Toronto is like New York, as run by the Swiss.
“We’re just back from Tokelau. Jack prepped with “Freddie” at Choate a hundred years ago. Anyway, Freddie’s the Royal Imperial Emperor now. We told him not to make a fuss, but apparently he stayed some executions, closed the banks and schools, and put on this amusing little festival for us. The kids enjoyed it. And you, are you still out in the West somewhere?”
—Imaginary voice of a globetrotting Kenwood matron
It is particularly difficult for me to write about travel, knowing the sophistication of the Hill and Lake Press readership. That many of you do not make it to the back page is some solace, but it is still intimidating. I must adopt the proper world weary, bemused, detached tone of a seasoned travel writer. Toronto was a gnarly, way cool, itchin’ time, and I cannot wait to chill there again as it is awesome to the max!!!
My son-in-law, Daniel Gillies, is working in Toronto for a few months on Saving Hope, a medical drama for NBC. He brought the family’s yellow lab, Cooper, for company. With a place to stay and “Coopie-Coopie” for a tour guide, we walked most of the city. Having a large dog brands me as more likely a local, rather than an L.A. tourist.
We were pleased to learn that dogs are permitted on subways, trains, and city buses in off-peak hours. In Toronto patio is a verb. In the summer weather, people love to patio outside with a meal and drink. Cooper enjoys a bowl of water just the other side of the railing. The city feel is European right down to the smoking on the street. Very few people fit my antiquated stereotype of square jawed mounties and blonde farmers’ daughters from Saskatoon. Toronto is the largest city in Canada and fifth largest in North America. One half of the population was not born in Canada.
Toronto is multicultural, racially diverse, and in a big hurry. The downtown seems to stay up late. Cooper and I saw hundreds of mostly 20 to 30-somethings out after midnight. Seeing as how Toronto is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan cultural center, Cooper and I fit right in. What you rarely see are law enforcement officers. It appears to be a city that polices itself. It does not hurt to have a 75 pound lab with you, but I never felt intimidated on any of our walks.
“The Beaches” is an Uptown-like neighborhood with shops, a boardwalk, swimming areas, and a well defined dog beach, all fronting Lake Ontario. Like Target Field, the Blue Jays’ retractable roof stadium is great for baseball, and it is right downtown. On Daniel’s day off the three of us went to Kensington, a hip neighborhood right next to Chinatown. Toronto has a Minneapolis feel with parks and greenery everywhere. The city is vibrant, almost despite local government officials.
Torontan’s seem to be amused rather than incensed by their own political scandal. Mayor Rob Ford was once arrested for threatening his wife. He famously warned the city that the Asians are taking over. Currently he is in the news for trying to buy and annex city park land adjacent his home. He is an obese man, well over 300 pounds, who looks like he could swallow Rush Limbaugh. Months ago Ford vowed to lose at least 50 pounds. Ballyhooed as a charity fund raiser, there was promise of twice-weekly weigh-ins at City Hall. He appears to have gone AWOL and gained weight, not only abandoning the project, but ceasing to come into his office for any reason.
Toronto, a doggone good city.
Tom H. Cook is back in the States plotting his next trip, a return to the Twin Cities in the fall.