Thursday, July 1, 2010













Lately, and especially in the wake of last week's G20 madness, I've been thinking a lot about my city.  For those readers strewn all about the globe, it's probably a place about which you know very little.

Toronto is a sprawling mega-city, one that absorbed a slew of suburbs a few years back, making it geographically enormous, yet not very densely populated.  In fact, this city is a little microcosm of all of Canada:  Big and empty.  

So, on this Canada Day I'll let you in on a little secret: We're a funny country.  And not because of igloos or snow or a supposedly-strange-accent.  But because we're like two midgets in a trench coat, posturing as something bigger than we are.  We have exactly 3 major cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal) and lots of little dots connecting them across vast parcels of land.  With a population smaller than the state of California, we've got lots of room to roam. 

And depending on where you live (the West Coast, Ontario, Quebec or the East Coast) - or those places in between that no one talks about - there's a city-centre you're drawn to, like wannabe-urbanites to the flame.   If you're a small-town-Ontario boy like me, Toronto is the place to go. As soon as you discover it exists (on a school trip, usually) it becomes an obsession and killing time until you get back becomes your life's purpose.  The glamour, the lights, the total anonymity.  And the freaks!  As an 18 year old living in a conservative land-locked town, it was hard to believe you could walk down the street and be exponentially less gay than almost everybody else.  No one screamed "fag" out their car windows here. And that made it nirvana.

Then it felt like a refuge.  10 years-in, it's just home.

Canada is a remarkably young country.  Today we celebrate our 143rd Birthday, a spring chicken, really. And so our city feels a bit like a pre-teen - A touch high-and-mighty, a little entitled, and just kind of an awkward mess.  We have no real personality, our architecture is all over the place.  Streets and traffic and parks and public transit are pubescent and bitchy.  In 100 years we'll be a fantastic 20-something with great taste in music, but for now, we're a little lame.  Our metropolitan mothers (Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia) just shake their heads at our silliness, our half-hearted attempt to don their high heels and strut about in their big-people-clothes.  

But we'll get there.

This youthful zest isn't all bad.  Like that pre-teen, we're malleable and highly-suggestible.  And because of that we're a place that is evolving with the times, a city that will grow with the people who live here, will adapt to their needs.  We're a deeply multicultural city, and as our infrastructure grows, it will cater to those who have come here to make a life.  Not every place can say that.  I only wish I could live 300 more years to see it reach its potential.



14 comments:

  1. Then, Happy BIrthday, to you and to Canada - a country I have great affection for. I don't know Toronto yet, got to know Montreal very well over the years, and plan to visit Vancouver later this year. I look forward to more post.

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  2. Thanks, Blue! Isn't Montreal special??

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  3. Beautifully worded, Jason. You should honestly write a book.

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  4. The big return of Fazzini! Where in the world have you been?

    And thank you.

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  5. Well put, sir. I love Toronto too and the prairies ain't so bad either, we're like Toronto's kid sister ;)

    Happy Canada Day!

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  6. Scott took the words out of my mouth. I was going to ask when your book is coming out. I'll buy it if you sign it.

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  7. I look forward to your posts on my fair city :) I've been saying exploring toronto more is something i should do - be a tourist in my own city. so i look forward to finding out your gems so i can hit 'em up :)

    (And it always marvels me that the entire population of Canada is less than the state of California. When I tell Americans that they are flabbergasted.)

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  8. Jason,
    You've helped me curb my cynicism a bit during this adolescent tantrum of the city I love. Thanks. Miss you.
    Joel

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  9. Thanks, Christine, and Tommy. Much appreciated.

    Joel Cupcake! Where in the world have you been.

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  10. J, this post touched me and I've never been to Canada, let alone Toronto. This is something I'd love to change, when I can afford to visit. I always remember my gran visiting your fair country when I was around 10 and I was mesmorised by her tales and experiences of her time there - ever since, I've been some what fascinated.

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  11. late to the party, but so well said. so much rings true, and close to my heart. looking forward to seeing your Toronto.

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  12. wow, the vines on those buildings look incredible..
    what a great place to live

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  13. In Ottawa getting a master's degree! I stopped by the YCPA last time I was in Toronto but it turned out you're not there anymore. I was sorely disappointed.

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  14. This writing blows my mind. The description of Toronto...where do you come up with this stuff?! SERIOUSLY. Your brain works in wickedly awesome ways to string thoughts and ideas and sentiments together. A favorite.

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