Pants for the
Never ask a Canadian
anything which might need an answer that puts Canada in a bad light.
They hate it. Anything which allows them dispute this, and instead allows
them to talk at length about the greatness of the place whether
its the quality of life, the size of the country, the tallness
of the buildings (or at least the tallness of free standing structures)
will be seized on and expounded on until you either back down,
commit suicide, or murder them. And for Gods sake dont ever
suggest that any of them might wear elasticated trousers.
This is, of course, true of citizens of any country who feel a little
unsure of themselves. Its a British trait too, now that the glory
days are long gone. But why should Canada feel this way? Its a
fine place. The quality of life is good. The country is enormous. Toronto
possesses the highest free-standing structure in the world (the mighty
CN Tower, of course). Those trousers, though
was visiting Toronto primarily to see my brother, who moved there
about a year ago. But I also wanted to walk for the first time beside
Great Lake, and I wanted to go to one of the famous comedy clubs.
So, with my ears pricked for the sound of twanging waistbands, I
got hold of a cheapie ticket from La Guardia and headed north for
The first view of
Canada was from the air. We flew right over Niagara Falls: I could tell
it was Niagara from the gigantic sprawling suburb that surrounded it
on both sides. Waterfalls look best from the air anyway, and although
I only saw it for about a minute and a half thats probably about
as long as I would have looked at it had I been on the ground, before
retiring to my (hopefully) vibrating bed in the Niagara Falls Wahey!
Holiday Resort. I dutifully ticked it off my list of Things To See In
Canada and thanked God that I wouldnt now have to bother driving
for nine hours to check it out.
Toronto was grey, and from the airport I scanned the horizon for the
CN Tower. There it was a graceful spindle off to the east. As
we drew closer I wondered where the rest of the city was. Finally the
endless ranks of tract houses opened to reveal it. I knew that film
makers on a budget used the city as a Big Apple double: but how on earth
could they? It seemed far too small - the cab driver whipped us through
the city centre in about eighteen seconds and we popped out the other
side into a attractive old-fashioned district which reminded me strangely
of a Deep South town iron balustrades and huge, spectacular trees
very much the order of the day. Unlike, say, Mobile, Alabama, the temperature
was well under the melting point of titanium, which pleased me no end.
Kid brother Ben was fine and immediately offered me a choice of cycles
for our Great Lake ride. The only pedals I like these days are gas,
brake and clutch, and the thought of riding through a city centre on
a bike unnerved me somewhat. But Toronto was easy. It was very bike
friendly. Everyone was very helpful, I only got yelled at twice, and
removed paint from only one parked car.
The Lake itself was something of a disappointment. We cycled for miles
through deserted grain silos, past scrubby trees and underpasses, before
arriving at a small beach from which energetic people were zipping around
on the water being pulled by kites. Parasurfing? I suggested.
Paraboarding? Ben thought. Paraplegic seemed to be the obvious
outcome, so we left them to it and cycled back to the flat by way of
a footpath alongside a grim looking drainage ditch.
The comedy was next and we boarded one of the excellent trams and were
downtown before you could say Whos Line Is It Anyway?
Second City is the legendary club where Dan Ackroyd, John Candy and
Rick Moranis, amongst others, cut their teeth. Its a huge place
(for a comedy club, anyway) , with a good size bar and restaurant: the
comedy takes place upstairs. At least it does on most nights. Second
City runs a comedy school, in which anybody can learn to be a
stand-up comic. This is, quite frankly, an outrageous lie. Anybody
cannot learn to be a stand-up comic. Anybody can, however, stride on
to a stage looking purposeful, grab a microphone and say OK, thank
you everyone hey, is anyone here wearing a pair of elasticated
trousers? Our show wasnt even that good: we got Class 5Es
Improv Night which made me think that the Japanese must
surely have learned their treatment of POWs by attending a similar
establishment. It seemed only good taste to leave after twenty minutes,
and we retired to an excellent Italian restaurant which more than made
Sunday dawned and we decided to round the trip off with a meal at the
CNT. The elevator zipped us to the top along with a couple in full wedding
outfits so we reckoned we werent to be disappointed. We were right.
The meal was spectacular: I had an excellent prime rib, and a pudding
describing itself as Not Your Usual Lemon Meringue Pie
while not unusual (it wasnt made of pork or anything, it was definitely
lemon meringue pie) it was certainly extremely delicious.
completely stuffed, we contemplated the view as it rotated gently
past (miles of suburbs on one side, and miles of empty lake on
the other, but delightful nonetheless.) I did, however, become
suddenly conscious that my jeans were feeling uncomfortably tight.
Looking around I noticed no signs of discomfort from my fellow
diners. What was their secret, I wondered? Then I remembered.
Unmentionable it may be, but those Canucks are light-years ahead
in the trouser department. I have seen the future, and its
Oliver Moor flew
to Toronto from La Guardia for $150. He stayed in his brothers
spare room ($0). A meal for 2 at the CN Tower costs about $100.
© Oliver Moor 2001
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