I grew up in Montreal, so Toronto was a tough adjustment decades ago. It wasn’t that I arrived with negative expectations — I thought of it as just another metropolis — ‘like Montreal but English’. But gradually it sank in that this is a city where having Mel Lastman or Rob Ford for mayor is always a possibility. Those times I think of as self-centered (“Not my taxes you don’t!“) Then we have bursts of progressiveness, a more generous spirit. Institutions import exciting, ‘iconic’ individuals like Richard Florida to inspire innovation — or attract fortune and fame. (Is there an assumption that locals just aren’t up to the job?) And then the wave reverses.
I moved into Roncesvalles Village (“Roncy”) 18 years ago and loved it. It made Toronto much more beautiful, friendly and exciting. I tend to live in the world of ideas, and “Roncy” – especially at my favourite cafe, Alternative Grounds – provides plenty of stimulation for someone like me. It also contains countless interesting, creative and wonderful people, with a predominantly generous, accepting point of view. It may well contain the seeds of my ideal community. Like the Left Bank in the early 20th century, or Greenwich Village in the 50’s or Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, the seeds of independent thought and openness to new ideas grow well here. But gentrification is changing it, not always for the better for all. I look at that a lot.
What I blog about on any given day is anyone’s guess, but there is no shortage of ideas!