Why Toronto is the Centre of Canada

Looks like the centre of Canada to me

Hey Toronto, it’s not like you’re the centre of Canada! Geographically speaking, I think that honour goes to somewhere just east of Winnipeg.  And why are you the capital of Ontario?  You’re at the bottom of the province, nowhere near the centre. 

Well, actually, we are.  And I’ll tell you why.

Toronto, as many of you might know, is the largest city in Canada.  As a mega city, Toronto’s population of just over 6 million is greater than all of the capital cities of all of the other provinces combined.  It is the 5th largest city in North America and the 50th largest in the world.  It has the 3rd largest transit system in North America. It boasts the 3rd largest theatre district in the world and one of the largest film festivals, Pride and Caribbean festivals in the world. Toronto is also home to the Jays, Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, the Raptors and the Argos.  Both the Canadian Opera Company and National Ballet make Toronto their homes.  But this is not why Toronto is the centre of Canada.

Toronto is the centre of Canada because of our history.  The place that later became known as Toronto, an important overland shortcut between Lake Ontario and the upper Great Lakes, was first discovered by a French explorer Etienne Brule in 1615.  For this reason Toronto became a hot spot for French fur traders. While the city itself is less than 200 years old, the first explorers arrived  here almost 400 years ago.  The land was originally occupied by the Huron, whose name was thought to come from the Iroquois name tkaronto, which translates as “place where trees stand in water.” Fort Rouille was founded on the Exhibition Grounds by French explorers in 1750, but abandoned later.

After the American Revolution, a myriad of United Empire Loyalists, having fled the United States, settled along the upper St Lawrence and lower lakes, with others settling in Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Bruswick.   The large influx of settlers led to the creation of the province of Upper Canada in 1791 and in 1787, the British purchase of land from the Mississaugas was known as the Toronto Purchase.  Lord Simcoe founded the town of York as a commanding position to guard a troubled American boundary and made it capital of Upper Canada in 1793.  York was raided by American troops twice during the war of 1812, and even taken briefly in 1813.  It transitioned from York to Toronto in 1815, to finally incorporate in 1834, with a population of 9000 people, with William Lyon Mackenzie as its first mayor.

After confederation, Ottawa would become the nation’s capital until our present day, but there were two periods before confederation when Toronto was actually the capital of the united Province of Canada – the uniting of Upper Canada and Lower Canada in 1841 after the Rebellions of 1837 – years 1849 to 1852 and 1856–1858.  After the creation of the Province of Ontario in 1867, Toronto became the capital of the province of Ontario, as it had the capital of Upper Canada since 1793.

The Dominion of Canada was established in 1867 with four provinces in total; The Province of Canada was split in two: Quebec and Ontario, along with the colonies Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  The remaining provinces entered Confederation before the turn of the century, with the exception of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, which did not become part of Canada until after 1900.  Newfoundland, was finally united with our country in 1949.

In summary, Toronto, despite being the biggest city in Canada, is the centre of Canada for its history.  As Fort York, it’s the original capital of Upper Canada, and after Confederation, Toronto was made the capital of Ontario for these origins.    As Toronto, it has been the capital of the Province of Canada twice, and the capital of one of the four original provinces of Canada at Confederation in 1867.

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Stroller Wars in T.O.

Baby in sitting stroller #1
How cute am I?

As though the TTC doesn’t have enough on its plate, 61 year old Toronto resident Elsa La Rosa filed a complaint at Monday’s TTC meeting about the problem with strollers and buggies.  Her suggestions to the commissioners are to limit strollers and buggies on Toronto buses and street cars during peak periods to two and during non-peak hours to three.  As well, she would like to see a service charge of $2 / buggy.  While TTC president Karen Stintz never thought there was a problem, she did recommend a report looking into the matter to be released in the next few months.  Meanwhile, both Stintz and TTC CEO Andy Byford have no intention of charging for or limiting strollers.

As a mother of two young children, I am clearly biased where this issue is concerned, but I believe there can be some middle ground that can be gained.  Unlike most cities in North America with transit systems, the TTC has no actual stroller policy, despite being the 3rd largest transit system in North America, behind Mexico City and New York City.  Perhaps it’s time they did.

Why is this a problem now?  Four reasons:

Reason #1: Ridership is more than it has ever been in TTC ridership history. Ridership in 2003 was 405.4 million, while in 2011 it set a record for ridership at 500.2 million. In 2012, it is expected to be between 503 -507 million.  That’s a lot of people to move each day.

Reason #2: Reduction in services.  There are less buses on the road to service the amount of persons traveling on any given day.  That, along with longer rush hour periods leads to more crowding, even on weekends.

Nice and Compact
Nice and Compact

Reason #3: The new fleet of Orion buses.  You know those low riding buses that have all but replaced the old fleet?  They are much narrower than their former counterparts.   It some areas, they are no more than 42” wide, and the back deck is raised, limiting the amount of floor space on the bus.

Reason # 4: SUV strollers.  Not my name for them, but I think you get the idea.  They are super wide like some double strollers, or with large wheels like the joggers or sport styles.  At any rate, anything over 2 feet wide or 4 feet long, will block aisles and accessible seating.

SUV Stroller
SUV Style Stroller

What are other cities in Canada doing?  Both Vancouver and Montreal have firm policies in place making recommendations for smoother travel.  This includes size restrictions of strollers, designated standing areas for strollers and buggies or priority seating, transportation outside of peak times and incentives to do so by offering free rides for children under 6 years of age.

What’s the TTC to do?  They can’t send back the fleet, but certainly, designers of buses should take transportation of all passengers into consideration – persons with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant mothers and mothers with young children.  But as this is not coming anytime soon, perhaps they could create a travel policy for strollers and buggies, like other cities in our country have. I have looked for stroller dimensions on some websites; most recommend collapsible strollers or umbrella style strollers that measure no more than 24” wide or 48” deep.  I found many styles on-line that fit quite easily into this size range, including tandem strollers for twins.

Charging for strollers is not the answer, and many forget that children 2+ do pay transit fare.  Perhaps creating incentives for off-peak hours such as free trips to children under 6.  I say this knowing that it is not always possible to ride during off-peak hours.  I myself have had to take transit during rush hour for appointments and school, but providing the incentive might bode well for non-essential excursions. Create priority areas for strollers, such as the two dedicated wheelchair spots.  Of course, wheelchairs take priority, but when not in use, this could be a great option.  I’ve already seen some drivers doing this already!

Finally, we all know that a little courtesy is required.  Sure, strollers sometimes make riding the TTC less than pleasurable, but so do many other things.  We’ve all got to be respectful of one another.

Why I Quit Huffington Post

Oh, Huffington Post, when did it all go so wrong?  We had a great relationship, but like all good things, it must come to an end.  It’s not you, really, it’s me.  OK, it’s not me it’s you, but you’ve changed, you see.  And I liked things the way they were before, before you sold out.

You know what I’m talking about. Your founder, who found a voice for my generation cashed in to the first Libertarian that came a long, with deep pockets and even deeper connections.  What’s that?  You were never left wing, you say?  I guess that you sold me a rotten bag of goods then.

Where should I begin with my displeasure with you?  Was it the Huffington Post Canada site that is rarely even Canadian.  Or perhaps all of the wardrobe malfunction pixs or celebutard articles on Lindsay Lohan or Brittany Spears, not to mention relationship experts or mommy experts or germ experts and bad puns.  Oh, gawd, I will not miss those.

It’s happened before where I’ve had no choice but to call it quits.  Sometimes opposites attract, and for a while I wanted a taste for the other side in 1010 CFRB, finding at least some balance with John Moore and even enjoyed Bill Carroll’s show (he was my boss during an internship during his Q107 days) because thanks to his wife, he didn’t think breastfeeding in public was disgusting, but in the end I had to surrender to the idea that it would never work.  We came from two different worlds.

I had a brief fling with facebook.  Everyone did, really.  He’s quite the slut and gets around with all of the ladies.  But I found that my privacy was being compromised, so that deep confidences were finding their way to advertisers wanting to sell me their wares.  Oh, facebook, why did you have to betray my trust?  Without trust, we have nothing.

And then there was the Globe and Mail, an older and wiser publication.  I was never crazy about him to begin with.  I’d only let him take me out once in a while, for laughs.  But when I discovered that Margaret Wente, one of his columnists was stealing other people’s writing and pretending it was her own, I had to call the whole thing off.  I can’t abide stealing. Oh, and you sucked in bed.

So what’s really the straw that broke the camel’s back? It began back in 2011 when you appointed Danielle Crittenden, founder of The Women’s Quarterly and writer of retro-chick verbiage What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman, as Managing Editor of Blogs for Huff Po Canada.  No longer a Canadian resident, she featured blogs by David Frum (her husband) and Peter Worthington – founder of the Toronto Sun (her stepfather), both staunch conservatives.  She praised Conrad Black in her own blogs while featuring his blogs on her own page.  How could things get any worse, you say?

Bring in Marni Soupcoff, the replacement Managing Editor of Blogs for Huff Po. Her pedigree includes former columnist and deputy comment editor at the National Post and pro-bono lawyer at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest American law firm.  She returned to Toronto having lived State side for many years, including attending US schools and law school.  Clearly, she doesn’t have her finger on the pulse of Canada.  But now she begins to use the pulpit she has been given to spout her American ideals such as defending the 2nd Amendment rights, despite not being an American herself.  She was a regular contributor to The American Enterprise – Online, a politically conservative magazine, where in 2003, she wrote an article titled: I am a Subject, Not a Citizen – But you should see me with a Gun*.  The article expressed her unwillingness to accept guns into her own life, until she had the opportunity to shoot one herself, while at a shooting range in Florida. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Protect Yourself
Protect Yourself

 I am still not a gun nut. I doubt I ever will be. But I can now understand, on a gut rather than just an intellectual level, the liberating power of possessing the ability and the means to protect oneself and one’s freedoms. It is what makes Americans an especially privileged people.

Most, if not all, of her opinion pieces in the National Post were right leaning; anti-abortion, anti- government, anti-women, anti-legislation…pro-gun, pro-big business, pro-military. So HuffPo, it’s farewell from me.  I have cancelled my membership, never to return again.  Please don’t email, or call or text.  You are so much better than that.  Well actually, you aren’t.

*This article was originally posted on TAE Magazine Online & Iconoclast.ca – but both links are now dead.

Why is my House Full of Kipple?


Recently, I re-read and old favourite book of mine: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick.  I read this book back in high school, and watched the cult masterpiece Blade Runner just shortly after. Until recently, I forgot about the term kipple, as it held no relevance in my life in the 80’s.  It was the beginning of consumerism, but nothing like it is today.

The protagonist J.R.Isadore, in the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, refers to kipple as, “useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers….”

My two children have no understanding of consumerism.  They just want to have what they want, when they want it.  Which leads me to my current problem: why is my home so full of crap? Back in my early years, I always prided myself on my lack of clutter.  I had some personal items, and a few pieces of furniture.  This made moving easy in those years, when I was in school, coming back home for the summer, or going off to do summer stock theatre.

After I got married, and then had children, the “stuff” started to collect.  There were wedding gifts, and hand-me-downs from family and our combined items from our single life. Then came the kids, and the shower gifts and more hand-me-downs.  I swore that I would never let my home get bogged down with junk.

But here I am, in January of 2013, living with more kipple than I could ever imagine. Like J.R. Isadore said, I wake up every morning with more stuff in my home than I went to bed with.  Bus transfers and receipts seem to only the tip of the iceberg in my ever growing pile.  I try to keep on top of it by discarding useless items and recycling old newspapers and receipts, shredding sensitive documents and generally sorting out my son’s drawings from the keep to recycle pile (my kids draw a lot, and only use the one side).  It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.

At one point, I made a rule that no old junk was allowed in the house – you know the stuff – a kindly neighbour or friend or teacher thought you might want the stuff that they want to get rid of, in other words, their old crap.  But somehow I failed miserably in that department.  I tried to say no, in fact I sometimes even blatantly refused to accept it, but they would just sneak the clutter in.

Many times, I would put it on the curb long before it even made it into the house, for fear that it might get lost with all of the other kipple.  Reduce, reuse, recycle has become a full time job, one that I wish I could be released from.

2013: The Year of Hate

Love & HateAs the year begins to unfold, merely a week in, I have already noticed a pattern.  In my own city of Toronto, there has already been a hit and run causing the death of a child, a few stabbings and shooting and the murder of a toddler.  Same old, same old, you might say.

Why I predict that year 2013 will be the Year of Hate, is that I am seeing an undeniable amount of hostility and aggression in my own city as well as an undeniable amount of hatred toward my fellow man in news articles, comment boards and blogs.

I will begin with my personal observations.   In my city of Toronto, the largest city in Canada, I was pleased to see most of my fellow citizens were civil during the holiday season.  But what I noticed is when I did the slightest act of kindness, like holding a door open for someone, or offering my seat on a bus or streetcar, my fellow Torontonians were taken aback by my small gesture.  They often thanked me profusely, as though I rescued their cat from a tree or something.  I believe this is an indication that these gestures are not usually performed.  On the other hand, I recently left a coffee shop with 6 coffees in hand.  I was sent to get coffees for staff and had my hands full.  While leaving the shop, I pushed open the door with my back and a person slipped through the door while I held it open.  My reaction was, “Really?”  Doesn’t seem very Canadian to me.

OK, so this is the part of my hypothesis where I begin with the part about my fellow Canadians.  I always believe that we are quite civilized in a somewhat uncivilized world.  Not so, I think anymore.  During some very sensitive stories this year, the vitriol and hatred have been spewed in spades; stories such as the Occupy Movement or Idle No More or the Sandy Hook shootings or the Gang Rape in India.  There is no doubt about it that these are all very sensitive topics.  I wouldn’t even dare to write about them.  Firstly, they are so involved, deeply woven into the history or culture that I wouldn’t dare tackle such subjects without having at least a great deal of scholarly knowledge or experience.

So why I comment on it now is the exploitation of such subjects.  Racists and homophobes and misogynists are using these forums as an opportunity to spew their hatred.  After they have then spewed their hatred, they deny that they are being racist and so forth.  They argue that they just have a difference of opinion.  Racists, for example, rarely know that they are racist.

I just came across one site that completely blew many of the others out of the water called The Spearhead.  It’s not Canadian, although I have seen panels on TVO and Sun TV that have had similar sentiments, and while they might have been grass roots USA, it is indeed spreading north of the border too.  I discovered it while doing some research on another topic.  While it doesn’t call for the lynching of women, it’s not too far behind.

So why is there so much hatred out there?  First and foremost, I believe it is born in ignorance.  I mean, there was a comment on Spearhead that stated that ¾ of women has some sort of mental illness.  The poster just made that up, of course.  The making stuff up thing seems to be pretty popular, and adds to the hatred.

I also might add to my hypothesis, I am no expert in this area, and this is merely anecdotal, but it seems that most of the hatred is from a self-centred point of view.  You, the person does not have something, and that something is usually monetary, like money or property or things, and you perceive that the other group, the one receiving your hate, does.   And why you hate them is it seems unfair that they have the stuff that you don’t.  I mean, really, it all comes down to envy.  I can see how that might lead to you hating said group, but it doesn’t make it any less irrational.

Finally, the third reason I believe that 2013 is the year of hatred is fear.  This is by far the most powerful.  In this case it might be a fear that they will take away your money or property or things but  also that they will create change, and I think that fear of change is the greatest cause of hatred.  It comes down to said group will take your job or taxes  (again back to money) but even more powerful is they will change society.  And haters don’t want that, unless of course the changes in law go in their favour.  But if the change is against their personal beliefs, than the hate will seed itself and grow.

Where I hope I am wrong is that this hatred is  from a small segment of society.  I have to believe that the majority of persons in my country of Canada and my city of Toronto is rational, reasonable and tolerant human beings.  Because if I am wrong, than the year of hate will become the decade of hate and so on.