I’ve lived a number of years in Toronto and a number of years in Montreal, having come here in 1972 to begin a career in broadcasting.
How do you compare the two cities? With difficulty but let’s give it a shot. In Montreal, if you go out for lunch your friend will offer you a glass of wine. In Toronto, if you go out to lunch your friend will ask you how your stocks did that morning.
Perhaps you remember Barney Panofsky, the hard-drinking TV producer in Mordecai Richler’s last book, Barney’s Version. Panofsky flies to Toronto see his mistress, Miriam. They go for a walk and spot a small park.
“I thought we might rest a while on one of its benches,” Barney tells us, “but the gate was padlocked and a sign screwed into the railing read:
“Squeezing Miriam’s hand, I said, “Sometimes I think that what inspires this city, its very mainspring, is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”