________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 9 . . . . January 3, 2003


The Toronto Story. (Rev. Ed.).

Claire Mackay. Illustrated by Johnny Wales.
Toronto, ON: Annick, 2002.
166 pp., cloth, $34.95.
ISBN 1-55037-763-9.

Subject Heading:
Toronto (Ont.)-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


This is the story of a city and how it grew from an unknown and unpeopled place beside an unborn lake to the lively metropolis 3 million Canadians call home.

The first edition of The Toronto Story was an award winner, and this redesigned and updated version will undoubtedly follow in those footsteps. The tale begins 14,000 years ago with images of ice and mastodons and carries the reader through to the present day.

Key episodes in the city's history, including major fires and various political, cultural, and sporting events, are presented with historical accuracy and vivid detail. Many notable people help to tell the story and give it life. Also covered is the history of such Toronto trademarks as the Canadian National Exhibition, Casa Loma, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the CN Tower, to name a few. The creators of the book are obviously enthusiastic about their city, and this enthusiasm is transmitted to readers. Much of the book gives us insight into social history which isn't always included in textbooks. Facts of everyday life, such as what schools were like decades ago, would certainly interest children. We learn how much the British paid in the Toronto purchase of 1788, why the Toronto Transit Commission uses the corporate colours it does, and even where the first indoor plumbing was located! This book is more than history; there is a great deal of information about customs and pastimes. We learn in detail what people wore and what they ate. Readers truly feel a part of the decades as they flow by. Claire Mackay is the award-winning author of many popular history books for young people, and her warm, engaging prose style brings history to life. Clear and simple text is dotted with plenty of humour.

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     Johnny Wales has illustrated the book, and his illustrations add greatly to its appeal. He chose one particular intersection in downtown Toronto and then sketched it as it would have appeared at several different historical periods. Needless to say, the changes are amazing! Other smaller illustrations help us appreciate the architecture of the city and many of the people who are mentioned in the text.

     From a researcher's point of view, the book is well-organized in a chronological fashion. The layout is uncluttered and clear, with plenty of illustrations and sidebars noting particular points of interest. The chapters are even colour-coded! There is a separate timeline which shows key events at a glance, an annotated bibliography which suggests further sources for research, and an extensive index listing specific names, places and events.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher of high school English and French and currently is the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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