Dear Toronto: A Breakup Letter

Dear Toronto,

This isn’t easy…but I think we both know that things have changed between us.

I know this will come off as negative, but I want you to know that my affection for you is what makes this so hard.

When I first met you, I was a bored teenager.

We would hang out on weekends, cruising the Eaton Centre or wandering Yonge Street before catching a movie. You kindled my love of independent films at the Bloor Cinema and the Cumberland. You introduced me to drag shows at Zelda’s. We had some good times.

It wasn’t until I graduated from university that we really got acquainted.

It was all so exciting. You offered me my first full time job, and an apartment of my own. I was dazzled by the view of the CN Tower while fetching coffee for ad executives.

CN Tower in Toronto

A beautiful day in downtown TO.

I was poor, but I knew that with time and hard work I would prove myself worthy of your respect.

Even in the early days though, I sensed that we weren’t 100% compatible. Sometimes you seemed cold and heartless. You didn’t seem to value the lush green lawns and open spaces I was accustomed to. And you always needed lots of people around you, while I preferred more solitude.

I thought moving closer to High Park would bring me some joy and get me closer to nature, but I soon realized that your idea of “nature” is quite different than mine.

High Park in the spring.

High Park in the spring.

I worked at it. I tried to make things better between us, and I found that with a positive attitude and a strong sense of community, I could create my own happiness.

We stuck together. You offered opportunity and I advanced in my career. As I could afford to spend more money on fun things, you never failed to keep me and my friends entertained and well fed.

Years passed and I came to realize that the romance was starting to die. What began as excitement had become frustration.

Our quality time became a circus of crowds, lineups, and noise. We spent hours in sullen silence, stuck in transit.

St. George Station during rush hour on the TTC, Feb 26, 2014. Photo by Karen Clarke.

St. George Station during rush hour on the TTC, Feb 26, 2014. Photo by Karen Clarke.

I started to feel like we weren’t on the same page. Your obsession with condo development got really out of hand. I noticed you were becoming more interested in popularity than in taking care of our basic necessities, and planning for the future. You seemed to thrive on crisis and drama, and there was always a new fiasco around the corner.

Through you I’ve come to know many wonderful and inspiring people too numerous to count. But you’ve also introduced me to some unsavory characters I wish I’d never heard of.

I want to thank you for all of the amazing, wonderful times we had while we’ve been together. There were many, and I won’t soon forget them.

For now, I think some time apart will be good for both of us. I’ve found a different kind of happiness in Ottawa.

Sure, Ottawa is perhaps less dynamic and exciting in some ways, but I’m ready for a little balance in my life. Besides, I grew up in the zombie-like calm of suburbia, and as ambitious as I am, I relish the change of pace.

It’s cold. Yes it is. But when it’s warm there are lots of trees and open green spaces to appreciate.

Drivers leave ridiculously large spaces between the cars on the road, and politely stop to let pedestrians cross.


Lovely Ottawa.

Crime and traffic problems aren’t as dire here, so during the morning news update you’ll hear blazing headlines like, “CAR JUMPED BY DEER,” or “CHILD FALLS DOWN AT LOCAL PLAYGROUND.” It’s absolutely wonderful.

We are still getting to know each other, but Ottawa has earned my affection, and with it, the chance to win my heart.

I’ll be back to check in on you from time to time, Toronto. You will always be my unofficial hometown, and I hope that we can remain friends.

Please take care of yourself.


Getting to know the locals.

Me in Ottawa, getting to know the locals.






  1. Nelson · April 19, 2014

    Ottawa does have another problem, an occasional coyote or bear that will wander in the suburb, and yes it will make the evening news :-)

  2. Pingback: Living #BelowTheLine | Katherine TOms

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