One is located two hours from one of the top ski resorts in the world, accessed by a scenic coast road known as the Sea to Sky Highway. The other is two hours from one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
One hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games; the other hosted the 2015 Pan American Games.
One is a brunette, the other a blonde. One is petite, the other full-figured.
It’s Vancouver and Toronto, two of Canada’s great gems. Yet they are not only on opposite sides of the country, they are on other sides of the spectrum from a mental standpoint. It’s West vs. East, BC vs. Ontario.
And it leads to the inevitable question: Which is better for nightlife and partying?
PubClub.com examines the issue and reaches our conclusion with this article.
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: COMPARING THE CITIES
These cities are as different as their locations suggest. Vancouver is in the Pacific Northwest, tall and lean like a giant pine or redwood. Toronto always seems to be dressed for the prom. Because in this town, there probably is a prom type of event either going on or about to take place. Toronto, is should be noted, is one happening town.
Sunsets are better in Vancouver. People gather in English Bay to watch the sun slide away to end the day in a nightly ritual that’s a low-key version of Mallory Square in Key West.
The patios are better in Toronto. Show a Torontonian a hint of good weather and the patios spring to life like a dormant flower, be it lunchtime, dinnertime, Happy Hour or deep into the night. Toronto is vibrant; it seems as if there’s always something going on, especially at Dundas Square.
So does it end in a tie? Well, like many hockey games, this one goes into overtime. And due to its continual dynamic energy, the city on the lake prevails.
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE SCENERY
Vancouver is surrounded by the sea and pushed up against mountains so close it seems as if they can be touched from the base of Burrard Street.
Toronto has the dominant CN Tower (and great views from the top of it), a group of scenic islands a short boat ride away and huge Lake Ontario.
Being in Vancouver is like being on the edge of nature. Toronto’s scenic areas often give way to the fact that it’s a city; it’s the nature of the beast.
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE NIGHTLIFE
Both places have vibrant nightclubs, hip lounges, causal pubs, dive bars and unique live music venues.
The much larger size of Toronto gives it a huge edge here. Vancouver’s concentrated downtown makes it easy to navigate in a short amount of time, but downtown is just the olive in Toronto’s martini. There is the dynamic King West, cool places in upscale Yorkville, cafes-turned-bars along College Street, The Esplanade and the “young and eligible” area of Yonge and Eglington.
As noted earlier, Toronto is also loaded with patios, so many of them in fact that PubClub has tackled the task of ranking them in an upcoming story listing the Top 10 Patios in Toronto.
Vancouver can boast about a fun area not far from downtown called Kitsilano, or “the Kits.” Called “the California of Canada,” the Kits is Vancouver’s laid-back beach town and has several fun and casual bars that blows away Toronto’s beach area.
There is, however, one irksome element to nightlife in Vancouver, for places think nothing of charging a heavy cover ($8 on weekends) to walk into a regular bar or pub. It ‘s just accepted there and nobody really says anything about it. Try that in Toronto and a place would be out of business faster than the Maple Leafs are annually eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Vancouver – and all of BC, for that matter – is also handcuffed by arcane British Columbia alcohol laws that, among other things, requires patrons to be seated to be served and to drink a cocktail. It is illegal to, say, order a drink at the bar in a restaurant and then carry it to one’s table for dinner. And there’s no walking to the restroom with a beer.
Granted, these rules apply to places designated as restaurants, but during the Olympics, the liquor patrol went on a raid of sorts, busting places throughout Whistler for being “overcrowded” when in fact a place might only have been at 60% capacity. This resulted in restaurants and bars having lines outside with hardly anybody inside. During the Olympics!
All this being said, the best live music venue in either city is the Roxy in Vancouver. The place is so good, PubClub has ranked it #6 in its survey of the World’s Best Bars.
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE HOTTEST GIRLS
Both places have beautiful, super-friendly Canadian girls. But there’s more of them in Toronto. A LOT more of them.
In Vancouver, you see them working int the restaurants and bars.
In Toronto, you see them everywhere.
Here’s what PubClub.com’s blogger says about the girls in the two cities: “Both chave a lot of beautiful women,” he explains, “but the big difference in Toronto and Vancouver is that in Vancouver, most of those girls are working in the service industry as hostesses, waitresses or bartenders.
“In Toronto, they are working at hostesses, waitresses and bartenders, too, but there’s also a ton of great-looking girls who are on the other side of the table or bar, or just walking around the city in general.
“The sheer volume of beautiful women in Toronto overwhelms those in Vancouver.”
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE SURROUNDING AREAS
This is a plus for both cities. Vancouver is two hours from Whistler and an hour from Victoria, and there are countless places along a gorgeous coast that features migrating whales, seals, birds and other wildlife.
With not one but two mountains and a fun village full of bars and restaurants, Whistler is as good as it gets when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and even golfing, The beauty of BC cannot even be described as breathtaking because the scenery is so rapid-fire it’s more like breath denying.
Toronto counters with its “cottage country,” which are cottages scattered on lakes north of the city. Many locals make this their weekend destinations during the hot summer months.
To the south of the city is Niagara Falls, an absolutely astonishing gift of nature. Watching the huge, continual rush of water rolling over the falls on the Canadian side can as mesmerizing as sitting next to a hypnotist. Beyond the falls, the Niagara Parkway runs parallel to the river with dozens of houses converted to B&Bs, a bike and running path and several scenic stops. This leads to the quaint little town of Niagara-On-The-Lake, which in turn leads to more than 40 wineries and their tempting tasting rooms.
Edge: Vancouver (Whistler puts it over the top).
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE SPORTS
Vancouver has the better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with the Canucks than do Toronto’s Maple Leafs, which haven’t hoisted the trophy since 1966-67.
The respective CFL teams, the BC Lions and the Argonauts, are about even, though Toronto has more of a history of success. Oddly, both teams are owned by the same person.
On the major league stage, Toronto has Major League Baseball with the Blue Jays, the NBA’s Raptors and even Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. Of course, Pamela Anderson was discovered sitting in the stands of a BC Lions game. That certainly beats the fact that Doug Flutie one quarterbacked the Argos.
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE PEOPLE
This is completely subjective. Canadians are fun, friendly people from coast to coast. The winner here is largely a matter of preference.
Now that this section has been properly prefaced, the people in Vancouver are mostly “earthy” while the people in Toronto are mostly cosmopolitan. In fact, “cosmopolitan” is a term used a lot to describe Toronto. Certainly, not everyone in Vancouver is a tree-hugger and likewise, not everyone in Toronto is a well-heeled city slicker. But this is generally the difference of the people in these two cities.
Can’t top that: The babes of Ontario give Toronto the edge.
What hurts Vancouver here is all the teenage homeless people begging for money along the streets. This is especially prevalent along Granville, the primary nightlife street. They are polite beggars, to be sure, but it’s a definite negative. (It’s also a trait of the Pacific Northwest, for this is also prevalent in Portland and Seattle,)
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE X-FACTORS
Events: Toronto has the Toronto Film Festival, the Honda Indy, the Beaches Jazz Festival… Vancouver had an Indy until the locals chased it away (well, not exactly but their complaining about it didn’t help). Now that last weekend in July is occupied by a jazz festival, and there is a Fringe Festival in Vancouver, as well. And Whistler is full of great events, including the awesome Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival each April, but it’s a stretch to credit that to Vancouver. Edge: Toronto.
• Entertainment. Concerts could be considered a draw, as both places have great venues and attract touring bands. Where Toronto really stands out here is in its Theater District, which gets Broadway plays. Edge. Toronto.
Traffic. Thanks to the Olympics, Vancouver has a nifty new skyway that runs from the airport to downtown and beyond. Toronto has the Gardner; the Don Valley; city streets clogged with cars, pedestrians, street cars… Edge: Vancouver.
The weather: It’s more mild in Vancouver in the summer, but it also rains a lot in the other months. Toronto gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Edge: Toronto
TORONTO VS. VANCOUVER: THE CONCLUSION
While each area certainly has its positive attributes, when taken as a whole, we’ll take Toronto.
But if we were to be “stuck” in Vancouver for any reason, we would be very pleasantly stuck.
PubClub.com’s Pick: Toronto.