Blogs & Comment

Everybody hates Toronto? No more than New York or London

Large cities are universally divisive.


(Photo: John Vetterli/Wikimedia)

There’s a feeling in Canada, especially Toronto, that the rest of the country hates our nation’s biggest city. Hell, a couple guys were so sure of it they made a movie. Let’s All Hate Toronto, a 2007 documentary co-directed by Albert Nerenberg and Rob Spence, centres on a fictional character played by Spence, Mister Toronto, who takes a trip across Canada to find out just why everybody hates the Big Smoke. His gripe, as he explains it, is that “Toronto sucks” has become a national expression, while in America they say “I love New York.”

But are Canadians really unique in their distaste for their leading city? I used to think so, until I stumbled upon the Anholt-Gfk Roper City Brands Index, which combines the sentiments of 20,000 people from 20 countries. The online tool lets you pick whose opinion you want on which city, so I can see what people in Turkey think of Toronto or what people in Canada think of Mumbai.

And here’s what I learned: While it’s true that many Canadians are cold to Toronto, the phenomenon is not at all unique to our home and native land. Indeed, there’s a trend. The large urban hearts of various nations are divisive cities, while medium-sized coastal locales like Vancouver are almost universally liked. In short, some people love Toronto, some hate it, but everyone can agree that Vancouver is a nice place.

Canadians do at least agree that Toronto is the most important city in Canada, ranking it first for presence, but out of 50 international cities we rank Toronto 30th for attractiveness and Vancouver first.

But guess what: Americans rank New York 33rd. They dislike their biggest city even more than we dislike ours. It turns out not everyone loves New York, after all. Los Angeles and Chicago, America’s two other giants, don’t fare any better, ranking 32nd and 38th, respectively. But the American cities most similar to Vancouver, Seattle (12th) and San Francisco (6th), score quite well among Americans.

It’s the same thing across the pond. U.K. citizens rank London 34th for attractiveness.

Interestingly, however, Toronto is viewed quite favourably outside of Canada: it’s the 13th most attractive city for Americans, the 14th for Brits and the 10th for Australians. Vancouver scores only a bit better—except in Canada, where it’s 29 spots ahead.

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