“Watch out, them Toronto people are cold.”
Time and time again, that is what people would tell me when I informed them I was heading to Toronto for the winter to study improv and comedy.
It didn’t matter who I told, either. Friends, relatives, strangers … they all had the same warning.
Many would shake their head in disgust, most with a look of confusion, and some would simply ask why.
So much hate for the “Big Smoke”. I wondered at the reasoning.
I’d learned my lesson though about the way certain parts of the country are stereotyped, however, and therefore came here open-minded.
I mean, if I had believed all that I heard about the Yukon prior to my arrival, I may have never made the journey north.
After all, who wants to live in a place with no summer, Internet or paved roads.
I’m glad I didn’t listen then and I’m glad I didn’t this time as well.
Sure, I’ve only been here for a month, but I can tell you the people are nothing like the picture painted by a lot of their fellow Canadians.
The first night here, for example, we (fellow-Yukon-comics Steve and Rob) came across the friendliest of cab drivers.
We shared conversation as he questioned how one could live in a place with no summer or Internet, and then he told us that the area we were going to be living in used to be run by the Hells Angels.
(It turns out that part is true.)
Then there was David, the young host of an open-mic comedy night we attended.
This guy has a future in children’s comedy shows.
Imagine someone who’s one-part Mr. Dressup, one-part Friendly Giant, mixed with a little Fred Penner and Mr. Rogers, except he is a young comedian who moonlights as a DJ.
He embraced us Yukon comics whole-heartedly and gave us a dozen contacts in the business, even throwing us some complimentary tickets to his comedy show.
In fact, the Toronto folks are so friendly that I find myself faced with a coffee-shop dilemma.
Do I go to the French café where they give away day-old croissants with your latte? or to the quaint chocolate shop where they offer you a free handmade chocolate with your Americano?
Even some of the more “abnormal” folks I’ve come across have been warm and kind.
This one night, while waiting for the streetcar, this guy (think Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters when he is being chased by a possessed Sigourney Weaver) walks by the stop.
He looks around and, thinking he is alone, lets out this hellish scream (imagine Bobcat Goldthwait in Police Academy).
Suddenly, noticing me, he is both startled and apologetic.
He thought he was alone and was free to scream at will and, upon realizing he wasn’t, began to apologize profusely before continuing on his way down the road and letting out another scream.
Now that is kind.
Yes,Toronto folks are anything but cold. Maybe they are physically cold, but not their souls.
And that’s another thing, Yukon … we are not the only cold place in the country.
Toronto gets mighty chilly – the kind of chill that bites at your bones and leaks through your down.
And it’s deceiving too.
Mornings will be mild and by nightfall you’d swear you were back in Dawson.
So yeah, I guess you can say Toronto is cold – the place, that is, not the people.