Jorge’s Guide to Toronto – I

Jorge’s Guide to Toronto

Welcome to my guide to Toronto. This guide will give you my view of the city. By no means will this be a guide you can actually use, so don’t get your hopes up.

Best to try or something like that if you want to be all snooty and such.

I decided to write this guide because blogger extraordinaire Jay and her dashing husband have relocated to a secret base hidden in the GTA somewhere. Jay was wondering about this fair city that I call home, so as a personal favour, I am sharing my unique point of view.

I plan to write this guide sporadically, as the mood takes me, possibly modifying existing posts as I go. It will gain its own category along the side so one can access it. I might even make a custom section for it.

Let us begin…

The Greatest City in the World

This was Mel Lastman’s proclamation at almost every public event he spoke at. While I am from here, and proud of where I live, I found that it wore thin. Mind you, Mel managed to make almost anything he did quite tiresome, except for that time he wrote a letter to Geri Halliwell, pleading with her not to leave the spice girls. Tiresome? No. Spooky? Yes.

Toronto is a great city though. If I was to sum it up in one word, I would probably have to pick the oft-used cliché of alive.

It’s a huge organism, spread across Southern Ontario like concrete jam on a bread made out of…er…Earth.

Toronto proper has many neighbourhoods with cultural overtones. They are usually indicated by headers on the street signs. You’ll notice them on your travels through the city in most areas…

  • Corso Italia

  • Fashion District

  • Stinky Armpit Area

  • etc…

These indicators are deceiving.

Reading a sign that says Corso Italia would make you think that there is only one section of Toronto dedicated solely to Italians. This would be false.

How do I know this? Research.

Well, the research was really a by-product of me being caught in traffic when I used to live in the East end and commuted to the West end for work.

World Cup Soccer will always show you the true breakdown of culture in any city…


To my knowledge, there are five distinct Little Italies in Toronto…

  • St. Clair Ave W west of Bathurst and East of Old Weston

  • Weston Rd North of Sheppard Ave

  • Part of College St (2 blocks)

  • The intersection of St. Clair Ave W and Scarlett Rd.

  • Woodbridge

The first one is the official Little Italy (although I think that the town of Woodbridge would have something to say about that).

The smell of bread is something you will notice when in one of these areas. And not just any kind of bread. A certain bread. Usually accompanied by the smell of garlic, cheese, and simmering tomato sauce.

Little Italies are the best places to visit a deli for some sandwiches. Considering that there are seven delicatessans on every block, believing this is not really a leap of faith.

Like any respectable European city, you will notice an abundance of old men in hats wakling around, chatting, pointing at things, or laughing while playing a game of cards that not even they know the rules to anymore.

These are happy places.


There are probably eighty Chinatowns in the GTA…

  • Spadina Ave between Queen St W and College St W

  • Parts of Scarborough

  • Slightly East of Woodbine Rd and Danforth Ave, Gerrard St E as well

  • Stretches of Kennedy Rd

  • Parts of Markham

  • Richmond Hill (Due in no small part to the Pacific Mall, which seems to have been teleported here from another planet)

Chinatown proper is located on Spadina. It’s a hustling, bustling place, where you will see hollowed out coconuts (with straws sticking out of them) lying all over the place (they don’t fit through the slot in the garbage cans). Vendors with dreams of riches hock their pirated (yet convincingly real-looking) DVDs on folding card tables, while once a week the garbage from restaurants is piled out along the curb in alarmingly high stacks, teetering with every puff of wind that happens by…

The other Chinatowns are simply named such for convenience. There will usually be a Dim-sum establishment and several electronics stores with neon signs in eight different languages. Something about Chinatowns is that they magically hold more people than physically possible.

Richmond Hill swells with people on the weekend, all on their way to the Pacific Mall. For about two hours every weekend, the Earth’s rotation either slows down or speeds up depending on whether people are all walking into the mall (opening time) or out of the mall (closing time).

More to Come…

This is the first installment in the Jorge’s Guide to Toronto series. Suggestions are more than welcome.


  1. Introduction, Italian, Chinese

  2. CN Tower, Portuguese

  3. TTC, Greek

  4. Zanta, Ukrainian