Everybody Hates Toronto? Oh well…

There’s a movie showing at the Hot Docs festival next week called “Let’s all Hate Toronto”. I might see it, or I might, as in the case of most movies, get too lazy…

I actually have lived in a lot of different places in Canada before plonking down here five or six or so years ago. I know they hate Torontonians. Most of the people I met from ‘Toronto’ before I moved here were often deserving of the antipathy other Canadians have towards them – they were rude, obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, I could go on…

But a funny thing would happen once you asked them what part of Toronto they were from. They were never from downtown. They’d never say “High Park” or “St. Clair and Oakwood”. It was always Oakville, or Newmarket or Pickering, or even one of the countless small towns within a couple of hours’ driving distance.

Damn suburbanites.

People I’ve known who are actually from Toronto proper don’t tend to be like the stereotypical ‘Torontonian’ so loathed in the rest of Canada.

And having spent a chunk of my adult life in both Vancouver and Toronto, I think that the stereotypes of each city are actually the oppposite. I have found that people here, whether I meet them in the bars, at work, through friends, and so on are for the most pretty friendly, laid back and amiable. Sure some of them might be a little whacked, but never in a particularly disturbing way. The crazy crack-berry obsessed yuppies are the ones that commute on the Go Train two hours each day.

Oddly, it was Vancouver, where I had lived before coming to Toronto that surprised me. I’d moved there expecting the stereotype – relaxed, friendly laid-back people – kind of like a slightly colder and rainier California.

Man, was I ever wrong. I found it cliquish – as in grade 6 – and the people were often pretty obnoxious. There were a lot of crazy people. I did meet some truly wonderful people there too – don’t get me wrong – but it took a LOT of effort to find them.

To be fair to Vancouver, though, most of these people were not from Vancouver. Just like most of the ‘Torontonians’ that the rest of the country hates aren’t necessarily from Toronto. But Vancouver does seem to be a magnet for the dregs of society.

Vancouver’s the only place where I’ve met people who moved there because they’d lived in another city previously and had burned there bridges with so many groups of people that they had to move.

I’ve always thought of the Globe and Mail as like that Conservative uncle – he might be intelligent and have a lot to say about everything, but tends to be rather dull and humourless.

I did have to laugh at this comment in an article by R. M. Vaughan this morning:

Vancouverites, people who spend a suspiciously Macbeth-ish amount of time protesting their calm, forgiving natures, turn positively apoplectic at the very sight of the word Toronto. I suspect this is largely because Vancouver is where failed Torontonians go to die. They have good reason to be bitter, stuck as they are, huddled and wet under the ass end of a mountain, forgotten and lonely, with only the faint hope of a devastating avalanche to get them through the night.

Now it is true that there are plenty of “soulless, one-eyed corporate zombies” in Toronto. (The words of a member of a Vancouver punk band who evidently doesn’t know where to hang out in Toronto). But there are plenty of those types in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Ottawa, and so on. There is in any big city. And know why these ‘Corporate Zombies’ don’t tend to be found in the smaller towns? Because those people move to the cities. It’s the same reason there tends to be more gay people in cities than small towns. They move.

Don’t forget that next time you’re tempted to knock Toronto. The people you’re complaining about might just be your former neighbours.

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