When I was a student living in Toronto, I lived on McCaul Street, close to the University of Toronto and a minute away from Queen’s Park. In that odd way geography and economics can collide, I had the experience of living close to the seat of the province’s power and alongside some of its saddest victims of addiction. Our terraced house at the end of a laneway became an accessible place for addicts to sleep (under our porch) or to graze (one walked in and walked out with our television).
It was a busy area too. Lunchtime became a nightmare if I needed to go to the store or use a bank machine. The hydroids — Ontario Hydro workers — flooded the neighbourhood and made even the simplest of errands impossible. It was a relief to leave after three years — the exposure to too much humanity at too close a range had made me chronically anxious and fidgety.