What is the first thing you think of when I say London, England? My typical first thoughts were of the Queen, their Union Jack flag and the massive great bell tower Big Ben. I recently spent some time in London, England and I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some first-hand feedback on what people from another country think about our beloved city Toronto. I thought London would be quite an interesting place to start considering Canada’s historical ties to England and the monarchy. So during my time there I went around talking to locals asking them what was the first thought that came to their head when I said “Toronto”. Overall I received a wealth of different answers… ranging from the absurd stereotypical comment of “don’t you guys ride polar bears over there?” (yes someone actually said this to me) to comments on how great it is that our city is so multicultural and accepting.
Here are the top five answers I received:
The Toronto born and raised rapper’s promoting of the 4-1-6 has really made an impact considering the majority of the people when asked what was the first thing that came to their head when I said Toronto replied Drake. The Londoners expressed how they really enjoyed his music and one went as far as saying she would move to Toronto instantly if she could marry Drake! Typically Londoners would continue and discuss more things that reminded them of Toronto, but Drake was usually the first thing that came to their head.
2. Multicultural City
London is an extremely proud multicultural city, a similarity it shares with Toronto. Both cities are heralded as the top most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Locals commented saying they feel that their culture is represented in Toronto just as much as in London. One Londoner I talked to said he was from Bangladesh, and parts of his family now live in London and Toronto. It was impressive to see that Toronto has such a great reputation of being such an accepting and interesting city.
It was fun to see people so interested in trying this staple in Canadian cuisine, originating from Quebec. A lot of people told me how much they would love to try Poutine, not realizing how simple it actually is to make… fries, gravy and cheese curds.
4. Cold Weather
Of course people had to mention the stereotype of Canadian weather. A few people made comments referring to how they thought it is always so cold and snowy in Canada. Afterwards I did inform them that we do experience all four seasons here and summers typically do get really hot.
5. Toronto FC Soccer Club
Nonetheless I was pretty surprised Londoners knew about the Toronto FC, considering hockey, basketball and baseball seem to be the most popular to Toronto locals. When discussing our football/soccer team with a local, a friend of mine made the mistake of asking if we were discussing the Toronto Argonauts which made the Londoner go on a tangent while laughing about how he can’t believe we call football soccer back here in Canada. Seemed like a pretty taboo topic.
As one of the most populous cities in Canada, we really do have a lot to offer to not only to our country but also to the rest of the world as a travel destination. Hearing about Toronto from the perspective of Londoners gave me a new outlook and appreciation for how the rest of the world may see us. We certainly seem to have a good reputation in Toronto from the view of locals in London.