By GERRY POSNER I belong to a large and getting larger group of former Winnipeggers living in Toronto.
And I suggest it is fair to say that there is a general feeing in this group that life in what was once known as “ Hogtown” isn’t exactly what we hoped it would be. It is likely many of us in this group have a range of emotions with respect to living here, but for most of us, living in Toronto provides no joy in our lives. Why? you might ask.
Well, the reasons are varied and many. I attach no greater significance to the order of presentation. Firstly, there are those, me included, who long for the quiet and easy pace of Winnipeg. To say that there is a frenzy here is to understate it immensely. That I do not have to work here is a blessing, but for those that do work, the pressure in traffic, parking and time is horrible. I suggest that there is a thought process one goes through in Toronto that was absent in, and I suspect remains absent in Winnipeg - even in 2020. That is to say, in Toronto one has to think ahead as to the best time to go anywhere, the speediest route to take in order to reduce possible traffic tie-ups, and lastly to find a possible place to park. There is a great deal of planning before one puts a foot in the car. Now, I know I used to complain whenever I had to drive from the south end of the city to the north end. But, that little trip is a sneeze compared to the pneumonia in Toronto.
On that note, let me add that the Covid 19 crisis has had one salutary effect. Driving now in Toronto reminds me of Winnipeg on a crowded day in the streets. Thus, the whole issue of transportation is a huge factor in the level of dissatisfaction for all of us “Peggers.” Even the subway, my preferred mode of transport, has breakdowns frequently and there are almost always service interruptions on weekends for work to be done.
Connected to the congestion issue is the noise that comes with it and the sounds of sirens all day long. I long for the quiet and solitude of Winnipeg. The quiet is a result in part due to the easy and more relaxed attitude of the citizens of the city. Yes, there are peaceful places to wander about in Toronto, but you are rarely alone. A walk along Wellington Crescent would serve me well right now.
Another area which affects many of us is the inability to integrate into the Toronto world. There are many of us who would be interested and ready to meet new people and to form new relationships with the residents here. Alas, there is not that same level of interest from the locals. It is not that they are unfriendly; I have found them to be quite social with me in conversation. What the root of the problem is that they are quite satisfied with the friends they already have without taking that next step to include newcomers into their fold. The result is that those of us from wherever we have moved tend to cluster together with the common thread being denial into Toronto society. This is not life’s greatest defeat, but it does make it seem like I am more of a visitor than a resident.
Of course, for some of us the problem about living in Toronto as compared to Winnipeg is the ability to own a home. Give up that idea. For $1,000,000.00 you can buy a home in Toronto - just no home that you might want to live in or, if you do, the home is located in an area where you would want to avoid. Ok, I exaggerate, but you get the drift of it all. When we moved here, we sacrificed space for proximity to our children and grandchildren. I deal every day with the absence of space - not a game changer, but a difficulty nonetheless.
Lest I forget, the weather, which they ridicule Winnipeg for (and you can count on that to happen), is no piece of cake in Toronto. The winters may not be as long or quite as severe, but Toronto lacks sunshine. Also, Toronto has cold winds and high humidity. I will take the prairie sunshine and the pleasant evenings in Winnipeg anytime. Let no one fool you into believing the weather here is better.
Finally, and for me the biggest challenge about living in Canada’s largest city and one I have commented on in other articles and conversations, is that inner sense of satisfaction (for me at least), of going into a room (in the days when you could put people together as in BC, or Before Covid) and having people recognize and greet you by name. Or, you could look around the building and know the names or at least the faces of those around you. It is a comforting feeling. I miss that feeling some seven years after my move to Toronto.
Therefore, when it is all said and done, although Toronto offers a lot (and the mayor here is quick to tell us that fact if we did not know it already), there are many good reasons to say to him: Mr Mayor, it’s not your fault - but I’ll take Winnipeg, thank you.