When you see a group of young Canadians chatting away happily and then watch them turn to take a short-cut through a downtown alley way, don’t panic. They have not walked into the jaws of doom. They always come out safely on the other side, still chatting happily. There is a reason for this. As polite as Canadians are, they don’t tolerate muggers or drug dealers hanging out in their alleys.
I know that, as an American, when you look down a narrow long subway stairway in downtown Toronto, you will think, “Hmm, narrow. Can’t see who might be at the bottom. Too dangerous.” You’re wrong. This is Toronto. Go ahead, check it out. Creep carefully down those long, narrow stairs, et voila! All that is at the bottom is a large subway platform with a lot of people staring at their cell phones, listening to a podcast or to music. They will have with ear buds stuck in their ears or be flipping over the pages of the iphone. None of these have been known to attack. Just make sure you’re waiting on the right track—northbound, southbound, or east or west—have a seat on a bench and wait for your subway car. When the doors open, “mind the gap” as you board your subway car.
If you use surface mass transit in Toronto, don’t get all tensed up when a passenger says “Thank you, driver” when disembarking. They are not being sarcastic. No fight or scuffle will ensue. Canadians are really that thoughtful and polite.
If part of your enjoyment in going to baseball games is yelling at the ball players when they mess up, you might want to pass up going to Skydome to watch the Bluejays their competition. Canadians are very empathetic people. When a batter hits ball and it rolls foul, a Canadian spectator will call out "Better one next time!". Not exactly the jungle atmosphere of U.S. sports statiums. If a spectator yells "You're a bum!" at one of the Bluejays, an entire section of Canadian spectators will whip their heads around until the rude lout realizes he has made himself the centre of contempt in his section. Eyes burrowing into him with disdain. The offending spectator will then turn back to the playing field and yell out to the same player "You're my man!" and then turn back to his section and ask "OK?" They will nod, and the usually over-juiced spectator will re-take his seat. If you've never seen an empathetic stadium of spectators, it might be worth your money to give it a go. Only in Toronto.
If you need to acquire Canadian currency while in Toronto do so by using an automatic teller machine. It will withdraw money from your U.S. bank back home and roll out to you the Canadian equivalent in cash (We hope you’ll like the Queen’s current image on our bills) and at the true exchange rate. Do NOT use any of the “Foreign Exchange” service you will see everywhere, unless you want to receive less than the true exchange rate in addition to the customary service charge. Also don’t be shocked that Canadian money is partly comprised of plastic. It is. It is the Canadian Mint’s latest clever contrivance to thwart counterfeiters.
While you’re in Toronto, don’t miss a chance to stop into Toronto City Hall to observe the City’s latest entertainment attraction. The City was running so well that we thought we’d get someone into the Mayor’s chair who would be so shocking and colourful that people would feel compelled to come and see for themselves if he’s for real? Come on, now haven’t you sat at home and seen our Mayor on your news and called your spouse or partner in from another room while calling out “Honey, come here! You’ve GOT to take a look at THIS.” ? We’ve even sent him down to appear on U.S. news programs, hoping that would shake the curious into making a road trip up to Toronto to see for themselves “Is he for real?” The downtown Sheraton, directly across from City Hall, is usually fully booked, but we have many other fine hotels conveniently nearby this and other attractions. Enjoy!