When I was very young, a kid really, the city of Toronto had a bit of an inferiority complex. It was only the second biggest city in Canada and didn’t have as many things to draw people from far away. In fact it was world class in only one way that I knew about – it had the billing of containing the longest street in the world, it’s main street, Yonge Street.
Now I grew up a 100 kilometres away so I didn’t really know Toronto all that well as a kid. So I took this as a straight fact and never challenged anything about this record. And in fact, others didn’t either and for some years the billing of longest street in the world was contained in the Guinness book of World Records.
But Toronto grew from this one thing of note. Toronto built the CN Tower which was for many years the largest free standing structure in the world. This put Toronto on the world stage. It also gave Toronto an iconic skyline as seen from Lake Ontario.
Then a decade and a half later Toronto became home to the first retractable roof stadium, the Sky Dome. I refuse to use it’s modern name because the stadium was sold to a telecommunications behemoth for a price that I think should only give the company naming rights – not the whole stadium.
And Toronto got rid of its ‘second city’ title. An English rights backlash in French speaking Montreal made many people move from that larger city to Toronto. So Toronto eventually surpassed Montreal and to this very day is the largest city in Canada.
I even lived in Toronto for some years. Enough to know that streets are longer east to west in the official city of Toronto than the north and south of Yonge Street. Yonge St. continues through suburbs. It’s built up for many kilometres north of the city.
Suspecting a fake recently, I looked up how long the supposed longest street in the world is and found it is 1 896 kilometres. The build up north of Toronto is only a tiny fraction of that length. So the road becomes a between towns highway. Yes for 1 896 kilometres. Yet my Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a street as: a public road in a city or town, esp. a paved one.
So now I see that to get a World’s Record all one has to do is play fast and loose with official definitions. There are other word names for roads we can use. Kitchener-Waterloo’s (the city I live in) Conestoga Parkway could now be called the world’s biggest Crescent. Another Ontario highway, Highway 6 in the Bruce Peninsula could be called the world’s biggest Cul-de-sac . Some Quebec highway could be called the longest Rue in the world.
The rest of the country likes to take digs at Toronto. This time I feel it’s deserved. Perhaps we can rename the Trans Canada Highway into Trans Canada Street. It would be a much longer street than Yonge Street. And the best part? It doesn’t go near Toronto.
Nice lie you tried to spread to the world, Toronto. But it’s time to let this one go.