Living in Hamilton, I am far enough away from the nation's most popular city to feel no spectacular affinity with it. Nevertheless, I am close enough to visit often. Short moments in Toronto are what I enjoy the most. I chose not to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto because living full-time in a large city was not attractive to me. Having lived my entire life in Alberta's largest city, I was content to choose a slighter space to spend my time while building my career. My long and daily commute to high school on city buses that could fail to show up and the insistent energy of a downtown core was enough to deter me from choosing to live in the largest city in Canada during a stressful and busy period of my life.
If you are looking to spend the afternoon in Toronto, if you like to eat, and if you want to stay casual but current, I recommend you hit up two places together, Porchetta & Co. and Wilbur Mexicana. Both spots are located on King Street West and boast delicious flavors (not to mention, the best sauces).
By cause of my history and experience with Toronto so far, I had some anxieties and doubts about being in that city and feeling OK in that space this week. As a child growing in up in Canada, you always hear about Toronto. In textbooks or other media, Toronto is everywhere, and it is impossible to go a day without reference to the city. The first time I visited it, I was 13.
Going with the family of four, we did a range of things together: I remember elaborate meals at downtown restaurants and wineries, being shocked by the Las Vegas-style kitsch of Niagara Falls, and thinking, "this is SO high up—like, TOO high up," on the way up the CN Tower. Yet, my most memorable experience from that time is riding the Behemoth at Canada's Wonderland. I went a few consecutive years after that with soccer teams, doing other #basic things (the Toronto Islands are fun but still not anywhere near close to the views in British Colombia and Alberta, in my opinion.) Other than that, I had minimal exposure to an always already over-exposed Canadian city. I was really only accessing Toronto through media such as music and bands, movies and films, Family Channel, and Drake—and Justin Bieber, I guess…
Upon reflection of my most recent experiences in Toronto, however, there are some beautiful spots in the city, and Drake's music is not that good. If you are interested in trendy spots, Toronto is booming with all things *hip and cool.* I have some remarkable moments from my times in Toronto, and I remember them fondly. Walking down Queen Street West might forever be my choice thing to do. When living relatively far away from Toronto's city center, one can feel at once under- and overwhelmed by all of the #views.
(Seriously, this random apartment building near the lot we parked in looked like something out of a metropolitan dreamscape.) Fortunately, I got to be in Toronto on the day of the full moon, on October 24, 2018. For some of the days preceding and following the Hunter's Moon, the weather was too cloudy to see our beloved Luna. Yet, in Toronto on the evening of the 24th, the sky let out some (moon)light. Seeing the moon felt good—really, really good.
I spent my afternoon with someone who had gone to Toronto many times before, having lived there. He had the brilliant idea that we go to both Porchetta and Wilbur for one meal on our visit. Obviously, I was down for this! If it is a hotter day, pick up your Porchetta food and eat it outside. The place has very limited seating, hence why we chose to eat there first. We ended up spending most of our time eating the best burrito, hanging out, and laughing together in Wilbur's massive restaurant after our Porchetta sandwich was finished. With plenty of nearby parks, and since everywhere can become a place to walk in Toronto, grabbing food from either of these places and spending your afternoon outside with family or friends—picnic style—is also a "go-to." Since it is October and we were definitely not dressed for outside eating weather in the cold, we managed to get great spots inside near the windows at both places! We decided to go during an abnormal eating time—around 3-4pm—and this decision worked in our favor!
My favorite part of this most recent afternoon trip to Toronto, ironically enough, was the commute. While I usually take photos on my Canon cameras, my partner snapped some hilarious photos of me in a field in the Grey Highlands area on our way to Toronto with an iPhone. Why I was in a field? No idea!
We finished our trip by singing songs with each other loudly in the car on the way home. Bands like Taking Back Sunday, Sum 41, Paramore, and Relient K were on our nostalgic hit-list for the night ride, and it was a brilliant and joyful time together.
If you're loving the horror this Halloweek, please, please, please watch Alex Garland's Annihilation. The movie is about a type of energy that has collided on earth in the side of a lighthouse and is spreading slowly. The state has sent teams of researchers into what looks like a giant iridescent bubble, called "the shimmer," to no avail. Except for the main character's partner, no one returns. His rare reappearance serves as the catalyst for the protagonist's mission to enter the source of the energy, the lighthouse. Although I could go on for ages about how much I loved this film, I am going to praise this movie for its visual depiction of the monstrous. The monsters, the infections, the protrusions that show up in this movie are some of the most unique, stunning, and terrifying that I have seen on film. Terms like coalescence, combination, and adaptation often sound positive and optimistic, but this movie visually breaks these definitions and leaves audiences feeling terrified by their own awe of the beauty around them.
If you have not watched Black Mirror, take a night off and watch one of the first season's most haunting episodes, "Metalhead." Being in a major metropolitan core had me thinking about technology and power and inflammation; it is difficult to walk around Toronto without feeling like some sort of bubble is going to burst. "Metalhead" takes the concept of the "bursting bubble" and amplifies it through robotic and post-apocalyptic means. The episode is shot in all black and white and follows a single character through her stressful race against death. I won't spoil anything, but in Toronto, the skyscrapers billow above—while more are being built—and Tesla cars speed past, driving amidst the possibility that brands like Mercedes have acquired similar and more desirable technology. Technology and its always-updating nature can be violent. Things get removed, wiped, erased. "Metalhead" shows us an exaggerated view of where we already are.
I hope you enjoy your trick-or-treating, your general Halloween-ing, and your fall activities! For crafts and activities to go with this post, please see our Halloween Crafts and Activities section!
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada while I finish my PhD in Cultural Studies with a concentration in digital cultures at McMaster University. I enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces for grade school children.
Alongside my learning, studying, and thinking about digital platforms and critical theory, I really appreciate long conversations with close friends, reading poetry, and taking photos of my cat. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.