The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We have a complicated relationship, don’t we?
I’m just going to be honest with you. Commuting from here is a pain in the butt. Just going to school alone takes me 90 minutes and you certainly don’t make it easy. Not only are there long waits for the TTC shuttle buses, but more often than not, they’re crowded. Maybe that’s just bad timing on my part, but it ain’t pleasant. And don’t get me started on the notorious Line 3, the Scarborough Rapid Transit system (simply known as ‘the RT’ for locals here). Though I will forever be grateful for the RT, its constant closures and high-pitched squeals gradually destroying my hearing undoubtedly make commuting to downtown Toronto really annoying.
And when I’m driving? Not only are the roads a rollercoaster (not in a fun way), but there are also way too many potholes after the winter season, that turn into summertime road closures and reparations, which result in even more chaos. Not to mention the people who drive here are... not of the best calibre. When it comes to commuting from anywhere in Scarborough, there is no winning.
Also, you’re not the most attractive city. I know, I know. Looks aren’t everything. Still, the broken down and tired storefronts are comically sad compared to the glittering and sophisticated stores in neighboring Markham. I confess, there are times when I just want to bolt in the other direction when I see sketchy-looking stores in a dingy little plaza. And like the TTC system down here, it’s often unnecessarily crowded inside grocery stores like No Frills and Food Basics. Any location I go to, the lineups always seem to snake around the aisles. And the Scarborough Town Centre (known as ‘STC’ by locals) comes with the same set of problems. I still question to this day why STC remains inexplicably congested any day of the week starting at around 2 pm. It doesn’t even have to be the holiday season, yet for some weird reason, it’s always jam-packed with locals. Finding parking there plays out like a lottery at times. It’s all about luck!
But despite your many flaws and as much as I want to hate you, I can’t help but love you.
There’s just something about the aroma of Sri Lankan curry, Jamaican patties, and even freshly-baked cookies (RIP Dad’s Cookies warehouse) filling the air. And who could forget the sweet taste of the MANY bubble tea shops at Midland and Finch? From Tiger Sugar, Royaltea, The Alley, Chatime, I could go on! Not to mention the abundance of CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice (otherwise known as just ‘CoCo’) locations here. Too many of us locals take the numerous options for granted! I never have to worry about getting my bubble tea fix in when I’m home. As for food, there’s an endless list of restaurants of different cuisines to sample. From Allan’s Pastry Shop’s flaky but delectable goat curry Jamaican patties, to Ghadir Meat & Restaurant’s savoury chicken shawarma, to the infamous charbroiled burgers at Johnny’s Hamburgers. But my favourite Scarborough delicacy? That honour would have to go to the Crispy Shrimp Balls at Royal Hakka Chinese Seafood Restaurant —a delightful combination of fried bread cubes and mouthwatering shrimp! You never cease to amaze me, especially when it comes to your culinary landscape.
As for the sights, the Scarborough Bluffs are an obvious icon. Majestic in sight and definitely worth visiting, the Bluffs which overlook Lake Ontario are definitely one of your notable highlights. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Toronto Zoo, another iconic place. Out of all the field trips I went on back in elementary school, the class trip to the zoo back in 2009 remains one of my favourite ones. But my absolute favourite hidden gem is undoubtedly the North Scarborough Green Loop. 11.27 km long, this little-known trail takes an average of 2 h 57 min to complete. It’s pretty popular in the summertime and if you walk during the sunrise and/or sunset, you can catch some amazing views. This trail has definitely allowed me some solitude to help work out my script ideas or just decompress after a long day.
More importantly though, there’s a sense of community amongst fellow locals here. You’re a melting pot of different cultures and I love you for that. That’s another thing I take for granted! There’s a place for everyone! Where I live, I constantly bump into people from a Chinese, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Vietnamese, Greek, or Italian background. You’re home to so many immigrants, including myself, which makes me feel at ease. And honestly? I know this might sound cheesy, but I’m always learning something new about the people who live here. When anyone says they’re from Scarborough, we can’t help but burst with pride albeit disguised as constant complaining.
Forgotten and easily dismissed at times by the rest of Toronto, you are the underdog that we locals root for. Sure, you might be a little rough around the edges, but boy, do you have heart. You’re gritty in the best way possible which pushes us who live here to strive to do our absolute best and emerge as something great. I didn’t know this until recently, but you birthed a lot of Canadian talent like musician The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye), actor Mike Myers and actor Eric McCormack (from the iconic show, Will and Grace). Dang, Scarborough! I see you, you hotbed of talent, you!
If you asked me a year ago, I never would have thought I would be here writing a letter to you. But you know what? I’m glad I did. You accepted me for who I am and allowed me to grow into the person I am today. You don’t know how proud I am to call Scarborough my home. And no matter what happens in the future, you will always have a place in my heart, Scarborough!