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Let's All Hate Toronto

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I've been to Toronto three times and I've enjoyed every visit. I'm not a big fan of huge cities -- maybe I'm just a Nebraska farmboy used to wide-open spaces, but places like Chicago and New York give me the heebie-jeebies -- but I dig Toronto.

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Toronto is scorned throughout Canada -- or at least throughout B.C. -- for considering itself "the centre of the universe". (Our term, not theirs, of course -- though when Toronto was hit by the blackout a few years ago, the mayor's claim that Toronto was "the engine that drives the whole province, the whole country in fact" didn't win him any fans out here.)

I once toyed with the possibility of applying for a writing job there, but didn't like the thought of actually moving there; when I discussed this with a publicist who worked back east, I mentioned that I didn't particularly want to LIVE in Toronto, and she said, "Peter, nobody WANTS to live here..."

I haven't been there in something like ten years, but my visits to the city didn't impress me much -- I found it cold and grey and stony and concretey -- and as I mentioned at my blog the other day, I got a huge kick out of the 49th Parallel DVD, which includes a bonus feature where British director Michael Powell recalls touring Canada before writing his film, and "marvelling at Toronto's ugliness". Even then, eh?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Toronto is scorned throughout Canada -- or at least throughout B.C. -- for considering itself "the centre of the universe".

This applies to the Prairies as well.

And I myself have a hatred for the Toronto Maple Leafs -- to the point that I revelled last week in the NY Islanders beating the NJ Devils and knocking the Leafs out of the playoffs.

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In my days as a hardcore Blue Jays fan, I always shook my head in disbelief when American sportscasters would go on about Toronto's beauty. I've visited, I don't know, half a dozen times? All of them (mercifully) short visits, admittedly. Have yet to have found a single thing in Toronto that I would describe as vaguely appealing, let alone "beautiful."

Give me Vancouver any day. Heck, give me Eston Saskatchewan any day!

Yours westernly,

Ron

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I know there's a lot of resentment toward "Toronna" (local pronunciation), but it's actually a pretty nifty place. Very nice spread of cultural activities, etc. And the largest West Indian festival in the world, every summer. (Part of a circuit of off-season W. Indian "carnivals" that includes NYC and D.C.)

Parts of the city are really quite lovely - certainly far more so than the industrial towns/cities to the south and east! If you've ever taken the highway from Buffalo to Toronto, you'll know what I'm talking about...

If I had a choice (for a trip) between Montreal and Toronto, I'd go for the former, unless there was some compelling reason to be in Toronto at a given time - and often, there is.

Well, I'll weigh in as a Toronto fan. I haven't been to B.C. or any of the western provinces, but I'll gladly take Toronto over Montreal. I found it clean and friendly, yet bustling in a big-city way. The train system is great. And I love the ethnic diversity. Of course, the two times I've been there have been in the summer, when the weather was perfect, and the skies were blue. I probably wouldn't have such fond memories if I had visited in winter. But I don't like anyplace in winter, at least north of Miami, Florida.

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: So do Canadians hate Toronto because (U.S.) Americans seem to love it?

Ha!

I will say that, as a Canadian, I have always envied the way America's industries seem to be spread out over a variety of cities. In Canada, there is an unfortunate tendency to focus everything on Toronto, so that the centre of every industry seems to be in that one city, at least where the English-speaking population is concerned. And then our national politics get dominated by Toronto types who feel that everything needs to be about Quebec, Quebec, Quebec (i.e. the province next door to them). So, all these things play into that "centre of the universe" vibe.

: WAITAMINUTE: Bruce friggin' Cockburn lives in Toronto...

Ah, but does he WANT to live there...? :)

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--content deleted--

Apparently not anymore, because he lives in Montreal. Although Alan is right, he did live in Toronto for many years.

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I've not been to Toronto, but I can't imagine a town as beautiful and pleasing as Vancouver, Canada. I think if there were one place on the earth that I'd live for the aesthetics alone, it'd be Vancouver.

And not to mention that Vancouver also has Whistler. Awesome snow skiing, it doesn't get much better.

-s.

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, Joni Mitchell

She grew up in Saskatchewan, though. Talks about it in some of her songs.

Actually, she grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan specifically, and even went to the same high school that my fiance went to (thought many years apart).

Sheesh, Toronto tries to steal everything. Can't let us poor Saskatoon people have anything. ;)

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Well in a sense, Toronto is the "centre of the universe" (of Canada anyway) because Ontario has over 12mill and T.O. has over 5mill of THAT population. That's a lot of buying power considering that the rest of the country is spread out thinly throughout the provinces and territories.

Let's face it. Whatever happens in Ontario affects the rest of the country. And where are the centres of power located? Ottawa and Toronto. Both in Ontario. And believe me. As a Windsorite who has heard for years that Windsor is the "A$$-hole of Canada" (I wear the label proudly of course :D ) it has this name because most people here feel that when it comes to handing out the government dole, we are the last to see it, i.e. our increasing border problem is an example of this.

So the rest of you guys out East or West? You aren't the only ones that feel that way.

Now, Toronto might not have mountains and lovely streams and forests, yada, yada, yada...but it is a cultural centre (probably moreso than the rest of the country or continent for that matter). But as far as modern cities are concerned, it is an example of modern architecture which represents a kind of utopian dream.

Tell me. Is this not the site of eternal aspiration?

toronto_night_skyline.jpg

Edited by BBBCanada

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--content deleted--

Nope, we just hate it. The fact that Americans think it's so swell just confirms our impression that American cities must be even uglier.

--content deleted--

THOUGHTS ON A RAINY AFTERNOON

by Bruce Cockburn

from "Bruce Cockburn" (1969)

Rain rings trash can bells

and what do you know

my alley becomes a cathedral

eyes can be archways

to enter or leave by

vacuum's replaced by a crystal

O Jesus don't let Toronto take my song away

it's easy to love if

you let yourself love it

but like a moth

's wing it's easily crushed

O Jesus don't let tomorrow take my love away

--content deleted--

Nope. New York = Toronto (but more interesting), Seattle = Vancouver (but uglier).

And as for BBC's comment that Toronto is the centre of the universe because it has the most buying power... Spoken like a true Ontarian.

::devil::

Edited by

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Ron said:

And as for BBC's comment that Toronto is the centre of the universe because it has the most buying power... Spoken like a true Ontarian.

Yer just jealous. :) Seriously though? You and I may not like it? But dems the demographics. It's a red rudder and it steers a lot of the policies in other provinces (especially the Western provinces a.k.a "western alienation") some of which is connected to the distribution of the population of Canada.

By the way. I use to live in B.C. On the island. Courtney/Comox. My dad was in the military there.

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So you hate Toronto? Bring it on!

In Globe Toronto last week, R.M. Vaughan's "Toronto the Grimy!" defended his adopted city in the wake of the cross-Canada attack documented in Let's All Hate Toronto, which premiered Friday night at the city's acclaimed Hot Docs film festival. "All the bad things the rest of the country says about Toronto are so wonderfully, refreshingly true: It's trashy, dirty, dangerous, rude and full of itself," he writes. "In other words, it's a big city."

Globe and Mail, April 25

Toronto: Love it? Hate it?

If, as the makers of a new documentary claim, everybody hates Toronto, why does everybody live here? I mean, everybody who matters? . . . Vancouverites, people who spend a suspiciously Macbeth-ish amount of time protesting their calm, forgiving natures, turn positively apoplectic at the very sight of the word Toronto. I suspect this is largely because Vancouver is where failed Torontonians go to die. They have good reason to be bitter, stuck as they are, huddled and wet under the ass end of a mountain, forgotten and lonely, with only the faint hope of a devastating avalanche to get them through the night.

R.M. Vaughan, Globe and Mail, April 14

- - -

He's got it backwards, of course. It's precisely BECAUSE Toronto hogs as many of the "everybody who matters" as possible to itself that the rest of the country hates it so much. See my earlier comments about the city's "centre of the universe" / "engine that drives the country" attitude.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Yeah...I can just see it Peter. A city that "hogs." Like some sorta tractor beam. :)

It's trashy, dirty, dangerous, rude and full of itself he writes. "In other words, it's a big city."

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: "In other words, it's a big city."

And Vancouver isn't?

When Michael Powell said he "marvelled at Toronto's ugliness, and Montreal's beauty", was Montreal somehow not a big city?

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This is why people hate Toronto

The temporary bleachers have long since been cleared away but Torontonians who attended the opening of the Royal Ontario Museum's (ROM) new addition last Saturday night are still trying to forget. It was an occasion to delight those who despise the pretensions of Toronto. No doubt they will savour, till their dying days, how dreadful it was. But we who love Toronto hope we can (as mourners are advised to do) put it behind us and move on. Still, it's better at the beginning to talk than suffer in silence. . . .

We were there to celebrate Toronto's devotion to a quasi-religious belief in art, progress and imagination. First, though, it was a festival of thanking. At openings of cultural buildings, we give ritual thanks to donors, from whom all blessings flow. We do it as often as religious people thank the deity. Managers of these buildings must believe that donors suffer from a terrible thirst for gratitude, and they could be right. In any case, the thanking at the ROM reached previously unimagined levels of unction. The performances filling most of the evening were also worked into the religious theme: In between acts, Paul Gross, our host, conducted an argument with a booming voice (Gordon Pinsent's) that claimed to belong to Time. We all realized that Time represented God, who would have come Himself if He hadn't been made illegal. . . .

Robert Fulford, National Post, June 9

Toronto, the City that doesn't work

Much hay is made throughout Canada about why people dislike the country's largest metropolis and the attitude it seems to breed in its millions of residents. Most Torontonians pay little heed to the criticisms hurled at their city because the quality of life has been good. But Toronto's day of reckoning is on the horizon as the municipal government hurtles toward bankruptcy. . . . While much of the rest of Canada hates Toronto, it may not be too long before the people living in Toronto hate it just as much.

John Turley-Ewart, Full Comment, National Post, June 13

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: Of course, I've also heard that Canadians consider Vancouver to be a back-water, redneck, "frontier" town...

You must have us confused with Calgary.

nardis wrote:

: "Provincial." I've heard that a lot from folks from Montreal.

Describing who? If Quebecers are calling any OTHER locality too "provincial", then, well, that's a hoot!

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Not sure I've "sensed" what this guy claims, but anyhoo:

- - -

Canadians don't care enough about Toronto to hate Toronto

I was thrilled to see Canada's Duke of Documentaries, Alberta Nerenberg in the pages of the National Post shilling for his new baby Let's All Hate Toronto. . . .

But while I love Albert's way of getting to the great Canadian funny bone, fairness forces me to say that the premise of this piece is a bit of a real time reach. And if you are thinking about this with a Western Canadian brain, you're thinking this doc ought to be aired on History TV. The truth is that we stopped hating Toronto a long time ago.

Toronto hasn't been the centre of very much thinking here in Western Canada for several years. There is a one word reason for this: Calgary. Someone needs to tell the very funny Alberta Nerenberg that it's difficult to hate a rival city unless it's seen as a rival. In the west, there is one city that has very much replaced Toronto in our collective consciousness. It's sometimes known as Toronto on the Bow. It used to be thought of as Cowtown. The city with the biggest udders is the one that gets the most attention. It is the one that is envied and possibly hated by those who feel they are being dwarfed. Envy has always been the mother's milk of hatred. . . .

Charles Adler, Full Comment, National Post, July 25

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I know a lot of Vancouverites who hate Toronto and Ontario and I say give us a break... Yes Vancouver is absolutely beautiful - there's no denying that, and I love going there. But Ontario is not just a concrete jungle full of Liberals - Northern Ontario is incredibly beautiful, full of unique rock formations, lakes and beaches. And as far as Toronto is concerned I have always enjoyed it. I agree that I'd never want to live there, but it's full of culture, it's got an awesome film festival, and there's always something unique and interesting to do there (where else can you go to a Shoe Museum???) Plus there's a 'beach' so I'm happy!!

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Valjean wrote:

: I know a lot of Vancouverites who hate Toronto and Ontario and I say give us a break...

Ready when they are. ;)

: But Ontario is not just a concrete jungle full of Liberals - Northern Ontario is incredibly beautiful, full of unique rock formations, lakes and beaches. And as far as Toronto is concerned . . .

Toronto is the issue here. Not those parts of the Northwest Territories that were added to Ontario some years after the creation of that province. Just Toronto.

: I agree that I'd never want to live there . . .

That's concession enough. :)

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For most of my life I have lived no more than an hour away from Toronto, so I've been there a fair bit. And while I can understand where some of you are coming from, I have to say that I have always associated trips to Toronto with fun or exciting experiences: a visit to the Science Museum or the ROM, a shopping day at the Eaton centre with friends, going to the Toronto Islands with my family to watch Canada Day fireworks, catching a Blue Jays game at the Skydome (or the Roger's Centre as it is tragically called now), going to see the big musicals at the Princess of Wales Theatre, etc. You get the idea. My sister and her husband lived there for a couple years as well, in the downtown area of Toronto (pretty much as downtown as you can get) and they really enjoyed it -- it's easy to get around and there's lots at your fingertips. It's also hugely diverse, which always gave us interesting things to do and experience on our visits that I probably wouldn't have experienced elsewhere. Like Valjean said, it's full of culture, and there's a Shoe Museum! :) And, of course, there's the film festival.

I'm not trying to say that Toronto is a superior city to any other in Canada. I have never been to Vancouver or the western provinces of Canada, but I have heard that Vancouver is a beautiful city and it's definately on my list of places to see. I guess I've just never seen Toronto as a city to be hated.

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Valjean wrote:

: I know a lot of Vancouverites who hate Toronto and Ontario and I say give us a break...

Ready when they are. ;)

: But Ontario is not just a concrete jungle full of Liberals - Northern Ontario is incredibly beautiful, full of unique rock formations, lakes and beaches. And as far as Toronto is concerned . . .

Toronto is the issue here. Not those parts of the Northwest Territories that were added to Ontario some years after the creation of that province. Just Toronto.

: I agree that I'd never want to live there . . .

That's concession enough. :)

You know, you can't beat a good Canuck territorial squabble. I'm sure you (near) residents of Vancouver and Toronto can't imagine how silly these arguments read to people who have no affiliation with either city. I'm tempted to sniff that I would never be involved in such things. But then I remember that I hate Ann Arbor, Michigan. Not the people, just the city. All right, some of the people. Perhaps as many as 94% of the people.

Okay, carry on ...

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Okay, a shoe museum. Nobody told me there's a shoe museum.

"Although the human foot has remained unchanged for thousands of years..."

I withdraw all charges. Toronto's a lovely place, and all the people are kind hearted.

Former Toronto-baiter,

Ron Reed

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Yeah, that foot museum is the Bata Shoe Museum. And where would we be if didn't know about footwear dating back 4500 years?

By the way, my son is in Vancouver tmw which only prooooooves....

Edited by BBBCanada

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