Posted by: Paul Jenkins | June 5, 2008

Welcome to Toronto. JUMP!

somewhere on Bathurst

To truly claim the experience of a city as your own, you must first live through one of its winters. I moved to Toronto in September, 2007. I earned my T.O. patch this past winter – when the season’s old man put me in a half nelson and gave me a noogie.

In fact, it was the worst winter I’ve ever experienced. Worse than Edmonton, where it snowed near Labour Day; or Seoul, where acid would literally fall from the sky; or Sarajevo, where fog would persist in the valley city like a glacier for weeks on end.

I live in the attic of a nineteenth-century row house on Bathurst with my partner Sandra. We share about four hundred square feet of space. Our bedroom smells like stall smoke and cat pee. It fronts a 24 hour street car line – making it too noisy to keep the window open at night, but too ripe to keep it closed.

Thankfully, our overpriced pad has a prized patio. It’s reached by a metal door opening out – it’s also our fire escape. Only because of my brutish strength, did the season’s first snowfall not totally block our exit.

I phoned the landlord and asked if I could have a door that pulled in. I then asked what exactly our fire route was – as there aren’t any stairs that lead from our apartment to the ground.

He talked about the door needing to open out to meet fire regulations. Our fire route? Go out on the wooden patio and wait to be rescued. Apparently, it’s designed to withstand fire for the unspecified amount of time it would take for the firefighters to get us down.

He also assured us there wouldn’t be another snowfall that big all year.

He was right; there were two – and they were bigger. I dug us out each time with a metal dustpan. Sandra and I resigned to the fact that if a fire did occur, we would jump to the nearest fire escape three metres below.

We’re safe… for now… and moving in September.



  1. Partner?! Haha. It’s good to hear that I’ve lived through one of the worst winters imaginable. I did four in Ottawa, too–where it’s too cold to enjoy life.

    Please don’t leave the city. I hope you’re only moving to a new apartment. I will be unimpressed if you do anything else.

  2. Hahhahaahaaaa, Paul, I truly enjoy your blog…you really do have me laughing out loud, and I love it!

    Your apartment sounds like a utopia! Ohh…I love the word ripe, I’m just visualizing you & Sandra literally turning into overripe bananas before my very eyes..Quite scary & gross to be honest! I hope you have some relief in this heat. I can just imagine.

    But you’re quite right. This winter was bad. But now that it’s nearly 40degrees outside, I’ve actually forgotten how bad. Especially when I spent a whole blog post whining about it…how could I forget? Maybe I need to revisit that and try and picture myself knee-deep in snow, trying to dig myself out of the house!


  3. Rayanne, don’t worry, Sandra and I are staying in Toronto, we’re just moving apartments – hopefully.

    We started looking for a new flat yesterday. Was it ever depressing. One place, claiming two bedrooms, had them if you were willing to forfeit a living room. It’s bathroom was in a musty basement with five foot high ceilings. I’d have to wear a helmet to do my business.

    It quickly reminded us why we’re living where we are – nice, reasonably priced places are few and far between in the Annex.

    We’ll keep looking though, as our attic apartment is relentlessly hot. Only today has enough air circulated to once again breath.

    Staffeen, if it stays this hot all summer you’ll be able to make banana bread out of Sandra and me in the fall.

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