Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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Our Coast-to-Coast Guide to Word on the Street 2011

Word on the Street Logo

This Sunday September 25th, Canadians coast-to-coast will take to the street for The Word on the Street National Book & Magazine Festival. This year the festival, which began in Toronto in 1990, will take place in six Candian cities: Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax. With its tagline, "Celebrating Reading, Advocating Literacy," WOTS is a chance for Canadians to learn about and support local literacy causes, as well as connect with some of the people behind the best books and magazines this country has to offer.

In Vancouver the festival runs for three days (September 23-25). Not to be missed is Charlotte Gill, whose book Eating Dirt has just been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for nonfiction. Also be sure to check out poet Aisha Sasha John, Wayde Compton (whose book After Canaan is up for the Vancouver Book Award), Jen Sookfong Lee, kids writer Vikki VanSikkle, Kevin Chong, short story writer Samuel Thomas Martin, Campie author Barbara Stewart, Governor General's Award-winning writer John Vaillant, awesome poet Sachiko Murakami, and Andrew Nikiforuk,whose most recent book is Empire of the Beetle.

Angie Abdou (whose novel The Bone Cage was a 2011 Canada Reads contender) reads at the Word on the Street in Leth …

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Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down named 2012 One Book: Toronto [author interview]

Girls Fall Down by Maggie Helwig (Coach House Books)

Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down—the acclaimed novel of fear and love set in a Toronto in crisis—has been named the 2012 One Book: Toronto title. The Toronto Public Library's city-wide book club runs throughout April.

The Toronto Public Library runs the One Book: Toronto program as part of April's "Keep Toronto Reading" festivities. Torontonians are encouraged to read one book together en masse and join in a city-wide conversation. Throughout April, the Toronto Public Library will host dozens of events concerning Girls Fall Down and its themes.

Past One Book: Toronto titles include Midnight at the Dragon Cafe (Judy Fong Bates), More (Austin Clarke) and Consolation (Michael Redhill).

About Girls Fall Down:

Girls Fall Down opens with a girl fainting in the Toronto subway. Her friends are taken to the hospital with unexplained rashes. Swarms of police arrive, and then the hazmat team. Panic ripples through the city, and words like poisoning and terrorism become airborne. Alex, a medical photographer who is hoping to chronicle the Toronto he knows on film before his sight fails completely, is a witness to this first episode. During the hysteria, he encounters an old girlfriend–the one who shattered his heart in the eighties, while she was fighting for social justice …

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Some Great Idea: Edward Keenan Explains the Rob Ford Appeal

Book Cover Some Great Idea

In this excerpt from his new book Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto, Edward Keenan shows the reality behind Toronto's urban/suburban split, and explains the appeal of our national conundrum, Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford.

When David Miller hoisted a broom above his head at the Bamboo in 2003, and when Rob Ford had a plastic lei placed around his neck at the Toronto Congress Centre seven years later, both represented enormous grassroots victories. The analysis of what followed doesn’t change the lesson both illustrate—that the conventional wisdom of political insiders and pundits can be, and regularly is, thwarted by the people of the city.

But their similarity actually leads to the core philosophical difference between the two: Miller’s promise was to enable people to better participate in city government; Ford’s was to make city government a better servant to more people. It may seem like a slight distinction, but it speaks volumes. And you could see it most clearly articulated in the language each politician used. Ford, famously, talked endlessly about ‘taxpayers.’ Miller openly rejected that characterization and preferred to talk about ‘citizens.’

Obviously, most voters are both citizens and taxpayers. (S …

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Waste No Tears: Hugh Garner Exposes the Underside of Toronto the Good

Book Cover Waste No Tears

This story with its shocking expose of social evils, holds a forceful message for both sexes. Its strange mixture of power, tension and torment mark it as a human story that will thrill and grip all readers. Down in the depths of the city, washed by the murky waters of the dock-yards lies Skidrow, a dark den of intrigue and mystery, whose crumbling structures harbour the outcasts of the city.—From the 1950 edition

Hugh Garner’s second novel, Waste No Tears, hit drug store and train station spinner racks in July of 1950—then disappeared, never to see print again… until now. This is the latest release from Ricochet Books, a series of vintage noir mysteries edited by Brian Busby. The book's introduction, by Amy Lavender Harris, appears below. 

*****

Toronto the Good—the straitlaced “City of Churches” where public drinking was prohibited and playground swings padlocked on Sundays—receives a far darker rendering in Hugh Garner’s Waste No Tears, a novel set in the bars, bedrooms and abortion clinics of Toronto’s skid row district. Pitched as “The Novel about the Abortion Racket,” Waste No Tears peels back the city’s thin veneer of respectable civility to reveal a far seamier underside—albeit one with its own covert morality.

First published in 1 …

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John Lorinc: The City in Four Dimensions

Book Cover The Ward

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

John Lorinc is a Toronto urban affairs journalist and co-editor, with Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor, of The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood.

*****

When I was growing up, in North Toronto in the early 1970s, I loved to thumb through a picture book that my parents had acquired as part of a small collection of titles about the city’s history. They had fled Hungary during the 1956 revolution, settled in Toronto and set to work becoming Canadians, and, as the presence of those books suggested, Torontonians as well.

Some of these volumes documented a time that seemed impossibly remote. They contained (to my eye) dust-dry tales of stern Anglicans and colonial superintendents presiding over a town depicted in engravings that bore no discernible similarity to the city I was c …

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