Rosie DiManno has a thin skin. For all her tough talk, all it took was a few emails from hotheaded hockey fans that were upset she called Hamilton a "dump" for her to fly off the handle, managing to insult an ethnic group (the Romani people), a country (the Czech Republic), and of course, our community, all in a single column.
In the curiously titled Fans of Hamilton dump on Rosie DiManno (it really should be called Rosie DiManno Dumps on Hamilton, Again), DiManno calls the city a "ruin", an attractive immigration destination for "gypsies", and a "bush-league dump":
When I called your city a "dump," I meant it would be a worthy place for Toronto to send our garbage during the looming public-sector workers' strike.
I mean, who'd notice, thereabouts? And dumps are woven into Hamilton's historical fabric - Canada's first archeological excavation of a trash fill site undertaken within the boundaries of your fine Greater Slag Area in 1991. Such treasures that were discovered! I do believe some of it is still being sold in the plethora of thrift shops that line your hip, happening downtown (mind the puke puddles) along with the doughnut shops - one for every 5,721 residents, a national record, so claimed. So suck on that.
Hamilton is a contemporaneous ruin. But still attractive to immigrants, apparently - some 3,000 Roma (note to Hamiltonians: that's gypsies, not people from Rome) settling in the region over the last couple of years, after arriving at Pearson airport and seeking asylum. Clearly, Hamilton is heaven compared to a ramshackle gypsy village in the Czech Republic.
I'm sure that most of my fellow Hamiltonians find this irritating, to say the least. It's tempting to respond in kind with an article blasting DiManno and perhaps the city she lives in, too, but that'd be taking the low road, and there's really no point in that (and I encourage you to refrain from that in the comments to this blog post).
The truth is, of course, that Toronto is a great city with a good image. Torontonians are sometimes characterized as arrogant, a characterization assisted by DiManno's column, but the image of the city is primarily that of its skyline. It is seen as a place of commerce, with big buildings and a big city feel.
Of course, that is not the whole picture. If Canadian media started using photos of high-rise apartment buildings in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood whenever a file photo of TO was needed, or perhaps an aerial shot of a sprawling suburb with endless rows of identical townhouses, perhaps this image would change.
But what would be the point of that narrow, unrepresentative focus? And yet, this is generally what happens whenever Hamilton is mentioned. A city that is no longer reliant on steel mills is rarely pictured without them, even though many Hamiltonians go weeks if not months without even seeing them.
The truth is that you only need to come here to put the lie to this distorted image of our city. When I stand on my front porch, admiring the profusion of blooms in the gardens of my well-kept neighbourhood, the characterization of my home as a "dump" could hardly be more absurd.
Speaking of gardens, as I was tending mine yesterday, a couple were touring my neighbour's house, which is on sale. They looked like they'd be good neighbours, so in the hopes of encouraging them to buy the place, I started chatting with them. It turned out they were from Toronto, like so many others from that city looking to purchase property here.
The woman complimented me on the garden I was busy weeding. "I think it's warmer here that in Toronto," she said. "Really?" I responded. "Sure," she said. "You don't see gardens like this in Toronto, except maybe downtown."
Of course, it has nothing to do with the temperature, which I don't suppose is any different. It's the people. We care about our neighbourhoods.
Torontonians do, too, of course. Which is a real shame, since they are soon going to look and smell a lot like, well, a dump, since Toronto's garbage collectors just went on strike.
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