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Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
Letter From Toronto

July 13, 2005

Thoughts from north of the border….

Once upon a time, when I was younger, I lived for a brief and happy time in Toronto. With my college roommate, Ron, I had an apartment here and with the help of him and his fiancé’s friends, I had quite a nice little life in Toronto. For the better part of six months it was home base. It has always had a warm spot in my heart since then.

This week I am back here. It is the beginning of the “Where in the world is Mat?” game that will be played out over the next eight weeks.

I have only been here twice now, since I’ve been an adult. I have often wondered about that – as I seemed to studiously avoid a city I had loved. I realize now that it was because it was a siren song and that easily I could have moved here; being here has always made me want to be here.

When I was in my early twenties, I decided at some point I was an American. I avoided Toronto because it was the greatest temptation I had to not be an American. It is a civilized city; not perfect but good. It is in some ways more cosmopolitan than even New York – it has wonderful neighborhoods of ethnic singularity. Last night the hotel was filled with a fascinating group of Canadian citizens of Indian extraction sorting out their lives in the hotel’s meeting rooms.

It was the place where I first experienced what it meant to not be in America, though I had already once been in Central America. Somehow being here was different. It was a western but different culture. Radio and television were in English and French as well as in other languages.

I learned to drink tea here and understood from my time in Toronto that the world is a very big place.

My soul has always been filled with wanderlust, for as long as I remember. It was fine for other folks to stay in Minneapolis and there was a part of me that wanted to – but I couldn’t. To stay would have denied some part of myself that was as necessary to me as the air I breathe. Luckily, events in my life pushed me out into the world and sometimes I have been happiest out here on the road, learning about new cities, new places, attempting to see places as they are – not as I might wish them to be.

It also, now, makes me appreciate what I have even more – the little house on the creek in Claverack, which is the place we have owned the longest. Moving about, I have bought and sold home after home and now I suspect I’m finished with that. Claverack is home; the point from which all roads will lead and return.

Toronto is still a siren song. Being here, even for a few days of doing business, makes me hunger to be here more.

I like the Canadian spirit and their civilized civility. This is the fifth largest city on the continent after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Only since Guiliani has New York regained its basic sense of civility. Chicago has it because it is Mid-Western. Mexico City I shall learn about next week.

Toronto, interestingly, strikes me as the most integrated of cities to which I have been. It, like most of Canada, takes things in stride and moves on. It embraces everything from a variety of cultures to gay marriage and works to make not too big a deal of any of it. It is a city that wants to show the world how to get along.

I am here in Toronto in the wake of the bombings in Britain, an event that strikes them very deeply as this country and this city is more deeply tied to London and England than we are, connected by the experience of having been part of the Empire, of long having been a colony of Britain, still connected. Elizabeth II’s face graces their currency and many Canadians have spent time living in England. So they are deeply engaged in the London bombings.

Their newspapers are publicly wrestling with the concept that this country may too become a terrorist target; it may not, in this new world and this new war, matter that this country was not on the ground in Iraq and disapproved of the invasion. It may only matter that this is a western country and that being a city and a country that wants to show the world how to get along may be an affront to the terrorists, enough of a one to make an non-combatant an unwilling victim.