Rarely does time stand still.

Perhaps a moment is silenced when the heart flutters with happiness after a particularly breathtaking display, or in the presence of greatness, man-made or otherwise. Even, perchance, time may stand still during a fleeting manifestation of love.

From 5pm onwards on a typical winter’s eve, for Torontonians, time stands still.

There is the obvious bustle of suburbanites scrambling to brave the first fleet of the TTC rush uptown. And yes, oftentimes you will catch the odd Bay St. banker challenging the chill by schmoozing pavement patio bars with their roaring laughter and business anecdotes.

How charming.

No matter how pedestrian filled the streets become, come clock out, the crowded weekday routine begins to filter its concrete by dinnertime, leaving just the stragglers behind.

Daily. And without fail.

One could venture to say that after the nine-to-fivers have dispersed to their respective homes and the scholars have holed themselves up in the library, Dundas Square becomes a mere shadow of itself, barely living up to its name. Without the Eaton Centre touristas, students spilling from the AMC life tower or the thrifty culture seekers lined up in anticipation for the lottery box office, the ‘heart’ of Toronto would be a deserted architectural wasteland.

City dwellers were not fashioned for this.

Wind chill conditions are clearly better suited for the west. With their pick up trucks, permanent snow shovel blistered callouses and jumper cables stored in every glove compartment, they brace themselves against the cold with the zest and pride of a Canuck. Since Toronto functionality shuts down from every crevice at the mere hint of a snowstorm, city inhabitants wear its weather as a badge of shame along with their heads hung for the ever so slight burden that comes with being Canadian.

Despite this stagnant weekday ritual as of late, the spurts of culture injected into the city’s veins have begun to rouse a beat in Toronto life. Design week has come and gone with Canadian music week on the horizon and yet the culture I so adore of downtown has decided to retreat indoors. The subway iron screeches out of place on its rails, I am jerked to reality and see the casualties of this monotonous season. Melancholy hangs heavily between readers and their drug store novelettes, while the sway of the cart becomes almost therapeutic to their permanent pity party. There is solidarity, if not only for one reason. Street art has frozen over and guitarists have made salt stained subway platforms their home, but in passing display windows of stores, cafes and bars I catch transitory glimpses of a city that will very soon emerge, like clockwork, with vengeance.

Toronto, we are not in hibernation.

We have simply buried our individuality amongst layers of clever, albeit warm, mass branding. As a completely fully loaded army of Canada Goose wearing TNA sweater yielding, UGG stampeding, Hunter trudging agglomerate, we are the collective poster child of frigid Toronto, however unbecoming. As layers accumulate, the city becomes an embalmed version of its former, prettier, self. Scrape away the excess debris and slush to reveal something bare. Negative degrees Celsius, obviously, dictates appropriate attire. however, it also seems to be coupled with an impaired distinctiveness of taste. However sharp fashion may be in this metropolis, winter has turned it sour.

I still like to make believe that underneath the thick layers of fur trimmed commercialism and down filled marketing, is an individually deconstructed Toronto. The one that made my heart flutter with happiness. That therein lays the diverse regions and the culturally accessible yet eccentric city that is just going through a phase. A city that has picked up some extra poundage after the gluttonous Christmas holidays with plans to shed the additional insulation and regain its svelte figure come spring.

Spring couldn’t come sooner.

I am compelled to encourage the Torontonians that take hostile winter head on. I applaud and toast you, persistent Queen street hipsters, Yorkville runway walkers and fearless Dundas Square buskers. God speed. You have become as integral to the dreary downtown backdrop as flecks of bright yellow paint strewn across a murky grey Pollock.