Toronto is Canada’s most populous city and the fourth most populous in North America after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles. Having been to all of these cities, however, I must say that the general atmosphere of Toronto is completely different than the rest.
Yes, Toronto is huge with a wide berth of suburbs (some include Niagara Falls as a suburb, other don’t) and is the anchor city of what is known as the Golden Horseshoe area (where some 26% of Canada’s entire population resides), but as my mom and I walked through the streets exploring and taking in the sights we couldn’t help but notice that the city was more… peaceful, quiet, and clean than the three previously mentioned cities or many others besides.
There was an interesting amalgamation of European style with North American attitude in the people and the buildings. Almost all the names of the streets and businesses bring to mind the nation’s connection with England, especially London. Buildings from the 1800s carry an Old World feel, including the original City Hall which looks more like a cathedral than a place of business and politics. (I particularly liked the gargoyles on the clock tower, quite a nice touch.) Then the new City Hall looks completely different: sleek, modern, attractive – everything one would expect of this type of building today.
As we passed people on the street, we noticed that especially the men were dressed in what felt like a more European fashion – skinny pants, skinny ties, interestingly attractive shoes. Of course, I realize that these trends are seen all over the world, but I did suddenly have the feeling that I was back in Berlin or London for a moment in a way that going to New York or LA never does.
Another big thing was the smoking. In Europe, it seems like everyone smokes. In the US, it seems like hardly anyone smokes and if they do, they are relegated to specific areas where the habit is allowed. Here in Toronto it seems as if they’ve landed on a midway point where not everyone smokes so much as to make you gag, but where those who need a smoke often will just step outside their office buildings and places of works for a quick puff and then head back in. As long as they don’t smoke inside, they’re good – no other location designation.
One interesting thing for me, as the recent arts management grad, is that Toronto is a major arts hub with “more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, two symphony orchestras and a host of theatres.” There are also two major museums, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a host of other cultural activities in the city revolving around literature (they still have book stores!), food, tourism. Who knows… maybe I should start looking for a job here.
All these things come together to give the city it’s charm and allure. Mommy and I only got to scratch the surface of all the city has to offer, so we’re glad to have another full day and a half to explore before moving northwards.
Here are a few photos from today’s adventures. Enjoy!
Oh, and I should mention that Mommy and I are staying at an AirBnb while here in Toronto and we are so glad to have found the host we did! Gen is an absolutely lovely person with an AMAZING space which provides phenomenal views of the city no matter what time of day.
Due to circumstances beyond her control, she will no longer be able to host people after the month of May, so we feel especially blessed to have this opportunity to experience her warm hospitality.
If you’ve never used AirBnb before, I would encourage you to give it a try. It’s so different from staying in a hotel and will give you memories to cherish for the rest of your life.