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We Heart Toronto, eh?

August 11, 2009

Last Sunday was my favorite day of the summer. Now that we’re in Rochester we’re really close to the Canadian border, and closer to Toronto than we probably ever will be again. Jeff served his mission in Toronto, and I’ve heard all about it. We couldn’t pass up this chance to go. We made it a day trip, from 7:00 AM – 2:00 AM. I loved every second of it. Toronto is an amazing city, I wish we could have spent a week there.

Clockwise: Streetcar, Utah in Toronto, Feet at the Beach, Yonge & Dundas, Art Museum.

Clockwise: Streetcar, Utah in Toronto, Feet at the Beach, Yonge & Dundas, Art Museum.

Us outside Astoria at Taste of the Danforth

Us outside Astoria at Taste of the Danforth

What you don’t know… Toronto is the most culturally diverse city in North America. Every culture, country and religion you can think of is represented here. In Jeff’s mission there were Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Filipino, and English speaking elders. Jeff spoke English, but had to learn Farsi (Persian) for part of his mission. 49% of Toronto residents were not born in Canada, and 25% of Canada’s population lives in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). It sits on the Northern shore of Lake Ontario, and it’s such a cool city. Here are some highlights of our day there in chronological order:

Beeches Ward: This was the ward in downtown Toronto that Jeff served in for about 9 months. I requested we go here cuz I’d heard so many funny stories about this ward. We arrived just in time for their 11:00 Sacrament Meeting. Everyone was so nice, and then next thing I know there’s a 4′ 00” Filipino woman hugging me at my waist.

Yes, this is an LDS church in Beeches.

Yes, this is an LDS church in Beaches.

Her name was Norma, and she probably fed Jeff 100’s of spring rolls while he served there.  The biggest surprise was when the Bishop, who was conducting, asked Jeff and I to bare our testimonies. Ha! It was great. My favorite part is where the church where they meet – it’s an old car lot building. Amazing, right?

Bum? As we were driving to catch the end of another ward in Don Valley, Jeff all of a sudden starts yelling out the window over another lane of stopped cars at bum named Peter.

Jeff: “Peter! Peter!”

Peter looks into the car over me at Jeff.

Jeff: “I’m one of the Mormon missionaries.”

Peter: “Where’s Elder Peterson?!”

Jeff: “That’s me!”

Peter: “Whoa Man! Hi! It’s a small world!”

The light changed, and we drove away. I wish I had a picture of Peter, but I was too caught up in the weirdness of the moment. I guess Jeff brought Peter food a few times while he served there.

Don Valley: We caught the end of another ward, and I met more people who loved Jeff. The sweetest bishop and his family, an intellectual in gym shorts and a Nike t-shirt named Tim Hoxa, and Barb. Barb has been a great friend to Jeff on and off of the mission. She’s stayed with his family and I’d heard all about her, and it was so fun to meet her finally.

City Drive & Persian Food: I was amazed at how Jeff knew just where to go, where to turn, knew all of the public transportation routes. I got a great tour through all of downtown Toronto by car, and later by foot.

The little place in Don Valley where we ate Persian food.

The little place in Don Valley where we ate Persian food.

University of Toronto was gorgeous, with beautiful old buildings. There was great shopping, and so many places I’d love to spend more time – like the a museum all about shoes, isn’t that neat? And, before all of that we stopped at this little Persian shop and got this food… I wish I could remember what it’s called. But it’s a soupy mixture of pork, split peas, a reddish sauce, and french fries that you eat over rice. It was different, but good.

Taste of the Danforth: There’s a street called Danforth in Toronto, and at one end of it is where a lot of the Greeks live. Once a year they have this festival called Taste of the Danforth and there’s a big street fair featuring great Greek food. We met up with Barb and ate at a place called Astoria. I loved the Tzatziki sauce and the Pitas, and Barb’s company. Oh, and the neighborhood was darling up in this area. I would live there in a heartbeat. Neat old houses, everyone looking different, and they’d been kept up so nicely. So much personality there.

Toronto on Foot: After this, we headed down town on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).

TTC - Toronto Transit Commission

TTC - Toronto Transit Commission

We waked down Yonge street, Bloor street, past some places that were evidence of Toronto’s liberalness. We only wish we’d come during pride week… Ha! Not really though. There were darling shops everywhere, and just a cool vibe in the city. It was so funny to think of Jeff walking down the street in a suit and tie there, ha! He was enjoying his time being a normal citizen and not a missionary.

BAY: Jeff, my whole life, has always called me “Bay.”

Jeff's subtle hints throughout his mission...

Jeff's subtle hints throughout his mission...

It comes from my Aunt Suzi who used to call me “Hay Bay Woman” and now it’s just “Bay.” She and Jeff are the only ones who’ve kept it up. Anyway, there are a million things in Toronto called Bay – Bay Street, Bay Station, Bay this, Bay that… Ha! I told Jeff it was a subliminal message his whole mission. We were definitely meant to be. Ha!

Lake Ontario: We eventually made our way down to Lake Ontario by streetcar.

Kiss at Lake Ontario

Kiss at Lake Ontario

We sat on the beach, skipped rocks, and just relaxed after all of our walking. We watched some boy slacklining, bought some chocolates from a girl selling them for Sunday School, and decided we’d better get going because it was getting dark.

Rain, Rain, and Streetcars: We caught a streetcar back up to a street that I can’t remember the name of now. 1/2 way through we transferred onto another car, but had to wait in a phone booth because by this time it was pouring.

Sitting in the Phone Booth waiting for the streetcar in the rain.

Sitting in the Phone Booth waiting for the streetcar in the rain.

But, on our way the streetcar driver announced that it would be turning shortly and we would all have to get out and wait in the rain! Thank goodness I had packed an umbrella in my purse, but it didn’t do much good. We waited and waited, finally one drove up, and turned early again. So we continued waiting. Eventually one came and we made our way back to the Danforth Station where we ran and caught a bus which took us back to the car-lot church where the Subaru waiting for us.

Back to Rochester we go: We began to make our way out of Toronto, stopped for gas and some pizza that Jeff loved from Mama’s Pizza (I’m still partial to Tom’s in NYC, but it was great anyway).

No, I didn't take this picture, but this is almost exactly what we saw on our drive out of the city.

I didn't take this picture, but this is almost exactly what we saw on our drive out of the city.

To bid us goodbye to this great city, we watched a huge bolt of lightning strike the CN tower. I had never seen anything struck by lightning before, so it was a neat sight. We had flashes of incredible lightning to guide us across the border and all the way home. What a day!

I just have to say that my favorite part of everything was just seeing this place where Jeff had spent such a significant part of his life, seeing how much the people loved him, and seeing him feel at home in such a big city. I feel like I know a part of him that I didn’t before. It’s great. It was a delightful day, and again, the highlight of my summer. I can’t wait to get back!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 11, 2009 8:55 pm

    Looks like so much fun Hailey! I’m sad I missed seeing you when we were both in Richfield. Good luck with the job hunt and everything!!

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