In this week’s City Perspectives, Victor Cheng (@veeceecheng) shares his thoughts and views of the bustling Canadian metropolis of Toronto.
How long have you lived in your city? What is your profession?
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada when I was 3. My family lived in Winnipeg for 5 years, then in Calgary for another 2. We moved to Toronto when I was going into grade 5, so I’ve been here for about 12 years now. Currently, I am finishing up my last year of university majoring in multimedia and communications, but I’m also working as a creative marketer and designing menswear on the side (@vcselections) – it’s a little hobby of mine.
If you could capture the essence of your city in one word, what would it be and why?
There are so many words to choose from, but if I could only choose only one, it would have to be “lifestyle”. I believe there are so many different types of lifestyles in this city. Depending on where you live, they can drastically change in terms of urban/city lifestyles to more rural lifestyles all the way up north, where beautiful landscapes can be captured. Surprisingly, the two are actually not too far from each other, but they are incredibly diverse.
How would you describe the locals in your city? What are some stereotypes and are they true?
Torontonians are diverse and multicultural. There are so many different types of people in Toronto that there’s no way to define one specific look or style or prototype. There is a stereotype of Torontonians as being somewhat egotistical and tending to complain a lot, but we feel as though as those complaints are justified, especially when they pertain to the public transportation service – the “TTC” – because it seems to be delayed every hour. Oh, and we pronounce Toronto as “Torono”, not “trawna” or “toronTO”.
What’s the best season to visit your city in and why?
The best season to visit would be fall. Many of the local parks here burst with golden colors as all the leaves start changing. The temperatures are also perfect for photo walks, and you could layer up for pretty portrait shoots.
Describe the first place you’d bring an out-of-town guest. Why would you take them there before anywhere else?
It’s hard to choose just one! I think to show them the more cultural and creative side of Toronto, I’d take them to Queen Street West. It’s got great food and culture and a more “artsy” side. From there, we’d go to the “Polson Pier”. This spot is probably most popular to capture Toronto’s skyline and a definite must-see if you ever visit the city. On top of that, it’s also a beautiful spot for sunset and if you’re lucky, you get to capture a plane landing at Toronto’s City airport with the skyline as the backdrop.
Which coffee shop(s) are your favorite to spend an afternoon catching up on work or people watching?
There are three that I could spend all day in. My third choice, “The Good Neighbor,” is nice and quiet, with brick walls with a ton of natural lighting. My second choice would have to be on the east side, “Fahrenheit Coffee”, famous for delicious baked goods. And my first choice is definitely “Early Bird Espresso” on Queen West, which has beautiful interiors and a relaxed atmosphere. Make sure to order their iced coffee if you visit during the summertime.
What’s your favorite restaurant or place to eat? What is on the menu that shouldn’t be missed?
I love going to Pho Hung, located right in Chinatown on Spadina and Dundas. I am addicted to Pho and could literally eat it everyday. I love to order the 101 House Special: rare beef noodle soup.
Where’s your favorite place for an outdoor run?
My favourite place for a run is on the lakeshore, also known as Harbourfront. It allows for a nice long run along the lake starting from the boardwalk. You can even ride your bike there, too!
What’s your favorite activity for a rainy day?
Order a flat white with a chocolate chip cookie and choose a window seat with a power plug in any of the three coffee shops I mentioned. I’d probably just catch up with work or sketch designs all day for @vcselections until the rain stops.
How do you think that the beat or style of the city has informed your style as a photographer?
There’s a little bit of everything in this city, from architectural shots to beautiful landscapes. There’s always something out there to be captured depending on what your overall “theme” is. Personally, I’m into very clean and perhaps minimalistic types of photography with twists of creativity. That can range from a shot of a friend jumping in front of a huge colorful wall to the cup of coffee I had this morning. The style I use for my photography tends to bring out the positive vibe of Toronto and reflects the city in that it is good looking and clean.