Journey to the Centre of Toronto

Having only been to Toronto on a few school trips, I had no idea how to get around the huge city. Even taking the GO Train into Toronto was like trying to speak a foreign language to me. All I was told was that taking the GO was “idiot-proof” and to “make sure you pay attention to the announcements”. To top it off, I just missed the GO and the next one will come in an hour.

Why was I going to Toronto you may ask? Michael Burton gave me an assignment for the upcoming photography issue of Travis, which I’m extremely excited about. He told me I could just phone and get all the stuff I need for the feature, but I hate phones.

I get off the GO greeted by a saxophonist and I’m more confused than I’ve ever been. It’s 11:30 am and I don’t have to be where I’m headed until 3, so I wander the streets of Toronto. With the CN Tower and the Air Canada Centre right near me, I take in the sights. If you know me, I’m not a Toronto Maple Leafs fan at all. Standing at Maple Leaf Square and seeing literally everyone wearing Leafs jerseys makes me feel better/bitter that I left my Ottawa Senators apparel at home.

Standing in front of the token part of the subway, I have no clue what to do and I’m hoping Torontonians aren’t laughing at me. I pay for 4 tokens; not knowing it only costs one and I look at an odd map on the wall. Since I know that Dupont Street was near where I have to go, I get on the train stopping there. I get off at St. George Station thinking I’m there when I have to keep going a bit more. I walk down to the second level of the station and almost accidently get on a train going east. Once I realize this, I made my way through the crowded underground to wait for the next train heading west. Turns out the next train won’t be coming for another 7 minutes.

After finally getting off at Dupont Station, I take the escalator up into a rough neighbourhood. Taking off down the road, I have no idea if I’m going the right way. The houses and shops on the opposite side of the road look old and broken while the shops to my right don’t look much better. Venturing down Dupont, I ask four people if I was going in the right direction. I was about to buy a map when a bald dude with a Blackberry tells me I just have to keep going the way I’m going.

Trekking down the neighbourhood, my iPod hits a Wi-Fi area. Now, I check to see if the guy before told me the right directions. Just as I close Google Maps and put on Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!, I see a man walking towards me that looks familiar. I ask him if his name’s Daryn and he kindly answers, “Yeah man, how’s it going?” I try to ask for a picture but all I say is, “Awesome.” Once he’s long gone behind me, I pull my phone out and brag to my family and friends that I just met Daryn Jones, the host of MTV Live.

With graffiti covering the walls of corner stores saying “Fuck G20”, I start thinking about the riots that happened only a few months ago. Just then, apartments and city houses appear making me feel a bit better about walking down the street. I wind up outside West Side Studio an hour early to be sure I’m there on time. After spending over an hour with Nikki Ormerod, a commercial/freelance photographer, that earlier feeling of excitement comes back. Since it’s almost 5:30 and getting dark, I quickly walk to the subway on Lansdowne and head back to Union Station.

Some shots by Nikki Ormerod

Being the unluckiest person in the world, I get to Union only to hit the beginning of rush hour. Another problem is I have no clue where I can buy my GO ticket. Since everyone is in a hurry and I have no room to breathe, I relax and pick up some Mr. Sub. As I enjoy the delicious foot long veggie, I see where I can buy a ticket to go home. Obviously, the GO lines are filled with people trying to get home. Just then, I drop half my sub all over the table.

After getting my ticket and boarding the white and green train, I reflect on my journey to the centre of Toronto. To be honest, I’ll probably go back next weekend.

– Matt Main

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