Secret Life of Canada

How did 'Toronto the good' become the city Canada loves to hate?

Why is Toronto the city Canada loves to hate? We try to find out in our very first live show recorded during the Hotdocs Podcast Festival.
Here's what Toronto looked like on June 29,1959. The intersection of Bay St. and Queen St. W would be unrecognizable to many today. (Dale Barnes/CBC Still Photo Collection)

Is it true Toronto is the city Canada loves to hate? 

Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson, co-hosts of The Secret Life of Canada, explored the roots of this national grudge in their first live show — taped in front of a spirited Toronto audience at this year's Hot Docs Podcast Festival. The show featured special guests Jane Luk, Kris Siddiqi, Brandon Hackett and music by Matt Reid.

This episode looks at Toronto's early days, its diverse neighbourhoods, its most questionable mayors and its bitter fight to become the capital of Canada. (Don't look so smug, Ottawa.) 

What you'll hear this episode:

  • How Toronto got its name and other notable monikers (Tkaronto and York). 
  • The city's role in the War of 1812 
  • The story of Richard Pierpoint, a member of the Coloured Corps
  • The Mississaugas of the New Credit and the long, drawn out Toronto Purchase
  • How Ottawa became the capital of Canada and why Toronto never got over it
  • "Toronto the Good," the temperance movement and a brief history of questionable mayors.
  • Why the Junction neighbourhood was still practicing prohibition into the 90s
  • The little known story of The Ward, one of Toronto's first immigrant neighbourhoods
In the early 1900s, St. John's Ward (nicknamed "the Ward"), was a 0.5 km² hub in the middle of the city. This family was among its diverse residents. (Toronto Ward Museum)


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