The Book

Imagining Toronto book cover

Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press, fall 2010) is available at most bookstores and online through Mansfield Press, Amazon or Chapters.

Imagining Toronto was shortlisted for the 2010 Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism and won the Award of Merit, the highest honour given to a book at the 2011 Heritage Toronto Awards.

Upcoming Events

25-26 February 2012: "Going Native: Reclaiming Aboriginal Identity in Toronto Literature," “Landscapes of Difference, Espaces de Difference, Raume der Differenz” conference (Session: The Politcs of Place: Urban Sites of Contestation), Canadian Studies Association in German-speaking countries (GKS). Grainau, Germany.

Thursday 15 March 2012: Guest lecture, "The Imagined City," ARC 120, Contemporary Architecture. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto; Isabel Bader Theatre, 9:45-11:00 am.

Wednesday 4 April 2012: "Representing Toronto: Mapping the Role of the Artist in the Contemporary City. Panel discussion. Presented by Koffler Gallery in partnership with Diaspora Dialogues. 80 Spadina Ave., Suite 503; 7:00 pm.

Sunday 22 April 2012: Reading from Acts of Salvage at the Draft Reading Series. Details TBA.

Thursday 3 May 2012: "Literary Bodies." Panel discussion as part of Bodies in the City, a symposium of the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto.

Thursday 17 May 2012: "Imagining Toronto the Wild" at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Inaugural lecture of the TBG's new HortiCULTURE salon series.

Recent Events

Tuesday 18 October 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand Up?: Regent Park, St. Jamestown and Cabbagetown in the Literary Imagination. Parliament Branch (269 Gerrard St. E.)

Saturday 1 October 2011, 2:00-3:30 pm: The Masseys and the Masses: Social and Spatial Ascendency in Rosedale and Forest Hill. Forest Hill Branch (700 Eglinton Ave. W.)

Tuesday 27 September 2011, 7:00-8:30 pm: From Streetcar Suburb to Multicultural Community: Riverdale in the Literary Imagination. Riverdale Branch, Toronto Public Library (370 Broadview Ave.)

Click here for past events.

Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand Up?

Just a note to let folks know I’ll be doing one more talk this fall as part of the Imagined City series I’ve been doing for the Toronto Public Library throughout 2011. The final talk, titled “Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand up: Regent Park, St. Jamestown and Cabbagetown in the Literary Imagination,” will be held at the Parliament Street Branch, 269 Gerrard Street East, today, Tuesday 18 October 2011 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

Beginning with Hugh Garner’s well-known novel Cabbagetown (1950; 1968) and going on to discuss a diverse list of works ranging from journalist J.V. McAree’s memoir Cabbagetown Store (1953) to Juan Butler’s occasionally scatological Cabbagetown Diary (1970) and Tim Wynne-Jones urban fantasy The Knot (1982), my talk will argue that Cabbagetown’s boundaries have shifted in ways that emphasize architectural cohesion while suppressing social and cultural difference.

This phenomenon, in which local historians have steadily relocated Cabbagetown from the district south of Gerrard Street (an area once known as “North America’s largest Anglo-Saxon slum”) to a gentrified area north and east of the corner of Parliament and Gerrard, has turned Regent Park — the original site of Cabbagetown — into a kind of cultural Other. I’ll then turn to representations of Regent Park, Moss Park and St. Jamestown to explore how these neighbourhoods are represented as a kind of contrast class to contemporary Cabbagetown — even though these run-down neighbourhoods have more in common with literary Cabbagetown than the quaintly gentrified Heritage Conservation District that has since claimed the name. Works I’ll discuss here include Mark Thurman’s Cabbagetown Gang (1987), Deborah Ellis’ Looking for X (1999) and Rabindranath Maharaj’s The Amazing Absorbing Boy (2010).

Slides for tonight’s talk are available here: Will the Real Cabbagetown Please Stand Up Toronto Public Library 18 October 2011

For those interested in further reading, here is a list of literary representations of Cabbagetown and environs:

Butler, Juan, 1970. Cabbagetown Diary: A Documentary. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates Limited.

Cornish, John, 1968. Sherbourne Street. Toronto: Clarke Irwin.

Ellis, Deborah, 1999. Looking For X. Toronto: Groundwood.

Garner, Hugh, 1950; 968. Cabbagetown. Toronto: White Circle; Ryerson Press.

Garner, Hugh [under the pseudonym Jarvis Warwick], 1950. Waste No Tears. News Stand / Export Publishing.

Garner, Hugh, 1976. The Intruders. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. (A follow-up, in some ways, to Cabbagetown.)

Jewinski, Hans, 1975. Poet Cop. Markham, ON: Simon & Schuster / Pocket Books. [poetry]

Lapp, Dave, 2008. Drop-In. Montreal: Conundrum Press. [graphic novel/memoir]

Matheson, George, 1996. Hogs and Cabbages. Lumby, British Columbia: Kettle Valley Publishing.

McAree, J.V., 1953. Cabbagetown Store. (memoir). Toronto: Ryerson Press.

Plantos, Ted, 1977. The Universe Ends at Sherbourne & Queen. Toronto: Steel Rail Publishing.

Plantos, Ted, 2000. The Shanghai Noodle Killing. Toronto: Seraphim.

Rosen, Eric S., 1991. The Banker of Cabbagetown. Toronto: Eric S. Rosen. [play / theatre and history]

Thurman, Mark, 1987. Cabbagetown Gang. Toronto: NC Press. [children’s / young adult]

Type, David, 1979. Cabbagetown Plays (Diamond Cutters, Snow Birds and The Travesty and the Fruit Fly). Toronto: Playwrights Co-Op.

Type, David, 1984. Just Us Indians. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press. [play; also set in Cabbagetown]

Wynne-Jones, Tim, 1982. The Knot. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. [fiction]

 And a list of non-fiction commentaries on the district:

 Cabbagetown Preservation Association, 1992. Touring Old Cabbagetown. Toronto: Cabbagetown Preservation Association.

Coopersmith, Penina [photographs by Vincenzo Pietropaolo], 1998. Cabbagetown: The Story of a Victorian Neighbourhood. Toronto: James Lorimer.

Farewell Oak Street [documentary], 1953. Grant McLean/ NFB.

Kelly, Colleen, 1984. Cabbagetown in Pictures. Local History Handbook No. 4. Toronto: Toronto Public Library Board.

Lorimer, James and Myfanwy Phillips, 1971. Working People: Life in a Downtown City Neighbourhood. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel Ltd. [narratives of Cabbagetown]

Return to Regent Park [film], 1994. Close-up Films/NFB.

Rose, Albert, 1958. Regent Park: A Study in Slum Clearance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Rust-D’Eye, George, [1984] 1993. Cabbagetown Remembered. Toronto: Stoddart. [local history]

Wiley, James [photographs by James Wiley; Foreward by George Rust-D’Eye], 1994. Images of Cabbagetown. Toronto: V.A. Gates.

[Images: top left image is from Hugh Garner’s Cabbagetown (Ryerson Press, 1969); bottom image is from Mark Thurman’s Cabbagetown Gang (NC Press, 1987).]

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