Toronto Raccoons, the Neighbours You Love to Hate

As the last of the Summer days are officially behind us and the leaves start maturing into tones of gold and crimson, one cannot help but ask, where did those raccoons go? Ah yes, the infamous Toronto raccoons we love to hate.

My guess is that they are busy hitting up the buffet at Chez Poubelles before the cold sets in. A sight engrained in the collective unconsciousness of every Torontonian I’m sure. We all have at least one story starring these furry hooligans that get shared at parties. With this in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of my personal favourites!

Toronto alley

The Green Bin Evolution

In 2005, the green bin was adopted across all Toronto neighbourhoods. Since then, it feels as though it endured more facelifts than the cast of RHONY. Thanks to sneaky bandits, the green waste in landfills problem quickly became the green waste sprawled across your driveway problem. 

Now, I don’t know who exactly I’m rooting for on this one.

On the one hand, there’s something about having to pick up rotten food that’s been sitting in a bin for 3 days that changes you. Just the thought of it gives me hives. The smell alone was enough to knock you out. And then, there’s the wave of shame when passers-by give you the look of distant compassion. A mix of understanding what it’s like to be duped by the Toronto raccoons and disgust at the sight of the aftermath.

On the other hand, a girl’s gotta eat and if we humans are silly enough to waste that much food, then we can’t expect the buffet to go unattended. These animals are dead clever and can squeeze into the narrowest of openings. If they are sophisticated enough to get into the bins, they sure as heck deserve what’s in there! 

Needless to say, countless straps and add-on lid closures were made available, all to keep the scoundrels out. Despite the best engineering efforts, none were a match for our persistent friends. “Let them throw out their cake” they snickered. 

cat in the garden

Cat Flaps

My favourite neighbour, who taught me about past life regression and synesthesia and tamed a squirrel named Wee-Lady, was regularly visited by the raccoons. You see, when her back door wasn’t wide open, her cat flap was. Not so much for Gigi, but Raffy sure fancied himself a stroll around the block. As you can guess, what lets cats out inevitably lets raccoons in. That said, raccoons entering in the dead of night wreaking havoc in her kitchen was a regular occurrence. How cool! 

One night, my neighbour even had to displace one of her garbage regulars who she heard squeezing into her bin. Understandably, she has had enough. 

Picture this, a woman with wild hair peeking out of the hood of her handmade indigo floor-length puffer coat. It’s the middle of the night and cold as can be. Yet, there she is, dragging a garbage can down the street and across what’s normally a very busy intersection to get to the park. 

In addition to how inconspicuous this site is on its own, the garbage can is rustling as something, or someone is clearly trapped inside. As this was the early 2000s, no one called the popo out of fear she was transporting a child. 

The lengths you go to displace raccoons eh!

In the end, handywoman she was, she built a sliding door for the cat flap, which could be locked at night and fastened some additional straps to keep her bins shut. 

The Sacred Salads

Ending this story saga with a more recent occurrence, that of the misunderstanding regarding who is entitled to enjoy the garden vegetables my parents planted. 

This summer, to my absolute delight, a family of 6 raccoons took up residence under the back deck. Lucky for me, one of the basement windows looks out under the deck meaning you basically have an aquarium view of the goings-on. Naturally, I documented their activities thoroughly and gave them names.  

However thrilling their presence was, it was also unwelcome to my parents who take great pride in their vegetable patch. A vegetable patch the raccoons formed a habit of harvesting themselves. The worst part is that the more you scold them, the less of a threat you seem to them. In the end, They simply stare at you a while and proceed as if you were part of the decor. What is this energy and how do I get some!?

All in all, raccoons are to Toronto what peas are to the pod. As much as we love to complain about them, Toronto wouldn’t be the same without them. And that’s my story for today! I’ll leave you with a short video of my dear mother yelling in French to the raccoon family trying to get at the “sacred salad” ;).