Today is the 180
anniversary of the incorporation of Toronto, but there doesn’t appear to be much celebrating going on, save for a
gala semi-formal tonight
in the Steam Whistle Roundhouse. Maybe we’re just not in a party mood, what with the unseasonable cold and the continued embarrassing antics of our cretinous mayor. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate privately, and what better way than with a classic Toronto-themed movie, book, or album? Try one of the following to get your civic pride flowing again:
1. Take This Waltz: Hometown gal Sarah Polley directed this 2011 feature, which could almost have been titled
Toronto: The Motion Picture
. It stars Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen as a couple on the verge of separation, and it lavishes loving pictorial attention on the residential streets and parks of Toronto’s west end. (If you want something a little more upbeat, try another recent Toronto-centric movie:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
2. Metro Music: This 1979 debut album by Toronto new wave band Martha and the Muffins is largely remembered for its catchy hit single “Echo Beach,” but the whole album is great—and a great tribute to the band’s home city. The cover image is a topographic map of Toronto’s downtown core.
3. In the Skin of a Lion: Before author Michael Ondaatje become internationally famous via
The English Patient
, he wrote this novel about the lives of immigrant laborers in 1930s Toronto. Ondaatje spent months researching the book in the city archives, and lengthy passages are devoted to the building of the Bloor Street Viaduct and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant.
4. A Christmas Story: So that holiday classic you watch religiously with the fam every year—the one that’s supposed to be set in Indiana? Yeah, that was actually shot largely in Toronto by veteran Canuck film director Bob Clark. And it shows, too: the houses and laneways are unmistakable, as are the red and white streetcars rushing by in the backgrounds. (Also see: Clark’s U of T–shot horror classic
5. Get It on Credit: This 1982 album by the band Toronto—who were, naturally, from Toronto—will forever be a source of hometown pride simply for containing the beloved single “Your Daddy Don’t Know.” It was only a minor hit at the time, but who today doesn’t immediately recognize (and cherish) its rockin’ opening chords?
6. The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood’s Man Booker–winning 2000 historical novel opens with a
report of a car careening off a St. Clair Avenue bridge into one of the city’s many thickly-wooded ravines. This complexly structured tale of two sisters includes a variety of locales, but Toronto features most prominently, and the narrative incorporates many real-life events in the city’s history.