I Moved From BC To Toronto & There Are So Many Things Locals Don't Realize About Their City

Bagged milk isn't even the half of it!

Tristan Wheeler in the Niagara Escarpment. Right: Tristan Wheeler fishing in his hometown.

Tristan Wheeler in the Niagara Escarpment. Right: Tristan Wheeler fishing in his hometown.

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

The 6ix can be a weird city sometimes. And after moving to Toronto from B.C., I don't think a lot of Torontonians realize just how strange and special it can be.

Growing up in a small town in B.C. with a population of around 8,000, hours away from any major cities, I thought I had experienced what it meant to live in a big city when I moved to Vancouver for university.

But, after graduating and heading to Toronto, oh boy was I wrong. There is so much about Toronto that is so incredibly rare, but it seems like no one talks about it or notices it!

I've put together this list of things that I've noticed are unique about the big city that many people seem to take for granted.

Tristan Wheeler in the Niagara Escarpment.Tristan Wheeler in the Niagara Escarpment.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity

The TTC is awesome

OK, I know. Hating on the TTC is practically a Toronto pastime. But, I unabashedly love it.

Sure, it can get delayed or be inconsistent, but few cities have a subway system that actually can get you places you want to go.

Maybe this is me being a small-town person, but I love the train!

The whole 'bagged milk' thing

This has always been something that has been talked about as a quintessential Canadian thing but out west, there is no bagged milk.

So, seeing it in Toronto grocery stores blew my mind. It was a moment like, "Oh wow! This IS a real thing!"

Buying alcohol is confusing

What is going on in Ontario when it comes to alcohol sales?

Growing up in B.C., there were only two ways for you to buy alcohol: 1) From a government-owned B.C. Liquor Store or 2) From a privately-owned liquor store.

How things are set up in Toronto still confuses me.

Plus, the wildest thing to me is that you can just take a single beer out of a six-pack and buy that individually? It's mind-boggling because, in B.C., you can either buy singles or a whole pack, which are two separate things.

The diversity of the city is amazing

Even in a city like Vancouver, there aren't a lot of unique neighbourhoods.

However, Toronto is amazing when it comes to the different neighbourhoods and how diverse they are.

Few cities have neighbourhoods that are fully Tibetan, Greek, Polish, Italian, Portuguese and more! It's a really beautiful part of the city and is something I never thought I'd see coming from such a small town.

Nature is so far away

The Ontario wilderness.

The Ontario wilderness.

Tristan Wheeler | Narcity

I grew up in the mountains and forests. Even when I was living in Vancouver, mountains and hiking were just a short drive away.

But in Toronto, nature is SO far away. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, you need to take a long drive out of the city and, even then, nature pales in comparison to what B.C.'s got. Sorry!

Everyone is super nice

This is a debate that's been going on for years, but I really do think people in Toronto are way friendlier than people out west.

As someone who's travelled to nearly every region of B.C., the nicest people I've met out on the street and in the world, have been in Toronto.

It seems like Torontonians will go out of their way to smile at you or help you if they can. People in places like Vancouver? The general vibe is "leave me alone and I'll leave you alone."

Toronto is so old

Downtown from the Leslie Spit.

Downtown from the Leslie Spit.

Tristan Wheeler | Narcity

I live in a building that was built in roughly the 1890s. A building that old in B.C. would be labelled a historical site, but here I am just living and renting in an old-as-heck building and it's normal! That will never not be fascinating to me.

Sure, it's still pretty young when compared to places in Europe, but when compared to Vancouver, where most homes were built after 1950, it's really something.

It's so cold

First things first, I'm not a born and bred Vancouver guy who's not used to snow or the cold.

My hometown would consistently get snow and temperatures of -10. But still, even that didn't prepare me for the unique cold of Toronto. I've never had to contend with a wind chill that numbs your face and let me say: it sucks!

It's so hot

On the other hand, I'm also used to some hot, hot heat.

Visiting my family in B.C. this summer during the heatwave had me sweating through temperatures of around 40 degrees. But that's a dry heat.

Toronto's humidity is a whole other deal and, I would say, is worse. Feeling hot and sticky all the time in August is not fun.

There are so many things to do

The curtains before the beginning of a movie.

The curtains before the beginning of a movie.

Tristan Wheeler | Narcity

I don't want to rag on Torontonians too much, but I really do think they don't realize how many cool things there are to do in the city.

Of course, aside from COVID-19, the city is awash with cool restaurants, interesting events, amazing theatres and cultural scenes.

Toronto is really spoiled in that sense and I don't think locals realize it. Especially when compared to Vancouver, which has the loving nickname "no fun city."

While I love Toronto a whole lot, I always try to let all the born and bred Ontarians know that their city is, in fact, super strange!

From the brick buildings to the tumultous weather, it really is a unique place that shouldn't be taken for granted, at least for a small town boy like me!

Tristan Wheeler
Tristan Wheeler was a Creator for Narcity Media focused on money and budgets and is based in Toronto, Ontario.