Dear Toronto: It’s Not You…Well Maybe It Is

Toronto skyline

In recent years I have visited Canada several times, always enjoying my trip and looking forward to further northern explorations. There is one city though that I just can’t seem to crack, no matter how many times I’ve tried and I think I’m frankly done trying. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to like Toronto.

I’ve been to Toronto now three times, each experience more boring than the one previous. Granted, I’ve never visited with the sole intention of being a tourist, and maybe that’s part of the problem. But it definitely isn’t entirely my fault. I’ve visited many cities on business and have managed to leave enjoying my time and looking forward to personal exploration, but that has never happened with Toronto and I seriously doubt that it ever will. So why don’t I like Canada’s largest city? Here are a few reasons.

Lacks personality – Canada’s largest city, Toronto is the center of Canadian business and it looks like it. The city is in a constant state of change and construction, paving over what may have been interesting and unique. In that respect it reminds me of another city I don’t like, London. There’s no intimacy, no electric spark when I drive into town. I get that spark in other cities; I get it in New York, Quebec, Paris; now THESE are cities with personalities. Whenever I make this complaint with native Torontans they always tell me that the beauty of the city is found in its neighborhoods; eclectic communities representing ethnic groups from all over the planet. That’s great, but that’s what makes the city a nice place to live, NOT a nice place to visit. There is a sharp difference between the two. If I’m going to spend my vacation in Toronto I want to do and see things. I want to explore and learn. I don’t want to hang out in a nice park and observe all the cool food trucks. I can frankly do that at home.

Nothing to do – Congested roads, huge skyscrapers and busy people are all normal in Toronto. That’s not a bad thing, you can find the same features in many of the world’s great tourism capitals, so why doesn’t it work for Toronto? Because that’s all there is. In New York there are countless sights to see and things to do, but if you look up the top sights in Toronto here’s what you find: The CN Tower, some parks and neighborhoods and many restaurants. If you start digging deeper you’ll find the Hockey Hall of Fame and some art galleries. That’s the problem, aside from the Tower there’s just nothing unique or distinctive about the city. It doesn’t have the old world charm of Quebec or the views of Vancouver. It’s blah and boring and not much else.

No desire to return – Since I emerged from the womb I have always been fascinated with foreign cultures and travel. There is nothing I enjoy more than visiting a new place and almost everywhere I go, I fall in love. I also almost always want to revisit cities to explore in greater depth. I have never, ever had these feelings for Toronto and for me personally, that’s the greatest indictment against it. The fact that I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything, that there wasn’t enough time in the day to soak up the personality and culture of the city – that’s the issue. Travel is supposed to be fun, educational and selfish. In theory, we are supposed to enjoy going on vacation and seeing new things. If that doesn’t happen, well, then Houston we have a problem. You know what? I’m fully able to admit that Toronto does in fact possess some of these qualities, but if I can’t find them then it doesn’t matter. Toronto needs to find and promote the aspects of the city that make it UNIQUE. Forget about shops and restaurants, the city needs to share its personal story; it needs to convince people that it’s as worthy to visit as Quebec or Vancouver. So far that story has not been told.

So there you go. My PERSONAL opinion on Toronto and why I really don’t care to return, unless I have to. Am I wrong? Please, convince me! I would love nothing else than to be proven wrong and to see what makes Toronto a great place to visit. But if my suspicions are right, I don’t think there’s enough evidence out there to prove the case.


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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

155 Responses

  1. Coco

    Wow. I could not disagree more. I have always found the people wonderful and warm. There is so much to do and see – it is such a cosmopolitan city. There is absolutely something for everyone. You can eat every cuisine you can think of. I love Toronto and think that many of these comments are simply haters. One thing Toronto does do is bring out the jealousy. There are literally dozens of events and happenings every single night. If you really don’t like it then you don’t. That’s how I feel about many other cities so I respect your opinion. But many of these other commenters really ought to expand their horizons.

    • Kevin

      Jealousy? Toronto sucks and when I come back here from Europe I feel grim and horrified.

      • Paul

        Jealous of Toronto…haha hilarious.

        Toronto is nice in Summer. It is very diverse and progressive without social problems and has a nice stable economy. However, if you need some actual fun that’s where it ends unfortunately. Why?

        – The other 9 months of the year it’s dullard central. Try going out in February? Yes sure, let’s get cold burn and wind burn. And find an empty, boring bar for..nothing.

        – People try so hard to be “like cool and different” but fail miserably and risibly. From King West pointless bozos and its shallow, vapid types to moronic pseudo hipsters who think they’re somehow “different” and “part of a movement”, while wearing the fashion of 3-years-outdated-now-mainstream “beard, turn-ups and deck shoes” that died back in 2011-2012 in most other places.

        – Restaurants are so decidedly mediocre if you’ve lived anywhere at all where there are actual real good places to eat. And massively overpriced. Don’t trust any restaurant reviews because they’re written by simpleton self-styled “foodies” who don’t know better and think everything is “awesome”.

        – Entitled servers think they have a divine right to automatically receive tips before you even receive your drink or food. And people from Toronto defend that entitlement too, like the sheep they mostly are. Even though these spoilt server douches DO get minimum wage. Stop trying to be like America. You’re not.

        – Sheep-like people. They all just follow each other and go with general safe opinion. Say something different? Oh no. Actually be different? Better to be the same and copy everyone else. And don’t complain. Not even about raw sewage getting pumped directly into your lake under your noses. That’s fine with you.

        – Bozo music tastes: move along people, because majority of Toronto thinks Drake and Kanye W are the only artists that exist.

        Idiot waspy city decision-makers: Let’s spend $9 billion maintaining a highway through our very city centre, which happens to be on the waterfront, shall we? What a wonderful decision. What do you mean public transport? Let’s have cars and highways with big polluting trucks, they’re much better than silly socialist public transport. And let’s pay the mafia to maintain the roads, because they know best..

        Toronto Defenders invariably turn up and and it’s amusing: they claim they travelled the entire world and Toronto is still the best. Right. It has qualities but don’t think it’s great or cool or anything. It most certainly isn’t.

      • Mina

        Paul , that was beautiful. You said it perfectly.
        How I have been feeling about this place for nearly 15 years. My husband and two kids are finally moving to Europe next yeah. Hallelujah!

  2. O

    EXACT. After 40 years would love to exit this city. It’s BORING. It is not distinctive, unique. Transit is POOR. Other than (maybe) Kensington Mkt most ‘hoods are mediocre at best.
    And the WORLD CLASS ‘debate’ is ridiculous, nowhere near NYC, Paris, London, Philly, Chicago, and the list goes on… but it could NEVER include Toronto.

  3. Robert Carr

    When you arrive in Toronto as a visitor, what you witness is actually the city’s social LETHARGY, which you might interpret as boredom.

    The Government propaganda works here at all levels. You pass by the Cardiac Hospital centre in downtown Toronto and see a huge poster with a picture of a heart and a big slogan: “The Heart of Innovation.” Then, approaching the University of Toronto another “pearls” appears (there is a poster attached to each of the consecutive light poles): “Boundless Dedication”, and “Boundless Devotion”, “Boundless Innovation”… and so on.

    The locals are so amazingly disconnected from the reality of life! People are constantly brainwashed here, and some of them probably really believe in “Boundless Dedication, Devotion and Innovation”. Why ask any questions?

    Torontonians are pre-occupied with doing “good behavior” and everything being “safe”. While the city is actually very safe, the idea of “safety” has long extended into every aspect of life, successfully incapacitating anything and anyone who could still have any aliveness in them.

    Who makes this city relatively alive are immigrants, as they bring here human emotions and feelings. Sooner or later, however, they will lose any aliveness and become a particle of the typical Toronto homogeneous masses, devoid of anything unique or real.

    There are hardly any books, movies or plays about Toronto.
    The best thing that has ever been filmed about Toronto is the cartoon called “Bob and Margaret”. It carefully depicts Toronto’s reality and its empty, boring and lonely culture.

    Have you ever heard any song about Toronto? I hear you – me neither!

    • Anna

      “Torontonians are pre-occupied with doing “good behaviour” and everything being “safe”. While the city is actually very safe, the idea of “safety” has long extended into every aspect of life, successfully incapacitating anything and anyone who could still have any aliveness in them.

      True statement. Showing vibrant emotion in Toronto is social suicide. You just can’t do anything outside of the ordinary boring business personality. Some exceptional places like Kensington Market are actually brought down by the neighbouring business community in part, because it is close by, and when people from both hoods cross paths, the air of superiority coming from the business class is shaming and contrasts the market negatively.

    • strawberry daiquiri

      Thank you. You have exactly described my feelings about this city.
      I feel like Toronto is the most boring place on the earth. It is a paradise for introverts and generally people who like quiet and uneventful life. People are so obsessed with safety, that the laws and regulations remove any fun from life. You can’t have a beer on the beach or play music too loud even during the day, because someone will complain and the police will be on the complainer’s side. Anything you do is too unsafe. Even when you try to dress unique or laugh too loud on the bus people give you dirty glares. And all of these “fun” festivals and things to do… boring. Way too many restrictions. What is so fun about walking on a crowded street and buying overpriced stuff or eating junk food? Has anyone ever actually had fun at taste of Danforth or the little Italy festival? The only one I can think of is salsa on St. Clair because at least you get to dance. And everything closes early too. I remember celebrating the victory of Italy in corso Italia after a soccer match during world cup (I’m not Italian, but just wanted to have fun), and the police showed up and closed down every single bar and almost gave me a ticket for excessive noise for yelling “wooooohooo” , because apparently you can’t make any noise after 11pm. They even kick out people from the beaches and parks, because they close after 10 or 11. Pretty much this city is for those who just want to work and sleep. So happy I’m moving to south America in a few months

  4. xue

    thank you for saying so. I couldn’t agree more. It’s boring as hell.

  5. AR

    I agree 200%. I lived in Toronto for 9 years, then travelled and lived around the world – Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Havana, Barcelona, Bangkok – I can fall in love with these cities – I spent months in each of them. You discover them layer by layer week after week, month after month. They have their own charm, style, music (Rio and Havana, Spanish Flamenco)

    Personal life “flourishes” in these cities as well – they are fun to go on dates in. Here I am back in Toronto for a few business meetings – friday night. Do you think I can go mingle in an exotic crowd dancing salsa and reggaeton like i can in “Diablo Tun Tun” In Havana. Do you think I can find by chance a cool party where people dress in 40’s style, like I did on Soi 11 in Bangkok ? Would you pick up a stranger in this city, invite her / him to a cool club / romantic place and take her home the same day? Just because it happened spontaneously. Probably not – people date “online” here. Because there is almost not “street life” here where people socialize (for hours and hours) outside in narrow streets of Malaga, Spain, drinking, having fun. A romantic riverside with alleys and benches where you do that first kiss, is missing… Milan, Paris, Moscow – they all have it.

    Some people call Toronto the “New Babylon” It is arguably the most culturally diverse city in the world. And yet this diversity is not showing its potential yet. Cubans (there are probably dozens of thousands of them here) for whom dance is part of their lives – do not really have a place to hang out – Lula Lounge does not count – it is not a real Cuban place in essence. In other words there are a lot of mini communities here that unfortunately are not showing others what their culture could offer. Try to find, say, a Brazilian Samba place here – good luck ! But in New York you can listen to great live samba every week in SOB’s club

    I would rather stay home and read a book than try to find this excitement in Toronto… Besides it is already end of April and is really chilly outside. Time to get out and “resume” a real life. 3 hours on a plane to Cuba from here and surprisingly many Canadians have never even been there. I have even met some locals who have never been to New York! Does this city kill people’s curiosity in the world ? Also, have you seen local art shows and fairs? Art Gallery of Ontario? – pathetic…

    What is really good here in my option is education – especially in universities – but this is another topic. Favourite spots in the city are Distillery District and Toronto Islands.

    • Kevin

      The essence of Toronto = Zero street life.

  6. Anna

    I totally agree with every word you’ve written. As a European who has arrived here over a year ago looking for new adventure and possibilities I must say that while my career took off quickly and I haven’t faced as much competition here as in Europe, socially this city is like a cemetery.

    Toronto has so much potential, few nice neighborhoods such as Leslieville or The Beaches, hot summers, lake, etc. But whilst cities like Chicago, Boston, Barcelona base their amazing night life around the water front, for some reason, apart from the little board walk in the Beaches area, water front in Toronto is empty, forgotten, with several warehouses blocking the view.

    I am very well traveled and I think Toronto is probably the most unfriendly city I have ever been to, people don’t strike up conversation here, they are very polite but they have very poor conversational skills, as a commenter above me pointed out – they don’t travel. I have met so many people who haven’t even been to NYC. They have no other interests apart from condos and gym. Dating is a disaster. I’m a single gal and there is no way a guy would ever approach me in a bar, men in Toronto don’t know how to flirt. Everything is polite, polite, polite. No passion, no anger, no life. I can get on a plane and be in Chicago in an hour and it’s like a completely different world. How is this possible? Chicago, where night life is amazing, everybody talks to you, men stop me on the street to say hi and ask me out for a drink.

    While my life here is good I am thinking about maybe moving to Quebec and if I won’t be able to do that I’ll go back to Europe. Toronto itself is not the problem ,it’s a beautiful city with amazing parks, lake, beach, so green and so urban and suburban at the same time – it has everything. It’s people that are the problem. I remember when I was talking to that Torontonian guy and telling him that London (UK) on a Friday night in the summer is like one big cirque de solei with all its drunken excess, hedonism and mixture of rich and poor all partying together and he said : “Hmm yeah we’re a little bit more civilized here in Toronto”. That really sums it up.

    • AR

      Anna, I have been wondering why are people the “problem” is there are people from the whole world here in Toronto? There must be people of all kinds here. But does the city itself affect their emotional state or rather lack of it ?

      And why are there so many depressing streets in this seemingly affluent city ? Like Dufferin, Ossington, etc ?

  7. NotWorldClass


    I was born in Tel Aviv, and went to University in Jerusalem. My parents moved to Toronto when I was young. I love my parents, but hate that decision, but life was much harder in Israel then, so I kinda understand. I can tell by your blog how you felt about your travels in Israel. I have lived in Toronto most of my life, and I think the distinction between living and visiting that is running through this thread is phoney. Toronto is cold, corporate and impersonal. The city lacks romance, in all its meanings. The only place I like and I feel is unique in the city is St Lawrence Market. Other than that, it’s a big box store. The denizens are highly sanctimonious, and unoriginal, and like copycatting other cities (dundas sq = mini uglier times sq, ROM crystal = ugly aluminum version of Louvre pyramid). Rather than take criticism and try to improve this pretty joyless burgh, most people in Toronto get very defensive and protest that it is world class, because they say so, even though the skeletal subway system covers almost none of the city. In the heart of the eastern and western sections of central Toronto, those little enclaves that everyone here says you should visit, Puritan community councils run by homeowners set up no fun zones and put speed bumps on every street, lest their home values decrease because of noise. The ethnic neighborhoods are just a testament to the insulated and self segregated nature of the city. I mean, I would rather eat seekh kebabs in India than a neighborhood in Toronto. Every time I visit family in Tel Aviv, a city that explodes with life and has a vibrant day and nightlife and that constantly innovates, I find it harder to return to Toronto, which is a nice place to be materialistic and comfortable, but not to really “live” in the true sense of the word. Anyway, that’s my blasphemous take on the city I currently reside in. Whenever I get truly depressed here, I go to Montreal, only 5 hours away and I cheer up a bit. Funny enough, I did not mind London as much as you did, and I was totally ready to hate on it before I left, but I respect your opinion.

  8. Jerry

    Toronto is anything but world class and holds the award for largest city in the world with zero character. The night life is sub par for a city of its size and its cuisine culture is the most basic entry level mix of American and international cooking you’ll find anywhere. The city boasts being ‘multicultural’ hence why it lacks any culture of its own. One could describe it as a microcosm of different ethnicities watered down by the cities Anglo-Saxon heritage. There seems to be a culture of segregation in Toronto with different neighborhoods and stores catering to each different ethnicity, resulting in a city with a complete lack of community cohesion. It’s for this reason the people in Toronto come off as unwelcoming and standoffish. Polite, yet unsociable. The only exciting thing about Toronto is the CN tower. It suits the city quite well as it is a huge monument that serves no real purpose other than to attract world attention. If you’re planning to visit Canada I would recommend Montreal, Quebec City or Vancouver. Just don’t spend too much time in Toronto for it would be a waste of a trip.

  9. michelle

    I feel the exact same way. I am here for the first time on business and I have found myself heading back to the hotel instead of trying to explore the city because there is nothing available that excites me! it is so blah!!

  10. Roody

    “Worldclass City” –
    The only thing that’s pretty
    is the thought of getting out!!!

  11. Mark

    Toronto used to be great city but has now become a large overpriced boring city filled with too many condos and boring arrogant people who bring their foreign money. People walk around in their own bubble like extraterrestrials and the sad thing is you have to resort to online dating as the majority of people in bars and clubs are socially retarded and are just posers. I’d rather be elsewhere!

    • RightON

      “Toronto used to be great city…”
      When? It’s never been. Torontonians wouldn’t even know what a great city is. If they did then maybe there would have been a chance to actually build one. I’ve lived here for years; it was once a nice and sedate little oversized and affordable town, yes, but never very interesting or vibrant. Canadians don’t like excitement. They prefer safety and predictability.

  12. Luke

    A lot of these comments are coming from Douchebag Central it seems.

    I travel every single month, I’ve been to the largest cities in the world, and Toronto is up there with any of them.
    Lacks romance? STFU. How pretentious can one person be?

    You want things to do, here’s a dozen:
    1. Check out a game of one of the pro sports teams: Blue Jays, Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC
    2. Visit Toronto Island
    3. Tour the Roundhouse Steamwhistle Brewery
    4. Take in a ton of nightlife in the entertainment district
    5. Go to the Royal Ontario Museum
    6. Check out the vibrant comedy scene at Second City or Yuk Yuk’s (even Just For Laugh Festival when it’s in town)
    7. Visit in Aug/Sept during Toronto International Film Festival
    8. Go shopping at the Eaton Centre or in the shopping district
    9. Check out the St. Lawrence or Kensington Markets
    10. Go down to the Beaches
    11. There is practically a concert every single night in Toronto, check one out
    12. Eat at some of the best restaurants in the world. You want recommendations? Ask me.

    There’s 12… Stop being so f*cking pretentious and actually look into what the city has to offer.

    Does Toronto have its warts? Of course! I’ve been to Chicago too. I love Chicago. You don’t think that city is without its warts? Have you ever been to the south side? It’s a dump.

    Toronto isn’t a world class city — you be trippin’

    • Gradient Lively

      I don’t meant to be a downer, but a lot of the things you mentioned in your list are pretty dull as well as far as on a world class city level…I feel the people themselves are a great part of the issue. Take the sporting events you listed, even with the blue Jays doing well this year, the ppl are dull at the games…it’s less alive then when you are at Yankee Stadium. Less off the cuff out of the blue cool and amazing things happen… I feel that about the entire city in general, Toronto is like a playground and other fun world cities are like amusement parks in comparison. It’s like a big party where none of the cool ppl showed up….

    • Jeff

      World Class? That’s way off the mark Luke. You definitely haven’t travelled as much as you claim. Or you haven’t been to many interesting places Because if you’d really spent time in some good cities, you would never be saying that.

      There are some good activities in Toronto. In my opinion the best ones are Kensington Market, The Islands, The Beaches. There is plenty of motivation for live music.

      But let’s have a look at some of the other activities that Luke thinks makes the city “world class”:

      1. Check out a game of one of the pro sports teams: Blue Jays, Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC
      A sports game makes a city good? What about people who couldn’t care less about sports? Boring.

      3. Tour the Roundhouse Steamwhistle Brewery

      4. Take in a ton of nightlife in the entertainment district
      King West is douchebag central. Lacking any kind of scene it just copies what it thinks is “popular” in America at the time and serves up a pale imitation. Trashy, gold-digging drunk women. Suited up toolbags trying to pretend they’re rich to attract them. Nice.

      5. Go to the Royal Ontario Museum

      8. Go shopping at the Eaton Centre or in the shopping district
      Sure. I hear you get get jeans there.

    • Marie

      All those things you mentioned are things you do once in a while, not regularly. And what other people and myself are trying to say is Toronto doesn’t have a sense of community. Sure you can go to the ROM, but is it a social experince? In other cities its normal for people to be out every night (Monday, Tuesday, etc) with their friends and family eating, drinking, and talking, without fear that where you are will close at 10. Other cities have that social aspect that Toronto simply does not have – you go to work, you go home by yourself and that’s it, because that’s just the mentality here. People don’t reach out to each other. You can’t hang out with your friends for dinner on a Tuesday night and meet other people nearby and listen to live music or go dancing regularly because those things are just not encouraged or offered. So yes, you could go to the museum, but what we’re saying is the lifestyle here is very unsociable and cold.

    • Kevin

      I honestly don’t know why you like Toronto. Everyone is happier than Torontonians.

  13. Pat

    It’s people like Luke (see above) that are stuck and still don’t get “it”. Judging by how Luke needs to swear when speaking or even typing, this isn’t the kind of calibre to pay attention to regarding how a place or thing really is. Sure, a place can have things in it or things available, but it’s the overall aura of the place that is the issue, or the mode, the feeling in the air. Toronto does NOT have a defined one, and an aura that is identified and felt right away by someone either visiting or residing here. In Toronto, a person does not feel or become so engaged as you would in other places – be it one of the tier-I or even tier-III cities of the world. It’s quite clean and safe, but Toronto just runs and happens daily, that’s it. The thing is, a place must have the extra layer when functioning, which would be a soul and clear identity or culture that is definable and is for all – linking everyone, with its people being able to clearly notice and identify it quickly whether they were seeking it or not.

    • Pat

      And regarding the “sights” or features that Toronto has, the other big factor or issue is in getting to those places. Many people in Toronto are late for things now, or simply don’t bother trying too much to go out and see/do something (compared to other citizens of developed world cities) because of the transit/traffic issue. Toronto has a subway system meant for maximum 1970s/1980s Toronto (it was known as Metropolitan Toronto), and adding insult to injury is the big traffic that occurs everywhere now and with no more defined hours. Toronto is one of/or is the only major first-world city that actually stopped building and extending their subways and infrastructure. This links with how many car users and traffic there now is, among other factors such as bad city design/sprawl/and being too suburban.

    • Gradient Lively

      Agreed, it’s a lot of ppl living close together, about it. No real heartbeat…it’s not known for anything. It doesn’t create style, music or culture movements on a world scale…it’s very blah.

  14. Terenece

    You know what Paris, New York and Montreal all have in common over Toronto? They’re all over a hundred years older. Toronto didn’t star off as being this big city, it grew very quickly, and it continues to grow. I think there is a lot of promise to be found in the city, but I also think it might not be for another several decades before the city truly blossoms.

  15. Dan

    Mark on June 4th, you wrote: “..Toronto used to be great city but has now become a large overpriced boring city…”. I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and let me tell you that if it hadn’t been for my job, which has afforded me the opportunity to constantly travel, I would have long since gone crazy here for the want of stimulation in all senses of the word. My home town, this city, has NEVER been a great or exciting place to live. When I was a young man it almost gave me some sort of complex due to the stultifying social conventions with which I was confronted no matter where I went. I had to resort to regularly going to Montreal and to WNY just to be able to have a fun time and keep myself on an even keel. Only the stoned-faced WASPs who are responsible for creating and who seem to look with some favour on this toxic social environment that we have in Toronto say that the place used to be ‘a nice place once upon a time’. The British author and playwright Wydham Lewis once described Toronto in the 1940s as “that sanctimonious icebox”. Nothing much has since changed in any profound sense to revise that assessment, notwithstanding the current superficial glitz of the city.

  16. Jamporter

    So… Interesting. I’m a Montrealer who’s been living in Toronto for the past decade. (Yes, I still consider myself a Montrealer) I read through your post and really wanted to disagree with you (and some of the more disgusted sounding comments above) but here’s the thing: I couldn’t completely disagree.

    The dating scene is actually pathetic. Like others mentioned, it seems most people prefer to date online, which is something I’ve tried and hated. I met my bf (a maritimer living in TO) by fluke during an apartment search. So I completely agree on that point.

    Regarding the friendliness of the people, I don’t have enough basis to comment on. All of my friends are from other countries and cities. So I manage to have that good time people say is impossible to find here, with a little help from my friends.

    Is it world class? No, but neither is anywhere in Canada (sorry fellow Canucks, but let’s be honest).

    Is there good food here? YES. Don’t believe anyone who thinks this place is a bland version of American food. They obv don’t know where to go. Next time you’re here, let me know, I’ll make some suggestions!

    To the people who are truly miserable here, what can I tell you? I understand (it took me 2 years to realize I finally found a place I enjoy in Toronto), but at the end of the day, the decision is yours. Stay and find your niche or leave.

    Forget the museums (meh), forget the hockey hall of fame, CN tower is ok for 1st time tourists. Where to go? St Lawrence Market, Toronto islands, distillery district, Casa Loma (to satisfy the sightseeing urges). And embrace the fact that this is not Quebec with its history or Vancouver with its nature. It’s Toronto: a young city a bit too obsessed with condos and relying heavily on its neighbourhoods to define a character. It’s a teenager still so let’s cut it some slack.

    • Gradient Lively

      I like your comment, the problem is you are in the minority. Most ppl want to tell you how great it is and then lack any real substance.

  17. Kate

    While I understand your frustrations, Toronto has a hidden underbelly of awesomeness that can be tricky to find if you don’t know people who live here (or if you haven’t met the right people). I had the same issue with London, UK, and I’ve been told it’s a similar issue there. Find the right people, and suddenly a new version of the city opens up for you.

    Toronto has a thriving counterculture scene that contrasts dramatically with the overly-polite, condo-centric mainstream. Check out some of the bars along Dundas Street West, like the Communist’s Daughter, or go to a random show at Tranzac on Bloor, in the Annex. The Annex neighborhood is lovely and has an intellectual spirit. There are several great bookstores in the area; try reading a Toronto classic, like Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye (I also love The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize) or Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, to get a little more of the city’s literary flavor.

    Toronto also has an obsessive patio culture–if it is even remotely a nice day, any decent Torontonian is arranging to meet friends on a patio. I’ve lived in New York and Vancouver, and spent significant chunks of time in other cities–and Toronto definitely wins for most obsessive patio culture. (I love New York, but New Yorkers are remarkably indifferent to drinking outdoors).

    If you ever want to experience what to me is the true flavor of Toronto, go to a Kensington Market car-free Sunday in the summer. I live in a different city now, and haven’t been in a while, but it used to turn into a street dance party every time. So much randomness.

    Spending time in Toronto during Pride can also be an incredible experience (although crowded and pretty corporate by now). In general, the Church-Wellesley village is a lot of fun (even if you are not gay)(also, it has some great patios–see above).

    A couple other cool random things the capture Toronto’s essence to me:
    * It is a sanctuary city.
    * There is a super fun bar called “Snakes and Lagers” where you can drink and play board games. I realize this exists in other cities, too, but it is still one of my favorites.
    * More Kensington Market spots: Moonbeam cafe, Herbivore, and all the random thrift stores. I’ve never found a place quite like Kensington in any other city. In New York, a spot like this neighborhood would get overrun by tourists. Also, Dolce Gelato was one of the first places to carry Bulletproof Coffee. They had it here when my boyfriend couldn’t even find it in New York.
    * Open Doors started in Toronto, and it’s still a fantastic event. Go to something completely random and you usually won’t be disappointed.
    * The “nudist” beach on Toronto Island. You do not have to go nude. It’s almost never crowded, even on a gorgeous summer day.
    * Do you like private-room karaoke? Toronto’s Koreatown.
    * I have never been ax-throwing, but it is a sport some Torontonians get pretty serious about.
    * There is a non-profit group called “Not Far From the Tree” that goes around Toronto neighborhoods and picks all the fruit from the various, often-not-noticed fruit trees which are everywhere. The fruit is split 3 ways: a third to food banks, a third to whomever owned the tree (they have to give permission for it to be picked), a third to the volunteer-pickers.
    * I consider the PATH to be part of the dull corporate side of Toronto–but it is considered an architectural wonder according to some random architects I spoke with. It is basically an underground shopping mall that allows you to avoid going outside in the downtown core in winter.
    * I find the Toronto Fringe Festival more intimate and accessible than fringe festivals I’ve attended in other cities.
    * This exists in some other cities, but Toronto was the first place I ever ordered “cold tea” in Chinatown to get beer after hours.
    * A few more spots that are close to my heart: the rooftop patio at Pauper’s, Trinity Bellwoods park, 7 West cafe which is open 24/7 and has great ambiance (the food is standard comfort food).

    Is Toronto a “world class” city? I think that depends on your definition of world class. I think it is most comparable to cities like Melbourne, Australia or Boston, USA. And I would choose Toronto any day over Philly (or LA for that matter). I agree that the public transit system needs development. And I agree that the people are more “closed” in Toronto. But that’s not true of everyone. I would mostly avoid the city’s financial center/tourist center, which is a bit too much of a concrete jungle for me, and doesn’t at all capture the city’s vibrancy. Give Toronto a chance. Some cities, you have to work a little harder to get to know–but I think Toronto is well worth the effort.

    • Gradient Lively

      You would choose Toronto over Philly? wow. I wouldn’t choose it over anything. Wish getting citizenship some place else was easier…that’s about it.

  18. valerio

    No. Toronto has nothing in the air, no feeling. It’s a CONFUSED place. Robotic place. Also big headache with traffic, little transit options (and not modern) for its size and populations. Should have much less people in it for what it has and how it is behaving. Some nice people there. But Matt blogger really noticed because he traveled and maybe observant cultured person. You must question this: why so many website blogs on the internet like this blog and this issue or discussions? Something is maybe wrong with Toronto. Skip it and save your money and times for other places where there is a spirit,goal of beauty factor, and purpose. Skip.

  19. David Stein

    I was born and raised in Vancouver. I have known it since 1949. It is a chilly, wet snot rag with a few pretty glass condos.

    I fled to Toronto in 1975.

    You are a lazy, shallow, Gen-X dunce.

    • David Stein

      … and your flat dismissal of London characterises you as an ignorant American putz. The only trouble with London is young Americans owning it for the summer.

  20. RightON

    Toronto is a sterile corporate mess created by the dullard financiers who comprise most of its business elite. When they want to let loose and have some fun, they presumably jet off to the more interesting a vibrant locales, leaving their dull little burgh for the little people.

  21. LivedInTorontoForOneYear

    Note: My post is about Toronto, not St Catherines (quite beautiful) or Markham (I heard there’s good food) or any other surrounding area.
    I moved from downtown Vancouver to downtown Toronto feeling very excited with high expectations. I thought I was really going to like Toronto, and I tried for a year, but it’s just not for me. I have since moved back to Vancouver, and I will never go to Toronto again.

    In Vancouver, it is fun and relaxing to just walk around downtown. The environment is clean, air is always clean and crisp, architecture and landscape are interesting and beautiful, and the whole west coast vibe (healthy living, laid-back attitude, appreciation for nature) is very enjoyable. If I want to go hiking or skiing or do any other mountain activity, it is just a 30min drive away. Beaches are all around, and so is amazing and healthy food.
    In Toronto, most downtown streets are dirty, decrepit, and a little smelly. I don’t enjoy walking around downtown at all. To get any type of nature activity comparable to BC, I’d have to drive (and be stuck in traffic) for a couple of hours in all directions. I did go visit most Toronto neighborhoods, and I did visit most attractions listed on TripAdvisor and from internet searches to see what I was missing in Toronto. I have traveled the world extensively all my life and lived outside North America, and most things I’ve seen in Toronto are just underwhelming. I have to agree with Jeff that most Toronto activities Luke listed are pretty boring. World class? Only if your world is Ontario.
    I will say I love the underground path. It is one of the only developments in Toronto that is unique and modern.

    What I don’t understand is the occasional stereotypical Torontonian I meet who has never lived anywhere other than Toronto but fiercely defend their city, telling me everything Toronto is the best (I’ve had a Torontonian tell me that Toronto is superior to NYC, Montreal, and Vancouver but he has never lived outside Toronto). It’s like they have no curiosity or the capacity to think there may be some other place out there that could be more interesting. So, if you’ve never lived anywhere other than Toronto, or if you are an immigrant who came from an underdeveloped country, or if you are content eating and drinking all day, then Toronto would seem great to you. Otherwise, the city is anything but inspiring (and yes, I do believe our environment should inspire us!).

  22. samson

    I was born and raised here in Toronto. I work for an airline and get to travel, there is seriously something wrong in this city and its people. how is it that everyone who visits says the same. lets face it and put down your stupid mocha lattes people. TORONTO SUCKS. this is GOSPEL and hes giving you facts and actual reasons.

  23. Kristin

    I totally agree with this. I’m from just outside of Toronto and the city has never sparked anything in me. I’ve been lucky enough to have also lived in Paris, Montreal and London and all I can say is that Toronto just doesn’t have the same heart beat as these cities. It’s boring as hell.

  24. Maggie

    Could not agree with you more Matt. I was born in Toronto, Ontario and can’t wait to leave. While I was growing up I always thought Canada was a great place to live and back then it truly was. Now thanks to mass immigration it has become one of the most over crowded, congested and least friendly places to live. Every square inch of land is being destroyed and no once seems to care. Not surprising to me at all that it was ranked the 2nd unhappiest places to live in Canada.

  25. Ivan

    Wow Matt! I’ve found your post because I have the same feelings about this city and you are totally right. I moved here for work a month ago and I’m still thinking that I made the biggest mistake of my life. Okay, one should say that it takes time to adjust but … today I still feel the same way I felt the first day! You say it may be a nice city to live and not to visit; to be honest, in my heart, I cannot wait to get the hell outta here, just the idea of having to stay for another 2 years well … it drives me nuts!
    I loved most places I’ve been, I now appreciate my origin country (Italy) MUCH MORE!
    This city is full of nice play-it-safe people but frankly it has no electricity, no uniqueness, the neighborhoods may be nice but good luck to find out how to explore them if you have no car and leave outside the “downtown” (!!! c’mon!!!) area (because it’s downright shitty expensive too).
    I really feel like I should send this job to hell and get my life back soon.
    I don’t want to be BORING!

  26. Malcolm

    I agree

    I spent six months living in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires (south America’s largest cities).

    To go from the color, character, chaos, diversity and LIFE that is to be in Buenos Aires and Rio…. to the cleanliness, suburban like, glass towers no character that is Toronto it’s a real mind fuck.

    I absolutely HATED Toronto!!!! It’s one of the least interesting, fun, colorful cities I’ve ever experienced. The worst is that like London it tries too hard to be cool and with character!!! (BUT THEY ALWAYS FAIL AT IT)

    • Harry Schultze

      I agree with you totally. I am from Europe and I have lived all over the world I found that Toronto is the most pretentious full of itself place that I have ever been. It was horrible living there. And to have to pay through the nose for the privilege is disgusting. If it were not for the fact that the woman I loved was there at that time I would never have stayed there.

  27. David Stein

    I was born and raised in Vancouver, and if you find it at all interesting for any reason other than a few clear days when you can see its stunted mountains, you are just another mentally stunted American millennial, and I’m glad you’re not returning. I have lived in Toronto for over forty years, and have NEVER wanted to live in another North American city. It is obvious why you chose to spend your life in commerce.

  28. Alex

    I have lived in Toronto for 7 years, going to University of Toronto for graduate school.

    One thing I can say about Toronto is that it is obsessed with itself without any substance to back it up. It thinks that if it keeps telling itself it is great without any work or effort, then it must be great. It is as if the people in this city have their fingers in their ears, eyes closed and yelling “We are great!!, We are world class”. You hear it all the time. The mayor, the newspapers, the local media. They run propaganda campaigns everyday telling people how “lucky” they are to live in this great city. And after a while you get brainwashed people like Luke above.

    If you DARE to even talk about IMPROVEMENTS this city could make, you will get slapped by idiots that have never traveled in their life. It is as if you are under a dictatorship. People will vehemently claim that it is a great world class city for no reason other than it must be!.

    So now that you have the mental picture, let me run you down on the top reasons this city is in fact a dump

    1. Subway system:

    The damn subway system is 3 lines!!! it is a skeleton that is simply not enough for the size of the city. They should have expanded this long time ago but nope, WE ARE #1 – subway is great amazing – stfu

    2. Roads:
    You have to have pieces of concrete falling off the gardiner to people to even accept that roads on in horrid condition. Before that though WE ARE #1, stfu. Don’t like it leave.

    3. Social Life/ Dating

    People here are antisocial and it essentially starts and ends with the women in this city. Women consider men to be rapists unless proven otherwise. Meeting in the bar or street is a huge no-no here. Toronto “nightlife” consists of group of women dancing together and men looking 0n, Romance doesn’t exist. People don’t look each other in the eye when they walk in the street. The internet is actually the only acceptable place to meet people.

    Mention this to the lovely women of this city and you will get the “don’t like it leave” or “no one owes you a smile”. Just Luke above, people don’t get “it”. Yes no one owes me a smile but this makes the city a shithole lonley anti-social place – do you get it now Luke?

    4. Universities:

    Universities here are not anywhere close to “world-class” . U of T has posters posted all over it’s campus calling itself place of “boundless innovation” but take it from someone whose been there, it’s boundless bullshit. Just like Toronto, they think if they keep saying something then it must be true. In reality, they sorely lack resources, have dinosaur professors who don’t give a damn and rake in $200K salaries on back of student whose tuition rises every year to pay these salaries.

    5. Housing/cost of living

    I guess this is one area where Toronto actually compares with world class cities.
    The housing in this city is ridiculous. Shithole houses in Annex going for $2 million? really? Housing prices increasing 20% per year? Condos starting at $400K for a box in the air? Really? People think about this for a second.

    No one starting out can afford these ridiculous prices. Renting is not much better. So I guess if you are rich, then this will never hit home but this city is very expensive to live in. Young people starting out have no chance of getting a house or condo without paying for it till they are 90. It is fine if you are living in a world class city, but for this shithole? Never.

    Anyways, good luck to all Torontonians defending their city. As for me, I will be leaving the shithole first chance I get. There is a saying here and it goes somthing like this. There are two types of people in Toronto. People who hate it, and people who are in denial of hating it 😀

    • Harry Schultze

      Brother you nailed it on the head! I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s been this way for over 20 years. My advice to you get out of the city never go back never look back. Good luck to you.

    • Chris T

      You 100% nailed it. Especially the social life. My wife is from Thailand and we both lived the past 6 years in Chicago. We expected people here to be friendly. Yet, we (and especially she) has experienced the opposite. She is convinced its the women, who are the LEAST kind in the world. We both make a fair living but have NO idea what we would do with more money if we made it, except travel! That’s all we want to do when we’re living here: save enough $ to get out! There is literally NOTHING fun here. In Chicago, NYC, Bangkok, you get a big paycheck and you head out for world class food in a social environment. You can dance. In world class cities there is a buzz in the streets. Toronto is buzzing with safety and mediocrity.

  29. Gangsta 4 Life

    Toronto is not a good city because too many snobby people inflate the house prices. This causes many young men to resort to crime to survive in Toronto. Carding is also a huge issue in the low-income communities because the police allow their pales to harass random black men on the street. You will hardly hear this on the news because Torontonians tend to ignore the social ills the city.

  30. Harry Schultze

    Toronto has not been a decent tourist destination since 1995. I know I was there. Since then it has changed overnight. The people are rude the place is terrible it’s incredibly overpriced. I can’t believe people are still discussing this. It’s been a well-known fact for a very long time that Toronto as a tourist destination completely sucks! I mean it’s like ancient history, deal with it.

  31. Eugene

    Toronto is a strange place. When I first came here for several days to visit a friend, I felt no life at this city. There were many people, yes, but no vibe, no identity.

    From a tourist point of view Toronto is just a generic and dull North American city without any significant attractions or landmarks. There are so many better places to visit, so don’t waste your time to visit it.

    However, I believe the healthy social atmosphere is one of the most important things for living. Indeed, while all the tourist attractions and landmarks are nice to have (and important for tourists), they are much less important for residents. I am not going to visit the same museum every month… I prefer to live in a city without landmarks and attractions, but having great social dynamics rather than in a city full of attractions, but without a life and soul.

    I moved to Toronto about a year ago after living several years in Bangkok. Well, the difference in social life is really shocking. Toronto reminds me the transit zone in a big international airport – lots of people having nothing in common hurrying up somewhere. People are very cliquish, cold and self absorbed. Constant rat race around…

    Dating scene? It is just abysmal – while there are more women than men living in Toronto, almost any venue here is a “sausage fest”. Online dating sites – 20 men per every women, pubs and night clubs – 10 men per every women, salsa dancing – 3 men per every women. It is just so dysfunctional. Unless you are going to seriously lower your standards, dating a decent girl in Toronto is a Holy Grail quest. And it should not be so.

    So many people in Toronto are drinking or smoking weed because of the lack of social life and dating. Many are leaving to never come back. People who were born / raised here are probably in a better shape, since they can be a part of some social circles (from school and college) and also can’t compare life in Toronto with other places. But if you are moving here as an adult, you might struggle. Especially single men.

    I have a great work here, but the lack of social life and dating makes this city (and, perhaps, the country as well) unlivable. I am planning to leave…

  32. Ivan

    Hi Eugene,
    I’ve decided I will have to take the courage to resign and exit from my relocation next week. The 6 month “trial “period has passed and, despite I made valuable friends and work with nice people, I must move on for my own sake. Toronto is not for me either. But I thank the city for opening my eyes about a wrong career path I could not see before; in fact, doing a crap job in a city with no spark is finally changing me for good. For the BETTER!!!

  33. Ivan

    Hi Eugene,
    I’ve decided I will have to take the courage to resign and exit from my relocation program next week. The 6 month “trial “period has passed and, despite I made valuable friends and work with nice people, I must move on for my own sake. Toronto is not for me either. But I thank the city for opening my eyes about a wrong career path I could not see before; in fact, doing a crap job in a city with no spark is finally changing me for good. For the BETTER!!!

    • Eugene

      Hi Ivan,

      You are doing the right thing. Follow your heart. Find the place you like and settle there. Living in Toronto (and in Canada overall) is a one big compromise. It is like playing safe. Marriage without love.

  34. Neleh

    And the people are boring as hell…completely charmless, undistinctive in dress and demeanor and pathetically cold and guarded.

  35. Alex

    To give you some more ideas of how pathetic this city is, here is a few examples regarding transportation and parking that give a glimpse of how backwards this city is and how slow it is to catch up with the time. Yet it keeps pretending to be world class !

    Don’t know if people remember, but before John Tory became mayor the subway stations *ONLY* accepted cash. That’s right, if you want to buy a token to get onto the subway ONLY cash will do. And no bank machines anywhere in the subway station. Huge inconvenice. Anyways, John Tory finally came along and implemented credit/debit card system in 2014 to great fanfare. To be fair, John Tory didn’t claim it was a great achievement, he actually bemoaned how backwards Toronto is. But it gives you an idea of how ridiculous and conceited this city is. You have to wait till 2014 for this city to get behind the technology of paying with credit cards!

    Roll over to 2016, and the city finally creates a parking app. The app itself is nothing special but before this, if you had to pay for parking, you have the archaic system of coins (credit card) at a machine. Let’s say I’m at a meeting and running late so I need an extra 10 minutes. You have to somehow leave and come down to the parking spot, buy a new ticket and place it on your dashboard. Never mind the fact that your new ticket may overlap with your old ticket time. Given how active Toronto parking enforcement is, this was a huge inconvenience.

    John Tory actually had a news conference over this accomplishment. He rolled in with his car and paid his parking with the new app with news camera’s taking pictures/video!

    Now idiots like Luke above will be like “what’s the problem”, look how progressive we are. The problem is that such systems have been in place for ages in other cities. Head to Montreal and you’ll see the system there. All parking spots have a number. You need more time, you just buy more time on your phone, extra minute whatever. This has been in place for over a decade. In Toronto, you have to wait till 2016 for this system to be implemented. But apparently this is a world class city :/

    Small examples above, but again, point is that this city is always well well behind in innovation and ways to make things better for it’s citizens. It finds that it is cheaper to PRETEND that you are world class rather than try to be. Pathetic.


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