Overview Of The Section
Susan On Toronto
“Like our two Toronto Poets, Raymond Souster and John Robert Colombo, I stood a little in awe of Toronto and wanted to get something down about it.”
I met Michel Lambeth in the seventies when I was working for the fledgling artists’ union CARFAC Ontario and he was a rep for the Toronto local. These were the heydays of Canadian nationalism, and Michel was on the radical left of the movement and very committed. That meant turning down assignments from American magazines, and flirting with poverty. And it meant standing up to the forces of colonialism like the Art Gallery of Ontario. Read On →
I grew up in Toronto in the fifties when it was an over-sized, small town and Eaton’s and Simpson’s drew curtains over their shop windows on Sunday. Daily papers didn’t bother covering city hall, but they all had society columnists, women who wore gloves when they typed, and wrote up events like pink teas and coming-out parties. Toronto had a reputation for cleanness. And moral rectitude.
I left at the first opportunity. Toronto the Good was a good place to be from.
I returned in the middle of the October Crisis of 1970 and discovered another city altogether. Troops were not in the streets here, but everyone was on red alert as civil rights had been generally suspended. Toronto had become a hotbed of political action and it was happening on several fronts. Serious of purpose, yes, but this was no longer the City Fun Forgot. The revolution came with music, theatre and dance.
Toronto was a city with a past. I began paying attention. Christie Pitts, the anti-Greek riots of 1918. Signs in parks declaring “No Jews or dogs”. Job advertisements announcing “No I’s need apply” meaning Italians, Irish or Indians. A city of many layers, as my walks with Michel Lambeth revealed. But also our long talks were about the real roots of the city. Who really built it. Read On →