COMMENTARY: Toronto’s relationship with Canadian weather (It’s complicated)

Mike Stafford says Toronto's relationship status with the weather is best described as, It's Complicated.
Mike Stafford says Toronto's relationship status with the weather is best described as, It's Complicated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

In 1922, the Anglo-American writer T.S. Eliot published The Waste Land.  

I skipped most of Grade 12 English so I’m relying on a faulty memory here, but I believe the 434-line poem deals mostly with how the great Canadian city of Toronto deals with the weather.

Okay, I’m only guessing he was referencing Toronto, based on the opening words:

“April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land” 

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Scholars insist it was a hybrid examination of how the epic legend of the Holy Grail could apply in then-20th Century Britain. Try discussing that thesis in social conversation when the conversation is usually … about Toronto weather.

READ MORE: Toronto Blue Jays game cancelled after falling ice damages stadium roof

We in Hogtown had a bad April weekend recently. There was rain, sleet, snow, ice pellets, the Boston Bruins, rime ice, crushed ice, and Ice Cube put on a show at a local club.

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Our mayor held news conferences where he urged citizens to be patient. He also said the city, its 2018 fiscal budget exhausted from subway proposal studies, would not be plowing the streets and sidewalks. Too dangerous he argued; the ice/snow mix would clog the storm sewers and cause flooding. To the mayor’s credit, he did admit a sewer clog could keep the city safe from one of Stephen King’s evil clowns.

READ MORE: Toronto, the city where the weather can cancel a road cancellation

My social media feed laughed at the good people of Greater Toronto last weekend. It was beyond frigid in western Canada for mid-April. Quebec was dealing with pretty much the same weather. Atlantic Canada was distracted by another Chase The Ace draw, but I’m sure they’ve toughed it out this winter without the local media creating public panic.

And media panic is a major issue in Drake’s “6ix.” One basic cable news channel, whose name starts with the letters “CP,” is routinely called “City Panic” thanks to its non-stop attempt to hype weather events the way the WWE hypes Wrestlemania.

As an on-air radio host, I must make a mea culpa on that. On occasion, I have termed a coming rainfall “extreme cloud revenge.”

READ MORE: CN Tower closed for 4th straight day due to threat of falling ice

To add injury to the insult of not being able to venture out for overpriced Sunday brunch, the aftermath of the storm created more grief for YYZ. A chunk of ice plunged from the CN Tower on Monday, tearing a hole in the Rogers Centre and landing on the field, where it beat the Blue Jays 5-4 in extra innings.

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I know many Canadians despise Toronto for our narcissism and our inability to remember that we share the same climate. To that point, they can’t let us forget when we begged the army to help out during a massive snowfall in 1999. Toronto gets a pass on that one. We had two massive storms within 10 days. The equivalent of an entire season of snow fell in less than two weeks in a region with what was then the fifth largest population in North America (it’s now fourth). We needed and appreciated the effort.

But since then, we’ve become children when the weather threatens. It’s a label I believe Toronto wears with merit.

To quote the last lines of The Waste Land: 

“Canada’s hardy, like a church with a steeple / Except in Toronto, where the snowflakes … are people”  

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Again, I may be paraphrasing here.

Mike Stafford is co-host of The Morning Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto.