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All Mixed Up: Toronto is the mixed-marriage capital of Canada

How our city is proof that if a post-racial society is possible, it will begin in the bedroom

(Image: Asaf Hanuka)

This fall, my husband and I will mark the 34th anniversary of our Chinese-Jewish marriage. Back in 1976, some folks (OK, my parents) fretted it would never last. “Think of the kids! Neither side will accept them,” my mother warned. It took 14 years—and the birth of our first child—before she quit running in hysterics from her house whenever my husband dropped by. (I’m not kidding.)

Yet in 2010, not only am I still married, with two fairly acceptable sons, I find myself living in the mixed-marriage capital of Canada. Toronto famously blazed the way for same-sex marriage. Today, it turns out to be a Petri dish for innovative people combos. According to the latest Statistics Canada data, nearly twice as many Toronto couples are in mixed marriages, legal and common law, as the rest of Canadians, 7.1 per cent versus 3.9 per cent. That number covers all existing unions, including dusty old ones like mine.

The much more impressive stat is how many young visible minorities are marrying outside their tribes. In what the census bureau calls the Metropolitan Area of Toronto (which includes Pickering and Ajax to the east, Milton and Oakville to the west, and Georgina on the shores of Lake Simcoe to the north), 45 per cent of second-generation immigrants who are married or living common law are doing so with someone of a different race or ethnicity. By the third generation, it spikes to a stunning 68 per cent.

The next time a wedding motorcade honks at you, check out the newlyweds: more often than not, the happy couple will be crossing ethnic boundaries. Until now, Toronto’s diversity has been viewed in terms of silos: a Chinatown here, a Tamil enclave there. But true diversity occurs when we interact—and there’s nothing more interactive than sex.

Our city is so blasé about racial mixing and matching that no one bothered commenting on the ethnicity of Adam Giam­brone’s side dish. Was the secret girlfriend who met him for trysts on his city hall couch Filipino? South American? Who cares? The only time the “R” word was mentioned was in this context: Giambrone exits mayoral race.

Toronto has more couples in mixed unions than anywhere else in the country. Looking at the latest stats, I have to pinch myself.

I was born in Montreal more than half a century ago, and at the time it was Canada’s most cosmopolitan city. How cosmopolitan? Let’s put it this way: I was the one and only vis min in my church choir. At Montreal West High, a public Anglo school, there were just three non-WASPs in my entire grade: a black girl, a Jewish boy and myself. As my graduation prom neared, my mother began pressuring me to go with a nice Chinese boy. Alas, there weren’t any in the vicinity, nice or otherwise.

  • krita

    Inter-racial mixing is common in Urban areas.

    Older white women are threatened by interracial mixing because it limits their ability to date.

    if you had to choose between a slim elegant chinese woman and an older white matron who would you choose?

  • Terrence

    Great article! I’ve noticed a lot of these trends develop over the past few years myself. I agree with most of your comments and find that the change of demographics to be exciting and advantageous to Toronto as the world itself is mixing at the same time. The boundaries your boys have set for themselves is a perfect example of this.

    However, one note. Your belief about new arrivals clinging to the past, hijab and ceremonial dagger. Since it is a belief, I would highly disagree. Many new arrivals do come burdened with the past, not all. But the hijab, ceremonial dagger and inter-religious are not “Old World” values. They are either tradition or religion. Attending Sunday Service isn’t an “Old World” value is it? Their traditions are different and that is that. I attend Service, my wife goes to the Mosque. Co-existance is possible and the discouragement against mixed marriages, well THAT is an “Old World” value.

  • white woman

    Krita, your racist comment is, well, racist – pure stereotype, not fact.
    Editors, surely it warrants deletion!

  • andrew

    I feel Krita’s comment is more perplexing that truly racist. What can it possibly mean?

  • Grace

    Hi Grace,

    Did you see this already? See page 2, RBC’s diversity dialogues programme. Thought you might find that interesting from a settlement perspective…

    Zee

  • Lin

    Hey Lin,

    Read Jan Wong’s latest article re: mixed race marriages. I read a couple of sentences for Brent…

    Zee

  • J

    This is a lovely love letter to Toronto. And yes! One of the things I loved about returning to Toronto after multiple years abroad was riding the subway and seeing all of the mixed race couples.

  • krita

    Today, Chinese middle class women are slimmer, wealthier(business minded) and younger than white middle class women.

    I am not being racist. I am merely saying that adding young beautiful, rich Asian women to the dating mix puts
    “older white women” at a disadvantage.

  • pepper

    Krita, I’d be interested in viewing your statistical analysis that supports your ludicris comments.
    Not only are you suggesting all older white women are matronly, you’re also suggesting that only slim women are attractive. I think you’ve been reading one too many fashion magazines.

  • Caitie

    Krita,

    It is disappointing that you decided to take what is a very positive and hopeful article about race in Toronto and mark it with something so mean-spirited.

    You say it’s not racist, to refer to Asian women as “slimmer, wealthier and younger”, and white women as “matron”-ly. I say it is and helps in NO WAY to promote racial harmony in our beautiful city. We should be celebrating the fact that we get so much diversity and choice when it comes to dating.

    Besides, who says “older white women” are at a disadvantage? Isn’t Toronto also the Cougar capital of Canada?

  • krita

    I am being neither mean-spirited or racist. I am saying that older white women are uncomfortable with Inter-racial dating because it shrinks the dating pool.

    This article has an apologetic tone towards Asians.
    Colonialism is over and the Asians no longer need to apologize. Asian women are not nannies.

    Chinese women are beautiful and accomplished.

    Only 14 women in the world have earned their own 10-figure fortunes, and half of them are chinese! (forbes magazine).

  • Fantomex

    I agree with Krita, and I don’t think that she’s being a racist, at least not like most people when they talk about people of color. She’s simply stating a truth (possibly.)

  • JFK

    Someone has trouble with math

    “The next time a wedding motorcade honks at you, check out the newlyweds: more often than not, the happy couple will be crossing ethnic boundaries.”

    More often than not? If the total number is less than 8 per cent, it’s pretty unlikely that our marriages are interracial “more often than not.” Puleeeez

  • Jimmy

    “They cling to the hijab or the ceremonial dagger…”

    Seriously, are you stupid?

  • Carlese

    The overwhelming majority of the couples are chinese women and white men. I think this speaks more to the self hatred of the chinese women and the fetish of the white men. It’s a perfect match made from colonization and porn.

  • ayad sam

    hi my dear i am seeking a woman for marriage between 44-55 please i am in toronto
    thanks so much

  • anu forever

    ok ayad sam
    lets do marriage ok

  • Jocy Espiritu-Christensen

    Having married a Canadian who is 25 years my senior has been a blessing. I have merged well into his family as he has to mine. Being a Filipina, and considering that my husband is a post heart transplant 17 years now, I am able to care for him and at the same time motivate him to stay healthy and strong even at 76. Well, his heart is only 50 years old and am 51. He was widowed in 2004, he was bent on marrying a Filipina because of the caring we Filipinas can give. Likewise, after a failed marriage with a Filipino, I decided a Filipino will not suit me too. My husband and I are now into our 2nd year of marriage and he says am not the “typical Filipina.”

  • TdotHunk

    I recently moved to Toronto, In my neighborhood whr I live it’s mostly asian and white. Some sundays I sit on my patio and watch ppl passing by. I see as the dawn sets in white men/asian women gently stroll by. Group of white women walk their ‘dogs’ out with cheerfully chatting with their female(white) frds. And asian men sit (with a cigarrate), relax and enjoy the summer evening. As asian economy continue to grow leaps and bounds Canada wont have any choice but to immigrate asians. So how long we will be seeing asian men and white women staying alone thats a big question??

  • asia

    Asian men are never alone. they always have family.

  • velma demerson

    Prior to the arrival of Chinese families many relationships and marriages existed between Chinese and white women. These alliances were severed with the arrival of Chinese wives and children. A new era of respectability for Chinese men emerged. How many mixed-race children wound up under the Children’s Aid without assistance from their Chinese fathers, the mothers unable to obtain employment in a racist society? These children now middle-aged still exist and are unrecognized by the Chinese community.

  • mohan

    I have to agree with Krita.
    Sorry but unfortunately caucasian ladies in the GTA feel threatened and basically fed up with not only women of color but all colored people.
    I have lived in the US mid-west and have not felt or seen the rude glares I have experienced in my short stay here.
    Sorry.

  • Jen

    I’m a black girl and my soon-to-be live-in boyfriend is white. I love being in an interracial relationship, I honestly think we’re the luckiest ones:)

  • cute

    Krita seems like the typical self hating asian, It must suck being an asian women and to know that most white men will always prefer white women over you as much u hate it.

    You just need to see statistics what’s the percentage of white men with white women and then the percent with asian women? lol Very high with white women and very low with asian women.

    btw this only proves asian women are the most self-hating of all other races.

  • Katie

    I totally agree with Carlese. Most of this interracial “marriage” you see in Toronto (it’s mostly dating, to behonest….very few of these actually progress into marriage) is between *surprise surprise* white men and Asian women. This is match between the most privileged member of human society (the white male) and the historically most DISadvantaged and devalued (the Asian woman). How is this a celebratory event, when all it looks like to me is a flagrant continuation of age-old colonial feelings of racial supremacy? How ironic that this article is written by a Chinese woman married to a white male. Why don’t we ever see articles celebrating Asian males with African-American women? Why are South-Asians totally ignored in all these Toronto-centric discussions of interracial marriage? I think these issues are racist in themselves, and the white male-Asian female match is cliche and steeped in post-colonial racist sentiments that we should criticize more openly, rather than celebrate.

  • ajayis4u

    I am seeking a White/Caucasian blonde girl blue/green eyes as a soul mate ages 23-30 yrs old.I am a South Asian Male, wheatish skin,live in Alberta rated 8/10 by woman 5’10″ 180 lbs athletic.Can’t find a girl of my choice, too many white guys here,so I thought if there is any one that is looking in Toronto or any other place to get back to me.

    juicetogo25@live.com

 

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