Reflections on the 6IX

Ten Days in Canada’s largest city is an experience and a good chance to reflect on my previous feelings about the city and  The list of things I’d hope to get done fell away as work took up most of my time, and the chance to sit down and write didn’t happen. My default tends to be to get out and experience the city, capture some photos, and enjoy, rather then sit in a hotel room putting words down on the page. So I ended up with more photos, less words. It’s been a decade since visiting Toronto and with an entirely new mindset and appreciation for life in general. I disliked Toronto the first time; it felt big and without character. it was a reflection of my own attitudes at the time having always stayed close to home with limited experience beyond the city borders. A decade later and my attitude has changed.

Toronto is a big city compared to Calgary, yet it felt smaller this time around. The chaos of a city like Hong Kong or New York is less present in Toronto. Walking through new areas, Kensington Market, along the Harbour Front, and the Brewery District, along with the neighbourhoods surrounding King Street and Adelaide, there is more character hidden away than I had seen on my last trip. Watching people move about, walking their dogs, and enjoying a coffee from Quantum Coffee while wandering down King was a new experience. The CN Tower always a reference point to the centre of the city as I ventured out further to new areas. A freshly made frozen greek yogurt while relaxing in Kensington Market. Enjoying a harbour tour and recognizing the scale of Toronto’s downtown core, taking in a baseball game. It’s a tourists vision for sure and yet my last visit was so different.

“All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.” – Christopher Morley

This photo was taken walking towards the Air Canada Centre, standing at a street corner, waiting for the light to turn and admiring all of the tall buildings. The CN Tower behind me, always present, reflecting off of every building in the city in some way or another. It’s a beacon of the city and amazing that it’s always present. The Calgary Tower, sadly, is now dwarfed by buildings and will, I imagine, soon vanish amongst the glass towers as they continue to rise. The CN Tower is ominous and will likely never share that same fate.

Sometimes the best moments of my trips are the times when I get two to three hours to simply wander around and experience what’s happening as it happens. No specific goal in mind or specific place to visit. Just being present, camera in hand, and enjoying the scenery. Visiting Toronto soon? Consider a few of the interesting spots I had a chance to see, keeping in mind my trip was work related, and my circle of reference stayed within the borders of downtown Toronto.

  1. Kensington Market – It’s unlike any area I can recall visiting other then perhaps the Golden Gai in Tokyo. One of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods, it’s an odd mix of sketchiness and mindful living. You will be either concerned for your wallet or happy to step into a beautifully designed vegan cafe for lunch.
  2. Harbour Walk – One of the nicer walks covered spotted with pubs and the Amsterdam Brewery. Some of my favorite beer of the trip came out of this spot with some amazing IPA’s. Some great long exposure locations along the way as well.
  3. King Street – This was my go to for getting around. I tended to walk up to King and head East and West depending on what I wanted to see. West into the neighbourhoods and good eating. East to head into the downtown core and North to the Eaton Centre.

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