Being that I am grounded with no immediate travel plans in the foreseeable future, I’ve decided that it’s time to redirect this blog to perhaps focus in a little more the concept of a staycation, and explore sights and activities within my home city. I recently achieved a milestone of 100 posts on I’ve Bean Travelling and noticed that I have only written one entry about Toronto in all this time!
I was also reviewing my WordPress stats and was amazed to see that the readership of this blog is incredibly international, so there’s a decent probability that many people who visit the site have little idea of where Toronto is or what you can find here.
Therefore, this new section of the blog will now serve as my civic duty to promote the best of my home city: Toronto, Canada. Here are a few fun tidbits to start us off.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada, but it’s not the capital.
With 2.9 million people in the city centre and 6.3 million in the surrounding region, Toronto is the most populous city in Canada. It is the capital of the province of Ontario, but for those of you not as well versed on Canadian geopolitics, it is actually not the capital of the country. That designation goes to Ottawa, where I lived for a couple years. Ottawa is a classic government town where everything closes by 5 pm so that people can rush home to the suburbs and take their medications, whereas Toronto is much more lively with its night life and entertainment scene.
Toronto is legitimately one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
Toronto’s diversity is one of its top points of pride. Over 50% of its residents are classified as visible minorities, and more than 200 ethnic groups are represented by the city’s inhabitants. I truly appreciated the multiculturalism of Toronto when I moved away for four years to live at the other end of the country in Vancouver, British Columbia, a city that markets itself as a world class multicultural destination but is in fact far from it (with a lot more aggressive racism than I expected). The diversity of Toronto is reflected in its multiple ethnic enclaves and neighbourhoods, and especially in its food! Several years ago, my work colleagues started a summer tradition of trying out a different ethnic cuisine every week and never fell short on ideas for restaurants to visit. Mr. Chuckles and I have discovered many great spots ourselves, which I’ll have to write about in another post.
Toronto has been given many nicknames, but please don’t ever call it “The 6ix”.
T.O./T-Dot. The Big Smoke. 416. Hogtown. Those are but a few of the many nicknames that have been bestowed on this city. For many years, Canadian rapper Drake (also forever known as Wheelchair Jimmy from Degrassi) has attempted to popularize “The 6ix” as a nickname to reflect Toronto’s six boroughs. If you are a real Torontonian or simply want to avoid sounding like a doofus, never – and I mean never – refer to Toronto by this moniker. The only people I’ve ever heard using the term are bro dudes from the suburbs located nowhere near Toronto proper. Don’t be like them!
Many native Torontonians have never visited the city’s most iconic landmark, the CN Tower.
I can see it from my home, I’ve photographed it, and I’ve even walked past it many times, but I have never gone up the CN Tower. This is the tallest freestanding structure in North America and was tallest in the world until 2007 when it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates and subsequently Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China. It is an iconic landmark in Toronto, but I personally do not know any native Torontonian who has gone up there. We never even had school field trips there. 🤷🏻♀️ It may actually be worth a visit at least once though, and if I ever make it up I will be sure to let you all in on my experience.
It may pale in comparison to other major cities around the world, but Toronto is one of the most livable.
There was a sitcom once where a character proclaimed that Toronto is “just like New York, but without all the stuff!” When I compare my home to other mega urban centres I’ve visited around the world, I do have to admit that it is relatively humble. It is certainly no New York City or Tokyo. However, I am happy to live here, in a city that has a low crime rate, that is clean, and where I have access to publicly funded healthcare. We have plenty of nice green space including a beautiful waterfront, and when we are not in the midst of a pandemic lockdown, there is a lot to do and see that keeps us well entertained. The people here may be known for being a bit cold, but they are generally polite and the population is big and diverse enough that there is somewhere for most people to fit in. 😉