’Hood Winked The thing about rankings is that something has to come first and something has to come last. Readers whose neighbourhoods landed down in the nether regions of our list of the “Best (and Worst) Places to Live” spoke out to passionately defend their turf.
“How is South Riverdale only ranked 61? It’s been one of the hottest/most sought-after neighbourhoods in the city for several years. Oh, I see, 7.8 out of 100 for safety. As any villain can tell you, our ’hood is not filled with marauding criminals—the most common offenders are rebellious cyclists and dog owners not properly disposing of their pet’s business!”
—Terry Cain, Facebook
“Thank you for highlighting the 140 neighbourhoods that make up Toronto, which definitely shows how vibrant this city is. I live and work in Woburn (ranking #121) and run a community-based program in West Hill (ranking #140) that supports adults with literacy and numeracy skills. As such, I found the rankings quite disheartening and misleading.
“First off, the ‘top’ 20 neighbourhoods score low in terms of diversity, while the ‘bottom’ ones score high in that category. That’s quite significant, is it not? May I suggest that, in the future, you personally explore all of Toronto’s neighbourhoods (especially the ones that you consider to be the ‘worst’). Talk to local champions and residents, take the time to learn the nuances of these areas, because there is some amazing, grassroots community-building going on.”
“Your neighbourhood rankings are always interesting, and you clearly can’t please everyone, but you got one neighbourhood wrong this year. I doubt your researcher ever set foot in ParkwoodsDonalda, where I have lived for 30 years. Ranking it 139th out of 140 defies logic. We may not be #3 (where two of my children and their families happily live), but we sure aren’t 139th! I think you goofed this time. But the folks who paid an average of $2 million for a detached house here this summer will probably forgive you. It’s a very good place to live.” —Don McKibbin
“Whoever wrote your description of Lawrence Park North (#5) must have been on drugs. For the record, my wife and I reside in the heart of this neighbourhood. Also for the record, my daughter and her husband reside in the #1-ranked neighbourhood—RunnymedeBloor West Village. I mention this only to say that I have first-hand knowledge of both areas.
“Your description states that Lawrence Park North is ‘a major trek from downtown’—this is absolutely false. Our house is a oneminute walk from the subway (Line 1) and my daughter’s house is a three- to four-minute walk from Line 2. If you google the respective distances, you will note that our location is 7.1 kilometres (or 23 minutes) to Yonge and Bloor, and my daughter’s house is 7.8 kilometres (24 minutes) to the same location. In fact, on many occasions my wife and I walk downtown from Lawrence Park North.
“Further, to suggest that Lawrence Park North is a suburb is absurd. Within minutes of our doorstep are dozens of restaurants, all the major banks, a variety of grocery stores, clothiers and specialty and convenience stores.”
Some readers objected to the whole enterprise of ranking neighbourhoods.
“The Scarborough Community Renewal Organization would like to take issue with your 2018 neighbourhoods rankings. There is the large chasm between the ranking system and the stated
purpose of your magazine as ‘...the destination for people who care about Toronto.’ Claiming that low-ranking neighbourhoods (an inevitability in any ranking system) may be the ‘worst places to live’ is completely inconsistent with caring about Toronto. It is divisive and hurtful. All neighbourhoods have positive things to offer. For example, Cliffside (#125 of 140) has one of Toronto’s most beautiful streets (Fallingbrook Drive), Cliffcrest (#122) has one of our best beaches (Bluffer’s Park) and the Rouge (#132) has one of our foremost national parks. Ranking these neighbourhoods among the ‘worst’ is not only inaccurate, it undermines the widely acknowledged positive features that define our city.” —Sitharsana Srithas and
John Stapleton, SCRO
“As an elementary school teacher, I found your vague references to ‘great schools,’ ‘strong schools’ and ‘highly ranked schools’ disappointing. You write that the number of schools and daycares in each neighbourhood were part of the criteria that allowed for a higher ranking, but what exactly makes a school great, strong or highly ranked? EQAO scores? Yuck. Typically, schools that are socioeconomically and culturally diverse don’t do well on EQAO. Does this mean we’re holding up the opposite as the ideal? I’ve worked at several wonderful schools in my career, most of which have ranked poorly on the EQAO. Those scores—and the Fraser Institute rankings that result from them—are not even close to a good measure of what makes a school great and strong.”
The happy householders were a much more succinct bunch.
“Love Bloor West!!!” —Raul Novo, Facebook
“We’re number one…we’re number one!”
—Marcella Jokay, Facebook
“#2 ranking for the old ’hood. I knew we were in on one of best-kept secrets in Toronto…”
—Melissa Bangay, Facebook
Nathaniel G. Moore’s memoir about his grandfather’s faith-healing, beat-thedevil-out cult in Trinity-Bellwoods was as scary as it sounds, and readers apparently like to be scared.
“Toronto Life long read…about a cult? Oh hell yes.”
“Once in a while, Toronto Life has a fantastic article that makes my hair stand on end.”
The piece particularly resonated for this woman:
“Thank you for including Nathaniel Moore’s article in your October issue. The existence of his grandfather’s cult ruined many lives, my family’s included. Many more families were affected than is perhaps known. To suddenly see the group written about some 55 years later is incredibly validating for victims. The story accurately reflects my own memories and experiences.
“The fact that the article was written by a member of the family makes it feel very authentic. I wish to publicly thank Nathaniel Moore for speaking of the group without reservation and without glossing over the facts. When the adult survivors began to speak out about the abuse, we were initially met with derision, skepticism and allegations of false memory. However, you only have to read this article to know our truth. The children of these families, now grown adults if they survived, are the