We have two very close friends in Toronto whom I consider to be a lightning rod of the essence of the City. For me, they focus the energy and flavour of the place.
To begin, they live in the very popular and old Cabbagetown. When I was studying Philosophy at Glendon Hall on Bayview Avenue in 1967, Cabbagetown was even then considered trendy. Now the place has been positively gentrified, though it is still renowned to embrace artistic people and the outer orbits of society, especially those who may loosely be called "committee members". Our friends' home epitomizes Cabbagetown properties, being an historic red brick town house (one in a row of about five), three stories high, on the top of which is a marvellous open-air deck, shrouded by enormous trees and overlooking one of those distinctly Toronto rear lanes between the houses. If one is inclined to be nosy (as one must inevitably be, especially after consuming a glass or two of wine), it is possible to peer into the bedrooms and living rooms of nearby homes which are packed in succession throughout the neighbourhood as far as the eye can see. Many times we have thrilled to the delight of a protracted evening meal with our friends and their collection of interesting acquaintances. The meals are invariably delicious, combining the most exotic ingredients in the latest culinary fashion, always nurtured by fine wines. Even the society of visitors to their place is essentially Toronto, in that the people are from varied walks of life, some well-to-do, others highly educated, all bubbling with enthusiasm and comraderie. Everyone appears to enjoy an element of singularity which borders on fashionable.
Indeed it would be impossible to overlook the feature of style which our friends also capture. Whether it's the latest in shoes, clothing, jewellery or hair styles, they've got it. But lest I appear to dwell only upon superficialities, I am bound to mention as well that our friends are sports enthusiasts, doing far more than most to keep themselves fit, including competition in some gruelling foot races both in Toronto and further abroad.
Like many Torontonians, our friends are well travelled, sometimes combining purely leisure activities with educational pursuits, such as the study of Italian and French wines and gastronomy. The pleasures of the table are most certainly not lost upon them, especially as they have the inside track on some of Toronto's finest dining establishments. We are always assured to have a new and scintillating dining experience when we visit them in Toronto.
Though hedonism is not foreign to Toronto (which after all is known by the epithet "Hog Town"), our friends nonetheless distinguish themselves as loving and caring individuals, both for one another and for their broad band of friends and acquaintances. They have even become the adopted relations of some of the younger members of their friends' families.