Transcript: Ep. 9 - 'Toronto': Live at Hot Docs | Nov 26, 2019

You're listening to
a TVO podcast.
(Audience cheering)

(Laughing) Oh my God.
All right.
Hello, Hot Docs!
I'm Pippa.
And I'm Karina.
And this is Word Bomb,
a TVO podcast.
Every episode,
we talk about a word
that's going through
a moment of change.
This is our first
live show ever,
so thank you all so much
for being here.
It's... it's really weird
to be looking at faces
instead of a studio mic.
It really, really is.
If we were gonna
give you the authentic
Word Bomb recording experience,
we would lower all the lights
and we would take off our shoes.
Yeah, we like to
sit in the dark barefoot
like complete creeps.
I really recommend it
to anyone who podcasts.
It's a very relaxing
I don't think we can
do this in the dark,
but I think we could take
our shoes off.
Do you mind if we
take our shoes off? Yeah?
Do you mind? Yeah?
We're just gonna do that.
Ooh, that is so much better!
Way better.
Oof! All right.
All right, so today,
our first live show,
we are going to take you through
the many names of our city.
So some of you have probably
heard that Toronto comes from
an Indigenous word that means
"the meeting place".
Which is like a nice idea.
Well, turns out this is
a totally false etymology.
The meeting place idea came
from a 19th century historian
and clergyman named
Henry Scadding.
He wrote that Toronto came from
the Huron word, "Toronton".
So for this, he took a 17th
century French missionary's
translation of Toronton to
"Il y a beaucoup" in French.
Karina, care to translate?
"There is a lot."
(Audience laughing)
Right, so Scadding took
the idea of "there is a lot"
to mean "abundance", which he
assumed meant a lot of people,
and therefore
"the meeting place".
Henry was making
a lot of leaps, yeah.
And keep in mind here that
he did not speak
the Huron language.
So let's talk about
the real etymology
behind the word "Toronto".
Right, Dr. John Steckley, who
does speak the Huron language,
said that most scholars agree
now it comes from a Mohawk word,
"Tkaronto", which means
"where there are trees".
Which personally I think is even
prettier. Yeah, mm-hmm.
The area that they were
referencing is now
present day Orillia, and it was
so good for fishing that
it was considered sacred.
First official use is
a little murky,
but it's been appearing
on French maps
with different spellings
since around 1670.
And it was used in that same way
for about 100 years.
So, enter John Graves Simcoe.
He was the first
Lieutenant Governor of
the British colony
of Upper Canada.
So in 1793, Simcoe decided
the name "Toronto" wasn't
his speed, didn't suit him.
He didn't like Indigenous names,
and he was a huge fan of
the Duke of York,
so he renamed the city, pretty
much unilaterally, to "York".
But people weren't too into it.
No, they came up with some
not-so-nice nicknames
for the city like
"Dirty York", "Muddy York",
"Nasty York" was another one,
mostly inspired by
the city's total lack of
storm drains and paved streets.
It was pretty nasty, but right
before the city was set to be
incorporated in 1834, City
Council held a debate to decide
whether to keep the name York or
change it back to Toronto.
And the Toronto fans argued
that the name was more unique,
that it just sounded better,
and that it was on all the maps
anyway, and they won the day.
(Audience laughing)
In 1884, William Howland ran in
Toronto's mayoral election
on a campaign promising
to clean up Toronto,
and he coined the name
"Toronto the Good",
which you probably heard.
This is in reference
to Toronto having
kind of a Puritan,
brutish reputation,
That's how we use it now, and I
feel like I can say that because
I'm from Vancouver, which is
called the "no fun city".
Vancouver isn't that bad,
and everything is relative.
I'm from Mississauga, and
I think my wildest night out
as a teen was at a Tim Horton's
in a strip mall, so...
(Audience laughing)
It's fine.
Yeah, when I moved to Toronto,
I was always thrown by
things being closed on Sundays.
And I would talk to my mom about
this, and she's a historian,
and she'd always say like,
"Yeah, Toronto the Good."
But I had no idea that the
nickname dated back this far.
Yeah, so in 1906, Canada
actually passed something
called the Lord's Day Act.
And because of it,
Toronto implemented
all of these very weird bylaws
that really lived up to
the name "Toronto the Good".
So it's what you legally
couldn't do on a Sunday,
and it basically prohibited
all fun possible.
Playgrounds were locked up,
and the department store Eaton's
actually shuttered and curtained
its shop windows because
window shopping was seen as
just as sinful as real shopping.
(Audience laughing)
It's true.
I know we complain now
about how strict Ontario's
liquor laws are, but we have
nothing on historical Ontario.
When the LCBO was first
established in 1927
all the way up to 1970s,
you would have to apply for
a liquor license, then you'd
have to-- you'd have
this little book like a passport
that would track all your
booze purchases, and then they
could revoke your license
if they found that you were
drinking too much.
So, Toronto the Good:
well-earned name.
I agree.
For this next
well-known nickname,
I have to just take us
all the way back to 2001.
So, you know, like DARE classes,
school dances in the gym,
I was 10 years old, and also,
the song
BaKardi Slang
by Kardinal Offishall
on the radio.
So we have him to thank
for the name "T-Dot".
I remember that one.
Yes, I'm actually, like,
viscerally embarrassed
by saying the word T-Dot
because it just reminds me of
being a preteen, and thinking
T-Dot was the coolest place
in the entire world.
So I'm really glad that we don't
say it so much anymore.
I don't know, I feel like
we could bring T-Dot back.
Uh, no, no, no.
I... it's not necessary!
(Pippa laughing)
It's a bit too fresh.
Moving on.
Here's another one you still
hear a lot: Hogtown.
So there are a couple
theories on this one.
The first theory is that,
pretty simple,
there were a lot of
hogs here, so...
(Audience laughing)
Yeah, so around
the turn of the century,
Toronto was home to
one of Canada's biggest
meat-packing companies,
the William Davies Company,
which, fun fact,
was actually the company
that popularized the Canadian
delicacy, peameal bacon.
Uh, the second--
(Karina laughing)
The second theory is
a bit simpler.
It's just yet another way
that other cities
used to make fun of Toronto.
People in neighbouring cities
would write about and talk about
Toronto as Hogtown
in not the nicest tone.
Speaking of hating Toronto,
I'm from Vancouver,
like I said,
where Toronto is called
"the centre of the
universe" sometimes.
Yeah, not as a compliment, no.
Living in Vancouver, I always
felt like there was this rivalry
between Toronto and Vancouver,
the two big cities,
but when I moved here,
I was deflated to learn that
it's totally one-sided,
and whenever...
(Audience laughing)
...whenever I talk about
Vancouver to Torontonians,
they're like, "Oh,
I hear it's pretty there."
(Audience laughing)
Pippa and I went to university
together in Vancouver,
and I remember back then,
you pronounced it so hard,
like "Toron-toe".
Uh, yeah, I know.
Before I moved, everyone told me
I had to learn to
say it "Trona".
Yeah, uh...
How do you say it?
I say "Turanno".
Turanno, Turanno.
I've gotten a lot better.
Yeah, so like the linguistic
explanation for this is that,
you know, we who live here say
it so many times that the word
gets kind of shortened, and
the sound gets pushed together.
But I don't even think
there's an agreed upon
lazy pronunciation, because
I hear people saying it
like "Churanno", with a "ch"
sound at the front,
or "Toranna", or in
a bunch of different ways.
I think we can all agree though
that saying "Toron-toe"
is not a good look.
No, definitely not.
But calling it "The 6ix"
is a good look, right, guys?
Ah, yeah, I... (Sighing)
(Audience laughing)
I-- I don't know, I just feel
like when it starts appearing on
corporate branding, it's like
sliding a little out of style.
This was my favourite part of
the research for this episode,
figuring out exactly
how Toronto became The 6ix,
which is spelled S-I-X or,
preferably, 6-I-X.
(Audience laughing)
So we all know the idea,
like this came from Drake.
Right, it was popularized
after his mixtape
"If You're Reading This
It's Too Late",
which came out in 2015
with the song
6 God.
And then like
"Views From The 6".
In 2016 though, on The Tonight
Show with Jimmy Fallon,
Drake explained the etymology of
the nickname came from 416.
And then Jimmy Fallon said, "And
the girls think you're six-y."
Drake also mentioned that
The 6ix kind of ties into
how there are six...
like the six former
municipalities of Toronto.
So if you don't know this bit of
local history, in 1998,
the city amalgamated six areas,
and they were Toronto,
Scarborough, East York,
North York, Etobicoke, and...
Did I say North York?
York, yeah!
Where we live, actually.
Yeah, York, yeah.
Okay, so like I said,
Drake popularized The 6ix,
but he didn't actually
invent it.
Plot twist.
So... I know.
Turns out that another
Toronto rapper, Jimmy Prime,
actually came up
with the nickname.
Drake did however credit him for
inventing it back in 2014.
"champagnepapi" Instagrammed
a picture of the CN Tower
and captioned it,
"I miss the 6!!!
#JimmyPrimeNamedIt, #The6."
(Audience laughing)
And Jimmy Prime has told
the publication notoriously
that, you know,
there's no hard feelings.
He just wants Toronto rappers
to be proud of
where they came from.
That's very sweet.
I'm just gonna throw
one more wrench in here,
which is that the name "The 6ix"
may have existed years earlier
in the 2001 song
Love 'Em All
by Toronto group
Baby Blue Soundcrew.
(Audience laughing)
Now, this track features
Choclair and Mr. Mims,
which is another name for
the rapper Mims before
This Is Why I'm Hot
came out.
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
So on that track,
Choclair says he's repping
the T-O-R-O-N-T-O
T-Dot-O-Dot, then says,
"I'm just trying to live.
Only take what
you trying to give.
I won't wait, I'll just
take you for a ride in the 6."
Wow, wow.
I have to say,
I really love hearing you
just dryly recite rap lyrics.
It's just... mmm.
You're welcome, everyone.
(Audience laughing)
So I think that should do it.
Now that we've taken you through
all the names of our city,
I think we can put
our shoes back on.
That's right.
Thank you so much to Hot Docs
for hosting this event.
Thank you to everyone at TVO
for your support...
(Pippa's voice fading out)
Thank you.

Watch: Ep. 9 - 'Toronto': Live at Hot Docs