More Than 175 Reasons Why We Love Toronto

Toronto in 1856, looking north up York St. to Osgoode Hall

Tomorrow is Toronto’s 175th anniversary and Spacing has two special announcements coming forth. We’re excited by both and think our readers will be too.

In the meantime, we want to kick off the celebrations with a call-to-arms to our readers: We want to break Spacing Toronto’s record of most comments on a single post (The current record is 140 comments on the recent post about the Downtown Relief Line).

We are challenging you, collectively, to give us 175 reasons (comments) to love Toronto. You can only give one reason per comment, though you can comment as many times as you wish. In return, we will randomly select a commenter and give them a full set of our subway buttons and a free 1-year subscription to the magazine.

So put your thinking caps on and tell us what Toronto does to make your heart flutter.

POST-SCRIPT 12:01am, March 6: Thank you for meeting our challenge. You’ve helped compile a great list that we’re happy to see grow well-beyond 175. — the editors

photo from the Toronto Archives: fonds 1498, item 16

264 comments

  1. I’ll gladly kick things off by telling the world how much I love Toronto’s alleys and laneways. They are all relatively safe but they offer up a glimpse of what each of us is hiding. Our front yards are what we like to present but the alley ways reveal our true character.

  2. I like the hot dog and chip vendors downtown.

  3. Everyone knows that the multicultural aspect of Toronto has had such a big impact in the way we live, communicate and eat in this city. I can have Chai spiced Mayan chocolate hazelnuts at one store and walk down the street for Japanese green tea flavoured meat samosas at another.

    But one of the really cool things about Toronto is the fact that we have so many chefs in this city that try very diligently to put the focus on local produce. We have fruits, vegetables and meats coming in from all surrounding regions and on to our plates courtesy of these fine folks.

  4. I love the city’s used bookstores, whether they are upscale or a bargain-hunter’s dream. I end up walking out with an armload of treasures and that feeling of self-satisfaction that comes from knowing how much I would have paid if I’d purchased the same books new.

    I try not to look at the receipt total.

  5. Opportunities to be engaged in local politics and city building are abundant. What fills my heart with civic pride and optimism: the fierce independence of Kensington Market; the changemakers at the Centre for Social Innovation; the growing strength of the Toronto Cyclists Union’s collective voice; the public space movement catalyzed by Spacing Magazine and blogs; forward thinking Councillors like Adam Vaughan; politically engaged art spaces like the Toronto Free Gallery; and community connecting initiatives like Jane’s Walk.

    I love Toronto.

  6. The Zoo. 16,000 animals; 491 species; 287 hectares (3rd largest in the World).

    Tucked away on the Eastern edge of the city and while it’s not the easiest place to get to via Transit (maybe one day??), it’s always worth the trip.

    Can’t wait for the new Polar Bear exhibit to open.

    (Now if they could just repaint the footprint trails, I’d be happy)

  7. I love Toronto for Lake Ontario and our ~45 kilometres of incredibly diverse shoreline including gems like the Scarborough Bluffs and the Toronto Islands!

  8. I like wandering around the West Toronto Junction neighbourhood and seeing old train tracks in odd places (such as running through a children’s park, running into a brick wall, or running between two houses).

    It gives a glimpse into the rail history of Toronto in the neighbourhood that was most defined by it.

    And I like that the Junction BIA now celebrates the rail history of the area by decorating the area with pictures of trains, and putting their train-tracks logo on the street signs.

  9. The ravines. That you can walk from the city into nature and back into the city without ever getting into a car.

  10. Allan Gardens Conservatory – especially in the dead of winter when you can go inside and be in the tropics. And it turns 100 this year!

    p.s. @James – I want them to repaint the footprint trails too!!

  11. sorry, didn’t follow the instructions re: 1 thing to love per comment…

    I love the renewed interest in Toronto’s public spaces catalyzed by Spacing Magazine and Blogs :)

  12. I love Toronto’s ravines and the bicycle paths that run through them.

  13. The Toronto Islands are amazing! The view you see from the islands looking back to the city, plus all of the fun things to do when you’re over there (including disc golf, cycling, and walking through the Wards Island neighbourhood) – it’s a great way to spend a relaxing summer day in Toronto.

  14. I love Toronto because I feel like, if I want to, I can immerse myself in any kind of community, sub-culture or scene from across the spectrum, yet also have the option to completely remove myself from the hustle and bustle as well. It seems like this city has almost accidentally achieved a kind of optional balance for any of its inhabitants to choose from.

  15. The OCAD tabletop. Takes my breath away every time.

  16. One comment, but several reasons:

    * I like my neighbourhood, where just about anything I need is within walking distance (except my job, unfortunately).

    * Quirky/weird/funny things I come across when exploring the city

    * There’s *always* something interesting to do, if you’re willing to leave the house.

    * The lake and the rivers

    * The Spit and the Islands

    * Simple and fast public transit to most of the places I ever go to.

    * Easy to get around by bike, especially in the “old” City of Toronto

    * Lots of fun and interesting people here.

    * Watching trains

    * The different neighbourhoods

    * Geeky blogs and magazines like this that take pride in all of it.

  17. I like Spadina Ave between College and Queen. People expect chinatowns to be small, crowded, and dirty, and yet Toronto’s Chinatown is spaceous, vibrant, and has better streetcar serivce than any other steet in Toronto. Visitors I’ve taken there are usually surprised.

  18. Personally, I love the Bike Path along the waterfront(*Humber River to the Beaches) Minus, the part where you ride on the street near the Ferry Terminal on Queens Quay.

    Also, culturally diverse(*walkable) neighbourhoods in the downtown core are unbeatable(*not to mention, the Food! My god… the Food!)

    *On a side note, i think people shouldn’t be allowed to post more than “one” comment for this particular post. Then, we’d know we had 175 “different” people replying. And, it’d deter constant debating by regular commentors(I’m guilty as charged of course)

    I love Toronto!

  19. I love Toronto’s messiness: Inconsistent street signs, street furniture, poles and pipes sticking out of the ground everywhere, streetcar tracks and overhead wires, letter sized b/w copy posters tacked to hydro poles until the whole thing is covered in metal and yes – weird billboard structures and flashy store signs.

  20. I love our freedom and sense of a civil democracy.

  21. The fact that I can walk. Walk to my local hospital, library, corner store, schools and restaurants.

  22. The 30-second ride by subway across the Don Valley–a poetry of engineering, landscape, light, and weather. No matter how many times I take this trip, it’s always different and always beautiful.

  23. I love Toronto’s “unfinishedness” if you can call it that. It has plenty of shacks, unfinished house fronts, parking lots and waste areas that inspire ideas of what could be without necessarily thinking of sleek condos, elegant storefronts and orderly parks.

  24. I love our central business district. Very vertical, compact and efficient. Dignifiied modern buildings each with a hint of exurberance that reflect both the city’s conservatism and liberal vitality.

  25. I love that even much of central Toronto is still a city of houses. Even when densification is required houses get divided not necessarily torn down. What look like streets of single family homes are actually multiple units that respect the original scale of the neighbourhood while accommodating more people.

  26. Riding the 504 from downtown to Broadview station, off-peak, on a Sunday March day. You see: skyscrapers, late 19th century light industrial-turned trendies, “corktown”, beginnings of leslieville, east-side chinatown, RIVERDALE PARK EAST AND VIEW OF THE CITY, and finally the danforth. Lovely.

  27. The Old Great Belt Bridge in Cedarvale Ravine!

  28. Bloor Street, from end to end, including the Danforth. It’s like the perfect cross-section of Toronto’s neighbourhoods and cultures.

  29. I love that my girlfriend can become my wife here.

  30. Mostly love the resistance (for the most part) to corporate big box stores and cookie cutter restos.

    Also love the dog parks (though we need more)!

  31. I love that this city welcomed my parents as refugees and allowed our family to grow and prosper. The diversity and global community we are building is fantastic.

  32. Greek Salads and Portuguese tarts from Carousel Bakery at the St. Lawrence Market

  33. Most everything I believe in tells me this is wrong, but I love that the 401 is like 16 or 18 lanes wide at some points.

  34. I love lake Ontario!!! There, I said it!

  35. The alternative and second-run cinemas where you can take a chance on a little-known or foreign film and usually be happy with the show.

  36. I love that Toronto keeps surprising me. Every time I leave my house I see something new.

  37. I love how walking never seems like just a point A to point B trip for me. There’s so much going on out on the streets and if you open yourself up to it, the most mundane walk to the store can be its own little adventure.

  38. The Wychwood Barns – its given a tightly knit community a place to come together, showcase our best qualities for all to see and enjoy, and incubate creativity in a way that will allow the neighbourhood to thrive for many, many years.

  39. I love that you can sit in the bleachers at the Skydome (yeah, that’s right) on a sunny summer evening and see the CN tower while sipping a beer and listening to the soothing collective gasps and roars of a baseball crowd.

  40. I love the smell of chocolate that permeates the streets near the Cadbury’s factory at Landsdowne and College at odd hours of the day and night.

  41. The Bloor Viaduct, either walking on top or trundling along underneath on the subway.

  42. Ghandi’s Roti on Queen near Bathurst is like manna from heaven.

  43. I love that I’ve lived here for over thirty years and there are still so, so many little neighbourhoods to discover — and rediscover, because they keep changing. You don’t have to leave home to travel.

  44. the food.
    i take for granted that I can go to vitually every country in the world via the bistros, roadhouses, trattorias, cafes, taverns, bakeries, greesy sppons, noodle houses, steet vendors, upscale restaurants, counter diners, delis, bar & grills and pubs within the 416.

    anyone else hungry?

  45. I love how open this city is to enabling individuals to “be the change” they want the city to become.

    That is the reason I came to Toronto; and that is the reason I am staying.

  46. Streetcars! — the fact that we never got rid of them and they still serve a vital part of our transit network.

    And, for that matter, the strength of transit in the way the city has developed and operates (notwithstanding how we all like to gripe about the TTC).

  47. It is a safe city. I love that we can have a crowd of 750,000 people on the streets for many events and nothing much bad happens. I love that I can walk through any area of the city at midnight and I feel safe.

  48. I love living downtown*ish* –  in a house with garden !

  49. I love how everybody seems to knows everybody in a big city like this.

  50. I love walking into City Hall – I love that people skate before going to work; I love the wooden handles on the doors; I roll my eyes and laugh at the “don’t throw things on the model” sign (like we need to be told); I am warmed by the happiness of the people about to be or just married who gather in the lobby; I love the swoop of the Council Chambers up from within …

  51. I like the abundance of modernist apartment buildings. As ugly as some of them are, they really add to the cities inner-suburbs.

  52. It’s the potential future of every global urban centre. Diverse, Creative, and under constant renewal.

  53. I love that you can see Toronto from afar – the view of the skyline from Caledon mountain on crisp, clear night is just beautiful.

  54. I love biking to work along the lakeshore trail and watching the sun come up shimmering over the lake.

  55. (I’ll gladly second laneways, gandhi roti and the TPLibrary.)

    I love Love LOVE the wildlife in Toronto. I walk home most nights around 4 a.m. and love the way the city becomes the province of animals – at that time, I’m the intruder. Raccoons, skunks, a tree full of alley cat kittens, all going about their business and stopping to stare at me as if to say “hey, what are YOU doing up?”

  56. This is a bit cheesy and a tad clichéd, but I love the Toronto skyline. I love that it looks great from so many directions – coming down the DVP, from the corner of Church and Front near my work, from my great aunt’s 15th floor apartment and even from the air on approach to Pearson. Not only does it have the neat features of the CN Tower and the Skydome, which no other skyline has, when you look around the cluster of buildings, it also has tons of trees and green. Whenever I’ve been away, I know I’m home when I see the skyline.

  57. I love the fact that my Toronto neighbourhood and its environs (Queen West & Bathurst) feel like an intimate -and sometimes edgy- town in and of itself. I come from a small town, and appreciate the fact that I’ve been down here long enough to walk on Queen Street and always bump into somebody I know and can say howdee to.

  58. (I’ll only post two)

    This summer I fulfilled a childhood dream in Toronto. I grew up in a small town and always fantasized about living in a big city, and for some reason this became symbolized by the idea that if I wanted to go buy a mango at 4 in the morning, I could go buy a damn mango at 4 in the morning.

    I had completely forgotten this and have lived in Toronto for 8 years. This summer, walking through Chinatown after a night shift, I saw one of the groceries was still open. There were piles of mangos outside. I checked my watch: 3:48 a.m.

    I actually loitered in the soy sauce aisle ’til 4 so I could literally fulfill that wish. I walked home with a big grin and mango juice running down my chin.

  59. I love the Bain Co-op. And that old university campus in the middle of downtown. The middle! My gosh …

  60. I love that Toronto is almost 100% pure potential. It is a city that is clearly ‘in process’. . . unpretentious, open minded, full of contradictions and possibilities.

  61. p.s.
    the return of mangos to chinatown is my “first sign of spring” – screw robins and crocuses.

  62. The urban wildlife:

    the brave raccoons, amazing pigeons, and those creepy albino squirrels in Trinity Bellwoods

  63. Frank Gehry’s beautiful, functional transformation of the AGO.

  64. I like standing at the corner of Dundas and McCaul, and seeing the AGO, OCAD, and the CN tower all at once.

  65. I like the fact that all the businesses downtown get into the spirit of Pride Day, with rainbow flags everywhere from Sears to Starbucks. (A friend from Massachusetts tells me that it’s not like that in Boston.)

  66. I won’t be the only one to cite our multiculturalism, but just saying “Toronto is multicultural” is not good enough. Truth is, there is nothing special about being multicultural, as my travels have shown me that a whole lot of cities all around the world can make this claim.

    The special kind of multiculturalism that exists in Toronto results in not having to go to an “ethnic community” to find specialty restaurants or shops that sell specialty goods, though you still can.

    All across Toronto and stretching to the outer GTA, one can find what they are looking for! Now that is multiculturalism.

  67. I love that throughout much of the city, you have viable travel options other than the car for going about your business. Even much of the suburbs is accessible by transit.

    Honourable mentions:

    -The Bloor Viaduct. The preeminent example of forward thinking infrastructure planning, perhaps in all of North America.
    -TPL. We have one of the best libraries in the world.
    -Streetcars.

  68. “Bloor” and “Yonge”.

    Not the physical intersection, but the names. Names which visitors love to mispronounce.

    Main east-west street named after a brewer if I have the history right.

    Oh, and “Eglinton”. The missing “g” gets everyone.

    And how to pronounce “Strachan Ave.?”

    And simple street names, such as “Finch” or “Jane”.

    And fancy street names, such as “Roncesvalles” (with “Alhambra” close by–did someone have a lot of interest in medaeval history?).

    By the street names you’ll know Toronto.

  69. Sitting on the subway car on the Bloor Danforth line and then suddenly finding yourself outside, suspended on the Bloor Viaduct overlooking the Don Valley.

  70. My bohemain side likes having a clothing-optional beach just a short hop from downtown (and with nice views too).

  71. I love the crowd at the Cabbagetown No Frills. To me, they are Toronto.

  72. I’ll say it. I like the gardiner! What a fun drive!

  73. I love the fact that Toronto ridings voted most strongly for proportional representation (PR) in the last provincial election – it is time for a real, fair and mature democracy and Toronto gets it.

  74. I love that two students wrote a rap about the TTC!

  75. I love the lack of Walmarts and big box stores in this city! Small, medium and diverse businesses with strong community roots.

  76. I love the excellent public transport to the airport; all the litter in the streets in spring; the inability to buy alcohol from anyone who gives a shit; prioritising parking over bike lanes; incomprehensible city politics …

    Actually, what I do love is the fact that Spacing can ask a question like this and you all answer it so earnestly. No cynicism. So sweet!

  77. The unique smell of Seekers Books and the conversations going on there.

  78. The Esplanade.
    As awesome as it sounds, and a shining example that good planning brings good results. it’s an incredible and often overlooked beautiful connection between St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery. I could go on for pages, but I’d just recommend giving it a walk sometime.

  79. Bookstores, bookstores, book…. This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, Another Story, Bloor St. and College St. and Harbord bookshops.

  80. Even as this helps to seal the fate of my unexpected record for most commented-post (!), I’m going to say the TTC bus network.

    Other cities have more subway, other cities have streetcars. But how many cities with a majority of its built form in the automobile age, can you get anywhere, at almost any time of the day, entirely by transit?

  81. The Village of Yorkville Park — and particularly The Rock in the middle of the park.

    I love sitting on The Rock on a gorgeous sunny day, watching the strange denizens of Yorkville — sweaters draped over shoulders, sunglasses perched on heads — wander by.

    Even better, the fact that these Yorkvillagers aren’t the only ones there: The Rock is popular with downtown types of all ages and types who gravitate towards it for a bit of respite in the midst of the city.

    And best of all — knowing that The Rock is a giant 600-tonne chunk of the Canadian shield from up north that was expoded into bits, trucked down to the big city, and reassembled here. A grand folly and a wonderful chunk of geology in the heart of Toronto.

  82. The tight mix of urban and residential – I love that you can be standing on Bloor Street in the middle of everything, and then one block away it’s a quiet neighbourhood of gorgeous houses. And it’s like this all over the city.

  83. Library cards are free to all especially children… this not only opens the world of books to everyone, but also, with the new galleries and museum pass programme, the world of art and living history are also free to everyone in Toronto as well.

  84. Farmers’ markets. Everything from St. Lawrence to the Brickworks to ones in small, local parks.

  85. I love Cherry Beach. Quiet and usually empty, it’s a beautiful romantic spot.

  86. Beautifully and richly coloured glazed bricks/tiles in select TTC subway stations – they should all have this look!

  87. The Martin Goodman bike-pedestrian trail west of Ontario Place, where it is green, well-separated from car traffic and passes by many parks while offering a view of the waterfront.

  88. The atrium at the Toronto Reference Library. It is an inspiring public space.

  89. The sublime block and a half that encompasses California Sandwiches and the Monarch Tavern. If you haven’t – you SHOULD. (As much as I love the California Sandwich, I can’t not mention Caplansky’s smoked meat….)

  90. Only 66 more comments to go until we hit 175!

    I’m going to add “downtown” North York. I grew up in Willowdale along this stretch thru the late 80s and 90s. while its no urban planning paradise, I like that so far from the city’s core there is actually a functioning suburban downtown-ish area that is thriving. You can live on the cusp of the 905 and still not need a car to get around that neighbourhood.

  91. The Old Mill subway stop… natural light, trees…

  92. I love looking at a building and thinking that there might not have been any man made structure in that spot ever before. Which might sound horrible because it means sealing the ground, but it’s still fascinating!

  93. I love the adaptive reuse of buildings – 401 Richmond, the Summerhill LCBO, Stantec’s office on Spadina…

  94. Abundantly treed neighbourhoods! (though we need to get planting or we’ll lose them and all their benefits…)

  95. I love that parts of land sticking out into the lake are actually what filled up the *basements* of the high rises in the Financial District before they were built.

  96. Despite the urbanization of the lands, I love that we still have rich wildlife in (at least in my part of) Toronto.

  97. Jane Jacobs and Peter Kormos. Their words for beauty, truth and social justice ring out from this city to places far beyond through the written letter and the airwaves. Though Peter represents another riding his speeches broadcast from the Ontario Legislature in Toronto are the closest thing I can imagine to what it may have been like to listen to Tommy Douglas. I’ll put Toronto’s poet laureate Pier Giorgio Di Cicco on this list too.

  98. I love those ponds tucked at the bottom of Riverdale Farm. Took me ten visits before I wandered down there, not knowing what awaited… it’s a magical little spot, traffic noise notwithstanding.

  99. Grossman’s Tavern, The Silver Dollar Room, The Cameron House = world class

  100. Lots of great comic shops like The Beguiling, The Silver Snail, Dragon Lady, Harry Tarantula, Paradise Comics, etc.

  101. That our latest Subway station design (Museum) doesn’t have desginated room for advertisements on the platform level.

  102. I love that there are enough interesting places and neighbourhoods for a lifetime of discovery and exploration.

  103. Street characters like the Sticker Lady who used to give out stickers and then ask for money near the Eaton’s Cente… the tall guy who tries to sell you his music by asking “You listen to conscious hip hop/De La Soul?”… the street kid who goes around picking up trash with big sacks for trash… Chalkmaster… Johnny Bongos… etc.

  104. The Central Waterfront Plan to replace vehicle traffic with bike lanes on south Queens Quay – when it gets built: http://www.dtah.com/waterfront/ (a good image exists in the pulldown menu under “Queens Quay – Plan”)

  105. I love Toronto because it offers me epic Saturdays every week:

    1) Go to the St. Lawrence Market for weekly groceries.
    2) Ride the streetcar, subway, or walk to a new neighbourhood.
    3) Check out a different restaurant or store.
    4) Walk, walk, walk some more.
    5) Come home exhausted, and then go out again in the evening.

  106. @Roger: the surly people make the city, too!

  107. I love how deeply people love Toronto.

    Especially that people love it for what it is, not so much how it looks. It’s not a conventionally beautiful city, in bits here and there certainly, but not really as a whole. What people love is how it lives and how it’s all kinds of things at once.

    I like the way that sometimes people migrate here from other Canadian cities with negative preconceptions, and pine (sometimes vocally) for their hometowns, until they go back and think about living there and realize that they don’t want to anymore, and have fallen in love with Toronto without realizing it.

  108. Westbound on the Queen streetcar at dusk in June – the street glows from the shop lighting.

  109. Toronto is beautiful because of its modesty, its simply there for you to discover, and it rarely disappoints.

  110. I was just gonna say Broken Social Scene, but I thought I’d be more expansive by nominating Toronto record labels:

    • Arts and Craft (BSS, Apostle of Hustle, Stars, Gentleman Reg, Hidden Cameras)
    • Fuzzy Logic Records (Bicycles, Laura Barrett)
    • Blocks Recording Club (Final Fantasy, Bob Wiseman)
    • and the defunct Three Gut records (Constantines, Jim Guthrie)

  111. That I can walk out the door with a camera, go randomly anywhere in the city – and always have something amazing to shoot. I never thought Toronto could melt my Montréal heart, but it has…!

  112. Riding the Toronto Island Ferry home on a summer weekend. If you close your eyes you can imagine what it was like to ride into New York’s Ellis Island. All these people, carrying whatever they can, speaking a multitude of tongues, and crying babies with the CN Tower standing in for the Statue of Liberty.

  113. The downtown skyline views from: the top of the Baldwin Steps, near Casa Loma; Hillcrest Park; and my kids’ public school, Regal Road (up the hill at Dufferin and Davenport).

  114. Its name. Or rather its roots. Tkaronto of the aborginal forbears.

  115. I like the black oaks in High Park and the monster white oaks that are found occasionally along the top of the old Iroquois bluff.

  116. I love running on College Street early in the morning and seeing the whole city pop awake.

  117. I love Eglinton Ave., particularly from the stretch between Yonge and Keele. You go from staunchly WASPy North Toronto and all its great green space, to the fine bagel shops close to Bathurst, to the spicy roti shops west of the Allen Expressway, and through to the old Italian delicatessens near Dufferin.

    One of the biggest mistakes crazy old Mel Lastman ever made was not extending that Eglinton subway. But I love that road still.

  118. Photobloggers.

  119. Dundas Square, and all its vulgarity.

  120. It is THE best part of Ontario, Canada and North America. EVERYTHING you find on earth is all concentrated in Toronto. Our communities….like it’s a small world.
    Toronto never sleeps. There is something interesting going on every hour, every minute and every second of the day.

  121. The cormorants that fly back and forth, in straight lines, endlessly, from the Spit to the Bluffs.

  122. Most days in the lobby of my building (City Hall), I see a couple of happy people who are there to get married.

    Gay, straight, no matter; they give no thought to Council’s debates, political shenanigans, parking tickets, tax fights, or city service complaints. They’re dressed to the nines, family in tow, and they’re in love.

    Never fails to put a smile on my face.

  123. The wonderful gardens in front of people’s homes and tree-lined streets in walkable downtown neighbourhoods. Looking forward to everything blooming again after a cold winter.

  124. Streetcar wires like marionette strings, particularly the tangle where four streets begin or end (depending on perspective, direction): Roncesvalles, the Queensway, King Street, Queen.

  125. 1. The cycling culture

    2. The streetcars

    3. The carfree islands

    4. Hedge maze at the islands

    5. Psrkdale Rotis

  126. I love the fact that as I walk to work, I can walk for blocks and not hear a language I understand – and I still feel at home. I’ve found myself travelling, standing in a crowd of people speaking, not understanding them – and not feeling out of place (though working hard to pick up the language).

    I guess living here is good training for being a citizen of the world.

    (Oh, and Massey College. Ron Thom rules.)

  127. I love Toronto because of it’s open, spacious, green, welcoming, great host, inviting, accomodating and surely lovely !

  128. I love this quintessential Toronto moment:

    It’s a balmy May day, 26 degrees, and you just sit outside a coffee shop on Queen west and you don’t read a book or chat with friends or surf your Macbook or any of that other nonsense. You just let your eyes unfocus and stare off into infinity. And then the ragtime poles morph into a forest. And then the canary traffic lights begin to meld. And then a streetcar sails past and in your peripheral vision you see red. And then you hear the cars driving down the streetcar tarmac and it gives off machine gun sounds like ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba…and the sounds are coming from all directions.

  129. Broadview at night. Southbound between Danforth and Gerrard, by bike or streetcar, is beautiful and so fun.

  130. I had a pretty good list a while ago, but if I had to choose one thing neither mentioned above nor in today’s Star feature, I’d say the Fringe Festival, for serving as a utopian exemplar of what theatre (and all things, really) should be: creative, accessible, relevant, diverse, and democratic.

  131. Toronto can be anything: beautiful, cruel, wicked, ruthless, mysterious, fantastic, mundane, etc. Its wonderful diversity can make it anything you want it to be! For some it is even called “home”.

  132. Toronto’s resurgent look – the “new beautiful”

  133. The Spit. And the fact that this urban wilderness was once an industrial dumpsite.

  134. I love Toronto’s bike couriers! Our streets would look and feel empty without them… plus they look cool and throw great parties.

    Actually, I love Toronto’s entire cycling community! :)

    It’s too hard to list just one thing, but since I had to … there you go!

  135. Easy! Arlene Rosenberg and all who compete with her. Imagine a Toronto without Dufflet desserts, Yolles desserts at Scaramouche and all of the brilliant purley-Torontonian cullinary delights that have followed.

  136. I love so many things about the city… One that hasn’t been mentioned — Walking the boardwalk of the Beaches in the winter and seeing the crazy ice formations on the railings of the filtration plant.

  137. The thing I love most about this city is imagining its future.

    We’re in the midst of it. It’s exciting.

  138. I love Toronto because of the streetcar network (even if the tracks are a hazard while riding my bike).

  139. kerfluberack!

    Because I wager somewhere, within the many communities in Toronto, that is actually a word.

  140. I’ve been looking through all the comments, I may need to go over again to make sure, but while there are oblique allusions like the Roger Ebert star, has anyone directly offered TIFF as a reason to love Toronto?

    Especially TIFF as an event where the stars come for the “authenticity”, and perhaps learn to channel their own latent authenticity–yes, Toronto can humanize even the most dreaded Hollywood phony…

  141. I love just sitting by the harbourfront and staring off into the lake for hours, hearing the water splash against the docks, and the seagulls squawking about their territory.

  142. The Horseshoe, the islands, and the sad, fading memory of when Toronto was “the city that works”.

    I hate those cormorants though. They’re invasive, they’ve destroyed half the woods on the spit (which would be another fave, but it’s still a dump site and it’s gotten pretty wrecked since the 1980s, so it’s more of a sad metaphor for Toronto’s decline since amalgamation and downloading in the Harris years) – and when they’re done they’ll probably move over to the islands.

  143. Happy anniversary Toronto! I love that St. Lawrence Market, which is packed with people on weekends, is like my own private place to shop on weekday mornings!

  144. I love that Toronto is the first city I’ve ever lived in, and the first city outside of the United States, where our neighbours welcomed us on move-in day with a plate piled high with homemade cookies and cupcakes.

  145. I love Toronto b/c it has multiple personalities – a trendy fashionable city on Queen Street, a serious business city along Bay, a sun-loving city in the Beach – and how with just a turn off a major street you step into yet another personality to discover all the time.

  146. I love to walk by Ave(nue)& Dav(enport), and look at the beautiful mass of flowers and colors. It’s like a little blast of spring any time of the year.

  147. The Toronto Streetlight, and seeing one in a movie that’s supposed to take place in New York or Chicago.

    I love the Toronto street sign and the Toronto post-and-ring bike lock. (And I hate that Toronto is in the process of throwing both of those iconic designs away in the name of so-called “beautification”.)

  148. As we are now well past 175, so rather than mention the few that come to mind separately, I will group them all together:

    -the Old City Hall courthouse
    -that it is a city of neighbourhoods (although I’m partial to Cabbagetown)
    -the Spit
    -the Islands, especially looking back at the city at sunset
    -the library system
    -the movie selection of the Carlton theatre

    …and that reading everyone’s comments made me smile at almost every one of them (but especially Denis Agar’s comment about Cabbagetown No Frills…).

  149. I love that I can order one of 11 million items in the public library system, in any language, and have it delivered to my local branch for pick up. And when I go to pick it up, the library is always hopping with people from every generation and dozens of birth countries, all brought together through the pursuit of information in whatever form. All with no user fees. Brilliant.

  150. A late comment, but nobody else has made a similar one, so…

    I love Toronto’s movie theatres. I love the memory of theatres lost, like the Uptown, and I love the little theatres that have manage to survive (or be reborn) like the Bloor, the Revue, the Regent etc. I even, in weaker moments, love the Paramount-Scotiabank-Whatever.

    I also love that this is the city where my daughter was born four nights ago. I love thinking about how she will grow up in this city, learning to navigate, watching it change.

    Yeah, I love this city a lot.

  151. Kathleen> When Rev Brent Hawkes performed Canada’s/Toronto’s first same-sex marriage at the Metropolitan Community Church in 2001 he wore a bullet proof vest.

    We can love that in Toronto now he doesn’t have to.

  152. I love toronto’s community centres. They are super cheap, 160 bucks for the whole year. Badass.

    I also love that one of my former professors is just commented on the post above mine. Shawn, you made a lame class fun. I also love that you work at spacing. Again, Badass.

  153. The TT0 offers one great and unusual way to discover the city – and brag to friends – rent an iconic streetcar and party in it (with DJ) while it cruises the streets downtown, on a Saturday night. Try to do this in a Montréal subway…

  154. Those fading, painted advertisements on the sides of old buildings

  155. I’ll go ahead and say it — I love Toronto’s condos. I love them all, short, tall, lofts, fake lofts, old office buildings, glass towers and even those precast/brick exercises in mediocrity.

    If you work in the real estate development industry, and especially if you work in that industry in another city, you have nothing but amazement for how Toronto has managed to build so many condos. Yes, the buildings often have low-quality architecture, and yes, there are many issues about views and neighbourhood context and how the buildings meet the ground and the lack of schools and parks to go with them, etc. But step back and look at the big picture — Toronto has, within a generation, completely changed the paradigm for how people lived in the city. Vertical living used to be confined to either those in social housing or a group of apartment dwellers who were somewhere between their parents’ basement and a small house in North York. Now it is a truly viable option and one that sits in amazing co-existence with leafy side streets of small houses.

    The creation of so much housing, almost all of it in existing under-used urban locations, has been a fabulous boon to a city that lacked other means of growth. In time, I think more and more people will appreciate how packing the city full of people has helped it remain a vital place, full of energy, rather than some soul-sucking collection of McMansions existing off a highway interchange somewhere in the hinterlands. The condomania may be slowing now, but I look with appreciation on Toronto’s condos every time I visit.

  156. Harbourfront Centre is just amazing! Beautiful view, cozy restaurants and incredible shows! I love it at summer time!

  157. The moments of camaraderie on the streets of the city, when you realize that that thing you’ve always thought you were the only to notice (the carving in a tree, the colour of a house, the clever quote graffitied in the alley) is loved and appreciated by many others.

  158. As someone who was born in Toronto (at Women’s College Hospital) and grew up near Eglinton (without a G) and Mt. Pleasant, I have watched the city evolve from a tight ass, WASP town to an astounding collection of neighbourhoods and cultures. There are still corners where time stands still, and we may even have to preserve a WASP enclave as an historic village.

    Many have mentioned the natural wonders, the parks, the ravines, the islands, but I especially want to celebrate the trees. Toronto is proud of its forest, and wants to plant much, much more. There are corners where the “Bring Back the Don” folks planted saplings years ago where there are now small groves of trees. I’m always amazed to see them where once was just open ground.

    From my home of 30 years near Broadview and Danforth, I look out over the valley, and the towers downtown rise like the Emerald City out of the woods of Cabbagetown. Magical!

  159. WRT Steve’s comment above, I love the ethnic neighbourhood of “Little WASP” — wonderful North Toronto! Sampling rare ethnic foods like “Roast beef” and “jello molds”!

  160. What an amazing love letter to Toronto this is!!

    My favourite thing about Toronto right now is that it is HOME. Im about 1/4 way through spending a year abroad, and right now am so overcome with emotion by the things everyone has said.

    Other things that I love:

    1. The crazy weather mood swings, especially in Spring
    2. The underground music scene: truly awesome psytrance and techno events (oh how I miss this!)
    3. NOW and Eye
    4. Cheap public transit (never again will I complain about this. Really, anything under $5 for the thorough network that we have is churlish. You should see what other cities like Melbourne and Wellington pay for far less)
    5. Watching the kids tobogganing down hills, and every year thinking that THIS year I’ll go down too

    I also love pretty much everything others have posted.

  161. I love the literary scene in Toronto. On any given weeknight you have two or three different events and everybody’s venues are full – even in minus-20 degree weather.

  162. I also love the anonymous comedians who crack jokes on signs: a “STOP – Hammer time!” stop sign being my favourite thus far.

  163. I am a proud Torontonian, born and bred!

    I love that you can take the streetcar across the entire breadth of Toronto, from Long Branch to Scarborough. No matter if you are on the Dundas, Queen or King Street car, you get to see a cross-section of Toronto and its vibrance.

    When I was growing up, we lived in the west end (College and Ossington) and my grandparents lived in the east end (Broadview and Dundas) and we would take the streetcar to Eaton’s, shop and have lunch at the hot dog/orange pop stand in the Annex, and then travel to my grandparents place to show them our newly purchased treasures. The streetcar ran outside of my grandparents place and I can still remember the sound the streetcar going by whenever I slept over.

  164. I love that in my workplace, where I’m writing this, we have arrived in Toronto from Colombia, Newfoundland, Venezuela, Alberta, and Iraq, to name the people immediately around me. But more than that, I love that this isn’t an oddity or a barrier; they are just colleagues and sometimes friends, not defined by where they’ve come from but who they are now.

  165. Direct flights out of here to world class cities that don’t need to be written ironically, ‘world class’: Tokyo, London, Paris, NY.

  166. I think Shawn might be in the lead with this comment;

    “WRT Steve’s comment above, I love the ethnic neighbourhood of “Little WASP” — wonderful North Toronto! Sampling rare ethnic foods like “Roast beef” and “jello molds”!”

    It reminds me the that decription of the Beaches, “It’s like the Chinatown of white people”.

  167. All the public pools in this city that are open year round. I fondly recall swimming instead of gym at Allenby Public School in Grades 1-4, and lessons at Eglinton Pool in the summer, never to be reapeated in any school board after my family left Toronto. Save our public pools!

  168. I love that I’m always stumbling on new running/walking trails: Sherwood Park, Sunnybrook Park and Moore Park Ravine. But I particularly remember the day I found the Belt Line Trail, a strip of green from Mount Pleasant Cemetery out past Bathurst, so narrow but really well-used and on a weekend nearly everyone will wish you good morning or give you a nod.
    Also, since it’s getting warmer, I’ll say I love gelato, the crowded beach volleyball courts in The Beaches and playing Ultimate anywhere there’s enough space to throw a frisbee.

  169. I love being able to walk to get my groceries.

    I love that my boys can play on the street until all hours of the night and that they are completely safe. I know that my neighbours are also looking out for them.

    I love my annual street parties.

    I love the energy of the Centre for Social Innovation

    I love how friendly we actually are and how we all came together to support one another when we are facing trouble, like during the black out.

    I love watching James from my street clear the sidewalks for Jean and the old polish couple across the street.

    I love that everyone outside of Toronto wants to give us a hard time and that it just doesn’t matter… I love Toronto anyway.

    God, I love this city!

  170. I love so much about what others have said, here’s another one. I love that there have been/are a number of twangy alt country/rock bands in this city. From Handsome Ned to Blue Rodeo to the Sadies to Justin Rutledge and Jerry Leger. This is what Toronto sounds like to me.

  171. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this one yesterday:

    I love the guy on Eglinton West who has a mini-CN tower in his front yard.

  172. The best part about Toronto is it’s neighbourhoods. Instead of feeling like one giant city, Toronto feels like 100 smaller cities all mixed up into one. From Riverdale to Bloor West Village, from Roncacevilles to Kensington, each has it’s own spirit and vitality, and no two are quite alike.

  173. It’s a sensory experience in constant flux.

  174. The Spadina line stations. May we be inspired to push the design envelop with our future subway stations.

  175. Little India. The saris the spices the spicy corn the Hanuman monkey god statuettes the never-finished Lahore Tikka (?) the sweets the mangos!

  176. The TTC’s subway station font, and all those white-on-black porcelain signs using said font. (Hey, another great thing about Toronto that is being gradually replaced with something generic!)

  177. brick buildings, especially the old warehouses, tree-lined neighbourhoods, back alleys and lanes and people from all around the world.

  178. The ever-growing foodie culture! From restaurants to locally-grown food stores to green fair-trade coffee beans to gourmet tea shops to the markets, both daily and weekly and seasonally. The city’s diversity of food continues to expand.

    Now if only we could get something other than sausages in buns from the street carts.

  179. A point on the Don Valley bike path, on a small bridge, where, looking south, you can see at least three bridges, each one framing the next with, if you’re lucky, steetcars going across a couple of them. (someone with one of those special foreshortening lenses needs to go snap that.)

    Eaton Centre.

    BCE Place (or whatever it’s called now).

    Union Station.

  180. Sunnyside swimming tank (not pool), High Park, The Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto Islands, Roncesvalles Avenue, Bloor West Village, Kensington Market, the streetcars, Roncesvalles carbarn, Queensway streetcar right-of-way, Eaton Centre, Yonge Street, Yorkville, The Danforth, St. Clair West right-of-way (east of Bathurst at the moment), Humber River valley and its bike path, Spadina Avenue, Harbourfront, the TTC service in general (in comparison with other North American systems), the subway, Queen Street West, Honest Eds and the surrounding area

  181. I love that the “majority” is fast becoming just another “minority”.

    But a question for Shawn: where is this roast beef strip? I always thought Yonge north of Eglinton was the heart of North Toronto, but Italian restaurants dominate there.

  182. “It reminds me the that decription of the Beaches, “It’s like the Chinatown of white people”.”

    ================

    And then, there’s the issue of Toronto as a formative influence on Christian Lander and “Stuff White People Like”…

  183. U of T’s St. George campus is breathtaking in its ambition and scope, if flawed in execution. A microcosm of the city as a whole, our downtown jewel is mind-bogglingly complex, eclectic, and yet completely dignified; sometimes crotchety and exasperating, but also never short of new ideas and activites. There’s no better place to spend your time. I am proud to work there.

  184. Matt L> That was a bit of a joke — I recall once John Barber wrote something (humourous) like “Toronto’s only ghetto is the white North Toronto one”.

    I think even the WASPs figured out the Roast Beef was a bad idea. My (WASP Nova Scotia) mom used to make it, but I don’t think she does anymore. The WASP diet is responsible for the demise of the British Empire.

    I think you can get Roast Beef at some of pubs, as sort of a Campy Britain thing, or Barbarians steak house type places.

  185. You eat Roast Beef at home.

    You order Prime Rib when at a restaurant.

  186. Glen> It’s all assisted suicide to me.

    Which reminds me of a reason to love Toronto — so easy to be a Vegetarian here. Hardly ever get to a restaurant that didn’t have the option.

  187. That it is not immediately obvious that this is nirvana.

    Oh, and…

    …The macaroons at Bread&Roses in Bloor West Village, Movies at The Fox, Going on crosstown ice cream tours, Sitting at the corner of Baldwin and Augusta on a sunny day, Lining up at Gryfe’s, Ward’s Island Beach, Fishing on the Spit, Snowshoes in the Don Valley, Jogging on the boardwalk, Biking along Queen at 6am, The Reference Library, Ohbijou, Enjoying a Tankhouse pretty much anywhere, Saturday morning at the market (who would ever want the place to themselves on a weekday?), BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

  188. All of the above and those to follow.

  189. Toronto is a City of ‘endless possibilities’.

    There are countless socialogical battles to be won and lost, and a constantly growing scattering of homeless people to house. There are planning issues to be discussed in every minute detail before we turn around to see the new AGO, or ROM gleaming in the sunlight behind us. There are historic neighbourhoods to tour ,absorb, and love, in all corners of the City, and a steady supply of crumbling suburban malls from which to fashion new ones. There is the unstoppable energy of the cultural community, always ready, in spite of every cruel assault, to once again step forward and ‘make it possible’!

    And there is the promise of youth; the shiny, energetic faces representing every genetic variation on the planet; ready to take on these challenges, and build another generational layer over the ‘never to be perfect’, but ‘always ours’ City of TO.

  190. Bruce, who should we contract to sing this anthem?

  191. Couple more that sprang to mind…

    That it is the kind of city where Jane Jacobs and Steve Munro can be considered heroes.

    That it has the best built in fan base for every and any team playing a World Cup game.

  192. I never imagined I’d love Toronto. I moved to Vancouver and after 8 years returned to Toronto loving it more than Mel Lastman. Supercheez!

    I love going to Trinity Bellwoods Park on a summer evening and seeing the Roller Girls practicing, a yoga class on the lawn and hundreds of people drumming in the pit with the CN tower lit up in the background with its bling bling.

    It is such a cool city.

  193. I love the fact that there is always so many fascinating, interesting, exciting events going on that I wish I could spend all my time going to talks, panel discussions, concerts, openings, public consultations, exhibitions, shows, readings (and not-readings), games and sports, etc. I can never go to even a quarter of the interesting events I would like to go to, but the knowledge that they are all happening, and that none of them *need* me to go because there are already many many people in Toronto who are also interested and will go, makes me feel like I am in a city that is truly alive and vibrant.

    There’s a famous saying by Dr. Johnson about England’s capital that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I think you could say that now about Toronto – there is always something going on to interest anyone who has any interests at all in life.

  194. The rain-forest diversity and exuberance of Toronto’s commercial culture, the hundreds of store-fronts on the shopping streets, most of them individual rather than chains, spilling half way over the sidewalks in the summer, and around the corners and into the side streets.

    Mimico, the wonderful long streetcar/LRT ride to Long Branch, and the chain of parks and bike trails from Cherry Beach to Port Credit.

    Toronto City Centre Airport, the ten medical flights it accommodates every day, and the way it tells the world that a kid from Churchill or Iqaluit has the same right to the medical excellence of the great research hospitals of this city as a kid from Scarborough. And more romantically, I love Toronto City Centre Airport for its magic road into the sky, a road that can fire dreams fro anyone willing to dream them.

    Living in the world in one city, in the world in one country.

    The great rivers, with their parkland from mouth to the tip of the city.

    Our refusal to surrender to the car.

    Our survival.

  195. I love that when the Y&D scramble comes on, the voice sounds like it is saying “walk like a dog in all directions” … I know it is “walk sign is on in all directions” but I’m waiting to see what happens on April 1st.

  196. EE Ekoyenia mou eeerthaneh sto Toronto nah ehoneh kaleetaroh zoi= My family immigrated to Toronto to have a better life.

  197. I love the warm feeling I get when I take the greyhound bus into the city and see the CN Tower for the first time. What a homecoming!

  198. I love this comment “I love Toronto because I feel like, if I want to, I can immerse myself in any kind of community, sub-culture or scene from across the spectrum, yet also have the option to completely remove myself from the hustle and bustle as well. It seems like this city has almost accidentally achieved a kind of optional balance for any of its inhabitants to choose from.

    Comment by Stuart Thursby
    March 5, 2009 @ 1:36 pm”

  199. The holes-in-the-wall like the Horseshoe Tavern where you can see Canadian bar rock, of course.

  200. I love the big ships in the harbour, at the Redpath plant, and at the cement docks.

  201. I LOVE EVERYTHING OF TORONTO!!!! … iTS SOOOOOO SOOOOO SOOOOO SOOOO AWSEME!

  202. Toronto is an Amazing City with Beautiful Attractions for Tourists, and also for Torontonians. Its not just the Biggest city in Canada .. but one of the funnest Cities in Canada. Toronto is a very very Multicultural City .. which is a great expericence. Torontonians are really friendly people and very very very very Helpful. Beautiful City with awseme People.

    Loveeee Toronto. No matter what!! <333333333333333

  203. I love the fact that Toronto is a very Multicultural City. .. I mean Torontonians must be very lucky to get a taste of Every culture. The music, religion, food, tradition. .. What i love about Toronto is that it respects every culture. I live in Vancouver, and i honustly lovee Toronto more. Vancouver is a very good city to, but cant be comapred to Toronto. Toronto is the Jewel of Canada. .. i have visited many Times, and i cant even describe it in Words. .. Awseme City man! Hope to move there one day. .. Torontonians, yourr damnn Luckyy to live in such Cityy1!

  204. I really loveee my City. .. its multiculturalism, Diversy, arts, Torontonians, nightlife etc. Toronto will always be hommee!!! .. Bestt cityy!!

  205. I love that when you walk in Toronto, you feel an air of excitement; knowing that we are about to reach our newest golden age.

    Pride 2014, Toronto 2015, soon the olympics. WaterfrontToronto, Transit City and all the new growth.

    Our best years are ahead of us and I love that.

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