I visited southern Ontario last month, making stops in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Welland. I previously lived there for ten years, but I’ve been away for a few years now. I took notes on what I missed and didn’t miss, what I found surprising or annoying.
So then, in observed order, annoyances:
- Parkades / parking garages are a pain to drive out of. Do drivers really put up with it regularly?
- 2 or 3 cars on nearly every Mississauga driveway
- The Toronto practice of sending one or two full-size fire trucks to every 911 emergency call. At busy locations like Dundas Square it means huge trucks rolling up several times during a weekend, disrupting everything around them and barely fitting in the space, often to respond to someone fainting from heat. This was one thing I was very impressed with in London: they have several classes of response vehicles ranging from motorcycles (a small motorcycle or scooter being the absolute fastest way to get around inner London) to smaller cars before getting to full-size ambulances, and North-American-sized fire trucks are rarely seen.
- Similarly, shops in downtown Toronto being resupplied from tractor-trailer articulated container trucks, usually parked more or less illegally. (Often this is a sign of a food shop or restaurant being supplied by a larger catering company.) I understand the economic idea, but it is completely unsuitable to urban scale even in Toronto.
- Lifted pickup trucks, and pickups in the city in general. I don’t have anything against vehicles being used for a job, but an oddly high amount of pickups I saw around were pristinely clean and weren’t carrying anything in the cargo area.
- Loud exhausts:
- Racing motorcycles
- Pickup trucks that sound like Harleys
- Cheques are still a thing. Come on.
- Window screens. They make me feel like I’m in a mini-prison.
- This is super-specific, but the previously wonderful Museum of Inuit Art in Toronto has closed.
And the nice things I wasn’t quite expecting I’d miss so such:
- Multiculturalism on the subway, and in just about any other public space
- Free toilets
- Widespread water fountains
- The St. Lawrence / Esplanade neighbourhood – probably the most European part of Toronto
- The sun is strong. This is a bit silly, but after two years at 51-52 degrees latitude, I really noticed the sun being stronger at 43 degrees.
- The CN Tower is still nice. This is personal since it reminds me of my time in Toronto. But still.
- The AGO is legitimately pretty great. (Once you get over charging for admission to a museum… but not everywhere can be London.)