As a Texan Visiting Toronto

As a Texan Visiting TorontoIn 2012, I've spent a good chunk of time in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin. I visit these cities as a tourist, doing some homework, marking up a map and hitting the streets with my camera. I don't visit Toronto this way, as I've always lived here.

I often wonder what it would be like to see Toronto as a tourist sees Toronto. On Reddit today, there's an interesting post from a Texan who visited Toronto and fell in love with this city.

Forgive me for ranting but...I have been all over the planet and after spending a few weeks here.... Toronto is hands down my favorite city of all time.

Living in Houston provides me with extremely minimal public transportation, and I drive 100 miles a day between my home and job. If you take public transportation in Houston, you are most likely homeless, or at least impoverished. The TTC may have its downsides, but it is phenomenal compared to systems in NYC, Sydney, San Francisco, etc. The subway may look small in scale compared to these other cities, but the quality of service is simply on another level. I can step outside and walk 10 feet to the Ossington/Davenport bus stop, and be all the way across the city on the subway in 15-20 minutes.

The level of cultural diversity in Toronto is also extremely pleasant to me. Korea town and China town seem so much more comfortably integrated into the cityscape. We have a large section of Houston which is considered "China town", but it simply isn't integrated at all within the city, and is quite a distance away from downtown. Also, we certainly don't get to enjoy the scent of stinky tofu wafting through the air for miles around.

The parks and green areas proliferate within Toronto, and impress on me that Canadians do truly value the impact that such places have on everyday life. Spent quite some time in Christie Pitts and High Park just drinking with friends, and enjoying some of your fine beverages (LOVE that nasty Faxe 10, Holstein Maibock, Holstein Festbok, ciders,and anything Molson). Truly wish the US would switch to the Canadian style of measuring alcohol content.

Speaking of beer, didn't matter if the prices were on average triple what I pay in Texas, the Victory Cafe in the Annex had one of the finest selections of beer I've come across. The beers on tap by Great Lakes brewery and Flying Monkey had me coming back daily. The Highlander Scottish Pale Ale was killer as well. However, for food, I was on a hunt to find the best poutine in the city.

Two poutine places stuck out to me as ever-dependable. "Come and Get It" and Smoke's. Smoke's seemed like it was going to be similar to a typical chain restaurant in the states, but the quality of their Country Style poutine (bacon, chicken, cheese curds, mushrooms, carmelized onions, gravy) blew me away. I was going back to Bloor St for that poutine at least twice a week. Also Spent quite a bit of time at Future Bakery enjoying their Chicken Schnitzel.

Finally, the one thing that made Toronto stand out the most....was the people. I know Canadians from surrounding/rival cities (politely) talk a lot of crap about Torontonians, but for a big city, it had the most kind population I have ever experienced. Even the small cities outside of Houston don't come close to the friendly feel of Toronto. My whole life I've always assumed that southerners are the most friendly people ever, and Torontonians made us look like Parisians....or New Yorkers..(ones that don't give away Gotye tickets). Everywhere I went there were community events going on, free food being given out in neighborhoods, and just an endless amount of effortless diversity. However, this kindness did not always extend to some places....cough (subway in korea town) cough, but overall, I felt immediately right at home.

There is so much more I could rant on about....the museums...the art galleries...Timmies.....the amount of amazing shows...Honest Ed's.....the GRAFFITI....but I've already spent too much time redditing on the clock at work, so I'll cut it short. In the end, I would have to designate Toronto as New York city, but cleaner, more beautiful, and with a VASTLY lower population of douchebags. I would choose Toronto over NYC a thousand times over. Also, your used video game shops have the best selection I have ever seen. I miss the city already, and hope to be returning soon for some Toronto winter action.

Peace out y'all, and never take your city for granted.

P.S - Excellent bud.

OH and I forgot....this video is the best single depiction of the city I have ever seen: Toronto Tempo.

What do you think of his observations? Do we take Toronto for granted?


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Comments (10 - click here to join in!)

Sammy

We definitely take Toronto for granted.

The grass is always greener.

September 20, 2012 @ 11:30 AM

MrFascination


1 of 2 things...

1- This guy works for some Toronto promotion company

2- He is smoking something funny.....


- He mentions having to Travel 100miles each day to and from work... Thats about average here too when coming from the Brampton, Oakville, etc... Except the road system in Texas is SOOO much better than Toronto's... Roads are large and wide and actually planned out a lot better.

- The TTC covers the city well?? REALLY??!?!?!? NYC, Washington, Boston, Philly ALL put our system to SHAME!

- The beer.... He has a point there....

I've traveled the most major cities in the US and Canada.. They all have their plus and and minus's... But he really is looking at Toronto thru rose colored glasses.... The transit system is out dated and sucks. Toronto isn;t that clean of a city anymore.. NYC does a much better job in every aspect, from controlling homelessness, to transit, to cultural parts of town. As does Boston and Chicago..

Toronto at best is on par with Chicago.. AT BEST...

September 20, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

CQ

High Park is a miserable hole - as compared to just 5 or 10 years ago. Ditto for the waterfront.
Toronto, and its immediate neighbours, does have its good points but it was better and held a truly better promise. This isn't just a government thing either; all of our sports franchises, stadiums, radio stations, retailers, etc. have been on the down slide.

September 20, 2012 @ 12:13 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@CQ

"High Park is a miserable hole - as compared to just 5 or 10 years ago".

Please elaborate...

September 20, 2012 @ 2:19 PM

Blind Dave

As soon as I got to the High Park bit, I knew Mike would respond.

I haven't been there in 20 years, so I can't comment on the present. But when I lived in the area, it was a beautiful place to go to.

September 20, 2012 @ 3:51 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Blind Dave

I grew up visiting High Park often, when I was training for a marathon, High Park was my go-to running spot and the past five years I've spent at least one day a week there watching my boy play ball.

I know High Park, and I fail to see this decline.

It's still beautiful. The park for kids is better than ever, the zoo remains open and the grounds are well maintained.

September 20, 2012 @ 3:54 PM

CQ

High Park (once and for all?, lol).

1) The NE portion dirt trail for everyone was fenced in and gated as a dog run! It goes from the stage to the Spring Road, and also the other branches towards the gardening plots (and a leash free park section beyond).
1a note:) BTW, my former jogging used to include a figure 8 option of up the steep road, across the restaurant parking lot, and back into that trail system. It still has a few exercise stations including chin up bars (just south of the dog gated portion).
1b) At least the north-West dirt trail corner still exists without barriers.
Then I might pass the people train as it passed across Spring Road and also the S-E paved path section (arriving down that steep road).
2) 15 foot high Reeds have been grown completely hiding the view of the Pond, especially along the south-side and the small connecting wooden bridge!
2a) Money was expensed to build in designated cement pad viewing stations of the Pond's south-side just before the naturalized reed growth. What the heck was wrong with just stopping anywhere, along that branch trail, to simply admire the pond.
3) That south Pond side branch trail was switched from fine gravel to pavement - like most of the trail! Everything (other than the north half dirt paths is already pavement; the fine gravel always felt refreshing - as a jogger.
4) I never liked the altered routing of the south east corner, nor its badly sideways sloped re-paving either!
5) The nice old blue fountain at Bloor and Keele was torn down! Okay, then. Except a bland 1.5 metre pair of walls replaced it (each has water pouring out into a grate). Their 'High' sign was swiped immediately leaving the new entrance as just 'Park'. It was never replaced.
5a) I can see the shiny glassy bits mixed into that renewed entrance gravel. A dogs-only trail reasignment (after Spring Road) and glassy embedded entrance gravel?
5b) There used to be two simple dirt lines into that corner, from both the corner and along Bloor Street. Now there is just that one pathway, and glassy gravelled before the regular dirt.
6) Even the outdoor stage seating was cemented; but that's very long ago. It originally was molded ground and grass. Why go to a Theatre In The Park to sit on a grass veneer over cement? The Ont. Place Forum - for comparison - called that change its new Molson Amphitheatre.
7) The children's castle is a good addition; yet I really don't like the added stiff curbing around that area's rebuilt parking spaces.
8) Last time I noticed, the west Pond side path's drinking fountain (tucked into a shady section) hadn't ever been repaired for its ordinary aging.
9) I can't help but notice the raised platform of the streetcar line along Queensway / Queen St. How much did this cost for an empty stretch of road re-build between the Gardiner and the park? And for what measurable benefit?
10) Don't forget the new condo constructions. Why allow those towers at the former Stelco site and Seaway(?) motel strip when everyone would rather allow the Gardiner its opportunity for a redesign improvement. Its all too late now; that 1950s (at a guess) 6-lane only section is locked in.
10a) Next up is the Bloor St north-side. I don't object as default, here; I just have miminal confidence in whatever is to be built. Add-in hundreds of new condo / townhouse units. Build right against the sidewalks (as elsewhere throughout the area). Provide zero roadway enhancement. Sure, that'll work out great. has anyone else tried to cycle along the nearby Mimico residential shoreline roadway and/or fancy trail?

September 20, 2012 @ 6:35 PM

dale

@ CQ

It's an Old park in the mid section of Toronto. It STILL has its values & its history as long as the zoo stays open.

You should be an urban planner & run for the Green Party in the next election.

September 20, 2012 @ 7:20 PM

Irvine

The OP has been all over the planet, has he? Define "planet"

Houston is the American epicentre for the oil and gas city. Logically, the city is built around the car with the suburbs having a higher density than downtown. Traffic is horrific, especially the 610. Comparing Toronto & Houston is like comparing Winnipeg & Calgary. And friendly people in Toronto? Well as a former oil and gas guy, many of the folks I've interacted with in Texas or Oklahoma are MORE pleasant than the typical Canadian. That is provided you keep politics & shit out of the conversation.

I'm surprised such a "traveled" guy would make a comparison like this. Guess he's never been to Austin? Or Portland? Or Seattle? Or San Francisco? Or New York? Not to mention a dozen European cities which have superior transit to Toronto AND less crime.

And the subway in Toronto is superior to NYC? When's the last time this guy rode the subway in NYC? 1979?

I also found his statement about park space questionable. Having been to Houston LOTS of times, I recall it being pretty green & having lots of parks. So I surfed to Wikipedia where I found this

Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and green space, 56,405 acres.

Sounds like shill to me, or Toronto Mike once again trying to shill Tdot as the epicentre of the world.

September 22, 2012 @ 3:25 PM

Irwin

I lived in NYC from 1995-2006 and in 2011. I lived in TORONTO from 1971-1994, 2007-2010 and 2012 to present...I travelled visited a lot of major big cities in USA, and Winnipeg, MONTREAL, still have to visit Vancouver. It's true, TORONTO is a very nice livable big city...Chicago is a very racially polarized city, I take diversity of TORONTO over the black and white and Hispanic hypersegregation of CHICAGO and that's after visiting here over twelve times. (Visited fomer coworkers there). ATLANTA is nice but it's sprawled out and need a car, public transit only goes so far (Marta). I can go on and on with other cities without including DETROIT and St. Louis. TORONTO is much better than CHICAGO, look up the number of shootings and murders in 2016 and type hypersegregation CHICAGO in Google search..

January 8, 2017 @ 2:37 PM

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