With a final submission of paperwork, I have completed my Master’s degree. It’s a very satisfying feeling, even though I was technically finished months ago. Having it all submitted before my 27th birthday feels very nice. Wandering from Union Station to the University of Toronto I am always astonished by the sheer number of people heading into work in the morning. There are a great many office towers along Bay and University, and they fill up quickly between 7:30 and 9 am. Many of them traveled with me from Hamilton this morning, and will head back via train or bus at the end of the day. I appreciate the compromised insanity of the commute having once done so myself. I left home each morning and rode the bus to Toronto for classes, sometimes getting home well after 11pm, only to return the next day. For me, it was a small price to pay for the financial savings, and the ability to stay in Pinstripe Mystery. Others must find comfort in the familiarity of home, the less daunting profile of smaller cities, and the obvious discounts on living arrangements.
There is currently a motor oil commercial that describes the “worst commute in America.” A man drives two and a half hours each way for work, through congested freeways. I have heard stories of people traveling from Hamilton to Oshawa for work, a trip that can take 4 hours at rush hour. Some friends live in the city they work in, but still drive 30+ minutes to work. What a contrast to the past. For instance, at Whitehern museum in Hamilton there is a rug that depicts the QEW when it first opened. Thomas McQuesten, one of the inhabitants of the house, was instrumental in the construction of that highway. The rug show a 4 lane street lined with trees and homes, not unlike many rural highways today. Today, it is a 6 lane (sometimes more) road that is often crammed with traffic.
One of my grandfathers walked to work from his home in the north end of Hamilton. The other did the same for a time before moving onto the mountain, quite a bit further from the police station he worked at. It was a sign of the changing world. People think it is strange when I walk from my home down into the city, or when I ignore the subway and hike from Union to St. Michael’s. I much prefer the exercise and the fresh air, even in winter. The new urban plan for the City of Hamilton calls for less sprawl and more intensification. I hope this means more people can walk to work, they’d be doing themselves, and all of us, a favour.