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Michelle Dean: I ♥ N.Y. (Not T.O.)

I Love N.Y. (Not T.O.)

(Jack Dylan)

Dear Toronto: I’d like to say that it’s me, not you, but I’d be lying. It is you. You have no passion, no ambition. You elected Rob Ford! I’m leaving you for another city

About a year ago, in what felt like defeat, I moved to Toronto. I was looking to overhaul (some might say “ditch”) my career. I’d spent five years in New York as a corporate attorney, warring with myself from the get-go over whether I could stay in a city that I loved on employment terms I despised. When I was finally laid off and I decided to leave practice altogether, Toronto was the obvious choice for a crash landing. Though I’d never lived there, I had a lot of friends in the city, there were cultural events aplenty, and rents seemed shockingly cheap after Brooklyn and Manhattan. Maybe, I thought, I’d been crazy to stay away.

Still, by the time you read this I’ll have left to go back to New York. And of course it’s unfair to hold a rebound relationship up to the glow of the love affair that preceded it. And of course I have reasons for leaving that have very little to do with Toronto qua Toronto. I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t, in some sense, actively and consciously rejecting the city itself.

Certain Toronto friends have been defensive about that, asking me if I really thought things were so bad here. “You expected too much of Toronto,” said one, with a bitterness that surprised me. I’ve come to think she was right, though not in the way she meant. What I expected of Toronto was for it to expect something of itself. But this isn’t that kind of town.

I want to get something out of the way first: it was never about the money. So often, these city versus city essays gauge quality by material assets. But as we are not children comparing marble collections, I’m not here to tell you that the difference is that New York has a MoMA and Toronto only has an AGO, or that New York has Balthazar and Babbo and Momofuku and you don’t. For one thing, I hear you’re getting a Momofuku. For another, not once in my 11 months here have I thought: you know, what this place needs is better access to overpriced ramen.

No, my issue is anti-material in nature, so much so that you’ll probably think me a New Age crank. I’ll put it this way: Toronto is not a city for the world’s starry-eyed dreamers. It’s one resigned to the demands of practicality. Maybe it’s just a concentrated version of Canada itself, which is, on the whole, an unromantic, sober sort of country. Our collective nationality is best symbolized by universal health care, a prosaic sacred cow if ever there was one. But it’s more than that: Toronto has always been at greater pains to capture national and international hearts than Montreal or even Vancouver. And my sense is that Toronto doesn’t particularly mind being known for its lack of passion—which to me is just as bad as its historic inability to inspire it.

Yes, it’s true that around the time David Miller was elected, a wave of unabashed Toronto Cool began to build, revolving around The Drake and The Gladstone and Trampoline Hall and the mainstream success of any number of Arts and Crafts musicians. But that tide has receded now, which perhaps just goes to show that these things can’t be accomplished by fiat.

And even that renaissance had its infuriating elements, revealing a palpable and off-putting self-doubt. Leaf through the anthology uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto, which sought to capture the civic pride of the day in a series of essays, and you’ll discover that the most soaring aspiration its authors could muster was to make Toronto “livable.” Imagine your reaction if your lover called you that.

Livability does have a pleasant social science ring to it, emerging as it does from those silly city rankings put out by The Economist and innumerable consulting firms as a publicity exercise. And far be it from me to suggest that a “nice place to live” is always the wrong goal to have. But good God in heaven, why is it the only visible element of Toronto’s soul?

  • danielle


  • horizoncarrie

    Why must ppl compare TO to NYC all the time. We are not the same nor will ever be. If you want NYC charm/life stay there, go there.

  • Adam

    I’ve heard a few people complain about Toronto in these terms, but mostly they turned out to be the kind of people who were waiting for others to be interesting. Rarely are they the ones adding to that sense of romance that, yes, needs some work.

    But the point is, people *are* working on it.

    Toronto isn’t the backwater Michelle Dean is making it out to be, but it once was. It’s not New York and never could be (too small, wrong country). It’s something else, and it does have a will to self-improvement that she hints at but somehow doesn’t find exciting — but people who participate in Toronto’s self-directed renaissance never complain about the place in these terms because they’re too busy, you know, doing stuff.

    This idea that “Toronto” aspires to be middlebrow is interesting. Who is doing this aspiring? There are millions of people, all with different agendas.

    Toronto, in short, is a great place to be a dreamer, because most of its dreams have yet to be realized. And you can really do a lot if you have the ambition. Plenty of like-minded people will support you.

    On the other hand, it’s not such a great place for a complainer. Because there are things to complain about (e.g., transit), and if all you want to do is complain you’ll find your prejudice confirmed.

  • ks

    As a Toronto native who has been living in Manhattan for the last decade, this article highlights the maddening attitude so often displayed by people who have lived in NYC for any period of time.

    As Adam has correctly pointed out, Michelle Dean is content to sit back and castigate Toronto for its inability to be more interesting/exciting than it is while letting others do the heavy lifting in spearheading any sort of change. Comparing a city like Toronto to NYC with one-tenth of the population and a shorter history is, in itself, asinine. Would anyone ever consider a comparison of a city with 300K inhabitants to Toronto to be an apt one? Of course not, but Dean asks us to do so here.

    It strikes me that Dean suffers from the same insecurities that plauge so many other Manhattanites – she seeks validation from the city in which she lives and the ability to tell others she lives there. In short, Toronto isn’t good enough because none of the cool kids know about it.

    As for me, I have grown weary of the superficial bullsh*t of this town and plan to move back to Toronto in a year or two. Michelle, you are free to move to my apartment. It’s close to the MET and on the same block as Michael J. Fox’s so you can feel even more validated.


    Oh boy, this is what Michelle Dean thinks. Michelle Dean! lol who the hell…

  • Socrates Gheewalla


    what a glorious and perceptive piece. as a recent nyc exile myself, feel in your words an exquisite catharsis and the comfort of a stranger’s empathy. i have struggled for months to explain to friends exactly what it is that toronto lacks, and have ended always by tracing the contours of an elusive and absent spirit and the oppressive air of mediocre complacency. your words capture these blunt, perhaps willfully inchoate, thoughts with a liberating precision.

    i would add only inauthenticity as the celery to this broth. one would not impugn halifax or ottawa or thunder bay for an arguably endemic dearth of vision or passion (vis-a-vis new york or london or buenos aires or dubai or sydney). but toronto pleads to be a world city and then–with a blend of middle-aged resignation, elderly intransigence, and juvenile stroppery–refuses to aspire.

  • Adam

    Thank you ks.

    For anyone who finds my earlier comment too long to read, I’ll sum it up: Let the haters hate while the doers do. Toronto is a work in progress. Imaginative people find that exciting.

    Having lived many years in Toronto I recently moved to a smaller Canadian city. I find many things lacking here. If I were in a certain mood I could write precisely the things about this city that Michelle Dean writes about Toronto. But that’s the wrong attitude. The right attitude is, “How can I help?”

  • David M

    Perhaps Michelle should move to Port Hope. (In case she hasn’t been reading Toronto Life recently, Port Hope is a suburb of Toronto where everybody, but everybody! is moving because it’s eleventy-billion times better and cheaper.)

  • PiccadillyLineToCockfosters

    Dean names the perduring affliction: complacency with mediocrity. There exists an esoteric machinery in Toronto that elevates mediocrity and strangles talent. The city once had a mayor – Mayor Miller – with ambition, intelligence, and vision. Toronto proved itself unworthy of him.

  • Jordan B

    This bitch is mean! I love this city :)

  • BB

    Toronto is a city of so much unrealized potential; so much that hasn’t been imagined or attempted. As a true dreamer, is that not exciting?

  • Melissa

    Michelle Dean is right on (I’m a fan of her tumblr and writing).

    As a mid-tier city, I always wonder why Toronto can’t be as cool as Chicago or Stockholm…I believe that the reason is not mediocrity, but yeah, complacency. Even Montreal is 100% cooler than TO.

    There is a lot of brilliance in Toronto, in the Arts, Medicine, and Business (but not so much technology heh)and I find the great minds in Toronto choose to either stay and bask in local celebrity (while being irrelevant elsewhere) or take flight from Toronto, find fame and fortune while cutting most ties with the city. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to develop international notoriety while remaining here, but it sucks that that’s the way it is and so many people have to leave to take their careers to the next level.

    Perhaps it comes down to government and societal support. The government offers meager grants and society for the most part, sneers at the attempts of people to “make it” outside the city and offer little support. Perhaps because the pie is already so small to begin with. For example, in the literary world, Toronto/Canada can really only afford ONE Margaret Atwood and ONE Michael Ondaatje.

    It all seems like such a vicious cycle.

    Anyway, As someone who’s had the privilege of living in a couple different major cities, I can say that Toronto is a great place for dreams and people just starting out – like the minor leagues, or a farm team. But I know that soon I’ll be ready to make the jump to the big leagues, and it’s become quite clear that I can’t stay here to accomplish that. It’s too bad.

  • Charlie

    Great article.

    I think Michelle Dean captures Toronto well. We are safe, predictable, middle of the road. Polite, but not too polite so as to be too familiar and offend.

    Yet, invariably we’re offended when someone suggests this is our personality.

    I think, too, we are filled with self-doubt. As much as we may not want to be NYC, secretly we want its approval – how can you explain the reason for this article to exist in Toronto Life, who also, incidentally, has an article about how the New Yorker looked at Toronto’s cash for Gold program.

    Tell us NYC who we are!

    Still need proof? Go to Waterfront Toronto’s website, which explains how these new developments will win us approval from the world, and finally, maybe finally we can be a world-class city!

    I mean, it’s like listening to an old Looney Tunes cartoon with the little dog jumping over the big dog, saying “yeah, Spike. Whatever you want Spike”.

    Yet, it’s not for lack of trying that seems to be the issue. There’s tons of great ideas (ferris wheels notwithstanding) to improve the city (Gardiner expressway change, Waterfront improvement, subways, better transit). But they all seem to get mired in development pains.

    And yes, you might say, well it takes time to develop. Sure, it does. Of course it does. But I think it comes down to a simple point: if we wanted these things to happen we would make it a priority rather than excuses for why not.

    And that’s it really – we seem to want to impress the world, and ask it to give us all these platitudes and titles (Canada’s most livable city. World-class attractions etc.) but are our hearts in it?

    I agree with Michelle Dean, when she says we opt for comfort instead. In our heart of hearts we’d rather be comfortable, which invariably means things will get developed in a muddling, protracted way.

    So, I think it comes down to what we want. We’ve got the brainpower. But what about the will?

    To go back to the Looney Tunes reference (high culture, I know) – by the end of the cartoon the little, insecure, hero-worshipping dog had gotten over is infatuation with the big dog and come into his own.

    Why can’t Toronto do the same?

  • MB

    So what’s the point of this poorly thought out piece of esoteric vanity? NYC is better than Toronto because it “is”? Because you’re too good for it? Because other cities are more famous? What?!? I assure you, there are tons of ambitious people in this city – there’s just a lot less of them than in NYC because, well, they have about 6 million more people than we do. Toronto is what you make it – it can be as exciting, or as boring, as you choose. Also, the irony of a laid off corporate attorney complaining about a city’s lack of ambition is particularly delightful. Since the city seems to be lacking the “right” type of faux intelligentsia such as yourself, I hope you’re happy being another stuck-up New York transplant. I’ll stay right here, thanks.

  • Little Fury

    I can only imagine the kind of privilege one must be steeped in to leave a city on the grounds of a lack of “mythos” and “romance,” as opposed to the real world concerns that dictate where the rest of us live and work.

  • KT

    You’re right Michelle. In NYC they would never let this garbage to be published. But in practical, boring Toronto we let writing like this see the light of day. We should be striving for better.

    Something tells me you aren’t one of those contributing to the energy & creativity of NYC. If you were a true visionary and ‘starry eyed dreamer’ you would find potential in Toronto or anyplace you live. Instead you are the very definition of ‘a follower’.

  • Sparky

    Honey, if this is the zenith of your powers of insight, you won’t make it NYC either.

    Btw, doesn’t that uTOpia book have a chapter about bike tubes in the sky and stuff? Read the book next time, not just the back cover

    Ah, but here I am feeding the troll

  • Ralph Haygood

    It’s pretty damn rich to complain about Rob Ford and Stephen Harper while extolling the city that elected Rudolph Giuliani in the country that elected George W. Bush.

  • MH

    I died of boredom halfway through this article. Yet, somehow my ghostly hands are typing this comment. OOOooooOOOOOOooo!

  • palinode

    Torontonians lost all bragging rights after Rob Ford. The end.

  • Not a lawyer

    Wow as a Torontonian who has been living in NY for 5 years myself, and who LOVES NY, I must say you look at NY from a plateau of privilege. Something I do as well…but I at least acknowledge it. It’s easy to say it’s not about money when…well when you lived as a corporate lawyer. I have been in NY as a business consultant, a student, and now a non-profit worker and I realize that my experience of New York is only because I am in the top x% of people who live there. I’m not amongst those that actually get pushed further and further out into the middle of nowhere squishing children and an entire family into a tiny room trying desperately to get some sort of income…any income. And as someone who was recently sick and has had to navigate healthcare bills…the sudden appeal of returning to Toronto isn’t for “comfort”, it’s for basic necessities – health and shelter. From the perspective of a lawyer (who *chose* to leave practice), I’m sure it seems much different. I agree with everything that you’ve described of New York, but I realize that I get to feel that way about New York because of the relative position of privilege I occupy in the city (despite earning a meagre nonprofit salary…at least it’s a salary!)

  • Ben Harris

    Oops, Someone got old!

  • L

    Amazing article.

    These comments are so predictably Torontian.

  • Michelle Dean

    Just a quick note on the notion of privilege: absolutely, 100%. It is stunningly impractical from the standard of affording necessities to move to New York, and in fact I often wonder if I am an absolute fool to return to the States. I fully admit the possibility that I am; clearly more than a few of you have drawn that conclusion!

  • Missing NYC

    I can’t agree with the sentiments more. Having returned to Toronto from life in New York, cheap rents and “clean air” do not compare to the magic of a city that has the best of all, including people that are on the cutting edge of all they do and always striving for and demanding the best. Toronto is nice – and would be a lot more tolerable if Torontonians acknowledged (and even did something about..) how much this city lacks!
    30 Rock said it best…”Toronto is like New York, but without all the stuff”.

  • KT

    Try living in London or Paris (comparable cities by population) and you’ll see NYC isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not even close.

  • bornandbred

    Individuals (like the author) who hold this view of Toronto are clearly not from here and make no effort to understand the local culture.

  • Adam

    “New York has the best of everything.”
    “How do you know it’s the best?”
    “Because it’s in New York.”

    — Talking with North Americans with experience of one really big city (NYC) and no others

  • Chuvalo

    Steve Albini recently put into capsule exactly how I now will forever think of this lepton named Michelle Dean :

    “New York has a couple of characteristics that are undeniable and one of those is that it’s a magnet for assholes who couldn’t get any attention at home and decided that the problem wasn’t that they weren’t interesting but that there were all these squares around them in Dubuque or whatever and they need to go to some big cosmopolitan city like New York where people will appreciate them.

    So if you can imagine that scenario playing out within every city in North America and every one of those assholes with an opinion slightly outreaching his ability getting on a fucking Greyhound. You end up with a pretty good description of what’s annoying about New York; it’s that it’s full of people whose self-image just ever-so-slightly outstrips their ability.

    I studied painting in college under Ed Paschke, who is dead now, he was a brilliant, brilliant educator. He was one of the only people in college who actually taught me anything… He was one of the few people that actually taught me anything. Of being in New York, he described it as the “catch-all of runners up.” And I think that’s probably what annoys me about New York when I’m annoyed by it. Whatever they’re doing at the moment, that’s not really them, in their minds. Like, I’m working in this bookstore but I’m not a bookstore clerk, I’m a writer. Or like, I’m working in the restaurant but I’m not a waiter, I’m an actor. There are all these people who are not the thing that they are doing at the moment and therefore feel demeaned by every second of their existence. And the chip on New York’s shoulder is the thing that keeps everything on the ground there. It’s the massive weight that causes all of the gravity that happens in New York.”

  • Moi

    I think the underlying issue here is that so many people see the incredible potential of Toronto (and rightly so) but the majority of Torontonians are satisfied with mediocrity. It’s a shame that our full potential is not being realized.

  • TR

    What ks said. What Adam said.

    Michelle Dean:
    I don’t have Netflix and I don’t have J. Crew. I don’t need a mirage or a mythos to love and care for my city.

    “It demands the belief that others are missing out on something. It takes, to put it bluntly, no small amount of bragging, the ability to straight-facedly use the word Xanadu. And maybe, ultimately, Toronto just doesn’t have the stomach for that.”

    It’s further up than the stomach, it’s a matter taste. That’s exactly what I find so distasteful about NYC. who gives a shit what you or anyone else thinks about Toronto? That slice of media that writes about film locations etc? Tripe.

    Apples and oranges. NYC and Toronto.

    I hope you find your happiness again, back in NYC.

  • hop

    I think the underlying issue here is that so many people see the incredible potential of Toronto (and rightly so) but the majority of Torontonians are satisfied with mediocrity. It’s a shame that our full potential is not being realized.

    October 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm | by Moi

    Spot on! Toronto can be a great, world class city, maybe not on the level of New York City, but still a city that people all over the world can look up to and admire and perhaps more importantly can inspire widespread civic pride.

    If there is one New York thing I would like to see in Toronto is an appreciation for its “outer boroughs”. Nothing pisses me off more than going on TL or blogto and read some snarky, douchey comment about Scarborough. Amalgamation has happened folks, lets embrace it!

    I too have been seriously contemplating a move to New York City (realistically probably Jersey City, cheaper but still a quick subway ride away from Manhattan that one can take literally at any time of the day). I still love Toronto and will always consider it home, but it’s becoming incredibly dispiriting to live here. The fact that we are becoming accustomed to mediocrity cannot be good for this city in the long-run.

  • Liz

    Given how offended you all appear to be, Ms. Dean’s article must have struck a nerve (or two). Don’t get me wrong, I think Toronto is a very liveable city. However, she’s correct to point out that this isn’t necessarily enough to qualify Toronto as a “great” city. Perhaps the first step is admitting it.

  • Lee

    I think its a great article and all the haters & negative back comments are reflective of how defensive some Torontonians are while not wanting to face reality. Yes, that is a good city, I love it. I always say there is nowhere elsein this world I can live, but guess what – cause it offers me everything I need. And yes, I am complacent and content.

    I should say every year in december I head to NYC to shop, see the magic of 5th avenue, 1 mil crazy people moving at the speed of light and the magic of seeing NY subway rush hour and people actually move into the train. But after 5 days, I cant wait to hit Porter to be back in ma Lalaland. Yes, cause that is what Toronto is. Michelle has some great points, we lack Visionaries – hate David Miller but he had it right and we were heading there. Wait until Ford is done with us, you will see Toronto really is a nothing city, trashed for 4 years by a low thinking, micro manager and small thinking mayor and his bobo brother.

  • thomaus

    As it became inevitable that Ford was going to be elected our mayor, my observation was that ‘if New York could survive Guilliani, Toronto can survive Ford.’ At least our bumbling mayor hasn’t demonstrated any fascist tendencies (yet).

    If Dean was so truly obsessed with avoiding mediocrity, maybe she should have tried to get this published in Spacing or even The Walrus. Something slightly cutting edge. Toronto Life is decent for what it is, but come on don’t you get the irony of complaining of mediocrity in this magazine? I doubt your piece would have made the cut in a NYC publication either. But then, there is does seem to be an excessive amount of glad-handing done by the elite club in that burg.

    The previous arguments about size and age of the compared cities seem the most relevent. Take your pick. Medium big or a lot bigger. Your choice.

  • Larry

    Toronto is a city in progress (sometimes not a lot of progress, but it’s getting somewhere). It does have room for dreamers and idealists, but it’s tough slogging against the complacency and the acceptance of what has always been. We may not be a great city or one with global stature, but at least we’re free to try things because frankly no one’s watching and that can be liberating. NYC’s great but sometimes it just might be caught up in its own idea of what NYC is and isn’t.

  • peachy

    lol. i’m counting the hours till we get back to toronto. admittedly salaries silly compared with cost of living – learn to negotiate people. yes canadians a tad staid. yes there are more exciting places and hotter centres in which to live but sweetie clearly you dont have kids and as far as large urban centres go toronto is blistering hot for families. and might i add after many years in better parts of london (UK!) and 5 years too long in frontierland australasia i’m all over excitement and complexity. give me a commuter plane from the island to hot dog stand moma nyc any day and a nice warm bed in toronto at night. add to that a work environment that enables me to set up my own little enterprise and all the structure to achieve it on the side and woohoo, i’m in. ps. if you are selling in the annex…

  • Zach Swan

    re MB: “So what’s the point of this poorly thought out piece of esoteric vanity?” – the only point of this article was so the writer and Toronto Life could take yet another shot at Rob Ford and Stephen Harper. The whining won’t end until we get stuck with another complete disaster like David Miller.

  • whoshotjr?

    Not sure why Toronto is always being compared to NYC. It’s a non-starter. I don’t recall a time when the city of Toronto ever aspired to be New York. Michelle Dean could just have easily replaced Toronto with Chicago in this silly article and the same comparisons would have held true. Toronto is less than half the age and population of NYC and is unique and great completely unto itself. New York is partly what it is because of the country that it’s in – America is a brand. But Ms. Dean should keep in mind that there is a reason why 100,000 people a year move to the GTA…it’s not by chance and it’s not because it doesn’t have anything to offer.

  • John

    Toronto is still worth fighting for!
    Nothing worthwhile in this life is easy!

  • rr


  • Ben

    “Well, there’s the thing about New York. New York is such a monolith that it’s pointless to have an opinion about it. It’s like bitching about the weather. It certainly won’t accomplish anything and it certainly won’t make you feel better about what you didn’t like. New York has a couple of characteristics that are undeniable and one of those is that it’s a magnet for assholes who couldn’t get any attention at home and decided that the problem wasn’t that they weren’t interesting but that there were all these squares around them in Dubuque or whatever and they need to go to some big cosmopolitan city like New York where people will appreciate them. So if you can imagine that scenario playing out within every city in North America and every one of those assholes with an opinion slightly outreaching his ability getting on a fucking Greyhound. You end up with a pretty good description of what’s annoying about New York is that it’s full of people whose self-image just ever-so-slightly outstrips their ability.
    I studied painting under in college under Ed Paschke, who is dead now, he was a brilliant, brilliant educator. He was one of the only people in college who actually taught me anything. I mean, I learned a lot while I was in college, don’t get me wrong, but not a lot of it was academic and not much of it was taught to me, it was primarily stuff I learned on my own. But he was one of the few people that actually taught me anything. But at one point, and he was the first person to make me aware of this, of being in New York. He described it as the “catch-all of runners up.” And I think that’s probably what annoys me about New York when I’m annoyed by it. Whatever they’re doing at the moment, that’s not really them, in their minds. Like, I’m working in this bookstore but I’m not a bookstore clerk, I’m a writer. Or like, I’m working in the restaurant but I’m not a waiter, I’m an actor. There are all these people who are not the thing that they are doing at the moment and therefore feel demeaned by every second of their existence. And the chip on New York’s shoulder is the thing that keeps everything on the ground there. It’s the massive weight that causes all of the gravity that happens in New York.” – Steve Albini

  • jay

    Ms. Michelle Dean conveniently forgets the high rents, the low quality of living should
    you not have deep pockets for a decent manhattan place. The inequality of wages, the police state and constant fear from city officials that you will be hurt by crime or by terror. Let alone the smell of urine in the streets, the high cost of living. The roaches and the mice that live, yes, even in penthouses. I was born and raised
    in NY so I know first hand. Not to mention that progressive New York in all its duplicitous glory, yeah homophobic bullies look to gay bash in the west village, so gays are not even free to hold hands w/o some “jersey shore’ types to bash you in the head. And individualism – well forget it. They’d stare you down in the subway, should you
    not blend in. There is no artistic scene in area like the west village. It’s all been disney-fied. I’ve seen ugly 6 foot drag queens walk down the streets of Toronto.
    And I mean ugly without anyone giving a rats ass. What I’m trying to say, NY
    harbors a lot of conformity. & yeah, there is more cultural activity in NY, but
    who can afford it with all the rents. Like any part of the world, if you have money, you can live well. But if you don’t have the mula – you’ll be a second class citizen in New York. Or third depending on how realistic you are. And in the 1980′s – there were many ‘slaves to New York’. Good luck Michelle, we’ll see you back in Toronto soon enough. Big shot, can’t wait when your mice leave their shit all over your precious NY pad. & yes, mice do urinate all over the place on your bed, and even your stove. Lived it, done that. Over it!!!
    Oh, yeah, if you happen to be black, hispanic or chinese forget about your chances of getting a good “office” job with good pay. If you have an accent, bigot New Yorkers will ostracize you and constantly ask you to repeat yourself. And behind your back say you don’t speak english, express their xenophobic frustrations and you should go back to your home country. And you’ll never be promoted. You have to have the ‘right’ accent, or forget it. Even coming out of the closet, in certain industries even today is not an option. So Ms. Dean- continue to live in your fantasy. If you’re luck to even get a green card, you have to wait years for it and your employer will suck the life out of you cause it knows they own you. Yeah, I see a big migration to the big apple. It’s the city of ‘broken dreams’ cause so few come true.

  • jay

    …forgot to mention, Manhattan has NO MOBILITY. You are stuck in your rut.
    Getting out of it would take a NY miracle. Perhaps santa clause in Herald square can grant you that. It’s amazing how some people can live in one glorious and harmonious fantasy.

  • davy

    Don’t let the door hit you on your way out !!!
    Leave our beauifyul city for those of us that love all it has to offer.

  • steveb

    Calm the F down Michelle Dean. You’re just being a baby you got fired. How embarrassing… Toronto is the largest city in one of the world’s wealthiest nations, I think were good.

  • steveb

    Calm the F down Michelle Dean. You’re just being a baby because your ass was terminated. How embarrassing … Toronto is the largest city in one of the world’s wealthiest nations, I think were good.

  • jay

    Ms. Dean did not strike a cord that relates to Toronto. It’s simply foolish to think NYC is a city where dreams come true – like I said, it’s “A CITY OF BROKEN DREAMS” because so few come true. I know, I lived the New York Dream, born and raised there, it doesn’t exist and the sooner you come to realize that, you’ll be able to absorb the good things and bad things about where ever you live. It’s called being a grown up.

  • jay

    I completely disagree with seeing NY as a wider horizon. The horizon there is actually quite narrow. In fact the city is vertical and to rise to acceptable heights is daunting and unlikely. So if her dream is to live in “la la land”, it’s come true. Her inexperience and delusion is showing and regretfully Ms. Dean is ready for a reality check.

  • troublebunny

    I agree. Totally.

  • troublebunny

    But nobody says “Xanadu” anymore. Ba, ha ha ha… Xanadu. Xanadu!

  • Hilarious

    This was hilarious. Thanks. As a New Yorker [a friend forward this article to me next to one by an actual New Yorker bitterly complaining about the flood of gentrification and corporate weasels turning our great city into a homo genius joke].

    I love it when temporary transplants arrive, ignore the mind numbing gentrification process [or extol it as amazing, as many temporary corporate types do] and act all cool when they are finally forced to move out by the same corporations that first brought them into the city. On your way out you all make sure to take a dump on whatever place finally grants them refuge. The Office did a great job capturing this desperate need to ‘be New York’ through Ryan’s evolution. Tell me, do you also pay 300 dollars for haircuts in New york? I bet you did.

    Thank you again, really cheered me up. Oh, you forgot to mention that you’ve met a girl who was on Survivor. Once. At that really cool club. That only really cool people have access to. And that you miss the best New York style pizza, you know, from that uber New York place, sobaros.

  • ron

    Picture clean streets and clean air. Picture wildflowers and children playing outside. Picture public transportation that doesn’t smell like urine. Picture service with a smile and affordable housing. Picture birds singing.

    Let’s face it, with the possible exception of birds singing (but aren’t pigeons really rodents?), New York has none of these.

    New York is potholes and barred windows. New York is a crabby Indian at your local quicky mart. New York is rotten smells from the subway, ornery guys in suits who work “in finance,” cars honking, sirens blaring, and people walking so fast they get arthritis in their knees when they’re not even thirty.

    So many people feel required to love New York; it’s like a brainwashing mantra thrown at you from adverts in the subway, hats on tourists, and now Jay-Z and Alicia Keys are singing love from every sidewalk speaker in the city. But really, you don’t love New York. You hate New York. Say it with me. I. Hate. New York. IhateNewYork. I HATE NEW YORK!

    Now don’t you feel better?

  • Canadian in Thailand

    As a former Torontonian who lived in New Ytok for 20 odd years I cannot but totally endorse the article. I came back to Toronto, where I have friends and connections, but couldn’t last more than half a year.

    New York for me is also a case of been there, done that.

    But Bangkok, and Thailand, and Asia – now there is a city and a country and a region. It is like NYC on speed with energy, vitality, life, culture, food, a truly global city where you neve know who you will meet next and from where they have come.

    So for those of you who love Toronto, good on you. But please understand there are those of us who find it dull, provincial, depressive and totally devoid of buzz.

  • mo

    The T-dot is not NYC and never will be. Toronto is young, and squeeky clean. It is growing up fast and it is bright and becoming more and more vibrant. It is nouveau cosmopolitan. It is a cultural magnet for this great country
    and many others. Toronto is exciting and safe and fun. I wouldnt and couldnt live anywhere else.
    NYC is a legendary old goat. bed bug and rat infested. A homeless epedimic. disgustingly dirty. And a smell of urine and vomit almost allover Manhattan . Mick Jagger nailed it when he said “this town is in tatters” in the song Shattered.

  • Evan

    wow, unromantic. you’re probably not being indie enough.

  • PiccadillyLineToCockfosters

    To all those commenters who laud the excitement of “Toronto’s unrealized potential”:

    The same can be said of any shitty city.

    Toronto has (actual) things going for it. But you can’t chalk up the (merely) possible in its favor.

  • Another Todd

    I’m a Torontonian who lives in New York, and just so happened to be back home during Luminato. It was everything that makes the city great. Multitudes of people of every age and colour (T.O’s multiculturalism is inspiring), peacefully walking the streets of downtown, attending art installations (!) and having fun. We need so much more of that.

    Much of the time when I’m in New York, I think “gee, why can’t Toronto have that?!” For example, a couple of years ago, New York City removed ALL vehicular traffic from Broadway in Times Square. Could you imagine anything remotely similar being done in T.O.? We can’t hold on to what bike lanes we do have, and Council is going to revisit the innocuous Yonge&Dundas scramble! Gosh forbid we should encourage street life.

    Toronto is a city of creative people and dreamers governed by number-crunchers and small-thinkers (granted, we elect them), egged on by talk radio hosts and newspaper columnists who come up with every reason why we shouldn’t do something, rather than why we should. I thought Doug Ford’s Port Lands idea was idiotic, but I admire him for having it. It’s so rare that a politician come up with an affirmative plan like that. We need more (albeit better) big ideas, not fewer.

    I do live in New York, but Toronto is my hometown and favourite city. As others have stated, it’s unfair to compare the two. If you want to compare Toronto to literally every other American city, Toronto come across amazingly well. If you don’t believe me, try walking around downtown [INSERT AMERICAN CITY HERE] at night.

  • Another Todd

    I wrote Luminato, but meant Nuit Blanche. But they’re both great. I suppose we need more David Pecaults.

  • Iconice

    Forget aspiring to NYC… Toronto still has to catch up to LA, Chicago, Miami, Seattle… He’ll, even Portland has more going on. And that’s before you even leave the continent.

  • Peter212

    ron——> I see serious issues you are having, get help & therapy ma friend on your hate for NYC. Have you ever been there ? Doubt you have ever left scarbrough.

    I would have rather have a public transportation that smells of urine but is cheap and takes me all over the New York area – not a squeaky clean TTC that costs so much and take you no where!!! Som get out & travel, experience the world and you will see TO is good, it aint Great and NYC is really the best.. now let me hear you say.. I LOVE NEW YORK!!

  • ron

    Some people will never be happy or satisfied where ever they go. They very wrongly assume that inner peace will suddenly seep into them from their surroundings. The person who wrote this article was unhappy in Toronto once before, moved the New York and stayed unhappy; back to Toronto – unhappy; now back to New York where she will remain unhappy. She is an unhappy person that will drag her dark clouds with her anywhere. New York City is not a better place to live than Toronto. It is a profoundly unattractive and dirty city that takes years off one’s life expectancy due to pollution, stress, and mental isolation. Ask any New Yorker – most want out.

  • Casey

    I’m confused, who is Michelle Dean? Why does anyone care about her whining? And most important of all, who the HELL could get through this insanely boring article? Dear God Toronto Life, get it together, what a snoozer that was.

  • TM

    First off, this isn’t a real article; it’s a typical Toronto Life piece that someone on the editorial team considered edgy and ran it because they knew it would generate comments and page views when it hit the website – and we’ve all taken the bait.

    That said, as seen in these comments, Toronto apologists always use the exact same, tired comments when the time comes to defend their city from those who dare to want greater things from the place they live: “Toronto is great just as it is, and nothing you can say can change my mind!”; “Toronto has a ton of potential, just wait… we’ll be a great city soon!”; “Toronto doesn’t have J Crew, Broadway, Daniel Boulud, Joel Roubuchon, etc., because we don’t need them. We’re great already.”

    Toronto is a fine city. It’s the second most interesting city in Canada, behind Montreal. But that’s really not saying much. We’ll never be NYC in many ways: Toronto isn’t small over-crowded, and it’s not over-priced. But NYC is over-crowded and over-priced because of supply and demand. People want to go there, and put up with the crowds and the high rents, because NYC is known the world over as a place where people with ambition don’t have to jump through red tape to get things done, and where great ideas are embraced not as “the next trend,” but simply as a fact of life that comes with living in NYC.

    One commenter chided New Yorkers as the people who voted in Rudy Giuliani, and another talked about NYC as a dirty, high-crime place and said the Stones got it right when they wrote “Shattered.” Well, “Shattered” was written in 1978 when New York was a city of crime and decay. Then the city woke up and realized its greatness, and Giuliani was instrumental in getting the filth off the streets and turning NYC into a world-class city. With any luck, Toronto is on its way in that direction, but defending the city’s status quo isn’t going to help us get there.

  • tnew

    wow, you are so obsessed with the image of the place you live in, do you really enjoy the moment for what it is, ms. dean?? instead what it should be or should feel like, regardless of where it is? i’m born and raised in toronto, but i’ve been to n.y a bunch of times, living with new yorkers, and i know the difference. there definitely is a huge one. and both places have alot of faults for sure! i’ve also lived in europe, so i know cities and i’ll the first to admit toronto has a ton of faults. but god you, ms. dean, really miss the point of everything! toronto is filled with some wonderfully fantastic people who are bright, interested, and talented! did you ever bother stepping out of your bubble to truly try to get all different kinds of torontonians? because i have and i can tell you there are many wonderful world class artists in this city, as well as kind friends and people who love life! you just have to be willing to appreciate them! i wonder if you will be truly happy anywhere, considering you don’t seem to be able to see beyond the pretentious image of things.

    and by the way, who do you think you are to pass judgement on all us humble torontonians anyways? i know a bunch of new yorkers who would laugh at the childishness of this article! you’re not even from new york or toronto, do you have a fucking clue about anything?!

    second of all, how dare you generalize the entire country based on a completely bullshit opinion! have you been to all the different provinces?? i’m guessing not, because if you had you would not have made that BS assumption about a country that is full of diverse and fascinating people! I’m willing to bet you haven’t even been outside of toronto, and there’s definitely a difference between the city kids and the country kids, which your clever little observations clearly didn’t pick up on! if there’s such big differences between people within a province of canada, there are gargantuan differences between the provinces, so don’t go generalizing about an entire mass of a country that you know nothing about!

    this is an ignorant, baseless article based on the whining of a pretentious ignoramous, and i sincerely hope others will not take a word of it seriously when visiting Toronto or New York, because this person has no sense of either! good day to you!

  • Rebe

    This is offensive to New York and Toronto. Your article attempts to glorify NYC, but you completely reduce it to a cliche, a vulgar vignette. Then, you hate on Toronto because it doesn’t measure up to your idealized version of NYC…
    If you had taken the time to really get to know Toronto instead of comparing it to new york all the time, your experience might have been different. Perhaps entertainment, parties, and cool things to do are not be as plentiful as in new york but theres is always something going on for everyone… you just have to know where to go and always be comfortable with who you are. I love both cities the same way a parent would love two of their children. It’s actually quite sad that you *must* live in a particular city in order to be happy. The problem is not Toronto dear, it’s you.

  • LeslieCz

    Toronto seeks the middle way, that’s different from mediocrity.

  • Angus Young

    Reminds me of the above…More accurate to compare TO to Chicago or San Fran

  • BG011

    I hate those I <3 NY T-shirts!

  • AprilSunshine

    I’m from NY-but not NYC. I spend loads of time in Toronto-most of it working to bring New Yorkers to Toronto to enjoy the city. It is ridiculous to expect Toronto to be like NYC. Why would it ever be? Only NY can be NY and only Chicago can be Chicago-and so on-you get the point. It’s true that many people who market and package Toronto seem to want it recognized as a “world class city” instead of just letting it be the world class city that it actually already is.

  • anon

    It’s so strange that all these articles are coming out against Toronto as of late. I’ve been feeling this itch to leave for the past 6 months. Something is in the air… the bad TTC commute I’ll have to endure over the winter, the inability to feel safe while biking or the fact that we have Ford as mayor.

    As a friend of mine from Iceland once said “Toronto…. it’s like a poor man’s New York.” Yes, ouch.

  • Mary

    “teenage angst” – by Michelle Dean. Grow up!!!

  • core

    Apparently in your ONE YEAR in Toronto you’ve fully experienced what the city has to offer. That must be it. Wow. You’ve mentioned “The Drake and The Gladstone and Trampoline Hall and the mainstream success of any number of Arts and Crafts musicians”… so you’ve really seen it all!

    Even if you were to explore a new Toronto experience every night for the entire year of your Toronto existence, you wouldn’t scratch its surface. It’s certainly your loss that you weren’t successful in seeking out the interesting. It’s here, it’s just hiding from the likes of negative you.

  • Bored by Toronto Life not Toronto

    I agree with Little Fury. Michelle, such hubris! Toronto Life shame on you. To assume that the majority of your readers have the ability to choose where they live based on Michelles criteria is in keeping with your pretentious editorial attitude.

  • Karen

    Both Adam and Charlie are right on the money. Let’s face it… we all have a love/hate relationship with our city (whether you’re a Torontonian or New Yorker). It’s silly to compare apples to oranges. There’s room for both in this world, and I don’t see why we can’t have liveable AND culturally vibrant cities. The world is in transition now, and Toronto is poised to play a vital role on the world stage as a peaceful United Nations of people. I believe that Toronto can be a mecca for creative, innovative thinkers & doers, and liveability is the key toward egalitarian participation. We are all connected.

  • Sarah

    Toronto works for certain types of people. It doesn’t work for others. I lived/worked in Toronto for a number of years before moving to NYC. I was a transplant there (as I am in NYC as well). I didn’t have my family. I wasn’t romantically attached. I didn’t have friends that I grew up with since primary school. I got to know enough people, but I always felt isolated like an outsider. NYC absorbed me better as an expat. Most of the people here are transplants. They reach out to meet new people and do things. I had a job offer in Toronto last year, which I declind, only because it was in Toronto. Perhaps when I have a husband and two children it would make more sense.

  • Frabjous Escapee

    Nothing turns a Torontonian into a sanctimoniously dissembling whiner shouldering the world’s largest chip faster than an outsider with insight calling their eternally wannabe world city out for what it is. So judging by the defensiveness and denial heaped so thickly throughout these comments, Ms. Dean’s piece, however flippant and superficial its analysis of the city may at times be, has hit the nail on the head. Speaking from nearly a decade of residence and deep involvement in the place, recently and mercifully concluded, she is far too kind. We have all been far too kind, and for too long.

    Moan all you like about being unappreciated. About what an incompetent the author must be and about how she is obviously too awful or immature a person to have met or participated in or produced single-handedly some “real” Toronto ingeniously hidden away somewhere or other (and credit where credit is due, Torontonians are indeed world class in some areas – collective excuse making, for instance, and victim-blaming, since the Torontonian mind invariably denigrates discontent as the fault of the nonconforming objector). About how tiresome her article was (which seemingly stopped none of the bored commentators from reading it all the way through). About how at least Toronto’s not as bad as some imagined hellhole in an imaginary U.S. you’ve never actually much visited and know next to nothing about (and frankly, Rob Ford makes Rudy Giuliani look like Jaime Lerner…hell, he makes Mel Lastman look like Jaime Lerner).

    None of this will change the fact that Toronto remains a drab, shabby, stingy and relentlessly innovation-averse city, one so politely antisocial in its interpersonal dealings (especially with newcomers and outsiders) that the urban culture as a whole resembles nothing so much as a sociopath in denial. Add to this a severe and chronic case of vision impairment, exemplified by the current mayoral administration, and you’ve got a promise of more of the same. Only slowly worsening.

    Toronto is a fine place if you’re locally born and bred, have all your family and old chums there, and have never gotten out much to fully experience any of the rest of the world for any length of time. And it’s tolerable – but only just – if you’re an immigrant desperate for any sad port in a storm and fortunate enough to have brought your community with you. And don’t mind that your PhD or MD will likely get you a job assembling cardboard boxes…if you’re the wrong color, that is.

    But otherwise, there’s a reason Toronto does not and will never occupy the place on the “world stage” that so obsesses its appearance-fixated denizens. It does nothing of substance to assume such a place. If anything, Torontonians should be thankful the world doesn’t take much notice. After all, serious scrutiny would be the death knell for the fiction of Toronto as a friendly, clean, multicultural paradise.

    You’ve got real problems, Toronto, and admitting it is the first step to solving it. And Ms. Dean is no hater here, although even if she were what of it? Haters often result from being given good cause to hate. Rather, she has been kind enough to stage you an intervention on her way out the door, and she’s even done it with kid gloves on. A shame it’s likely not enough to break through the city’s long, long history of sullenly resentful self-congratulation for little worthy of congratulation at all. Of course, how could it? Even Toronto’s finest beating the city’s image black and blue with an ugly stick (or uglier baton, in this instance) didn’t manage that. But then again, it’s not like the world cares the slightest about Toronto one way or the other in the first place. You’re only hurting yourself.

    And as for you, Ms. Dean, there are possible urban destinations in this world other than NYC, you know. I’d be happy to recommend a half dozen or so alternatives that might be worth trying…

  • Adam

    Wow, Frabjous, talk about sanctimonious.

    There’s this attitude among Toronto-haters that goes something like: “Sure, some people love Toronto, but they just don’t know any better.”

    Ah, but *you* do. You’ve spent some time in NEW YORK (OMG can I touch you?) and you went to Barcelona that time. You’re more worldly and clever than anyone else.

    So Toronto-lovers who are dynamic and smart and creative, from Jane Jacobs to Richard Florida to Shawn Micallef to Sarah Polley to the last taxi driver you spoke with (etc., etc.) — they’re all a bunch of poor fools who just don’t know the golden insider’s truth that Toronto sucks.

    Or maybe, just maybe, it’s an amazing city that has much to offer and for whatever reason it hasn’t worked for you. Not everyone has to love it for it to be great.

    Show me a city everyone loves.

  • MxDx

    wonderfully worded reply to the oh so worldly frabjous adam. jesus, what a cliche…

  • Philip Morris

    What he thinks doesn’t matter, Toronto and New York are both different cities of different countries. It’s not good to compare the both.

  • Truth

    Folks, let’s call a spade a spade. It’s pointless to attempt to degrade and insult New York City. You just sound pathetic, jealous and delusional. New York City is the greatest city in the world – it’s an infallible fact and hopeless to try to refute. Sure, London, Paris and Tokyo are big bustling, cosmopolitan cities, but there is nowhere is like New York. (London is very close, I’ll admit that.)

    Toronto is nowhere near the level of any of those Alpha cities, and it doesn’t deserve to be criticized for falling short. Toronto is a great second tier city and has a lot to offer. The problem is that the gap between a New York or London and a city like Toronto, Boston, Miami etc is huge. You can’t expect to have the same cultural activities, amenities, and lifestyle in a city a fraction of the size and prominence.

    Compared to New York, of course Toronto is going to appear provincial and dull, but so is pretty much every other second tier city on earth. There are really only a handfull of cities in the world that WON’T feel dull once you’ve lived in New York. It’s all relative, but that should be obvious.

  • Toronto My Way

    I think Ms. Dean is right.

    For those arguing that people should stop complaining and “do something about it”, what, pray tell, would that be?

    Can I make City Hall encourage architecture that is challenging and progressive? Can I woo back all the talent that has quit Toronto for “real big cities” that embraced their creativity, cities such as Chicago? (there is plenty of material on the opposite trajectories of these two cities over the last 35 years).

    Can I make the Maple Leafs a winning franchise instead of a perennial non-champion? Can I make people stop paying top dollar for an inferior product and force the owners to build a winning franchise?

    Can I “get up and fix TTC?” Can I kill urban sprawl and NIMBYism and get the city’s infrastructure built the way a true world-class city ought to be? To this day we don’t have a rail connection from the downtown core to the busiest airport in the country? That’s absolutely a joke. Does it take a brain surgeon to look at other real big cities and recognize that the investment in infrastructure is a part of what makes them world-class? (New York City is building a new subway line, to add to the subway network they already have that dwarfs ours; compare their subway map or Chicago’s, or London’s, to ours and ask yourself, who are we kidding?

    What we can do is document these shortcomings, identify where other cities “get it”, and seek engagement in discourse and dialog to raise awareness of the need to stop accepting mediocrity and pursue excellence. Some of us should run for office. Others in the position should invest money to push the gauntlet in order to make things happen.

    Yes, Toronto does some things right. The mediocrity effect is to sit on that and say “see, we’re okay” rather than saying “okay, we’ve got that, what can we get onto now, what’s missing?” Vision is always pursuing the next great thing, not resting on the laurels of yesterday’s good thing.

  • sandy90

    wha, wha, wha – BORING article!

  • mezzo

    I have no idea who Michelle Dean is, but she’s welcome to go and live anywhere she can afford to.

    PS: I would take London over New York City any day of the week.

  • Jam

    As far as unfriendly, cold people go…Toronto must be in the TOP 10. We have better manner’s (generally speaking), but we’re cold. NYC has less manner’s, by far, but they are much friendlier…

  • Carmela

    Thank you for articulating what my heart couldn’t for several years. I’ve fought long and hard with myself, thinking, that it’s me. But after reading this article, everything became clear. I’m a struggling musician and have been for almost 10 years now, and I went on a 24 hour trip to NYC and the things that transpired out of it, in comparison, is UNBELIEVABLE! “Toronto is not a city for the world’s starry-eyed dreamers. It’s one resigned to the demands of practicality.” And this is the battle I’m faced with everyday. I do agree with Michelle saying that we are a microcosm of the whole country in itself. We depend on the government for everything! Healthcare, education, pension, grants… is it no surprised that individual progress can only go so far? The government dictates who gets mortgages, who gets grants, etc… and we’ve learned to comply. Not just because of necessity, but because it’s become the only option. And those who “make it” in this town, will never leave. And if they never leave, what room is there for the others who want the same, if not more deserving? There are big fish in our little pond, and they are quite content with being that, in fear of becoming irrelevant in a bigger one.

    I love you Toronto, and there will always be a special place in my heart for you, but I’m afraid I’m far too complex and in need of more passion than you can ever provide. And I don’t think I can stick around to see if you will ever get there.

  • Dee

    I was born and raised in New York City, and now happily live in beautiful T.O. Based on Ms. Dean’s starry-eyed view of my hometown, and her obvious intention of using the city for it’s “vibe” and inherent fame, it is clear that she isn’t a native New Yorker. She will reap whatever psychological rewards she claims she can’t reap in T.O, and I hope, for her sake, that she will find it to be better than the first time around.

    I’d like to mention that contrary to the belief of many Torontonians, Toronto is not the “New York” of Canada. There’s only one New York and it’s the one in the United States. Toronto doesn’t need to be a Canadian “version” of any city. It is an extremely unique, vibrant, exciting city in its own right and doesn’t need to be compared to any other.

    That said, Torontonians need to have some more self-respect. NYC is known as an amazing city because that’s what New Yorkers say it is. Again and again. They could be living in box-sized apartment in the shadiest part of town (and NYC has MANY shady parts) with the crappiest imaginable salary but they would still say they’re living in the best city in the world. I’m not advocating that Torontonians adopt that philosophy, but that they realize that Toronto is already a world-class city. It doesn’t need to become one.

    I lived in NYC for 22 years, and really took the time to get to know my city. There are tons of things to do and see in NYC, but the same exact thing could be said about Toronto. You will never run out of interesting, inspiring things to see or do in Toronto. There are so many talented people here. And despite what you are insinuating, Ms.Dean, I’ve been to both numerous times, and MoMa isn’t better than the AGO. Not at all.

    I wish Ms. Dean well in her pursuit of….. whatever she is looking for in a city. As for me, NYC will always hold a place in my heart, but I’ve fallen in love with Toronto, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

  • ChaCha

    Toronto has an image problem but it’s certainly still a great city. We haven’t mythologized this city at all and thus it doesn’t carry the romance of a NYC or even a Montreal -even though it’s infinitely more interesting than the latter.

    I think it’s definitely a tougher town than many give it credit for and people like Dean who expect a ready-made life are going to be a little disappointed. But then again it’s just a case of mythology -so even if you are in New York and working 10-6 retail, you still feel as though you’re part of something -even if the reality is, you just work in retail and it takes you 45 minutes to commute by subway into Manhattan.

    Toronto reminds me of Los Angeles. Post modern metropolises that you either love or hate, get or don’t get. L.A. has Hollywood but it’s still not exactly a romantic burg.

    After the 90s I was ready to move from Toronto and left for New York and then some less glamorous places. When I returned I found a city that had transformed itself. And that’s the charm of the place -it really does change and move.

    Would I ever live in New York again? Probably not. As a transplant you easily get exhausted by the constant need to be fabulous (something my native NYCer friends never felt the need to be however). I think we transplants to NYC are probably the most nauseating thing about that city.

    Toronto does a fair job of playing itself in print and music, but if it only did a better job in film I think even Torontonians would appreciate the city better.

  • Maulik

    Based on the fact the each city has vastly different characteristics, I’m not even sure that the two cities can be compared.

    I grew up in New York City, and I would like to say that many of the points that were made in this article are true, and yet as I have spent the last 12 years of my life in Toronto, I can’t help but feel a need to defend Toronto.

    Michelle may never have been exposed to the greatness of Toronto because of the lack of a social circle which would allow her to experience such things. I have met some pretty amazing people from all parts of the world right here in Toronto and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I’am sure that I would be able to meet some pretty amazing people in New York City as well, however, I have come to respect the humility that the people of Toronto show.

    I think that you can make a comparison between New York and Port Au Prince in the same manner as well. People in Haiti would still think that their city/town/village is better than New York.

    Its all about the lifestyle that makes you comfortable, for some people that may mean a city with some soul (whatever that really means. i.e. the rats of New York. This article is about one person’s perspective and should not be paraded around in a magazine as if it is a factual piece of work.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love New York, but I also love Toronto just as much. I also miss New York, but I’m sure I would miss Toronto just as much, if I were to move back to New York.

    One city does not have to live up to the characteristics of another city. New York and Toronto are different, different personalites are attracted to different cities.

    Michelle, good luck in New York and if things get rough, feel free to come back to Toronto. I guess your “luck” wasn’t cut out for Toronto. Toronto will be willing to welcome you back with open arms if you choose to return. Just don’t slap the city in the face again.

    I will agree on one final thing about the article, Toronto does not have a sense of pride with their sports teams, but this might be because the people here would rather do something themselves than sit around and watch it.

  • Maulik

    One thing that can definately be compared, the mayors of each city.

    NEW YORK wins hands down.

    Hopefully Rob Ford does not cause a massive debacle, we need to get him out of the office.

    Bring (woo) back mayor David Miller (world class mayor).

  • Billy

    I’ve lived in Toronto and currently live in New York, where I’ve spent the last 10 years and I think Ms. Dean’s view of New York is a bit over romanticized. Sure, New York is famous, glitzy and glamorous, but at the end of the day it’s just concrete, buildings and people like anywhere else. Your environment isn’t what makes life fulfilling in the long term – it’s your family, friends, relationships, activities and pursuit of your passions. There’s no reason these things can’t be achieved in Toronto. Big buildings, busy streets and yellow cabs aren’t really going to improve your life that much, and besides, most of the “cultural” attractions in New York also exist in Toronto. If you’ve done any traveling, you’d realize New York really isn’t that huge of a deal. I’ve lived in Tokyo for work and coming back to New York was like returning to Boise, Idaho. London is more interesting, elegant, historic, and has better shopping, nightlife and culture. Paris embarrasses New York in the romance and beauty department. However, if you’ve only lived in small town Canada all your life, watch lots of American movies and TV set in New York and are trying to live out your Sex and the City fantasy, sure you might think it’s the greatest place on earth. But if you’ve lived in Tokyo for example, New York just feels like Boise, Idaho – no big deal.

  • LifeLivedRight

    Its not that we don’t have heart, a soul or a place to pull passion from, its that we’re looking for it all the wrong places. Spaces that aren’t ours, ways and statues, structures and achievements that may belong to other great cities of the world, but not ours and looking externally will never hold our answer to our truth. Unlike New York or the Londons and Paris`s of the world, our heart and soul, our energy and aliveness isn’t there to be seen in neon flashing lights, its not loud or obvious and we need to stop looking for it to be. Instead its found in the most surprising of places like the middle of the salsa dance floor where our diversity is at its most alive, inventive and collaborative as well as the mix of creative spaces and community places where work is quietly taking place in new and city changing ways. Its in these lesser known parts of the city that we and our Toronto are becoming who and what we truly are and the potential we could yet be is taking shape. Who and what that is, is discussed further at

  • FFLO1

    Hello Torontonians! Wow, how you defend your city, you all sound as passionate as Michelle is, I love it, but I am not convinced Toronto is for everyone.
    So please answer this simple question: how the hell did a man like Rob Ford get elected????? Aren’t a little ashamed?
    I have a few reasons to like TO, the TIFF, and the Royal Museum. the AGA, the waterfront, the shopping, and the dining, the youth, the diversity, the airport, but I can’t trust it. Because I don’t understand it. Rob Ford? If you managed to get rid of it and elect a man as decent as you say your city is, I might move there, and believe I will be a great addition to your city!

    Michelle, I lived in NY, Vancouver, Paris, Montreal, Nice and I loved your piece, you seem to have understood the essence of the problem: Ontarians are too conservative, not all of them thank God!, but most of them, and the worse is the newcomers become like them!

    i believe Toronto is trying too hard to be like NY. But NY is so unique.

    good luck Toronto, take a breather, get rid of Ford, then we could argue some more! NO offense.

  • Ahmad Atiya

    Everyone has their opinions. Why is this idiot making it out to be like her opinion of a city means something to anyone but her? Her points are stupid and subjective, at best. The very fact that she even spent the time writing this article about Toronto shows that she is in clear denial. Why spend so much time writing about something you supposedly despise so much?

  • Adrian Golombek

    To the last comment, anyone that knows Toronto knows that Rob Ford was not elected by Torontonians.The outer burroughs yeild far more votes than the heart and soul of the city. He was elected for the same reason George Bush was elected….there are just too many idiots in this world.

    As for this article, it really is childish to compare New York to Toronto. Personally i think New York is Toronto x10.

    But I love Toronto for many reasons but one simple reason stands out.

    It’s Mine and i belong

    clearly Michelle never felt that sense of embracement

  • Carmela Antonio

    i think her frustration is a lack of passion. the city itself fares really well, but it fares well in a practical sense. she’s making a point on its complacency. it is subjective, you’re right. but a person needing passion would most definitely feel the need to spend that time writing about why something is disappointing. it’s in their dna. and that is something new yorkers have over torontonians, which is what she’s trying to explain. i don’t think you can really compare the two cities, but it just so happens that new york is the point of reference. toronto is a fairly young city compared to new york.

    when all is said and done, it really boils down to what it is that you are here in this city (or whatever city, for that matter) for.

  • Carmela Antonio

    hahha! so true!

  • Mike Post

    Carmela well said, you nailed it.

  • Mike Post

    London is a ghetto. Tried living there in 2005. Nobody has any respect for ANY thing in London