I Don’t Hate Toronto but Feel a Bit Nauseous After This Article

I’m not really sure what the point of articles like this one by Russell Smith in the weekend Globe are; charitably, one could say its a sign Toronto is gaining increasing confidence and swagger – yet if pretty galling condescension is the means to this end, then I would say beat a quick path back to typical (Upper) Canadian politeness and self-effacement… The notion that non-big city dwelling Canadians measure progress in terms of gardens and parking is, well, absurd.  The notion they can’t appreciate modern or abstract art is equally so.  I could further rain on this parade and add that Nuit Blanche was an idea Toronto borrowed from northern European cities (that presumably hold it in June when the nuits are, er, blanche).  I don’t say any of this as a resentful outsider but as a former Torontonian who loves the idea of art expositions indoor or out; it just isn’t that unique, or any sort of bellweather for big league urban sophistication.

I could launch into an extended treatise of how articles such as Mr. Smith’s reveal the growing gulf between ol’  TO and our many other great cities and towns in this country but that’s for another time.  I will say for me it reinforces the verdict given by Tyler Brule of Monocle magazine in their annual selection of the 25 top world cities as to why Vancouver and Montreal made the list, but Toronto did not.  He essentially said (can’t find the link of the site) that the city is inward-looking and self congratulatory without a lot of substance behind it – it’s tough to point to truly unique achievements coming in from a global perspective.  In that way, Toronto suffers from big fish parochialism that both other Canadians and foreigners can identify immediately to unflattering effect on their hosts.  The architecture is “me too” when it is exceptional at all; the transit system is good, but compare it to Berlin instead of Houston and well…  I could go on.  I do like Toronto a lot; don’t mistake this, but that is based on the nostalgia that it is my home town rather than true objective greatness.  All Smith’s article confirms is that Torontonians need to get out of their city and see the country/world a bit more.


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