloured glasses. I spent my first year simply soaking up the culture and the wonder of living in a big city. And then reality hit. I got into my first car accident. I dealt with the infuriating task of trying to plan around subways that ran dubiously at best. I was laid off from my job and had to eke out a living in a place that was pretty expensive and yeah, kind of uncaring towards those who can’t afford to live here. But it’s a place of opportunity. I found jobs and writing gigs by simply reaching out and asking for them. I interviewed in tons of places and learned things about myself. So while the city can be harsh, it’s also a place where if a door closes, another one opens. That’s why I love it.
2. I love the hidden pockets of history, like Ireland Park down by the water in the West End. There’s a sculpture garden by St. James Cathedral that I need to go and take pictures in because it’s just that freaking awesome. I live in a hundred-year-old doctor’s office that’s been converted into apartments, and though I have complaints about the lack of water pressure in my shower, I am living in a part of history. Everywhere I look, there are more things to learn, more mysteries to unlock. This is a young city by the standards of the world, but by the standards of Canada, it’s got history that I have learned more about myself from. Human nature doesn’t change over the years. That’s what’s so relatable about living here.
3. I love the rhythm of living here. The sound of the traffic outside my window at night lulls me to sleep, so much so that when I visit my parents in their small town, I can’t sleep without white noise in the background. I love watching everyone go about their days, laughing, talking, deep in thought, wondering how their problems are going to affect them today. I can sit on my doorstep and watch people for hours. I love that Toronto incorporates villages inside a large city. That you can walk and experience different cultures within three blocks. That there’s green space close by even when the skyscrapers tower over it. It’s a unique experience, and it’s home to me.
4. The friendliness of those who live here. Toronto’s coldness is a myth. People are endlessly friendly and willing to help – you just have to ask. I almost fainted on a hot summer day, riding a subway with broken air conditioning, and I had no less than five people willing to help me. I had a TTC worker stay with me and give me sips of water until I felt well enough to go on my way. I’ve asked for directions and been given them and recommendations to restaurants and attractions to boot. I smile at the same Portuguese woman walking past me on my way to the bus every morning and get a smile and a “good morning” back. The people here are what make the city what it is. It’s thriving and full of life. I can’t help but soak that up.
5. Lastly, I love the city simply because it became home the minute I moved in. I’ve never felt anything but safe living here. I hear the news and I’m careful, as you should be in any big city, but I feel comfortable. I go to my favourite restaurants and convenience stores and am greeted by name by the people who work there. I am friends with my neighbours and spend time on the fire escape outside, just chatting. I take walks through the park close to my house and watch everyone enjoying the sunshine. It’s a home I chose, and I’ve made the most of living here.
To me, Toronto is good. I’m not blind to its faults. I’m not blind to the problems that go on here. If I had my way, we’d have a different mayor, a better transit system, more eco-friendly options. Things would be less expensive and there’d be more public programs for those that need it. But when I leave the city, I look forward to coming back. When I’m here, I feel like I’m a part of this place. And I hope that when someone else moves into this house years from now, they are just as interested in who lived here as I am.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving and living in this city that welcomed me with open arms.
- The New Queen Street Tribe Toronto (zzbiggzz.com)
- TTC’s new streetcar takes early morning maiden voyage down Bathurst St. (thestar.com)
- How to make your honeymoon special with a Toronto bus (torontocoachbus.wordpress.com)
- TTC wades into merchandise market with vintage posters (metronews.ca)