Mentally Mapping Toronto: Part I

I started this blog with the goal of exploring Toronto. Within that, I wanted to also uncover more of the hazy, black fog that presides over parts of my mental map of Toronto (which actually reminds me of charting through new terrain in the old Command & Conquer games I used to play).

As an exercise, I decided to recreate the map of Toronto from memory – that is, its main road- and highways, railroads, waterways, and some parks. Gotta say: It was hard and certainly not pretty! This is how I did:

Mental Map Toronto

To create this, I drew – that is, recalled – from personal experience in physically being in these places as well as my interest in looking up the paths of railroads or ravines (although, even then it’s hard to recall where two rail lines meet or where a river branches off or curves; for this reason I didn’t bother at all with the smaller ravines like the Highland or Mimico). You can see my corrections as I remember ‘Hey, Dundas West meets Bloor near High Park, not in Etobicoke!’.

The eastern part of the city – my home base – looks pretty decent. South Scarborough is a bit fuzzy, though; it was challenging to remember how much and where Kingston Road curves – even almost forgetting that it meets highway 401 (and forgetting how much the 401 winds and dips too). If I were to draw the north-south throughways, I probably couldn’t remember all their southern termini. I believe everything east of Kennedy stops/starts at the Bluffs (because Kennedy itself stops/starts near Kingston and Danforth). And truthfully, in my mind, the southern end of the borough does feel another city despite existing within the same borders.

The west-er I go, the more empty the map gets. This was expected because, aside from Downsview in the northwestern reaches of North York (which I know from spending five years at York University), I haven’t spent much time in the west end. I couldn’t tell you what a Weston or a Thistletown or a Rexdale looks like or where their hearts are located. Part of it is I haven’t had a tangible reason to travel there: I don’t know what’s there and literally cannot visualize them. I know North Etobicoke, if it’s anything like North Scarborough, has likely a lot of apartment towers. Are there old bits too? Possibly, but I don’t know. The other part is it’s so far in both my mind’s eye and in the real world.

Still though, I should tread through those dark spots, no?

4 thoughts on “Mentally Mapping Toronto: Part I

  1. Very informative, perhaps especially in the emptier bits. I suspect my map would be fairly similar in its strengths & weaknesses though not overall as good…

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