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North of Bloor/Downtown Box: Toronto-born vs. non-Toronto/GTA-born

yrt+viva=1system

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So this has been on my mind for quite a while now and it's about not travelling and living "North of Bloor" or the "downtown box (eg. of not travelling beyond certain streets such as DVP to Yonge, Bathurst...etc.)." I'm curious as to how this came about. One thing that I've noticed is that Toronto-born people generally don't have any qualms about living or travelling north of Bloor or outside of the "downtown box." It's the people who are born outside of Toronto/GTA that seem to make the biggest fuss about these self-imposed boundaries. Is it that Toronto/GTA-born people are just used to the large geographic distance that are within the city limits and the 905 municipalities? Whereas people not born here are not normalized to the large spatial distance?

As someone who was born in Toronto, grew up around Yonge & Lawrence and am currently living in Thornhill, the commute between there and downtown isn't a big deal for me. But to a lot of my friends they make a big fuss about the distance and how they would not travel north of Bloor or even think about Eglinton. Cue the jokes about needing a passport for travelling north of the border. The only commonality that I've found is that all of them were born or came from places outside of the GTA. I've finally decided it was time to ask you guys for your opinions about it as there's no real definitive answer.
 

blixtex

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I get what you mean and it sticks out like a sore thumb for me. I'm an immigrant but came really young. Parents lived downtown at Bathurst and Bloor but then moved out to Scarborough for cheaper rent/larger space in the late 80s. So if you see, alot of the people comfortable with extending their geographic reach is because they 'grew' up north of Bloor. Naturally you reach out further growing up. Hanging out at the new restaurant, bday party in Richmond Hill, bubble tea, karaoke, etc. Those that grew up in the core, during Highschool/University, had friends or events venturing out north as often they would have had a friend would have moved out of the core.

After starting work in the financial sector, suprisingly, very little 'home grown' talent, and alot more 'transplants' whether from other parts of Ontario/Canada (therefore really educated) or landed immigrants (who are also educated, went to Grad School here, generally wealthier back home).

Those are the ones for the same reasons many old immigrants landed and stayed in the old part of Toronto. It is the Streetcar/Subway network, the ease to get around. Let's face it, downtorn Toronto is one of the easiest to get around. The subway and streetcar grid approach helps alot. The lake being south also provides a natural boundary, including east and west. Walking is easy and close. Many stores around for ppl to feel comfortable and less intimidated as they provide benchmarks and familiarity. More ppl too.

So there's a few things:
-'Transplants' come here as adults (less adventurous), and tend to be more elitist/urban since more educated/higher income lends itself to living in a more professional environment that downtown/rail transit and corresponding culture and businesses it brings. I know because almost all have some kind of notion that places like Scarborough is like the hood you stay away from and the real suburbs, what's the point of going? Nothing to do there.
-More recent (educated ones) Immigrants do not have cars. They often have got a job in the core making above average salary, are less comfortable driving (often had drivers back home or cheap taxis). Why not stick around where you can move around easily. Insurance is also a huge impediment. The jobs thing and vicinity is key for Canadian transplants too.
-The ones that come here from smaller Canadian cities or town are generally 'scared' to drive in Toronto traffic, and therefore also stay away from cars and hence venturing out. They're also the ones after renting the condos and settling, only look at houses south of St. Clair, West to Jane and east to Main Stn and why that segment is still hot whereas others are not.

Of course there are exceptions, but I've noticed this and observed this over many years as to why very few will move out. Some do obviously but then it's specifically sections such as Mississauga or Oakville to live. My wife and I growing up here are comfortable somewhere closer in Scarbs, heck of alot cheaper but that's due to familiarity and experience. Not relying on my 'superficial' senses or research (I'd be the same way btw if I came like them).
 

SunriseChampion

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I was born here and grew up here (in central Scarborough) and now consider myself as someone who doesn't like going north of Queen...ok, maybe Dundas. For me, though, it's proximity to the lake that is most important. Secondarily important, though, is my dislike of inefficient use of space and how being in areas like that (read: dense urban vs suburban) are not as psychologically comfortable. Also important is ease of travel. I need to live near a train station or I'm not interested. I've also never really had friends who lived north of Bloor (except the group in central Scarborough who are both near the lake and a train station) so I never had reason to go anywhere north.

I like @blixtex's explanation though.
 

Bayer

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I arrived from Québec City 30 years ago; I used to live in Old Québec, where I walked to work. The first year, my apartment was in Etobicoke and I worked in Don Mills - what an absolute waste of time. When I got a new job at Yonge & Eglinton, I moved downtown and I would not consider living anywhere else. I rent cars occasionally but I have never owned one; the prospect of living in a place where I would depend on a car is horrifying to me (not exaggerating).
 

King of Kensington

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I s
So this has been on my mind for quite a while now and it's about not travelling and living "North of Bloor" or the "downtown box (eg. of not travelling beyond certain streets such as DVP to Yonge, Bathurst...etc.)." I'm curious as to how this came about. One thing that I've noticed is that Toronto-born people generally don't have any qualms about living or travelling north of Bloor or outside of the "downtown box." It's the people who are born outside of Toronto/GTA that seem to make the biggest fuss about these self-imposed boundaries. Is it that Toronto/GTA-born people are just used to the large geographic distance that are within the city limits and the 905 municipalities? Whereas people not born here are not normalized to the large spatial distance?

As someone who was born in Toronto, grew up around Yonge & Lawrence and am currently living in Thornhill, the commute between there and downtown isn't a big deal for me. But to a lot of my friends they make a big fuss about the distance and how they would not travel north of Bloor or even think about Eglinton. Cue the jokes about needing a passport for travelling north of the border. The only commonality that I've found is that all of them were born or came from places outside of the GTA. I've finally decided it was time to ask you guys for your opinions about it as there's no real definitive answer.

It makes sense really. If you're a local, you're going to be more familiar with the GTA more broadly.

I grew up around Bathurst and St. Clair, which is "outside the box." I now live near Kensington Market. I wouldn't really want to live north of Dupont myself. I like living without a car in daily life.
 

Avenue

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I'd rather move to Ottawa or something than live in suburban Toronto. I have no interested in living a car oriented lifestyle.

Back to the original question - I suppose the born-in-Toronto crowd who grew up in one of the former suburbs don't mind it as much. In addition, the 'yellow belt' is out of reach for me financially, which might be more accessible to native Torontonians of same age who might be receiving support from parents, who themselves might be sitting on houses that tripled in value in the recent boom.
 

wild goose chase

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Toronto is starting to get a NYC-like "downtown living is for the transplants, suburban living is for the locals" feel to it.

Also (if you exclude the foreign born, which is a big "if" considering how much of Toronto is foreign born) , traditionally the suburbanites are descended from people who moved out of the cities, right? Therefore, they'd be familiar with both the places in the city their families moved out of in past generations and the places they are in now. That's why suburbs sometimes reflect the demographics of a city's previous inhabitants generations ago (eg. why Long Island has lots of descendants of "Ellis Island" immigrants, but contemporary Manhattan doesn't). How much that holds for Toronto is less clear considering that Toronto's suburbs are a mix of people who once lived in the city but then moved to the suburbs and a large proportion of people who or whose parents immigrated to the suburbs directly to raise their kids there.
 

King of Kensington

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Vaughan I suspect is the most "ex-Torontonian" of the 905 suburbs. It has relatively few immigrants who would have moved there directly without living in Toronto first, and little appeal to transplants.

Transplants I suspect are more common in "non-ethnic" suburbs like Oakville. I'm sure a fair number of professional and executive transplants live there.
 

King of Kensington

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From 2011 NHS (2016 census doesn't seem to have these figures).

Federal ridings with at least 10% born in other Canadian provinces:

University-Rosedale 12.7%
Toronto Centre 11.7%
Spadina-Fort York 11.3%
St. Paul's 10.3%
Toronto-Danforth 10.2%
Parkdale-High Park 10.1%

In the GTA, Halton Region has a high proportion born in other provinces (10.4%), with three municipalities over 10%: Burlington (11.1%), Oakville (10.9%) and Halton Hills (10.7%).
 

prosperegal

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Toronto born (to immigrant parents) and raised. I spent my childhood and youth in suburbia - North York (Bayview/Steeles at first and then made my way to the York Mills area in middle school), but moved downtown after university. I don't drive much (don't want to, anyway), so it's really unlikely I'll move back to "true suburbia" - in other words, I won't likely move further north than a few blocks north of Eglinton. I good access to the TTC.
 

blixtex

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Toronto born (to immigrant parents) and raised. I spent my childhood and youth in suburbia - North York (Bayview/Steeles at first and then made my way to the York Mills area in middle school), but moved downtown after university. I don't drive much (don't want to, anyway), so it's really unlikely I'll move back to "true suburbia" - in other words, I won't likely move further north than a few blocks north of Eglinton. I good access to the TTC.

I know what you mean. Lived on Bathurst and Bloor in the 80s. Moved to the lower part of Scarborough at 8 in the later 80s. Met my wife (gf at the time of course) at U of T Scarbs who lived close by. Her parents 'forced' her to buy a home in family's area in the mid-2000s as her dad had this philosophy of keeping family close plus he realized how undervalued the area was. Her younger sister too.

I said to her 'heck no I'm not living there!' as she wanted me to move in with her in the later 2000s when we were ready to settle down. If fact, I resented the thought of her dad 'planning' our life like that. Especially in the dreaded suburbs. As a compromise, I said let's rent out the house, and move in together closer to the city for that city living. We settled at Yonge n Eglinton for various reasons.

Both worked downtown, got married, etc. Loved the lifestyle, taking walks in the area, easy access (didn't mind taking the blue night bus home many a times). Basically the stimulation, the convenience. Liked stopping by the grocery or local shop to pick out that night's dinner vs the suburban park and go to the big box supermarket. Had no intention of moving back. Even thought of selling the house and buying along Danforth East when it was still much affordable (pre-2014).

BUT... wife got pregnant, we stopped renting out the house since the long time tenant was just moving out. So that's when I appreciated what her dad had set up. Especially after having the 2nd kid not too long after. The notion of 'it takes a village' while not to that extent, is very much true. The ideals of 'downtown' living alone vs suburban but really close family with young kids wasn't as strong as I thought it would be.

Of course not everybody has the luxury of buying cheap with family close by, but I will say, never thought what it would be like to have kids when I lived at Yonge n Eg. It really is a game changer. Now all else equal, not having as much help, there's definitely the appeal of being closer to the city/work.
 

Filip

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I came to Toronto in 1996 and first settled in High Park until 1997, then Humber Bay/Mimico (where I've been since).

I definitely have a west of Yonge, south of Bloor mindset. It's gotten better over the years, but I generally do not like to wander out of that zone.
 

innsertnamehere

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I grew up in the outer 905 - and spent several years working in the 905 area through University - meaning that I have a real familiarity with it, or at least York Region.

I went to school at Ryerson, and live/work downtown now. I expect I'll boot it back out to the 905 at some point as I get older as I do enjoy that lifestyle (very different than downtown), but not at my current stage in life.

In the mean time I regularly pass back and forth between the two to visit family, friends, etc.
 

wild goose chase

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Vaughan I suspect is the most "ex-Torontonian" of the 905 suburbs. It has relatively few immigrants who would have moved there directly without living in Toronto first, and little appeal to transplants.

Transplants I suspect are more common in "non-ethnic" suburbs like Oakville. I'm sure a fair number of professional and executive transplants live there.

What about eastern suburbs like Pickering, Ajax, Whitby etc. Are they likely heavily "ex-Torontonian"?

Looking at it another way, since Toronto is heavily first and second generation immigrants now, where are the majority of the descendants of Torontonians of three, four, five, or more generations ago living now -- are they mostly living in suburbs like Vaughan or Pickering, still living within the city (eg. the parts of the city that are more "old stock" Canadian, though these tend to be wealthier places)? Have a significant number of ex-Torontonians leaving the city gone much further than the nearby suburbs which are still pricy, or farther still in small town Ontario. or perhaps even outside southern Ontario or Ontario entirely (eg. in Canada but another province like Alberta, or even stateside)?

I guess I'm wondering what the equivalent of the most popular ex-Torontonian's pathways after leaving the city are, kind of like how ex-New Yorkers' pathways are often from Manhattan to the boroughs to Long Island, to out of New York State, to Florida etc. or ex-Chicagoans might be to the surrounding suburbs in Cook County and then the Collar counties, or to the Sunbelt (eg. Phoenix, Atlanta, etc.).
 
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SunriseChampion

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Almost all my Durham friends were born in Toronto. So, yeah, anecdotally, in my experience, Durham is heavily ex-Torontonian.
 

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