My First Time In Toronto (and Maybe Canada)

February 5th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The view from my hotel room at the Westin Harbourfront Castle.

My hotel room at the Westin Harbourfront Castle.

Renting work out clothes? Interesting idea. Note the French and English.

Last week I was in Toronto for Interaction 13, the IxDA (Interaction Design Association) conference. This was my first time to Toronto and debatably my first time to Canada. I have very slight memory of Girl Scout Camp in Michigan and crossing some bridge to be able to say we were in Canada and then crossing back, but I can’t really remember if that really happened. In any case, this was the first time I spent more than a few minutes in Canada!

CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Downtown in Toronto. We went to this cute diner for breakfast, Over Easy.

Immigrant Family by Tom Otterness (2007). I thought this artists style looked really familiar, then I realized he has work all over Manhattan.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know that a lot of Canadians speak French, but this seemed less so in Toronto. I was expecting thicker accents and more than the occasional “eh?”. Too close to the American border, I guess! The flight from Chicago was only 1.5 hours ($200), and it’s super close to New York state. Still, a lot of things are printed in both English and French. I think that’s a Canadian law or something.

I freaked out when I saw this weather forecast, then realized it was in Celsius.

The Globe and Mail newspaper.

A lot of people that I know have been to Toronto. I asked all of them what to do, if there were any “must sees.” Everyone had great things to say about Toronto, but no one had any recommendations! They could all remember having fun, but couldn’t name off where they had this great fun! I did some research on things to do, places to go, but most of the museums and things were all closed by the time we got out of the conference each day. There were some shows, but we passed on them. My coworker (and travel partner), Becky, is a big hockey fan, so we wanted to check out a game, but the Maple Leafs were out of town and the Hockey Hall of Fame closed early. We ended up playing things by ear and going to some great restaurants and bars… we happened upon a lot of things that really turned out great. Also, Roundarch Isobar sent about 12 people to Toronto from 3 different offices. Some I knew and some I didn’t, so it was great to just hang out and get to know people better.

Fast food poutine at Harvey’s.

Liberte yogurt.

Canadian money.

Loonies and toonies.

Overall, I really liked Toronto. I feel like I didn’t totally get to see a ton of it and get it straight in my head. When the conference let out it was dark and the weather was not great (snow, rain), so I couldn’t really walk around and get my bearings. But, I did like what I saw and the people were so nice. That’s not just a Canadian stereotype. Only in the airport did we meet a rude Canadian! The funny thing is that I kept forgetting we were even in Canada. Toronto was pretty much like a big American city, but with more poutine, more French and prettier money.

At Longo’s supermarket

A salad from Boccone at Pearson International Airport

Harvey’s fast food bag written in French.

The Toronto food was great, the drinks awesome, the atmosphere was very urban and modern. There is a lot of construction going on in the city right now. According to my friendly cab driver, new buildings are going up, water and electric work is being done, and they’re moving some of the elevated trains underground. I also saw a billboard saying there will soon be an express train from downtown Toronto to the airport. All of this construction made it kind of a pain to get around at times, but seems like all good things for the city. We got out of the downtown a couple times and I was thankful for that. Not that downtown was bad, but I hate it when people go to River North and The Loop in Chicago and think that they have seen the city. It was great to see some neighborhoods in Toronto outside of the downtown area. I’d love to go back one day, in nicer weather so I could explore more, or even to check out another Canadian city!

Interaction 13


Competing conference. Data… oooh, scaaaaryy.

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