My daughter has 4 more days of high school classes. This morning I reflected upon her years of education in the big city and my choice 13 years ago to move here and raise her in the most populous city in Canada. A place in Canada that bears the brunt of criticism by the rest of Canada. I myself was raised in a Toronto suburb and lived in Kitchener-Waterloo for over a decade and still can't understand why people hate '416' so much. I love all parts of Canada and have visited nearly all of our all major cities and find the criticism well, rather childish really.
As a breeder I am thankful that 13 years ago my 32 year old self had the foresight/good fortune to recognize the advantages of moving to the city for my daughter's public school education. As a breeder who did this on my own I am especially thankful. Unlike the children of many of my suburban and rural parenting peers, once my daughter was old enough, she started walking to elementary school. She was in grade 4 and started crossing a moderately busy arterial street without me and there is no crosswalk or lights (gasp!). In grade 7 she went to an inner city alternative public school for middle school and took the subway everyday for this - she was 11 the fall she started doing this on her own (horror!). Thus, starting in grade 7 I no longer had to transport or 'taxi' her to activities. I have had years of being free of this duty. I merely dole out money for TTC tickets and await texts of details of her social life and departure/arrival times and I don't even have to be home to receive these. And I don't know how I'd even start to estimate the hours saved of me sitting behind the wheel of a car on the busy streets of the suburbs surrounding Toronto or the long drives from rural homes to lessons/friends/shopping. I dated a suburban guy and recall many hours driving with him and his children and little else from the time we spent at his suburban home. I don't recall any activity that didn't involve at least a 15 minute drive to get to out there.
Another significant advantage to raising her in Toronto has been the access to a large assortment of fantastic public schools including specialty schools for the arts and technical skills. Two personal favourite's are Bendale Business and Technical Institute's Horicultural Program in Scarborough and The culinary program headed by Chef Keith at Thistletown Collegiate Institute in Rexdale. My own daughter went to three stellar public schools in this city: West Prep, Horizon Alternative and Harbord Collegiate Institute.
I could go on and on but this is quickly becoming a melancholic soliloquy from a soon-to-be-empty-nester. I will sign off with two pics I took yesterday while on an urban farm tour. There are many reasons to love the city of Toronto. Urban parenting and the thriving urban agriculture scene in Toronto are at the top of my list today. These two streams of thought are more connected than you might think. A core philosphy in my parenting has been the choices of food I've fed my child with. Fresh local food has been a central component of our little family's diet and allowing other families affordable access to this is a passion for this particular Food Warrior Mother.