the travels & travails of an escaped lab rat


I was born in Toronto. I grew up and went through the public school system in Toronto. I met my oldest friends in Toronto. My parents, sister, and some members of my extended family still live in Toronto.

Returning to Toronto is literally coming home.

No matter where in the world I might be at any given time, I find myself subconsciously comparing my surroundings to whatever the closest Torontonain equivalent might be. And while Toronto may not always come out on top in these many comparisons, it still remains a yardstick by which I measure my globe-trotting experiences.

Toronto has a bit of a self-image issue, though.

Despite Toronto being the largest population centre in Canada (and the fifth largest in North America), Torontonians — or at least the politicians ostensibly in control of Toronto — seem to constantly want to sell themselves on how “world-class” their city is.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Toronto and all of its wonderful neighbourhoods, parks, hidden gems, and cultural spots. But in my mind, if you’re truly world-class and all that, you certainly wouldn’t need to go around telling people. They’d already know, right?

Personally, it doesn’t matter to me if Toronto is world-class or not. The people are great, the diverse foods and cultures on display are readily accessible, and generally it’s a clean and safe place to go about your business (or leisure). The climate is relatively mild (compared to the rest of Canada), and the standard of living is high enough that I can reasonably expect to get whatever I’m looking to find.

Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan and international cities in the world, with over 49% of its 6 million plus inhabitants originally born outside of Canada. Founded as the Town of York in 1793, it was incorporated as Toronto in 1834, and has since evolved into one of the world’s first “megacities” when the five surrounding municipalities (East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, and York) were amalgamated with Toronto to form the new City of Toronto in 1998.

Toronto’s cultural diversity make for great eating. Whatever cuisine you’re in the mood for you’ll find it, and in whatever price range you desire. Greasy spoon Mexican? Check. Upscale fine Italian? Yup. Run-of-the-mill pan-Asian? You betcha.

Toronto is also one of the largest cities in the world by area, with an urban core covering 630 square kilometres and its metropolitan area spreading across 1749 square kilometres. Frankly, I’m still discovering places and things in Toronto that are new to me but have, in fact, been around for ages.

I’ve travelled quite a bit in my time, and though I’ve been to bigger cities, more modern cities, more beautiful cities, more historic cities, and more “world-relevant” cities, I keep coming back to this city.

Toronto will always be home.

I suppose you could say it smacks of overcompensation…

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Posted in Journal by madsci on June 4th, 2010 at 5:35 pm.

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