A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 07, 2019
Big Smoke (Toronto, Canada nickname)

Toronto, Canada, is called the “Big Smoke.” The nickname has been cited in print since at least April 10, 1959, when it was used in the Barrie (ON) Examiner. “Big Smoke” was printed in the Acton (ON) Free Press on October 18, 1967, and in The Era (Newmarket, ON) on November 8, 1967.

The “Big Smoke” nickname was used in 1969 in the Aurora (ON) Banner and reprinted in Canadian Audubon (on Google Books). Aurora is located in the Greater Toronto area. Lew Gloin wrote in the Toronto (ON) Star on August 26, 1995:

“Robert H. Buchanan, publisher and editor of The Aurora Banner (and a former Telegram reporter, Newspaper Guild executive and bon vivant) was known to greet visitors from Toronto with a cheery ‘What’s new in The Big Smoke?’ before extending his considerable hospitality. He, and those who associated with him in Aurora, were the only persons I ever heard use the phrase. He died in 1973. He would laugh heartily to think he was memorialized (a word he detested) as ‘author’ of The Big Smoke.”

London (United Kingdom) has been called the “Big Smoke” since the 19th century. It’s not known why Buchanan used “Big Smoke” (or if he was the first to do so), but many other cities have also used this nickname.

It’s sometimes claimed that Canadian journalist Allan Fotheringham used “Big Smoke” in Maclean’s magazine, but this doesn’t appear in the Maclean’s archives. Fotheringham did use “big smoke” in the Vancouver (BC) Sun on August 1, 1973.

“Big Smoke Burger” is a Toronto-based hamburger restaurant chain that filed for this trademark in 2010.

Other Toronto nicknames include “Broadway North,” “Centre of the Universe,” “Hogtown,” “Hollywood North,” “Muddy York,” “New York of the North,” “New York Run by the Swiss,” “Queen City,” “T-Dot,” “T.O.,” “The Six” and “Toronto the Good.”


Wikipedia: Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada’s most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
(...)
Nickname(s):  “Hogtown”, “The Queen City”, “The Big Smoke”, “Toronto the Good”

Wikipedia: Name of Toronto
“The Big Smoke”, used by Allan Fotheringham, a writer for Maclean’s magazine, who had first heard the term applied by Aboriginal Australians to Australian cities. The Big Smoke was originally a popular nickname for London, England, and is now used to refer to various cities throughout the world.

Wikipedia: Big Smoke Burger
Big Smoke Burger is an international restaurant chain based in Canada.

History
The Big Smoke Burger was founded by Somali Canadian Mustafa Yusuf in November 2007, originally under the name Craft Burger. It rebranded to Big Smoke Burger in 2011 after Yusuf was unable to secure a trademark for the original name. The new name was chosen as “Big Smoke” has been a noted nickname for the city of Toronto, which is where the company has its headquarters.

Ontario Community Newspapers Portal
6 February 1957, Georgetown (ON) Herald, “Sugar and Spice” dispensed by Bill Smiley of the Wiarton Echo, pg. 2, col. 2:
We made our semi-annual safari to the Big Smoke last weekend, and did a whirlwind tour of our friends.
(It is uncertain if this refers to London or Toronto. It appears to be London.—ed.)

Barrie Historical Newspaper Archive
10 April 1959, Barrie (ON) Examiner, pg. 4, col. 7:
To The Editor,
The Barrie Examiner.
Sir: It seems that we have joined the steadily increasing stream of Torontonians who wish to live away from “The Big Smoke” and have found just the right kind of city in Barrie.
(...)
MURIEL M. LEEPER

Halton Hills Newspapers
18 October 1967, Acton (ON) Free Press, “Chivalry in the city” (editorial), pg. 2, col. 1:
We small townsmen sometimes look to our city cousins with jaundiced eye.

“You city people,” we tell them, “are cold, heartless, devoid of all human feelings. Your aloofness comes from living in the big smoke. Don’t you wish you lived down in the boon docks with your country cousins?”

One Acton lady, a frequent visitor to Toronto, is inclined to dispute this widely-held theory now after a hat-raising experience on Yonge St.

Newmarket Public Library’s Digital History Collection
8 November 1967, The Era (Newmarket, ON), “A Mean Trick” (editorial), pg. 4, col. 1:
Fortunately, Newmarket’s nuts aren’t as nutty as Toronto’s nuts.

There, in the Big Smoke, a number of children were injured and, fortunately others weren’t, when they discovered razor blades in the apples and chocolate bars they received shelling out on Hallowe’en.

Google Books
Canadian Audubon
Canadian Nature Federation
Volumes 31-33
1969
Pg. 52:
We have included an editorial by Mr. R. H. Buchanan, editor of The Aurora Banner.
(...)
“There is land available; there are routes existing or planned to take the gaseous millions to and from the Big Smoke.”

Newmarket Public Library’s Digital History Collection
3 February 1971, The Era (Newmarket, ON), “Redmen being playoffs tonight,” pg. 10, col. 1:
NEWMARKET—Playoffs start for the Newmarket Redmen tonight in Toronto against the Big Smoke’s Maple Leaf Bombers.

28 May 1971, Ottawa (ON) Citizen, “Silence descends on an empty nest” by Charles King, pg. 6, col. 2:
But since the groom has long since left to make his way in the big smoke of Toronto, it didn’t bring much change in our life style.

1 August 1973, Vancouver (BC) Sun, Allan Fotheringham column, sec. 3, pg. 43, col. 8:
The coaches are here, in fact, in hopes of learning enough apprenticing to make it to the National Football League, where the more talented of their brethren graduate, just as the aspiring scribbler puts up with Saskatoon in hopes of receiving the nod from the big smoke in Toronto. 

28 January 1977, Vancouver (BC) Sun, “‘VU View” by Scott MacRae, Leisure & TV Week, pg. 2A, col. 1:
“Please let us run stuff from the Big Smoke, Toronto—at least for the second hour?”

30 March 1986, Toronto (ON) Star, “Trahn-nah? Tor-ahn-to? Trawna?” by Lew Gloin, pg. B5:
That, in turn, led to Orkin’s notes on nicknames for various cities and here we find (with delight) that Toronto was once known as The Athens of the Dominion, The Choral Capital of North America, Hog Town, The Green City, Tory Toronto and Toronto the Good, and, (though not from Orkin) The Big Smoke. But would Toronto want to be known again, as it once was, as The Belfast of North America?

25 March 1995, The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), “Street Slang” by Anthony Jenkins, pg. D5:
TO denizens of the nation’s largest urban area, home is known as Hogtown, Muddy York, the Big Smoke or simply T.O.

26 August 1995, Toronto (ON) Star, “‘Big Smoke’ was once just sooty slang for London” by Lew Gloin, pg. L16:
The readers ask: “When was Toronto called The Big Smoke and who gave it that name?”

The phrase comes from London, where soft coal once burned smokily in every fireplace and stove, giving rise to smogs dangerous to the health of all and blackening buildings so badly that only sandblasting removed the coating.

Robert H. Buchanan, publisher and editor of The Aurora Banner (and a former Telegram reporter, Newspaper Guild executive and bon vivant) was known to greet visitors from Toronto with a cheery “What’s new in The Big Smoke?’’ before extending his considerable hospitality.

He, and those who associated with him in Aurora, were the only persons I ever heard use the phrase. He died in 1973. He would laugh heartily to think he was memorialized (a word he detested) as “author” of The Big Smoke.

1 July 1998, Toronto (ON) Star, “Provinces grew by bits and pieces,” pg. 1:
SMOKEY TORONTO
How did Toronto get the nickname The Big Smoke?

Coiner of this term for Toronto was Robert Buchanan, publisher of the Aurora Banner, who died in 1973, a former Star wordsmith, Lew Gloin, discovered. Buchanan used to greet visitors from Toronto with a hearty, “What’s new in The Big Smoke?”

Aurora friends picked up on it and it spread from there.

In those days, smoke from factory stacks billowed over the city in the distance. Big Smoke originally described London, England, from its infamous smog.

Google Books
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Exploring Canada
By Joe Chidley
Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall Canada
1998
Pg. 140:
Toronto has attracted more than its share of insulting nicknames: Muddy York, the Big Smoke and Hogtown among them.

OCLC WorldCat record
Fresh Flames in the Big Smoke: A pre-HostEx dash through some new Toronto concepts
Author: C David
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: FOODSERVICE AND HOSPITALITY, 31, no. 7, (1998): 49-58

Google Books
Slanguage:
A Cool, Fresh, Phat, And Shagadelic Guide to All Kinds of Slang

By Mike Ellis
New York, NY: Hyperion
2000
Pg. 181:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Nicknames
Cabbagetown, Big Smoke, Tee oh, Tee dot, Tee dot oh dot.

Torontoist
MAY 13, 2010 AT 3:00 PM NEWS
Ask Torontoist: Who You Calling “The Big Smoke”?
BY JOHN SEMLEY
(...)
In his book Naming Canada: Stories About Canadian Place Names, Alan Rayburn suggests that the term “The Big Smoke” may have its roots in an Australian Aboriginal comment regarding industrial Australian cities, which was then applied to Toronto by Allan Fotheringham, in his long-running column for Maclean’s. Famously controversial, Fotheringham was never at a loss for cutesy nicknames, or “Fotheringhamisms.” He was known to refer to Ottawa as “Coma City” and former PM Joe Clark as “Jurassic Clark” (which is pretty good, as puns go). As far as “The Big Smoke,” Fotheringham used the term as a means of describing Toronto as a city with “big reputation, little to show for it.” To Fotheringham, any status the city might have as “Toronto the Good” or “The Athens of the Dominions,” was all smoke and mirrors.

OCLC WorldCat record
“The Big Smoke” Screen: Toronto’s G20 Protests, Police Brutality, and the Unaccountability of Public Officials
Author: Ian Hussey; Patrice LeClerc
Edition/Format: Article Article
Publication: Socialist Studies/Études Socialistes, v7 n1 / 2 (20110723)

25 May 2016, The Times-Transcript (Muncton, NB), “Linked by blood and bonhomie” by Alec Bruce, pg. A9:
“In his book Naming Canada: Stories About Canadian Place Names, Alan Rayburn suggests that the term ‘The Big Smoke’ may have its roots in an Australian Aboriginal comment regarding industrial Australian cities, which was then applied to Toronto by Allan Fotheringham, in his long-running column for Maclean’s.

“Famously controversial, Fotheringham was never at a loss for cutesy nicknames, or ‘Fotheringhamisms.’ He was known to refer to Ottawa as ‘Coma City’ and former PM Joe Clark as ‘Jurassic Clark’ (which is pretty good, as puns go).

“As far as ‘The Big Smoke,’ Fotheringham used the term as a means of describing Toronto as a city with ‘big reputation, little to show for it.’ To Fotheringham, any status the city might have as ‘Toronto the Good’ or ‘The Athens of the Dominions,’ was all smoke and mirrors.”

(Trademark)
Word Mark BIG SMOKE BURGER
Goods and Services IC 029. US 046. G & S: French fries, onion rings, fruit and vegetable salads, poutine, namely, a dish consisting primarily of French fries and cottage cheese covered with tomato sauce or gravy
IC 030. US 046. G & S: Milk shakes, veggie burger sandwiches, hamburger sandwiches, cookies, iced tea
IC 032. US 045 046 048. G & S: Non-alcoholic beverages, namely, carbonated beverages; non-alcoholic beverages, namely, fruit juice, water
IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Online ordering services in the field of restaurant take-out and delivery
IC 043. US 100 101. G & S: Restaurant services
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85014913
Filing Date April 15, 2010
Current Basis 44E
Original Filing Basis 1B;44D
Published for Opposition April 10, 2012
Registration Number 4235878
Registration Date November 6, 2012
Owner (REGISTRANT) BIG SMOKE BURGER HOLDINGS INC. CORPORATION CANADA 50 Carroll Street, Suite 213 Toronto, Ontario CANADA M4M3G3
(LAST LISTED OWNER) 9410198 CANADA INC. CORPORATION CANADA 8150 ROUTE TRANSCANADIENNE, SUITE 200 VILLE SAINT-LAURENT, QUEBEC CANADA H4S1M5
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Jenny Moody
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “BIG” OR “BURGER” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK. SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesBig Smoke (London, England and Toronto, Canada nickname) • Tuesday, May 07, 2019 • Permalink