I’m kind of at a loss as to how to explain the roller derby tournament experience and how much fun it is–especially since I have a writing assignment due today–because I didn’t really see much of Toronto. That’s often the case when you travel somewhere for a purpose other than tourism. You spend a weekend hanging around in a warehouse/convention center/arena/former airplane hangar and do your thing. In this case we officiate games, we watch games. Sometimes we step outside for a few minutes and are reminded that there’s fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine. But mostly we’re consuming a lot of roller derby in one way or another, spending time with our old officiating friends and making new ones. We get the opportunity to officiate quite a bit in one weekend, which can really up our game and hopefully help improve the sport as a whole.
Someday I’ll go into what it’s like to be on an officiating crew, but for today I wanted to drop you a line about the tiny bit of Toronto I saw, which pretty much was:
- hotel room
- hotel breakfast room
- random Middle Eastern restaurant (open late, serves a decent falafel)
- Shopper’s Drug
- Tim Horton’s
- Downsview Park (Toronto Roller Derby’s little portion of it is know as The Hangar)
- Fox & Fiddle (for two dinners–this can be standard procedure. They’re open and serve food late? They have vegetarian options? They were decent the first time? Let’s go back!)
My hotel was in the Jane and Finch/Black Creek neighborhood of North York, and as we pulled in, everything looked vaguely familiar, as I’d spent a weekend in the same hotel in 2012. And as is par for the course on a derby weekend, you need to find a grocery store, a drug store, and a decent place where you can get a late night meal. Someone in the car also needs to get coffee). The Jane Finch Mall at the intersection of Jane and Finch delivered. Groceries? New FreshCo! Drugstore? Shopper’s Drug! Coffee? Tim Horton’s (motto: Spit, and you should hit a Tim Horton’s. Come in for some coffee, eh?)! Late night food? Middle Eastern falafel takeout? OK!
That’s really all I wanted to see of the area though, as Jane and Finch is a really rough section of the city. Just beyond the Jane Finch mall, the area pretty much says, “Don’t come here!” But our hotel was next to a cop shop, the mall was OK for the in-and-out stops we made, and the busy roads got us to The Hangar just fine. As a tourist destination though, I wouldn’t really recommend it.
However, maybe change is finally coming to Jane and Finch. FreshCo opened just last month, and I’m sure it’s a much-needed and welcome addition to the neighborhood. It’s shiny and new and clean, and hopefully that will translate further. Change was also coming to the hotel, as a lot of it was in the process of being remodeled. You saw it right away as you entered the temporary entrance and were immediately greeted by a wall displaying all the new fabrics and finishes that are in the works. What I loved though was the project’s motto, and I think it’s one that I’ll claim for myself for this year: