Riding the Red Rocket

Toronto streetcar
Image by r h via Flickr

That’s the fond nickname Torontonians (some mouthful, that) have for their transit system. Riding the Queen Street West streetcar — which takes all of 17 non-rush-hour minutes from its western terminus into downtown — takes me past some of my history. There’s the street where I met and gave my heart away, hastily and foolishly, in my final year of college to the ski bum living in Austria most of the year. We met at a party where my best friend met his best friend who broke her heart too. There’s now an empty space where the Army Navy store sat for decades, where I bought a leather bullwhip and gave it — natch — to the head of security for Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Tour. (He used to walk backward trying to pacify the press pack when she did walkabouts and I suggested he needed, like a liontamer, a whip and a chair.) The bookstore with a rack for books by or about “iconoclasts and activists” right by the door, Pages, a Queen Street indie institution for 30 years closes in seven days.

Sat at the Black Bull — founded 1833 — and savored a cold beer, watching the world go by. Dropped into Roots and chatted with two terrific girls, Kristi and Jamie, best friends from first grade in Sudbury who both work there, and we traded horror stories about retail life.

Tonight — yay! — Dad and I will head to The Ex, an ancient annual summer Toronto (pronounced Tronna by natives) tradition of rides and farm animals and butter sculptures and cotton candy and overpriced rigged carnie games. Can’t wait.