Have Handheld, Will Travel — Second Stop: Toronto!

The view from Chinatown, Toronto.
You’ll have to imagine the siren.

One hour after finally rolling to a stop in Toronto yesterday, I felt like I had come home. Don’t get me wrong — there are all sorts of reasons I like living in the (relatively) small town of Granite Falls, MN. The congregation I pastor loves the Lord and loves one another, and the area is a beautiful part of the country. But I grew up in the big(ger) city, and I’ve come to appreciate things that for many years I took for granted (and that most of my country friends despise).

Mountain ranges of brick, concrete, steel and glass towering over concrete valleys. Endless streams of people flowing with a rush of different accents, different languages, different colors. Magical groves of old ivy-covered buildings. Flowery fields of shops, inns, and restaurants, some native grown, but even more transplanted from the four corners of the world. Toronto is all of these and more. It’s an unusually clean city, and friendly, too.

Not that it’s a perfect place. I have no doubt that there is a seamy side to Toronto like everywhere else. And let me tell you, the traffic is the worst I’ve seen anywhere. But as horrible as the traffic is, it brings out something great in this city: pedestrians, and a spectacular profusion of small shops that cater to pedestrians.

My daughter in Chinatown.

Cities like this are the last bastion of the small businessman, because the countryside is being has been taken over by big box stores. I shop at Walmart; these people shop at mom and pop stores. The industrial revolution may have begun in the big city, but it manifested itself most fully when it ravaged the countryside. The rural area I know is infinitely more industrialized than anything I’ve seen here.

Anyhow, yesterday evening after a cookout put on by the bride’s family I programmed my HT with a bunch of repeaters in the area. This morning I enjoyed my coffee outdoors, HT in hand. “NØIP portable VE3 listening,” I called. My first contact was on the VA3SF 70cm repeater with Jay, VE3EMP, a nice fellow who welcomed me to Toronto. Then I chatted at length with Wade, VE3WGK, on the 70cm VA3XPR repeater. Wade is the CANWARN coordinator here in central Ontario, and he is also a volunteer for the Ontario Science Centre where there is an operational Amateur Radio Station on display. He encouraged me to email him about visiting this station, and so I did. I’m hoping to visit the station tomorrow, but time will tell.

Here comes the bride!

Afterward we went to Chinatown, where the bride introduced us all to a delightful Chinese bakery. Even more exotic was the taro bubble tea she introduced me to a block down the street. Amazing!

Eventually the bride and her family departed, leaving my wife, daughter and I to stroll around Chinatown.

Who knew the Great White North could be so hot?!

Whew, was it hot! I bought some painted fans for the bride, for the bridesmaids and for my wife, and my wife also got a fancy hat to keep the sun off her fair red-headed skin. My daughter picked up a silk robe and a casual dress, and I bought myself a much-needed new watchband.

Strolling through Chinatown. That guy looks like he has spent too much time at the radio!

This evening, my wife and I went for another long walk. (Did I mention all the long walks I’ve been taking here in Toronto?) We had a late supper at a magnificent little Mediterranean restaurant. I haven’t had a felafel that good since I was in Israel! I was smiling so much and complimenting the fellow behind the counter so much that he gave us some baklava, refusing to let me pay him.

Ah, Toronto!

Photographs taken by my XYL. Thanks, Monica!

Todd Mitchell, NØIP, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Minnesota, USA. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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