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Archive for the 'Toronto' Category

April 9th, 2015 • Posted in Toronto

Take your books in for Service at the Repair Café in April

The Repair Café will return to the Toronto Reference Library in April! At this repair café, we will have volunteer fixers available for computers, electronics, small appliances and furniture, clothes, jewellery and book repairs. For whatever you need fixing, bring it on! Our team of fixers will show you the practical know-how. You can learn how to fix it while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. To avoid lineups, please arrive early. We will be able to serve visitors who arrive before 1 pm. For more info about visiting the Repair Café, please go to the Visit page.

When: Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Toronto Reference Library, Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium (see below for directions)
Cost: Free

Directions to the Toronto Reference Library

Here is the map for the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street, Toronto) – view map

The closest major intersection is Yonge Street and Bloor Street. The TRL is located one block north of Bloor Street on the east side of Yonge Street. To visit TRL by TTC, you should get off at subway station Yonge.


The Hudson’s Bay is located on the south side of Asquith Ave. It offers parking for a flat rate $6 on Saturdays.

June 5th, 2014 • Posted in Authors and Books, Toronto

Audio: Andre Alexis accuses David Gilmour of Racism

A - Fiction by André Alexis

I met with Andre Alexis last fall to discuss his latest novella, A (BookThug, 2013). During our conversation we hit, among other things, on literary criticism, book reviewing, ‘Good’ and ‘Baddeley’ literary critics, and David Gilmour and his GG Award winning novel A Perfect Night to go to China, and Alexis’s contention that racism is contained in the chapter in this novel entitled “The Pigeon”.  

Please note that, as a condition of making the recording of this conversation public, Alexis’s essay titled “Of a Smallness in the Soul” is being made readily available (as it is right here) to visitors to this web page…and that the point is being made, clearly, that this essay is Alexis’s argument for (or demonstration of) the racism contained in …David Gilmour’s chapter entitled “The Pigeon”, from his novel,The Perfect Order of Things.”

October 15th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair November 8, 9, 10, 2013

The Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair takes place at the Art Gallery of Ontario, November 8, 9, and 10.  There should be an outstanding selection of rare and collectible books, maps, photographs and ephemera on display here courtesy of some of the world’s leading booksellers –  from as far as London, Paris, and San Francisco – and, of course, from all across Canada.  

Visit to explore the exhibitors list and gallery, and to view some of the treasures they’ll be bringing to Toronto. Who knows, you might even find something by Al Purdy.

September 4th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

Alcuin Awards Dinner: Monday, October 7th in Toronto

Stan Bevington accepting Robert R Reid Award last year.

The Alcuin Society‘s awards ceremony in Toronto is coming up. Should be a really interesting evening! Rod McDonald is the speaker.

“McDonald has worked both as a freelance typographic designer and on the staff of such renowned typesetting companies as Mono Lino Typesetting and Cooper & Beatty in Toronto. His alphabets, wordmarks and symbols have been used by organizations ranging from General Motors and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to Canadian Business and Chatelaine magazines. He has taught numerous typography courses at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto and NSCAD University in Halifax.”

A  stellar list of guests includes Andrew Steeves, Wes Bates and probably Stan Bevington, a recent Robert R. Reid Lifetime Achievement Award winner.


Here’s what you need to know:

Place:   The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto
             14 Elm St.

Date:    Monday, October 7th

Come between 5:30 and 6:15; dinner will be served at 6:30

Reservations (if you’re interested): Call 416-597-0223 ext. 2 – and leave a message. They’ll call back. (You pay at the door; it’s $24.75 per person.)

May 10th, 2013 • Posted in CITIES, Toronto

The Consolation of Toronto

Just as Jane Urquhart relied upon local libraries to furnish the documents and detail necessary to capture with ‘shimmering clarity’ small town 1840s Ontario (Away is partially set in Port Hope; The Underpainter, which won a GG Award, is partially set in Colboug), so Michael Redhill owes a debt to the City of Toronto  Archives. His Toronto Book Award-winning novel Consolation presents two Torontos, one from the mid-19th century, the other from the late 1990s.

Go to the corner of York and King streets in downtown Toronto and look around you. The only common point of reference between the two time periods is Osgoode Hall some four blocks North, on Queen Street.  Nothing else of consequence remains.  With photographs  (many of which can be seen at the Archives) serving as the go-between, Redhill pushes the readers’ face up against an urban window pane, showing how the human scale of 1850s Toronto has been paved over and displaced by today’s towering,  inhuman monuments to commercialism and ‘progress’.  The novel is an eloquent rumination on lost past, and an attack on those who eat their own history – those who favour construction of characterless skyscrapers over honouring that which is worth preserving.

For more information on literary tourism in Ontario, click here.

April 16th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

A Literary Picnic

Have never been too keen on ‘process’ questions, however, the fact that there will be such a selection of excellent writers here, with many of them entertaining one-on-one conversations, means that you can quiz them on whatever topic you like:

This from Toronto’s Luminato Festival:

“A summer’s afternoon, a picnic lunch, an inviting park. Add an incredible group of writers and  you have A Literary Picnic, a celebration of storytelling that draws on the creativity and diversity of Toronto’s writing community.

On the theme of “Beginnings” over 60 authors will take to three stages to share selections from their work and offer insight into where a story begins, and how writers confront the blank page. Many of the participating authors will also be setting up their own picnic blankets backstage for one-on-one exchanges with the public throughout the day.

In the spirit of literary exchange, the Luminato Festival also invites the public to bring in their pre-loved books to be offered in trade to other book lovers at a special table. Also on site for the day: Type Books; First Book Canada; an author signing area; the Toronto Public Library Book Mobile; and food trucks offering many different tastes of the city.

Bring your picnic basket, your favourite used books and your own beginnings to A Literary Picnic.

Participating Authors:

Heather Birrell

Sally Cooper

Charles Foran

Camilla Gibb

Don Gillmor

Spencer Gordon

Amy Lavender Harris

Linda Holeman

Andrew Kaufman

Evan Munday

Susan Swan

Priscila Uppal

Jessica Westhead

Michael Winter

And Many More!

March 27th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

Recuperating and Imagining Toronto

From Maia Joseph‘s review of Amy Lavender Harris’s Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press) in Canadian Literature:

 ”Harris sets herself the task of recuperating the literature of a city that—despite the presence of a lively community of writers, a healthy publishing culture, and a widespread love of reading—often fails to recognize and celebrate its rich tradition of locally-based writing. The goal of recuperation seems to drive Harris’ tendency to privilege, in the book, extensive quotation and brief discussion of multiple texts over sustained close reading and critical analysis. Her geographical interest in place is evident in her decision to organize her readings topographically: in the first half of Imagining Toronto she explores literary representations of the natural and built landscape, from Toronto’s lakefront, ravines, and islands to its streets, downtown towers, and neighbourhoods. Brought together in this way, Harris proposes, the texts create a meaning-laden map of the city. In the second half of the book, she uses thematic associations to link her discussions of texts, focusing on multiculturalism, sex and relationships, social class, and the suburban experience. Over the course of Imagining Toronto, Harris develops an engaging, polyphonic literary portrait of the city.”


Visit the Imagining Toronto website here

March 18th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

Reading the biographies of Cities

While researching an article on literary tourism for the upcoming issue of Ontario magazine, I got to meet some stellar Canadian authors at sites across the province that feature, variously, in their works. Here, it’s Michael Redhill and his novel Consolation. We’re in downtown Toronto.

Photographing the photographing

Tim Campbell is photographing Michael who holds an image of what the same street corner looked like back in 1855 (the year in which much of the novel is set).

The piece should be out within the next few weeks. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here, from some years back, is Michael in conversation with another Michael, Medley, about cities, literature and mythos :

“MM: Toronto takes centre stage in Consolation. What novels, or short stories, or poems, or plays, do you feel do the best job of capturing our city?

MR: We don’t really have a city literature, I don’t think. There are some writers who have used Toronto in their work – sometimes as backdrop, sometimes as a character – authors like Atwood and Ondaatje have used the city quite consciously; Joe Fiorito has just written a marvelous book about the city; and authors like Cary Fagan, Pier Giorgio DiCicco, and Barbara Gowdy seem to suffuse their work with the city. But I wonder sometimes why a central mythos about Toronto has never developed, the way you get ongoing images of cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and a few other New World cities coming out over generations of literary work. You can piece together a certain kind of biography of these cities, decade-by-decade, simply by reading books written by people who lived through those times. Not so in Toronto. I can’t think of the Toronto of the thirties or forties in our national or civic fiction. Montreal, absolutely; Toronto, no (with the possible exception of some of Morley Callaghan’s work). This may simply be that we’ve internalized what we perceive (accurately or not) as a hatred for this city, and resist any call from within to speak of it in art. Toronto resists art—there, I said it. Recently (very recently), there seems to be a reversal at work here – the generation after mine, especially visual artists, seem to be opening their eyes to this place. This awareness of where they are is in their work, and it’s celebratory rather than apologetic. This awes me, having grown up in a place that celebrates itself, if at all, with its eyes pointing downward.”

January 12th, 2013 • Posted in Toronto

Literary tourists: discuss great books, see Shakespeare, this July in Toronto

More than 100 people from across Canada and at least 20 states will gather on the shady garden campus of the University of Toronto’ Victoria College during the week of July 14-19 2013 for Toronto Pursuits, to discuss great books. About 70% will be returnees and the remainder will be there for the first time. About half will be working and half will be retired. They will range in age from early thirties to mid-eighties. Some will stay in an economical campus residence; others will opt for a nearby hotel. Still others will commute each day from home. You can be one of them!

Out-of-towners and first-timers get started on Sunday afternoon, July 14, with an optional demonstration in the Shared Inquiry method of discussion and a guided walking tour of Toronto’s art and architecture. The program gets into full swing on Monday morning with the convening of 12 seminars (group discussions of books written by, among others, Susan Sontag, Henry James, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust…), which take place concurrently each morning. The groups are small, capped at 15 participants, and led by smart, enthusiastic book lover/experts.

At noon we gather for an excellent lunch. Each afternoon and evening, you may choose from a wide variety of cultural and social activities both on and off the campus – topical talks, a series of opera talks, walking tours, film screenings, small dinners and much more. On Tuesday evening, there will be an optional concert as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival. We have two gala receptions, one on Monday evening and the other at the conclusion of the week on Friday, and a dinner and travel evening on Wednesday.

The 15th annual Toronto Pursuits will take place from July 14-19, 2013. The 5th annual Stratford Shakespeare Festival Excursion will take place July 12-14, 2013. Includes return transportation to Toronto, accommodation for two nights at a Stratford hotel, premium tickets to three plays, discussions, talks, reception, one lunch, and one brunch.

Sign up for a seminar here.