Toronto: Biography of a City
History buffs will thoroughly enjoy Allan Levine’s volume Toronto. This huge book is the result of (obviously) years of painstaking research and thorough writing. The book is neatly divided into chapters by thirteen historic periods, starting from 1615 when a French Canadian named Brûlé first arrived to Toronto’s location. Levine briefly goes even further back to describe the First Nations (the Canadian term for Native Americans) making this area their home. Through the following chapters we watch the tiny community grow into the beautiful, massive city-state that Toronto has become today. Much of the unprecedented growth was during the last sixty years.
Levine’s writing is good, yet the details he gives in each chapter are overwhelming and beyond most readers’ interest. Through its five-hundred years of history, the author quotes hundreds of names that mattered in Toronto, some known to us (Hemingway), and many only to locals. Any Torontonian instantly recognizes the name “Honest Ed” Mirvish who established a landmark block-long thriving bargain emporium in 1945. A good location map of the many streets mentioned should’ve been included. The sixty inbound color photos should’ve been placed within the text. Nevertheless, this historic and academic reference volume has a place in all libraries.
Douglas & McIntyre