August 6, 2011


I hear this all the time. From people who live here, people who used to live here, people who just moved here, people who have visited here. It is our city's "Hongcouver"- a way to diminish the integrity, reputation, and appreciation of the city and those of us who love it.

I hear this appellation and it enrages me. Not because I am a loyal, chest-beating Edmontonian- I was born in BC and have lived in BC almost as long as I have lived here. It angers me because it is based in such superficialities that it ends up eroding my faith in the people who are saying such things, and I would much rather be proud of people than turn prejudicial.

The reason for this is because of how I have seen people treat this city in the time that I have lived here.  People move here for work or for housing or for school and they proceed to complain about the winters, long for the mountains, and yearn for the ocean. They spend October to May whining about the snow, the driving, the down jackets, the temperatures, the mittens they have lost, the car batteries that have died, the fact that they need a vacation... yadda yadda yadda. When they get enough money or education or experience , they opportunistically move to a warmer, prettier climate and start trashing-talking Edmonton all over Facebook and Twitter to whoever the hell may be listening. Flash forward to six months to a year from that point and the story unravels to them coming back to Edmonton broke and looking for a new way to get ahead so they can get the hell out of this city again.

I have equated it to people treating this city like they did their parents' basement. They bitch while they are living here about all of the great many things they will do when they move out and how much they hate it here and how they feel so stifled can't wait for their life to start. "Once I get the fuck out of here..." is the colloquial attitude. They then leave to the shiny new city that proceeds to break their bank, their heart, and their plans for the ideal life they had promised themselves would be guaranteed if only they moved away. Because the awesome, pretty shit is expensive and prohibitive.  So, damaged and disenchanted, they move back in with their parents. They get a job in seven minutes that pays more than a decent wage, they get into the college courses of their choosing, they get a fab place that doesn't smell like pot smoke and burnt macaroni & cheese, and they start saving money so they can get the fuck out of here again.

The reason they come back here? Because Edmonton is good to us.

You can get a job anywhere here if you aren't too picky about what you do. There are numerous places to buy or rent for less than you'd pay for parking in Toronto. We have more universities, colleges and secondary schools than any other major city in North America.  There is ALWAYS something to do, and many of those somethings are free. Our river valley is the largest urban park in North America and you can hang out there without getting raped or mugged. Sure, the construction sucks, but that means we are working on our infrastructure. New York hasn't done that in decades and the city that never sleeps is falling apart. I could give a laundry list of the reasons why this city is exceptional, but I shouldn't have to. THAT is my issue. The people who haphazardly refer to it as "Deadmonton" are simply not paying attention. They have made up their minds that they don't like it here and ensure they make that fact known even in just saying the city's name. Sure, they will use the city for it's ammenities, it's privileges, and it's security, but- just like their parent's basement- they refuse to appreciate it unless it serves them.

And I am getting tired of hearing it.

Every city in the North America has it's pros and cons. You want some other generalizations regarding Canadian cities? Sure, Vancouver is beautiful, but due to this, people have flocked there in droves and treat it like shit (see: Canucks riots 2011). It is crowded, expensive, and alienating. People don't want to raise their children there anymore, so they move to the suburbs. Except the jobs are downtown, so the commute is a bitch. Sure, there are a tonne of stores and shops, but the rent is sky high so good luck to anyone who wants to open a small business. The weather is mild all year, so the street people population is through the roof. You like Victoria? Find a job first, because they are scarce. And I hope you like rain. Also, most concerts, plays, theatre productions, art shows, festivals, comedians, authors, ballets, and symposiums don't hit Victoria, they go straight to Van, so you'd best appreciate a ferry ride. Montreal is fab so long as you enjoy chaos, partying, ice storms and french people. Toronto is expensive as hell and never shuts the fuck up. You need three jobs or you live in squalor. Unless you move to the suburbs and play the same game that Vancouver does and commute 3 hours every day. You can do anything in Toronto as long as you have the money, which is a big factor. If you're in the arts, you are surely a little fish in a big pond in T-Dot, so I hope you have some capital. And in those great big cities that everyone always loves and longs to move to? They are full of even more of the shit you hate, too. You don't just get the good stuff.

I can feel some people from these cities riling against me from here after reading that and I am grateful for it. Because now maybe you know how we feel every single time someone so unreservedly declared us "Deadmonton... I hate this city."

Any city is but a map of relationships, security, beauty, excitement, and love. It is a story of the things you have accomplished and things you regret. It is paved with tears and trades and sweat and sex. It is a completely different movie for every person who experiences it. For some, it is a disgusting failure with little action, shitty dialogue and goes nowhere. But for others, it is full of exhilarating romance and music and the kind of laughter that makes you cry, no matter how many times you see it.

So give us a break, okay Guys?

Some of us like this movie.


Anonymous said...

I've only been to Edmonton in the winter time, believe it or not...and I really liked it. I do love Vancouver, but the people are really starting to suck ass, not to mention the expensive housing. If you can find a nice co-op like ours, it can be good. I'm starting to think that a smaller city/town might be where it's at...

Everyone complains about everything these days and they forget about how beautiful this country is as a whole and how fucking lucky they are to be here, period.

Just continue to love your city and enjoy it (as you do) and it will love you back:-)


PJ Fournier said...

Great stuff. Every city has flaws, ghettos, shortcomings... Only an asshole cannot see beyond his own warped prejudice.

Makes me want to visit one day soon.

Alania X. said...

Funny because I've lived in 3 of the cities you mentioned and love/hate for different reasons...

Edmonton is my home town, and I agree with some of what you said, and some of the "deadmonton" team. There are a lot of murders there.. you guys are at 30-something and here in Van we are at 9 or 10. Also, I lived in Riverdale area, and the river valley has kind of deteriorated a lot the past couple years for the same reason that you mentioned RE: Vancouver riots. A bunch of people moving in and trashing the place. I kept seeing more and more homeless downtown, and couldn't go for a walk in the parks by my house without seeing garbage, dirty needles, underware, condom boxes, etc. People vandalized the new Chinese garden downtown too.

A lot of people are embarassed and saddened by the Van riots. It's hardly "the norm" and has happened in Edmonton too. The common feature: Stanley Cup finals.

Also, it's not a 3 hour commute to get places in Vancouver especially if you take public transit. I live in New West now and it takes me 30ish minutes to get downtown on the train. I haven't even needed a car.

And it doesn't rain much in Victoria! In the winter it rains less than Van for sure and in the summer, rarely. You can thank the mountains for that.

What about the people who move to Calgary?

Other than that, good article. I get sick of people trashing Edmonton too. Although I have done it in good fun =P

Bee said...

My reason for making the generalizations that I did was more to illustrate the way that people always make these generalizations and they are usually as accurate as they are complimentary. Generalizations are rarely for the sake of factual information and more to display an emotion, whether that be to trash something (city, race, gender, etc) or promote it.

Yes, Edmonton has had an exceptional amount of murders, but they are drug/gang related or a sad result of domestic violence. The streets are no more/less frightening than they have been since I have lived here.
And I do love the river valley. I don't know how it has gone downhill, but I haven't noticed it. And I don't hate Calgary. It seemed like a nice city, even if their bars have weird dress codes like "no plaid shirts" and "high heels only". ;)

I really didn't want to trash other cities. I was very tongue in cheek about the things I was saying and tried to summarize it all by enveloping us all by expressing that any city is what you make of it, how you have experienced it, and the impression it has left on your life. This is a beautiful country with exceptional people and wonderful blessings, and it makes me sad to hear anyone devalue any city due to personal bias or grudges about the failures that have brought them back here... I just have an especially huge hard-on for defending this city.

Thank you so much for reading, and commenting, and your compliments. xo

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, this is amazing. This should be in a newspaper of something.