a bit about Victoria
What do you do and why do you do it?
I work in health policy at Cancer Care Ontario. I survived cancer as a teen so always wanted to work in a role that allowed me to pursue changes to the health system where-ever I saw fit. We are lucky in Canada to have quality public healthcare, however there are still gaps in accessibility and participation that are leading to disparity in patient outcomes. From my own experience, I knew how important it was to receive care that met my needs as a person, rather than just a disease - healthcare that gave me hope and a sense of personal freedom in my treatment. I want to ensure that this type of care is a standard across Ontario for all.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?
I once worked at Starbucks, and let me tell you, those baristas go through hell. Non-stop 50+ person line-ups, complicated orders, hot coffee spilling on you, and people yelling at you for forgetting to make their latte a skinny. Need I say more?
Were you born and raised in Toronto? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Toronto?
I was raised in Ottawa, Ontario, and at the age of 17 moved to Montreal to pursue a wilder life (and my undergrad). I stayed there till 23, and after too many late nights along St. Laurent I decided it was time to leave. From there, I did a brief stint in Ottawa, and then moved to NYC to work at the Clinton Foundation. That time in NYC is what inevitably drew me to Toronto - I wanted to live somewhere that was equally as vibrant and dynamic, and always left me feeling in awe of the city. Toronto was offered that and more: a strong community, eclectic music scene, and lots of distinct neighborhoods to adventure.
What’s your current hood in Toronto and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
Parkdale! I'm biased, but this is easily the best hood in Toronto. I live directly on Queen West, so steps from my apartment is an abundance of coffee shops, cocktail bars, dive bars, community centres and advocacy firms. What makes this neighborhood unique is its history and community connectivity: originally a working-class neighborhood, it's home to a diverse population and an abundance of affordable housing. The worst thing about the neighborhood (and sadly, I'm a part of it) is the active gentrification and displacement of social housing. Developers trying to make the cozy community the next condo village.
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
I primarily listen to hip-hop and 90's girl punk (random, I know). Anything that has a great beat or is lyrically subversive. My two favorite artists of all time are Kanye West and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) - those interests inform the rest of my musical choices. Who do I hate? I try not to "hate" any genuine artist, but if anything - Taylor Swift and the Chainsmokers... calculated pop music without substance. The worst.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Hit 'Em Up - Tupac; Begging for Thread - BANKS; Violets - Hole; Be a Body - Grimes; Oh Woman, Oh man - London Grammar; Always Let You Down - Blood Orange; Too Good for You- Drake & Rihanna; I am a God - Kanye West.
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
To be terribly stereotypical: I adore Sex and the City. The supportive friendship held among the characters is something I look up to (as is their ability to live in Manhattan on a budget). For something more realistic: Master of None, Dear White People, and Penny Dreadful ( I adore BBC programming).
Name some spots in Toronto that are good for a Tinder date.
I'm a fan of settings where we can hold decent conversation and then maybe going dancing after. So far my #1 favorite is La Carnita on College - they play great hip-hop, have fantastic cocktails and serve cheap (and delicious) tacos. Plus, it is close enough to the bars on Dundas West or Trinity Bellwoods Park to cruise there afterwards for more adventures if the date goes well.
Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).
Who’s your hero and where in Toronto would you take them out for a serious hang?
Kanye West (like I said, I'm obsessed). He is my hero for being as political as he is musical and artistic, and for that I would like to bring him to Kensington Market and Parkdale for their history and underground venues. For a serious hang, I would start off with getting tea at Cafe Panemar and walking around Kensington Market to check out the shops and the BBQ at Cold Tea. Later, we would stroll down to Parkdale and hang out on my roof that I'm turning into a private venue this summer.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
My favourite boutiques are along Queen West past Bathurst. I adore Oak&Fort, Smoke+Ash, and The Sista'ar shop across from Trinity Bellwoods. For my necessities and work clothes, I stick to Club Monaco or All Saints.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
I rarely get to explore all the museums and galleries Toronto has to offer. My favourite as a child was the Royal Ontario Museum and I always am wanting to go back spend a day at its exhibits but never have the time (or am always with friends). The have this one exhibit that is this entire room full of old birds and insects - call me creepy, but I adore it.
Where do you go in Toronto for a casual night out?
Pretty Ugly, this new low-key, mezcal-based cocktail bar that reminds me of the hole-in-the-wall speakeasies I would go to in the East Village. The ambiance is dark and casual, the bar tenders always remember your favourite drink, and you walk in feeling like it is your second home. The bar is run by the same people behind the acclaimed Bar Raval along College Street, however Pretty Ugly is for those who prefer liquor over tapas.
Where would you go in Toronto to celebrate some freaking good news?
To a rooftop patio so I can celebrate with my friends under the sun! There are several key rooftop patios in the city: Sky Yard at the Drake Hotel, or The Pilot in Yorkville are two of my favourites. There is the Thompson Hotel as well which is good for celebrations if you are feeling bougie.
What’s your choice of transportation in Toronto and why?
Uber! I would usually say public transit, however during rush hour, it can be hard to get downtown quickly (and I'm always running late). The ubers here are quality and efficient.
What are the Toronto spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
Two options: Yorkville and Kensington. Completely opposite vibes (Yorkville is an elegant enclave off of Bay street with designer boutiques and a Parisian atmosphere). But that's what I love about Toronto - it is full of distinct neighbourhoods that always keep you learning and meeting new people. A first time visitor has to see that, see the diversity and meet the incredible people that live here. I would recommend going to Kensington during the day and grabbing food in the market, then wandering the streets of Yorkville at dusk and checking out the galleries and bars.
What are the Toronto spots tourists should run from screaming?
The suburbs. Monotonous and inconvenient, and deprive you of everything that is truly "Toronto."
Tomorrow’s your last day in Toronto. How do you spend it?
I would start off by grabbing coffee and a croissant at The Tempered Room. Then I would walk down College and take in the lively daily activities of Little Portugal. From there I would go vintage shopping in Kensington and treat myself to an afternoon at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I would then take the ferry to the Toronto Island to see the sunset and have wine on the beach. If I had enough energy after that, I would rally my friends and get them all to come dancing with me at a hip hop club on Queen.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
My absolute favourite vacation city in the world is Mumbai. I went time there last April visiting friends in Bandra and never felt so free. It was like NYC but tropical, and everything was alive - never quiet, birds and animals and tuk tuks riding past you every where. Its vibrancy was what made it special - unlike the rest of India, it was quite cosmopolitan. While extreme poverty still exists, it was evident how it economic growth was transforming the city, with its night life and artistic activity flourishing. On our nights out we would ride tuk tuks to underground hotel nightclubs and smoke hash along the beach.