Thursday, September 9, 2010

9 Observations About Toronto By a Visiting Vancouverite

Recently, I had my friend Robyn from Vancouver come to stay. She was here for a week. Now that I've lived here in Toronto for four months, I was curious to see what an out-of-towner who had never been to Toronto before thought about the city.

Without any further introduction here are Robyn's 9 observations about Toronto:

1. Liquor. Where are all the LCBOs? Apparently there are approximately three locations in the greater Toronto area and if they deign to open on Sunday it is from noon to 1:30pm. Apparently, if you want to have liquor in your home for the weekend it's prudent to start planning three business days prior.

2. Perhaps this is because THERE ARE BARS EVERYWHERE. A bar on every corner! And each with its own individual personality. And the patios! If you want to sit on the patio in Vancouver show up 2 hours in advance or in November.

3. Early 20th century housing. Not being a student of architecture or design I have no idea how to refer to the beautiful Victorian, bay-and-gable and annex type houses that can be found throughout Toronto's neighborhoods. These buildings have been around long enough to see dozens of residents come and go, giving them each their own little history. I imagine that most of them are haunted. Believe me, the ghost of Margaret Atwood will not come to rest in some Concord condo down by the waterfront.

4. I know I just praised your historic buildings, but seriously when was the technology to build bathrooms above basement level invented?

5. Public transit. Your style of transit is confusing to me! I can have a transfer, but only if I swear to continue on in the same cardinal direction at the earliest opportunity. If I should stray even one stop forward the whole deal is off and I have to spend another three dollars. I suppose this is useful if you have to commute to Toronto's outer limits, which I believe are now somewhere around Detroit.

6. ROB FORD. What is this thing? At first I assumed it was a piece of intentionally antagonizing performance art commenting on the encroaching Americanization of the Canadian political landscape. I later came to find out this is a REAL PERSON. Although, unless you are an immigrant, a minority, gay, a woman, under age 45, a cyclist, homeless, use public transit, a city contracted employee, a lefty socialist or Italian his possible win should not affect you.

7. In some circles throughout the rest of Canada, Toronto enjoys a reputation of some super urban, treeless concrete moonscape (city governance is conducted from the belly of an alien ship, after all). This leads me to believe that those commenting spent the entirety of their time in Toronto at the downtown Sheraton and did not once hie themselves to google maps. It seems like every building in the city has a few trees out back, many with fruit ready to pick!

8. Terrifyingly whimsical architecture. The ROM: I think I could actually cut myself on this building. The AGO: I am slowly ascending into the belly of a snail and the snail is full of art. The Sharp Centre for Design: I always wondered how I was going to die and now I know it is crushed from above.

9. And finally, Pizza Pizza. How did this chain become so ubiquitous? I checked wikipedia, and did you know that when in the GTA you are never more than 8 meters from a pizza pizza? Have you considered converting some of those pizza pizzas into liquor liquor stores?

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