Dear Readers, whenever I come to downtown Toronto, I am amazed at both how urban it is, and how a variety of creatures are still making it their home. Unlike London or New York, Toronto has no substantial parks or greenspaces in its core, and this can make it feel rather oppressive to me, especially on a dull, grey day. I suspect that maybe Torontonians feel the same way, because since I first started visiting here, there has been an absolute boom in dog ownership. Maybe this is the pandemic effect, maybe it’s the growth in the number of apartments, but there are small (and a few large) dogs everywhere. This beagle was visiting a coffee shop that we were sitting in (Versus, which is on Adelaide East – highly recommended) and I loved the way that he never took his eyes away from the door as he waited for his owner. He’s not the youngest of dogs, and I always find canine devotion very moving.
What really impresses me about Toronto (and I may have mentioned this last year) is that it has much higher sparrow numbers than inner London does. Maybe some of the blighted and decrepit buildings that are waiting for demolition all over the city are providing a place for these social little creatures to nest. A small flock visited the outside terrace of the coffee shop (largely because another couple cradling a small white fluffy dog were eating pastries). I am always struck by how energetic these birds are, and how ready to take up every opportunity. Proper city dwellers, in other words. I always think that there is something of the Victorian urchin about them.
And of course there are the feral pigeons, always watchful, and as spring approaches, clearly full of thoughts of ‘love’. All over the city pigeons are bobbing and cooing and chasing females around the pavements, with food as a secondary obsession. The pigeon below was much more interested in the goings on of several birds at ground level than he was in mere croissant crumbs.
And everywhere, the signs of spring, as the dogwood twigs and pine foliage of the winter is pulled out of the displays outside banks and governmental buildings, and the bulbs and blossom burst into flower instead. I could wish that it was a bit drier and a bit warmer, but things are definitely moving on. And for Torontonians I’m sure it can’t come quickly enough.