The largest city in Canada, the fifth largest in North America, central business and trade hub of eastern Canada, and capital of the province of Ontario. Not, however, the greatest city ever envisioned by man, by any measure. Also, not a seething hive of scum and violence (or at least no more than your average large North American city).
Let us look at the facts, shall we:
1) The most multi-cultural city on the planet (not so much a positive or negative, just a fact). Over half of the population originates outside of Canada, and thus, white people make up a minority within the Greater Toronto Area. Take it as you will, but it is the statistical truth. Most Torontonians are obscurely proud of this fact, even though they had nothing to do with it.
2) The crime is a bit of a problem, but then what large city doesn’t have crime? New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, all with high crime rates, but people still flock to these cities. There is no perfect, crime-free city in the entire world, so why is Toronto's statistically average rate of violence and illegality such a sticking point? Of course the biggest city in the country will have crime. It would be foolish to think that it didn't.
3) The architecture certainly leaves something to be desired, but that only comes as a result of Toronto’s coming of age in the 1960’s. In all fairness, it might be best to blame the old city planners for this particular oversight.
4) The lack of a decent nightlife is…well…it’s a problem; let’s just leave it at that.
5) The climate is admittedly wretched (frigid winters and unbearably humid summers), but one can’t possibly blame the city. Blame geography, global weather patterns, the Gulf Stream, whatever helps you sleep at night.
6) The gay community is quite vibrant and well represented, as seems to have no trouble making itself heard. Whether this is a problem or a not, it is best to leave up to the individual. Suffice to say, they’re queer, they’re there, the rest it up to you.
7) Pollution is a definite problem. Toronto is clean, but only in a comparative sense. The air is clean, compared to Pittsburg. The water is clean, compared to New York. The streets are clean, compared to Detroit. Standing on its own however, Toronto is just as dirty and polluted and smoggy as one can expect from a big city. Certainly, it’s a problem, but it isn’t like it’s an uncommon one.
8) The culture of Toronto is virtually non-existent, which is understandable, because what culture could possibly survive the deluge of immigration the city has experienced over its history? New York, L.A., Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Vancouver, they all have a distinct flavor, a rhythm all their own. Most cities do, given enough time (with the exception of perhaps Calgary, which is by no means a bad place, it’s just very bland, in a western, blue-collar kind of way), develop a unique character. Toronto just…never got around to it.
9) Torontonians can be a bit tiresome. Not all Torontonians mind you, just that special breed who seems to have an obscene amount of pride in their hometown, and are all too willing to overlook all of the various social, economic and environmental flaws that plague their beloved “T.O.” Civic pride is one thing, but this is just out of control. Don’t ever try to argue with these people, because you really won’t get anywhere. Just smile, and nod, and excuse yourself as quickly as possible.
So, it truth, Toronto is in most ways, a statistically average, large sized North American metropolis. It’s not the center of the universe; it’s not the greatest city on the planet. It has its share of ups and downs, pros and cons, and what city doesn’t? It’s not New York, though perhaps it wishes it was, and it should never be an object of jealousy, or scorn. Most people in Vancouver or Montreal have better things to do than idolize/berate Toronto, this you can be assured of. It’s just that vocal minority who always seem to pipe in with their two cents about how much they hate that “scumbag city on the lake,” or how much they love their precious “T dot”. It’s just a city, like so many others.
The largest export of Toronto? Ego, by the truckload.