Thank you Toronto, you are amazing.


I did my best to come to Toronto with no expectation. I knew I had to come here; really the fish sent me. About 6 weeks ago I left Vancouver with only my Dog, some art supplies and my creativity. The rest I left back home with friends and family in various caches, rooms and basements. I knew the path I was on in Vancouver wasn’t sustainable and that the only way to change it was to have a physical transition.

Taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto was symbolic of transformation. The click clack of the railway and the passing landscape in its large windows, is ‘railway therapy’. I see why people fall in love with the train and particularly why retired grown men have train sets in their basement. We are pre-dating Bob the Builder now.

I arrived in Toronto without a set place to stay; it was a creative challenge. For those who lived in Vancouver for awhile, there is this undercurrent of jealousy about Toronto. Having grown-up and lived in Vancouver for the majority of my natural life, the “I Hate Toronto” mantra is analogous to rain.  At any point in conversation in Vancouver someone could dump a rainfall of hate on Toronto.  Those opportunities typically arise in winter when the intersection of a sunny winter/spring day in Vancouver matches with a Toronto blizzard.  Even if it snows, some go to a local ski to take a photo with a caption “I got here by transit, going kayaking later” The hate is probably fueled by some Stanley Cup insecurity; I mean we’ve had two riots caused by hockey, its now multi-generational.

From an environmentalist perspective there are lots of reasons to want to dislike Toronto, its a concrete highway jungle, its the center of finance and capitalism for the country.  However, I wanted to go in with an open canvas, what I discovered in Toronto was a unique collection of neighborhoods. The city was chalk a block full of people willing to have conversation, give free love to my Dog Star, house me, feed me, camp on their internet and introduce me to others.

I provoked the city for its farmed salmon eating habits. Toronto responded like a mature adult and said, educate me and show me the way.  Its like she was mildly entertained by my childish creative antics, almost too busy for anger. Toronto smiled and said she would make time to listen to me. It’s now my turn to make that time worth it for all of us.

At this point all I can say is Thank you Toronto, you are amazing. I’ll check my schedule and get back to you.

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5 Comments »

  1. I am always inspired by your creativity, the way you have with your words, paintings, writing, comedy, radio and TV work. It is cutting edge, and that is is why you loved Toronto and why you would love Montreal too. These are places where the love of artists & diversity of expression are encouraged. I loved the experience I had while I was in Toronto growing up throughout my life. Memories of the Maya exhibit at the ROM, visits in Kensington Market with all the beautiful colourful artists, all the amazing Victorian style arch. plus love the Awesome Grassroots community & stimulation of all kinds. Now Vancouver has the ocean, mountains, forest, easily transports me via the skytrain but there is a sense of conformity here pressing down on the colourful artists so its time the people here in Vancouver shake it up!!! Looking forward to you again at the Roundhouse delivering one of your infamous presentations on Wild Salmon!!! I miss your dog Star too what an awesome dog!!

    • Hi Angel,

      Thank you for the note. An earlier version of Vancouver had this sense of innocence, it was friendly, charming, lackadasical, relaxed, jovial, but somehow over the years with the influx of wealth who have flocked to the mountains, forests and rivers that so many before us have risked lots to protect it has definitely had a change of personality. Not only do I feel the sense of conformity that you speak of, there is creative claustraphobia that is choking our free spirits.

      There are small pockets where that sense of family still seems to find itself, however as you say its more available and accepted in the neighbourhoods of Toronto. There are random street side jams where anyone can jump it. Being in a close community can often be emotional and wrought with conflict, however its the thought that there is a greater purpose and spirit that in the end has control is the ulimate regulator.

      What I saw and experienced in Toronto, formed a sense of disappointment about Vancouver, i silently wept for its loss. It is ironic that amongst all of mother natures beauty is the sense of pain in our own inability to create an artistic response and give back a creative thank you acknowledging amazing gifts that surrounds us.

      jp

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