Toronto is a city that’s never at a loss for words. Residents enjoy a lively literary scene — everything from poetry slams in dimly lit pubs to the glitzy, star-studded Book Lover’s Ball — and many of Canada’s most accomplished and celebrated authors call the city home.
Toronto has also attracted literary legends such as Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, and Ernest Hemingway over the last 150 years. For an in-depth look at literary Toronto (plus inspiration for walking tours), check out Greg Gatenby’s hefty tome, Toronto: A Literary Guide.
There is also a wealth of literature set in Toronto. Margaret Atwood has written several books with scenes in the city and within different decades. Alias Grace, for example, is set in the mid-1800s in the suburb of Richmond Hill. Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, with its details about immigrant workers and the construction of landmarks such as the Prince Edward Viaduct, is set in Toronto circa 1924. Contemporary authors, including Andrew Pyper, Richard Wright, Dionne Brand, Carol Shields, Helen Humphreys, Kim Moritsugu, Robert J. Sawyer, and Sarah Dearing, have also set stories in this metropolis. Check out the Toronto Public Library’s website for a list of books divided by time period.
Speaking of libraries, Toronto has one of the busiest urban public library systems in the world: 19 million people visit its branches, and collectively borrow 32 million items each year. The Toronto Public Library’s economic impact on the city is as high as $1 billion annually. Toronto’s libraries are hubs for their communities, offering everything from ESL classes and entrepreneurship workshops to the occasional rock concert, comic arts festival, or film screening.
Toronto is also fortunate to host prominent literary events each year such as the International Festival of Authors, Scotiabank Giller Light Bash, and The Word On The Street. The city is also home to a wide range of writers’ groups and, of course, EAC’s Toronto branch!
Additionally, you are arriving in Toronto right at the start of the cultural event of the year: Luminato is Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity. This annual 10-day celebration runs June 6 to 15 and takes place in venues across the city. Many of the events are free. For updates and listings, including music, visual arts, literary and educational events, visit the Luminato website.