Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toronto Turnaround

Executive summary by darmansjah

WHEN I WAS A KID, I LIVED on a sprawling farm out on Finch Avenue, miles from what is now downtown Toronto. Any rural charm that Finch had then for the boy who grew up exploring its creeks and forest s is long gone, buried under concrete. The Toronto I rediscovered in my late teens was a dreary place that closed too early and had yet to give us the comic genius of Second City’s Matin Short, John Candy, and Rick Moranis and the kinetic sizzle of the Toronto International Film Festival. Montreal was the edgy, sophisticated city. As my friend, Montreal-based cartoonist Terry Mosher, said: “Toronto is to Montreal what a frog is to a princess.”

I still have family near Toronto, and I made the city my briefest of stops en route to points elsewhere-until 2011, when I interviewed American urban theorist Richard Florida, author of the influential 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class. Now a professor at the University of Toronto, he offered a fresh perspective on Ontario’s capital, which he termed a Frost Belt city. “Many American Frost Belt cities have been able to thrive.” Florida points to a number of reasons for this, including families living right in the city in North America, showing us how to, almost marvelously, handle immigration and build what Canadians call a mosaic rather than a melting pot.” In the past few years I have come to love this town I once snickered at. I now submit that TO, in the local argot, is one of North America’s greatest cities – an assertion that you’ll find validated on page 48 by Toronto-based novelist Katrina Onstad, who shares with us the discoveries, insights, and recommendations of five members of Toronto’s creative class.

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