My Toronto: Stories From the 6ix
“Stories from The 6ix” is a series focused on Torontonians and their unique connections to this city. Same city, different stories. Discover Toronto through the locals who know and love it.
Visual Artist / @soteeoh
Adeyemi Abegsan is very proudly Torontonian. His Instagram handle is “Soteeoh” after all (as in T.O., short for Toronto). He has managed to craft an incredible photography career revolving around Toronto. He says, “You’ll see a lot of urban cityscapes because I just like it on a personal basis. But I also spend a lot of time in different neighbourhoods, capturing life, storefronts and signage. I love the fact that you can be in different parts of the city and all the signage is suddenly not English. That’s amazing to me.”
We met at Moonbean, a Kensington Market coffee shop that fosters connecting and disconnecting. A place where conversations swirl around you. Where you can be completely present — mostly because there’s no wifi, but also because the owner, Alan Erdstein, has created a welcoming space that is as much about the people coming through as it is about grinding and brewing their own coffee. It was the perfect place to get Adeyemi’s perspective on the city.
What do you love about Toronto?
This city is by no means perfect, but I love the culture and the diversity. It’s corny and obvious, but polarizing at the same time. Especially in the climate we’re living in now, to have a city like this where you have so many different people from so many different backgrounds all contributing and making this thing work.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood?
Kensington Market. It’s home but I also feel like it’s a microcosm of the greater city. Part of the appeal is its rough edges. I think Kensington specifically does a great job blending that with some higher end culture.
There’s also the East Side Rebellion right now where a bunch of artists are starting to migrate east because that’s kind of how neighbourhoods evolve. Artists make it cool, then the hipsters come in, then businesses come in and then the cycle repeats somewhere else. That’s happening in the east end right now.
When would you recommend people visit Toronto? Why?
I’d say come in the fall, specifically end of September, early October. It’s still warm, you have the leaves changing colour and you have so many things happening. TIFF, Nuit Blanche, every weekend there’s a crazy event. I think we nail it, I think there’s probably few places in the world that compare.
I mentioned TIFF, one of the biggest film festivals in the world at this point, but I would also tell people to go to Manifesto. It’s a lesser known arts and culture festival, but it just celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary. It hosts panel discussions, musical performances and features a whole bunch of local and emerging artists. It’s an amazing way to experience the city because it follows the best from around the city.
Entrepreneur / @ovoryan
On the 42nd floor of the Four Seasons Residences, you get a sprawling view of Toronto. It’s a view that Ryan Silverstein sees every time he’s home when he’s not on tour with Drake or crushing his own work in Los Angeles. “I grew up here. I love watching the city grow and progress,” shares Ryan. “Watched different buildings go up, new areas grow. The fact that Yorkville has changed to what it is now. It’s just cool to see the evolution. Toronto as a whole is just a beautiful place. People don’t get it. You can’t compare Toronto to New York, LA or Louisiana. We have our own vibe.”
Travelling the world can be considered a full-time job for Ryan these last few years. He’s never in one place for too long, so what he cherishes about Toronto is “an overwhelming sense of peace.” With this in mind, it’s the positive energy that stands out to him the most. We focused a lot on that as we watched the city from his own Mount Olympus.
What do you think surprises people the most when they visit Toronto?
The personality of Torontonians as a whole surprises visitors, I think. We’re such happy people. I don’t know if it’s the air, but I find that everyone just goes about their everyday, whether it’s stressful or easy, with the same positive mentality. Everyone will wave to each other and smile. You don’t get that in a lot of other places. It’s one of our best characteristics.
What’s a must-do for tourists, whether they’ve been here before or are first-timers?
You can watch a game anywhere, but the vibe in Toronto stadiums and arenas is different. We have so much love for our teams, so much passion, that it’s a really amazing experience. Whether it’s basketball, baseball, hockey and now soccer, it’s a great time. No matter what day of the week it is, there’s always something to catch. So you really can’t miss it.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood?
Yorkville is my favourite neighbourhood, where I live. My whole family’s here, my dad’s business is next door, my brother’s tattoo shop is here. There are great restaurants. It’s popping, especially during the summer. But, overall, you can come and have a clean, fun time. Toronto is full of clean streets, clean people, clean all-around vibe. You can’t find that anywhere else. Here it’s all positivity. I wake up and I just feel happy.