Editor’s Letter (June 2012): Sarah Fulford on the reasons to love Toronto
Last winter, on a week-long escape to Florida, I noticed something surprising: TD and Royal Bank signs along the highway near Sarasota, interspersed among the various Targets, Barnes and Nobles, and IHOPs. What was going on? It turns out Canadian banks have been aggressively expanding into the U.S. since the recession, snapping up struggling consumer banks. TD now has more branches in the States than it does in Canada. Everywhere I looked, it seemed, a little piece of Toronto was occupying the landscape—unexpected outposts of Bay and King planted along the strip malls of America. Perhaps because I’m so used to seeing American mega-stores colonizing the Toronto streetscape, I found the role reversal refreshing. A sign, I thought, of Canada’s new place in the world.
Then I returned home and was bombarded by talk of the new age of austerity. Ontarians are being told that the next decade will be characterized by tough decisions about education, old-age benefits, health care. We’ll have to decide what we value most, where we want to spend and what we can cut, and we’ll have to cook up some new revenue sources, like casinos. And yet I’m having a hard time squaring all this austerity talk with what I see in Toronto. All around me are signs that the boom times are back.
That’s the big theme this year in our fourth annual “Reasons to Love Toronto” package. Many of the people, trends, buildings and events we cover in the feature reflect the energy of a buoyant economy. We mark the return of expensive restaurants, including the recently opened Stock with its notorious $120 Kobe steak, and our incredible, unstoppable housing market.
Another theme of the package is the city’s exploding creativity. There are items about a new art gallery zone (at Bloor and Lansdowne); the runaway success of the Soulpepper play Kim’s Convenience; the amusing crop of anti–Rob Ford art that has popped up around the city; and the viral YouTube video Shit Girls Say, which was made here late last year and spread around the world, with knockoffs emerging from Tel Aviv to Tokyo. We also give a shout-out to Jeanne Lamon, the director of Tafelmusik, who this season celebrates her 30th anniversary directing the acclaimed baroque orchestra. Like hundreds of other music lovers in the city, I find every Tafelmusik concert I attend to be a revelation.
At Toronto Life, we had a sinful amount of fun putting this package together (the map of the renewed Roncesvalles strip was a unique pleasure to research—visiting, testing and tasting stuff), but not everyone enjoys celebrating Toronto as much as we do. In fact, the city, it must be acknowledged, has a considerable self-loathing problem. David Naylor, the president of the University of Toronto, recently told the Board of Trade that it’s time for Torontonians to “get over ourselves” and stop being so gloomy. Naylor has been president of U of T since 2006, and this is the first time he’s been quite so widely quoted in the press. He obviously struck a chord.
If you agreed with him but couldn’t figure out what exactly you should be so self-congratulatory about, let this issue be your guide.