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Merry Christmas from post-tribe Toronto

Belfast Christmas Market by Peter Holloway on

Merry Christmas and/or happy whatever you happen to celebrate around this time of year.

Hopefully things have slowed down for you all and you’re relaxing with family and friends either at home or somewhere on vacation. I’ll be doing that here in Toronto and making pancakes for breakfast, because that’s what I like to do on Christmas morning.

If you’re in the market for some long form reading material while you relax, I recommend you check out an article in The Walrus called, After the Troubles. It’s by Toronto-based planner Joe Berridge – who is a partner at Urban Strategies – and it’s the story behind his team’s Belfast City Centre Regeneration Strategy and Investment Plan.

It’s a fascinating and entertaining read, and there are lots of comparisons between Toronto and Belfast. Here’s a little taste:

“IT WOULD BE HARD to conceive of two cities more different than Belfast and Toronto. One old world, one new; one grand, one utilitarian; one barely ticking over, one growing like topsy. And of course, one tribal, the other the epitome of post-tribe. Belfast is 96 percent white—forget about Catholic-Protestant, that’s the critical urban statistic. And yet it’s important to remember that Toronto itself was once the largest Orange town in the world. (Wikipedia asserts that every mayor of Toronto since its founding was an Orangeman until Nathan Philips, a wonderful Jewish mayor, was elected in 1954.) Even the current mayor, John Tory, draws his name from a bunch of brigands and royalist cattle thieves in the Irish backcountry.”

I spent a bit of time in Belfast when I was working in Dublin (2007) and so it was particularly interesting for me to read about his assessment of the city. Like Berridge, I found the city eerily empty during off-peak times. But it’s an architecturally rich city and a fascinating city for urbanists because of all that has happened.

Though now we are talking about “after the troubles.” Things are progressing. And that strikes me as a positive thought while I make my pancakes on Christmas morning.

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