While today, I live an hour north of Toronto, I still consider myself a Torontonian and I worry about my city. From my present catbird seat, I see the errors, the overreaches, the meanness of Queen’s Park, the woke of my city, though many of the treasured memories remain frozen in time.
SkyDome is still SkyDome, where I watched the Blue Jays win back-to-back World Series. Maple Leaf Gardens at Church and Carlton remains the beacon of the National Hockey League. Did you know there was a cricket pitch at one time on the west side of what is now the site of Ryerson University. I saw some wonderful shows at the O’Keefe Centre. Jarvis Street is in a different world when you are delivering The Globe and Mail at 5 AM. The memories are many.
But it is what is happening to my city that worries me. What the hell is happening down at Ontario Place that my children loved and where my wife sang on so many summer evenings? And who said this winter city needed bicycle lanes on main arteries when there are under-used valleys, the Toronto Islands and wonderful parks to enjoy on a bicycle. The Gardiner Expressway and the Allen Ditch are sad reminders of what might have been efficient highways in and out of the city.
When I was born in the 1930s, Toronto was a dull and forbidding city. I watched it grow and its mind-set change. New employment was there for the returning soldiers and newcomers after war two and new attitudes were accepted. We became more secular and rejected past bigotry. We could talk to strangers. We watched Chinatown grow and shopped in Little Italy. Bowles Lunch gave way to foods of the world. Pasty white was no longer the dominant skin colour at Sunnyside Pool.
We welcomed York University and watched the community colleges fill with our progeny. Movies were being made with our city as the backdrop as we added sound stages for burgeoning talent.
To our surprise, Toronto has become a tourist destination with the size and impact of our celebrations of our world. Our city today has become a business and financial centre of note. We have a city of millions and they are the world.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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