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Nathalie Petrowski praises Montreal’s ambiance particularly in contrast with Toronto’s lack of one.
Ian, Robert H, Marc, and 9 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
Will hating on Toronto ever go out of fashion? I mean, this article is hardly vitriolic but if you want to please Montrealers, just write that we’re better than Toronto. Isn’t there anything new to say about Toronto from a Montrealer’s perspective other than it’s boring? It’s like this weird cognitive bias we have here. Seriously, I get dumbfounded looks from Montrealers whenever I say that I like Toronto.
I do like Toronto as well but i agree with her that it’s when i am in Toronto that i realize how Montreal is fantastic. I was never able to fully describe why because i guess it isn’t about something very tangible. Yes the bilingual and bi-cultural personality of Montreal is the key element but that’s on a long term basis and shouldn’t affect anyone out there for 3 or 4 days. It’s also about the light atmosphere where browsing around or sitting at café’s in Montreal is as important as going to the office for torontonians but….
But i think she hit a nail with the word ambiance. General ambiance. Toronto is not bad at all. It isn’t Cleveland or Detroit but it isn’t Montreal either. It may not be important for torontonians but it’s seems to be for many Montrealers, including me.
That’s not hating Toronto at all. It’s a preference. It also doesn’t mean that Toronto is boring but that it simply lacks of ambiance compared to Montreal but it certainly doesn’t lack ambiance comapre to Calgary, it’s all relative.
OK, enough talk for today, i am on my way to Café Vito, the latest addition in the hood !
Vito’s really hit on something there. But nb Portugal supporters will be watching a game there this Thursday afternoon…
Kate, the Portugal vs. Czech Republic match isn’t until tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.
Will hating on Toronto ever go out of fashion?
No, not for anywhere in the country.
Oh thanks BtB!
@jeather: That’s fair to a point, but there’s not another city in the country – not Ottawa, not Vancouver, not Halifax – that constantly compares itself to Toronto the way Montreal does. It’s not even close.
Usually Montreal punditocracy is so invested in dumping on Montreal, it must come as quite a shock for them to see how Montreal is perceived in North America by those who support a 100+ IQ.
@Josh, that’s because Vancouver spends too much time comparing themselves to Seattle and ensuring that no one else moves into town, Ottawa spends too much time making sure everyone conforms to the Ottawa “beige-ness,” and Haligonians spend too much time patting themselves on the back for being so intelligent (just ask them, they’ll tell you).
Regardless, our universal disdain for Toronto is what helps keep this country together. :)
I have only been there a handful of times but there doesn’t seem much to hate about the place. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to love either. Toronto is indistinguishable from many medium-large American cities like Minneapolis, Omaha, Tampa etc. This is especially true in the suburbs. Same chain stores and restaurants and same people who spend half of their waking hours sitting in traffic. My wife gets a couple of decent job offers a year from Toronto but we can’t bring ourselves to do it. It would be too much like going back to the US.
@Michel It almost sounds a bit like you have universal disdain for every other place in the country!
@Josh, three places in “every other place in the country”? Um, thanks? for the geography lesson, I guess.
Furthermore, I didn’t say I had disdain for them, I pointed out a recurring theme, albeit one that I observed, ergo not a universal truth.
Also, a tip: a smiley emoticon normally suggests that the previous sentences are likely written in jest.
You really need to relax, dude.
Oh gosh Michel, I didn’t mean anything by it. Just that I named three places, and you gave me a (personally I think kind of ridiculous) supposed reason why each of them doesn’t spend comparing themselves to Toronto.
What I initially said was that there is no other city in the country that spends as much time comparing itself to Toronto as Montreal does. Do you disagree? Can you name the city that does?
I lived in Toronto for a good while and while I do prefer Montreal (I did move back here after all) I’m always a bit mystified why Montrealers make such a big deal about how much they hate Toronto. There’s a ton more cultural diversity there, a lot more live music, way more arts stuff… and there’s enough people and enough ethnic diversity that you can find a restaurant for pretty much any kind of food you can imagine. You also tend to make more money and while the rents are higher, the taxes are lower, so you can afford to go out more. To be honest the whole hating Toronto thing just make Montrealers seem petty and provincial, IMO.
Toronto is not a vacation/tourism destination. But it’s great if you know people there and know all the places to go . Then you can have a great time. But I wouldn’t want to be just a tourist. It may pain Montrealers to acknowldge it, but Toronto is bigger than Mtl in every sense of the word.
True that it’s not a great tourist destination. In many ways it reminds me of Chicago, which is also a great place to go but you have to know where everything is or it seems like there’s not much to do. Montreal is more like smaller places like New Orleans or San Francisco that in part because they are small but interesting cities everything is located pretty centrally and is easy to get to. But as far as Toronto being bigger, there’s the cultural density that comes from being the biggest city in the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario – more than a quarter of the entire country’s population (more than all of Quebec, in fact) which makes Toronto a magnet for all kinds of creative, arts, and cultural people looking to make it in the big city. Kind of like how Montreal is for Quebec, but on a much bigger scale. Montreal is a very comfortable, liveable, and culture-rich city, but it’s more of a Brooklyn than a New York.
Amidst the deluge of depressing news about Montreal’s corrupt municipal politics, bizarre crime, riots in the streets, budget crises, and crumbling infrastructure, Nathalie Petrowski reminds us that Montreal is still a great city. It’s interesting to note that in the article and in some of the comments here–especially from Josh and Ian–there is the subtext of Montreal’s inferiority complex to Toronto, a city I like in infrequent doses. Montreal compares itself to Toronto for the obvious reason that Montreal was once the nation’s prima donna metropolis, a status it has lost to Toronto. We all know the dominant narrative of decline. No other Canadian city can claim to have once been the focus of the country in the way that London is for the United Kingdom or Paris for France. Hence Montreal resents and Toronto condescends. Like Ian, I think that making a big show of one’s hatred for the place betrays a provincial insecurity, though I do enjoy making a crack about Trauma every now and then. I will give that city it’s due: it’s a cauldron of economic vitality (condominium highrises popping up like mushrooms, clusters of head offices and corporate money raining on restaurants and arts venues, rampaging suburbs now engulfing the shores of Lake Simcoe), any city could use some of that, but I certainly don’t think of it as the be-all-and-end-all of urban Canadian life. Besides, Toronto has its own inferiority complex: it wants desperately to be New York, a place to which it compares itself consistantly with a two word adjective–guess–that even Torontonians are self-conscious about. Toronto does more resemble Chicago; for all its cultural diversity it is dominated by a generic American quality that makes it seem a larger version of all those midwestern American cities like Minneapolis, Kansas City, or Cleveland. I see it as a place that deals in volume as much as quality. Marc, yes Toronto is bigger, but I’d live there only if I though it were better. We tend to idealize other cities and compare Montreal unfavourably, as if this were the only city that had chronic problems. Our daily familiarity has blinded us to what is beautiful and unique here. I think Ms. Petrowski put it very well:
“Mon intention est de profiter de ce moment béni de l’année où Montréal est en fleurs et en feuilles, pour laisser mon sens critique à Laval ou à Brossard. Et de saluer cette ville que de trop longues fréquentations m’empêchent parfois d’apprécier.”
There definitely was a period in the late 90s where Toronto seemed desperate to compare itself to NYC, which was simply embarrassing and made it feel like a colonial outpost. I think to some extent Toronto has filled its own boots since then, but certainly its sensibility is more midwestern than east coast. Also a very good observation that Montreal resents Toronto winning the “most important city” hat – Montreal was the first city to have a million residents, it was the first city where a film was shown in all of North America, Redpath sugar was the first “modern industrialized factory” in Canada – Montreal was once a real gateway and seat of power. That this power and prestige has transferred to Toronto in many ways must rankle, but I suspect that the Toronto hatred is more a matter of form than for specific reasons at this point. People blame the language issues but really once the Lachine Canal died Montreal’s future as a hub was already written.
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