Jack Knox: Oh, yawn, Victoria tagged on Boring Cities list

Victoria has been named one of the most boring cities in Canada, and we are outraged.

Or indifferent. Here in Dullsville-by-the-Water, it’s hard to tell.

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How dreary is Victoria? We didn’t even make the cut when the tongue-in-cheek Boring Awards were handed out in Toronto at the end of May. Ottawa was named Most Boring City then, topping a short list that included Laval, Que., Lethbridge, Alta., Brampton, Ont., and Abbotsford.

Victoria was only added belatedly, subbing in for Abbotsford after people in the Fraser Valley community moaned that it didn’t belong on the list. (Note to Abby: Give it up. You sound like an accountant insisting he has a sense of humour.)

Somehow it seems appropriate that Victoria should be late to its own lynching; this is a city that embraces lethargy the way the Scots value grim-lipped toil.

Ours is a government town full of old hippies and older retirees, a city of bureaucracy, B.C. Bud and rat race refugees whose only goal is to go slower.

Our passion is gardening, our most-feared predator the banana slug. Our boats have sails, not motors. Even our sporting heroes — triathlete Simon Whitfield, cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, 1,500-metre swimmer Ryan Cochrane — choose endurance events, not sprints.

We are notoriously early to bed, something that didn’t escape host John Catucci when the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here taped in Victoria this month. “You guys are obsessed with brunch,” he told the TC’s Michael Reid. “I guess it’s because everything at night closes at 9 o’clock so you have to take full advantage.”

“There is no Canadian community as dull as the newspaper which it reads,” Robert Fulford once wrote. Perhaps, but we’re giving it a shot.

While Toronto City Hall is consumed with questions of crack cocaine and gangstas, our biggest controversy involves — wait for it — lowering speed limits to 40 kilometres an hour. Last week’s big fuss? The decision to chop down a truck-struck tree on Cook Street; local media reacted as though the city was cutting the limbs off young children, not an old chestnut.

Must admit, being considered boring in Canada — widely seen as among the dullest countries on Earth — is quite the feat. It’s like being called the trashiest Kardashian.

Not that the people behind the Boring Awards, largely a group of Toronto filmmakers, put a lot of science into their mostly social media-based efforts. “There was no statistical process, though we could pretend there was,” says spokesman Albert Nerenberg.

Nerenberg is a laughologist — he actually studies the science of laughter — who just made a documentary feature called Boredom.

All joking aside, he contends there is a serious message for Victorians.

“The film says boredom is deadly,” he said, on the phone from Toronto. Studies show boredom induces stress, which can shorten life.

Plugging in the search terms “Victoria” and “boring” brought the Boring Awards people an unexpected number of hits from younger residents. “Young people feel very stifled in Victoria.”

It’s not just that the city is geared to the grey-haired. It’s also that housing is so expensive that young people, after paying the rent/mortgage, can’t afford anything else.

The demographic skew is also an issue for older residents, Nerenberg said. Research shows the aging process quickens in communities dominated by the elderly.

“Victoria is not a nice place to live beyond the propaganda,” was one of the comments received by the Boring Awards panel.

“I must say Victoria is one of the most boring cities in Canada,” wrote another. “Everyone is old or homeless. I can’t stand going downtown. The stench of urine makes me sick — and I lived in Paris.”

For the record, Boring Awards were handed out in a handful of categories.

Most Boring Event of the Year was the 64th Annual Tax Conference in Calgary.

Most Boring Comment went to MP Monte Solberg for his “Boring and orderly is the Canadian way” quote in the Toronto Sun.

Stephen Harper was named Most Boring Canadian, beating out the likes of Tom Mulcair, Justin Bieber and the little animated cartoon man from the Royal Bank commercials.

Least boring went to — who else? — Rob Ford.

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