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History Post-confederation (1867-)

Toronto Between the Wars

Life in the City 1919-1939

by (author) Charis Cotter

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Jul 2004
Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2004
    List Price

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Out of print

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Winner of Heritage Toronto's Award of Excellence, Book category in 2005.

The pace of life in Toronto picked up after 1919 and never slowed down again. During the 1920s and '30s, Toronto went through massive changes that affected the physical and the social life of the city. In these two decades between World War I and World War II, Toronto was finding its place in the swiftly changing world of the twentieth century.

Toronto Between the Wars features 180 archival photographs of Toronto during this fascinating period. Each picture is accompanied by a captivating story about some aspect of life in the city.

During this period, cars became commonplace, the downtown skyline changed as new skyscrapers were built, and women's roles changed dramatically. Then the Depression sent the economy into a tailspin, unemployment became rampant and poverty took its toll. People struggled to afford the basic necessities and lived under the shadow of a growing threat of another war in Europe.

The text reveals little known facts, such as how a leading retail family kept their interest in a major downtown property secret for twenty years. Photographs capture unguarded moments with startling immediacy: a tired but happy group of disheveled merrymakers waiting for a bus; two women in flouncy bridesmaid dresses; an old man cleaning the statue of Queen Victoria; and children buying fish from an itinerant fishmonger.

With intriguing pictures and absorbing text, Toronto Between the Wars offers a rare opportunity to observe life in Toronto during a critical time in its history.


About the author

A writer and storyteller, Charis Cotter has published several critically acclaimed children's books, including a series of biographies about extraordinary children and a book about international ghosts. Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919-1939 received the 2005 Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence. Most recently, The Swallow: A Ghost Story won the 2015 IODE Violet Downey Book Award, was named an Honour Book by the Canadian Library Association for 2015, and has been nominated for four 2016 children's choice awards across Canada. She lives in Western Bay, NL.

Charis Cotter's profile page

Editorial Reviews

A handsome coffee-table volume brimming with intriguing and nostalgic photographs... informative and concise... knack for focusing on important issues.

Canadian Jewish News

This book is a feast for the eyes. Open it with that spirit, savour the richness of the past and you will not be disappointed.

Canadian Book Review Annual

Remarkable, fascinating photographs... The other captivating feature of this book is the inclusion of stories that spring from the images... This delightful book has a place in your family library.

Canadian Camera

Noteworthy is the quality of the photo reproductions... many of which have not been published before.

Books in Canada

A wonderful album of photographs and pungent commentaries that capture the quintessential character and color of both the place and the era... Anyone who loves Toronto will find this book well worth browsing.

Canadian Jewish News

Other titles by Charis Cotter