Toronto vs São Paulo

Most Brazilians describe Toronto as the São Paulo of Canada. The former is the financial centre of Canada, the latter the financial centre of Brazil. But I think that’s where the analogy ends. Since some Brazilians always get concerned that Toronto might be too big for them, I often haste to assure them that no city in Canada can feel as big as a large Brazilian city. The cities are built differently, the density is just not there. Besides, a city of 20 million people can never be said to be the same as one with barely 4 million!

Skyline of downtown Toronto:

© by frigrante

Skyline of downtown Sao Paulo:

© Paul Keller

Not the same at all…

Actually, people keep asking us what is the thing the strikes us most about Toronto after spending one year in Barcelona. Both Alan and I immediately agree that it is space. There’s just SO much more space in this country. Everything is so much bigger and roomier than in Europe. I remember that the sense of space was the first thing that I noticed when I first visited Canada, about 10 years ago. And Canada – having so much space – also doesn’t have the same density so with less density and more space, things feel even larger! The elevators look the size of bedrooms for us! We go downtown at busy times and find everything so empty…

Alan and I are not into crowds so we rather appreciate not having to fight out way just to walk down the street but our new sensibilities also make us a bit uneasy about how spoiled we are here…

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Author: guerson

Born and raised in Brazil, a Canadian stole my heart and took me to Canada in 1999. After seven years between Montreal and Toronto, we then moved to Barcelona, Spain, where I did research for my PhD thesis. This blog began as a chronicle of our adventures while living in Barcelona and exploring the old world and has acquired a life of its own after we moved back to Canada.

5 thoughts on “Toronto vs São Paulo”

  1. I remember staring out of the car window at the 401 after my nine months in Spain. I couldn’t believe how much space there was!! Walking around Toronto seemed so strange, wide open sky, houses, huge streets… It’s all so funny now because there is even MORE space here in El Paso!! :)

  2. I totally agree, I would never imagine that anybody would compare São Paulo to Toronto, it is SO different! But people also love to say that São Paulo is just like New York… another big mistake.

  3. Dana
    We’re still in that stage, where everything looks so big and disproportionate… I remember one time when Ken Mills was hosting a scholar from England. I went to dinner with them and he was so impressed at how many low-rise buildings there were right downtown Toronto. He imagined a city of high-rises. Much like the SP on the picture….

    Denise
    Indeed! NY is not at all like SP! I sometimes laugh when people in Brasil say they wouldn’t like to live in Toronto because they don’t like SP. I ask where they live and they say Rio or BH. “Dont worry”, I say, “Toronto feels much smaller than any of those” ;) Particularly if you live downtown…

    After living in 10-15 different cities in my life, I’ve learned one thing – you can never really compare one city with another. Each have its own identity and charm (or lack thereof) ;)

    People in Canada are constantly asking us to compare Toronto and Montreal, since they are eternal rivals and we’ve lived in both. We refuse to. They are very different cities and I really like them both.

  4. I feel there´s something unconscious, I mean, something behind this “brazilian behaviour”. Most of people who lives in the “third-world” need to compare “our cities” with the other “villes du premier-monde”, maybe to reduce the fact that they are poor, an undeveloped nation. “Et j´en parle en toute connaissance de cause”, I´m brazilian. ;-)

  5. Opa! Senti que foi pra mim esse post. :o)
    Acho que nunca vou ter a noção exata de como é Toronto enquanto não a conhecer.
    Gostei muito, obrigada!

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