VanGuard

MachineFair has asked Vancouver ex-pats who are artists and/or cultural workers now living in Toronto to fill out our special VanGuard Questionnaire. We’re posting their answers here as they come in. Answers may also be used in the creation of What You Want: Toronto and at our special presentation, What You Want: Vancouver & VanGuard Talk Back, on October 18th at Theatre Passe Muraille as part of the Bring the Buzz Festival.

If you’d like to participate, please contact jillmargo@gmail.com.

THE VANGUARD QUESTIONNAIRE

Michael Gordin Shore

(...but everyone calls me mikeshore, like it’s one word…)

Actor/Coach/Teacher, Film/TV/Theatre

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I left Vancouver very suddenly in 2007 to care for my mom in Montreal, and I’ve only just arrived in Toronto... 6 weeks… if I was pregnant, I couldn’t even tell anyone yet, it’s still too soon. I came here to find out if it really is the theatre capital of the world, because there are unlimited possibilities here for Film/TV and for my teaching work, and because it’s a new, gigantic mountain to climb. This city is a huge machine, and I want to be a part of what makes it work.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Toronto’s a tough nut to crack. She isn’t needy, clingy, or codependent. She’s informed and educated, socially conscious, tough yet loving, and she’s dressed to the hilt. She’s all class and she isn’t easily impressed. At the same time, she’s open, supportive, and generous. She moves and does business at the speed of light, and she takes care of herself. I just met her, I’m pretty impressed by her, and so far she’s keeping me on my toes and bringing out the best in me. She’s isn’t cheap to maintain though, I can tell you that…Can’t tell you how she is as a lover yet, we’re still seeing each other and we just had our first kiss. Made my stomach flip flop.

Vancouver’s my university girlfriend in a fleece and faded jeans with her hair up in a ponytail. She’s young and wise, unpretentious, caring, affectionate, and warm. She’s artistic and creative and she likes to explore. She’s truly loving. She let me be whoever I wanted to be and she accepted me as I was, for better or worse. She gave me room to find out who I am, and she encouraged me to grow. And, once again for better or worse, she’s comfortable.

They’re both amazing, there’s no comparing, it’s like apples and ducks. That was then and it was right, this is now and it feels right.

Summed up in a haiku,

Vancouver’s a girl.

Toronto’s a real woman.

I’m in love with both.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful.… the beach, the parks that are EVERYWHERE, even the hustle and bustle is like New York but cleaner more beautiful… There’s so much more nature inside this city than I thought there would be, with peaceful, quiet places around every corner. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Toronto so fast, it really only took a few days.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

I’m sitting on the beach looking out over this lake which is pretty much a fresh water ocean, the breeze is blowing at just the right speed so that the seagulls can flap their wings and slowly fly into it while they’re hovering just a few feet over the beach…they’re flying but they’re standing still… there’s 100 volleyball games going at 100 volleyball nets behind me, the sounds of the players cheers is blending with the seagulls calls, and I’m sitting by the water on the soft white sand and I’m laughing out loud because I can’t believe this is here, in the middle of the biggest city I’ve ever been in, and that I live a block away from it.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

Mostly I miss my history there, the family I built, my friends, my workgroups, the mountains, The Havana, SFU, Commercial Drive, Stanley Park, Granville Island, being able to rent a theatre, create a play, set up a co-op, and do some work without it costing us an arm and a leg even if we barely broke even at the end of the day…the thing I miss the most about Vancouver is being able to do a dozen original plays a year, creating new work in an ongoing way. I hope I can find a way to do that here. And to be fair, I also miss being able to go anywhere in the city and run into people I’ve worked with and shared experiences with. I’m a long way from home, and I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Nope, not to be undramatic, but Vancouver doesn’t seem to talk too much about Toronto, and everyone I’ve talked to in Toronto loves Vancouver. I mean what’s not to love about Vancouver. I imagine some of that will change now that hockey season has started…

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

So far it seems that the Toronto experience is about doing things, and getting things done, which are not the same thing. No one seems to be lying around here lotus eating… And people here are as active, healthy, and outdoorsy as they are in Van, it’s just that they run or ride their bikes instead of climb Grouse…

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

It’s invigorated me, awakened me…it’s like miracle grow with caffeine injected directly into my roots. It’s reminded me that I’m tiny and insignificant in the grand scope, and it’s inspired me to grow as much and as fast as I can so I don’t stay that way. It’s reminded me that the dictionary definition of act is: act/akt/Verb: Take action; do something: "they urged Washington to act". Now all I need are other actors to surround myself with, to create with, to work with.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

I’m very comfortable in Vancouver, it was my home for most of my adult life, and it’s where I built my career. I know where I’m going and I know where everything is. I’m scared sh++less in Toronto, I feel like a kid, my hands shake when I think about the journey ahead. I’m at the bottom of Everest, or a more timely metaphor, I’m 25 miles off the ground at the edge of space in a capsule suspended from a helium balloon and I’m leaping off a skateboard sized platform to fall at over a thousand km/hr towards the earth in my pressurized suit. I might get ripped apart by breaking the sound barrier, I might not make it safely to the ground, and yet what if I do... And if I do… what then?

That sounds like being in love to me, for better or worse.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

If she doesn’t rip me limb from limb when I break the speed of sound, we’re good. If she does, at least I don’t have to worry about breaking my ankle when I hit the ground. So yeah, especially considering the alternatives, I sure hope it lasts forever, I’m a long relationship kinda guy…

Kathleen Pollard

Actor (Theatre/Film)

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

Three reasons, in relative order: 1) I'm in love, and the man that makes my heart beat fast was moving here so I jumped on board. 2) I was yearning for a more culturally vibrant arts scene, and knew that so much was happening on that level in Toronto compared to Vancouver (a better haven for serious actors). 3) I've lived in Vancouver my whole life, and always suspected that I was missing out on that rite of passage that you take when you decide to leave your hometown behind and live in a different city.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Toronto is passionate, sexy, a little dangerous. Toronto compels me to unleash my wilder side; to behave erratically sometimes. With Toronto, I can wear a mask and play a role; become someone mysterious with no past. Toronto is okay with me seeing lots of different people and encouraging me to find myself. Toronto takes me to places I literally have never been. Toronto keeps me guessing, keeps me captivated. Toronto plays its cards a little closer to its chest…which means I gotta be the one to ask the questions; to dig beneath the surface.

Vancouver is a safe, comfortable and predictable companion. Vancouver is so gorgeous; so pristine…and yet so boring. Vancouver has known me my whole life, has seen me grow up, fail, succeed, and knows me inside out. Vancouver refuses to let me pretend to be someone else; to be impulsive; to fake a more exciting version of myself. Vancouver lulls me into being a complacent woman, living a complacent life who sees no need to question the status quo. Vancouver is easy to navigate. I could find it with my eyes closed…I know exactly where to go, how to get there, how long it will take to get there and what to expect when I arrive. There are no surprises. There is no climax in repetition.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

The number of parks and green spaces! Something I always thought Vancouver had the right to be smug about…but there are more parks here.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

Brisk stroll in the fall air through Phinn Parkette, sun beating down, feet crunching through leaves. Hop on the subway and head to Kensington for lunch at Wanda's Pie in the Sky. Mmm…

Cruise around Kenginston and Chinatown. Walk around the University district, taking photos of the gorgeous brick buildings and stained glass. Hit Queen Street West for shopping (mostly of the window variety). Hop a streetcar and make my way to the Distillery for dinner, a brewski and maybe some live jazz. Trundle home to Greektown, and if I still have room; a late night frozen yogurt :)

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

I miss the mountains…even though I'm not a skier or snowboarder: something about not having them in my landscape anymore does make me feel sad. I miss the smell of salt and seaweed that you can only get from the ocean (as big as the lake is, it just doesn't smell right). Cheap, delicious sushi (here, it seems it only be one or the other). The sea to sky highway. Breathtaking views, and feeling truly blended with nature.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Oh, sure :) Most Vancouver supporters default to how beautiful a place it is, how the pace of life is manageable, how people are more polite. Toronto supporters will argue that Vancouver has no culture (it's a dead town), that there is way more happening culturally here, that there's more diversity in the population and that people aren't so much rude as they are straightforward and open to talking to you…that Vancouverites are so caught up in their personal space that they barely even make eye contact with each other.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Culture. Galleries, museums, music festivals, jazz, the Royal Conservatory, Stratford, Shaw, TIFF film fest, street parties, ethnic festivals, Nuit Blanche, Carribean Festivals, Taste of the Danforth….the list goes on.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

In the two months that I've been here, I've been able to submit for several auditions (theatre and commercial); have made impressions with several agents and casting directors; and landed a principal role in a commercial. There is so much going on here, that even the non-union casting notices are for larger scale projects with actual budgets! The opportunities are head and shoulders above what I could do in Vancouver.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

Good question. I'm still too new to Toronto to really answer that in an informed way. Vancouver is my hometown; I grew up there, it's the stomping grounds for my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. As such, my personality has been shaped by my environment. I love hiking, nature, mountains, the ocean; I'm environmentally conscious and still do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint. I hate crowds…and people sometimes. So…I'm a quintessential west coast girl. But my true calling is that I'm an actor. And one who is craving a large cultural centre so that I can actually make a living practising my craft and living my bliss. Only Toronto is really in a position to support that, at least for now.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

Well, it's still the honeymoon phase :) But I'm smitten!! Weddin' bells, they may be a-chimin'…..

Naoko Kumagai

Writer

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I moved from Vancouver to Toronto in July 2001 to look for work and I guess I’d always been curious to live in the centre of the universe so to speak.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Toronto is a complicated, kinetic and passionate lover, the one who leaves dirty dishes in the sink. Vancouver is laid back, sleepy and beautiful. No regrets.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

The construction.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

Probably just hanging out in Kensington Market on pedestrian Sunday or grabbing coffee at the Dark Horse and going for a walk along Queen St West.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

I get nostalgic about Commercial Drive and Main and Broadway since I used to live in both neighbourhoods and The Cultch (I’ve seen a lot of great shows there). Sometimes I even get nostalgic about the rain.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Not really contentious, just more of a wary discussion. Most people I know embrace the virtues of both cities. And if they’re really fed up, they just move.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Surfing on Lake Ontario.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Toronto has rejuvenated my practice mostly because of all the people I’ve met out here.

Good times.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

I can’t say one over the other; I have a symbiotic relationship with both. I feel Vancouver formed me just because I grew up there and Toronto helped me evolve.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

Yes. I think it’s for keeps.

Ashley Bodiguel

Actor/Information Professional

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I moved to Toronto with my husband in September, 2011 so I could attend the Master of Information program at the iSchool (Faculty of Information) at the University of Toronto.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

I feel guilty for saying it, but Toronto is more experienced, more satisfying, more confident, and more expressive. It’s not a step up to trade Vancouver’s tight yoga pants for Toronto’s tight jeans, but now that Toronto is feeding me the most incredible food, all tight pants are a distant memory for me and I have new affection for Toronto’s sleeping-bag winter jackets.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

How much people like to wave at cyclists . . . with their middle fingers . . . while yelling profanities.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

I am walking, riding my bike, and hopping on transit to explore this place and its never-ending offerings of pubs and art. A good day for me includes the beach and nosing around some historical building. So much to take in. At any time of day or night you’re not alone if you’re walking down the street. There are free events happening all over the city all the time.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

Sweet Cherubim’s chocolate bliss balls. Duran Cruickshank & James Coomber and an incredible network of friends and colleagues. The wedding ring I lost somewhere on Spanish Banks.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

I have found myself defending Toronto to long-time Torontonians a few times. They seem tired of it, jaded. I take this to mean that I, too, will get bored with my lust for Toronto.

I can’t count how many times I’ve told someone I moved here from Vancouver and their response was, “WHY?!!” My husband and I have started answering with, “Vancouver has waaaay too many fire-breathing dragons. We just had to get away.”

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Community and culture. Also, smoking on public patios.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Toronto is maturing me. I put my artistic practice to sleep (intentionally) when I moved to Toronto. I had to in order to pursue this degree. Toronto represents a personal isolation from my artistic peers and connections that I couldn’t (and would never want to) cut while living in Vancouver. As a result, I’ve been able to reflect on my craft, my intentions, and my goals and what I’m learning is incredibly valuable. I flirt with my creative urges every so often because I am working on a grad project which merges Theatre Creation with online Information-Seeking Practices.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

TORONTO. There’s no explaining that connection you feel with a person or a place when it’s really right. I’m my best self living here (though my best self drinks more beer than my almost-best self in Vancouver).

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

Probably. But then, I loved tight yoga pants for a while, too.

Brian Joe

Visual artist / Working on degrees in Information Studies and Museum Studies / Future Gatekeeper in Culture Sector

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I moved here to go to school just over a year ago. It felt like it was time to move on.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

I grew up with Vancouver. She's the girl next door, the first love. A bit stuck up, but oh so pretty.

Toronto is still relatively new, perhaps a bit more homely, but a bit more alive.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

The diversity and proximity of neighbourhoods. It’s an astoundingly walkable city.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

The perfect Toronto-centric day would start with brunch at one of the trendy hotspots in town, followed by a slow wander through Kensington, stopping for a coffee and then hitting up an LCBO or Beer Store for some tall cans. With the beers somewhat concealed, wandering would continue on to Trinity Bellwoods Park. There you can see hippies and hipsters playing soccer, cyclists flying down the path, dogs running around the gorge and so on. As the day rolls on hunger starts to creep up, wandering would ensue (again) towards Koreatown. Cheap, awesome food every two steps. Or even cheap sushi on College—either way, cheap eats is good eats. Finally it’d be time to stumble into a bar for good, local, microbrewed pints. From then on…well then the day is done, but the night is young.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

I miss the people and geography of Vancouver. I basically lived there my whole life and you can’t really beat the mountains, oceans and crazy-awesome sunsets. I also miss the laid-backed-ness.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

I have thought about the Toronto vs. Vancouver thing. I think I came to the conclusion that Toronto’s a bit bigger and a bit older. Vancouver is young, and it’s growing more vibrant every year (I think). And well, how do you compare Rob Ford and Gregor Robertson? I'm a big fan of sustainable living, and while the people of Toronto seem to be into the idea, the mayor... is another story.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

The Toronto experience is cheap bars and live music.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

I’ve been able to meet people with similar practices to mine and been more motivated to actually do some work. My practice hasn't really gone anywhere since finishing my BFA a couple years ago, but it feels like there’s more potential now. Having to deal with school, however, has put a damper on those possibilities.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

I still feel like Vancouver gets me more than Toronto. I am far more embedded in Vancouver, and my history with it, growing up with trips to Chinatown and watching the city itself grow as I was kind of bonds me to it. I mentioned it above, but the laid back nature of the city speaks to me.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

I think this is a five-year thing. I’m not looking to go back to Vancouver any time soon, but I think after I’ve done my schooling, I’d like to go further afield: flee the country in some way.

Hillary Rexe

Writer

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I fled from Vancouver to Montreal and then came to Toronto six years later to do an MFA.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Toronto has brown hair, which you like, but not your favourite cut. Vancouver has twelve inches of died blonde hair. Toronto is harsh and snappy but also loves cuddling, which you find surprising, given the snappiness. Vancouver holds your hand loosely (her palms are always wet). Toronto will do: you have similar beliefs, you both like good food, you’re both equal parts tough and high-maintenance, and she can walk fast, which is important to you. Vancouver gives you head, and you give Vancouver head, but you avoid the big issues that might take the whole thing down. And you like those white moccasins Vancouver pads around in. You’d like slippers like hers but your feet are too big. You’ve never seen a person give a shit about shoe size in Toronto.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

That people were bookish and friendly and wanting to chat, at least to WASPy me. That people tell me I look Jewish constantly (a compliment; taken). How dispersed and ubiquitous the homelessness is. How flat and vast it is (you can see the CN tower from Etobicoke). That there’s no view, no mountain to look to, no thing to look up and see.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

Running around doing things that suit me but worrying: am I a yuppy now, now, how about now, oh now I am, yes, there it is, here it is.

That said:

  • the lakeshore
  • the look of streetcars
  • the font in subway stations and public schools
  • the fruiteries in Roncesvalles
  • all the Victorian architecture
  • the bookstores, the cultural events I don’t attend, the etc. etc. of it all

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

The physical beauty of it. And my skin is nicer there.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Mostly people agree with me. Or they are from Vancouver and not sure how to argue.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Efficient. Product-oriented. Rushed. Consumer-friendly.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Made me focus, channel the protestant work ethic, be overly focused on a finished product and success. Though that might be age. A lot of this might be age.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

Neither. But Toronto’s much closer.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

It’s a highly successful relationship of convenience, which has become comfortable. And sometimes the slower loves are the ones that last, the ones that really count in the end.

Beverley Cooper

Playwright

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I grew up in Vancouver. I had graduated from acting school (Studio 58), was still living at home and wanted to spread my wings. So I moved to Toronto in the 1980s to take more acting classes, audition and grow up. I was nervous about the move though; before leaving Vancouver, I took a community centre class in self-defence.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Vancouver is my childhood sweetheart. I have beautiful memories of him, but Toronto is whom I am married to. Happily married to.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

That we could vote in a mayor like Rob Ford. We are endlessly paying for the amalgamation that Mike Harris forced on us. Toronto proper is different from Etobicoke.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

I go for a crisp early morning walk in the Beaches with a friend. It’s fall and I love the changing colour of the leaves. Then, I get some good productive work done in my home office. Mid-afternoon, I have a hot cocoa with my son Mac when he comes home from school. Then get more productive work done. I have dinner with my husband and two sons at Pizza Libretto on the Danforth. We leave early to go to some fabulous theatre… maybe at Soulpepper or Theatre Passe Muraille. And then on the way home we drop into the Dora Keough on the Danforth and dance to the music of the Circumstantialists. I do all this and still manage to get to bed by ten.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

My family, dear friends, trips to Bowen Island. The mountains, ocean, trees and salty air. Walking on Jericho beach, the views, breakfast at Paul’s on Granville. Granville Island Market. My soul lies in the BC landscape.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Oh. Yes. I finally got tired of everyone in Vancouver—my family being the worst—constantly trashing Toronto, without ever really having spent any time here. The worst thing they used to manage to say was that they always had to watch the Toronto Leafs play hockey on TV, but now they’ve got Rob Ford to gloat about. I don’t grin and bob my head anymore, I stand up for Toronto.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Culture: you can’t keep up with it. It’s an amazing smorgasbord of delights.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Opened me up, connected me with great people, challenged me, made me work really hard.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

Both do in their own way. I used to weep every time I flew back to Vancouver and saw the mountains. But I didn’t have positive experiences working in Vancouver because there was resentment about “outsiders” working there that I always felt didn’t serve the artistic community very well. I remember, as an actor, touring to Vancouver with a very successful show and nobody came because it was labelled as a “Toronto show.” In Toronto there are always people coming from other places and cultures and it enriches the city in so many ways.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

The weather might do me in. I don’t like the very cold or very hot days, which are numerous. But I don’t think I could leave my community here. I love it.

Gillian Bennett

Actor/Writer

CAVEAT: The entire time I've been in Toronto, I have been either very pregnant of with my infant, so I have not fully explored the city. To be fair to Toronto, I haven't given it a fair chance yet.

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

More cultural diversity and work opportunities. Vancouver is a back lot for film and theatrically very hard to break in. I think Colin Firth, who lived in Vancouver for a while said that “it is easier to break into Hollywood than to break into theatre in Vancouver.” Yes, COLIN FIRTH said that. It just felt like Vancouver was a closed market in many respects, and not a place to start a career, or a place that embraced risk, or the true spirit of creative endeavour. It is a tough town for artists who are emerging and trying to establish a career/body of work—if you ever want your work to be experienced by an audience, that is.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Vancouver is very good looking. As a lover, I’d say I was taken with the calculated, yet rugged good looks of Vancouver. He took me out to restaurants I loved, he was clean, his apartment was clean, he was sexy, but kind of selfish and vain. It turns out, though I loved him, he was more in love with himself than I had realized. He’s just a lot more shallow than I had originally thought. I still miss him though. Or is it the fantasy that I miss?

Toronto is friendlier, more down to earth without being earthy. Toronto is one of those guys who tells you how he feels, and tells you more directly. It can hurt your feelings sometimes, but at least he is being honest with you. I’m not in love with Toronto either. He is also kind of wrapped up with himself, but at least his ventures are interesting and his life seems fuller than the last guy’s. He’s not as sexy, or maybe he’s just sexy in a more neurotic way. My Vancouver guy took me out for oysters but I eat more sandwiches in Toronto. I don't mind because I like a good sandwich, but I thought they would be cheaper. My Toronto lover isn’t as low maintenance as I’d hoped for either, but he is more realistic, and we have more to do together.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

How much I still miss Vancouver, though it may not make sense.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

First of all, on my perfect day, I have child care. I am an exhausted mom so really my perfect day is going to a hotel for 24 hours, putting out the “Do Not Disturb” sign, ordering room service and sleeping. But if I did that first, and then had another day, I'd want to take in theatre, maybe a festival like SummerWorks and see a bunch of shows and go to the beer garden and eat at a hole in the wall. Or go to TIFF and just see film after film after film. I guess I am feeling culturally deprived as a mommy, and would pounce at the chance to take in some shows. I'd like to roam around Little Italy too. Check out High Park. Get a roti. See some art. Now that I think about it, I've always been curious about that Bata Shoe Museum.....is it just shoes in there?

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

Jericho beach, Kits, walking by the ocean, seeing seals in my neighbourhood (and once a whale), the sky in the west at sunset, the smell of salt air, the restaurants, that west coast vibe, the feeling of magic, driving 15-minutes from my house and walking in the rainforest. I had more a sense of community there, though to be fair I haven’t sought it out here, have been a bit of a shut in. I miss The Ridge movie theatre, but I hear that is gone now....

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

No, usually I say I miss Vancouver and people roll their eyes, which I also do inwardly. I have had conversations with Andrew Templeton and Jill Margo, and I usually just feel that they are right in the end about how much better Toronto is and that I have a romantic thing for Vancouver. Though I do know some Vancouverites that hate Toronto. I mean, I left Vancouver for a lot of reasons, but Toronto is no prince charming either.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Culture and diversity.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Actually, I've experienced a few rejections for grants here, which took me by surprise. I was really confident about the project because I had received some aplomb in Vancouver. So now I feel like Toronto has rejected me, same as Vancouver. Those lovers were both dicks.

I'm in a fantastic play development festival though (Laura in What You Want). Now that I think of it, there aren’t that many of those, at least at this calibre, in Vancouver.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

Vancouver. I don't know why. Because I like torturing myself, maybe? I think there is something mystical about the west coast that people respond to. I just have a more wide open feeling there. I feel I have more of a place there. Maybe it’s the geography and the air that I connect to there. The smell. I also knew more of the literary scene there. I don't yet get Toronto, so maybe when I get Toronto it will get me.

Toronto also intimidates me a little. Not the city as much as the artistic community. I’m trying to find a way of becoming less of an outsider. Trying to feel good enough for the theatre or film community here to accept me. There are more people here competing and I’m a bit anxious to throw my little hat in the big ring. What I'm not sure of yet: Is Toronto a bigger risk taker than Vancouver?

Toronto triggers my insecurity. But then again, I think every place triggers my insecurity.

I do feel hope for Toronto, though because it is a place where people are supported in creating new things, more so than Vancouver, which is ultimately why I came. At least, that is what I've heard and the Beyond Buzz Festival itself is evidence of that. BUT, I might point out, What You Want is a project that was born and brought to life in Vancouver, initially.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

No.

Russell Bennett

Actor / Writer / Director / Producer at Big Smoke Productions / Meisner teacher at Foundation

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I drove from Vancouver to TO last July during a heat wave with my five-months pregnant wife and no a/c in the car. Vancouver didn’t have enough opportunities to make a living in the entertainment industry, and whatever success my wife and I had in Vancouver, we couldn’t gain traction/momentum with it. After seven-and-a-half years, we decided to give Toronto a try.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

I’m so happy to be out of my relationship with Vancity—it was a necessary stop along the way, but Toronto is a more compatible with my professional desires… at least in Canada.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

How much people love the stupid streetcars.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

Today! I begin the day at sunrise carrying my ten-month-old baby boy on my front as we walk along the beach of Lake Ontario, and down the boardwalk, where joggers and the elderly smile at how cute my baby is. Then, after a couple hours of writing at Remarkable Bean in the Beaches, I take in a strong coffee with a friend at F’Coffee where we share ideas about our creative projects. After that, lunch is a multi-layered grilled sandwich made by loving wife. We compare notes about our baby, and talk about the web series we’re creating. The afternoon is devoted to moving the films I am producing forward, then receiving sides from my awesome agent and rehearsing them for an audition for a great indie film. When I’m done, I grab some delicious Thai chicken curry for dinner, and then teach a stimulating Meisner technique class to actors. Back at home, I snuggle with my wife on the couch as we watch an episode of the latest series we’re watching, and then dive under the covers with her and my baby.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

I miss the warm, sunny days on Wreck Beach, the sushi, and the scent of the air beneath the canopy of conifers in the Endowment Lands.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Yeah, it goes like this: Vancouver is a small-minded adolescent, who never seems to grow up amidst the luscious backdrop of mountains and ocean, and Toronto is a wannabe NYC, which seems like it’s finally coming into its own.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

Being stuck in traffic behind a lazy streetcar while listening to Jian Ghomeshi pontificate about life and trying to think of excuses to make for being late again.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Toronto has forced me to bring my game; now if only someone will buy it. Hmm… maybe I’ll have to go to LA or NYC after all…

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

Neither. NYC gets me and LA doesn’t know it yet, but it needs me.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

Toronto is like training wheels; eventually they come off and you ride on.

Esther Reich

Actress / Writer

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

I met my fiancé in January of 2011 and in August of that year his company offered him a promotion... to Toronto. He asked me to join him. What could I say? I had recently finished writing my first screenplay wherein the main character follows her own boyfriend to Toronto, so I felt it must be a sign. And love, of course. The company shipped all our belongings, and we made the trek across Canada in his VW Jetta, stopping in Saskatoon to visit his family, arriving in Toronto in mid-January.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

Vancouver is that lover where you have a few fantastic moments of sunshine with seemingly endless months of isolation and self-doubt. Happiest moments in the relationship include time on boats in the heat of the summer, driving around Stanley Park and out to the islands, with the mountains at my back. Worst moments are the evenings where all there is to do is stay at home and watch the fog.

Toronto is the lover who always wants you to leave the house and go for a drink—even when it’s so damn cold outside that all you want to do is stay home with a cup of hot cocoa! I find myself feeling guilty on days when I do not leave the house because I know I am missing out on something, somewhere.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

Toronto loves Vancouver. Why does Vancouver hate Toronto? When we told people we were moving, the almost universal reaction was “Why???”

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

Walking up to the cute little warehouse-coffee shop up the road for a thick, rich caramel latte to go, continuing walking through the streets up to Kensington market where I pick up fresh vegetables, sample cheeses, and purchase spices for ludicrously low prices. Head down Queen Street and back home to make pizza from scratch and head out for a quick bike ride around the harbour. Head up to Paully’s Pub for some trivia with a few other Vancouver friends, then back home on the street car.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

Relaxation. People in Toronto take life too seriously sometimes. I feel like telling people that it’s okay not to do EVERYTHING. Sometimes doing nothing is just brilliant.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Well, really, mostly from Vancouverites. Basically, it’s too noisy, ugly, no mountains, too much crime, thinks it’s New York, no good restaurants and doesn’t care about the rest of Canada, centre of the universe etc. All I’ve really heard of Torontonians bad-mouthing Vancouverites is that Vancouverites don’t know how to dress themselves. And since going back to visit, I’m not sure they’re wrong! (This comes from walking mostly down King and Queen Street for the past nine months).

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what is the Toronto experience?

I think the Toronto experience is about having a little piece of everything at your fingertips. You can be on the busiest street in the city and – oh – what’s that? A quiet side street with a little kid on a bike? Yes! Or, you can be in a little suburban neighborhood, and – oh – there’s a theatre show happening over there in the basement. I like that. I like that there are different neighborhoods with their own flavour. I’m in love with the Danforth. There are tree-lined streets that I find when walking that make we want to skip down them because they are so beautiful. And little boutique shops. And warehouse lofts. And condos in the old rail yards. Diversions and places to live for everyone and every taste. And if not, well, take a train or a plane and you’re somewhere else lickety-split.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

Reminded me that I am responsible for my own education. Classes here are expensive, and I have found that I am returning more to my books and my own self-disciplined work than just seeking out new teachers to throw my money at. It’s also changed how I feel about seasons and wind. I used to love wind; now I have a love/hate relationship. I HATE Toronto wind. It is cold and unwelcome, especially by the lake. It’s beautiful when it forms the white caps on the lake, but it makes me hate walking outside. I LOVE Toronto wind in the summer. It is the only thing that keeps me sane. I guess like with any lover, Toronto pushes me away with its persistence in involving itself in my daily activities, and then woos me back with that same persistence.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

I love cities. I love action. I love that when I walk out of my door in Toronto there are endless possibilities for my day. This is my Toronto—it gets that I need options to thrive and to inspire my creativity.

But I love the peace of Vancouver—the stillness of sitting in the snow with my snowboard up at Whistler and hearing the gentle wind in the trees.

It’s a fight for my love right now. It’s really too early to tell which place gets me.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

Well, I think we stand a good chance together. That is, unless I get run over by a taxi or one of the infinite number of crazy drivers who think they are New Yorkers...

Jill Margo

Writer (mostly fiction) and Producer, MachineFair

Q1

When and why did you move to Toronto from Vancouver?

My fella (Andrew Templeton himself!) and I left Vancouver via train on July 26, 2011 (my 37th birthday) and arrived in the sweaty swelter of Toronto four days later with a couple of suitcases and ten extra-large Rubbermaid containers full of all our worldly belongings. We came here because I was accepted into the MFA program at the University of Guelph (which hosts the program at the Humber north campus). Also, we were dying to get away from Vancouver.

Q2

Say that Toronto is your new lover and Vancouver is your ex-lover. Compare and contrast the two accordingly.

I was with Vancouver for three years minus three days. If Vancouver really had been my lover, I’d feel badly for never really loving him, using him and tossing him aside. He was too pretty, too stoned and not quite grown up for my maturing tastes. Toronto, on the other hand, Toronto keeps me interested. I never know where we’re going to do it or how and I never feel bad about it.

Q3

What has surprised you the most about Toronto?

How small it feels even if it is a big city. Toronto just feels like a whole bunch of neighbourhoods to me—and they’re so wonderfully diverse. You can roam around as many or as little of them as you like. If you’re in Roncesvalles you can’t move too slowly though or the old Polish ladies will run you down. They are still a lot less aggressive than the people who ride transit in Vancouver though.

Q4

Describe your perfect Toronto-centric day—where you are and what you’re doing.

First off, the sun shines so much here! So, it’s sunny but not over say, 23 degrees, so it’s any season but summer. My favourite thing to do is to go to different neighbourhoods with bookstores, cinemas and good coffee/food and just wander around and enjoy. West Queen West (where I live), Trinity Bellwoods, The Annex, The Junction, the area around The St. Lawrence Market, and Roncesvalles are among my favourites.

Q5

What do you miss the most about Vancouver?

London Drugs.

Q6

Have you ever had a contentious conversation about the virtues of Toronto vs. Vancouver, and if so, give us the gist here.

Oh yes, I’ve landed in sharky waters over this one, for sure. What I learned is that some people find it offensive if you put down the city they still reside in. Fair enough. I haven’t meant to be a jerk about it; I guess sometimes we bad mouth our exes without thinking it through first. I still feel bad about upsetting a dear friend though. My Vancouver friends are amazing and I really don’t want to upset them.

Q7

If a large part of the Vancouver experience revolves around nature and the views, as one may suggest it does, what would you identify as the Toronto experience?

In terms of its physicality, it’s stinkier, strangely archaic (street cars!) and far less beautiful, but it feels more at ease and like it has less issues with itself. The Toronto experience has nothing to prove.

Q8

What has Toronto done for your artistic practice?

I am writing a novel based in BC. It’s much better to be away from a place while writing about it. Mind you, I could be anywhere else, so Toronto-wise, I guess I’d say that I just feel more inspired here. The creative juices flow a little better for me in a really urban, yet laid back, environment. Also, there are far more bookstores here and books are really affordable at places like BMV. It helps my writing to be able to buy books.

Q9

Which place really gets you—Vancouver or Toronto—and why?

I have never heard anyone in Toronto talk about hiking or camping. That right there is a win.

Q10

Do you think it’s going to last—this thing between you and Toronto?

At this point in time, Toronto is the only place in Canada I’d want to live. We have a couple of other passports between us though…