Whether fairly or unfairly, Buffalo has often been compared to its northern neighbor, Canada. Due to its close proximity to the border, it's easy to find similarities between the two cultures. While it would be difficult to write less than a book's worth comparing the entire country of Canada to a small pocket of the U.S., I think a comparison of Ontario to Buffalo is much more relevant and feasible. So let's get on with it.
All year long but especially around the holiday season, it seems that much of Ontario chooses to shop in Buffalo rather than in their home country. This may be due to several reasons, but most important is price. As it is well documented, the cost of living in Buffalo is much cheaper than other places in the world, especially Toronto who has one of the highest. Even with the exchange rate, it is less expensive for Canadians to shop in Buffalo. As far as shopping centers go, however, Ontario has the edge. Toronto is home to countless amount of stores, including the Eaton center, which is Canada's equivalent of Minneapolis' largest mall in America. Of course it's not a fair comparison; Toronto is the largest city in Canada while Buffalo is the 70th largest in the U.S. If you look at the big picture, Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America only behind Mexico City, New York City, LA, and Chicago. So while it is expected that Toronto will have a greater shopping variety, there's no denying Buffalo's relative inexpensiveness.
While the question of who has the "better" sports teams is up to the beholder, we can look art it objectively. Of the major four sports (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB) Ontario has four teams. The Maple Leafs and Senators of the NHL, the Raptors of the NBA, and the Blue Jays of the MLB. Buffalo has two teams, the Bills of the NFL and the Sabres of the NHL. If there is something that these two areas have in common, it's in the futility of their sports teams. The Leafs, Senators, and Sabres all have some of the longest Stanley Cup droughts in the NHL; neither the Raptors or the Blue Jays have been any good of late either. As I mentioned earlier with cost of living, ticket prices for the Buffalo sports teams are much cheaper than the Ontario based teams, which is why you see so many Leafs fans at games.
Remember again that Toronto is such a large city, but compared to Buffalo it is a hotbed for local artists who make it on the big stage. Even in the past year, many popular artists from Ontario have performed in Buffalo including City and Colour (tonight), Arkells, Broken Social Scene, Tokyo Police Club, and The Tragically Hip to name a few. While you may not have heard of some of these, they are pretty substantial bands for people in my demographic. Besides the Goo Goo Dolls, I have a hard time thinking of substantial Buffalo based band. Once again though, this shouldn't come as a surprise considering the population.
Yeah, I'm actually going to talk about this; it's your school lesson for the day. There are only two countries in the world besides the U.S. that don't use the metric system, can you name them? Sorry, we were looking for Liberia and Myanmar. So while this isn't a knock on Buffalo of course, come on, U.S, get with the picture. You can thank me by giving me some of your Jeopardy winnings.
One of Buffalo's most appealing attributes is its food, of course. We all know what we're famous for: chicken wings, beef on 'weck, chicken finger subs, and the ability to get a good tasting pizza from just about anywhere. Ontario doesn't really have specific specialties like some other parts of Canada, but for comparative purposes let's say poutine, maple syrup, and wide variety of ethnic foods. If you don't know, poutine is a platter of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It's like one of those KFC bowls except less disgusting. While it's tasty, it's no comparison to the foods that Buffalo offers. Like I said, you can go pretty much anywhere in Buffalo and have a great tasting meal. There are very few lemons in the restaurant industry around here. People leave Buffalo for the weather, but come back for the food.
These are some things that I couldn't write an entire paragraph about and just general observations I have made over the years. People in Ontario dress better than in people in Buffalo. Take a walk down a street in Toronto and you'll know what I mean, everyone seems to take time on their wardrobe. Buffalonians care much more about what other people think about their city. More people smoke cigarettes in Toronto, or maybe they're just less sneaky about it. Canadians use hard "a's" in their speech. That is all.