I saw Toronto for the first time when I was 6. For the decade that followed, the city was not much more than a portal to reunion with family visiting from back home—Pearson Airport—or the site of monthly pilgrimage for bread, tea and dried herbs not found in small-town Ontario grocery stores. In high school, Toronto was downtown—as my friends and I took the train into the city to pick up new vinyl at Rotate This or trolling Kensington, munching on mango cakes from Patty King and digging through racks of musty tweed, gaudy polyester and army fatigues. During my university days I frequently hopped on the Greyhound from Guelph to catch Hip Hop shows at the Kool Haus or attend thought-provoking talks and conferences on the city’s many campuses.
For a long time, Toronto was little more to me than a collection of shops and events. Living here has shifted my perception, but not nearly as much as reading literature that writes the city like a living, breathing entity—one that is alight with histories, lives and structures.