Today when you tell someone you’ve lived in Toronto since you were born they keep wanting to know where you’re from. I can’t recall when asking where you’re really from started; when I was growing up everyone seemed to be Torontonian except my grandparents, one of whom told me she’d emigrated from Italy when her family got tired of rebuilding their house. What I do recall is my surprise at the persistence of the questioning about my origins. I think that it must have begun about when I started finding myself befriending people who were not from Canada. Until then it was natural to make friends with anyone of my age who lived within walking distance of my house, most, maybe all appeared to have been born in Toronto; none had sir names that sounded European like mine. Today it looks like everyone’s from somewhere else and still travelling, maybe back where they originated or on the way to destinations unknown. I sometimes feel that if I were growing up in this “where are you from era” I’d be like the kid I’ve seen riding a skate board past my house over the past 5 years never with a friend even though there’ve been a lot of kids his age on our block, though probably with origins outside Canada. In fact I’ve heard it said that today more than half the population of this city, now part of the GTA are from outside Canada, and that Canadians born in countries other than Canada are needing help from the Canadian government back in their native lands. So I guess my assumptions about what a Canadian is are really naïve. Even Tim Horton’s whose name still evokes the image of the Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman who started that coffee and donuts franchise is now owned by M3 capital down in Brazil, South America.
This morning I heard that they had to close the CNE a couple of hours early because of over-crowding and a group of patrons rampaging down the midway, and false rumours of gunshots. I know that when I was growing up in Toronto was then, when no one ever heard gunshots; unlike now when hearing gunshots seems to be mushrooming throughout the GTA and beyond. That false report of gunshots preceding the early closing of the CNE reminds me of the gun shots I used to think only I heard almost weekly when I was living near the corner of Yonge and Bloor about 20 years ago and that helped me decide that Toronto was no longer what I used to think it was.