The Royal York

I think it’s fair to say that I have a bit of a fascination with the Toronto of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It may be because as a child growing aware that my world extends beyond the newly built shopping mall in East Saint John, there seemed a realisation that things in this country tended to gravitate toward Toronto.

The shows I watched on our two channels mostly originated from – there until we got cable and American TV. That confused me initially – (“I thought our prime minister was Pierre Trudeau. Who’s this Jimmy Carter guy?”). On CTV’s horrible sketch comedy show, Bizarre, or perhaps it was the game show Definition, there used to be a voice-over at the end of the show which said something to the effect of “When in Toronto, guests of Bizarre stay at the luxurious Royal York. Cars used on the show provided by Tilden Rent-a-Car, featuring the all new Chevy Cavalier. In Canada, it’s Tilden!”

The Royal York, to me, was as Toronto as it got. Later in the 80’s, as a long forgotten TV channel devoted to rock videos called MuchMusic came on the scene, the picture became more broad. They had a subway, as shown by the Spoons’ “Romantic Traffic” video. On CBC’s Street Legal, if you crossed Cynthia Dale, you’d find yourself on the business end of her shoulder pads. Clearly, this was a city of some importance.

Someday, I thought to myself, I’m going to stay at that hotel. Perhaps when I’m performing my stand-up routine on the Don Harron Show. I never did become a famous-in-Canada stand-up comedian, which is good because I don’t think my late-in-life shyness could have dealt with celebrity. But thanks to cheap, nonrefundable internet rates, we’re staying at the Royal York next month.

We’re attending the British Isles Show, where we’ll meet up with some folks for that other blog I write for, as well as, hopefully, Antony Cotton and Katherine Kelly, two actors who appear on the The Greatest Television Programme of All Time.

The trip is really an excuse to meet up with friends (and stock up on Hob Nobs) and see a bit of the city. I may be that rare Montrealer who genuinely likes Toronto as I always have a great time when I’m there. Besides, that whole Montreal vs. Toronto thing is so played out, I’d like to think. But then, I’m not a native Montrealer or a native of any big city. I just like visiting cities.

The weekend is also our annual chance to be really, really, really anglo.


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