Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


Share |


Some years ago I was browsing in The Word Bookshop in Montreal when I noticed that one of the shop’s typically impecunious customers looked very unhappy. His distress didn’t seem to stem from anything concerning books. When he left, I asked the proprietor, Adrian King-Edwards, what the trouble was.

“He’s in bad shape,” King-Edwards said, “they turned his home into a fire exit.”

Having a home turn into a fire exit likely has befallen more than one writer, though in Toronto the home would likely have become a parking garage stall.

The standard, certainly most comprehensive, work on Toronto writers’ homes in history is Greg Gatenby’s Toronto: A Literary Guide, published 12 years ago. Gatenby was then the long-time Artistic Director of the Harbourfront Reading Series and the International Festival of Authors. In the book, he broadly interprets “literary”: his biographical coverage includes editors, publishers, professors, playwrights, journalists, broadcasters… Replete with neighbourhood maps and many illustrations, his book supplies routes for 63 “Walking Tours.”

Want to know where Ernest Hemingway prowled and scowled when he lived in Toronto? Trot along to 153 Lyndhurst Ave. and 1599 Bathurst Street. Care to see where Marshall McLuhan, whose household embraced a wife and six kids, perhaps composed his mile-a-minute commentaries on media and messages? Check out 29 Wells Hill Ave., then jog across to 3 Wychwood Park. In the nineteenth century, the leafy enclave of Wychwood Park was conceived as a sylvan artists’ colony, but it soon got ideas above its station.

As it happens, all these destinations are easy walking distance from the bedraggled-looking house with front-yard floribunda at 39 Helena Ave., where I commingle with a spouse, a dog, and two cats. But don’t bother coming to see it. If, by the time you read this, it hasn’t been turned into a parking lot, sooner or later it will.


A kind thought, Elana, but any statue of me would attract mourning doves.

39 Helena Avenue may one day be turned into a parking lot, Fraser, but it will have to exhibit a life-size statue of the author that pigeons stay away from out of respect. Hey, how about a book about literary life in the 'hood!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Fraser Sutherland

At last count, Fraser Sutherland has published fifteen books: one of them short fiction, four nonfiction and ten poetry, His most recent poetry collection is The Philosophy of As If. A freelance editor, he may be the only Canadian poet who is also a lexicographer. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, he lives in Toronto.

Go to Fraser Sutherland’s Author Page