Amy Lavender Harris’ Imagining Toronto
Mansfield Press, 2010.

I first visited Toronto when I was four years old; I fell in love with a park here, a park with wooden forts in which you could climb to their very tops. If you were four years old, or, at least, small. No grown-ups allowed.

Whenever we came back to Toronto, I begged to go to that park. I wanted everybody that I loved to see it too. I wanted them to at least be able to stick their heads up the tiny squares that opened to the top layers of the towers.

I fell in love with the city when I was in my 30s, and before that decade was done, I was calling this city home.

So of course I am predisposed to fondness, when it comes to a book written by someone else who has fallen in love with this city. Imagining Toronto holds, in its pages, some of the many reasons that I am here, some of the many reasons that I fell in love.

And even though I live here now, reading this book is like revisiting a place where you had a particularly special kiss: it brings all the romance back.

Here’s a quote for flavour:
“If every Toronto neighbourhood has a story, then Kensington Market is where the narrative refuses to be confined to the page. Like a cluster of pigeons, the Market’s stray voices erupt outward to scatter and coalesce, muttering greetings in a hundred tongues, bargaining, hectoring, laughing and weeping. It is true that there is stillness here, but even the night is alive with breathing.”

I’m not writing this from Kensington Market, but the night in my Toronto neighbourhood is alive with breathing too.

This city is for me, now, what that fort was to my four-year-old self. It’s a place that I want everybody I love to know. I want them to at least get a peek.

Could you write an Imagining [City Where You Live]?

PS If you haven’t already heard about this book, it pulls on the writings about this city (fiction, poetry and non-fiction), offering commentary alongside generous quotes from the original sources; if you are interested in reading about Toronto, be warned, your TBR list is highly vulnerable in the presence of this work.

And, SPS Imagining Toronto has been nominated for a 2011 Heritage Toronto Award. Woot!