Canadian Contrasts or Ignorance: 3 Cities, 3 Solitudes

It’s harder than it appears:  distillating facts and personal musings on the major cities where I’ve lived, worked and cycled so far.  Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary are big and jostle for world stage, as Canada’s world-class city.

Several sword points to note:

  • Vancouver in my infographic, refers to  City of Vancouver.  Not 20 other suburban cities around which melt into “Metro Vancouver”.
  • Toronto amalgamated in 1999 several nearby cities:  Etobicoke, North York, York, East York, Scarborough, Pickering and City of Toronto. Infographic covers this 21st century big Toronto.
  • Calgary’s city spread is as big as Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver has 2.1 million people.  Calgary has 1.2 million. Yes, Calgary sprawls with more low density housing.

    Haven't figured out the occasional nickname "Hogtown" for Toronto sometimes used by locals. Calgary is nicknamed "Cowtown". Toronto 2015.
    Toronto’s nickname “Hogtown” sometimes used by locals. Derived from railroad pig slaughter industry in Keele St. North. Photo 2015. Calgary’s local nickname is “Cowtown” as the historic prairies terminus for collecting and shipping prairie cattle to Ontario and Eastern Canada.
I cobbled the infographic below, as a Canadian who still floats among these 3 cities.  It is also my response to occasional myopic, even willful ignorance, how locals view another Canadian city 4,300 km. away (distance between Vancouver and Toronto):
  • Disinterest about Quebec and Montreal among long-time western Canadians to visit  –unless they have family, friends.
  • Yet ironically there are historic French speaking towns in central and northern Alberta. I guess their rural voices weren’t loud enough during the fierce French-English language debates in 1970s-1980s.
  • Toronto is not monopolized by high-rise buildings. Walk, bike at ground level. You suddenly realize how many trees, lush green parks  there are in downtown.  Waaaay more than downtown Calgary.

    Magpie birds common in Alberta. I never saw them when I lived for several decades in Ontario. 2012. Photo by J.Chong
    Magpie birds common in Alberta. I never saw them when I lived for several decades in Ontario. 2012. Photo by J.Chong
  • Calgarians complain too much about car congestion. People talk of saving 5 min.  Seriously?   Toronto’s average 1 way commute by car can often be  1 hr.
  • Toronto has an ever expanding  of network inter-city light commuter rail and public bus system (Metrolinx). Daily commuter trains and buses run 120 km. to Kitchener-Waterloo, Peterborough, London.   Nothing like this network exists for Calgary yet.
  • Cowboys and ranchers never walked Toronto’s history.  But the first 1700’s governor of Toronto, Lord Simcoe, did own slaves.  The first black city councillor was in 1894.
  • Black Canadians (of African, Caribbean descent) in Vancouver are still rare.

    William Peyton Hubbard, Toronto's first black city councillor 1894-1903, 913. City Controller and Deputy Mayor 1904-1907. Born in Toronto, son of freed slaves from Virginia. Formerly a baker.
    William Peyton Hubbard, Toronto’s first black city councillor 1894-1903, 1913. City Controller and Deputy Mayor 1904-1907. Born in Toronto, son of freed slaves from Virginia. Formerly a baker.
  • Reduction of Statistics Canada by former Harper government, led to a pathetic online database list of its census studies.  I was shocked when I did research for this poster.   For 2 decades in my paid professional job as a librarian in government  and private sector organizations, we used this rich mine of government data that was critical for Canadian public policy, program planning and market intelligence.

    Howe Sound, along Pacific coast. Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, BC. 2016. Photo by J.Chong. British Columbians are justifiably far more aware and vocal on protecting the environment. Long, mass environmental protests are not dominant in oil energy province of Alberta.
    Howe Sound, along Pacific coast. Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, BC. 2016. Photo by J.Chong. British Columbians are justifiably far more aware and vocal on protecting the environment. Long, mass environmental protests are not dominant in oil energy province of Alberta.
  • I look forward to revitalization of Statistics Canada, to provide Canadians strong, deep statistical data and analyses on its people, places and systems.

You may need to adjust your font size to 125+% to read infographic.3 cities (2)

Have you lived in parts of your country that were markedly different in different ways?

Some Resources
City of Toronto.  Toronto Facts. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
Milan, A. et al. A Portrait of Mixed Union Couples. Statistics Canada, 2010.
Statistics Canada. Linguistic Characteristics of Canadians. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
Vijayakumar, N. et al. Cycle Cities: Supporting Cycling in Canadians Cities. Pembina Institute, Nov. 2015.

My other earlier infographic on self.  Less wordy.
Perspective

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. diahannreyes says:

    I so appreciate your love for Canada, which comes through in these posts. I’ve only been to Toronto and Quebec. Canada seems to have a plethora of landscapes and cities to offer its people. I’ve lived in LA for 15 years – it’s very different from San Jose (in N. California) where most of my family lives. Some have suggested that they become two states. I wish personally that both cities could be smooshed into one so I could be in both places at once- but in real life that would translate into a very bad earthquake and I definitely wouldn’t want that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Scientists are predicting a big, terrible earthquake for Vancouver BC and it’s just a matter of when. City is not prepared for this at all. Anyway….

      I’ve only been to San Francisco (twice) and Napa Valley. I’ve heard good things about San Jose but am not clear what the main differences are between it and LA.

      Like

  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    Love the infographic, Jean. The three main cities of Canada are certainly very diverse. ” Toronto’s average 1 way commute by car can often be 1 hr.” That sounds a lot of Melbourne if you live in the outer suburbs. For a lot of us in Melbourne, if we work in the city, we tend to catch public transport or at least drive to a station and then catch the train. One of the reason’s being is parking in the city is hideously expensive.

    From the inforgraphic, it sounds like there is an aging population in Canada?

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, in Canada an aging population, not unlike many other developed countries. But I understand that Melbourne’s population is a lot smaller than Toronto?? I think the effort to make Melbourne more people friendly in core of city, is to make parking more expensive so that will reduce car congestion. Melbourne also has a bikeshare?

      Like

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        Melbourne has a population close to 5 million. It doesn’t feel that dense here compared to Singapore (which has a bigger population and is an island) since living in the suburbs is still popular. Yes, for a small fee there is bike share here around the city area.

        http://www.melbournebikeshare.com.au

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          Yes, well Australia is probably like Canada and some of its cities: a larger land mass means it encourages a city to become sprawly. I didn’t realize that Melbourne had that many people there. Then Sydney must be bigger or more dense.

          I’ve heard there have been challenges for wide, frequent use of the bikeshare system there due to a number of factors. My partner is involved in finalizing docking sites for Vancouver’s upcoming bike share implementation.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. thedumplingmama says:

    So interesting! I’ve never been to these 3 cities but they are very different. I’ve wanted to go to Toronto because I’ve heard the Chinese food is very good. Really liked the nicknames Hogtown and Cowtown. I grew up in upstate New York and lived in Manhattan 7 years after college. The people, landscape, transportation, attitude were totally different! I appreciated both but definitely prefer the excitement and culture of NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I’ve said it elsewhere (not that I expect people to pay much attention :)), in other blog posts where first 21 yrs. of life was in smaller cities in southern Ontario. 1 of the cities where I grew up was a city with 2 universities, historically German-Mennonite.

      Toronto was better for me career-wise and also in terms of intellectual personal growth in culture, arts for myself personally. Toronto most likely does offer a huge range of Chinese cuisine. So does Vancouver.

      So you are in California, right now?

      Like

  4. livelytwist says:

    I enjoyed reading about these 3 Canadian cities. I was in Toronto once. It was -18 degrees Celsius, my coldest winter yet. I vaguely remember walking through a ‘maze’ of underground walkways with shops, etc, to avoid the cold, and ‘coming up’ in another part of town. I thought it was cool!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Hi Lively: That is very cold for Toronto. Not typical. Yes, the underground pathway system that links one through multiple shopping malls is convenient in lousy weather. I used to bike to this district from the suburbs for work and work in those buildings. Had lunch, sometimes shopped during lunch. Yes, one could walk over 3 kms. north from underground (Union Station) by Front St. near Lake Ontario, protected.

      Calgary has elevated walkways that link commercial buildings downtown. I find it spoils the outdoor streetscape. Urban planners say and I tend to agree, that kills pedestrian traffic outside which is vital for downtown core areas.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lani says:

    Wow. What amazing work you put into this post. I love your infographic. I’ll share on Twitter 🙂 Cheers.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thank you, Lani. I enjoyed the effort on the infographic and on a topic I’ve been musing on for a long time. Gotta capitalize on the experiences –even if only in Canada. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lani says:

        Man, Canada’s huge! I hope you were being funny. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. I feel like an idiot. I don’t think I know anything about any of the places I’ve lived in compared to you. You’re quite the student (and teacher).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I dunno. I just had fun making that infographic. Just wanted to make use of the trivia I’ve gathered over the years. I’m SURE you could dig up some gold dirt and story bytes from the places where you’ve lived before.

      Like

  7. Bun Karyudo says:

    I found this a very interesting infographic and post. I was a little worried to hear that the previous administration under Stephen Harper had slashed the amount of statistical information being collected. That always seems a somewhat suspicious, even sinister, sign to me. I hope it’s a situation that will now be reversed. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      ” That always seems a somewhat suspicious, even sinister, sign to me. I hope it’s a situation that will now be reversed.”
      Sinister is the right word for denying citizens critical data….about themselves to undertake social policy planning, economic planning, etc. I answered my census but would have liked to be part of the lucky long form census.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bun Karyudo says:

        I hate to cynical, but my initial reaction when a government stops collecting and publishing data is that is has something to hide. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. mimitabby says:

    yes, every city I’ve lived in had a different demographic. I like Seattle because it’s so multicultural.
    Thanks for posting on my blog. How on earth do you get so many comments? I am impressed!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      I don’t really have many readers. It appears there is a core maybe up to 30 regular readers at most that do visit several times..per year. There are just some dialogue which gives the illusion of many readers. 🙂 But am grateful for my readers. I visit their blog and comment also. Maybe there are some surfers who don’t say much.

      That’s great you’re still painting, Mimi. I have some of my own stuff …if you click under Art at top blog bar. Your Obama watercolour will become precious.Wonder who will be Prez. in Nov. Worrisome times.

      I was in Seattle last year and we went to the Wing Luke Museum. I was impressed by its architecture. One day, I’ll do a post. Lots to write but clearly I’m a slug since I don’t blog that frequently.

      Like

  9. Whoa! Very cool infographic, Jean– very professional! I think you’ve acquired a new vocation– yet another one! (in addition to librarian, researcher, biker, environmentalist, photographer, artist, cook, nutritionist, etc, etc)

    There must be some Canadian Demographics websites– I’d suggest researching same, and dropping them a line– maybe they’d post your infographic and give your work wider exposure. Wouldn’t hurt to ask! : )

    Next time I ride my bike, I’m gonna take some baby wipes, wear bike shoe booties, and put on some lobster claw gloves– that way I can tell people I’m having the complete Canadian Metro Biking Experience!! Great post, and again, beautiful job on the infographic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Sounds like a crowd all those roles. 😉

      You’re right..maybe I should shock a corporate Big Data site with my infographic.

      Sure, all that bike gear for the complete Canadian Metro cycling experience, seems awfully heavy, wind drag. 🙂

      Great to see you Mark and keep scribble-drawing your comics!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Athena Lam says:

    Love this post. So many points made me laugh because they were true. I totally agree that the city of Toronto is much greener than people make it out to be. There are so many scenic cycling routes I could take, and for all their complaints about horrible drivers, it’s nothing compared to London’s danger levels.

    I like how you noted that Vancouver doesn’t have many Black Canadians. Do you have any thoughts on ‘why’?

    I peameal bacon and roti as Toronto’s top? Interesting! I’ll have to go on a hunt next time I visit. Where would you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery inside the St. Lawrence Market downtown in Toronto. Slathered with mustard inside the bun. 🙂 I took for granted peameal bacon and hence, didn’t realize how rare it was in Vancouver and Calgary. Roti choices probably in the Kensington Market area by Chinatown on Spadina Rd. I think you might want to check out Now Magazine or Toronto Life online to see some reviews and places.

      Maybe it’s just less blacks in Vancouver because the migration patterns didn’t happen there. Also now the city has become very expensive to live in terms of housing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Athena Lam says:

        I used to live in the Annex, but I guess I usually think of Vancouver more for Indian food. The magazines are a good place to get a list, and I like to add more context by getting recommendations from local writers like you. 🙂

        Thanks for the tip!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          🙂 My last place in Scarborough where I spent happy fall, spring, summer seasons commuting to work into downtown from ‘burbs through the city’s ravine park paths. I miss Toronto’s green tree canopy and would be beautiful in autumn. I didn’t know enough Indian restaurants myself when I lived in Toronto.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Athena Lam says:

            A good friend of mine did the exact same thing as you! He commuted downtown via the ravine parks! It sounds like a luxury I wouldn’t mind having again.

            Liked by 1 person

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