Kristen McLaughlin, Toronto

I am not from Ontario. I moved here recently, in September of 2016. My home is in the west, having grown up in Alberta and gone to school in Vancouver, BC. This country has its pretty divisive lines between the two halves of east vs. west. I moved to Toronto expecting, somehow, an entirely different world from what I was used to. I was excited, but scared. What was this entity known as “Ontario”?

Although Toronto is an incredibly exciting and buzzing city, what I really want to see and experience is the rest of the province. I came to Ontario excited to visit Manitoulin Island and Algonquin Park; to see the Canadian Shield and to walk along the shores of Lake Ontario at sunset. I wanted to see how Ontario skies looked compared to those I knew. Yet I wanted to live in Canada’s most exciting city and see city lights at night. I am a bundle of contradictions.

While I was walking around Toronto Island several months ago, what I realized was that there isn't one story that defines my time here so far, but many little ones. I haven't gotten used to bagged milk (bizarre) yet the winters are just like the ones I grew up with in Northern Alberta (oddly comforting). I’ve seen forests with mist rolling over the leaves and felt peace. I’ve seen floods devastating Ottawa and felt sorrow. I have met strangers who’ve reduced me to giggle fits and explored nooks and crannies in the city with friends. I’ve realized that Ontario is much more than its cities, and still more than its nature; it is everyone and everything here. I still have a lot of exploring to do!

This story's themes